Friday, October 10, 2003

This post had a different topic when I started to write it in my head while falling asleep last night. I have to start with what got on my nerves this morning.

I was merrily making my way back from picking up newspapers and the morning mail from our "sister" office on campus. The early morning sun was shining, and I thought about how much I really enjoy being outside at 8:30 in the morning (although I did wish that I could do so without having to get up at 5:30). I remenisced about the few early classes I had while a student at Cal. All in all, I felt good inside.

Then, I saw an old classmate, a sorority sister, walking towards me. I was happy to see her and prepared myself for a bit of a chat. She just nodded towards me and kept talking into her cell phone, as though it was normal for her to see me walking down the street in Berkeley when in fact we haven't seen each other since graduation. She probably didn't even recognize me and only nodded because of my greeting, a simple "Hey!" Still, I caught myself spiraling into one of those self-defeating moments.

"Oh, that's right, she works for the basketball team! She's got a great job, and here I am carting newspapers down to the office. No wonder! Maybe I should interview for the job in SF. No, that would be cutting off my nose to spite my face. I shouldn't take a job I don't want only to suit what I assume are the opinions of others. She doesn't even know what I'm doing here! She didn't even talk to me! I'm judging myself through her eyes!"

I calmed myself down after this and continued my walk to the office, where I soon discovered that a coworker had brought her kittens in for a visit. I huddled with the rest of the office, watching the kittens play amidst the cubicles and on top of a giant ball of string. Peace settled on the office, and the "friend from college encounter" soon flew out of my mind.

Okay, now I can write what I wanted to write before I felt bad about myself and recovered.

Berkeley has a different meaning for me than it did when I was a student. I'll admit that it feels quite odd to set foot on the campus without having any academic business there, but, overall, I'm appreciating the "city job" feeling that I get from working here. Taking the train into a bustling station, walking up a street that proudly boasts a Quiznos, a Japanese snack shop, a fancy, reservations only, restaurant and an indie movie theater that shows movies "sometime after midnight," I get what I need. I get the feeling of being in a big city, even while Berkeley has a total population of just over 100k.

Berkeley also has a different meaning, because I've gotten to read through many of the back files, searching for certain documents, and I've learned a great deal about the goings-on here. Nothing is confidential, but most of it I didn't know before working here.

So, I'm able to take something from this job (and I have to take something, since I won't get paid for another two weeks!), from the new social possibilities it offers me (dinner in the middle of the week with Jessica!), and, yes, even the commute. Here's what The Daily Show With John Stewart likes too call "A Moment of Zen," except mine really isn't ironic...

On the ride into work on Amtrak - out of the right window, I could see the still-full moon, out of the left, the red, rising sun.

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