"Your Mom is So Berkeley" started out as a joke at work. We thought it was funny so I wrote a note for some friends on facebook. They thought it was funny so I made a facebook group. The "Your Mom is so Berkeley" facebook group now has over 2,500 members so I've decided to bring it out to a wider audience. I hope you like it.

Contact us: yourmomissoberkeley@gmail.com
Follow us on Twitter: @yourmomissoberk

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Where Have You Been?


Wow. It’s been a long time since my last post here and the truth is I don’t know if anyone is still stopping by to see if there’s anything here.  Why would I let the slim momentum we had going peter out?  Well, the answer is grad school.  Just about the time of my last post I got word that a new PhD program in my field (the first of it’s kind) was finally approved for this fall.  Exciting news, but it also meant that I had twelve days to study for the GRE, and another two weeks to write my essays, get my transcripts, and cross my fingers.  That was only the beginning.  Once I was accepted I had to figure out how to move my entire family to the east coast, find a place to live, rent my house, quit my job while keeping my health insurance, and pack.  This has left me no time for writing.  I promise as soon as I get settled in DC I’ll get back to bringing you more Berkeley related fun.

“But how can you leave Berkeley?”  I know this is on your mind.  Leaving Berkeley so soon after coming back is hard.  Leaving means missing my friends and family and losing out on all the great relationships I’ve started as a result of YMISB.  But the PhD is a long time dream of mine.  It’s also the best chance I have to further my career and my family’s well being, so off I go.  But, like Patton, I will return.  I know, Patton never did return, but I will.

With travel, specifically my upcoming cross country drive with my dogs on out mind we present this:

Alison Williams: My mom is so Berkeley that one time on a camping trip in the VW bus, the fan belt broke. My dad was clueless (my mom always fixed the bus herself) but my mom made a makeshift fan belt out of pantyhose. "Mom, why do you have pantyhose?", I asked in shock. "I don't know, but I'm glad I did..."

Your mom is so Berkeley…

… the only downer part of her trip to Europe in '68 was that the East German police confiscated her Cuba Revolution poster

…she named her travel agency in Walnut Square, Berkeley Unified Travel Service because it had a nice "come together" feel to it. Or maybe it was just because she had a good sense of humor and knew the acronym would be "BUTS".

… she left her car door unlocked "just in case a homeless person needed a place to sleep." Which actually eventually happened, and stunk the inside of the car up to holy hell.

…she drives around with artwork epoxied to her car.

… she taught you whenever you travel and you have to go to the bathroom, just find the nicest hotel in town and go right in.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Food II

What is your mom cooking?  What's in my food?  AAHHHH!! Photo courtesy of Chelise Stroud Hery

I know what you're thinking, "Dude, finally! Where have you been?" Well the last few weeks around YMISB HQ have been consumed by "Application Madness 2010." I've made the decision to go back to grad school and see what this whole PhD thing is all about. The "madness" part is that the program was just approved two weeks ago for fall enrollment so everything's been compressed and stressful. Thus, no time for posting.

But enough about me, let's talk about your mom. Food still rules the roost at YMISB your mom really scarred us all with her carob muffins and frankly we're not over it.

Your mom is so Berkeley…

…you thought 'Bragging' referred to seasoning your food.

…she puts tofutti on croissants

…she buys people food stamps ($1 for $1) so they will have cash to buy non-food items.

…when you were broke you got sent out to pick dandylions for soup.

…your special family dinner was putting a giant bowl of couscous on top of a sheet on the floor and having us sit around it, rolling it into balls and-always as the meal digressed-throwing the couscous balls at each other.

…she decided that a burnt Dominos pizza pie looked like art and so she nailed it right to the wall above the kitchen table, where it stayed for quite some time.

…Or framed two boxes of peeps and hung them on the wall for 15 years.

…you didn't know what refined sugar tasted like until you went to public school.

…you never went to McDonald's until Junior High with out of town friends.

…you just assumed everyone knew what an olallieberry was until I went to college and people had never heard of it before!

…you were shocked (at the age of 30) to find that mainstream families keep a snack drawer in the kitchen into which they place all kinds of junk food and which is apparently open access, even to the kids

…she still thinks rice cakes and grind-your-own peanut butter is the perfect breakfast.

…hemp continually replaced oregano as the main seasoning at dinner

… she still uses cheesecloth to strain store bought yogurt into thicker "homemade" yogurt

…she bought cheese in a driveway.

…she puts hemp seeds in her whole wheat banana pancakes.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pop Culture I

Your mom definitely preferred books over TV and PBS over cleaning the house.  I remember you as the kid humming the “Mystery” theme song in 1st grade.  Your brother was the one who almost hit a pole while walking down the street reading a book about giants.  But I know it’s not your fault, I blame your mom.

Your mom is so Berkeley…

... she taught you all the proper responses to "Rocky Horror Picture Show"

... that you never had a TV in the house until you were 9, and all of your friends parents knew that you were only allowed to watch channel 9 at their houses.

…all of her kids read while they walk

…she doesn't watch TV ( and I mean ever)

…she had me enthralled by Julia Child by the time I was five. No Brady Bunch for me, just Julia Child on the tv that barely worked

...my mom wrote an article about her for the East Bay Express.

…she's in that movie, "Berkeley in the 60's"

… she wouldn't let us watch the 6 Million Dollar man because the music was too scary.

… she swears the movie Pretty Woman is a subversive patriarchal plot against feminism

… she taught you Walt Disney was a fascist...and then took you to Disneyland anyway.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sex I

Photo by Stephanie Johnson

Let’s just say you didn’t need to wait for “Social Living” in tenth grade to learn about the “birds and the bees.” Or as your mother called them “Sex. Often involving a penis and a vagina but also sometimes two penises or two vaginas.” Example:

My mom is so Berkeley that when I was 7 (in 1975) she told me, "it's okay if you're gay honey." To which I answered, "What's gay, mommy? Can I have my dollie?" Ironically, she was right!

The rest of you:

Your mom is so Berkeley…

...you were conceived at Woodstock and all you know about your father is he was the bus driver and his name was "Moonwalker"

…she left The Joy of Sex and, Our Bodies Ourselves laying around the house. Ok, so maybe the Joy of Sex was for her

… she slept with Mr. Panasenko (of Berkeley high) possibly while underage.

…you were only allowed to have dolls that were anatomically correct (with vaginas and penises) so that I wouldn't get the wrong idea about sex.

…she will keep your boyfriend up all night talking about poets she slept with and leftwing politics

…she bragged that her gay son got his first hicky from a lesbian

…that I used to be afraid that our parents "Women's Group", "Men's Group", "Couples Group", and "Therapy Group" would all get together and have an "Orgy Group".

…you have two of them, and a gay bio-dad.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Story Time

Tie dyed sheets.  Courtesy of Erin Duran

Hi All,

I know it's been a little while since our last post but things have been chaotic here at YMISB world headquarters.  Sick babies coupled with GRE study have conspired to keep us off teh interwebs.  So to make up for it here's an extra action packed post.

Every so often we get posts that aren’t really jokes and can’t be fit into the standard “Your mom is so…” format.  While this flies in the face of YMISB’s founding principles a lot of these stories are too good to discard.  They show the passion people have for Berkeley and for their moms.  You’ll notice, when we find one that fits, we often include these stories in the posts here as a lead in to the standard joke posts.  Today we present a whole post dedicated to people’s stories and introduce some of the categories they seem to fall in to.

Not Berkeley:

Susan Raymond: Well, my mom is not officially "Berkeley", but she did take me to see the original Los Angeles cast of "Hair" at the Aquarius Theater way the heck back when. She also met John and Yoko, and subsequently cut her hair super short, just like J & Y were stylin'. Mother is, however, a princess at heart, so the closest she... would get to Berkeley now is a nice stay in a luxury suite at the Claremont - oh, and dinner at the Chez Panisse. Upstairs or down.

I was so clueless:

Anna Moyles: So many of these rang true for me. I was also the college freshman who had to be taught how to use the dryer, the microwave, and the cable box. I went to Dairy Queen for the first time and asked where the frozen yogurt was.

SO Berkeley:

Kim: My mom (love her!) doesn’t wear jewelry, makeup, a bra. She doesn’t watch TV. She is skeptical and slightly paranoid, she only shops at thrift stores, she cuts her own hair. My mom is awesome :)

Molly Moore Mccoy: My Mom is so Berkeley that...We hitchhiked to Altamont to see the Rolling Stones in concert,when I was 5. I hitch hiked to Bolinas by myself to see friends when I was 13.

Adi Benveniste: My mom is so Berkeley that she met her best friend (Elly Matsumura 's mom) in 1978 in the women's locker room at the Berkeley YMCA because they had matching Birkenstocks and accidentally went home in the other's pair of sandals and then had to meet to switch back.

Wandering Rants:

Wendy Rothenberg: My mom is so Berkeley, I can't tell what's Berkeley since it all seems so normal - memorization of co-op# 47289; first bra was a hand-me-down; bat mitzvah in our living room; ethnically diverse group around our Passover table; an annual New Year's 1-4a.m. alcohol-free pancake party for 200+. Seems normal and oh so wonderful to me.

Miwa Soto: My mom is so Berkeley that I was born at home on homemade tie-dyed sheets, I didn't have anything other than a birth name until I was 6 months (so she could get to know me), I took the public bus in first grade from Walden to the YMCA for swimming--by myself, she made and sold homemade bread out of our home, married my dad who was wearing overalls and had long hair and a full beard at the ceremony and then had the reception at her ex-husband's house, she *still* doesn't wear underwear or a bra (let alone make-up), we had a vegetable garden, chickens and bees, we didn't have a TV until 7th grade and I didn't eat fast food until I was in high school. Need I go on? My mom is so Berkeley; she is the best mom on Earth! There are so many more, but those are what I can remember right now. Oh, and I dressed myself out of the "freebox" down the block. We took the red wagon up to the Co-op to get old lettuce to feed the chickens--we lived walking distance away.

Misti Walty: Oh the memories, this group is fantastic! I totally remember the coop peanut butter, the carob chip cookies, sesame honey sticks were a 'treat'. I added jam to plain yogurt in desperation! I always went to my best friends house, because she had Barbies, and her parents gave her Happy Meals, or bologna & cheese sandwiches on white bread as an after school snack. I don't think I ate grapes until well into my teen years. I loved the Pickle Family Circus in Glen Park. And 'mom' was a title not a name, so I've always used her first name. Long before Burning Man became fashionable, we went to the Black Hills Survival Gathering, and everyone danced naked. I’ve been at demonstrations since I was an infant in a backpack. My mom is so Berkeley, and so is my other mother - that we still celebrate Christmas together even though they separated 17 years ago.  Oh and my sister's mom totally did that thing of 'correcting' pronouns in Dr. Seuss books!


Name Withheld: My mom is so Berkeley she still doesn't own any cloths that aren't brightly colored and don't come from desperate and underpaid starving people in third world countries. This however makes for great garage sales that I have when she doesn't want them anymore. I figure I deserve it, since being dropped of to school by a Jewish lady in a dashiki is fairly traumatizing.

Eds Note: See I don’t get it.  Your mom shops at Wal Mart and then you sell her clothes when she tires of them but it’s OK because she wore a dashiki?  Huh?

“Foreign” Berkeley Moms:

Nicole Moore: My mom was so Berkeley that she started the first city-wide recycling program in our town. My mom was so Berkeley that she read me Seth Speaks and my classmates at school told me I was going to hell. My mom was so Berkeley that instead of celebrating the bicentennial, we went to fight for passage of the ERA. Too bad I grew up in the bible belt and not Berkeley

Monday, May 10, 2010

More from Jane Stillwater

Instead of a normal post, today I bring you more from this weekend's guest poster Jane Stillwater.  Jane has her own blog where she has written her own riff on the "Your Mom is So Berkeley" theme.  So please click over and check it out.  It's good reading.

Jane Stillwater's YMISB inspired post.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers Day Bonus

OK, so I know I said we don't post on the weekends but I just got this via email and it's too good to hold on to.

My daughter is so NOT Berkeley!

One of my daughters was raised playing under the table at the Med in the daytime and sleeping under the table at the old Freight & Salvage at night while I made the brownies, sold the coffee and flirted with band members.  And even despite all this wonderful upbringing, my freaking daughter rebelled and became a Yuppie when she grew up!  It broke my heart.

Thank goodness that the rest of my children turned out okay.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Moms on Moms.

Every so often a mom posts about what she thinks makes her “so Berkeley.”  For Mother’s Day we’ve decided to give the Berkeley moms a chance to talk about themselves.  I know Mother's Day is on Sunday, but we don't post on the weekends so here's an early start to your Mother's Day weekend.  Hope to see you all tomorrow at the Your Mother's Day is So Berkeley picnic in Tilden Park.

 Here they are:

I am so Berkeley…

When my daughter graduated from BHS, I gave her a round trip ticket to Cuba. What was I thinking?

Oh no, these sound so much like me. And I've never even lived in Berkeley.

I am so much a Berkeley mom that my son tells everyone he was the only guy at Cal to be chastised by his mother for having his hair too *short*!

I am such a Berkeley Mom that I joined this group to see what my kids are saying about me!

Yes, my sons joined and I can laugh. Hey, I still live in Berkeley. And I probably painted some of your faces.

I'm a Berkeley mom and proud of it. I tried (unsuccessfully) to make my child wash used produce bags!

Daughters tell me I am so Berkeley cuz Grandpa told me to "stand in the back, don't get arrested, and don't tell your mother." I guess they're right.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Religion and Holidays I

 Photo courtesy of Regan Haines

Dude, I don't even know where to start with some of these.  Dude, what's up with your mom?

Your mom is so Berkeley...

… she has an emergency stash of dreamcatchers. Just in case. 

… she thought the Palistinians were Jews.

… she had you lay on the floor while she smudged you with burning sage and called in the 4 directions before every airplane trip.

…she tells you all "Quick hide! We're not home!" when religious people come to your house to talk to you.

…she made it a point to bring you to parties where everyone danced around the maypole.

…she forbade you to date your first crush because you were incompatible with a Sagitarius and she had the charts to prove it

…when you was three she let me go trick or treating but she didn’t tell you that you could eat the "shapes" that they gave you

… she and ur pops let you go trick or treating, but made you give the candy to the "halloween witch" who left you a toy instead

…she handed out raisins and sticks of Carefree gum on Halloween

…she is a firm believer of 'mercury in retrograde' and warns of bad astrology forecasts =)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cars I

Photo courtesy of Anna Kolb

Here’s the thing about your mom’s car, it’s either hella old or hella new and it’s not American.  What else?  Ask reader Anna Moyles,

“Now I'm remembering my mom knocking the muffler off her Volvo 240 by going up too steep of a driveway... she picked the smoking hot thing up with a towel from the backseat, chucked it into the back and we continued on our way.”

Your mom is so Berkeley…

... she's never owned a car that wasn't a VW or a Volvo.

...she drives a Volvo older than you or better yet she upgraded to a bio-diesel Mercedes

…I swear she invented the term, "double park".

…she let me fall out of the back of the VeeDub bus when I was 4 yrs old and didn't notice for 2 miles

…she painted a giant dragon on the family truck (I guess because the rhinocerous painted on the other side didn't stand out enough?)

…she didn't learn how to drive until her sixties because she could take the bus and walk everywhere.

… she drives an electric car.

…you had to drive the old 1967 volvo to pick up your prom date

… she's got 50+ bumper stickers on the back of her car...

…even her Prius drives a Prius

Friday, April 30, 2010

Politics I

Your mom leans left like fat kids enjoy fried dough, hella.  What did y’all have to say about your mom’s politics?  Well let’s start with this story from Kate Gelles:

“My mom is so Berkeley that she just told me that at six years old, she asked me where I had been and I told her I couldn't tell her. She said that I had to tell her or I couldn't go there again and I started to cry I can't tell you, they're republicans and if I tell you, you won't let me go there again.”


Your mom is so Berkeley….

... she believes that freedom of speech is an inviolable right. But she thinks republicans should all be quiet.

...she thinks she still on the government hit list and blames all her failure in life on the conspiracy

…her kids are sworn to secrecy, until she decides never to run for public office.

…she put a Geraldine Ferraro for Vice President button on your backpack for your first day of kindergarten (and you thought it was tight)

... that growing up your 24 Hour Fitness was the YMCA, your Macy's was Goodwill, and you knew way more about local politics than you do now.

…she was banned from a country for disobeying the laws on racial segregation.

…she used protest posters as wall paper.

…she taught you Walt Disney was a fascist...and then took you to Disneyland anyway.

…your mom is so Berkeley that you were having flashbacks from your childhood reading about the protests at UCB this week.

…you were raised with political correctness and feminism, both which shun "your momma jokes.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pot I

Photo courtesy of Anna Kolb

Yeah, you knew it was coming. Contrary to popular belief there’s not a ton of posts about the herb but there’s enough for this post. I think it goes without saying that your mom has a pretty liberal stance towards the kind no matter what she told you in high school.

Your mom is so Berkeley…

...she gave your husband a bag of pot and a pipe the night before your wedding because he and his groomsmen needed to relax.

...she used to sell weed to the other cop that just pulled you over.

...she can always tell if your high from personal experience

...she always got some homegrown around, same shit you used to pinch in the 7th grade

…when she found your rolling papers she said, "If you are smoking pot I just want you to be cool about it.”

…she used to give me joints when you were at BHS so you wouldn't have to go to People's Park to buy them yourself.

…you can still taste, smell and feel the texture of goldenseal like it was yesterday!

…she let you, at age 4, name your cat 'roach ashtray' and it still comes up at the family table.

…when she asked you if you'd tried pot yet and you said "No," she then asked, "Why not?"

…she passed you joints at parties.

…she caught your smoking pot she couldn't get mad cuz 1. It was hers and 2. She was selling it to her patnahs!

Monday, April 26, 2010

People I

"The Yo Yo Lady" and family.  Pic courtesy of Mimi Zeiger

Like anywhere Berkeley has its own local celebrities.  It is also a destination for various luminaries for various reasons.  Check out this cool story from reader Leather Sammie,

“My mom is gone now, but she was so Berkeley I was allowed to go across the street and hang out with Jefferson Airplane while they practiced. Grace Slick used to make the BEST cookies! They would sit me and a plate of cookies to one side and play and play. I could sit in there as long as I wanted! I thought I was cool!”

Here’s what you mom thinks about various well known people.

Your mom is so Berkeley…

...she made you feel like you knew a celebrity when Michael Ellsberg started at your school (apologies, Michael).

...you thought about booing when then VP Bush and Gov. Deukmajian visited your elementary school.

...your first CD was a Grateful Dead album that your friend designed the cover artwork for

...my mom wrote an article about her for the East Bay Express.

...she used to hang out and drink coffee with those dudes who are now homeless and crazy and she knows them by name and has stories about them

…you thought Angela Davis must be a family friend, what with all the pictures of her at home.

…childhood pictures involve the Bubble Lady, the Med, the Polka Dot Man or being naked in the campus fountain.

…HER mom sat on Alan Ginsberg's lap!

…she misses listening to The Bob's at the annual KPFA craft fair.

…she used to take me by Grove Street on my way to school each day so I could wave at Mr. Charles.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ecology Part 1

Photo by Elana Ford

Yesterday was Earth Day which got us thinking about your mom.

Your mom is so Berkeley...

…She planted a tree when you were born to account for your carbon offsets.

…she used all paper bags until they were tissue paper thin

…when friends came over she'd invite them to put on gloves and stick their full arms into the center of the compost pile to feel the extreme heat.
…You got gloves? I don’t remember getting gloves.

…whenever she sees a bathtub, toilet tank or road barricade, she wants to make a flower planter out of it.

…whenever she has to "take a number", she brings home the little slip of paper from the store to recycle it.

…she goes thru the trash to double check that no recycleables made it into the garbage

…you had a compost long before the city of Berkeley started collecting it and she still uses that because she wants to have her own dirt for your front yard

…she uses the excess shower water to water her plants

...not only is every day Earth Day, every day is also Indigenous Peoples Day and 4/20.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Don't mean to bring down the room

Me and mom, 1979

Note: This post was scheduled to run last Wednesday but I whisked away on a surprise vacation so there were no posts last week. Here is this one week late.

Today is the third anniversary of my mom’s passing. I don’t want to bring down the room, but I would like to take this chance to introduce you to the real inspiration for Your Mom is So Berkeley.

My mom moved to Berkeley in 1957 and she never lived anywhere else after that. She graduated from Berkeley High in 1970 (where she had Donald Schrumph and, I believe, Mr. Panasenko) and from Cal in 1974. She became a Berkeley mom four years later. Growing up in that time put her right in that classic Berkeley wheel house of being young and rebellious in that “Berkeley in the 60s” time period. She spent a year without shoes, grew hair down to her waist, and experimented with drugs while listening to “Sergeant Pepper’s.”

While I was growing up she had a string of interesting boyfriends, actors, painters, writers and randomly, a lawyer who was my favorite. Because of these connections I was exposed to a lot of really cool things as a kid. One of the random byproducts of her relationships is that we are both painted into murals in the east bay. I ended up in the Jewish Heritage mural in downtown Oakland and my mom is in the mural at the Berkeley Amtrak station (on the far right).

As a Berkeley mom my mother allowed me to spend my Saturday’s gathering signatures for the GE boycott, which I begged her to let me do. As a single woman inclined towards the arts she signed me up for dance and painting and theater as a kid. I didn’t play organized sports until I was in high school and I don’t think she ever understood why I did it.

Over the years she became a locally known journalist writing for many of the local print outlets. She also did TV stints on local news and round-table type programs. She chronicled my teenage years in a column she wrote for Diablo magazine which was fine until a girl I knew suddenly knew a lot more about me than I’d told her. Through her writing and her great love of people, art, and her community my mother amassed an eclectic and loyal circle of friends. During the 1990s her annual September Party became an underground legend for the 30 and over set. One YMISBer even remembers my mom’s parties in the 70’s:

Rebecca Saulsbury: My mom is so Berkeley she used let me fall asleep on Chiori and Roberto Santiago Senior's bed at when the parties ran too late

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2006 the community she had been a part of for so long rallied around her. Her friends in the arts community put on a benefit for her at La Pena to raise money for her medical bills. People brought meals for her and my brother so she wouldn’t have to worry about cooking while she was going through her surgeries and treatments. One day we were going through Tupperware to return to people and one of them a asking tape and marker label with an “eat by” date and the name of one of our local food luminaries. It was pretty cool since I don’t think my mom knew the person who had provided the dish. The calls and emails from well wishers and people wanting updates on her condition became so overwhelming we had to set up a website and email newsletter to keep people apprised of her condition

When she died in 2007 she was surrounded by her family and friends. She was remembered at a public memorial at the Oakland Museum and with a few articles and obituaries. These all covered the particulars of her life much as I’ve done so far. But to me all these things were ancillary. I never understood the impact my mom had on others until she got sick. To me she was just mom.

Sure, I looked up to her for carving a career out of the cold hard rock that is freelance journalism. I admired her for buying a house in Berkeley and essentially raising a family on one income while never clearing more than $60,000 in a single year. But to me she’s the mom who played “Peter Pan” with me in the environmental yard at Washington Elementary. She’s the mom who taught me how to grow strawberries and pumpkins. She’s the mom who tried her best to play catch and basketball and take me to A’s games even though her only athletic pursuit was swimming laps at the Y and jazzercise. (Oh, there was also her stint in an all women’s Greco-Roman wrestling league. I thought that was pretty cool.)

She’s the reason I’m not afraid of losing anything. Because after watching her lose and build and lose and build again I know that happiness comes from hard work and good friends. She was the woman who exposed me to the arts and to all the career possibilities outside of the traditional world. She’s the reason I’ve been a writer and an interpreter and a teacher and an actor and a lecturer and everything else I’ve been. I’ve been these things because she showed me that you’re never stuck being what you are and that it’s fulfilling to take risks, to try to make your career what you want it to be.

She’s the reason I’m writing this right now and the reason you’re reading it. If the YMISB book ever becomes a reality it will be because I had such a great Berkeley mom. Thank you for helping me share what she gave me.

A few posts about my real life mom:

Your mom is so Berkeley…

…she’s gotta name the car. Her photo albums have the car listed along with the people in the photo.

…she hijacked a PTA meeting by speaking only in Spanish and only taking questions and comments in Spanish to show the parents who DIDN'T speak Spanish why they should provide interpreters.

…your after school snack consisted of frozen peas in a cup and powdered milk. Ah childhood.

...you used to carry a wicker lunch box

...she says the cop that just pulled her over "was a dick when we were in high school too."

...she used to sell weed to the other cop that just pulled you over.

...you fell out of a tree at school and no one got sued.

...she pronounces sherbet with an r before the t

...she knows at least one person painted into a mural in town

I know this post has been long and not very funny but here’s one last story about my mom from YMISB member Debby Segal:

Roberto, so glad to meet you in cyberworld, and to tell you something straight from my heart. Roberto's Mom, the irreplaceable Chiori, was so Berkeley, that before there was a young Roberto, she adopted me: As my Big Sister via Big Sisters of America. She took me on and under her wing when I was a troubled teen (75 or 76?), who had a difficult home life. She was nonjudgmental, inspirational, fun, and kind, when I needed it most. One of my fondest life memories I have was of Mission district Carnival, a Bay Area tradition which she (and R.S. senior), were instrumental in spearheading. I will find a picture of me and her that RS took during that time, and somehow get you a copy. Much love, from the bottom of my Berkeley Heart. Greetings to RS senior.

Thanks Debbie. And thank you YMISBers. You all have turned this into the best way I’ve found to honor my mom and all the Berkeley moms out there.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Your Mother's Day is So Berkeley

We at YMISB headquarters are happy to announce our first event, "Your Mother's Day is So Berkeley." This pot luck picnic will take place the Saturday before Mother's Day, May 8th 2010. If you are interested please click the "Events" link above for details.

Some things are still being worked out so please check back for updates.



So I came back from last week’s terrific Seattle vacation with a cold. As nice as it was to be off work it sure was chilly. So, in honor of my illness I present your mom’s view on health care. We’ll start with a story from a member and then on to some jokes.

(Ed.’s Note: her name is “Waterfall.” How Berkeley is that?)

Madeleine Waterfall-Quiton: HAHAHAHAHAH! An email from my Mom today! :
"Dear Maddie...I hope you had a good day with your patients and were able to get in touch with your healing energy and transcend the academic details. One thing about older patients, they probably are giving you a lot of knowledge and skill because they will recognize your goddess power. Love Mom" HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Your mom is so Berkeley…

...she wears stones for their healing properties and does Reiki on the cat

…she delivered half the babies on Shattuck. And probably breastfed them too.

…you were delivered by your father(not a dr.), at home (not a hospital)

…she thinks yoga has too may "Warrior Poses". Peace out you kinda rainbow sisters!

… when she comes to visit me in Italy she brings the following American must-haves: chiropractic pillow, sonicare toothbrush heads, tension tamer and women's tonic herbal teas, trader joes almonds and cranberries, Peace and Calming essential oil, cucumber scented body time soap.

…you were born at home in a bed made of natural redwood that your mom built herself while she was pregnant.

… she had you "take a moment and visualize joyful places" before taking you to the emergency room with a broken arm

… she got a glass eye with a dophin-safe tunafish in it.

…she hitchhiked from Marin Ave. to Alta Bates on the day you were born.

…that I was afraid to tell her when I got my first period because I was afraid she would try to have a pagan ritual to celebrate

…your placenta is still stashed in the back of the freezer, waiting to be planted under a tree.

…she had her placenta made into pills to help fight post-partum depression.

…she paid the midwife who birthed you with a sheet rocking job.

Monday, April 12, 2010

On Vacation

I'm not sure how Berkeley it is but my wife swooped me off on a secret vacation to Seattle to see opening day baseball. So no posts this week. If you need a YMISB fix check us out on facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, April 9, 2010

2,000 Members

This week "Your Mom is So Berkeley" hit 2,000 members on facebook. It's a pretty cool thing considering it took eight months to get the first 1,000 and only one month to get the next 1,000. To celebrate the milestone we at YMISB offered a personalized YMISB joke to all of our twitter followers. Coming up with thirty or so personalized jokes, which involved looking at each followers profile to learn something about them, was a tougher task than anticipated. Just the kind of challenge you need when bored at work.

So, here they are:

@510families Your mom is so Berkeley she let you run barefoot at Adventure Playground.

@nams Your mom is so Berkeley...she won't go to Holi in the states because it just can't compare to the ones she experienced in Peace Corps

@BasicPc Your mom is so Berkeley...when you told her you were "going viral" she offered you some herbal tea.

@energyface Your mom is so Berkeley...you've eaten placenta at least twice

@jateke Your mom is so Berkeley...she buys groceries daily and saves rinds and peels to grind into paste to eat while hiking

@Thandelike Your mom is so Berkeley...she swears she can get better gozleme on Telegraph than you can get where you live

@GPMotorcycles Your mom is so Berkeley...she thinks Ducati gets passed on the left hand side

@ensignbenson Your mom is so Berkeley...when she hears "are we not men?" she yells "Yes!"

@Nsavidge Your mom is so Berkeley...she's planning a massive sit-in to save Iceland

@superflydrizzy Your mom is so Berkeley...she can write your name on rice

@CrazyBerkeley Your mom is so Berkeley...she sells homemade incense out of hemp backpack in front of Berkeley BART.

@buylocalberk Your mom is so Berkeley...she buys SO local all her goods come from bartering with friends and local communes

@raudelwilson Your mom is so Berkeley...she's glad you left banking but mostly because she thinks "consultant" is a kind of therapist

@anniesnapshots Your mom is so Berkeley...she's planning a "save the crabapple" tree sit protest in my backyard

@asucfamily Your mom is so Berkeley...she was really hoping you'd pick Ashland or Humboldt

@JudeLaBarre Your mom is so Berkeley...she considered opening a second Peete's as "sprawl"

@neberkeley Your mom is so Berkeley...she won't buy new shoes but she'll drop $140 on organic, local, free trade saffron

@adnys Your mom is so Berkeley...she explains your job as "something to do with social studies and computers"

@indie_traveler Your mom is so Berkeley...she considers "foreign travel" to include trips to so-cal

@dilatante2 Your mom is so Berkeley...your tweetname comes from the reefer related nickname she gave you in high school

@wordjanitor Your mom is so Berkeley...the ironing board at your house was only used for collecting signatures outside of Andronico's

@moiraop Your mom is so Berkeley...she can name more varieties of maple leaf than she can name Maple Leafs

@jcceastbay Your mom is so Berkeley...she only eats gluten free matzoh brei

@bisonbrew Your mom is so Berkeley...she made a hef out of sourdough starter

@ReganConley Your mom is so Berkeley...you moved to DC and protected your tweets so she wouldn't know you'd "gone centrist."

@ajiradarch Your mom Is so Berkeley...your first camera was made from an oatmeal box. 10:05 AM Apr 7th via mobile web

@HilaryShepherd Your mom Is so Berkeley...her idea of celebrity gossip is following Delroy Lindo around Berkeley Bowl.

@jmcyoung Your mom Is so Berkeley...she has a kid trailer on her bike that's only used to carry dogs and things from the farmers market

@berkeleybecca Your mom Is so Berkeley...she knitted you a pair of coveralls. When you were 30.

Done! 29 personalized #YMISB jokes created and sent. Productive morning neh? Thanks all and happy 2,000th member!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

School Part 1


One of the interesting things about Berkeley schools is that the public ones are also full of kids who’s parents aren’t as “Berkeley” as the people posting here most of the time.  You know, those kids you all say wouldn’t trade you for your sprout and marmite sandwich when you were a kid.  Who are those other kids?  Do they think that show “Parenthood” is totally realistic?  Who knows?  What I know is YMISBers were a little embarrassed having to try to integrate with “those other” kids.

Your mom is so Berkeley…

...you thought about booing when then VP Bush and Gov. Deukmajian visited your elementary school.

… she put a Geraldine Ferraro for Vice President button on your backpack for your first day of kindergarten (and you thought it was tight)

…she was disappointed when you majored in neuro-science/pre-med. She kept asking why you didn't want to become a painter.

…she slept with Mr. Panasenko possibly while underage.

…she cringed when you told her in Junior High it "might" be fun to be a cheerleader!

…she sent you to a charter school and made sure you knew it wasn’t fair that charter schools existed because they take away cash from public schools and they represent the privatization of public institutions

…she enrolled you in the Black Panther’s pre-school when she moved to town without noticing the guys with guns standing around.

… she knew when you cut class cuz she either ran into you on Shattuck Ave. (or Telegraph) or someone else's mom did and told her.

… she bought you didgeridoo lessons, and complained to the principal when the jazz ensemble refused to write parts for it.

…she sent you to "Blue Fairy Land" for kindergarten.

…she helped you with your second grade petition against partially hydrogenated oils in school snacks, and wrote about you to the guy with the Oreo lawsuit. "Don't hydrogenate me!"

…she taught the person who started this group at Longfellow.

Money Part 1

Elana Ford's Tie Dye Party

Berkeley moms are pretty particular about how to spend their money. New clothes are out. New cars? Out. Locally sourced, organically grown, sustainably farmed, saffron? In! Organic foods ain’t cheap, but your mom, it seems, is.

Here’s some of what you had to say bout your mom’s spending habits:

Your mom is so Berkeley…

... when the house got cold, you went to bed.

... she follows you around the house, turning lights off behind you.

... that growing up your 24 Hour Fitness was the YMCA, your Macy's was Goodwill, and you knew way more about local politics than you do now.

…she made you throw a tie-dye party every year on your birthday to save money on clothes.

…that when she goes to Cactus Taqueria she tips each line cook an equal percentage of the total because otherwise it wouldn't be fair.

…she buys people food stamps ($1 for $1) so they will have cash to buy non-food items.

…your dept store was called The Berkeley Free Pile.

…she befriended other families to tag onto their Strawberry canyon pass.

…she gets REI points on her credit card

…she still does all her banking at The Co-Op (grocery) Credit Union

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Monday Was a Baseball Day

Sorry there was no post yesterday. I got caught up getting the family ready for opening day baseball last night. Maybe you can check out this post I wrote last summer about dads and baseball. Hopefully it can tide you over until the new YMISB post tonight.

One day soon I'll get on a more normal morning publishing schedule.
Thanks for reading.

PS: The facebook group is sitting on 1,995 members. It would be pretty cool to have 2,000 before our next interview thing coming up in a couple weeks. If you know someone who hasn't joined please recommend us.


Friday, April 2, 2010


Photo by Stephanie Johnson

It seems like beyond public nudity, off beat religions, and composting the thing that most scarred generations of Berkeley kids was being told that carob is a suitable replacement for chocolate. It’s not. We love you moms of Berkeley, but please stop with the carob already. If you have push it don’t compare it chocolate, let it stand on it’s own. Seriously. Read on.

Your mom is so Berkeley…

… she got you called out in the College Avenue Coop babysitting room cause she'd convinced you that Carob Peanut Butter Cups were the food stamp version of Reese’s

… she taught a women's yoga class in our house every Wednesday night, followed by carob chip cookies and a consciousness raising session.

…we had whole wheat carob chip cookies for dessert
           … ewww.....oh god I remember those

…you had to convince her that carob is NOT chocolate
          …Hell yea! Carob is my personal childhood hell!!!
          …you tell her...carob is NOT chocolate

…she'd put wheat germ into our made from scratch birthday cakes and our carob "milk" shakes

…when you baked "toolhouse" cookies you used whole wheat flour that had to be kept in the freezer and carob chips

…your biggest treat was carob chip cookies made with honey that had orange peel shavings in them.
           …Oh lord yes. To this day the sight and/or smell of carob chips make me retch.

…Carob. WTF was up with carob? Satisfying as a dry hump.
          … OK, I've always wondered. What WAS the deal with carob chips? Why were they supposed to be healthier than chocolate? They had sugar in them right?
          … Ugh! Carob! What was that all about?

OK so maybe carob wasn’t all bad. There was also this:

I love the moms and all the Berkeley goddess/composting/vibrations/civil protest/carob chip ways. Wouldn't trade it for growing up anywhere else!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Protests Part 1

Photo courtesy of Connor Nielsen

So yes, Berkeley is known for protests.  It got to a point when I was in high school that you would see six people marching down the street with signs yelling about something and it wouldn't even phase you.  You had no idea what they were about and you didn't care.  I thought the era of the protest was dead.  I figured that much as society had become harder to shock we were past the point where protests were a viable means of getting attention for an issue.

Then came the Bush presidency and protests were in vogue again.  Then the economy crashed and University fees went up and now it's Berkeley all over again.  Here's a post from Connor Nielsen explaining the photo above:
"Yeah my mom is that berkeley. She took me to the riots in Feb 2008 over the code pink disputes. This is where the oakland, richmond and berkeley riot control was there in the streets near berkeley high. I also was in the sit down protest that day, but here is a pic at 11PM out front the police department."

So here's some posts about your mom's protests:

Your mom is so Berkeley:
....because when you came home from Lincoln (soon to be Malcolm X) elementary school you found Mom already home from work early because her office above the store on Telegraph Ave. had been tear gassed.

…she bought you matching "One Voice Pro Choice" T shirts at the march when you were about 13.

…she started a petition to save the veggie car from being impounded.

…that as a little kid you whined, "Oh, not ANOTHER peace march!" because for just one day, you wanted to be left alone to play with your decidedly un-pc Barbies... and Little Kiddles.

…she marched you in a stroller during the 1975 B.U.S.D. Teacher's strike!

..she was arrested for protesting at age 9.

…that we took a day off school to go "March on Gallo" down Telegraph Ave.

…my brother was tear gassed in his stroller during a protest march on campus.

…her social life used to consist of going with friends to get arrested outside of Livermore lab.

… that even when she isn't in Berkeley, she still goes to protests and sit-ins.

…you had no choice but to march in every 'Right to Choose' rally.

…she didn't get upset with you for coming home later than expected because you were out running from the cops after a protest turned into a riot.

…she wheeled you to a People's Park protest in a stroller.

…she made you and your brothers give water from a hose to all the passing anti-Vietnam War protesters marching by your house because it was a really hot day!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Landmarks Part I

Photo by Stephanie Johnson

So far not a single post has mentioned Berkeley’s most well known landmark (except that link about the Oscar Meyer Wiener Song).  Seriously, have any locals actually been to the top of the Campanile?  My mom went up there once for an article about the foundry that made the bells.  She’s the only person I know who’s done it.

It seems like real Berkeley folks are fiercely attached to more ingrained and accessible landmarks.  Surprise-surprise, most of them involve food.  I remember a grad school class that focused on the idea that culture is more than just food and clothes.  Anyone wishing to make a counter argument can use this page as an example.

…she refers to Monterey market as "Tom and Mary's"... she was at Tom & Mary's going away/retirement party.

...she waves at people at the French Hotel that she knows only from Tuolumne Camp.

...she's still a little wary of the waitresses at Edy's

... she used to hang out at The Wall. (Or still does.)

....because when you came home from Lincoln (soon to be Malcolm X) elementary school you found Mom already home from work early because her office above the store on Telegraph Ave. had been tear gassed.

...she left you home alone to go clogging at Ashkenaz.

…she would leave her kids alone in the 1976 green Volvo while she did her Monterey Market shopping

…she would take you to Mr. Mopps for all your friends birthday gifts

…she stops and smells flowers sometimes when we walk up Rose street on our way to get an extra foamy Latte from Angel at the French Hotel.

… I almost hit her as she ran out into the street after checking to make sure she had the red light because she couldn't wait an extra 30 seconds to get a cappuccino served in a bowl from that bread place near the wine place down on San Pablo.
            … you mean the cafe owned by a Berkeley mom?
…Cafe Muthafuckin' Fanny....and that was MY mom you almost hit.

… snack time at Montessori elementary could only be celery with co-op peanut butter, apples with co-op peanut butter, or carrot and raisin salad. Too bad these days, kids cannot even bring peanut butter to schools!

… that when she goes to Cactus Taqueria she tips each line cook an equal percentage of the total because otherwise it wouldn't be fair.

… she still calls it Old Grove Street cuz, “how can you have rose and grove market on rose and mlkwy?”

…childhood pictures involve the Bubble Lady, the Med, the Polka Dot Man or being naked in the campus fountain.

…she named one of her son's after Cody's books.

…she still calls Chesters the Egg & Apple Press.

…she still calls "Fatapples" "Fat Alberts."

…she broke her foot sliding down the big slide at Codornices park and was so high at the time that she walked away and all the way down the hill to the Cheeseboard before she realized that something was very, very wrong.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Your Noms Are So Berkeley

Photo by Stephanie Johnson

So the #1 topic in the first few months of Your Mom is So Berkeley was food.  More people had more posts about food than anything else.  It's not even close.  So here's the first batch of organically grown, locally sourced, free trade jokes.

...you got yelled at as a kid for sneaking the peas and tomatoes out of the garden

...she starts every day with a latte.

... you grew up thinking yards were for growing sweet peas, lemons, apples, raspberries, plums, quince...

... you know what a quince is.

...she used to go to Rocky's pizza and use the half and half for the coffee to cut a single Yoohoo for you and your sibling.

…"fried" chicken was breast covered in Nutrigrain cereal and baked.

... that you remember shopping at Berkeley Bowl when it was just a fruit stand in the corner of an old deserted bowling alley.

...that she kept any food containing chemicals under padlock and key, only distributing to the little brother if he hadn't eaten for 2 days.

…my mom bought the fresh horse meat dog food at that little health food store...that one was always a bit weird for me.

…we didn't eat grapes until well into 80's.

…her Co-op number was “1”

…she mistrusts microwave ovens and uses the one given to her as a breadbox

…she bought bonita instead of tuna at the co-op

…you still feel guilty eyeing grapes in the store, and granola & yogurt is a default snack.

…you used to eat frozen peas for snacks

… that growing up "milk" was created by mixing a white powder from the Co-op with water in mayonaise jars

…she heard a carrot scream when she pulled ...it out of the ground.

…you had to steal processed "junk" foods from your friends refrigerators.

…you didn't have a refrigerator for years (or a color tv) because it was supposed to be 'healthier"

…the only way you got to eat candy was to pick it off the ground and hide it from your mom in your mouth.

…you had cheese and sprout sandwiches on homemade wheat bread for lunch. In wax paper bags.

… snack time at Montessori elementary could only be celery with co-op peanut butter, apples with co-op peanut butter, or carrot and raisin salad. Too bad these days, kids cannot even bring peanut butter to schools!

…she had powdered milk in old IV bottles

…you had Co-op peanut butter jars full of soup in the freezer

… the first time you saw a bowl of table grapes you had a panic attack 



 Confirmation from NBC Bay Area Online that we are scheduled for tonight's 11 o'clock news. I hope I don't have a wierd nose hair or something. Now that it's really likely to air I'm worried half of you might leave when you see what a dork I am. Rock on!

Monday, March 29, 2010

NBC Bay Area Interview Done!


UPDATE: I'm guessing it will be on tomorrow at 11. I think this because "Parenthood" is on tomorrow from 10-11. I think that's the tie in.

This was the "so Berkeley" scene of my interview with NBC Bay Area. I met up with Robert the super cool and professional cameraman. We set up, he asked some questions and we were done. Just like that. The whole thing took less than half an hour. Look for it on NBC Bay Area tonight or tomorrow.


This is Monday, you should see casual Fridays.

I haven't really decided on a format for the blog yet but today a co-worker came in dressed as seen above.  So today is dedicated to style.  The fact is your mom is probably never going to make an appearance on Work it Berk.  Here's why:

...when she cut her long hair when you were in first grade you didn't recognize her.

...all your baby pictures involve clogs, overalls, and/or tibetan prayer flags

...she still feels bad for buying high-heels. Once . In 1982 .

...that in pictures of an early birthday party, she is wearing bell-bottoms and a t-shirt that says "A woman's place is in the house . . . and the Senate."

...she bought you matching "One Voice Pro Choice" T-shirts at the march when you were abou t 13.

...because when you were a kid and other kids teased "yo mama wears combat boots" uh yeah she did

...she put you in a "I love my two dads" onesie even though your parents were straight and married .

...she sewed a Dashiki ( s p e l l i n g ? ) for your elementary school folk choir . . . and you still cried because they ran out of "I Have a Dream" Medallions.

...half of her clothes are from another country .

...Four words: rainbow striped bell-bottom jeans . . . oh wait - maybe that's five . . . . .

…you had callouses from preferring to go barefoot

…she sports a backpack or fanny pack instead of a purse.

Friday, March 26, 2010

From a Berkeley Mom

Photo courtesy of Jenny Lipow


From my friend Ann (who is so Berkeley she won't join FB) a Berkeley mom born of a Berkeley mom:

Your mom is so Berkeley...

...she dropped you off at the Kiddie Corral to shop at the Co-op

...she invited all her hippie friends to watch your birth, and then they all made soup from the placenta and had a meal 

...she's still waiting to get her dividend from the Co-op

...your neighborhood rented a school bus and went to SF to protest the Vietnam War together 

...she's sure her phone is being tapped by the FBI

...she let you get arrested and put in jail when you were sixteen, for sitting in in front of the Army Induction Center

...she taught you how to make granola

...your pediatrician told her to let you run around barefoot as much as possible

...her favorite picture of you is the one with you holding the peace sign you painted for some protest or other  

...she knows the Bubble Lady personally

...she had Mr. Panasenko for Biology at Berkeley High