Friday, August 29, 2008

a critical mass

it's the last friday of the month in san francisco, and that means it's time for critical mass.

it was originally founded with the idea of drawing attention to how unfriendly the city was to bicyclists, but has since grown into a number of causes and has been exercised in major cities all over the world.

they own the streets today. im excited.

love and loyalty

a scholar is born

i may seem a little distracted throughout this post - im trying to catch up on my democratic national convention speeches as i type.

school has officially begun and i must say that undergrad is NOTHING in comparison to graduate level courses. i have about 500 pages to read for my upcoming classes. they wanted to give a lighter load for our first week...

my first class was on tuesday. i wasn't exactly registered for it, but i was still interested in possibly taking it. during the first semester of this program, they advise new students to take only two courses so we can all adjust to the workload. the course was a seminar in performance art and how it affects communication and culture. for those of you who know me, i've been actively involved in the arts for a long time now, so i was curious about studying it further. it seemed like a very forward thinking course, however i've taken similar courses both at montclair state university and h.b. studios in new york city. i moved all the way to san francisco for something different, something new. this seemed safe only because it was what i already knew about. i wanted more. the class will probably be very inspiring, creative and innovative. in terms of what i came here for (which for now we can loosely refer to as liberating rhetoric - i.e. emancipatory counterdiscourse, the act of speaking truth to power for those who are disadvantaged by prevelant social structures or extraordinary social acts ( thank you Frey)) i feel like i would merely continue to delve into what i already know.

i came home and was greeted by some blooming anniversary flowers... it definitely cheered me up.

wednesday was the "intro to graduate study" course and it was really when i started to feel comfortable with the coursework. this is the class that will help me become an actual scholar on a graduate level. it requires the most reading out of any class specifically because it's meant to get us committed and addicted to absorbing A LOT of information in a small amount of time. ... i'm pretty scared about reading this much, but some of the second year students came to let us know that it is understandable to be scared and that we will all learn to adapt to this new way of thinking within a week or two. it was also pretty comforting to learn that not only were there other students in my cohort that were looking petrified, but there were a few that moved to san francisco a few weeks ago also and were completely lost all of the time. apparently i am not the only one who decided that starting a new life meant moving somewhere new. i must admit, i was happy to learn that i traveled the farthest in my cohort out of anyone... i'm not sure why i'm proud about that... whatever, i have a mattress on the floor and no belongings or friends - i needed SOMETHING to be proud of around here!

when thursday rolled along, i suddenly realized how friggin' hot it was. here's how san francisco's weather works...

we have a lot of autumn.

we have no winter.

spring just means rain from february to april and it rarely stops.

then it goes back to autumn.

lather. rinse. repeat

there is, however, this brief collection of days called "summer" here in san francisco. it lasts up to a month and a half sometimes, so it is important to enjoy them as much as possible.

so i went back to delores park and got some sun whilst i read through my first few chapters in my first graduate level textbook. as i previously mentioned, delores park is this beautiful field a few block away from my place with the best view of the city (as you can see). im sorry there are naked people in the shot, it's basically impossible to get a shot of delores park on a hot day WITHOUT naked people. so there i sat with a nectarine, sun block, bottled water and a whole lot of information to absorb.

for those of you who have been asking me about what exactly social justice and communication studies are, i offer you these galvanizing and explosive quotes from different scholars in the field:

" justice communication scholarship in a democratic society is an essential part of our IMPLICIT RIGHT AND DUTY as citizens to challenge the normative order to continuously construct a society that rejects social stagnation and seeks to reinvent human beings in new and increasingly edifying ways." - omar swartz

"where is the intelligentsia that is carrying on the big discourse of the western world and whose work as intellectuals is influential among parties and publics and televant to the great decision of our time? where are the mass media open to such men? who among those who are in charge of the two-party state and its ferocious military machines are alert to what goes on in the world of knowledge and reason and sensibility? why is the free intellect so divorced from decisions of power? why does there now prevail among men of power such a higher and irresponsible ignorance?" - C. Wright Mills ( what i love about this quote and this scholar is that he actually said this back in 1959... and it seems so relevant today)

and of course... a little Chomsky

"intellectuals are in a position to expose the lies of governments, to analyze actions according to their causes and motives and often hidden intenions. in the western world at least, they have the power that comes from political liberty, from access to information and freedom of expression. for a privileged minority, western democracy provides the leisure, the facilities, and the training to seek the truth lying hidden behind the veil of distortion and misrepresentation, ideology, and class interest through which the events of current history are presented to us."

(im still listening to speeches from the democratic national convention, by the way, and joe biden's speech is pretty damn good.)

two and a half hours of reading later, i walked back and saw that everyone was out and about in celebration of the weather. i got pretty excited because i thought that i would finally see some neighbors in the courtyard and meet some locals. i come back and im greeted by these two -

you all know atticus, of course, who has finally warmed up to me. that other one to the left is church. he lives next door, but because my doorstop gets better sun, he always lays out right where i want to step as i leave my place.

it's pretty cool to have a pet. of course, i dont feed it, wash it, clean up after it, etc. ... i just get to pet it. o yeah! and sometimes it kills moths and leaves them as offerings for me on my bed... twice already. atticus is a hunter. it's weird.

at this point in the day, im tired from reading, im exhausted from walking and working out and i just want to go to sleep. then phil called me on the videophone (SKYPE) and told me to go to class so i went. i'm very thankful for phil because there is no way i would have wanted to miss out on this class. of course, i was running late and OF COURSE i forgot to check out what room the class was located in (a very big THANK YOU to kristen in new jersey for answering my phone call and helping me figure it out) and OF COURSE A CRAZY WOMAN COLLAPSED ON ME ON THE MUNI TRAIN AS A MEANS TO GET A SEAT ON THE BUS BY ACTING BRITTLE. it was just all adding to my frustration with the day. then the professor walks in and i swear to you he looks like a hybrid of the crazy woman that fell on me and president george w. bush. he turned out to be an amazing instructor and the coursework solidified my decision on my second class. it's a seminar in group communciation and leadership. i had a feeling that it would be more geared towards political communication and i cannot wait to start reading the four chapters and three proposal lesson plans he's proposed all in time for next week's class. what's even more beneficial is that it's a prerequisite for becoming a student teacher. i dont neccessarily see that in my future, but it's nice to have that as an option in case i'd like to teach in the future.

i also made some new friends! i was even given a ride home... what a relief to have met some really nice people in my own cohort. (big sigh of relief)

ok friends! i've successfully updated you all on the beginning of my journey in this wonderful program and updated myself on speeches from michelle obama, joe biden and bill and hillary clinton. it's time to give my undevided attention to barack and fall asleep.

love and loyalty

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

a realization

3000 miles doesn't seem so far anymore.

love and loyalty

a look around


...well, hopefully. i'm not exactly registered for this class yet. i'm actually on the wait list. regardless, i'm going to this class and will see if i can work my way into it.

as for my insides, i'm happy to report that i feel fine and am no longer experiencing any body pains. i learned a valuable lesson: don't drink when you still haven't adjusted to moving 3000 miles away from everyone you know. let's move on...

so yesterday i decided to take a walk in the opposite direction of the castro and headed towards van ness. i didn't realize how close i am to city hall, museums, theaters and very prosperous businesses. after this weeks classes, i plan on searching for a decent job in that particular area.

ideally, i'd like to start a job in city hall. it's beautiful in there! i walked in, went through security and was floored by the amount of marriage ceremonies that were taking place. it makes sense, the place is architecturally stunning. have a look

on my way back, i came across two things:

1. i live less than a minute away from It's Tops - this place has been around since the 30s, and they're known for their pancakes.... they were the best pancakes i've ever had. i may get more now that i think about them...
2. on my way up the stairs to my place, i say this crazy voodoo thing next to my front door. strange that i've never seen this before.

anyway, im gonna go get ready for school!

wish me luck!

love and loyalty

Sunday, August 24, 2008

a hangover

"we've been on the phone for seven hours!"


let me explain.

i ventured outside on saturday to visit the financial district with my old friend, lucas and my new friend, donnie. we walked around, they shopped and i drank coffee. then we headed back to donnie's apartment for some drinks and conversation. then things got a little fuzzy for me. it may have been because i was VERY drunk for the rest of the evening. i think i just got too excited to be out of my place and around a bunch of people. i think the drinking was also because i still miss everyone out east and haven't fully adjusted.

i got in at around 2:30 and didn't wake up until phil called me on skype at 2:30 in the afternoon. i could barely move. i should probably mention that saturday morning i had an intense workout session in my bedroom. i was still embarassed by my sunburn and i needed to do something productive so i worked out for a while. add the pain from a serious workout to the pain you feel from being extremely hungover and you can possibly understand how i felt.

luckily, i have phil. phil helped me recover all day by watching over me, making me eat, listening to my every word and then teaching me how to prepare spaghetti (im terrible in the kitchen)

he got a photo of me eating the spaghetti he taught me how to prepare from 3000 miles away. technology is amazing.

i made too much spaghetti and got too full. i had to lay down after that.

even though i was indoors all day with a stomach ache, a hangover and body pains, phil made it an enjoyable, lazy sunday. i've never been on the phone with anyone for 7 hours before. he's worth it.

love and loyalty

Saturday, August 23, 2008

a warning

after giving robert my very first rent check, he gave me one final tutorial of the apartment. puzzled, i followed him into the kitchen that i have already seen and used since moving in.

"these water bottles, this first aid kit and these non-perishables are our EARTHQUAKE survival items. you're from the east coast so i figured you should know that we have these in homes in california. this building survived the 1906 earthquake so we shouldn't have a problem."

that was my "whoa, i live in california" reminder of the day

a sunburn

i fixed myself some sandwiches

i've been in the center of the downtown area for a day with art, nightlife, music and socialization at my fingertips and all i've been capable of doing is getting a cherry red sunburn on my nose and making these delicious looking sandwiches.

i got the sunburn from sitting at delores park and catching some rays. i avoided the naked area. i also avoided the children's area. for the first hour or so i sat and chatted with my mother on the phone, all the while wondering when i was going to feel the sun, but it never happened. i walk around, check myself in a mirror, and realize that i'm a walking tomato.

the sunburn kind of kept me from going out and meeting people because i didn't want to make any first impressions with a big, red nose. not pretty

and don't worry to all of you that know me, that isn't roast beef, smoked turkey and honey ham... it's all flavored tofu made to look and taste like the real deal. for those of you that don't know me, i can't eat meat. it doesn't sit well in my stomach. on my way back from the park, i found this little market next to the giant safeway supermarket. this little place had fresh produce, organic breads, quick-to-make dinners and a bevy of vegetarian, meat flavored products for cheap. i was in heaven. screw that giant supermarket.

today i am going to explore the area further with some friends... that's right, i have friends. well, friend. i have one friend. so far. hopefully ill make some more today.

so hey, how about that joe biden? not bad, obama, not bad.

time for brunch.

love and loyalty

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

a rant

on the POSITIVE side of things, it's almost unheard of to find a cheap, well kept place in hayes valley within a week of moving to san francisco.  i am very fortunate to have located such a nice place

on the NEGATIVE side, my bed collapsed and i can't get the internet to work... and now i'm sitting outside of the freshman dorm waiting for my host to let me in.  this wouldn't be an issue if my phone's battery hadn't died while talking to tech support for an hour and a half this afternoon in an attempt to get some help setting up the internet.  there are a bunch of freshman and their parents moving into the adjacent dorm rooms and making a bunch of noise inside so i'm totally looking like the homeless outcast ready to cause havoc as i sit here, hooded and desperate looking.

but again things could be worse.  i have a really nice apartment, a very interesting roommate and all sorts of friends, family and loved ones back in jersey.

i bought a very large bottle of red wine for brandi as a "thank you" for letting me stay with her this past week.  she may need it now that she has a bunch of 18 year olds running around the outside of her apartment.

i just realized that the frozen vegetarian dinner i purchased two hours ago is no longer frozen.  in fact it's quite lukewarm... i need to learn how to cook FAST

o yeah!  my mother sent me some photos from my jersey days... they were professional shots of the four of us (kelly, myself, heather and colleen)  ... we turned out to be quite an appealing bunch of young adults... in pride and love (and to end this posting on a high note), i present one of the photos for all the internet to see

someone is playing george michael in the background... things aren't all that bad anymore

love and loyalty

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

a home away from home

i don't mean to brag, dear friends, but i've only been here for a week and i've already made the front page of the san francisco chronicle!  well, not for anything i did, but for showing up at the obama rally outside of the fairmont hotel on sunday, the 17th.  there was a whole lot of cheering and media trucks and security and whack-jobs with "obama isn't good for the environment" pamphlets.   it was an experience, to say the least.
can you see me???  i'm above the "honk for peace" banner in my sunglasses.  im always in my sunglasses... the sky is just so white here!!  by the way, that's christine pelosi... you probably know her mother.  

i've become quite the tourist in the past few days.  i owe a lot of it to vincent, my advisor and brandi, a fellow student who has thankfully let me crash on her couch.  they have really helped me get comfortable in the area because if it weren't for them i'd probably be alone and crying most of the day.  they've told me all there is to know about the safe neighborhoods, the best restaurants, the muni transit system, etc.  i've seen a lot of the different sights so far:
my very first san fran farmer's market
the infamous castro street
delores park, where people are known to take off all of their clothes to sunbathe... even with a children's playground a few feet away... san francisco
union square and the financial district.  lots of very expensive stores here.  
lombard street, with its famous twists and turns.
and of course, all of these crazy hills.  i'm very thankful that i'm not driving.  seriously, i would never survive these streets... never.

it's been quite a ride, so far, and of course in the back of my mind have been two very important topics: school and finding a proper home.  with classes starting just seven days from now, i have been very well prepped for the coursework thanks to all of the students that i've already met and spoken with.  they all seem to love the program and get along well with one another, so i'm looking forward to meeting even more of them and hopefully making a new bunch of friendships.

as far as housing is concerned, i am happy to announce that i have just sealed the deal on an incredible, rustic apartment on wallen street in the hayes valley area.  it's just a few minute walk to the castro and a one stop muni ride to haight/ashbury and the other downtown areas.  i couldn't be happier.  it's really what i have been looking for this whole time: a nice, quiet place to call home in the center of downtown san francisco.  it's perfect.  right down to the carpet that is identical to my grandmother's back in new jersey.  the apartment is also blocked from all noise pollution thanks to it's placement in the housing complex.  we're actually surrounded by other properties so we have the courtyard in front of us and more buildings.  i can do a lot of studying there.  i can't wait to move in.  robert, the owner and my new roommate, is currently steaming the carpet so i can enjoy laying on the floor if ever i was inclined to do so.  i think the best part about this is robert's music collection.  he's been collecting for decades and he has all kinds of records and cds - magic.  
this is my bedroom- yes, mother, robert has a cat.  it's name is ATTICUS.  as soon as i heard his name i was sold
the entrance
the hallway
the kitchen

i can't stop raving about it.  i'm looking forward to covering it with a bunch of photos and possibly some artwork from home...  

for now, i get to relax before traveling downtown to help move my twin mattress around.  here's hoping it all goes well... it certainly has so far.

love and loyalty

Friday, August 15, 2008

a first weekend

so i have this little obsession with looking up strange news on current events and different art exhibits and so on and i came across this lovely little piece of information - 

"Nils Olav, an Edinburgh Zoo penguin and Colonel-in-Chief of the Norwegian King's Guard, an elite unit tasked with protecting the Norwegian royal family, inspects soldiers of his regiment as they visit him in Edinburgh, Scotland, Friday Aug. 15, 2008, where he was presented with a medal"

i thought you all might enjoy that.

as far as the rest of my weekend went, orientation was what really got my brain working.  it's been a while since i sat and participated in a lecture.  there appeared to be a lot of grad students, however i couldn't really walk around and ask about who would make for a good roommate (which is still my biggest concern for the moment)... however... one gentleman was willing to interrupt the dean of graduate studies of san francisco state university and asked for anyone looking for housing to come meet him outside.  so outside i went and was once again shut out of a place to live.  everyone seemed to be looking for someone similar to themselves: polish, female or creepy... unfortunately... i do not fit into any of those categories.

i proceeded to walk around as an attempt to get a better feel for the campus.  at my initial tour of the area, the walkway to the student center really caught my attention.  

there's a quaint little koi pond to the site of the staircase which makes the building all the more interesting.  it's named after cesar chavez because of the history of social change and student protest that has historically taken shape at my university.

by the way, do you notice the white sky?  well, if you ever come to visit, you might want to bring a pair of sunglasses because it is foggy and bright outside of the tourist area.  it's not exactly a bad thing, it just makes me feel like im on a different continent like antarctica or something.  o yeah, bring a jacket, too.  it can get a little windy.  the temperature never really goes under 50, but the wind can make it seem a bit chilly.  at least it'll never reach -3 with a wintry, snow and rain mixutre.

after orientation, i met up with songrui and brandi for dinner at squat and gobble, crepery in west portal.   songrui is in her last semester at the program and quite unhappy because she has really enjoyed studying in san francisco.  she is from beijing originally and was last there right before the massive earthquake that struck china.  the earthquake didn't strike beijing, of course, but her mother said she could feel the ground move.  we also talked about policies and different laws and had a lot of good conversation.

saturday consisted of a lot of walking around, house hunting, etc.  i had a great offer for a house with a view of the pacific ocean, but $900 a month is a little out of my price range.  

my advisor, vincent, took me to patxi's pizza near a place that i hopefully will be calling home.
the best part about it was when devendra banhart, this wonderfully freaky folk artist, casually walked in and grabbed some pies.  the appeal about this place is that it's vegan, but they don't tell you so they dont scare away customers.  

vincent and i parted ways and i was able to do some exploring on my own in the area where i might live.  there were a lot of great little shops and cafes, but the overall atmosphere really made me want to find residency in the downtown area.  otherwise, it wouldn't make sense to move to san francisco, because the downtown area IS san francisco.

it's sunday morning, and i am off to hopefully see obama at a fundraising event (weather permitting).

love and loyalty

a new chapter begins

i was an emotional wreck yesterday.  

... that's a terrible way to start a blog, but upon retrospect it will seem rather quaint that i once was a lost and emotionally fragile young man in a big, new city.  

i probably should mention that i find using capital letters rather unnecessary.  it just seems like a time-sucker.  they might come around every so often if i find that something or someone is a rather important figure in my discussions.  i think i read too much vonnegut...

anyhow, yesterday was incredibly difficult for me to hold back the tears as my advisor took me out with his parents on a mini tour of the city.  i had to separate myself from them to catch a breath or two.  it was rough hearing my mother's voice over the phone.  i broke down and i really tried to hide it but i just kept thinking about how far away i really am now.  it's hard.  moving like this.  especially when you have such a good background with family and loved ones.

i arrived at brandi's house after dinner who happens to have a spare couch in her one bedroom, on campus apartment.  i turned on my laptop and video-chatted on SKYPE (which you should all download) with phil.  of course, two hours of crying and smiling and well wishing wore me out so i had to go to sleep.

today, i am proud to say that i have not shed a tear.  believe me, i have come close... very close quite a few times, actually.  vincent took his parents, brandi and myself to the de young museum located inside golden gate park.  the museum is only three years old so it's relatively new, but there was plenty of interesting exhibits especially the CHIHULY exhibit.  he's glassblower that opened my mind to viewing it as an art.  it's pretty intense.  have a look below.

im off now to orientation.  i will of course keep you all posted on my situation and would love for you to keep in touch with me by leaving little comments at the end of each blog.  

love and loyalty