Berkeley, CA

I got lost yesterday on my way to Berkeley Espresso. I left the apartment believing I knew exactly how to get there; I didn’t even bother to look at the streets. After a few blocks it dawned on me that I had no idea where I was headed. Ironic how losing my way is almost always preceded by certainty rather than uncertainty.

Sometimes I won’t turn around when I realize I’ve gone the wrong way. Sometimes I refuse to accept defeat. I insist on going forward, charting a new path with my misdirection. Each year these instances happen less frequently — stubbornly continuing in the wrong direction, I mean, not getting lost, I get lost just as often as I always have. I’m learning to accept my errors. And also to not give in to every inclination of my ego.

Instead of Berkeley Espresso, I ended up at People’s Cafe. A rather fortunate turn of events really, I have very fond memories of this place. See the parrot on the wall? There’s a drawing of it in my notebook, a quite uncanny duplication if I may say so myself. And the table in the back with the bench against the wall, there we sat when I realized you were my happy place.

I’ve been missing Berkeley these days, missing summers on Telegraph Ave when blocks would be closed off to cars to make room for the tents lining both sides of the street selling hand-made jewelry, tie-dyed shirts, ceramic bowls, and special pastries, missing those four-day weekends when I’d spend an entire day leisurely cruising through all the shops on College Ave, always pausing inside the pet store to contemplate buying a pair of birds to bring some chirp to my apartment.

An entire album of travel photos can’t compete with a single photo depicting my previous life in Berkeley. If I could travel back in time and relive one of those days again, any old Sunday, waking up with you beside me, running errands all day, and ending with a dinner among friends. Just one of those days.


Between Practical and Interesting

Political Science is not the most practical major you can pick in college.  Neither is Sociology, Psychology, Religious Studies, Philosophy, Literature, or any other Arts & Humanities major.  Yet I find all those subjects fascinating.  I could’ve picked any one of those but I felt a special connection with PoliSci.

I had taken PS 1 as one of the requirements for my intended major at the time, Business Administration.  They say you can tell if you’re interested in a major by how much you like the intro classes.  I liked PS 1, I loved PS 2, and there was no turning back after that.

Political Science might not have pointed me to a clear career path and it certainly didn’t bring all the recruiters to the table, but I got to study a subject I felt passionate about and that meant so much more to me.

In my Political Theory class, we analyzed the texts of Aristotle and Plato, which helped to satisfy my interest in philosophy and literature.  My knowledge of Singapore’s history and culture from taking “The Politics of Southeast Asia” came into play recently when I visited the country for the first time.

My maths skills might have deteriorated since Calculus BC, but I have no fear of timed writing and reading comprehension is my strongest section on the LSAT.  I am analytical, argumentative, and make it a habit to look at a problem from all possible angles.  Those are the skills you can gain from an impractical major like Political Science.

When I finally decided on PoliSci as my major, I was fully aware of how useful it would be once I graduated, which is why I decided to pick a second, more practical major: Mass Communications (a.k.a. Media Studies).  MassComm would bring home the bacon while PoliSci spent all day volunteering at the shelters.

Truthfully, I don’t give MassComm enough credit, sometimes I even forget I double majored.  But till this day, I cannot look at the Skyy Vodka ads without scowling at the way they use the female body as a sexual object and I will never accept vampires, the symbol of sexual deviance, to be portrayed as pale humans that sparkle under the sun.  Attending lectures for MassComm also forced me to get out of sweats once in a while and put on some makeup.  The stereotype is true, that major is full of sorority girls and they bring their A game to class; whoever said there are no hot girls at Berkeley has never taken MassComm 10.

I’ll admit I did not pick the most practical majors in college nor did I have a specific career in mind when I arrived at Berkeley at 18.  But my college education was an invaluable investment, one that I am extremely proud of.  I have never regretted picking the majors I did, though for a brief moment yesterday, I thought, “hmm, maybe I would’ve enjoyed majoring in Literature more.”

At least I didn’t major in Music…but don’t think it didn’t cross my mind.