Friday, November 22, 2013

California Research Adventure: Days 59-63

Still life

I have really been cherishing my weekends here in Berkeley. Besides roadtripping to Point Reyes and to Monterey on two Saturdays, I have also spent two really calm and beautiful Sundays in Berkeley doing absolutely nothing. It is one of my new goals: to restore the sabbath—the week-end. See, when you are writing a doctoral dissertation, everyday is a work day and everyday and every hour bleeds into the next one. But that is no way to live. God said take one day out of every seven to rest. Working-class activists in this country later turned that one day into two, which is a good thing. This is not to say that every American has the luxury of taking two days off every week, but that is a goal and ideal that I think we commonly share. And my goal now, in late 2013, is to restore that sabbath-ness to the week-end. And the way I will do it is by doing absolutely nothing all weekend every weekend, except rest and play.

So far, it feels great. I end up laying in bed on sunlit afternoons, like the one pictured above, listening to jazz on my new AM/FM radio and just watching the shadows make slowly-moving patterns across the wall. Who ever said in this race towards "success" that I shouldn't take the time every week-end to to just lay around and do nothing?

The sun in my room

 Sun rays that stretch to infinity

Of course, cherishing the weekends means working that much harder from Monday to Friday. And that's okay. I still make my own schedule. I still have time for 7am yoga. I still have time to listen to some jazz on the radio, to do some recreational reading at sunup and at sundown. There is no justification for complaints about this wonderful, magical life. If it doesn't feel right, it is only because I am not awake to its magnificence. 

Thousands—perhaps tens of thousands—of campus workers went on strike on Wednesday all across the University of California system to protest harassment and intimidation that they have faced from management. They strike for dignity, the most important thing that all of us deserve.

I watched campus workers go out on strike on Wednesday. And I was reminded that the kind of life they want for themselves and their families is the same one that I want for myself, and that you want for yourself. We want time to be able to roadtrip to Monterey, to be able to watch the moonrise and to watch the sunset. We want time to spend with our loved ones. We want time to read a novel. We want time to go to a museum, to a park, to have a nice meal. We want time to develop hobbies and passions outside of our work, and we want our work to be fun and fulfilling, too. Time and dignity. Which are really the same thing. Because to be treated with dignity is to be treated human, and all humans have a right to "sabbath"—to rest and play on the week-end. Unfortunately millions of workers in the United States do not have that kind of time, because they get paid too little and must work multiple jobs or overtime. I am so proud to be an active member of my union, to be part of this epic, ongoing battle against capital, because it is ultimately our dignity—our very humanness—that is at stake.
 Striking campus workers in the cold rain

There is a tower in the middle of campus at Berkeley. It is over 300 feet tall and contains a huge clock that chimes once every hour. Also, a musician performs music on the carillon bells up in the tower a couple times each day. It is always a pleasure at noon, each day when I am in the archive, to just stop what I am doing and listen to the carillon music.

Sather Tower, UC-Berkeley, in the glow of sunset
The view in the other direction. Black trees, fog over the bay, and endless horizons of clouds folding upwards into darkness.

I finally decided that I had to go up to the top of the tower. There you can see all the carillon bells big and small.
The view from 300 feet up, looking west towards San Francisco

The view from 300 feet up, looking south towards Oakland

 The view from 300 feet up, looking east towards the Berkeley Hills

I have one more weekend left in California. Then this and all research adventures are over until I get that diploma in hand and can call myself "Doctor." :)

I plan to go east young man into those Berkeley Hills to do some hiking. Maybe watch the stars come out in the evening. Who knows?

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