When an irresistible force meets an immovable object

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In physics, it’s called the irresistible force paradox: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? The paradox exists in that at its center are two incompatible principles–an unmovable object and an unstoppable force. The logic arises that neither such thing exists.

In music, it’s a  wonderful 1955 song called Something’s Gotta Give, with words and music by Johnny Mercer and famously sung by Frank Sinatra.

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Johnny Mercer

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In my life, I am the unmovable force and a dog named Snuffalaffugus (a misspelling of the Sesame Street character’s name Snuffleupagus) is the irresistible force.

 

As many of you know, I work at Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF). I am Proud to be a Crazy Cat Lady. I love dogs, yes. The world’s cutest dog lets me live in his house.

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Einstein, another irresistible force, adopted from the East Bay SPCA.

At the shelter, I am more comfortable over on the cat side than I am on the dog side. I love scruffy terriers, and if a dog remotely resembling a Cocker Spaniel arrives at the shelter, I immediately start singing songs from Lady and the Tramp.

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A Cocker Spaniel and a scruffy terrier–I’m in! Plus there are cats, evil Siamese cats. A Disney classic.

 

Then along came Snuffalaffugus, who I call Snuffy. This 91-pound American Staffordshire Terrier (also known as the Amstaff or Stafford or by the more common pit bull terrier) mix does not look like a dog I would hang out with. I confess to a lingering fear of large dogs, especially the “bully breeds”. In short, I am afraid of pit bulls.

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The classic American Staffordshire Terrier. This is not Snuffy.

 

As an adoption counselor, I remain neutral on breeds and help potential adopters with whichever dog or cat they’d like to vist. The first time I was called on to show Snuffy, I went into an internal panic. But I pulled on my big girl panties, grabbed a leash, took a deep breath, and entered her kennel. And fell in love.

My first meeting with Snuffy. The irresistible force won.

 

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Meet Snuffaluffagus.

 

We were recently asked to submit photos to use on the Foundation’s organizational chart. A group of us decided to take each other’s pictures with ARF animals. I went against Cat Lady character and decided to pose with Snuffy. It took quite a few shots, but we finally got one with both of us sitting still.

 

Now I spend every spare minute I have visiting Snuffy in her kennel, getting doggy kisses and singing to her. We both need to lose a few pounds, so I really should be out walking her around, but I prefer sitting on the floor while she tries to fit herself in my lap and knocks me over in her enthusiastic face licking frenzies.

 

Amstaffs are one of the several breeds referred to as pit bulls. Pit bulls have had a lot of bad publicity and have become subject to insidious breed restrictions. These restrictions make it harder to place loving dogs like Snuffy with good families.

Amstaffs historically were considered to be loyal family dogs and good with children. In old photos, you often see pit bulls pictured with children.

 

The classic early comedy short films from 1922 to 1944, Our Gang (The Little Rascals), featured the gang’s loyal companion Petey. Petey was, you guessed it, an American pit bull terrier.

 

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The RCA Victor dog is a pit. So is the dog from the Buster Brown stories and shoes.

 

So, what happened to lead us up to the days of stories like Michael Vick and his dog fighting pit? (I will not show the horrible images of the maimed dogs he is responsible for.)

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The concept of pit bulls as Nanny Dogs may be a bit overstated, but the bad reputation of the dogs is something fairly recent. For reasons I don’t know and won’t investigate here, dog fighting rose in popularity in the 1980s and continues today. Pit bulls are incredibly strong dogs and super smart, meaning they are highly trainable. Which can mean trouble if the dog trainer has bad intentions. With the pit bull’s massive head and jaws, their bite can be deadly. In addition to fighting dogs, they have come to be seen by some as cheap, effective guard dogs. I prefer an alarm system myself.

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At the animal shelter, our aim is to place companion dogs in homes with loving families. Snuffy’s previous family was displaced by a house fire and had no choice but to relinquish their beloved dog to the shelter system. They loved her dearly. She was a member of their family. Now she is with us at ARF, and we will do our best to match her with guardians who understand her and will give her the love and exercise she needs.

You might ask why I don’t adopt her myself. One, I have a full house: Einstein, 3 cats, and a continuing rotation of foster cats. Two, I am at work full time, as is Bob. We aren’t able to provide Snuffy what she needs. Three, I want to see her make another family as happy as she makes me. It’s one of the rewards of my job. I can’t adopt each and every animal I fall in love with, but I can feel the joy of someone else falling in love. I get to be a part of something special.

Consider donating to or volunteering at your local shelter so they can continue saving lives like Snuffy’s and Einstein’s. Adopt, don’t shop. And spread the word for Snuffy and all the other animals who deserve better than the cards they’ve been dealt in life.

 

Peace and hugs.

 

When a Danish Modern Minimalist tries to live with a Whimsical Collector (and they are the same person)

For Christmas, Bob gave me a book titled Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives by Tim Harford.

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The note attached said something like “it will all be okay”. I’ve been stressed out by what I perceive to be chaos and mess in our home. I have always prided myself on being a neat freak, with a tidy home and everything in its place. Apparently I have Benjamin Franklin to thank (or curse) for the saying.

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As you may know if you ever read this blog, I not only work full time, but I am working on my Ph.D. full time as well. It’s hard to keep everything in its place when you have deadlines and timeclocks. And some of the things I try to keep in their places are alive: right now my extra bathroom is home to a beautiful momma cat and her 4 lively babies. I foster for the East Bay SPCA, plus we share our home with 3 resident rescue cats and Einstein, the ridiculously cute terrier saved from doggy death row.

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Foster family Rosarita and her 4 little beans, Fava, Garbanzo, Lima and Lentil.
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Einstein; just look at that messy face and try not to fall in love.

 

Trying to get everyone to sit still for a family Christmas photo proved impossible.

 

It’s hard to have a houseful of animal companions and not have a certain amount of mess and chaos. Is it a coincidence that one of my other gifts from Bob was the movie The Secret Life of Pets?

 

I adore Danish Modern furniture and home design. I see the clean wood lines and open spaces and think, “That’s where I want to be.” In my minimalist daydreams, I picture kitchens of big empty countertops and gleaming stainless steel.

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And living spaces like Don Draper’s apartment on Mad Men or the Jetson’s sky pad.

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Don Draper’s New York apartment on Mad Men.

 

If asked, I would say the kitchen I drool after is the set for the Eric Ripert show Avec Eric. It doesn’t hurt that Chef Ripert is drop-dead gorgeous, but that’s beside the point.

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This picture of a minimalist home makes me swoon.

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Think of all the reading and writing I could do in this clean, quiet space.
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And the tidy meals we would eat in the dining area.

I think I’d sleep so well in this bedroom, but then I think “where are the dogs and cats?”

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My favorite television character of all time is Mr. Monk, played by Tony Shaloub. I identified completely with his dislike of dirt and chaos. Other viewers might think he’s an exaggeration, but I can tell you he’s not.

 

But in reality, I don’t live this clean, ordered life, as much as I’d like to, or think I’d like to. And if I did move into one of these fabulous spaces, I’d probably start assembling one of my little collections of things and cluttering up the space, and bringing home all of the stray dogs and cats in the neighborhood, and loading the kitchen counters up with gadgets and appliances.

I think of the kitchens that look like they have produced not just good food but good times and family togetherness.

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This looks like a kitchen where memories are made.
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Julia Child’s kitchen. She lived a good life.

In my own experience, just recently one of the best times I’ve had was cooking Thanksgiving dinner with my friend Bev in her tiny San Francisco apartment kitchen. The crowd of 12 (15? I lost count) of us sat with our plates on her bed and floor and had a blast.

 

When I finally got my dream trip to Paris a few years ago, the kitchen in our apartment was eclectic country French something-or-other, and it was wonderful. (Note to my vegan friends: I wasn’t vegan yet then so please excuse the cheeses and butter and fish.)

When we went to Oslo a year later, our tiny cabin had a tiny kitchen and even though it was designed for someone 7′ tall, I loved putting together meals there.

 

My whimsical side has always loved the idea of living like the characters in one of my favorite childhood books, The Borrowers. I could fashion furniture out of thimbles and spools of thread and matchboxes and make my own whimsical clothes (a la Stevie Nicks) from scraps and wisps of fabrics.

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The Borrowers, illustration by Emilia Dziubak.
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Stevie Nicks

I love the idea of Hobbit Houses and tiny houses and Steampunk houses.

 

Every time I visit the Berkeley store Castle in the Air, I think I want to live there, with its puppet theaters and doll houses and troll villages.

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So which is it, less is more or more is more?

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In fashion, I admire Coco Chanel and her classic looks.

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But I also want to be Stevie Nicks twirling around in my scarves and skirts.

 

Mae West said:

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But should I take her as a role model? I bet she had a good time and didn’t worry about chaos.

The late fashion designer L’Wren Scott, whose work I only just discovered but find to be quite lovely, said:

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I am confused! But that’s okay. 2017 is going to be the year that I embrace disorder and chaos. Tim Harford says it’s okay and will make me more creative and resilient.

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After all, Einstein (the other one) was a pretty smart guy and he embraced chaos. So here I go, and I plan to enjoy the ride!

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Peace and hugs.

On Desolation Row (or, just shoot me before I have to go to another staff meeting)

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You’ve been to that meeting. You know. THAT meeting. The one where someone is standing at the front of the too hot/too cold/overcrowded/uncomfortable room reading a PowerPoint to the audience of zombies.

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You’ve made your shopping list. You’ve doodled so much you are out of ink or an empty millimeter of blank paper. You might have drifted off and checked that you’re not drooling. You wish you’d paid attention to that guy who told you how to sleep with your eyes open. You drank the Kool-Aid, I mean coffee, from the brown box of Peet’s coffee. (Note to leaders: The Coffee won’t make us love you or the meeting but please keep having it brought to the meetings anyway.) You’ve collected all of the words on your Buzzword Bingo card.

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And some almond milk would be awesome, thanks.

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Even though you are a peaceful and compassionate person, you’ve devised some horrific endings for the person up front droning on at that PowerPoint. Or for yourself.

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If this were an episode of The Office, it would be funny.

 

But this is real life, and you have better things to do with your precious time on this planet. As you are finally released and stumble into the hallway, you and your colleagues all whisper to each other about what a waste of time that was as NOTHING EVER CHANGES anyway.

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There is hope! Meetings can be seriously fun and productive. Just ask the people who practice Liberating Structures. I went to a 2-day workshop, the Bay Area Liberating Structures Immersion Workshop, held in Reidenbach Hall at the First Congregational Church of Oakland.

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Dr. Reidenbach, seventh pastor of the First Congregational Church of Oakland.

It was my first exposure to Liberating Structures (LS), but I had heard of one of the structures, Open Space Technology, and liked the sound of it so I thought, why not?

Plus I am at the end of another semester in my doctoral program, taking an awesome class in Humanistic Foundations of Organizational Development (see Life is Our Classroom). This seemed to fit right in, empowering groups to determine their purpose and direction.

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Your intrepid reporter, Day 1.

LS co-developers Keith McCandless and Henri Lipmanowicz were there, joined by Fisher Qua. They don’t call themselves facilitators, so I will just call them Keith, Henri, and Fisher. Everyone was using the American pronunciation Henry but I prefer the French:

 

 

So as not to be the person reading the PowerPoint, I am not going to go through the 2 days structure by structure as we learned about and practiced them. If you are really interested, check out Keith and Henri’s book, The Surprising Power of Liberating Structures: Simple Rules to Unleash a Culture of Innovation.

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Instead, I’ll highlight a few of my favorites. My absolute favorite was the Mad Tea Party, which isn’t on the LS matchmaker menu yet, but is a “structure in development”.

Our Mad Tea was subtitled A Nod to Bob Dylan; our open sentences we completed in rapid fire succession in our revolving circles of tea party pairs were based on the lyrics to Bob Dylan songs.

Well, thanks to a certain ex-husband, I know a lot more about Bob Dylan and lyrics to Bob Dylan songs than you might think. So that made it even more fun. I felt like I was in on a joke, which doesn’t happen very often. I kept waiting for the open sentence to be something like:

“Little red wagon, little red bike, I ain’t no monkey but I know____”. (From Buckets of Rain, Blood on the Tracks album, 1975).

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Some of the ones we were given included:

“All I really want to do is___”

“I’m all tangled up in___”

“If I gotta serve somebody, I’m gonna serve___”

“Beyond the horizon I see___”

It was all very rapid moving, which got my energy up. I am seriously an introvert. Most of those in the room who identified as introverts said they did not enjoy this activity. As a true introvert, I didn’t speak up about my experience, but I had a blast! I think the reason I liked it was I didn’t have to spend more than about 60 seconds with any one person; no small talk, just finish the sentence, move on down the circle. Maybe if I ever end up single again I’ll try speed dating!

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I did love Open Space Technology. The key is having enough people in the group who are willing to put their topics up in the Marketplace. We did 4 rounds, ranging from 30 to 60 minutes. For each round, I had about 6 sessions to choose from.

 

The four I picked were:

-Bringing Art and Movement in LIberating Structures

-Liberating Structures in the Classroom

-Surfing Sideways (meaning when things don’t go the way you think they will)

-LS at Your Worst, or LS with Yourself (for personal and family challenges)

You can tell it’s a seriously fun time when everyone leaves their notebooks, coffee, and sometimes even their phones at their chairs to jump in hands on, brain fully engaged.

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Me being me, a bonus of this expedition was exploring the old church during lunch and breaks. I don’t go to church, but there’s something cool about church buildings, especially old, musty ones.

I managed to sneak into the church kitchen (not hard, the door was wide open just off Reidenbach Hall). I want to cook there! (Vegan spaghetti dinner for 100, no problem!)

I also got to reconnect with Saybrook University colleague Jim Best, a local host for the Bay Area LIberating Structures group. He ran a Shift and Share session on using LS in virtual sessions, a reality of life.

There were times I felt a bit out of my element, but all of the other participants were warm and welcoming and eager to share and listen. The big question now for me: how do the people who need to be immersed in LS, the Michael Scotts and the PowerPoint readers, get there?

On a serious note, I’d like to end by pointing out that the church is collecting donations of items for the surviving victims and families of the Ghost Ship fire. Please find a way to help. Look for a reputable disaster relief fund or group and do what you can.

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Peace and hugs.

Leading Today, Building Tomorrow: 20th Annual Women in Leadership

This is the second year I have attended the Women in Leadership conference at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. It seems especially relevant this year in light of my changing jobs to one with more responsibilities, challenges, and calls upon my management skills. Even though I am not on the Berkeley campus anymore, I decided to visit the old neighborhood for the conference and mingle among inspiring women, find examples of how I want to lead, and get feedback from other women in similar situations.

Women in Leadership 2016

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It was a rainy day, bad for a conference setting that includes an outdoor courtyard but good for our California drought. I had to stop on the way from the parking lot and revisit a few of my favorite outdoor sculptures in the area, including, of course, some fierce, and not-so-fierce, California bears.

 

I made sure to arrive early in order to register and check out the networking breakfast. Is it my imagination, or is the food just nicer at women’s events? Plus there are all the touches like flowers that add to a pleasant atmosphere.

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Student volunteers at registration.
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Breakfast buffet.
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Attendees making new friends over breakfast and coffee/tea.

 

Lululemon provided the bags for the swag, which included a lot of snacks. Women in Leadership have to keep their strength up!

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Leading today, building tomorrow.

 

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Your correspondent gets a good seat.
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Gathering for the opening keynote speaker.

The conference is student organized, and I am impressed at the job they do.

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Co-chairs Morgana Davids and Sydney Thomas welcome the attendees.

 

Keynote 1 Staci Slaughter
In conversation with Staci Slaughter (left), Executive Vice-President, Communications, and Senior Advisor to the CEO, San Francisco Giants.

Staci Slaughter got us started with her view of what makes a good leader:

  • Be a mentor and allow others to fluorish
  • Get out of the way; support others to grow professionally
  • Make time for yourself
  • Remember the importance of kindness
  • You have to be willing to leave to move up; if you don’t feel professionally fulfilled in your job, move on.
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Coffee break and networking time.

Coffee break was followed by the Story Salon, something the organizers added to this year’s program. Hearing other women tell their stories is an empowering and meaningful experience.

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Kelly Deutermann, military officer and pilot in the US Coast Guard, uses a story of a harrowing Coast Guard rescue to deliver her points: own your own decisions, don’t live an unexamined life, check your assumptions at the door, and find ways to make what you want to have happen, happen.
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Margo Hasselman, founding partner of Renaker Hasselman, a law firm specializing in employment law. Competitive Ultimate Frisbee led her to examine her definition of success and prestige as opposed to the conventional definition and measures.
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Ayesha Wagle on the importance of being able to ask for and receive help as well as being supportive of those around you, recurring themes of the day.

Lunchtime! Catering by Gregoire Restaurant, one of the Bay Area’s most popular takeout options, offering beautiful French food and box lunches.

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Thank you for the vegan lunch option!
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Even a woman in leadership can have a sweet tooth.

 

The afternoon started off with our dynamic keynote speaker: entrepreneur, media executive and business author (Naked in the Boardroom: A CEO Bares Her Secrets So You Can Transform Your Career) Robin Wolaner.

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Her funny, engaging, and thought-provoking talk included advising women that success isn’t about luck but about being smart and authentic. She quoted Madeleine Albright, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women.” If Wolaner were to run for political office, I would vote for her! But she’s too smart to do that to herself.

After another coffee and networking break, there were six break-out sessions to choose from:

  • Be Your Authentic Self: Developing a Personal Brand That Matters
  • Intersectionality of Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Workplace
  • Pivoting Toward Growth: Successfully Navigating Your Career Path
  • Power and Influence Strategies
  • Salary Negotiation Workshop: Strategies and Skills for Successful Negotiation
  • Unconscious Bias in the Workplace: What It Looks Like, and What to Do About It

It was a tough choice! They all sound valuable. I went to Pivoting Toward Growth with career coach Michelle Florendo, founder of the company What If You Could.

What If You Could

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Yes, my path has been like the one on the right. Makes me dizzy!

Then on to the evening keynote talk by entrepreneur, activist and leader Freada Kapor Klein, Ph.D. Among her many accomplishments, she is the founder of the Level Playing Field Institute and a partner in Kapor Capital and the Kapor Center for Social Impact.

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The theme of the closing keynote.

Her focus was on women, especially women of color, in the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. There was definitely a heavy emphasis throughout the day on women in tech. I am not one in any on the STEM group, but I still found valuable gems and eye-opening information.

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Do you know who these women are?

 

badass women scientists

And a reminder that while the day was about all women, women of color face greater obstacles.

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Obstacles include being misidentifed as custodial staff.

My favorite quote: “Empathy counteracts bias.”

The companies that Kapor Capital supports commit to GIVE:

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Time to end the day with a closing reception; more beautiful food and sweets, Proseco for those who wanted to imbibe, and San Pellegrino sparkling water for rest of us. It was a day of support, networking, and reminders that we, as women, bring something unique to the table that we should hold onto: empathy, willingness to support each other, and a desire for balance in our lives no matter what our career fields.

I Survived the First Semester! Or, I’ve Been Really Busy

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When I applied to a Ph.D. program on an impulse last summer, I knew my life would be busy, but I didn’t realize just how busy. Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I thought, sure, I can go to school full time while working full time. It hasn’t been the easiest thing I ever decided to do, and I have many more semesters to go. But having now submitted my last paper for the first semester (YAY), I can look back and reflect on just how crazy the last few months have been.

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Before–the cockeyed optimist, ready to study!
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This way madness lies…
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Got my last paper in. Semester one done. Can I brush my hair now?

One of my first moves was to get a big dry-erase calendar to organize my life. I hung it, planned out the semester, and then pretty much ignored it until today, when I am wiping it clean for next semester.

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I’ll pay more attention next semester.

As would be expected in any doctoral program, books are involved. Lots of books. Some I really enjoyed. Some I struggled with. And I faced the reality that I have to pick and choose what to read; I can’t read it all. Or I’m going to have to take a speed-reading class.

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Read this book!
On Complexity
Foster cat Mouse and I struggled with this one.

My dictionary stays open to the “h” pages–I can’t remember the definitions of heuristic and hermeneutics to save my life.

I did have to change some things in my daily routine. My obsession with making the bed every morning is a thing of the past, I hate to say (sorry, Mom). As much as I like to do laundry, the laundry room is now the least visited room in the house.

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I blame it on the cats.
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I justify infrequent laundry by saying it’s because of the drought in California.
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My mending and sewing pile gathers dust on top of the sewing machine.
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I have become the queen of unfinished craft projects.

We might not ever eat homemade meals if not for the Purple Carrot. Similar to Blue Apron or Hello Fresh!, it’s a service that ships the ingredients and recipes for 3 meals a week. Purple Carrot happens to be vegan, and has the caché of having Mark Bittman on the team.

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Quick, easy, tasty and healthy vegan recipes. A life saver!

Of course, we do end up eating on tv trays in front of television most of the time. But that’s not new.

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Eating at my desk is also not unheard of these days.
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Yes, a Clif Bar with coffee is a balanced breakfast, really.

Have I mentioned coffee? There’s a lot of coffee in my life. Funny thing. it’s mostly decaf, but still gotta have it!

I have managed to have some fun down time. Maybe that’s why I scramble to get my papers in on time, but my idea of fun down time is going out on marches and protests, and I think of those as a part of my humane education program. As my friend and fellow future Ph.D. Suzy Fisher says, don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk.

Never Be Silent

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Marching for Elephants with one of my favorite activists, Sara Muñiz.
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Farm Sanctuary Founder Gene Baur speaks at UC Berkeley.
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Walk for Farm Animals in San Francisco with my buddies Cláudia Santos and Heather Meyer.
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I also spent a beautiful day at Preetirang Sanctuary thanks to Cláudia.
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I Braved the Cage with Suzy Fisher. Animal Place was at UC Berkeley to demonstrate what the lives of hens in battery cages are like.
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Fur Free Friday. The awesome Kitty Jones is behind me, holding the Animals Are Not Ours to Wear sign.

A trip to Chicago was one of the highlights of autumn for me. I got to live my Ferris Bueller moment at the Art Institute of Chicago and attend a wonderful concert by the National Brass Ensemble, thanks to the generosity of world’s best boyfriend and amazing brass player Robert Ward.

There’s always room for food in my life, maybe too much so sometimes, and cooking classes are a great way to spend the spare time I don’t have.

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Fun holiday cooking class at the PETA Foundation offices with JL Fields.
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Thanksgiving chef in pajamas and apron, with bed hair.

I bake for the monthly bake sales held to benefit animal sanctuaries by the Berkeley Organization for the Advocacy of Animals at UC Berkeley.

I continued to volunteer for East Bay SPCA. It’s because of my experience there with the animals that I am on this path, so I can’t give that up! And I’ve added fostering onto the list of things I do. Our guest bathroom has been turned into a foster cat habitat.

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Foster kitty Mouse and her babies. She did most of the work. All now adopted into loving homes!
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The kittens were not particularly appreciative of the finer points of research methodology.
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Honeysuckle preferred television to studying.
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Kianna, not loving the cone, after surgery to remove her paralyzed tail (probably hit by a car).

During all of this, work was chaotic too! The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive moved into a new building. Moving is never easy unless you have truckloads of money to pay someone else to do it while you go on vacation.

I had a wonderful time volunteering at the Western Museums Association 2015 Annual Meeting in San Jose.

And just when I got settled into a new office and a new neighborhood, I found a wonderful opportunity to work at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis. Let the commuting begin! Only it didn’t begin so well. My car should be done at the MINI service center soon.

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The Manetti Shrem Museum, under construction, planned to open in Fall 2016.

Ask me how I’m doing:

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I’d like to say life is like this, but…
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A fellow Saybrook student posted this on Facebook; all of us in the program understand!

One day it will all be worth it: I will be one of the new Doctors of Philosophy getting to wear the coveted sash.

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Saybrook graduates, August 2015. I want that sash!

I couldn’t be doing any of this without the love and support of aforementioned Robert Ward. Thank you!

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And for any possible naysayers out there (thankfully that would not be any of my friends or family), I will leave you with the wise words of Harold. Please excuse his language.

Harold

 

My New Work Neighborhood (follow up to End of An Era)

It’s been more than a month since the staff moved out of the old University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) building at the top of Bancroft and College Avenues. There are things I miss about the old neighborhood (Caffe Strada, the Underhill parking garage), and things I don’t (Telegraph Avenue, People’s Park). We are all still getting settled into the new space and the new neighborhood, and the gallery spaces in the buildings are off limits since it’s still a construction zone, but here are my (mostly) highs and lows so far.

Watch for falling debris on your way in!
Watch for falling debris on your way in!

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Moving is always so much fun.
Moving is always so much fun.
You can park here if you get here before 8:30 (yes, a.m.).
You can park here if you get here before 8:30 (yes, a.m.).

For reasons that are not clear to me, much of the new space is ORANGE. I mean, seriously ORANGE. Not a very calming color. Just saying.

Orange is the new black.
Orange is the new black.
Dressing to match the color of our new furniture.
Dressing to match the color of our new furniture.
What, are we in an episode of The Leftovers? Where did the people go?
What, are we in an episode of The Leftovers? Where did the people go?
It must be the lunch hour...
It must be the lunch hour…

During the settling in period, some things have been a challenge. LIke making coffee with no flat surface to put the coffee maker on. But I persevere!

Packing boxes serving an extra purpose.
Packing boxes serving an extra purpose.

We have windows! Big windows that let in light and air (and noise and dust). With a view!

windows windows 2

Everyone is trying to make their spaces feel a little more like their own. Some staff have more space to work with than others. I’m one of the ones with less. Less is more, right?

Not my space.
Not my space.
My space, shared with another person. At least we like each other.
My space, shared with another person. At least we like each other.
Look for me at the sign of the Cat Lady.
Look for me at the sign of the Cat Lady.

It gets better; I have a table now (no more making coffee on the floor) and we have (ORANGE) privacy screens going up.

privacy 1 privacy 2

And when I get sick or looking at orange, I can always daydream about summer in France by looking at my calendar (it looks good next to the orange).

France sigh

Just across Oxford Street from us is one of the most beautiful parts of campus; lots of trees and greenery and art. Walking around is much nicer than it was in the old neighborhood (sorry, old neighborhood).

Natural lanscaping in front of the Genetics building.
Natural lanscaping in front of the Genetics building.
Autumn at Cal.
Autumn at Cal.

autumn 2

The Cherry Grove.
The Cherry Grove.
The Eucalyptus Grove.
The Eucalyptus Grove.
Springer Memorial Gateway.
Springer Memorial Gateway.

gateway 2 green squirrels

An inevitable Cal Bear.
An inevitable Cal Bear.

Some of the campus art nearby:

Pomodoro Pomodoro plaque

Liberman Liberman plaque

One of the 5 Bruce Beasley ring sculptures on campus.
One of the 5 Bruce Beasley ring sculptures on campus.
“Brain scan art” at the Henry H. Wheeler Jr. Brain Imaging Center at Cal.

And the arts are not limited to campus, downtown Berkeley has its share.

The window at the Berkeley Arts Festival on Addison Street.
The window at the Berkeley Arts Festival on Addison Street.
This alleyway makes me happy.
This alleyway makes me happy.

Being in downtown Berkeley, there are a lot of restaurants to explore. As an inveterate brown-bagger and an aspiring vegan, I don’t really eat lunch out but there are lots of places to choose from.

Saturn 1 Saturn 2 Sliver 1 Sliver 2

Cancun Gather

My favorite morning spot when time allows; good soy latte and really friendly people.
My favorite morning spot when time allows; good soy latte and really friendly people.
Ah, Cinnaholic. I will get to you someday.
Ah, Cinnaholic. I will get to you someday.
This looks more like my kind of place.
This looks more like my kind of place.

There are also new cultural opportunities to explore>

Magnes Marsh Brower

And great news for me–the Berkeley Public Library is close enough to visit during my lunch break!

BPL 4 BPL 1 BPL 2 BPL 3

It’s not a neighborhood without problems; there are homeless encampments in front of the Bank of America building on Shattuck, Center Street is a major hangout for panhandlers, and an encampment seems to be forming in front of the Starbucks at Oxford and Center. With the (hopefully) rainy season and cold weather looming, it’s especially heartbreaking.

Abandonned sign on Center Street. I hope we passed the test, but I kind of doubt it.
Abandoned sign on Center Street. I hope we passed the test, but I kind of doubt it.

The new, improved BAMPFA opens at the end of January. Come see us!