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

Saybrook-logo

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.

before
Before–the cockeyed optimist, ready to study!
Insane Asylum Entrance
This way madness lies…
after 1
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.

calendar 2
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.

MGLH
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.

unmade bed
I blame it on the cats.
laundry
I justify infrequent laundry by saying it’s because of the drought in California.
mending
My mending and sewing pile gathers dust on top of the sewing machine.
crafts
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.

Purple Carrot logo

purple carrot 2
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.

tv trays

 

eating at desk
Eating at my desk is also not unheard of these days.
Clif bar
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

Elephant March
Marching for Elephants with one of my favorite activists, Sara Muñiz.
Gene Baur
Farm Sanctuary Founder Gene Baur speaks at UC Berkeley.
Walk for Farm Animals
Walk for Farm Animals in San Francisco with my buddies Cláudia Santos and Heather Meyer.
Preetirang
I also spent a beautiful day at Preetirang Sanctuary thanks to Cláudia.
Brave the Cage
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.
FFF
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.

JL Fields
Fun holiday cooking class at the PETA Foundation offices with JL Fields.
Thanksgiving cook
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.

Mouse 2
Foster kitty Mouse and her babies. She did most of the work. All now adopted into loving homes!
kittens studying
The kittens were not particularly appreciative of the finer points of research methodology.
Honeysuckle
Honeysuckle preferred television to studying.
Kianna
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.

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

Ask me how I’m doing:

swing
I’d like to say life is like this, but…
thumbs up
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.

sash
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!

vegan kiss

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!

view 1 view 2

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!

Western Museums Association Annual Meeting 2015

In my capacity as Assistant Registrar at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, this year I attended for the first time the 80th annual meeting of the Westerns Museum Association at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, California, held October 24-27, 2015.

Our new logo for the UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive
Our new logo for the UC Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive
WMA 80th Annual Meeting, San Jose: Listen, Learn, Lead
WMA 80th Annual Meeting, San Jose: Listen, Learn, Lead

Instead of registering as an attendee, I signed on as a volunteer. In my opinion, the event has been much more rewarding this way–I keep busy, meet almost everyone who comes through the door, go to sessions I might not otherwise attend but end up enjoying and learning from, and learn first-hand how challenging organizing and running such events can be. There has been an amazing team working for months behind the scenes putting this event together and making sure everyone’s needs are met to the extent possible. I have gained a true appreciation for what goes into making this kind of gathering happen.

My first task was the day before the conference even started–helping to assemble the registration packets for the 500+ attendees and speakers. After a stop at Philz Coffee for fuel, I made my way to the Fairmont Hotel to join the assembly team.

Philz in San Jose; when you see a Philz, you gotta stop!
Philz in San Jose; when you see a Philz, you gotta stop!
My problem at Philz--deciding what to try.
My problem at Philz–deciding what to try.

Assembling more than 500 packets is a serious  operation!

The Fairmont Hotel, San Jose
The Fairmont Hotel, San Jose

IMG_9068 IMG_9070 IMG_9072 IMG_9074

Opening day “pre-conference” events included trips to Runnymeade Sculpture Garden, the 49ers Museum and the Splendid Heritage Collection as well as workshops such as CSI: Registrars, Using Design Thinking to Develop Visitor-Centered Experiences, and Tips and Tricks to Ramping Up Your Career at Any Level.

Runnymede 49ers splendid

Sunday, we got down to serious business. The Exhibit Hall Networking Lunch got everyone together for food and networking. Concurrent sessions in the areas of community engagement, collections, leadership, visitor experience, development and technology ran through the afternoon, followed by a Culture Crawl on South First Street. The scavenger hunt style tour of the public art in San Jose has people out collecting clues, including the one where I was the volunteer helper at the mural The Heart of the Valley.

exhibition hall networking luncheon mewseums acme

Turning Outward: Museums and Libraries as Sites for Community Innovation and Revitalization.
Turning Outward: Museums and Libraries as Sites for Community Innovation and Revitalization.

culture crawl

Your friendly conference volunteer
Your friendly conference volunteer

On Monday, the Poster Session provided 8 individuals the opportunity to present their research and ideas.

BAMPFA's own Rachael Dickson preparing her poster on Museums without Walls: The Intersection of Art Museums and Public Art.
BAMPFA’s own Rachael Dickson preparing her poster on Museums without Walls: The Intersection of Art Museums and Public Art.
Maya Makker of the Computer History Museum on Public Users, Private Knowledge: Crowdsourcing and the Changing Role of Museum Expertise.
Maya Makker of the Computer History Museum on Public Users, Private Knowledge: Crowdsourcing and the Changing Role of Museum Expertise.

Another BAMPFA favorite, Program Manager Sean Carson, was on the panel for the session The Morning After: Educating and Engaging Beyond the Party.

BAMPFA Program Manager Sean Carson
BAMPFA Program Manager Sean Carson

My particular favorite session was Dust: Our Dirty Little Secret, with moderator and registrar Rebekah Monahan from the Woodbury Art Museum and panelists Melissa Hempel, Director/Curator of the Woodbury and Sheridan College Professor of Visual Arts Tawni Shuler. Dust–I’ll just say it’s very scary stuff and you are better off not knowing what’s in it. If you have an interest in freaking yourself out, I recommend The Secret Life of Dust by Hannah Holmes.

dust dust 2

On Tuesday, I was able to snag a coveted ticket to the Registrars Luncheon, the annual business meeting of the Registrars Committee Western Region (RCWR). We are a fun crowd!

registrawrs reg 2

Registrars Committee Western Region Board Chair Clare Haggarty getting the raffle drawing ready to go.
Registrars Committee Western Region Board Chair Clare Haggarty getting the raffle drawing ready to go.

Another BAMPFA presenter was Stephanie Cannizzo on Curating and Caring for the Conceptual with co-panelists Jill Sterret from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and artist Jennifer Brandon, moderated by Beth Dungan.

Stephanie Cannizzo seaking on the Yoko Ono exhibition Grapefruit that she curated for BAMPFA.
Stephanie Cannizzo speaking on the Yoko Ono exhibition Grapefruit that she curated for BAMPFA.

The conference is winding down this afternoon, but I thought I’d end with some glimpses of the abundant museum and public art offerings in San Jose. It’s not just for techies!

Tech Museum of Innovation
Tech Museum of Innovation
San Jose Museum of Art
San Jose Museum of Art

IMG_9064 public art 1IMG_9142