The cost of transit

Broke in Berkeley

“So how long does it take you to get to school?” I get asked this more often than what my major is or what my plans are after graduation. When I tell people I live an hour away, they usually guess that I drive and park somewhere near campus. I
Read More…

No longer an invisible minority

Cultural Crossroads

The first time I learned to identify myself as “white” on official government papers, I thought it was rather funny. To 12- year-old me, the term “white” did not extend beyond skin color, and the thought of me being identified in this way was so blatantly wrong that I didn’t
Read More…

Is the truth inconvenient?

Health and Happiness

Don’t get me wrong — I think polar bears are adorable. But seeing them trapped on a tiny piece of Arctic ice doesn’t really faze me. What am I supposed to do about it? Stop driving my car? Join Greenpeace? These cuddly polar bears and the Arctic ice sheets have
Read More…

DIY electronics repair

Broke in Berkeley

“We spend all of our time together, and you don’t know anything about me.” “That’s not true! I know all about you! We do everything together; you’re like a part of me.” “Oh, really? If something went wrong, you wouldn’t know how to take care of me.” “I never hit
Read More…

The immigrant priority

Cultural Crossroads

“My cousin came to me crying,” related Sudha Patel, owner and manager of the Downtown Berkeley Inn, as she attended to some reservations during my first encounter with her. “I think her son wanted to study film instead of medicine or engineering, and she was upset. But I told her,
Read More…

Not paying for textbooks

Broke in Berkeley

$568.70. During my first semester in community college, this was the number that hung over me. Almost a whopping $600. This was not for tuition; a grant paid the entire cost of my classes. This heart-stopping bill was for my textbooks. Having just returned to school after a number of
Read More…

On the CUSP of consciousness

Health and Happiness

As a health worker for Unit 3 this past year, I was used to residents coming to my door late at night, timidly asking if I had any banana-flavored condoms left or wondering how to make an appointment at the Tang Center. In fact, I looked forward to those interactions.
Read More…

Broke like me

Broke in Berkeley

At the end of one of my classes last semester, I happened to glance over at the guy sitting next to me. My thoughts were elsewhere, but when my eyes caught sight of his backpack, I couldn’t avert my gaze. He was pretty well organized, and with a slot set
Read More…

Off the beat: The other twin

Growing up, I was always the second twin. I was the one who sat for the second half of an hour-long piano lesson, the one who introduced myself after my sister, the one who said I wanted to be doctor or a veterinarian or work at a zoo when I
Read More…

Off the beat: That tingly feeling

I’m sitting in a restaurant in Lisbon waiting for lunch. I’m weary from wandering the city with a friend, and a Fado band is playing on the television by the door. In the corner of the screen, I notice a woman translating every lyric into sign language. Her hands move
Read More…