Tag Archives: UC Berkeley

Young Man Went West #23-C: California Chronicles, Part III

California Chronicles: Part III—Around the Bay and Beyond

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Glen Ellen (Camp Milagros) ∙ Livermore ∙ San Francisco

Camp officially ended around noon on Sunday, so I still had half that day plus the following three to see as many people in as many places as I could before leaving.  I slept almost the entire drive back home.  The power nap came in handy, as not long after I dropped my duffle of dirty clothes in the laundry room, my parents and I took off for San Francisco.  We were going to meet my sister and her boyfriend Amit at the Bubba Gump’s at Pier 39.  You’d think I’d want to take a break from that place during my time off, but my motive was two-fold: I wanted to see how easy it would be to try out my employee discount at another location, and a family dinner was my mom’s belated birthday gift, so it might as well be a half-priced dinner.  Fifty bucks for dinner for five ain’t bad at all.

After finding a sweet shirt at the market (a black retro tee my coworkers envy), we took our seat at a corner booth near the front.  Sitting in a different Bubba’s is a strange experience; everything is completely brand new yet strangely familiar at the same time.  I was in a parallel universe.

I’d told my family to not let the server know I was an employee because I wanted to see how his service compared to that at my location.  At first, I wasn’t impressed.  He came around half as often as I do, and didn’t start trivia until we asked.  I later found out that he was the bartender as well, so I forgave him.  Also, he had some good trivia questions.  When he realized I wasn’t answering until the questions were too hard for my dad and sister, he figured out that I was an employee.  He gave me the discount without asking for proof, and I gave him twenty percent, base rate for a server-to-server tip.

We parted ways with my sister and Amit after dinner, and my parents and I just strolled around Fisherman’s Wharf for a few hours.  It was great to talk with my parents, to see and smell the City, to wear layers.  It was great to be back.

My sister and me at Bubba Gump's in San Francisco

Monday, August 9, 2010

Berkeley ∙ Livermore

One half day in Berkeley was not enough, so I woke up Monday morning and hopped on BART to the Downtown Berkeley station on Shattuck.  First, I met up with Bianca and had pizza and beer at Jupiter’s.  Wait, I need to emphasize that: I had gourmet, brick oven pizza and locally-brewed beer at one of my favorite ale houses in Berkeley.  I was in heaven, and with good company.  Bianca, a fellow UC Berkeley Film Studies graduate, also works an entry-level job at a museum.  We met up with Nate afterwards, who graduated a year before me and is still on the job hunt.  Every friend I meet makes me feel better about my post-graduate situation, but worse about the trend in general.  At least we’re all in it together!

Two friends in tow, I headed to campus and met up with two more, Felicity and Taylor.  They’re still in school, so they’re all bright-eyed and hopeful about the future.  Just they wait.  We strolled through our lovely Alma Mater and past Memorial Stadium because I wanted to see the construction progress on the soon-to-be Student High Peformance Athletic Center.  Not much progress since I left, as expected.

After a quick bite at Gypsy’s, we dropped Bianca off at BART and explored a bit of North Berkeley.  For those unfamiliar with the area, North Berkeley is nice Berkeley.  It’s a clean, high-brow neighborhood home to more professors and less panhandlers.  In true North Berkeley style, we made our last stop a tea house terrace.  The weather was perfect, the tea was tasty, and we had a fun time pretending to be sophisticated.

I returned to Livermore that night in time for my childhood friend Matt’s 24th birthday party at none other than First Street Ale House.  The room was filled with a few familiar faces—namely Tasha, Casey, Justin, and Anna—but mostly strangers.  This was the social circle Matt developed over the past five years, and while he has these people and I have my college and Hawaii friends, we still came together like high school was yesterday.  He’s still the same old silly, caring, goofy, honest Matt with whom I grew up.  I hope I haven’t changed too much.

Bianca, Taylor, Nate, Felicity, and me around the Pappy Statue at UC Berkeley

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sacramento

I had known before I left Hawaii that I was going to spend significant time in Sacramento, not only because my sister lived there, but also (and mainly) because that’s where my college roommate Jake moved to after we graduated.  Jake, Lawrence, and I shared the same small living spaces for four years, and now we reside in three different time zones.  While I couldn’t take a detour to Chicago to visit Lawrence, I did have the opportunity to see Jake again, and I was definitely going to take it.  Jake joined my family for dinner at a classy beer and pizza place (notice a trend?) and then we attempted to catch an early screening of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.  Although he won the tickets from the radio, they oversold the screening and we got there too late.  No worries though, the theater was a short walk from Old Sacramento and Jake’s new place of employment on the Delta King, a hotel-slash-restaurant on a boat.

My old friend gave me a tour of the boat and of Old Sac.  It’s an interesting little town, but not as interesting as the conversations we had, about anything and everything, as usual.  Jake and I operate on the same brainwaves, no pretenses, no social walls, no awkward silences.  It was refreshing.  Too bad Lawrence couldn’t be there.

I got to see the apartment he lives in with his longtime girlfriend, Jessi.  It was definitely cleaner than our digs in Berkeley, and was furnished with a giant TV and two awesome cats.  After joining my sister and her friends for a couple drinks downtown, he took me to a bar across the street from his place and we split a pitcher of beer over foosball and pool.  A simple good time with a simply great friend.

Jake, Jessi, and their two cats--Lucius Vorenus and Niobe--in their Sacramento apartment

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sacramento ∙ Lotus ∙ San Francisco

I spent the night on Jake and Jessi’s couch, falling asleep to TMNT.  We finished the Ninja Turtles movie the next morning and then went out for breakfast.  There are never sad goodbyes with Jake and I, just see-you-laters.  And I will.  Hell, he’s half-serious about moving to Seattle when I do.

I had plans to see some friends in San Francisco, but seeing as I was so close to Lotus, my dad suggested I first stop by there to see my grandma.  Lotus is about an hour northeast of Sac, but two hours back to Livermore.  Still, I went.

When I got there, it was only grandma, Uncle Junior, and Auntie Tessy.  I saw “only” because I’m used to that house filled with ten to eighty people.  It was like visiting an amusement park during the offseason.  My auntie and uncle were glad to see me and asked me tons of questions while forcing me to eat.  I declined food four or five times before giving in.  It’s hard to say no when your relative is already making you a plate.

The house is in a constant state of renovation, and besides a well-tended garden, the newest additions to the Lotus house were a poolside bamboo nipa hut and matching tiki bar.  Our family parties are going to amazing!

The Nipa Hut and Tiki Bar at our house in Lotus

After about an hour of eating unnecessarily and watching Filipino game shows, I headed back to Livermore, took a shower, and drove to the BART station to catch a train to the Mission District.  When I got there, my friend Juliana was finishing up work and Nate was still on his way over, so I had some time to just wander around the Mission solo for a bit.  I’d never really explored this area beyond the taquerias, but got excited as I imagined myself living there in five to ten years.  It’s an interesting neighborhood filled with impressive street art, small bars, and an abundance of Mexican restaurants.  I put it on my “to move to” list

I finally met up with my friends at Juliana’s super nice, very San Francisco-y house, and by that I mean a house that looks tall and small in the front, but extends quite far back.  We had some Mission Mexican food while I ranted about Hawaii’s problems (namely, how it lacks a rail system, recycling programs, and available girls).  I love the island, but not as much as complaining about it in front of people who so desperately want to go.  My ranting quieted a bit when my torta al pastor came out.  It wasn’t as good as what I scarfed down daily in Mexico, but it was far better than anything I could find in Hawaii (another thing it’s lacking).

Nate and I hit a bar for a bit to give Juliana some time to study as she’s one of my few friends that actually does school work.  She still hasn’t learned the art of studying just enough to BS your way through a class.  She must have graduated from Berkeley the hard way.  By the time we got back to her house, Juliana was ready for a break, so we played Clue.  Board games are such simple pleasures; I don’t know why people don’t play as often.  A few hours and YouTube videos later, Juliana was ready for more reading so Nate and I headed back to our respective homes.  We said our goodbyes and took off into the night.

Juliana shows off her awesome apron in her San Francisco house

***

Revisiting California was a refreshing break from monotony.  I soaked in my ability to recycle, to wear jackets, to drive 80+ miles per hour.  As I left those things behind, I took with me the knowledge that no matter how far I move or for how long, I will always have friends and family in Califoria ready to welcome me back home, hopefully over some pizza and beer.

FIN

Sigh, I guess it was time to leave California and come back to this. . .

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YMWW #23-A: California Chronicles, Part I

Part I: Back in Town

Monday, August 2, 2010

After an uneventful, five-hour flight, I was finally back in the Bay Area.  (Edit: I say “uneventful” like a bad thing, but it occurs to me that “eventful” flights usually mean catastrophe.  This flight was perfect.)  My parents picked me up at SFO, but seeing as it was past nine o’clock and near their bedtime, we skipped the restaurants and went straight home to Livermore.  After a meal of leftover ribs and rice, I gravitated towards the digital cable and 60-inch HD TV and got caught up on Entourage.  One hour into my vacation and I was already playing couch potato.

‘Round about one in the morning, my good friend Ian came by to pick me up.  Everything was closed by this hour, like any decent suburb, so we drove around just to drive around.  He pointed out a few new additions to Downtown Livermore—such as the newly-expanded First Street Ale House, the type of pub-slash-restaurant prevelent in Berkeley but lacking in Honolulu—but for the most part, the city entire was just as I’d left it.  Still, we drove.

We drove and we didn’t stop talking.  The conversation was continuous and seemlessly slipped from one topic to the next.  We discussed everything from girl problems to the possible city infrastructure of San Jose.  Before we knew it, it was three o’clock in the morning by the time he took me back to my place.  The car stopped in my driveway, but the conversation did not.  It was not until an hour and a half later did I finally head upstairs to go to sleep.

I took that first night of shooting the breeze in a car with my friend as a good omen, a foreshadowing of the fun, easy time we will have during our roadtrip around the country.  I will go into detail of this later, but basically, Ian and I plan to drive around the continental United States for an entire summer next year, starting in the Bay Area, going up through the Pacific Northwest and then across the northern states, working our way down all the essential cities of the East Coast into Florida, and then back through the South.  The theme of the trip (besides avoiding Middle America) is frugality; we will couchsurf, crash in the car, or camp before considering a hostel, our last resort.  Seeing as three hours flew by during our tour of Livermore, I truly believe our roadtrip will go off without a hitch.  Well, without many hitches.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ian picked me up the next morning for more car-wandering.  This time it wasn’t as aimless; our plan was to drive up the Peninsula for the sake of crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.  Before heading out, Ian and I stopped at Safeway to buy ingredients for a pack lunch.  We spent about half an hour deciding between this sandwich and that before realizing we were both already hungry.  We ditched Safeway for hot food and beer at First Street Ale House.  I love that kind of spontaneous decision-making.  I live that kind of spontaneous decision-making.

Bellies full, the two of us continued on our trip up the Peninsula.  It was a comfort to once again see familiar golden hills, wide open spaces, and highways that made sense.  When we reached the Bridge, I whipped out my camera and started snapping away like a tourist.  It was narrower than I remember, but than again, I don’t really remember the one other time I crossed the Bridge.  I guess it was narrower than I expected.  Shorter, too.  I’ve found monuments are usually smaller in real life than in pictures and expectations.  Still, the familiar orange towers shrouded by grey fog forced a giant smile upon my face.  We pulled around to Vista Point on the other end so I could take an unnecessary amount of same-angle pictures of the Frisco icon.  Dressed in shorts, slippers (read: “flip flops” in CA), and a zipped-up hoodie, I fully indulged my Hawaiian tourist persona.

Fifty pictures later, Ian dropped me off in Berkeley so I could meet up with my friend Olivia, who just happened to have the day off.  I hadn’t seen Olivia in a year, but we quickly got caught up on what we’ve been doing since graduating.  Basically, nothing.  We were both too proud about it, too.

Olivia and I made all the necessary Berkeley stops: Upper Playground, Rasputin, Brazil Cafe, Beckett’s, spending money we didn’t have on things we shouldn’t have bought.  Along the way, we met up with my friend Ben who also—surprise, surprise—was working entry-level jobs solely to pay rent.  There the three of us sat: Berkeley graduates.  Minimum-wage warriors.  Twenty-somethings with uncertain futures but no worries about them.  We should be the poster-children on the post-recession University of California brochures.  Go Bears!

Another beautiful double-exposure photo from my friend Daeja Fallas (www.daejafallas.com) feature the one and only Golden Gate Bridge

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YMWW #14: Fortitude

Friday, January 15, 2010

(Originally posted on Facebook)

**I know this is a quick follow-up to entry #13, but when inspiration hits, you gotta go with it. . .

Though most of my waking life is spent relishing in my odyssey to Hawai’i, I’ll admit there have been times when doubt has clouded the brilliance of my decision. Today was one of those times.

This morning, I had donned one of my new Cal shirts (grey, Walking Bear logo with “UC Berkeley”) and by the time I got to work, was in full Cal Spirit mode. I was singing “Fight for California” to myself when I noticed an ugly shade of red planted in front of the Whole Foods entrance. A young woman was sitting on a bench wearing a red Stanford stanfurd sweatshirt. In front of my store!

I approached her from her left and sat on her right, turning towards her so that the front of my beautiful Berkeley shirt was inches away from her stupid Cardinal face. Point, Bears! However, my sinfully proud internal smile was suddenly humbled by a horrid realization: here sat a stanfurd alumna, waiting for Whole Foods to open because she had the money to shop there. Next to her sat me, a Berkeley alumnus waiting for it to open because that’s where I earn my minimum wage pay. She can’t see that I work there! Imagine the pretentious laughs her anecdote about me would bring at her snooty, alumni wine parties!

The doors opened and I quickly darted into the entrance she didn’t use. Maybe she didn’t see me cover my alma mater’s logo with my pseudo-Asian cook uniform. Maybe she wouldn’t recognize me with a wedge cap on my head. Maybe she didn’t even notice my shirt outside, what with her eyes busy looking down her nose.

My pride swallowed, I started work. Switch on oven fan, check. Heat up deep fryer, check. Turn on grill, check.

Somewhere between making twelve pounds of rice and realizing that I shouldn’t have heated up the deep fryer because I was supposed to change the oil today, I came to terms with this morning’s incident. I’m a cook in a grocery store, so what? I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do! Okay, I kind of hate my job, but still, I made an aimless move to another state, I pay for rent and food with my own money, and I’m exploring what life has to offer outside of the small section of California I called home for twenty-two years. How can I not be happy with myself? How can I not be proud? I went about the rest of my working day happily—and loudly—singing Cal songs (and when I had exhausted those, I started belting out musical numbers fromNewsies).

I’ll get another job shortly (I’ll definitely update you on that), and maybe I’ll move to another state some time down the line. Maybe I’ll make millions by doing what I love. Maybe not. Who knows? All that matters is that I am happy with the decision I made and it’s nothing to be ashamed about. No regrets.

I brought a smile to my own face by making up a story about the stanfurd alum I encountered this morning: She probably traveled down to Shallow Alto to major in pre-med, just like her strict Asians parents wanted. Unable to find success in a passionless career, she quit the game and married an older man for the security (she was, in fact, with an old, grey-haired gentleman). Following his dream for retirement, this geezer moved himself and his little Asian trophy wife to O’ahu. She now works at Lili’uokalani Elementary as the school nurse, coming home to fix her geriatric beau an organic, free-trade dinner.

Go Bears.

PS: If you didn’t click on the “odyssey” link at the beginning of this entry, do so now. It is a very intriguing, and related, article from the New York Times. Thank you to Ate Melanie for showing me this.

While Allison Stokke is not a Roxy model, it is more than appropriate to include her here, decked out in Cal gear.

I know what you’re think and you’re right, it’s hard to believe it took fourteen entries to finally see her on this blog!

GO BEARS!

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YMWW #12: Year in Review

Thursday, December 31, 2009

(Originally posted on Facebook)

Typhoons devastated the Western Pacific Ocean. A recession crippled US economy. Michael Jackson died, as did Tiger Woods’ career. 2009 was not the best year for the world entire, but this blog is about me, and to me, 2009 rocked! Here’s a review of the events that had me saying, “Oh yeah!” in Oh-Nine:

Went Out with a Bang. 2009 was destined to be a hallmark year for no other reason than that it is my college graduation year. My four years at UC Berkeley were the greatest I’ve ever had, my senior year being the best, that last semester being the best of the best. Academically, I was on easy street with ten units (the minimum number of units one can take per semester is 13, unless you were a Senior with a good excuse. . . like I was). Four units came from a class on sound in film, as taught by an Academy award-winning sound editor (Mark Berger), another four came from an awesomely random “History of Canada” class, and the last two from my class on Firefly. Yes, that’s right, I got college credit for studying a cult sci-fi television show.

Socially, I was having the time of my life. Since my officer position in the UC Rally Committee really ended with the football season, I was more or less relieved of responsibility by 2009. My closest friends in Rally Comm had given up on it, so I had more time to see them after Winter Break. I also had more time to spend with people from my film classes, usually on film shoots. I made a bunch of film friends my senior year, and often wondered if I should have left Rally Comm earlier. Wondered, yes, regretted not doing so, no. My rule is that if you like where you are in the present, regret nothing in the past, for all those things had to happen get you where you are. Still, spending more time with film people was refreshing.

The weeks around the time of finals and graduation were a blur of bittersweet celebration. They were filled with studying and partying, saying “bye” to old friends and saying “I wish I met you sooner” to new ones, closing out one chapter of my life and hoping for the best in the new one. I was proud to be a graduate, but sad to have graduated.

Summer of Win. After graduating, I stayed in Berkeley for the summer to intern for the sci-fi independent film In-World War. It was a lot of work for no pay; by “a lot of work” I mean ten- to 14-hour consecutive days for three weeks, and by “no pay” I mean that all I received was college credit, and that didn’t balance out the money I spent on BART fares and random props. Still, it was one of the most enjoyable and educational experiences of my life. I learned more about film-making than I did in my four years at Berkeley, and made quite a few friends along the way. Also, I have legitimate film credit as a Production Assistant, Assistant Casting Director, and Second Assistant Director (spread the word, wink wink). Though the film should be finished about a year from now, my involvement with it is done. I’ll never forget my summer on the set of In-World War.

Principle photography wrapped in July, the same time Comic-Con International returned to San Diego. Being a nerd surrounded by nerds all summer, it was inevitable that I make the pilgrimage to nerd mecca. Comic-Con is the largest and most popular comic book convention in the world, which showcases upcoming events in the world of comic books, films, television shows and video games. Felicity was my inside connection, and Leslie, Jean, Tommy, and Taylor were my posse. Comic-Con was the draw, but the road trip down south, the random visit to Sea World, and the awesome nights around town were what made the whole experience memorable. I hope to do it again next year.

My summer was rounded out with a return stint as a counselor at Camp Milagros, a wonderful, week-long sleep-over camp in Sonoma Valley for children with juvenile arthritis and other related diseases. I had a lot more fun my second time around since I was familiar with the camp and therefore had the confidence to be a leader. I hope to return after next year’s Comic-Con. I’ll be sure to bring more comic books this time around (apparently they’re key in calming down 8-year-olds with ADD).

I Went West. And you know the rest. . .

So, 2009 was one hell of a year, but now it’s time to say good-bye. I hope 2010 (pronounced “twenty-ten,” don’t you forget!) will bring as much good fortune and fun as did its predecessor. I’m already starting it out right by having—for the first time in my life—a New Year’s Resolution: find a new job. I’ll let you know how that goes (my second resolution is to write in this blog weekly, or at the very least, bi-weekly).

Do any of you have a New Year’s Resolution worth mentioning?

HAU’OLI MAKAHIKI HOU! (Happy New Year!)

What does this picture have to do with New Year’s? Um, she’s leaning on a ball. A ball drops in New York.

Yeah, that works.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I completely forgot about another major event in my 2009—I got laser eye surgery! Now, I have nearly 20/15 vision in both eyes, and going to the beach is no hassle at all.

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