I’m a bad friend

Listening to: Ratatat – Swisha

Reading (but actually finished): The Victoria’s Secret Catalog Never Stops Coming

I did very little today, but there are still a few accomplishments. I co-signed on a new car, so in a few months my credit score will shoot up. I made a phone call and now I am approved to sit for the CPA exam. Which means … studying must begin. Oh dear. Where should I study? The obvious answer is the public library. I would love to just sit in a cafe and study, but 1) it’s expensive 2) I don’t even like coffee or tea 3) I will end up people-watching far more than study and 4) I’d have to drive north into white-r areas to find coffee shops.

I also read a book in a day. A very short book, but still an entire book! After watching so much Grey’s Anatomy, I was kind of in the mood for something besides What to Eat, which is actually a very interesting and informative read so far. I picked this short memoir about someone who is a breast cancer survivor. She just one day felt like there was something wrong with her body, got a mammogram, and found out she had breast cancer. Her purpose for writing the book was to bring awareness to breast cancer, and it does a good job of it. I want to read more medical memoirs because I realized that I know very, very little about what it’s like to live with a debilitating illness.

Maybe it was an unintended consequence of reading the book, but it also made me really think about how I’m not a very good friend. The author first started thinking she should get checked for breast cancer after her high school friend found out she had it. She immediately called her friend when she heard the news. When the author finds out she has it, tons of people call her too. When it gets worse, people help her out, cook meals, run errands. It made me think, would I have called? How much of my time would I give? The answer in my mind is optimistic but experience says differently. If something bad happens, I usually ask myself whether I’m someone the person typically goes to for support. If I’m not, which I’m usually not because I don’t think I’m anyone’s “‘person,” I don’t say anything unless spoken to about it. But I guess this book made me realize, you don’t have to be someone’s person, support comes from anywhere and it doesn’t matter who gives it.

I wonder, am I just not empathetic, or am I socially ungraceful, or am I simply too insecure in my abilities to comfort someone? None of these are a good excuse to be a crap friend anyway. There should be no excuse for being a crap friend. Whenever someone has told me about their problems, I feel like I just bombard them with questions about what happened so I can understand what happened, or I listen to them and as I respond I’m thinking in my head “oh god the words coming out of my mouth are so meaningless and unhelpful.” Maybe it’s because I’ve watched so much television, where people always know the exact thing to say, whether it’s an apology, a profession of love, a sympathetic gesture, whatever. But I guess those scenes are constructed by a group of writers who rewrite, rewrite and rewrite. And I am just me.

There are so many other reasons I make a bad friend. But listing them will only make them even more apparent so I will keep these to myself and hope I can improve in the future.

On another note, it seems that I started craigslisting way too late so I probably won’t live in SD until May, if at all. I wonder what my reasoning was for not craigslisting sooner. Stupid. Someone responded to my e-mail in all caps and used YOUR instead of YOU’RE. Also did LOL! at the end. I shouldn’t judge … but I’m not desperate enough to respond.

I really think that I would be completely fine with not fulfilling my surfing dream, IF I instead use the two months between now and the roadtrip to get a SUPER CRAZY TONED body. OR if I traveled with someone to somewhere outside of the US.


Back in Arcadia

Listening to: Emy Reynolds – Tonight (one of many Grey’s Anatomy songs I’m playing on repeat)

Just got back home. Generally I love packing and unpacking so I do it immediately. But there is WAY too much stuff here to unpack. The crazy thing is that I could probably go for several weeks without unpacking anything. I have my phone, my laptop, my keys. I have a general idea of where my clothes are. Everything else in life is extraneous.

I was looking forward to coming home, only to find out if I had really lost weight or if it had been in my imagination. If my mom says “you lost weight!” I assume that means I really did lose weight. If she says nothing, I assume that means I gained weight or stayed the same. Today I walked in the door and she said “you’re home! Hello! You’re back so soon! You lost weight! You lost a lot of weight!” So I was like, excellent.

But then I went back outside to move things out of the minivan and my neighbor started talking to me and he said “you’ve gained weight!” I said “really?” and he said “yeah! Your face looks fuller.” So I don’t know who to believe. My mom who has incentive to lie to me, because it’ll make me happier. Or my old neighbor who sees me about five times a year. Wouldn’t someone who rarely sees you have an easier time of noticing a change in weight?

I think my final test will be going to Frances C’s house and seeing what her mom says.

It is grossly hot. I already do not enjoy being in SoCal. It was raining when I left Berkeley, which is a terrible way to leave. I’d rather it have been sunny so I can think “thank god I’m not missing any spectacular weather.”

Fun things that were waiting for me at home: two paychecks, a $15 itunes giftcard from my internship (someone wrote me a note ‘I heard you won this.’ I did not. I won a $5 quiznos giftcard which I used the next day. Oh well), and my Becker books.

Bye Bay

Listening to: Elton John – Bennie and the Jets (something about packing makes it the perfect time to blast oldies music and sing and dance)

This is how I feel right now

All my bags are packed … I’m not ready to go …

This was a great last weekend. I was able to see everyone (that is, Li-Ting, Kaitlyn, Laura and Soo Jin) and ate a ton of food. Food I LOVE. Even though we were all together at some point in the weekend, I ended up saying goodbye to everyone separately. I yelled goodbye to Li-Ting when she dropped us off after a night of driving aimlessly. I hugged Kaitlyn before she went to bed super early. I hugged Soo Jin goodbye as she sat in her bed on Sunday at 2pm, still in the process of waking up. And I hugged Laura goodbye in her car as she dropped me off, the last time I’ll ever be dropped off at my Berkeley apartment.

I’m glad I decided to graduate a semester early but still live in my apartment for a few months. I haven’t missed school at all, but I feel like I had just the right amount of Berkeley food and living independently. Now I’m ready to go back home and be pampered for a few months. And I conveniently ended my internship earlier than expected so I actually explored the Bay Area. Looking at houses, exercising, enjoying the weather, listening to music. Pretty much the happiest way I could spend time alone. I worried that I would regret not going home early to catch other people’s spring breaks. But I’m confident now that it was the right decision to stay. I got to see things I never had the time to see; I hung out with great friends and did fun things. Life is all smiles.

I know have a list somewhere of the things I want to accomplish in the next few months. The first, surfing in SD, is kind of on the back burner for now. I’m 85% ugh I don’t want to deal with finding a place to live right now, let’s forget this dream. But then 15% says that I’ll regret it one day if I don’t do this. I think it’s one of those things I’ll have to force myself to figure out and just do, and then one day I’ll forget that I ever hesitated on the idea.

So I have $5,719.17 in my bank account and about $8,000 in my CD. My goal is to spend every penny of it between today and September, when I move back to NorCal. So far I’ve only earmarked about $3,000 for the roadtrip, maybe $2,000 for the first month’s rent and security deposit of my future NorCal apartment, some unknown amount for furniture for said apartment, and a couple hundred for surfing. Let me know if you want to travel or something with me.

I never know how to say things eloquently or meaningfully, the way Grey’s Anatomy writers can. But thanks for all the memories and laughs, college friends

Me and You

I’ve dilly dallied on publishing this post for several hours. It’s kind of late – I think that I’m trying not to go to sleep, so it won’t really be THE DAY I move out. But it’s time to accept that and go to bed.

Day 8: Golden Gate Bridge

Listening to: Beth Rowley – You’ve Got Me Wrapped Your Little Finger (from An Education)

Damn, now I remember why I try to write posts the day events occur. After a night of sleep and five hours of sitting in bed watching Hulu and eating junk, I have forgotten the throbbing pain in my legs, my inability to spread my toes, my general enthusiasm for life. Now there is just a buttery feeling in my stomach from the blondies I’ve been eating.

Walking the SF Waterfront

According to googlemaps, I walked 10.4 miles, but I could have sworn I walked about 18 miles. Maybe I have been overestimating my walking capabilities all this time. Yesterday was the last day of my Bay Area walking tours. Today is supposed to be packing and reading day. We’ll see how far I get.

The best bridge of the Bay

I started my day eating mint chocolate cookie and watching Modern Family in bed. Then I took the F bus to SF because I had a lunch date with someone from my future place of employment. I call her the “HR lady” to friends but hopefully one day I can call her “that friend of mine from work.” We ate at Boudin’s for an hour, then she went back to work and I started my walk.

Things with shrimp

I hate touristy things but it seemed remiss to walk past Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghiradelli Square without some form of documentation. So the most interesting thing I saw were these displays of food.

On a pier shooting off of Van Ness

The pictures from this walking trip are admittedly very boring. They are either “look! SF is getting further and further away!” or “the Golden Gate is getting closer and closer!” There were no pretty houses on my route 😦 but the HR lady said that the Sea Cliffs are probably the most expensive houses in SF so hopefully I can go there this weekend.

That seagull is like me. Admiring the view. Contemplating life. Wondering what my next meal will be.

Park near Fort Mason

I mainly went on my walk because it was such a nice day, and why waste a beautiful day inside? One day, in a few months, I won’t even know whether it was sunny or raining during the day.

This is the Bay

I’ll spare you all the stupid pictures of the Bridge that I took. Except for this one

Some kind of bridge I stumbled upon

For the day, I basically walked around listening to She and Him – Volume Two. My two favorite songs of the moment are Stars – Take Me to the Riot and Taio Cruz – Break Your Heart. I have a weird theory that if I leave my ipod on shuffle, whenever Take Me to the Riot comes on, it’s a sign that I’ve come to the end of my journey and I either reroute my direction or turn home.

Golden Gate Trail

I was afraid that the steps up to the Golden Gate Bridge would be some dinky concrete crap I’d have to trudge through. I was pleasantly surprised to find a grassy trail, numerous signs making it impossible to get lost, and very few people (since it was a Thursday).

I’ve never seen the city from this angle before. It’s weird. Like the first time I was in a H&M dressing room and could see myself in three different mirrors. I spent a long time examining my stomach from different angles that day.

No U Turn

I wonder what idiot attempted to make a U Turn on this bridge. And then some city worker had to fill out paperwork to get these signs posted on the bridge.

Walking on this bridge actually made me feel really lonely. It seemed like I was the only person on that bridge alone. Unfortunately, the traffic was too loud on the bridge for me to play Earlimart – Happy Alone and drown out my sorrows via music.

If I have a healthy body and someone to hold hands with across the Golden Gate Bridge, I guess growing old wouldn’t be that bad.

Actually, I just wrote that because how can you write something negative about that picture? I’d still like to die “young”

The end story is that I walked across the bridge, expecting to be able to walk to the Sausalito Ferry Terminal and take the ferry back. But by the time I reached the end, I could plainly see that there was no walking path out of the visitor’s area. UGH. So I ended up walking back across that stupid bridge. Laura is right – it may seem fun but at the halfway point of the bridge is when you start to think “I want to be off this bridge now.” Not doing that again in a long time!

So I finally got off the bridge and looked for a bus that would take me back to the financial district. VERY LUCKILY the first bus I caught made its final stop at the Transbay Terminal. PERFECTION! I missed the FS by a SECOND – I was even knocking on the door that had just closed but he pulled away. But it’s ok because I just took the F and my intern coworker got on that bus too. She had called me while I was coming back from the Golden Gate and we made plans to eat together. So it was actually more perfect  that we caught the same bus. We ate at Crepevine and Ici. She is someone I would not have expected to hit it off with, but conversation never really ends and she is hilarious and tells me about her personal life, which is all I ever want from a friend.

Oddly, the whole time we were waiting in line at Ici, another coworker from my internship was standing RIGHT behind me! This coworker I met at a happy hour and she seemed super nice but we worked on different floors so our future interaction only consisted of smiling at each other during pilates and Friday lunches. I had actually heard snippets of her conversation but thought it would be awkward to turn around and check out who was behind me. But when I was ordering my flavor, I turned my body and I guess she saw my face and was like “MELISSA!” and I was like WHOA! So it was a really weird, kind of awesome day of seeing coworkers.

Josh's delicious blondies!

I LOVEEE everything Josh makes. I hate brownies but I really loved his brownies (although they destroyed my mouth for weeks). I hate tiramisu but his was SOOOO deliciously custardy. I honestly believe he can’t make a dessert I would dislike. I’m standing weirdly because I was like UGH I LOOK SO FAT so I tried to hide my body behind the box. I think it worked.

Day 6/7: Presidio

Listening to: The Headlights – Cherry Tulips (mainly because I see a lot of tulips during my walks)

I didn’t walk at all on Tuesday. Instead, I deemed it “research day,” a day when I would figure out what I’m going to do for the next two months. I got as far as Saturday. I ate at Sunnyside Cafe for brunch with Paulo and Josh. I wish I had brought my camera because I ordered The Alameda and it would have looked great on film. Two slices of french toast acting as the sandwich between ham, mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and emmenthel cheese. Two eggs perfectly done over easy on top, with a balsalmic reduction drizzled on the plate. It was really freaking good. Kind of expensive but worth it.

Yesterday was also Ben and Jerry’s free cone day! I got chocolate macadamia because it was the most appealing flavor that isn’t sold as a pint at Safeway. And I know very well which flavors they sell at Safeway, since I stare at that refrigerator every time.

Then Soo Jin and Kaitlyn drove over to eat at Angeline’s with me. I ordered Hush Puppies and Jambalaya. I wish I had had room for bread pudding. Then I went back with them to SF so today I could immediately start my Presidio walk.

Presidio walk

I left today around 11am and got back around 3. I like walking in SF because the houses are tall enough and close enough to the sidewalk that I always have shade on at least one side of the street, even at 1:00pm. It’s also refreshingly breezy. But it’s less interesting to walk in such a gridlike fashion because you’re constantly thinking “when will I reach the end” whereas winding roads make it easier for the mind to wander. Also, crappier gardens in SF, fewer interesting houses, and more people walking around to make me feel uneasy about taking pictures.

My dream job

Not because I LOVEEE dogs, but because it’s such a perfect job. Earn money while exercising and observing residential areas. At this point in my life, this is also the only reason I would want a child. So I can look awesome running on the street while pushing a baby stroller.

Today I walked around without a map. When I left, I only remembered that I wanted to walk as far west as I could before I hit a street that started with “A.” That’s basically the edge of Presidio. After a long walk, I started wondering if I had missed it, and then I was super shocked to see the radio towers that I have only ever noticed when driving through Twin Peaks. Whenever I feel geographically confused, I replay the scene from Lost, “Guys … where are we?”

Presidio Terrace, the Beverly Hills of SF

I wouldn’t be surprised if Presidio Terrace really is the Beverely Hills of SF. I just made that up. Imagine Berkeley Hills-like houses. Huge, beautiful mansions with quite a bit of yard space. Already that’s several million dollars. Now add that to SF prime real estate area. Walking around the street felt kind of strange, like I wasn’t in SF but in a super rich part of SoCal where a celebrity would be walking out the front door at any second.

Edge of Presidio

The Presidio seems to just be a big boring forest. I walked inside for a little bit, but then headed back. I had googlemapped it and it looked like it was just trees. And the last thing I wanted was to be lost in some giant 1,480 acre plot of forested land.

Stepford Wives of SF

Within the Presidio are a few houses that all look exactly the same. It is really creepy. I don’t really see the appeal of these houses, because they don’t look like the kind of houses I envision hermits to live in.

Generally after four hours of exploring, I will run into one house that has something hilarious in its front yard. Can you see what it is?

House guardian robot

There was one block, I think on Washington between Locust and Laurel, where literally every other house was under construction. It was really weird to walk through that area, since there were construction workers everywhere. I wish I were outgoing enough to strike up a conversation and see if they’d let me walk around one of the houses they were working on.

Of all the streets I walked through, I only liked these flowers and a small plot of white tulips.

The house I want

I’m oddly drawn to this house. I like the huge ass windows. If I owned it, I would probably replace the windows with a different type of glass, repaint the beige portions, and then throw in some sort of rock or brick facade to give it more texture. I just like the idea of looking out of such a huge window before heading off to work.

I haven’t eaten very much and it’s already 5:20! Excellent. I walked down Fillmore and got a yogurt and granola at the Bittersweet Chocolate Cafe. I’ll spare you the picture I took of it, because it looks like baby vomit. At different bites, it tasted either tasteless, crunchy, or yucky.

Ok. Time to yelp restaurants with Soo Jin. I initially wanted another oyster happy hour, but now I’m like blegh. Even if it’s just $1 oysters, I’m still paying $12 to eat something that won’t fill me up. So tired… It’s weird that I finished my walk AND my blog entry around the time that I would just begin my walk.

Day 5: Berkeley Hills

Listening to: Stars – Take Me to the Riot

I came pretty close to not going on a walk today but I told myself “who cares if I don’t know where I’m going, just fucking go” so I caught the 7 and took it all the way up to Berkeley Hills. Good philosophy – I came home happier. I walked 3 hours and according to google maps I did 10 miles. I’m starting to think that 10 miles is not very much either – like if I really were super active, I should be walking 15-18 miles a day.

Revisiting Berkeley Hills

I can’t concentrate on writing this blog! I just had the most amazing, insane idea for the rest of my UPTO – I thought of it on my walk and after briefly researching online, I have only grown more excited. But the excitement is starting to die down, replaced by negativity and realism. We’ll see what happens.

Another gorgeous house

Hopefully today concludes my Berkeley exploration. I loved every day of it, but I’ve run out of neighborhoods that I’m interested in. I tried to research SF neighborhoods but I’m honestly not all too interested in any. Googlemap street view kind of discourages me from wanting to make the trip, because I’m not particularly fond of the SF Victorian architecture. I keep wanting to go across the Golden Gate, but I feel like that is too much of an expedition. Today was supposed to be research day, so I don’t have to waste any time for the rest of the week. But now it’s 12:15 and I’m a little pooped.

Are these cherry blossoms?

I think this was taken on Santa Barbara Road. I kind of wish I could name all the plants I see on my walks. Wouldn’t it be cool if I went on walks and could point out the names of different flowers? Or is that TOO old lady-like?

Today I watched New Moon with Paulo. I’m not the first person to think this, but how did so many thousands of women/girls get sucked into this crazy obsession? Crap is crap. Script, crap. CGI, crap. Acting, crap.

Giant effing sun

One of my favorite things about these walks is when a completely unexpected, amazing view of the Bay is presented to me. Other favorites I’ve encountered on my walks:

Favorite smell: the smell of soap that wafts through an open bathroom window when someone is taking a hot shower
Favorite random sighting: a 70ish year old lady riding a bike across the street from an unrelated 8 year old
Favorite sound: a front door closing on an otherwise silent street.
Sometimes you don’t realize what you’re missing until it happens again. Where I live, you never hear a front door gently closing on a silent street. First, streets in Berkeley are rarely silent. Second, since most buildings here are apartments and not single houses, doors are built to close on their own, so people generally just open the door and let it slam shut behind them. But in a residential street, people have to gently close the door behind them. The sound is surprisingly reminiscent of home.

Fountain Walk

I really enjoy the variety of traffic structures in the Bay Area. Like planters in residential area to keep traffic on the main streets. This tunnel. The weird circle fountain thing above this tunnel that has nine different streets feeding into it.

Creepy, crappy pic of my fav house

I got to Mendocino too late and couldn’t get a good picture of my favorite house. But you can see why I love it right? Look at that beautiful paned window. Maybe I will have to drop by earlier in the day. I walked all the way back to the bart station before getting on a 7. There was NO ONE at the Telegraph/Durant stop.  That is amazing. I love spring break. Way less people. I always wonder why someone is still in Berkeley if they look college-age. Why are you not at home?

Napa Daytrip #2

Judging by the number of people who ask me “so what are you up to now?” and when I say “I just walk around” they ask “where do you walk?” I know that the only person who reads this blog is Laura. That’s cool – that means I can just repeat stories that I write here.

This was a terrible, terrible weekend in terms of food. Friday: I ruined a day of restrained meals after a late night apple bread pudding from Bob’s Donuts. It was pretty good though. Saturday: excessive bread, nutter butters, Korean food and soju. Sunday: meat, tons of it. I thought I was going to eat less meat … what happened to that

In more detail now,

Friday: I watched Fantastic Mr. Fox with Jon – it was pretty good. I correctly guessed George Clooney’s voice, but I would have never figured out that I was hearing Meryl Streep. I have way more difficulty identifying women’s voices in cartoons. I left for SF around 8pm and we (Soo Jin, Laura and Kaitlyn) got donuts and went to Walgreens for random snacks. Then we watched An Education and slept around 3am.

I feel obligated to say that Up in the Air is my favorite 2009 oscar nominated film since I’ve seen the entire movie four times and I own it. But I REALLY liked An Education. I will buy that too when it is selling for $9.99 or less. I really liked the cinematography and the fashion is enviable (although I’d never pull off what they wear, nor have the patience to spend so long on my physical presentation). I oddly watched a ton of oscar films this past week, the only one left I want to see is The Blind Side. The movie I wanted to see the most was Precious, and that one was the most disappointing because all of the good scenes have been put into trailers and clips. After this week, I kind of want to get a Netflix account and attempt to watch every oscar nominated film in the next few months. But I have a feeling that if I do, five months from now people will ask “so what did you do over the summer?” and I will have to admit “I planned on studying for the CPA … but instead I just watched a shit ton of movies.”

Saturday: woke up, read Secret Life of Bees which is a REALLY good book, so good that it makes me want to read more fiction books. Soo Jin got up around 1 and we went to Safeway to buy food to eat at Napa. It was a day of indulgence. Grocery shopping with Laura and Soo Jin = dangerous. We got cinnamon raspberry rolls on impulse (turned out to be my favorite purchase), a huge package of Nutter Butters, a loaf of bread and brie cheese, hummus and carrots and pita bread, and some random breads for myself. We ate on the drive over, which was gorgeous. Great weather lately … drove across the Golden Gate bridge and the view is REALLY nice – maybe I will walk there one day this week.

View through the car window

We drove down a really nice road into Napa. Lots of yellow flowers. We ended up going to a winery called Artesia. Soo Jin found this one by yelping “most beautiful winery” and it did not disappoint. The three of us shared two tastings which was a pretty good amount for a good price. Then we sat by the fountain and just ate our loaf of bread with cheese mmm… It was  too late to go to a second tasting, so we went back home. A little while later, off to Playground for the 3rd week of Laura’s birthday celebration. Got a lot of delicious Korean food shared between seven people, drank quite a bit of soju although it didn’t really affect me at all, played a rather fun drinking game introduced by Albert. Went back to the apt, finished off the cinammon rolls and some drank sangria. We somehow ended up sleeping at 4am …

Love day trips

It’s amazing how easy it was to get to Napa. It sounds like such a distant place … but it’s the equivalent of just driving to the beach. Thanks to Soo Jin and Laura for agreeing to my random “LET’S GO TO NAPA! LET’S GO ON A DAY TRIP!” remarks.

Sunday: The day essentially started at 3pm, since we had gone to bed so late. We went to eat sandwiches at Tommy’s Joynt, which was disgustingly meaty. Then walked around Fillmore which I love. Then somehow found the hunger to go for dinner at a taco place. Next weekend: Little Star Pizza and Land’s End Park which is a FIVE STAR PARK! It’s my last weekend in the bay area until August so DAY TRIPS GALORE! Happiness. I lurrrrvveee my friends – thank you for agreeing to do things with me. Never an uneventful weekend.

What a good start to my faux spring break. Must find somewhere to walk tomorrow…

Things to put in my belly in the next week:

1) Angeline’s
2) Taqueria El Tacontento
3) Two pints of Ben and Jerrys (coffee heath bar crunch and mint chocolate cookie)

Day 4: Claremont

Listening to: Correatown – All the World

Another 3.5 hr walk. At this point I feel like anything less than that is slacking off. Usually in the last half hour I feel like my feet are slowly fracturing and one day I will have some serious injury from walking so much. Today I made the most accurate google map yet. Usually I have to create a bunch of composite images since it’s too annoying to change the route to accurately show all the zigzagging I do. It says I did 8.4 miles so that’s about 1.25 miles every half hour.


The red route is what I WOULD have taken to get home if the sun hadn’t already set. I left at 5:00 today because I was watching The Hurt Locker with Jon. Today was too much thinking and not enough doing. I wasted so many hours debating whether I wanted to read at home, outdoors, or in a cafe. Then it was, which cafe? Musical Offering, Cafe Milanese, Espresso Roma or Sufficient Grounds? In the end I ate lunch at Sufficient Grounds but did not read.

Rule #4 of UPTO is “do not backtrack.” (Rule 1: cannot skip tracks on ipod, Rule 2: do not bring money or cellphone, Rule 3: do not take the bus home) I don’t want to take the same streets going home that I took to get there. But today I was in the middle of the hills and the streets here do not connect, which seems like a rule for upscale communities. So I had to decide whether to stick to my rule and take a ridiculously long route after the sun had set, in an area with very few streetlights. Or, I could go back the way I came. I took the way I came, after much deliberation. Luckily it felt totally different at night so I wasn’t that sad.

UNTIL I got home and was doing my google map and realized I could have totally taken a shortcut (the orange route) and saved myself like … 2 miles of walking. UGH. That road did not show up well on my printed version. Sigh.

So today I went to a purely residential area. You know when you drive on Ashby and you look east and see all those houses in the hills? And you think, god those must be expensive houses, they’re so high up. I went there. I climbed pretty damn high up.

View on Grand View Ave

Looking at my map, I figured the street with the best views would be Grand View Ave. Thank goodness for uncreative city planners. Looks like I’m pretty high huh? I hope the uphill walking really works out my ass.

These were the only houses that were higher than where I was standing. Every day I feel like I’ve accomplished at least one thing on my walk. Today’s accomplishment was walking so high up and being able to see a pretty great view of the Bay right at sunset

Looks like a freaking postcard

The houses around Claremont were super nice, as expected. Berkeley Hills has very straight roads while everything around Claremont winds. More houses have a wall of trees in the front yard to keep passerbys from looking in, kind of like in San Marino. Also way taller houses, I’m guessing so everyone can get a good view. There were tons of modern-looking houses, the kind you see pictures of in architecture magazines and wonder, where the hell are houses like these being built? Well, I found them.

Tunnel Road

Also on my walk, I went down Tunnel Road which is my FAVORITE ROAD EVER. Whenever I’m coming back from socal, I always magically awake from my snoozing when we get on Tunnel Road. I love how it winds and it’s dark and you can’t see the opposing traffic. Also, I can never figure out where it ends up since the Ashby/Claremont area is super confusing to me, so it always feels like we are just magically driving past Ici all of a sudden.

My nemesis, the evergreen

I’m not even joking, I totally smelled an evergreen tree about 50 steps before I found it. I was just walking and suddenly thought “ugh what is that dusty smell. ARE THERE EVERGREENS AROUND HERE?!” It was THIS EVERGREEN! And after a little more walking I found a street named Evergreen Lane. Disgusting. I hate coniferous trees.

Daily plant picture

Maybe I’m losing interest in the botany I see on my walks. Or maybe the houses in Claremont are just TOOOO amazing! Even though most houses had obscured views, they also had huge giant windows (the better to see the view with I guess) so when it grew dark, I could easily see into their beautiful and rather empty living rooms and super cute kitchens.

View from Gravatt Dr

The views of the Bay were continuously being blocked by HOUSES. Sigh. I kept hoping that I would find a secret hidden spot akin to Chantry Flats. A great panoramic view and a great place to makeout.

On my walk back I passed Kristen’s old apartment and I was a little sad because if she were here and not in S. America, I would have called her up and had another few hours of fun. Instead I am lying on my apartment room floor, typing this blog, hungry, but too tired to get up and wash an apple.

Day 3: Mountain View Cemetary

Listening to: Brandy – Angel in Disguise (UGH because Jon started singing it yesterday!)

This better than average day has been RUINED because Safeway did not have mint chocolate cookie in stock! BOO. WHO is eating ice cream on St. Patrick’s Day?! DRINK ALCOHOL.

aznwalmartgurl8 (10:06:30 AM): in my free time i just go on walks now
cetrachocobo1 (10:06:35 AM): whoa
cetrachocobo1 (10:06:38 AM): thats very
cetrachocobo1 (10:06:42 AM): old ladyish of you

I had plans to go to SF for happy hour around 5:00 today, so I didn’t want to walk around for too long. I’m saving Berkeley Hills for my last day here, so I went through Piedmont today. I left at 2:30 and ended up getting back around 6:00 so … no happy hour. Just as well. I had already gone to that bar before, AND it’s an Irish bar which I do not want to be in on St. Patrick’s Day. I own nothing green.

Piedmont walk

I was toying with the idea of not going on a walk today and just doing errands, but after seeing that there is a cemetary with great views, I was like I MUST GO THERE. So I took the 51 all the way down, past College Ave, and stopped at Broadway and MacArthur. I wasn’t too impressed with the shops on Piedmont – it’s kind of a less interesting College Ave. I walked through some random streets, tried to zig zag as much as I could. Which is why I walked two hours more than I planned. I need to try leaving the house around 3:30 when it isn’t freaking hot, but around 1:30 I start freaking out that I haven’t done anything productive yet, so I always end up leaving around 2:30 despite my better judgment.

Flowers and tombstones

The only cemetary I’ve really been to is Rose Hills, and it’s a very well-kept and uniform site. Very trim grass, few trees, and there are just plaques on the ground, no tombstones. So it’s a little weird to see so many different tombstones jutting out, and flowers just springing up naturally. It was an ok cemetary. I didn’t take pictures of the “great views,” because there are better views of the bay to show. I wish I had taken a good picture of the cemetary from above though. Shucks, I climbed so high for naught.

Alternative burial option

Not sure what the appeal of this is. It looks like they’re just storing bodies to use as medical students’ experiment cadavers. Although if I were buried, I guess I would like to be buried in a shady, marbley area away from the sun. I still don’t know if I would rather be buried or cremated. To be honest, I wish there were an option where you could just have your dead body thrown into some decaying heap to be used as fertilizer. I’d rather have my body be reused for some sort of crop than burned into ashes or left in some unnecessarily fancy coffin.

Oblig digital macro pic

I like taking digital macro pics mainly because I want the background to look fuzzy. I like the out of focus coffin bins. I’m pretty sure they’re not called “coffin bins.”

House on Etna or something
House on Little Piedmont or something

I took that picture in front of a house that’s really close to where Caroline used to live. So Piedmont commercial area was kind of lame but I’m glad I did it. The cemetary was an interesting choice; I would have liked to read there but I’m more happy with my decision of not bringing my book on this hot day. I walked up College, the southern part that I never really explored. I turned right on Claremont because I’ve walked College a bunch of times, but never Claremont, which is residential. I started weaving in and out – the houses were nice and it was around 5:00 so the weather was becoming cool and breezy and shadows were longer. There were a lot of cute houses, but the area is more uniformly nice so there weren’t any that particularly stood out.

I was walking on a street and suddenly the old woman in front of me just stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. I passed her on the right and she exclaimed “oh I’m sorry! I was staring at my garden!” and I said “OH this is your garden?! It’s so beautiful!” because it really was a nice garden – I would have taken a picture of it but I forgot by the time we ended our conversation. So we talked about her garden and a cat that ambled over and stretched out on the hood of a car. She told me three times the story of where this cat came from. She also asked me where I lived, three times. She told me her house was designed by Julia Morgan, who made a bunch of other Berkeley houses and the Hearst castle.

Today all the guys I talked to said I had nice hair. Meaning, Paulo and Jon told me I had nice hair today. BUT SEPARATELY! Oh wait. I ate house of curries with Brian and he didn’t say anything. I guess 66% of the guys I talked to then.

Now I’m watching Precious!

Paulo: Melissa! Can I use a tampon?
Me: Yeah. What are you using it for?
Paulo: I want to use it for a nosebleed… I saw this on Sex and the City
Me: Oh. I have Kleenex you know
Paulo: I kind of want to try it
Me: Ok then

Day 2: John Hinkel Park

Listening to: The Poems – Ballad of a Bitter End

Once again, I did not go running today. I’m starting a dangerous habit of turning off my alarm and continuing to sleep, which I’d never done before. Today I watched Greek, packed a little, researched where to walk. I spent a really long time trying to figure out where to go in Westbrae and Northbrae. They don’t exactly give a map detailing each street to walk down, and I’m paranoid that I’ll end up walking just a block under the main attractions and I’ll return home thinking wtf that place sucked ass. Plus, I have to read between the lines of how SF gate describes things. “Ethnic places” mean ghetto. “Hippie” means places I don’t need to see, having lived next to Telegraph for all of college. The places I want are rich, white neighborhoods, and the keywords for those are “cafe,” “trees,” “real estate,” and an emphasis on “restaurants.”

I left my apartment around 2:30, wearing my new walking outfit: my bear bottom shorts, a black t-shirt, and my Berkeley zip up athletic jacket. I want this to be my standard outfit, but I think it already smells like sweat. It was perfect weather for shorts today. I’m glad I missed the 7, otherwise my route would have been completely different and today would have been a rise and fall as opposed to what I got, all rise. I took the 52L to reach my starting point: San Pablo and Hopkins. I very rarely ever take the 52L, so it was fun to use a new bus line before I leave.

I noticed that Acme Bakery was right at the stop I’d gotten off, and I felt a little sad that I hadn’t brought money. I’ve only been to Acme Bakery once, after a Habitat for Humanity thing, and I’ve always wanted to go back but never had the occasion to make a bus ride out of it. Acme Bakery was started by a Cal student who had worked at Chez Panisse, and they often have stands at farmers markets and restaurants will advertise “Acme bread” on their menus, which is a pretty good sign of its quality. I don’t remember what I got the first time I went, but I remember I bought a bunch of stuff for Chrystal, and an hour after I gave it to her I was like “uh Chrystal, can I have that back? I want to eat it.”

My ridiculously zig zaggy route

Long story short: Today I walked for four freaking hours. I had planned on running at 7pm, but I got back at 7pm and I feel like my body will collapse whenever I stand up. So … no running today. I didn’t even hit my main destination, Westbrae and Northbrae which are commercial areas. The circle is where I was supposed to go. I was pretty wrapped up in going through the residential areas and figured I’d like that more than seeing some shops and restaurants I wouldn’t have money for.

Weird rainbow house

This was by far the weirdest painted house. I didn’t like N. Berkeley houses too much because there weren’t enough trees on the streets. It reminded me of walking through Temple City, although with more interesting houses and gardens that consisted of more than just grass and birds of paradise.

Your everyday garden sculpture

I can’t imagine what type of people live in this house.

Right now, I’m lying in my bed writing this blog and I really, really wish I had showered first.

I was about to skip past these streets because I wanted to get to the North Berkeley library (which was kind of a disappointment although it gave me a chance to pee). Then I thought, any street that has a streetpost like this must have some pretty nice houses. These are rich street signals. I was so right. All of my favorite streets had something like this. Now I know what to look out for

Another sign of wealth: giant ass trees

This post is super picture heavy because I loved soooo many things on today’s walk. I love pictures like these. Huge trees on each side of a street and a blue sky. This is after I passed into Berkeley Hills territory. I lurrrvveeee Berkeley Hills. I can’t believe I almost left this place without walking through this amazing neighborhood. So many great houses

Most Beautiful Award

This was my FAVORITE house that I’ve seen so far. It had an incredible garden and the house looked pretty good too. The owner had just gotten back home though, so I didn’t linger too long. This house was on Mendocino Ave, which is one of the streets I have to go back to. I also have to go back to Shattuck and Los Angeles Ave for an awesome shot of the fountain, and The Circle, which is where the fountain is.

How much would a house with this view cost? This was from Arlington Ave, which is a really nice, winding road that the 7 goes through. I never knew the 7 went so far north. Arlington is a two way street separated by a divider with tons of trees and plants. One direction is higher elevated than the other. It is a realllyyyy nice street. There were tons of cars on my way down because people were coming back from work. It must feel really nice to come back from whatever job pays enough to afford a house in Berkeley Hills, and then be able to drive through Arlington’s winding roads.

Steps up to someone's house

* content sigh * If I’m drooling over someone’s front door steps, I can’t imagine what the inside must look like. I kept wanting to knock on someone’s door and ask for directions or a cup of water. And then use my charm to score a house tour. Unlikely though.

Upton Lane

I took a chance and guessed that this was the little path that would lead me to John Hinkel Park. I was right! It was this small, hidden, amazing park consisting primarily of bridges that go up and down and around the park.

John Hinkel Park

By far my favorite park ever. It has a stream running through it so it’s super peaceful. It was constructed as a WPA project by the same landscape designer who did Berkeley Rose Garden. Vernon Dean, you are an amazing designer. Why do I love WPA projects so much? So freaking amazing.

Amphitheater in the park

They have this amphitheater where they hold Shakespeare plays during the spring/summer. The seats look towards this huge fireplace built into a stone wall. I sat on one of the steps and read for a little bit before I decided I should start heading back.

THESE are the flowers I saw on Sunday

I don’t know if these flowers are different from the ones I posted a picture of, or if they just haven’t bloomed. I like these better, they’re smaller and more baby like. I should either learn to not be embarassed of taking random pictures in public or learn to take better quickie pictures. I didn’t realize until I uploaded this that the only flower in focus is wilted.

Random flower pictures. Makes me wish I had a SLR although I wouldn’t want to have to lug it around. Or learn how to use one. Or pay for one. Yeah, I’m pretty happy with my point and shoot.

Huge field of tulips in someone's yard

I can’t believe I had the good fortune of ending my internship early and right when flowers are in bloom. Could not have worked out any better.


I correctly guessed that these are daffodills. Amazing, the random knowledge stored in unused parts of my head.

Flowers from my favorite house on Mendocino

I walked by several yards where their owners were doing construction or cleaning up. I feel like in North Berkeley, homeowners do their own landscaping or construction whereas in SoCal, people hire others to do the work. Or maybe I’m just being racist and the hired laborers in N. Berkeley are middle-aged white men instead of Mexicans.

It’s 10:30! What an amazing day. I realized in the shower that I may have walked 7.5 miles today. I walked the distance of two bart stations. Holy shits. Don’t know how I can top this. I think tomorrow I’m going to do Piedmont/Rockridge.