starting off the year right

So, I had an exam yesterday, and the morning off today. It was a glorious beyond glorious day (dress weather!) so I decided to explore the city instead of the pages of my books. And, its Rosh Hashana, so I thought it would be an appropriate way to start the new year: cafe hopping in north oakland/temescal. I would have soy macchiatos all morning long. I want to say its the silverlake hipster area of here, and I may have found my intelligentsia equivalent at Remedy Coffee.
I started off at The mixing bowl.

Its a cute little place, they sell local jams and chocolates, as well as some pastries and cafe food (sandwiches, salads and the like) The macchiato was tasty, although a bit to…sour for my taste. I meandered down the street, discovered an amazing craft store filled with used goods and craft ideas (a food processor for 7$), and wandered into Remedy Coffee.

OHMYGOODNESSITWASDELICIOUS! not to darkly roasted or overpowering, the soy milk was slightly sweet, and no hits of a sour aftertaste. plus, no food except for select pastries, meaning they really do specialize in coffee. a bonus? the awesome phone booth and signage.

I kept wandering and passed by this amazing bike rack covered with…sweaters?

By this time, I was pretty wired, so hopped on my bike and headed towards college avenue to find something to eat, and possibly a powells pit stop before class. Where did I end up? a french bakery of sorts, with really enticing bread.

It being rosh hashana and all, I settled for a jewish rye raisin roll and sat in the sun on a bench to watch the passerby and enjoy the contrasting flavors of seedy rye and sweet golden raisins; the crusty semi crunchy outside, with the chewy soft interior.

and then it was time to head to campus, so i did, but stopped at powells first because it was on my way.
I must also mention that the best present arrived in the mail today in the form of a pound of intelligentsia beans, from my mother dearest. an excellent way to start the year methinks.


in which sugar and cookies take over my day in more than one way

I was having a discussion with 2 friends of mine about the so called Berkeley bubble and how we feel so removed from events going on in the real world. ie the state of politics and foreign affairs, blah blah…the things real adults might find important. That evening, Sunday I believe, I log onto NY times as a responsible citizen eager to learn about current events. What is the first thing I see? An article about the republican bake sale. (In a nutshell, they decided to have a bake sale where prices where based upon your race, gender, etc, with things costing $2 for a white male, or 1.50 if you are a woman, .25 cents for minorities, etc etc.) The irony being, that I decided to find out about real world issues and the most pressing thing is Berkeley related.

This bake sale was yesterday, and caused quite the brouhaha. (yes, i have always wanted to use that word!) Of course I had to go see what it was all about. In addition to the republican sale, there were people giving out free baked goods, free hugs, and of course a protest ensued with people laying down all over sproul plaza. Regardless of whether this bake sale was right or wrong, I have to say it was a pretty witty way to garner attention and show opposition to the affirmative action bill. I mean, NY times, CNN, a protest…the left their mark for sure. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get close enough to the table to a) see the baked goods or b) see how much I would be charged for one. ah well, thats why free cookies were being handed out.

Later yesterday, in my edible education class, Robert Lustig MD, a researcher from UCSF came to lecture about childhood obestity and nutrition and whatnot. His main argument: sugar is toxic, addictive, and evil in every way shape or form. why? because sugar, unlike other carbohydrates is metabolized differently by the body. most of it goes to your liver. So regardless of if its high fructose corn syrup, or fructose or sucrose, its toxic, poison, addictive, don’t eat it you will die. It can cause insulin resistance, and lead to diabetes or metabolic syndrome because your liver freaks out from the mass amounts of substance it has to metabolize into glucose. I suppose this is similar to alcohol and how the liver metabolizes that. Now I am sitting there in my seat after eating mostly cookies and frozen yogurt all day (thanks to the bake sale and working right next to cream and celebrating finishing exam number 2).

Did I agree with this stance? I mean, I love sugar. I think it is such an integral part of childhood and growing up, cake on your birthday, ice cream in the summer, chocolate as a treat. I obviously do not have all the medical knowledge he does, but I do not think that culturally sugar can be eradicated or taken out from our diet. But what of the fact that most sugar comes in the form of processed foods? what if sugar was eaten in moderation and in “real food”. is that still bad for you? after all, isn’t wine good for you in moderation? chocolate? caffeine? the knowledge in the nutritional field seems to change every day, with conflicting information coming from every which way. its…very confusing. I think perhaps Michael Pollan was right when he said “eat food, not to much, mostly plants” (am i biased? i dunno…) I am still fascinated by cultural impacts on food consumption and diet and illness, why is it that other cultures have not been experiencing such high rates of illness? I do not think it comes from sugar, but from the context sugar is consumed.

Of course I still have tons and tons and tons to learn and read and figure out, but its just the random things I think about as I continue to behave like a little kid and eat candy. What did I do right after lecture? had a bit of wine and ended up at CREAM yet again with a different group of people. (omg, am i addicted, do i need an intervention?!?!?!? Powells and CREAM anonymous anyone?)

I had my second exam yesterday, and its really frustrating because I still do not know what I got on my first test. GRR. I think my GSI (grad. student instructor aka TA) thinks I am an oddball. Here is a snippet of class yesterday:
We were working in small groups, and it got oddly quite.
“If sociology doesn’t work out for you guys, have you ever thought of being a ninja?”
me: “so you mean I can just draw ninja’s all over my paper?”
GSI: “well, it would be really easy to grade.”
me: “an A, right?”
and he rolls his eyes
later, upon handing in my exam, i told him
“don’t worry, I drew ninjas all over the inside”
and he rolls his eyes yet again.
oh berkeley….
but If he does not hand back our first exam on thursday, I may hafta use my ninja skills after all.

disaster at the laundromat

I decided to be productive this fine (read: rainy and wet) morning and wash my bedding, towels, clothes and whatnot. I packed all my stuff and waltzed (read: walked) over to Washingtown. I proceeded to put my things in the machine, detergent, set the cycle, paid, and let the machine do its job while I half ass studied and pretended to be engaged in my reader. After 40 minutes or so, when the cycle was completed (read: the machine stopped working and rumbling and bouncing, and the ‘in use’ light had turned off) I came to put my bedding in the dryer. I open the top of the machine to find everything sitting a pool of water, not one bit had drained out during the final spin. I angered the dude who was cleaning the place by leaving a trail of water drops along my entire path from machine to dryer. And then I had to spend an absurd amount of time waiting for everything to dry and half ass studying and pretending to be engaged in my reader.

It rained today, and everything was wet. yes, I may be stating the obvious, but its humid and it makes me feel really soggy, like a sad little kitty. However, because it was raining, it wasn’t as cold outside. I have no clothes appropriate for this weather, but I guess its a reason to go buy some! Yup, a silver lining to every cloud.

I had candy for dinner two nights in a row now. Yup, living on my own is awesome!

bon iver sounds nice

Gotta love the Berkeley Bowl. Best market ever.

Bon Iver was at the Greek theater last night. I did not have a ticket. I wanted to see the show real bad(ly).
As did many other Berkeley students evident by the large amounts of people who situated themselves on the hill behind the Greek theater to listen to the soothing sultry sounds of music. It was nice to sit on a hill and listen. It was not nice that the security guards wouldn’t let us chill by the fence. But for not paying, I am not complaining. (I still wish I could see!)

Yesterday there was a protest because of the lovely tuition hikes that are planned for the UC schools. I went at noon for the rally, but left relatively early because I had class and back to back things through the rest of the day. But I suppose going for a tiny bit is better than none at all. Read more here:
(sidenote, I know the guy in the photo!)

I still do not know how I did on my first exam, which is frustrating seeing as I have another one this week. (!)

Work is swell, not only am I student coordinator, but next semester I may be co-facilitating the class! woo!

Michael Pollan was wearing pirate socks on tuesday, I saw them because his jeans were a bit short. they were black and white, thin stripes. I was bored for the first time in that class actually, the speakers were…not that engaging. Something about laws and regulations and legal jargon which seems to escape me at the moment. Check out my paparazzi skills.


I just wanted to share that today was a glorious day. it was sunny. it was warm. warm enough that I wore a skirt for the first time in about a month. however, when I decided to wear a skirt this fine sunday morning, I was faced with a slight predicament relating to the fact that I have not shaved my legs in a bit over a month. (is this tmi?) the question was, to shave, or not to shave, and the answer was quite simple. not to shave because I really didn’t feel like it, and I don’t care nor do I have any need to impress anyone, and so I rocked a skirt today and sat at a cafe and read almost an entire book. It was quite the amazing experience and I suggest everyone do it. (is this me turning all “granola”? I still shower, promise!)

On another note, Michael Moore came to Berkeley last night. It was absolutely amazing. This was a stop on his book tour, its an autobiography type work, filled with short stories from his younger days. He was really personable, funny, and very entertaining especially while reading from his book with different voices and intonations for every character. Of course he talked politics as well, but it was nothing out of the ordinary that we don’t already know, plus he was “preaching to the choir” because obviously the audience was a fan of his work and liberal. He was really adorable, in a strange sort of way sitting in a little red velvet chair and reading from his book. He actually mentioned Michael Pollan, wishing he was in the audience to have an intervention over his eating habits. He spoke for about 2 hours, apparently for free, and is donating half his royalties from the book to public libraries. I sincerely hope he acts in line with what he preaches because that would be a let down if he didn’t. From seeing him in person yesterday, he does seem very genuine and very passionate about the state of America, and he thinks the future of our country is in the hands of this generation because obviously the one in charge right now has no idea what they are doing.

I feel really disconnected from happenings outside the berkeley bubble. I have not read the newspaper in to long, I need to start making it a habit at least once per week. so that means making time for it…oh time.

1 month

today is has been exactly one month since I left LA. ah. And I have no more intelligentsia beans.
In some ways, I feel like I have been living in Berkeley for ages, possibly because it feels similar to silverlake (just waaay bigger than I tiny strip of sunset blvd) A few people have asked if coming here was ‘culture shock’. um, no not in the least.
In other ways, I still feel like such a newbie because I don’t know where anything is (except for the important things like a candy store) and because I am adjusting to living alone and being alone a lot more than usual. Its kinda nice at times, like a little kids dream of “getting to do whatever I want” and eating candy for dinner aka 2 nights ago. I did the unthinkable this week, and took my clothes to a laundry place where they wash and fold it for you. Yeah. Since I am working now, I figure its money well spent because I do not need to hang out at the awesome laundromat. This little habit wont happen all the time, but it really a nice thing.
Its only been a month of riding my bike, but I am developing thighs of steel! All those muscles I used to have from ballet, well the two or three, are starting to show again…the joy! So long as I don’t end up looking like body builder wonder woman thats fine by me. Stretching would be a good habit to get into, but I can guarantee that wont happen.
Costal cleanup at the Berkeley marina this fine AM got me out of the house and to the marina where I had never been. Lots and lots of trash, mostly in the form of class and broken bottles versus the plastic you would see at an LA beach. And tonight I have a ticket to see Michael Moore speak, which should most definitely be interesting.
Work has begun, and I am quite excited to be having a bit of an income again, so the guilt over spending $4 on coffee will shortly dissipate, and I can get others to do my laundry on a more regular basis. Hah!

in which Michael Pollan smiled at a group of star struck girls who giggled without shame…

and yes, I was part of that giggling group of girls, what can I say?

Today in class Marion Nestle came and spoke about the political influences over the food system in america, how the interest of agriculture is very different then that of public health, how obesity is rising, how knowledge of nutrition has gone up, yet overall health has gone down, how food corporations are ruled by wall street and the drive for profit, how companies market to kids, and how vitamins do not make frosted flakes a health food. (and she signed my book!) Needless to say, I was not bored. She makes a good point regarding the fact that we know what steps are needed to ensure access to food, and proper food at that, all the technicalities exist. And we are not lacking calories as the worlds food production currently stands at 3,900 calories per person per day. But the social and political infrastructure is not in place, and that is going to be the next battle of the food movement against the corporations who are in increasing competition to sell food, make profit, and use these excess calories they are producing. How its to be done is of course the next big question.

I rounded up every ounce of courage I had to ask a question after her lecture. And I kindof stumped her. Ooops. It wasn’t on purpose I promise, but my question was perhaps out of the ordinary. I asked what the effect of all these food labeling laws and anti obesity campaigns will have on people that struggle with the opposite side of the spectrum, namely eating disorders and compulsive dieters, and what can be done to address the rapidly expanding diet industry. She agreed that the diet industry has been failing as well and they have “too much money promoting the wrong kind of knowledge.” She said that the battle to fight obesity will obviously have an effect on compulsive dieters but she does not think body image issues are entirely related to the marketing and promotion of certain foods or reduction of body weight. She admitted to not knowing enough and being confused by them, but she thinks there are more psychological issues related to eating disorders then social.

I beg to differ. Its ironic that even in her discussion of obesity, which she seemed so well versed in, she never acknowledged any of the body image issues or psychological implications of being overweight. I think part of the solution will not only come from eating “right” but changing the relationship that people have to food, and a big part of that comes from the mixed messages the public is getting. Because she even admitted, that a calorie is a calorie, but how is someone with an eating disorder (over or under eating) going to change their eating patterns if the focus remains on solutions [aka calories] alone? I am going to continue pondering this question and interesting dichotomy, and I will let everyone know when I publish my dissertation. HA!

On another note I saw Fleet Foxes this weekend and everything about the show was excellent. I went with a very good friend, so the company was grande, we had thai food which was quite delicious, we brought blankets to get cozy, there were lots of beautiful people to observe before the show started, and most importantly, FLEET FOXES sounded like…angels. A choir of good looking grown men angels with gorgeous voices, harmonies and instrumentals.

That was the best part of my weekend, because the rest of it was spent studying for my first exam, which I had today. Study group on sunday, study group last night, and lots of note reviewing in between. So of course I abandoned most of my other reading and now have to catch up on it, but my brain is so fried that I dont feel like doing anything. I may regret that tomorrow, but I will deal with that…tomorrow. I think I did alright, I felt pretty confident about what I wrote, but of course I do not know the standard of grading, nor do I know the specific points the GSI is searching for in the essays. And now I must wait patiently *twiddles thumbs* for my grade. sigh…