bye bye february…well, almost

it is almost the end of february, obviously. one more day, the 29th…in which I have coordinated a potluck at my work for all the mentors and tutors. I mean, how could I NOT schedule a party on leap-day?

I met my mentee for the first time on friday! it was uber-exciting and it seems that our personalities will fit together quite nicely. She is pretty quite and shy, like I used to be and maybe still am sometimes, so I can completely relate. Shy and quite does not mean that one does not listen and pick up on every tiny detail…I am seeing her again tomorrow and friday. I am really excited to start and develop this relationship over the next year and a half. Its really exciting to know that I am impacting someones life, hopefully in a positive way…eep!
On Saturday, there was a mandatory training session where we learned about mandated reporting, goal setting, and leadership. sounds dandy, slightly boring, but something which has do be done.
Oh dear…it was…there are no words.
Lets just say, that I am skeptical of the “american dream” and that if you set goals for yourself its just a matter of picturing yourself in that position and you can have whatever it is you wish to have. If you BE, than you can DO, so you will HAVE. Focus on being whatever it is you wish to be so that the actions you do are thus inline with that and you can have it! But at the same time, a real leader is authentic…so be yourself! And, I do not need inspirational music, or hollywood films showing achieving athletes, to motivate me. the only thing that presentation motivated me to do, was chuck the handouts in the bin at my earliest convenience.
This presentation was done by the two most superficial, corporate looking people I have ever met in my life. Have you not heard of structural inequalities? or social barriers? obviously not, because you guys like to bank on that by telling people they can do it too, if they only try hard enough. blech.
The mandated reporting part was however pertinent and interesting and informative, despite being dense and slightly depressing material.

I have my first official job offer for the summer! its a pretty good deal too, which is very exciting and alleviates some anxiety I was feeling. Of course, my anxiety likes to surface in other areas once its stemmed elsewhere. in this case, I have 2 midterms on tuesday (in a week from today) joy. and I feel kind of sick and absolutely exhausted and that makes studying all the more…less appealing.

I have realized that something is interesting to me and I like doing it and learning about it until it becomes mandatory or I associate it with professions or the big picture or doing more. That is to say, I like to doing things until I need to do them due to internal pressure that I put on myself to make it “count for more”. Ballet, for example, used to be something I enjoyed until I decided I had to do it professionally and then I started hating it. Enrolling in a class this semester has been pleasurable for the most part and by deciding that maybe I want to do more with it, I…don’t want to do it anymore. Even academic subject matters: my culture class is really fascinating and I find myself enjoying the articles…until I realize I am going to be tested on them and have to make them count for something so I don’t like the process of reading or studying anymore.

All this is because I focus on results. I like tangible, concrete results that I can say “i did this” or “i did that”. Of course, that means I discount or gloss over the process of getting to whatever result I achieved, and once I am in that sustained result I no longer enjoy what I am doing. Getting into Berkeley is a prime example, its a result, I am in, I go here. But I find it hard to enjoy the academic learning process because I am focusing on what I will do later and what will be the result of my educational pursuits.

I need to find a way of taking out the pressure I put on myself to produce results in order to be more present in the process of everything. It would probably get me out of my head, which is where I have been spending to much time lately…

a merging of several events and thoughts from the past several weeks in a rather long and discombobulated post

tuesday february 14th and I found myself sitting in my room with a combination of a cider buzz and sugar high and feeling completely content with life. which is odd considering i was freaking out a few days prior. and its also odd considering the amount of stuff i should have been doing. or rather, felt i should be doing? who knows…
Day consisted of
-a cancelled class (can’t complain!)
-a job interview for summer camp that went well, i made it to round 2!
-a very delicious bagel sandwich
-theory class which was great, save for the professor’s new haircut
-my 3 hour comparative cultures class which ended an hour early
-anti valentines day presents
-anti valentines day beer at jupiter
-anti valentines day cider at triple rock
-cream.

i decided to go to my ballet teacher’s office hours to see how i could get more involved in the ballet scene at berkeley because after all, the studio feels comfortably familiar. So of course I asked questions about getting more involved, what is available on campus, etc etc. And of course I was given a list of opportunities which I did look up but failed to pursue further because I realized time would be a slight barrier. Today I went to another Professors office hours to discuss a paper, and I also began to chat with her about other stuff related to population and food and families. And I asked her a bit about a senior thesis, and she of course started listing tons of suggestions. My epiphany: when I feel like I am not productive and not doing anything, and when I start freaking out about life, I always decide to do more things because I like being busy. But these things are not necessarily what I want to be doing, rather they are things i either a) want to enjoy doing or b) think would look good on a resume. Now, why would I even bother with a thesis if grad school is seeming less and less exciting? because what if I change my mind later?!?!?

Interviews for summer jobs are going fairly well. From all my “first interviews”/”phone screenings” I have made it to the next round. This is a good thing. Of course I can see myself interviewing at all these places and then ending up jobless, but that may be me freaking out as per usual (I guess we shall see if it holds any truth). I keep surprising myself at interviews and how confident I seem. I was even told by my boss that I interview well. Despite making a complete fool out of myself in a skit we had to to during a group interview, I did not feel any embarrassment and instead laughed hysterically along with everyone else at my mishap. *i hope i get the job*

I also went to a career fair, which is a very funny and superficial experience for me. I mean, if employers want to see personality, why does everyone dress the same and act so superficially professional. Not I. Pink hair, blue clips, and a lime green sweater. I did manage to hand out my resume to a few internship positions, and followed up with an e-mail and application to one which sounded intriguing. I was told that a follow up was in the cards, but we shall see. It would be very entertaining if I end up working for a summer-accelerated-highly gifted-college prep program as an RA. I would be so intimidated by a bunch of smart middle schoolers studying the hard sciences and math!

I went home to LA this past weekend, which was loads and loads of fun. I flew down for the first time since I got into Berkeley, and was really surprised by how fast the flight was. It took me longer to bus/bart to the airport and wait to get through security. My sisters 18th was an enjoyable outing, as was seeing her perform with her band and drinking with the parentals. My friends wedding too, was simple, beautiful, and *not gonna lie* I did choke up. oi.

It is also interesting the people who you meet when you least expect it. But such is life I suppose. My sunday, which I had planned to dedicate to homework and the farmers market, instead consisted of hiking and the thirsty crow, good conversation and good times. So was staying up abnormally late for the past two nights worth the procrastination? Methinks yes.

I was also very surprised that a former teacher of mine featured a post I did on his class blog. If you are curious to read a little ditty about meeting David Sedaris…look here
http://englishwithmccabe.blogspot.com/

snakes and spiders oh my!

after my amazing bike ride to the marina last week, i was really excited to get back again. that is precisely what I did today after class…well, sort of. a few blocks away from the water, I saw a rather large banner which read:

I tried to ignore it, but I reached the end of the block and was still thinking about said sign, so i decided to turn around in order to satisfy my curiosity. parked my bike and hobbled into the parking lot where I was greeted with this
the sign under them says “we don’t swim in your toilet, so don’t put your hand in ours. score, i like this place already. I waltzed into the store where I was greeted by the smell of…many many reptiles. i knew this place was hardcore. I started looking around and was greeted by a salesperson who asked if i needed any help. I told him i was just poking around and he told me they were the oldest and largest reptile store in the nation, opened in 1970. wowee. the place is packed with just that: reptiles. all colors and sizes and sorts. a few amphibians. and lots of sarcastic signs on some of the cages. It was unfortunate that I only had 20 minutes to look around, but here a few highlights:




now aside from snakes, you ask how my week was? hmmm…it was filled with both good times and highly anxious times. good times would be going to the career center and editing my resume and having the career counselor remark on how much I have done (the bad corresponding part is i still feel like a fraud). another good thing was I answered 2 questions in my theory lecture, where I am head over heels for my professor (i exaggerate, only slightly). I also got 2 more responses from jobs I applied for, meaning I have 4 interviews coming up this month (the anxiety producing part is what if i don’t get a job!) another good thing, is that my homework/reading load was really light because I had 2 classes cancelled. but the bad part of this, was the extraordinarily high anxiety that cause because I always feel like I should be studying or doing something productive. I was nervously pacing in my room, thinking about things to do, some notsogoodforyou, asking myself what it is i really wanted to do versus what i felt i should be doing (even though there was nothing pressing to do! well, except for re-listening and typing up theory notes) oh my, time for a hobby and positive stress reducing coping skills! or writing letters. or reading for fun. or watching something on netflix or listening to music. err… I unfortunately did not having any baking materials at my house, because I usually do not have time for said baking, so that was out of the question. I was to exhausted to read, so that was out of the question too. here is what i did
a) made tea (mint medley)
b) put on music (cat stevens and leonard cohen)
c) lit candles (pumpkin and vanilla)
d) made pictures (which are on my wall now)
e) cried
f) discovered new music on amazon (free mp3’s…heck yes)
g) wrote letters to old professors (e mails, rather)
h) started portlandia…amazingness
and believe it or not, i felt better after.
interesting how that works.
now if only that pervasive sense of anxiety would dissipate a little bit more, i would be extremely grateful. I like to think it will once I find a summer job, but then I will just find something else to freak out about, like what I want to do with my life. and i know even once I obtain a job, i will be focusing on “the next thing” to make me satisfied. so the moral of the story is…i dunno, you tell me, why dontcha?

food

i feel the need to post about food because the issues of vegan/vegetarian/omnivore have been coming up a lot lately and people being really surprised when I tell them why I am vegetarian and not technically a vegan. so if you care, read on.

I have been vegetarian since 2006 and it all started from seeing that dumb PETA video of meet your meat and the fact that the meat in the NCSA cafeteria was quite scary. Being vegetarian is not hard, and being the compulsive person that I am, I started reading more about the topic and whatnot.

Today, my motives and reasons for not eating meat are for environmental sustainability issues and the industrialized food system which has gone so awry. The way current animal husbandry works is so polluting and filled with devastating environmental consequences from all the poop, and feed needed (corn, soy, feedstuff) that there is competition between feeding humans and feeding animals and deforestation and the energy conversion rate is very low. So why don’t I eat grass fed or organic, might you ask? well, those labels in the supermarket do not really mean much. and, over time, i have become averted to eating meat. that being said, i think humans were designed to be omnivorous, but eating much less meat than your typical human does today. And interestingly, in pasture farming, cows, chickens, pigs and other animals are required to maintain the ecosystem of the land and the native grasses, so if they didn’t exist, grasslands would not function as they do. If one is to eat an animal, it should be one of those happy cows (the image which is sold) and not from a CAFO. Of course that meat is expensive and people complain, but first, you shouldn’t be eating as much meat as you do, and second, the costs associated with pollution and methane etc are internalized and contained within that number you pay. Versus cheap meat, which is actually very expensive if you consider the depletion associated with it and the cost that would be required to mitigate that (which big companies don’t do)

Onwards…to veganism. I am not vegan. I would say I am 90% vegan. Everything I buy and cook for myself at home is vegan, again for environmental reasons and the industrial dairy and egg industries. (listeria anyone?) If i do have the urge for eggs, I will hobble to the farmers market to get a carton. and chickens, by the way, are not vegetarian. they eat worms and bugs. so the “vegetarian feed” label means diddly-squat, as does free range and organic because all that means is access to a tiny yard. Milk just grosses me out, and cheese does too, but i may nibble at a piece if it is on something someone is offering me. I also try to be vegan when eating out, but that is where my 10% unveganism comes from. When I am out and about and there are animal products in something, and there is no other option, i will eat it. for example, challah on fridays, or that sandwich you are having me try, or that really good looking hunk of milk chocolate. Furthermore, I do not think being vegan is a panacea for the food issues of the world and sustainability. If everyone were vegan, people living in countries where the traditional and easily accessible foods are meat (ie eating seal) shipping food all over the place is awful. And, fake processed meat is probably also harmful to the planet because of the associated processing and packaging. There is also the palm oil issue. So which is healthier for the planet and body? Butter from a real pasture raised happy cow, or palm oil from a plantation in the tropics?

Being completely vegan when out with people creates a sort of social isolation and a limiting diet which ties into former issues and creates a not-so-healthy psychological and restricting process for me. So part of me not labeling myself as “vegan” is for my own mental health. I must say, I strongly dislike the fact that forms of eating are labeled and you have to fit into some category and people judge you or frown upon you no matter what you eat. [different story entirely] But, it is part of life, and food is highly social and highly charged because FACT: you need food to survive. (and if you are a bear, you eat beets…)

nut-case

this is me on monday morning:
and this is me this morning:
I am, a nutcase, the helmet says it all. why a nutcase? needless to say, my brain has not shut up for the past several days, a week at least. constant chatter and worry makes it very hard to concentrate on reading, post its of ideas and to-do lists litter my desk which subsequently make me feel claustrophobic so they end up in the trash. Applications for summer: will i get a job? if i dont, ohmygoodnesswhatwillido?!?!?! forget the summer, thats the least of my worries, what about after i graduate? i mean, its so soon! a year and a half I better start searching for jobs now. 2 hours later and my homework is not done, and my head is spinning from browsing entry level jobs that i might qualify for. But none of these jobs seem thrilling, who wants to sit by a computer all day? not I. Ok, brain, humor me for a moment and shhhhh. . . So then I start thinking about next year, what to take, what to do. blah blah blah.

I went to a career fair yesterday. It all seems so superficial, the handshaking, the introductions, the questions. But it was good to see whats out there for next year, not that it really helped my settle on what it is I might want to pursue. Teaching english abroad might be kinda cool for a year, and would include traveling to awesome places, and give me time to just…be. I picked up an application for a another summer camp that prepares high school kids from urban areas for college and will be submitting it today, so thats a positive. Most of the other employers were looking for full time, year round, already graduated, but it somewhat calmed me donw knowing that they hire fresh-out-of-school kids.

My alternative breaks class started last night, and it seems like a good time will be had. most of the material is stuff I am familiar with related to food and sustainability, but what I like about this class is: small size, more conversation, ability to interact and bounce ideas off of fellow classmates instead of being lectured at for an hour. oh, and the trip of course! Being a trip leader would be cool next year…hmmm….

I still am figuring out for myself the ethics of eating and what is correct or appropriate for myself given the time and place I am in. If there is one thing I have learned, is that there is not one universal way of eating that will save the world; it is so dependent on location. and veganism is not a panacea…hello palm oil which is probably worse than butter from local and human and pasture raised dairies. I know I will not eat meat for environmental reasons and the treatment animals and well as the factory workers face. however, farm workers face equally as terrible treatment. I think this constitutes a blog post of its own, so look forward for it sometime soon when I have more time to synthesize my thoughts.

I have also a few new places I want to try this semester.
-cinnaholic–the graduate–nabolom–pyramid brewery–mariposa bakery–herbivore–farmers market–saturn–mallard–actual cafe–BAM/PFA–Babette, just to name a few. I am sure there are more, but I cannot think of them at the moment. its really difficult to find people willing to venture out into berkeley and oakland, which kinda sucks. I don’t know if its schedules or what, but if anyone would like to venture somewhere new off my list…I did bike to the marina last week which was quite lovely, and might possibly go down again this weekend to study at some obscure cafe upon the water.

ballet class yesterday nearly brought me to tears. for the first time in a long time, after a grande allegro (in which i could actually jump!) it felt…right. For many reasons, I have not been able to jump and feel the power and energy behind a glorious leap. this feeling of content-ness, that everything for just one moment was actually ok (my brain shut off for about 4 seconds) made me so happy that tiny little tears welled up in my tear ducts which i had to rapidly blink away. In the studio, even if I am still absurdly out of shape with awful technique, feels like home. this reminds me of the ever so cheesy moment in center stage where the teacher points to the bar and says “its all here”. um, yeah, kinda true that it feels like a home base. after class, the teacher even told me “excellent dancing today” ohmygoodness! gahhh! and things are a little easier now than 3 weeks ago. another thing to add to my list, is try a few more classes around berkeley, but to those i will be venturing alone.

Well, its almost class time, so i bid you farewell, fine friends. (PS I know you guys forgive and do not judge me on my grammatical or spelling errors. right?)