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

 

Fur-Free Friday

FurFreeFriday
Their fur, not ours.

Every day should be fur free, but Fur-Free Friday is the day of protests that takes place on so-called Black Friday, the day of frenzied shopping after Thanksgiving that so many merchants count on to bring in revenue. I have always stayed home on this day; I’m not a shopper and I hate crowds and the commercialization of the holidays; well, that’s another blog post. But as I’ve become more involved with animal rights and call myself an animal activist, I had to get myself on Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and head to Union Square in San Francisco to be part of the protest with Direct Action Everywhere (DxE).

Union Square
Union Square, San Francisco

Union Square is, of course, ready for the holidays. The giant tree is up, and the crowds are big.

tree at Union Square
The tree at Union Square

Santas abound, including the creepy Santa clown, Stephen King variety.

creepy Santa
Bad Santa and his creepy elf

But we are here for Fur Free Friday.

raccoon
In Defense of Animals protest sign

I couldn’t help but notice the disconnect on the part of Macy’s with its holiday windows. The wonderful people at the San Francisco SPCA have their yearly window display featuring adoptable animals, and at the time of my viewing the had adopted out 34 already, yay!

kittens in the window
Kittens from the SFSPCA in the window of Macy’s

But just a few windows away is a display promoting fur as fashion. Loving one kind of animal and killing another for its fur makes no sense to me. None. Nada. They all want to live. And no animal should suffer for fashion.

window
It’s not fun for the animals who die horrific deaths so you can wear that fur.
death
The reality of fur is not fun

I met up with the group and we got ready to do action! And it wasn’t just human activists; we had 4-legged activists with us too.

dog activist 1
“Real fur belongs on me, not you.”
Javier
Javier, activist extraordinaire

Attire is important–it sends a message, whether in-your-face or of the more symbolic variety.

f fur
Alicia Santurio’s awesome shirt
peta shirt
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals shirt
Liberation band
Lisa Zorn’s Liberation Band and bunny gloves

Rabbits are killed by the millions, as well as cats and dogs, for meat and fur. They deserve to live, just like us.

rabbits

The amazing Priya Sawhney of DxE led us on the march, with chants, banners, signs, and a police escort.

Priya
Priya Sawnhey, kick-ass animal activist
police
I’m not sure if they were protecting us or keeping us in line; we are a peaceful group!

I am continually inspired by the young activists of DxE; their passion and energy is contagious.

Kitty
Me on the far left, Sara Muniz center, and Kitty Jones on the right. I feel honored to march with them.
Sara
Sara Muniz speaking to the crowd
me
“Every year, over 50 million animals are killed in the name of fashion…”
Wilson
Wilson Wong and Ryan Peter Witwicki Faddegon
Westfield
Banner bearers Jean P. Harte, Lisa Zorn, Diane Gandee Sorbi and Dan Sorbi

We ended the march with a performance of Sia’s haunting song “I’m in here”, with Sara Muniz and Jason Andreas Biz on guitar.

If you can’t get out on a protest but want to let retailers know that selling fur is wrong, you can take actions as simple as mailing a postcard such as this one, targeting Nordstrom.

A day of activism really works up on appetite; a friend and I enjoyed a vegan lunch and coffee afterward. Hopefully vegan options will continue to become more commonplace.

lunch
Vegan sandwich (with artichoke hearts, capers, sun dried tomatoes, avocado…delicious) and a soy latte at Working Girls’ Cafe.

After making my way back home, I had to go in and sit for a while with our newest foster cat Kianna, recovering from a fractured pelvis. I am so grateful for organizations like the East Bay SPCA for giving her a chance at life.

Kianna
Beautiful, sweet foster cat Kianna from the East Bay SPCA. She’s one of the reasons I act on behalf the animals.

If you feel inspired to join us, the next action is this Sunday, November 29 at Dolores Park.

DxE November Day of Action

Dolo

I hope to see you there! We will keep protesting “until every animal is free.”