some food

after poking around online at some recipes for…raw balls and bars…I poked around our rather sparse pantry several days after the move and found enough ingredients to make these delicious raw date balls. Dates (soaked for an hour), raw almonds, oats, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and a splash of rice milk all thrown into a food processor, pulsed, then balled and refrigerated for an hour or so. They turned out fantastic. Chewy and almost coconut-y, despite having no coconut whatsoever. I think it was the raw oats which lent that texture. And the cinnamon was an excellent addition, plus I am rather obsessed with chocolate and spice.

Paid a visit to Handsome Coffee Roasters in Downtown LA, getting slightly lost on the way but it was worth it. The coffee was delicious. The place is very airy and sparsely decorated, high ceilings, bags of coffee line the walls, large communal table, a bar, and of course the espresso machines and the amazing aroma fills the place up. There is a back room, where the roasting takes place, which is open to the public to poke into. 

I ordered a macchiato, which was split into two cups. One contained espresso and the other contained a dollop of steamed foamy milk and I was advised to drink the espresso and chase it with the macchiato for the full flavor experience. The harshness of the plain espresso would be washed away with the sweetness of the steamed milk. The espresso on its own was good, but slightly to sour for my taste. The macchiato however, was excellent. My only gripe with this place is that they do not offer non-dairy milk. The only milk they carry is organic clover brand whole milk. Because macchiatos are one of my favorite thing and contain 2 oz (if that) of dairy, and clover is a legit. brand of organic milk, I felt that justified my ordering dairy. I would love to try a latte or cappuccino next time, but I cannot fathom drinking 6 oz of milk…it still weirds me out. My friend ordered an iced coffee, cold brewed. Rich, chocolatey undertones and an intense caffeine buzz in a cup. Amazing. 
I am back in Berkeley for 5 days and my apartment is empty; both of my roommates are out of town. I’ve got the apartment to myself which is strange and this is the longest I will be spending on my own. Completely on my own that is. I was in a mac and cheese mood and after poking around and reading several recipes I ended up making a vegan cashew/silken tofu cheese sauce and baking it with brussel sprounds and zucchini instead of pasta because I was reading about raw zucchini noodles and that gave me inspiration. As I do not own a mandoline slicer, it was a bitch to cut all the zucchini and they most definitely did not resemble noodles. The circle pieces however turned extraordinarily creamy after baking and tasted delicious with the cheezy sauce (cashews, tofu, nutritional yeast, mustard, soy sauce, garlic). I didn’t have turmeric, so the sauce lacks the classic yellow color most often associated with mac and cheese, but ah well. 

a rant on passion

WHEN will my laziness stop?!?!? I still feel absolutely exhausted even though I have been on vacation for approximately 2.5 weeks. All I want to do is sleep, eat, and of course see people in LA. cooking? baking? reading? nope, nope, and nope. this is a bit concerning to me, its quite opposite how I usually am. I have watched some movies (2 documentaries, went to the theater) so I can cross that off my list I suppose. I am hoping that once I start work back in berkeley my productivity will increase too. Having something to do every day will also make me be more productive in leisurely activities. As someone said to me a few days ago, I am not being lazy, I am simply recharging. But how long does a recharge last?!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the orchid thief, 2 quotes in particular because I can really relate to them. ahem,

“The world is so huge that people are always getting lost in it. There are too many ideas and things and people, too many directions to go. I was starting to believe that the reason it matters to care passionately about something is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size. It makes the world seem not huge and empty but full of possibility.”
“I suppose I do have one embarrassing passion- I want to know what it feels like to care about something passionately.”

I do think that having one particular goal or passion makes the crazy amount of possibilities seem less overwhelming. Simply the question of “what do to” becomes answer-able because, well, you have something that you care about that gives you a direction. Even if its a hobby and you have a day off and nothing to do, this hobby which you care about provides something for one to occupy their time with. Can searching for passion be a passion though? If it is, then even if one were to find an activity they like, they may not regard it as passion because it does not give the same fulfillment as searching. And activities that one enjoys, are not in my idea passions. A passion, to me, seems to have almost a drug like addictive quality. You always want to do it, and more of it, and not stop. And by thinking about it constantly, the overwhelming-ness of the world matters less. Does everyone have a passion? And if so, will everyone in their lifetime necessarily find their passion? Because obviously one does not know from birth what they like to do until they try activities. Or is passion related more to personality and obsessiveness about a single topic. Because there are things which I like and obsess over (ie finding passion) but it does not give me a sense of fulfillment as I imagine a passion would. Passion (to borrow an idea from Weber and the Spirit of Capitalism) is an end in and of itself, not a means to an end. So you would do it (an activity) simply because…just because. 

I know that a lot of times I do things to distract myself from this overwhelming feeling of “hugeness and emptiness” that there is. Because that is a very uncomfortable thing…empty. And activities, passionate or not, provide a temporary thing to focus on. 

I’ve found myself watching a lot of ballet clips on you-tube and such. I keep trying to remember what I felt like dancing and if that was really a passion or just an activity which I relentlessly pursued. Listening to interviews with dancers and what performing feels like to them…I enjoyed being on stage but I don’t recall having this “need” to do it. So I was quite possibly obsessing over something, but not passionate about it. Which is why I ended up quitting. Unless passion can also be temporary, but I think if that were the case one would still feel content with what they are doing. I think the reason I am at the moment feeling nostalgic for ballet is that I like the idea of it. The idea of having something that you do for hours a day that is physically and mentally engaging and challenging and gives a sense of direction. 


Like now, I just came home and I’ve got a few hours to “kill” until the next event of the day. What does one do with this time? What do I want to do? I have no idea. There are so many options and things and it is a bit overwhelming to think about so I would much rather just stare aimlessly and not do anything. Or distract myself with some activities. A passion however seems that it would fill this time rather easily. Oh, I’ve got a few hours let me work on XYZ. Its also possible that I am romanticizing this notion of passion and what it brings but its just been on my mind a lot. 


So now that you have read my rant, can looking for passion, be a passion?

LALALA

Been about a week (minus a day) since my arrival in Los Angeles and it has been quite fantastic. Seeing my family and a certain someone in PERSON as oppose to via computer images on Thursday was lovely. As was getting my fill at Pazzo Gelato (chocolate tequila sorbetto rocks my socks). There was also an epic car tire escapade. Friday I managed to sleep a lot which was great. And meander to Intelligentsia and finish the Orchid Thief which everyone should read.

Over the weekend I was reunited with some long lost friends from my dancing days. Drove down to Orange County for a graduation Saturday, visited the beach, got a sunburn in the shape of the hole in my tights, went out in Fullerton (oh yea!), reminisced over memories and photos, saw the solar eclipse, drove back to LA for an adventure and a taping of….Dancing With the Stars [despite never having seen an episode in my life]. Yeah, don’t be jealous that I saw the final performances live. Standing in line provided excellent people watching opportunities. In front of us were 4 or 5 elderly british ladies who lived in newport beach and were decked out in jewelry and comparing the merits of living by the water where you could have a boat but was more touristy, versus elsewhere for more privacy but no direct water access. Because all those vacation homes are so annoying! Behind us were some younger chicks in painful looking shoes and too much makeup for anyones good. They were complaining mainly about the heat and how much they were sweating. Oi.

Also ate at the LA Cafe Gratitude, but the Berkeley one trumps (mainly because of the atmosphere, the menu is very similar). The LA one is….hollywood-ized and completely undermines the idea of giving thanks for food and appreciating it and whatnot. People are more into the health part and the image associated with eating there and service is…fast…eat and leave, don’t sit and meditate (yes, I saw someone meditating at the berkeley location). Food was delicious, i got “I am Amazing” which was a raw chia seed/banana crepe filled with apples, bananas, and strawberries topped with coconut milk yogurt, maple syrup and walnuts. nom nom nom. see…

Tuesday the packing began as Friday is…moving day!! I finally saw the house my parents bought, in silverlake, which means…Silverlake for life!!! I have no choice but to live in Silverlake when I move back home after not finding a job when I graduate next year. Or when I am 70 years old or whatever. No complaints. I was also reunited with another dear friend and conversed for hours about life and the meaning of it, went through the farmers market and got more…gelato (pear and chocolate this time around) 
Went to the movie theater later that night…I had not set foot in a movie theater since….winter break. so it was an event I must say. 
Poked my head into my old Starbucks this fine AM. It is the same, yet different. 
I’m trying to get to things on my list too, but its proving a bit difficult with spontaneous plans that come up, but that is OK I suppose. Time here is going by so fast, yet so slow. All I want to do is sleep and stare aimlessly into space. I was hoping that by this point in time my productivity would increase (ie read, find articles, do something productive) but…nooooopppeeee. I still, for some reason, refuse (can’t tell if its my brain or my body that is still dead). 
On that note, I must get back to packing, the one thing I actually NEED to finish. 
Saw this sign on Larchmont….awwwww!!!

summer, week 1

Today=one week since my last final=it has been 1 week of summer break. I am finally re-cooperated from celebration and feel like I need a detox. blech. this past week was much needed to unwind and reflect and think and ponder and just putter around. Of course I have also done a fair bit of stuff, kind-of.

-organized all the papers that accumulated over the year
-started reading 2 books (which I am halfway through both): “the orchid thief” and “this is how”
-watched 2 movies: Adaptation and Mozart’s Sister
-had visitors and acted as a campus tour guide
-went bowling! (and lost by epic proportions, but that ok)
-bought the new Beach House album (which has been on nonstop repeat since….yesterday when it came out)
-rode my bike
-saw my mentee one last time
-went to the farmers market
-painted my nails
Grades have been posted. My 4.0 is no longer. I got 2 A-‘s and one A. Of course, my 4.0 would not even exist if PCC had counted A-‘s as A-‘s instead of As. I have a confession: Many of what looked like A’s on my transcripts were, in fact, A-‘s, but I knew they didn’t count. now its coming back to haunt me.

The farmers market was excellent. I finally got my egg fix and have been enjoying them in the the form of omelets with mushrooms, spinach and caramelized onions, or simply hard boiled with a bit of salt.

note the freshly baked chunk of bread with gobs of vegemite. sorry, marmite, i am cheating on you. 
I also met a raisin makin’ man at the market and talked to him for a bit. He simply dries the grapes on the vine, turns them over every few days until they dry. once they dry, he tumbles them to remove them from the vines, and….thats it. Organic, so no added preservatives or sugar or anything. most delicious raisins i have ever eaten, they kinda burst when you bite into them. 

Today is my last day up in Berkeley for about two weeks…then LA time! I am excited of course, but I will also miss it up here, especially my bike and my room. I will however, finally see the house my parents have purchased!!! I am not looking forward to this packing business, but ah well. It had BETTER be sunny in LA, or else I will cry and be very sad.

might i suggest listening to the above song. 

So this is my summer “to do” list. Not in a strict sense that i MUST do everything on it, but just things that I would like to get done, or places that I would like to explore and see. I also realize that a lot of it is food/booze/dessert related and may depend on my appetite and budget constraints (unless, of course, you love me and want to take me places and pay for my food and drink and dessert). I also realize that other spontaneous activity will probably occur, which is completely fine and welcome. I also realize this is a work in progress and may change and evolve. Any takers for any of these activities? Any other suggestions for my list? 

Berkeley
organize old papers and assignments from this past year, chucking out old stuff that no longer holds any importance
plant seeds that I got from the seed bank
-poke around the ashby flea market (for planters?)
-bike or walk along the golden gate
-bike around the embarcadero
-explore san pablo ave, specifically some of the ethnic food stores and random boutiques
-explore Solano avenue and maybe a bit of Albany
explore 4th street by the marina
rent electric bikes and ride around
-go to ACME bread
-go to the kingfish bar
go to babette coffee and read
-go to arbor café and read
berkeley art museum
-eli’s mile high club
jack london square adventure in oakland
eat at homeroom mac+cheese
-go to star meats and buy eggs from soul food farms
eat at souley vegan
-crixa cakes
-masse’s pastry [went in, but didn’t buy anything, so it half counts]
get ice cream from ici
-walk along the pier
chocolatier blue
-edible love chocolates
-farmers market
LA
eat at kind crème
visit café gratitude for a compare and contrast between the berkeley location
-learn how to drive stick shift [tried it, but I am far from being able to do so on my own]
-drag races
-go to Eagle Rock Brewery’s Sunday tour and tasting
-see a show at the upright citizens brigade
-go to Cinespia (too late =(
scoops ice cream parlor
-silverlake usuals: farmers market, intelligentsia, flore vegan, grassy knoll, the thirsty crow, tiki ti, pazzo gelato, lark cupcakes,4100 bar, berlincurrywurst
-eat at food+lab
try heywood grilled cheese shoppe
have coffee at handsome coffee roasters new coffee bar
visit my old starbucks store
-sunset beer company
-see people
Misc
-clear and sort and organize emails/my inbox
-which leads to organize computer/delete files from this semester
-read and find food articles for next year
-learn about whiskey
-learn about beer
-learn about and bake artisan bread
make pasta from scratch
-make marzipan
-make vegan cheese
-learn canning techniques and how to make jam and pickles from my dad
-press flowers
-go scavenging for goods at yard sales
-possibly watch a few movies (note: this will most likely have to be forced upon me, or a film that I have been dying to see)
-read non-school related books and/or magazines and/or newspapers

year one, done?!

the oddest thing ever. I am done with my first year at Berkeley. um, what just happened?

Exactly a year a go I found out that I got into Cal and went on an epic road trip. Finished up at PCC, had a really fun summer, quit my job at starbucks, moved to berkeley, moved again while in berkeley, had some not so amazing professors, had some really attractive professors, went on alternative breaks, started riding a bike, began mentoring, took a ballet class, started drinking beer, decided grad school might not be for me, grew into my random personality, dyed my hair pink, discovered delectable bakeries, met amazing people, saw bon iver, hung out in SF, learned a thing or two in my classes and learned 20 bajillion things about myself and life while not in my classes. If you are feeling stalkerish, you can look at my old posts.

This semester I kiss my 4.0 goodbye. now, how does that make me feel, might you ask? (thats the first thing everyone has been asking) at first I was upset and anxious a bit. but now, really, its a relief I suppose. less pressure maybe? I suppose its caused me to examine my motives for being in school and working hard and for getting good grades in the first place. I just like the little triangle shape with two little legs sticking out of the sides. people tell me that I’m smart, but I’ve noticed I am not really. Smart is the ability to analyze and see patterns and understand material and generate knowledge. Not memorize and regurgitate information back out. but the thing is, i like a challenge and active engagement with the material and with the teachers and other students in the class. I hate papers.

That is why soc. 101, classical social theory has been my FAVORITE class this semester. Challenging material, excellent discussion sections, no papers, and it reminded my why I picked sociology as a major and why I used to like school. I guess I still like some aspects of school, just not feeling like an anonymous no one or nothing.

Finals were alright. I spent all of Saturday and all of Sunday and some of Friday and Monday writing my Theory take home, but I must say, I was rather pleased with the final product. I actually, learned something. So far, I’ve only really had one class each semester that I’ve learned anything of use or enjoyed. Meh…

I’ve got a week left in Berkeley to regather and regroup my energy, laze about in the sun, and poke around places before heading down to LA. And of course, celebrate. As all of my friends finish finals on different days, celebrations will be carried out over the next several days. If they learn my name at the graduate, I will not be surprised. I am also in the process of compiling my summer list, which will be posted shortly. I actually got to cross something off of it today. My super awesome boss took me out to lunch and we went to Homeroom mac+cheese. Basically, a gourmet mac+cheese restaurant that reeks of hipster-ness. Its “classroom” themed, so the menus are on notebook paper, there are awkward school photos in the bathroom, the bill comes on a clipboard, daily specials are scribbled on a chalkboard, and the “buy-10-get-1-free” card is an old library card catalogue. Oh, and drinks come in Mason Jars (beer and wine included). The vegan mac+cheese was delicious, I got mine with artichoke added in (any add-ons are appropriately called ‘extra credit’). And for dessert, homemade oreos with…SEA SALT. delectable. I unfortunately tucked in before capturing the mac+cheese, but here are the oreos

On a slightly less happy note, someone at Cal jumped out of a dorm window during finals week. Whenever I think of death, this one quote always comes to mind from The Hours. 
Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more. It’s contrast.” 
So yeah, it made me quite pensive and reflective and…very sad for both him and his family. 

alice in wonderland via marx and dialectics

My professor, who I am slightly obsessed with, on Marx, Hegel, and dialectics:

“Human nature is a process by which humans come to make themselves what they are. Human beings are centers of negativity, they look at the world and try to fashion it to meet thier own needs. So the very concept of human nature is dialectical. We cant describe human nature as a set of positive attributes, we can only really describe human nature in terms of a project: to become something….you cant understand yourself in terms of a set of positive attributes…that doesnt capture what you are…you are also relevantly not something. You are a project to be something else. You are the project by which you make yourself what you are, which means that you are not. You are a process of becoming what it is that you are”