Monday, April 28, 2014

The Countdown Begins

I realized with a start today that we have only ten (TEN!) days left in Berkeley. In a fit of, what I can now say with perfect hindsight, sheer insanity last year, Suresh and I decided that we'd not live in one locale for the duration of the sabbatical, we'd live in TWO. Oh yes, we thought to our innocent, unthinking selves, MORE is better. Right? More is better. We'd hang out in our old grad school stomping ground of the Bay Area for a while, and then, tootle-y-doo, we'll whisk ourselves away to Europe. Except, right now we are not tootle-y-doo-ing. We are not whisking.  We are not prancing to and fro in a merry state of moving. No. We are frothing at the mouth. We are suffering. We are crying out in pain at UPS, who missed a pickup of our worldly belongings, who caused my loss of an entire day waiting for them, while our boxes of clothing and various items got soaked in the rain. Perhaps last year I envisioned myself tootle-y-dooing my way to Denmark, but no, it was not meant to be so. Now we are surrounded by packing materials and a chaos of household effects in various states of being sorted and wrapped for transit. The house echoes with a disturbing dearth of books and Legos, and with children driven mad with desire for the one ball, the one ball that we did not pack, that got stuck in the tree, just out of reach, in the backyard game of baseball. Children, howling for me, are mad with the knowledge that if they come inside there will be nothing left to do or play with. We are surrounded by a life unfurled: items once tucked away and forgotten lie open, naked, looking as though they walked into a party where they don't know anyone and aren't quite sure if they should leave or try to look as though they belong. The spare bedroom is awash in miscellany, an uncomfortable mix of trash, unfolded laundry, and store receipts we do not know whether to recycle or keep.

Certain lovely Berkeley friends have taken pity on our self-inflicted plight and have offered us succor by caring for the children, offering extra playdates, executing extra pickups from school for us and the like. And this has certainly eased our pain.  But not to the point where we are tootle-y-dooing.

So, while I lose myself in contemplation of my sorry fate, I shall suffer in silence now and strive to entertain you with a few photos in an attempt to capture some memories of the neighborhood, before they become just that: memories.

This is the house we lived in, in an area known as the Berkeley Hills

We could see the Bay, and both the Bay Bridge
and the Golden Gate Bridge, over the rooftops
from the front porch of that house.

Semifreddies is an excellent bakery within walking distance of our house.
Family favorites: sweet batard loaves, morning buns,
and the veggie muffuletta sandwich.

The scent of neighborhood jasmine in bloom year round was just intoxicating.

And deer loved our backyard, so between Whisper walking all over my keyboard,
and backyard visitors who came close enough to monitor my emails
 through the window, I was never alone while working from home.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Eleven years, eleven months

 The Bay Area is actually a place seeped in memories for Suresh and me. We went to grad school here, met here, got married here. And so, a month before our twelfth anniversary, we packed the kids up in the car and took a drive down to Sanborn Park in Saratoga, to pay a visit to the place where we were married. It was a lovely day, dappled in sunlight, much the same as we remembered that day in May so long ago. We've grown a lot since then, a lot has happened to us since then ...

... and I wouldn't change a moment of it for the world.

George Peterson Memorial Grove

[WARNING: These next photos had both our children shrieking in horror, leaving Aditya barely able to manipulate the camera well enough to take the pictures. View at your own risk!]


Lest you think I am all play and no work

And lest you think Suresh is all work and no play:

There is a good reason my husband is in the tub of balls at the Google Office and our kids are not! Yes! There really is!

A Very Berkeley Field Trip

On March 21, I had the kindergarten adventure of my life. It was billed as a "Transportation and Land Forms" Field Trip, in which all three Rosa Parks kindergarten classes participated. That means there were eighty children going together as a group on this field trip. There was an adult chaperone for every 2-3 children, so all together we had eighty kindergarteners, ages five and six, and about thirty adults moving around the Bay Area as a group. AND WE SURVIVED!

Here was the itinerary and a few pictures:

     Arrive at Rosa Parks. Collect all student breakfasts and lunches in chaperone bags. Review groups and guidelines
     Walk from Rosa Parks to Berkeley Amtrak Station (0.5 miles)
9:30-9:50am Eat breakfast outside on benches and take group photos at Berkeley Amtrak Station
Looking fresh and clean and ready for adventure!

     Ride Amtrak #531 Berkeley to Oakland Jack London Square. All aboard!

A station name to warm the hearts of literary-inclined travelers everywhere!  Even eighty of them. Even if they're too young to have heard of Jack London.

A bronze of White Fang, a suitable stallion for daring young adventurers

Down by the Bay
     Ride Blue & Gold Ferry from Oakland to SF Ferry Building
     Eat lunch and play at park across from Ferry Building. **This was our final destination before heading back to school**...
The Park ~ Here we are at last!
     Walk from park to Embarcadero BART (0.25 mi)
     Ride BART from SF Embarcadero to North Berkeley BART (while waiting for the train, we were treated to some cool jazz by a street musician and to a spontaneous street dance show inside the BART station by some double jointed contortionists.
     School buses were awaiting our arrival at the North Berkeley BART station to take us back to Rosa Parks. Never a more welcome sight!

When I described the day's journeys to Suresh later that night, he said, "So, you mean you did all that and rode all those trains and buses and ferries in order to play at the park for fifteen minutes?"

"Yep," I said from the couch where I had collapsed, eyes closed, arm slung over my face.

"That is such a Berkeley field trip!" he said, laughing.  "It's the journey that matters, not the destination!"

The journey, indeed.