27 August 2007

Football Season!

I have so many half-written articles to post - but in lieu of actually finishing one, I thought I would instead share my favorite Cal commercial of all time to commemorate my visit home to see Cal play Tennessee this weekend.


04 July 2007

Legally Blonde

Little did I know one could create a lyric out of, "Omigod! Omigod you guys!" But this is indeed what I learned this past Sunday afternoon when I saw a matinée performance of Legally Blonde: The Musical, with Kim. Up for the weekend from DC, I knew she was one of a small number of people I would ever be able to convince to see the musical - because as reluctant as we are to admit it, we were in the same sorority at Berkeley. However, the way I like to look at it is that we both similarly have a mutual appreciation for high and pop culture. While the musical lacked a certain cohesion at times, we laughed from the rafters (literally - we're poor) and only feigned embarrassment a few times so as to preserve a facade of dignity.


26 June 2007

Left Alone Long Enough and I Might Actually Write That Book

After previous trips to visit Kim in DC, I often found myself writing blog articles with a similar theme: West Coast girl meets new/slightly bizarre culture on the East Coast. Of course, I would lovingly make fun of their obsession with flip cup, conservative dress and political schmoozing and then I would happily return to the Bay Area, and life in flip flops and jeans. So when I suddenly decided to move to New York, I knew I didn't want to immediately write about my experiences. While there have already been plenty of "West meets East" misadventures to fill this blog, I wanted to be able to give you a true sense of my life here rather than a play by play of my encounters with rats, celebrity sightings, the subway, critter embroidered shorts and tourists.

In the bay area my weekends were often scheduled to the brim, and if they weren't, I had seven roommates, a car and hundreds of books - enough to keep a girl occupied. My first weekend here was Memorial Day and I literally had no plans. Everyone I already knew was out of town and I was left to explore the city with the tourists. So on Saturday, I just started walking. From my apartment in the East Village I headed West and then up Fifth Avenue. I made some obligatory stops at Anthropologie and H&M and then continued north. After the most overwhelming walk through Time Square, I arrived at Central Park about five hours later. Especially in the beginning, I hardly felt alone - caught up in the excitement/newness of it all.

But also, this town just fits me right. Maybe it is my obsession with jewish intellectuals and literary culture - but the history of this place overwhelms me. Where my place is here - how I can add to this rich history - so far the answer to that question is very unclear. All I know is that I turn a corner and am drawn to a new path. For example...

1. I met up with some friends freelancing for magazines and I wanted a part time job copy editing.
2. I saw Frost/Nixon the other night and wanted to get a side job doing stage production work.
3. I saw Lion King with Marie this past weekend, and desperately wanted to play clarinet in an off-off-broadway pit.
4. I saw Eddie Murphy filming a movie in Time Square yesterday and wanted to become a PA on a movie set.
5. I walk around aimlessly or drift off into space at work and I think about the popular intellectual and cultural history book I am going to write that finally sheds light on the cultural and intellectual state of my generation - kind of a call to arms to reinvigorate public culture, pragmatism and the importance of learning from past generations.

I am the picture of indecision - I am the poster child for the "what are you going to do with that liberal arts degree (in my case degrees)?" question. And that the opportunities are now literally endless doesn't seem to help me find my calling any sooner.

Marie left this morning - leaving me to reluctantly return to work (and my diet of cereal and yogurt as opposed to yummy meals out). I think having Marie visit made me finally realize that I live here - or maybe it was that my 30-day subway pass ran out which led to the subsequent realization that I had been here for 30 days! But having a buddy to pal around town with was great, and now that she has gone, it is only the second time I have felt a large void here. The first time happened a few weeks ago when Nicki returned from Europe and then I remembered I wouldn't see her upon her return - or celebrate her birthday with her. But this time, with Marie gone, I truly understand what I want to find here but do not already have. All the cultural events and tasty restaurants cannot make up for the family I left behind out west - the one in Redding and the one in Berkeley. Social opportunities are endless here too, but the comfort of home - of time-tested confidantes, people who understand my oddities so well they don't even notice them anymore - it will be a long time before I find that here.

I love New York - but I miss you!

06 March 2007

The Resurrection

My blog hiatus began with the graduate class I took last semester while working full time and applying to PhD programs. Then the waiting period began. Nothing to write about there – just lots of nail biting and exercising because frankly that is the only way I know how to handle stress. And then the gods of academia answered my applications in the form of three consecutive small envelopes – and my fate was known. No PhD program for me – at least for now.

Maybe I seem flippant, but I have had a lot of time to deal with this. Two years ago I was devastated to be rejected. Being a historian was my identity and I felt it had been torn from me. It still stings a little this time around – but the experience I have gained from working these past two years teaches me that these rejections are not measures of my intellectual capabilities or accomplishments. But that is not even the big news…

My inspiration for resurrecting this blog – I am moving to New York! I am taking a job in Manhattan, working with my current boss, but in a more dynamic capacity – both admin and research. And while I have no doubt that much of this job will similarly entail assistant-ish work, I am looking forward to exploring some seriously uncharted territory. The last and ONLY time I have ever been to New York was on a one-day bus tour in the eighth grade. We visited the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations and I recall someone pointed out ABC Studios from the window of the bus. This is the knowledge base I am taking with me. This is the knowledge base I use when I look up rentals incessantly on craigslist (I can’t stop refreshing the browser), however, I did learn all about boroughs and neighborhoods on wikipedia, so I am practically an expert, right? ;-)

More than anything, I can’t stop thinking what a cliché I am. Tall, sweet, blonde young Californian moves to New York (only to be hardened by the harsh realities of big city life). Some craigslist ads specifically request roommates who already have New York experience under their belt. What – are they tired of teaching people how to use the subway and listen to them cry about missing their families? ;-) I guess I understand where they are coming from – kinda like me living with a Berkeley freshman. And in some ways that is what I am. I have lived in the Bay Area for eight years. The people I see here on a weekly basis are my second family. And now I am leaving again. It is a huge opportunity, but with some major costs. Now when I come back to visit, I will be juggling two families rather than one.

But I feel the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Right now, the idea of living in the Bay Area and not being a student just doesn’t make sense for me. The Bay Area is a great place to end up, but while you are tying to make a place for yourself – whether in writing, or international relations or general politics – the center of this world is not San Francisco. The big opportunities in these fields are on the east coast. To have made a commitment to move is almost a huge weight off my shoulders because I know I won’t allow the Bay Area to hold me back any longer. So many things keep me here – my friends, my family nearby, my new great roommates in my new great house and the cats that come with it, the healthy lifestyles, not to mention the natural beauty of everything around me. But the reality is, I will always wonder about the intellectual life in New York unless I try it for myself. I have been interested in the literary culture and history of the “New York Intellectuals” for almost a decade now, and while I know I am not going to step off the plane and make friends with the editor of The New York Review of Books, I do look forward to experiencing a little of the intellectual culture for myself in present time – rather than confining myself to study it from a library carrel. Maybe that is what I was supposed to learn from the little envelopes.

So like the last “quarter-life crisis” that started this blog two year ago – this one isn’t really a crisis at all. Rather, a new opportunity to experience and try something completely different. And I know this sounds quite optimistic and overly touching, but I am embracing my inner cliché – this is my chance to be wide-eyed in the big city. I will miss everything about this place but I can’t wait.

13 December 2006

Coastal Changes

You know you aren't applying for a school on the west coast anymore when you are asked on the application...

Please check if you are a lineal or collateral descendant of:

John Austin Amort, A.B., '07
John W. Appel of Lancaster, PA
Henry Bright, Jr. of Watertown, MA
Robert Pennoyer...
(names continue to continue)
A member of the Harvard class of 1889

Please indicate if you have a family surname of:


I want Hudson jeans does that count?

09 October 2006

I Should be Working on my Paper

How awesome was the Cal/Oregon football game this weekend? Words cannot describe. But numbers can: 45-24 Cal! Watching in the stands with my parents was also a blast, and a nice respite from crazy tailgates and their residual lazy Sundays.

I am not a fan of Time magazine, but this cover speaks to me:

I am not the only one saying this, but I feel it bears repeating...

With this Foley scandal I feel we may have reached a turning point. But what does it say about our society that we can go blindly and arrogantly into wars without end, manufacture future "civilizational" discontent and terrorism, and it is the actions of gay pedophilic congressman that finally forces the issue? I don't think I will understand this anytime soon, but am sure understanding the motivations and ideologies driving our society will keep future historians and sociologists busy for millenia...

05 October 2006

This Elated Girl is a Stress Case!

Guess which event Leah is most excited about this weekend?

a. Homecoming football game versus Oregon
b. Parents and little sis coming to visit for the game
c. Six-week anniversary of my broken toe

No offense family, but my toe is officially cleared for take-off as of this weekend, and I have never been so excited. I am not going to hop right back on the triathlon bandwagon again - and not only because I realized how cold the Bay water will be by November when the race was scheduled. I am going to take it easy, because ideally I learned some lessons in moderation while I was out sick. Lessons like, sometimes it is ok to take a day off exercising - especially when you are taking a graduate seminar and working a full time job. And, I also learned that when you are in really great shape, you can pretty much sit on your ass for a good month before you see obvious physical signs. These last two weeks have tested the strength of my mental health. I simply tried to embrace my newly pudgy arms and fuller cheeks (you can guess which ones I am talking about) but it was tough, especially when my crazy co-worker caught me eating the communal chocolate and asked if I was gaining weight in my sedentary life. Arrgh! I am used to being the young co-worker whose bad snack habits annoy everyone because I don't gain weight - I don't like being the co-worker who gets chided for eating chocolates! But it was out of my control: I couldn't exercise and I can't stop eating candy - so maybe I have learned to accept my limitations...ha!

Tonight was really shaping up to be a downer. I have been getting really tired around the late afternoon lately. I feel queasy, tired, dehydrated... More or less, I have taken on too much trying to research for this seminar and work full time. My mind is elsewhere at work, my social life is non-existent (except at football games when I let out a little too much pent up energy) and recently the stress has started to actually make me sick. Tonight after work I again felt horrible. I took a few hours off in the afternoon to dig through the archives at the Bancroft for my research - and usually that makes me feel a lot better. But even though I was completely engrossed in my research, I still wanted to puke. And let me tell you, the Bancroft staff would not have enjoyed that since you are only allowed to enter with a notebook and pencil. After eating and re-hydrating myself I sat moping in my room until I finally got sick of my bad mood and decided to try going for a run. This past weekend I cut up an old sneaker so that I can use it without putting any pressure on my toe, and since my toe has been feeling really good lately I decided to give it a shot. Obviously, I needed to relieve some stress.

I will start with the disclaimer that I did not make it very far - but it was an unbelievable rush. If my toe was in any pain, I was oblivious to it. I have missed this adrenaline. If running gave me such a rush, then I can't wait to get back on my bike. So I ran a little less than a mile, but my whole mindset has changed - and this evening is all of a sudden shaping up nicely. I think I will listen to Justin Timberlake's "My Love" a few more times and then call it a night study-wise. Then off to watch Grey's and I can go to sleep content...and slightly less stressed out.