Friday, September 26, 2014



Townie is a small plates/ bar that recently opened on University at Grant.. I imagine it would be a great place to meetup with friends or a casual date place.. Beers are crafty locals and they have a wine and cocktail menu.. but I didn't partake..

We were looking for something naughty around the dinner hour Thursday evening & Townie was open.. perfect!

Happy Hour..

We ordered 3 small plates:

Potato Croquettes.. meh. They weren't bad.. but not really commentable.

Garlic Cheese Toast?? Yes please!!

and our absolute favorite:

Pork Belly Banh Mi.. this is like a half of a half of sandwich.. amazingly good, but after 3 bites it's gone. You'll be sad. Order two, (or better yet, eat dinner before coming here.)

with iced tea & cider our bill came to a bit under $40..
our bill.. ;)

We'll definitely be back.. I love the open, airy feel of the place and the maps decorating the walls.. There's other small plates on the menu we'd like to try and we'd definitely order the Pork Belly Banh Mi again..

Soul Happy


What makes the soul happy? What makes you happy? Beyond the superficial day to day things?? What goes so deep you feel like your whole self could fall apart into a million pieces?

What is that one constant that pulls us.. pulls you.. through your life.. or the things gets you beyond what you can't bear?

I find myself asking myself this more often the last couple years.. not because I am a miserable person that should die already and spare the world my suffering.. but because I want to be of worth and value to myself and to others. To find meaning where, honestly, there really isn't any when you scrutinize it up close.

For me, my constant has been books.. Specifically, the written word. Whether science or poetry, fiction or fact.. Books have been a true companion through life.. not necessarily a disappointment.. The very first thing I ever wanted to be "when I grow up" was a writer.. A writer is god-like in the ability to create words, worlds, emotions.. to educate, enlighten, empower.. Imagine other things that you have been inspired to feeling or action after reading something? Have you ever really stopped to consider the power that you or someone has by their writing?? That's pretty freaking awesome, is it not?

There are many things I've contemplated wanting to "become" from the earliest age.. a fireman (but 'girls' couldn't be firemen in the early 70s could they? according to my parents), archaeologist... (specifically an "Egyptologist") I wanted to write though since I read my first book.. to tell stories or write poetry.. intermittantly through the years, I had wanted to be a librarian.. (I fell in love with the library at 5.. all those books! For ME!) but there's always the writing.. or did I want to be an astronomer? An astronomer-archaeologist? No! A writer.. or historian, a writer.. and oceanographer.. an activist for Greenpeace and a poet or writer.. A historian, educator (specifically Military History), writer... poet, writer-poet, artist, photographer (oh but my vision is crap.. so..) back to the writing, or perhaps a Civil War Historian? Nevermind.. a Bookstore owner! and a writer.. Perhaps a poet and entrepreneur..(aka Bookstore owner.) For brief moments off & on I wanted to become a layout artist, a book editor, a travel writer.. but regardless there's that constant. The word.

And yes, I still want to study history.... but I've had serious contemplations of "what do you do with a BA in English" moments.. and after well-over 20 years it's been, I've returned to school.. mid-40s looking to learn. Who gets a degree at my age?? Who interns at my age? Why don't I have my act together better?? Why don't I settle? Why haven't I found my niche, my joy.. my center? My permanent peace? Is it possible? Maybe.

It takes time, experimentation, and patience.. which I lack in spades. Why aren't I happier?? Why can't I just be in the moment and enjoy things more? Why can't I be happy with myself? Why can't I just enjoy being happy without feeling guilty for it or that it's not mine to have or without worrying I'm stealing it from someone more deserving? I like being happy.. Being happy is fun. I like to do fun things, I like learning fun things.. I want to put fun things into practice.. What is fun? ..what is fun?? Someone I met once asked me that.. and while I don't know him or his motivations, (and honestly I can't remember what I answered back) History is fun. Perhaps I said that.. *shrug* who knows?

I know I'm new to this.. and I'm not so good at it.. but I do know Being 'soul happy' is fun when it happens.. Imagine you are happy at any given moment.. it passes. Being happy to the core never leaves.. You know what it is that brings you peace.. you know what keeps you breathing in & out every day. If you don't it's important to figure it out.. and I'm still working on it.. it doesn't have to be the one thing.. It can be many things. I find myself recalling somewhat recent days when I was so happy it hurt..

1. a beautiful random day in Berkeley.. I was feeling like crap.. but the light came out from the clouds, I was walking and I knew where I was was where I wanted to be. I was a lotus on a tranquil sea.. (yes, I was walking but I was a lotus, dang-it!) I was content in a sea of homes, people, and whatever else, the tapestry of the town.

2. I was looking at the Community College catelog and found an ART history course I wanted to take.. my heart leapt out of my chest thinking of taking this class.. Of being made to write a paper on some art-related thing.. I often think of these things as 'life cheats'..people making you do things that you're more than happy to do.. What's the catch? What's the angle?? All I could do was sing in my head.. "OMGOMGOMG.. I can get credit for this class!!!!!" I ended up not taking it as I was on waitlist.. but you get the idea.. freaking awesomehappycamper- awesomness! Whenever I think of this class or things that bring me joy I get so happy & content. Things like this stay with me as creative things do. always. Art.. poetry.. music.. words: changable but ever-constant. Memories and words that stay with you in the library of your heart.

3. California History.. You can study this?? You can make it your major and they won't beat you for it?? When can I do this??? Can I start now?? I can't tell you how many times last Spring that I walked back home from school on clouds of pure freaking joy.. Joy.. I haven't completely "shrank myself" over it.. but it's a lot of things: history, reading, books, learning.. so much learning! Topics I care about: social justice, equality, civil rights, environmental issues, exploring, the Depression, the Trans-Continental RR.. photography! (who gets to work with Calisphere?? How do you get that job?) The fact that it was my first history class in over 20 years. The fact that teacher was freaking awesome.. amazing.. intelligent.. and inspring.. yeah. whatever. This class brought all those things I used to care about back to the fore. To life. It was a good class.. greedy me would love to have more days and experiences like this in the future. How?

4. History on Cal Day.. Filtering through the "you should be a history major at Cal" the constant theme of learning, and flexibility.. They let you read! BOOKS!! Lots of books! Lots of reading.. lots of learning! They want you to learn stuff! They want you to specialize! They freaking help you?? Seriously? Why would a prof help me? Why would they even give a flying.. rats! I want to do this!! This is how you get on the path of keeping the good stuff in your life in an ever-learning adventure.. pursue.. ..and keep working on it!

5. Volunteering at the library. "History: You're soaking in it.." This is something that's happening to me right now.. on-going.. along with what volunteering I've done with the Berkeley Historical Society.. I'm constantly stopping my thoughts and waitiing to see if security is going to throw me out and one of the librarians are going to tell me to f' off.. but so far, so good. The happiness is sometimes guilt-inducing how happy it makes me some days. This stuff I'm doing touches on so many things.. psychologically and emotionally.

The library has always been my temple.. my Church. My sanctuary.. Fade to 5 year old Meeko sitting "Indian-style" in an egg chair at the Nora Public Library.. (Indianapolis).. a small pile of books on her lap, big "anime eyes" of joy.. lost in whatever I was reading.. 4th grade at Westfield Elementary learning the Dewey Decimal system, reading & learning the 'parts' of books and the card catalog.. being frightened out of my mind by the librarian but determined to enter the fortress of books and read every one if I could.. Middle School where my most favoritest librarian ever Catherine Whitson looked at me once, knew and trusted I could be trusted with books.. and would personally hand me books to read every week before they even went on the shelf.. Days I would sneak away from classes during filmsstrip sessions or National Geographic documentaries to help shelve books or check books back in... When she transfered to the high shcool, knowing I wasn't the one she was directing her ire at for people disrespecting the space.. helping with year-end inventory..

Flashing back to today.. being asked to do stuff that maybe an intern could probably do.. Death Indexing, filing files.. whatever asked.. I am so glad and grateful! I don't know how long I will be allowed to do this but.. I am happy. There's a peace that I often think no one will get or understand that comes over me.. a joy that can't be scrubbed away.. the same can be said when being allowed to help with Historical Society things..

Both of these things involve history, elbow-deep in it: the active contemplation of history.. Berkeley history.. California history.. history and its role in the bigger picture.. the people that breath and are history.. The people that have lived it here and surround us.. Each person is an expert on their life, their moments.. Each person has value of some kind.. When I'm around these people.. I want to know their stories and the things they know. One can't necesarily. One can wish.

Whether doing all this in the end helps me in my quest for a writing career (I have no idea what I want to write about at this point, I used to think I would be a great fiction writer.. but seriously??) or another local historian.. or a "professional" volunteer.. (that is, making a 'career' out of volunteering my time to the city in some way or another) who knows? I have been and continue to be in a constant state of disbelief and joy. I need to remind myself it's real even if I'm not.. I'm a temporary ping on the radar.. easily replaced but hopefully useful while I'm still there.

So whatever it is, these are just things.. days spent.. moments passed. But the peace. The peace and contentment is there.. and will be remembered regardless if that thing or things that remind us is taken away.. one remembers the peace... that stays. That's where (I think) soul happy lives. My next task I suppose is how to gather up these things and square them with myself. Box them up, take them out & look at them in little bits, and make them function in my life on a regular basis. To not get overwrought if these too are passing phases. To try & not flatten myself because I have no one to discsuss these things with anymore or that I'm alone in my joy. I'm purging here.. because it's overwhelming some days. The cups of joy and thought are too much to carry sometimes. Personal.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Banned Books at the BPL..


Banned books reading at the Berkeley Public Library.. Central Branch. Local actors from Berkeley Repertory Theatre: Howard Swain, Lorri Holt, and Sarita Ocon read their picks from books that have been banned at one time or another..


Banned Books reading Sunday!! #CentralBranch #books
Howard Swain reads from Captain Underpants..

Howard Swain reads Alan Ginsberg's "Howl"

Lorri Holt reads from "A Wrinkle in Time.."

Along with "Always Running", Sarita Ocon read selection from one of my favorites: writer-poet Sherman Alexie! Here she reads from "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian." yay!

Not a huge crowd but really cool hour spent.. Saturday the 27th (when I'm actually posting this) is a community bike ride "Banned Books Bike Tour".. riding about 7 miles, stopping at each library for readings from "Of Mice & Men.."

Monday, September 15, 2014

Solano Stroll: History through Community

Sunday was the 2014 Solano Stroll.. An acquaintance had suggested "It's been done.. hasn't it??" and then remarked on how his family had attended in the past and even the kids had been in the parade. Sure, I said.. but this year would be different.


Different for me, at any rate: I would be supporting it as a member and volunteer with the Berkeley Historical Society. I've been volunteering a bit in various ways here and there with the group since earlier this Spring.. and although I wasn't sure I was ready to be thrown into a wolves' den of people (crowds of strangers and unfamiliar situations tend to make me a little anxious unless I know someone..) I was more than willing to give it a go. For as much as new experiences can make me anxious, I still love to try new things, and learn new things.

While I knew what to expect as an attendee of the Stroll, I wasn't sure I was knowledgable enough to support the Society the two hours I was there. It turns out I had nothing to worry about.. I was surrounded by knowledgable associates that were there at the ready whenever a question was too much for me.. Mostly I just chatted people up, sold postcards of various views of Berkeley, some neat B&W pix, as well made change, shared out membership pamphlets when requested, and just had Fun!

Being at the Stroll in this capacity put into play one of the aspects of history that I love.. the tactile aspect. Yes, it's "going to places" where historical things happened.. One can visit Philadelphia or Baltimore as I have, or Charleston or St Augustine, (as I also have many years ago) and see where things happened and be told what and who did what where.. but the bit I'm talking about is more subtle than that.


Walking Solano, you see the theatre, the shops, you talk to people who live there and are part of the community. You take in their experience. You take home your own memories and photos of things you saw or experienced. Whether it's the neat hat I purchased at a local shop or a Solano Stroll poster I took home a few years ago.. the ephemera and memories.. You look around and know people have shopped here before, lived here before.. memory ghosts ..that walk the sidewalks and commune with neighbors and shopkeepers.

Listening to the people yesterday that were fascinated with the panoramic image of Berkeley that the Society had on display (and for sale) was a pleasure. Discussion, sometimes heated about which building was missing or where someone's home was or which street they were looking at.. Learning by listening, learning by viewing.. Learning by holding the things that came before and being part of it myself. It's more than just visiting a park or a city. It's experiencing and opening yourself to those around you and the stories they share.. Being part of the community engagement. Yes, there's a lot of nostalgia mixed throughout these stories.. but so is some truth.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Back to School!

I was going to title this post "What's goin' on".. but figured people would collectively throw stuff at me.. and I wouldn't blame them..

I haven't been posting partly because I haven't been up to much.. but I've been up to a lot at the same time..

1. School started up the week of the 18th of August.. I'm taking 3 classes at Berkeley City College this semester.. giving things a chance to ramp up and see where the curriculum takes me..


2. Volunteering: been involved on a basic level with the Berkeley Historical Society since the end of March.. mostly helping with aspects of event hosting: set up, seating people, and clearing things up afterwards, helping with any random mailings, and attend monthly program committee meetings regularly.. I'm expanding my knowledge to hopefully include Docent-ing at the History Center once a month, (especially now that school is in session.)

Recently I was approached about a couple volunteer projects at the BPL.. so I've jumped into that the last couple weeks.. I don't know how official I am yet, but suffice to say I'm happy to be of use, and if I am of any help it makes me very glad and grateful. Some days that's all I want: to feel I have a purpose and I'm not wasting oxygen being here.. And if I have the opportunity to meet folks (and make friends Dangit!) and learn new things.. that's the real lagniappe.. that something extra I shouldn't expect but feel good if it comes my way.

3. Settling into the new home.. We've not finished unpacking our stuff by a long shot.. and it's unlikely we'd be "company" ready any time soon either.. but we're in our new home and enjoying the neighborhood and proximity to all the conveniences that living in Berkeley have to offer.

Also with September here, I'm living the reality of all the various organizations, school groups, and historical associations coming together to create this great atmosphere of history and remembrance for the anniversary of the FSM. So many opportunities to see that great karmic quilt flow and grow: every fiber touching another, crossing through and moving on through another thread.. I already knew the world was small place when I lived in New Orleans.. but seeing it in action between the various history groups, academia, and community activists is something! I could never tire of seeing the world work together.. Berkeley is not the only place where this action is happening.. Like I mentioned, New Orleans was a big example of that for me in the past.. but you can see it happen in your own community if you look around you. Pay attention to all those folks in your area.. what they're doing and the people who flow in and out of your life.. The patterns are there if we look.. No need to be surprised by any of it, just enjoy the coincidences when they happen! =)

As for the posts, I'm trying not to sweat it. Stuff is going on, I just need to let things happen and write when I feel the muse.