Friday, September 18, 2009

Mat and Mo's Birthstory: Our Homebirth in a Hospital

Disclaimer: This story is long... our baby is too good for Cliff's Notes! If you're one of those people that only look at the pictures anyway, then head straight to our Picasa albums. Enjoy!

Part I: The Waiting Game

The due date of August 30th came and went with little fanfare. We celebrated the eve of the due date with a gourmet, home cooked meal with friends and toasted to the eminent arrival of our new baby. Wow, were we wrong!! The days kept ticking by and we kept trying to keep ourselves rested and occupied. The first milestone was the full moon – certainly baby was waiting to come out into the glow of the mama moon, certainly Mo's cervix was hoping the extra tug of gravity would open it up. And then, even though we know it's not related, we figured Labor Day on September 7th was going to have to be it. After that, 9-9-09 was looking better and better (and what a rad birthday to have!!!) What? This coincided with the Saturn transition into Virgo? Perfect! Let's get this party started!!!

Throughout the week our midwives Mollie, Mason, and Megan (working with Mat and Mo – can you see why we didn't choose another "M" name?!?!) were gradually ramping up the natural induction methods to get this little one out. Mo went to acupuncture almost every day, took herbs around the clock, endured marathon sessions of nipple stimulation and more sex than it took to get us into this mess. We walked the stairs at the Rose Garden, walked the stairs on Vine street, set up our "oxytocin cave" complete with non-stop rom-coms, candles, and mellow chanting cds. Finally, on Saturday morning September 12th, after a night of bizarre lighting and thunder storms in the Bay, we resorted to our nuclear option – castor oil.

We slightly feared the castor oil, but having survived years in India also figured really, how bad could it be. She awoke early at 7 AM like a champ and swallowed three ounces of the vile stuff mixed in an "I am Grace" raw milkshake from CafĂ© Gratitude (you can't make this stuff up!). Excitement ensued – it was a little bit like India all over again – and we just tried to keep her hydrated with electrolyte drink and keep the super soft Charmin' stocked. The worst settled out by about noon and we sat around our house waiting for the contractions. We played backgammon (Mat won!), walked around the block, and finally called Mollie to tell her we were heading to the hospital for our prescribed Non-Stress-test to make sure that at 41 weeks and 6 days the baby was still doing okay.

On our drive to Walnut Creek we started emotionally coming to terms with the fact that our birth might not be at home as planned. We had already gotten a non-reactive stress test the day before – the results weren't terrible but they weren't great either – and our midwives had prepped us for the fact that if we had another one on Saturday they would recommend induction in the hospital.

We checked into labor and delivery and were greeted by the nurse midwife Deb, who did our intake in the exam room while our NST was running. After our terrible experiences with care at Kaiser Oakland we were honestly blown away by her receptiveness, willingness to listen to our hopes for the birth, and professionalism. She left to end her shift with us after only 20 minutes saying "We're going to try to give you a homebirth here in the hospital."

Things were a bit chaotic during the shift change – the NST strip was coming up unreactive again and Mo's blood pressure surprisingly skyrocketed up to 150 / 100. We opened our hearts more and more to birthing wherever and whenever we could, and in a worried call to our midwives they confirmed that we shouldn't come home and that they would have transferred us to the hospital already with her blood pressure like that. A few nurses came in and started pimping the pitocin – "just a whiff, just to get things going…" At this point Mo had to get on the floor to comfortably make it through one of her first strong contractions, paused to vomit in a little barf bag, and plunged into labor.

Part II: Labor and Delivery

They transferred us to a beautiful, large, and open birth room with hardwood floors, colorful walls, and an ample picture window. Mo was in full labor now, on her hands and knees on the floor hugging a birthball during contractions, no longer questioning or wondering what they would feel like. We started manifesting the mind set of a natural, present labor as Mo breathed through contractions and let her soul relax during the breaks. A blood test came back positive for pre-eclampsia, which explained her unexpected elevated blood pressure, and we were informed that we would need to be transferred from the nurse midwives' to the doctors' care. They left us alone – Mo continued to labor and we were waiting for our midwives to come for some needed backup.

Mollie and Megan rolled in just before Doctor Cohen came in for his first examination. He looked like a dark haired, slightly quirky Doogie Howser, and swaggered over to check out the situation. While Mo remained oblivious to his entrance, our anxiety increased as this was the guy who would "technically" be calling the shots all night long. He observed Mo's breathing pattern, checked her cervix, and confidently pronounced that she should keep on doing what she was doing. He told us that if there was continual progress there would be no need for pitocin and that there was still a large hope of doing this thing naturally. That was the only time any sort of drugs were mentioned for the rest of the night.

Doctor Cohen left and the race was on. We had three hours to make significant progress in his mind and immediately focused on supporting Mo however we could. As her labor progressed she deepened in her out-of-body/totally-in-body experience. She uncannily found moments of utter relaxation between contractions as her whole body dissolved into rejuvenating bliss. Her blood pressure dropped back to normal levels as she relaxed and surrendered to the natural process. We breathed together through every contraction, moaning deep, primal, guttural noises and holding hands while the midwives applied pressure and ice to her lower back. Mollie made, err… strongly suggested, that Mo switch laboring positions about every hour, and she was on the floor, then on the bed, then standing, then on the toilet (clearly her least favorite – "I hate the toilet!" Believe it or not this was as vulgar as she ever became). Mollie ordered nipple stimulation between the efforts, and Mo graciously accepted, knowing that it would make the next contraction that much more intense but that the alternative was worse.

The hours passed, the doctor came and went, leaving us totally alone in the room with our midwives and the baby. Every two hours he came in, applauded her breathing patterns, updated us on the dilation of the cervix, and left us to our laboring again. Strangely enough, this young, male doctor that spent his time doing trauma deliveries and things much more complicated than natural birth, believed in the process and was perfectly fine leaving us alone to make it happen.

The next few hours blurred together as Mo labored through to the early morning. Around 4 AM she was 9 cm dilated and we all began visualizing and willing the baby further and further down, down, down, down…. At one point she begin inquiring about what it would feel like to push – saying that she didn’t know what to expect as she didn't think the baby could get any lower. At this point, Mo was on her hands and knees on the bed and Mollie looked behind her to check the situation out. Sure enough, the baby's head was just starting to poke through her labial lips. "Oh," Mollie said in her utterly calm, professional midwife voice, "I'll go get the doctor!"

Suddenly the flood lights in the room came on and a delivery team ten deep rolled in, led by Dr. Lee, who was filling in for Dr. Cohen who was now in the ER. She introduced herself to Mat and before he even gave her his name he asked her if we could turn the floodlights off to keep Mo calm. She complied and we all sort of looked at each other, thinking, hey... this might not be so bad after all.

Dr. Lee assumed the position behind Mo's butt and didn't even ask her to get off her hands and knees, simply stating that we should start "getting this baby out." Mo pushed naturally with the next contraction, made a little progress on the head, and then took a breather as Mollie positioned herself at the head of the bed right by Mo's face. By this time everyone in the room was all telling her to do something different, and yet she blocked all of them out and focused on Mollie's face and voice, knowing that Mollie would tell her if she had to do something other than what felt natural. On the second contraction Mo started pushing again and the baby's heart rate dropped considerably and didn't come back up, which wasn't a great sign but really just meant that we needed to get the baby out of there. Mollie zoned in on Mo and coached her through the next contraction, telling her that she needed to push for a 10 count, take one breath, and then push like she had never pushed before. With that effort the baby crowned and its heartbeat began to stabilize. One push into the next contraction and baby slithered out, let out a majestic cry and Dr. Lee immediately placed him (It's a boy!) on Mo's chest.

In another example of Kaiser's amazing cooperation with our wishes and wants they exactly followed our birth plan that we had been anticipating with our homebirth. They didn't cut or clamp the cord until the placenta was delivered; they didn't wash, inject, touch, or mess with the baby, and they left us alone almost immediately after the delivery. What followed was two hours of pure bliss and the single best moment of our life together, watching him bond with Mommy and Daddy in a spiritual, primal, and deeply instinctive way. We all stared at each other for a couple of hours and then bid goodbye to our midwives with hugs, kisses and love while we began the somewhat mundane process of transferring to Kaiser New Mom and Baby Care.

Part III: Falling in Love

What we experienced in that 14 hours was the most perfect birth that we could have ever asked for. During the pregnancy and especially the last week of attempted induction we had unfairly tied many of these feelings and wishes for the birth to its physical location. Yes, we would have loved to have been in our home through the whole experience (hey – a good reason to have some more babies!!!), but even though we weren't, we were able to manifest a loving, caring, and supportive environment to welcome our baby into the world, with the help of our amazing midwives and the incredible staff at Kaiser. The doctors at Kaiser believed in us and the natural process of labor enough to leave us alone in the birthing room for hours on end, naturally progressing toward the birth. Our midwives believed in us enough to give us the strength, guidance, and direction to have a transcendental birth experience within the physical confines of a hospital room. Sage believed in us enough to bide his time and kick it into gear the first time he seriously heard the mention of a hospital induction. Mat believed in Mo enough to get on the floor with her through every single contraction, grunt and moan, breathe in and out every single breath, and transfer all of his possible energy during the labor straight to her. And Mo believed in herself enough to think we could do this crazy thing together in the first place.

We've spent the past four days falling in love with our little baby boy. People told us this would happen and we had no understanding of what it meant – how do you fall in love with a new baby? Well, you spend every single moment of every day with him, not even thinking about leaving for errands or groceries or reading the newspaper. You gaze into his eyes when they are open and bathe him with love when they're closed. You wake up in the morning to see him sleeping and fight to hold back tears of joy. You listen to the same music he heard in the womb, sing to him as you pace back and forth across the house, and hand him around to friends, family, and neighbors only to see the divine exuberance on their faces. You giggle like a child when you discover a new dimple on his face, or see him cringe his eyes in his best pirate scowl. There's really no other way to explain it - you simply stare at him and fall in love.

We spend extra time cuddling and hugging, enjoying the new found freedom and body contact without a pregnant belly in the way. We count, catalogue, and investigate poop and pee in a way that we didn't know was possible. We wake up refreshed and alert after 3 hours of solid sleep. We destroy our house with dishes and laundry over and over only to be cleaned up by an angel of a grandmother. We plow through delicious food that neighbors bring, eating with a voracity that gives us the sustenance we need to go on. We relax, laugh, smile, dance, do the crossword, walk outside, and do it all over again. He sleeps, nurses, pees, poops, and does it all over again. And all of the sudden, just as quickly as the first contractions of labor came on, just as quickly as he cried his first breath outside of his mom, just as quickly as he falls asleep on your chest after a nursing session, life seems perfect.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fired Up and Ready to Go!!!!

No, we haven't fallen off the face of the planet.... yes, we have been terribly negligent in updating our blog even while exciting stuff has been going on. We might even be guilty of having an already written post in limbo on the hard drive somewhere...but we'll get to that later.

We're exhausted, run down, and still juiced and pumped with adrenaline after spending a crazy weekend in Vegas all in the name of HOPE. In a typical Mat and Mo last-minute spontaneous adventure we rented a car, kidnapped three friends, and hit the highway after work on Friday at 6 PM headed for Sin City - we pulled into the parking lot of Coronado High School in Henderson Nevada around 2:30 AM to be third in line for the Obama rally scheduled to occur at 9 AM. Too excited to really sleep, we chatted with other Obamanauts in the chilly desert air and waited for the time to pass... a little before 7 AM we were let into the football field, and soon enough we were front row, riding the rail directly in front of the podium. The sun came up, we saw Obama speak, shook his hand, and got his autograph in a completely surreal course of events that left us dazed, awed, and inspired. Pictures and more commentary to follow once we get some rest!

After some recovery and fun the rest of Saturday we hit the streets early Sunday morning for a full day of canvasing - door knocking and general get out the VOTE. They must of thought we were tough, because we were assigned to the hardest "turf" around, some low-income housing complexes in the Northwestern quadrant of Vegas. Being from such close-proximity to Oaktown didn't hurt, and we proved our mettle as we navigated the projects and talked to the residents, who were (mostly) extremely friendly and eager to support Barack. Besides one lady who was voting for McClain on Monday (which was fine with us) our mission was successful and we saw an interesting cross section of Vegas that we hadn't seen before.

Anyways, it's Monday night, we drove back today and are almost too tired to even type - what else can we say besides get out there and VOTE in this historic election tomorrow! And if you're in Cali, please vote NO on PROP 8!!!! There's no reason we need to take rights away from people in this state.

We love you all and promise more updates and photos(!!!) soon!!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

See no evil, hear no evil

Mo's due back tomorrow from a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat that she left for about, well, 10 days ago. In true Mo style she had put herself on the waiting list and was called the night before the retreat began with the good news that she had gotten in through a cancellation. She had told herself that if she made it in she would go, and sure enough she packed up her bag and took off the next morning.

In truth, although I was sad to see her leave, I was excited for her to go as she has wanted to do one of these retreats for a very long time now, and the Universe had never been aligned properly enough for her to make it. In my mind I'm comparing it a bit to our trip up El Cap, a meditation-driven retreat in its own right; it's something that will be entirely uncomfortable for the complete duration, and yet a worthwhile life experience that you can never know exactly what it's like until you jump in and do it. While I was fairly sure that I could do El Cap, I really am not sure I could do a 10-day retreat like this. For the whole thing you have to observe "noble silence", which means no talking, writing, singing, gesturing, smiling, or even really looking at anyone else in any form - even the two other people you are sharing a room with. I'm such an extrovert that I don't know if I could shut up long enough to last, not to mention that fact that I couldn't deal with the physical pain of sitting in meditation for 10+ hours per day. One of the things I've always admired most about Mo is her bravery, strength, and lack of hesitation to jump into the unknown. Many people today are so afraid of what they don't know that they never seek the truth. - a fairly easy way to live your life, but is that what we're really here to do?

Anyways, I really don't know how she's going to react when she gets home tomorrow, but I am certainly excited to see her. Will she walk right by me, silently, and sit in the corner for a few hours before getting up and going for a run? Will she be talking at 9 times her normal rate, packed to the gills with things to say, express and communicate? Or will she eat a big meal and go right to sleep?

Stay tuned!


Friday, September 5, 2008


Teaching high school can often be a lesson in being a high schooler all-over again, and at the end of my longest, hardest days, I still find myself thinking back to the highlights of the past 6 hours, when i was laughing my hardest or blown away by a student's incredibly higher level thinking that came out of left field.

I survived my first two weeks at Berkeley High and I must say that I'm really enjoying the experience so far. I have two 11th grade classes which I absolutely adore - so far, at least, they are mature, as responsible as one can expect a 16 year old to be, funny, talented, and a pleasure to be around. My 9th grade classes are a bit more of a struggle. In one, I have 34 students, and thank goodness they are 34 relatively mellow students, or I would never make it through 5th period. 34 kids is too much to have in a classroom, especially when some of them are mainstreamed special-needs kids that require more attention, and when you are expected to delivery "differential learning" lessons so that all of them can achieve at the same level of "rigor". With 34 freshmen you're just trying to make it through the 55 minutes and hope that some of the knowledge you throw at them sticks somewhere inside their cranial cavity.

I must admit, my 6th period, freshmen class is a bit on the crazy side. So crazy in fact that the teacher across the hall from me pulls up a chair and sits outside his room during his 6th period prep just to watch my kids come in, for sheer entertainment value. One kid, in particular, comes in every day as if he's just done lines in the boy's bathroom, literally shaking and vibrating with excitement and energy. In the few spare minutes he has before the bell rings he runs laps up and down the hall, as if he's preparing for the 100 m Olympic dash, revving his adrenaline sky-high so he can "sit" for a little less than an hour in my classroom. Today, the teacher across they way observed him running out of my classroom only to embrace a concrete pillar in a full-body bear-hug, only to explain to the teacher that "everybody needs hugs sometimes" before running up and down the hall hugging the rest of the available inanimate objects. Yes, he sits in the front, and yes, I have called his parents, and yes, he still jumps around and jitters like a crack baby without his daily fix. I can't help but love even him, however, as he turned in his "Science as Art" visual art piece today, and it was an incredibly complex photo mosaic collage describing the buoyancy of a fishing boat - it must have taken him hours at home, and really displayed an amazing amount of artistic skill. Perhaps I should sit him in the back and have him cut pictures out of magazines every day.

These shenanigans ended the day which I started with two of my second period students extending the 30 second version of the funk song "Brick House" that was piped over the pathetic PA speakers system with an extended 3-minute remix, consisting of beats hammered out on their desk, a two part vocal harmony, and intricate accompanying dance routine while wearing aviator shades, spotless ball caps, and shaking their dreads. I really couldn't help but laugh, as their energy is so pure, and so uplifting, that one can't help but stop life and watch these kids dance and have a good time for just a minute or two while being cheered on and encouraged by their classmates.

Because really, if you can't laugh and take yourself less seriously in 11th Grade, then when can you do it?


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Finishing What We Started

First, an apology for the lack of blog updates recently, which can only mean one of two things: either we've been off having too much fun to write about our lives in cyberspace, or we went off and did something crazy, like settled down and re-joined the working class. Believe it or not, it's been so long since we've written that we've gone off and done both.

Knowing that we were headed back to Berkeley and Mat was going to jump into his first year of real, credentialed teaching, we decided to make the most of the end of our summer, which turned out to be a highly successful endeavor. Manipulating our time between new teacher trainings, meetings, and HR appointments, we spent a good chunk of August in one of our favorite spots on the planet - the Yosemite High Country. Some of you may remember that about one year ago we started this crazy trip with a 30+ day through-hike of the Sierra, following Steve Roper's "Sierra High Route", a mainly off-trail route that stays as high as possible while following the Sierra Crest from South to North. Last summer we completed about 80% of the route, from King's Canyon to Tuolumne, and had it in our sights to finish up since last September. August seemed the perfect time to do it, and we set out from Tuolumne Meadows on a six day trip that would take us North along the crest, around Conness and up to the Matterhorn, and then back down to the Meadows to meet the Cane family for a first-ever (almost)-full-family camping trip.

The hike itself was amazing, and a wonderful way to finish the High Route. What the Northern section lacked in good fishing and desolation it made up for in stunning scenery and clean granite. As we never strayed too far away from an easy East Side entry point there were quite a few folks back there, but only two other souls doing a route similar to ours, and always plenty of places to camp far away from the crowds. We gained an appreciation for how the massive Mt. Conness and her satellites dominate the area by circumnavigating the peak, and discovered an absolutely beautiful off-trail gem in Spiller Canyon as part of our route back to TM. We loved Spiller so much that we dropped our packs at 2 pm on a day that we intended to walk much further, and instead made coffee, swam, fished, and read until the sun set - ahhh, the mountain life.

We rushed out of the backcountry to get in line on Monday morning for a campsite in the TM campground for the arriving and ever-growing Cane clan. Using our charm, humor, and bargaining abilities we scored the two absolute best sites in the whole 200+ site campground - a secluded corner of the A loop right along the river, with beautiful views and vistas right from the camp. The family rolled in, and a hectic yet entirely fun 3 days followed before they packed up and went home. Jean-Paul and Elena surprised us all with an announcement of their engagement around the campfire the second night, and we celebrated and felt blessed to hear the good news in such a magnificent locale.

We packed up Edric and Wyn's car and headed back to Sacramento with them, as the Eurovan was stranded in Bishop after towing it down the pass with Jason's well-timed AAA Plus card. The story around the van is another blog posting in itself, but it turns out that absolutely nothing was wrong with the van - it was just an idiotic move Mat made with the key that caused the engine security immobilizer to become active. Unfortunately we had to tow it all the way to a VW specialist in Bishop to figure out the issue, and after he asked Mat "How long has the key been like this" we immediately knew that it was our fault. It turns out those little batteries in the keys actually run a bit more than just the LED light. Who knew? After a few quick days in Carmichael we washed our bodies, washed our clothes, and got ready to head to our old/new home of Berkeley for the start of the school year.

Pictures of our hike are up at

Friday, August 1, 2008

Oui, we Wii

We spent the past week at Mat's parents' house in South Carolina, basking in the heat, sweet tea and boiled peanuts of the South. We always experience a bit of culture shock leaving "the island" (as Mat's mom refers to California) and Mat's translation skills in southern drawl were put to the test multiple times during our stay. We hadn't been there in the heat of summer for quite a while, so we combated the stifling temperature and humidity by spending as much time on the lake as possible. The highlight of the aquasports was a day full of high speed (and impact) tubing off the back of the boat with Mo's brother JP and his girlfriend who drove up from nearby Clemson for the weekend.

We also used the week to catch up on all the new-fangled technology we had been missing on the island as we broke in Mat's parents' newly-purchased Wii and Wii Fit. To be fair, we supplied them with the Wii Fit device, after purchasing it from a 16 year old Vietnamese kid in San Jose whom we found on Craigslist. Not knowing we had one of the hottest consumer items since the Cabbage Patch Kids in our hands we were a bit surprised to field all of the comments that we got as we carried it through the airport - had we had more of them we could have paid for our plane tickets in the time it took us to walk between Terminal A and D. We're very rarely ahead of the curve when it comes to things like this, so we were eager to check it out and find out for ourselves what all the Wii madness was really about.

We were a little skeptical that something so seemingly cheesy could be so much fun - let's just say they've come a long way since the Power Glove. The technology is honestly pretty amazing, and through some magic of gyroscopes and infrared transmittal the Wii senses every single move you make, your motions fueling such family-friendly games as golf, bowling, and even boxing. The Wii Fit was pretty rad as well, and while it's not quite the same workout as hauling all your stuff up El Cap and back down again, one could see how it could develop into a fun and easy fitness routine. While the yoga poses were not always 100% accurate, they were straight forward enough to do, and having some feedback regarding your center of mass was actually quite helpful in certain positions. We definitely got hooked on a few of the balance games and the sight of someone frantically hula-hooping an invisible hoop and gyrating their hips with reckless abandon in your basement is almost worth the price of the system.

When we could drag ourselves away from the Wii we also caught up on our movies. Wanting to check out all the hype around the new Batman venture we bought tickets for the local IMAX online and rented The Dark Knight's predecessor, Batman Begins, to watch on Mat's dad's big screen TV. We were quite impressed by the first one, even without the depth of comic knowledge that many fans might have, and our excitement for the new one on the big, big screen rose with every day. We filed into the IMAX dome theater at the Charlotte Discovery Center and then sat reclined in our chairs, teeth cleenched, fists gripping to the arm rests for the next two and a half hours, trying to keep our lunch stomached and the vertigo at bay. In short, it was a bit much - the wraparound screen so large that much of the action sequences were just a blur accompanied by super-loud gunshots and kabooms. We felt like we missed more than half the movie as we just couldn't focus on anything going on, and Mat was literally covering his ears with his hands whenever he anticipated an explosion. From what we did gather from the movie, Heath Ledger turned in an amazing performance, and if you didn't know that he killed himself shortly after the filming it would have been one of the most amazing feats of acting in a long, long time. Knowing about the O.D. and how twisted his life had become somewhat put a damper on his performance, as the lines between his acting and actually being a bit crazy became blurier and blurier. We haven't given up on it yet, however, and might try to catch it in regular screen format or eventually rent it when it comes out - chances are we'll be able to handle it a bit better on a 15" laptop screen.

All in all it was a great trip back to the East Coast full of excitement that can only be found in the Carolinas. We're set to enjoy the last remaining days of summer, although we're both currently battling nasty colds. Hopefully we'll be able to head to the mountains for a bit between Mat's trainings and meetings, and soon enough we'll be settling into our new home in Berkeley.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Charming, Sunny, and Quiet front half of duplex

One of our biggest obstacles to overcome as part of our move back to Berkeley was finding a place to live in a city that is famous for the tenacity of its rental market and the hoops one must jump through in order to find a decent place to live. We knew all about it from our student days, having survived the skanky carpeted basement apartments of yesteryear and become stronger people because of it. We were determined to find a nice place to hang our hat in Berkeley, and our list of prereqs was long and thorough. We wanted it all, at a good price and a convenient location.

We spent the previous week craigslisting and looking for updates every five minutes, packing our weekend days full of appointments around the East Bay, and assembling our "Rental Packet" to present to prospective landlords upon introduction. In a procedure perhaps only rivaled in such real cities as San Francisco and Manhattan, each individual Berkeley landlord has a time-tested methodology to ensure that they will somehow pick a tenant that will be amiable in their place and not stiff them on the rent. We saw the whole gamut, from the sticklers who demanded full credit reports, resumes, letters of introduction, rental references, and background checks, to the hippie-dippie leasers who just wanted to scan your aura and take a quick look at your palms. In the end, we put on a clinic for the students and the newbies to the game, as we showed up with sparkling clean auras and a rental packet to match, complete with an irresistibly cute color picture of us grinning ear-to-ear in front of Half Dome.

To tour the Berkeley rental circuit is quite an experience, as many of the landlords are lonely, somewhat bizarre, and want to talk quite a bit. When you drop in on someone's place to interview for their abode you get a unique snapshot into their lives - one somewhat eccentric man showed off his 1880 Victorian Mansion and bombarded us with past, present, and future improvement and remodeling plans, all fit into an exceedingly unrealistic timetable while also complaining about the hormonal changes of his 13 year-old son. Another old salty-dog-sailor-traveling-hippie-artist type took us through his gorgeous Berkeley Hill four-plex while telling us about past mushroom trips and karmic cycles of his life. When Mo mentioned she used to work for Greenpeace he quickly directed us to a photo of him painting the mural on the side of the Rainbow Warrior "back in the day". It really is a small world sometimes, especially inside the Bay Area bubble.

In the end, the smiling color photo must have sold them all, because we were offered all the places that we wanted, including an absolutely beautiful front half of a duplex in North Berkeley. It was definitely at the upper range of our price scale, but has a stellar location near BART and on the bike path through the park, beautiful hardwood floors, and a Chef Ramsey-worthy kitchen sure to be the site of many a delicious feast in the next 12 months. Book your reservations now!