Falling in Love: San Francisco Edition

My very San Francisco day in a nutshell

My very San Francisco day in a nutshell

Oh me, oh my, hot damn. Guys, it’s been 2 months since I’ve updated anything on this blog. Sad face. I could sit here and make excuses (but I’m busy, when I get home I’m tired, writing means thinking, I didn’t wannnnnnnna), but really I don’t have a good one. The honest truth? I just didn’t feel like it. I’ve been trying to get my footing in a new city, getting adjusted to a new job, getting used to how shockingly cold my apartment is.

But it’s a new year and I’m determined to make as many resolutions as possible ’cause then at least one of them’s gotta stick, right? And among my many resolutions is a fixed determination not to abandon the blog. I like the act of making myself write, and I like being able to update people on what all I’m up to, especially now that I’m living across the country from almost all of my best friends.

Which brings me to the topic at hand–this strange city I’m living in on this strange coast. I’m the first to admit that it’s taken me a while to adjust to San Francisco, and that I’m a little hesitant to embrace it. I’ve already given myself over body and soul to New England and her bold seasons, to the vibrant whir of London life, to the buzz and hum of New York streets. Do I really have it in my to give myself fully to a new city, and one with such terrible public transit at that?

If I’m being honest, I don’t want to have to bike everywhere, to dodge this terrible city traffic. I don’t want to have a jacket with me at all times, even in the summer. I certainly don’t want to have to tune in at 4pm to catch a Celtics game, and to stay late at the office so I don’t miss the very end. And because of those things I haven’t embraced the city as fully as I could. I love the parks and the food and the attitude, but guess what? I loved those on the East Coast too! And I think at times the¬† join-our-quirky-and-unique-city-but-don’t-you-dare-dislike-any-of-it-and-you-better-be-quirky-and-unique attitude gets tiresome.

But like I said, new year! Today I set out to explore more of the area around me in an attempt to embrace this odd city as my own. I’m living in Haight-Ashbury right now and I wanted to get beyond the pipe shops and vintage stores of Haight St to see what else is around me. I set out for Buena Vista Park on what can only be described as the most beautiful and mild January day I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Buena Vista doesn’t seem to have the same name cred as Golden Gate or Dolores parks, but it does boast a beautiful view for those willing to walk some stairs and hills.

After about five minutes in the park I claimed it as my own oasis. Fresh tree smell. Dogs everywhere. A place to sunbathe while reading a book (in Januray!). I was in heaven. And as I sat on top of the hill feeling the grass on my neck and the sun on my arms I think I finally got it: this is why people love San Francisco. Or at least why I will love San Francisco.

I spent a good hour and a half in the park, moving from there to Alamo Square where I once again sat myself down and read in the warmth of the January sun. A quick stroll over to Hayes Valley, and then I made my way back to my neighborhood, basking in the glow of a great day. It turns out all it took was some nice weather and a few trees to sell me on San Francisco.

I don’t know how other people have come to love the cities they’re in, particularly for those of you who didn’t always call that city “home.” I’d be interested in knowing if other East Coast transplants have had the same reservations that I have. And I still wonder if the constant refrains of “You’ll never want to leave San Francisco” will ever start to feel true. But at least for now I can honestly say that I’m starting to fall for this city on the bay.*

*Full disclosure: even writing “the bay” made me think of Narragansett bay. Apparently you can take the girl out of Rhode Island but you can’t take the quahog out of the girl..

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Now I lay me down to sleep..

…on an air mattress, in a cold drafty room.

I’m curled up on a small air mattress on the floor of what used to be a dining or living room, and I can hear the sound of raindrops beating my window, urgent at times, lazy at others. There’s light from the hallway blaring in through the awkward window on my bedroom door, and the chandelier is casting creepy shadows on my ceiling. And guess what? I’m as happy as could be because all of that means that I’ve got a room to call my own.

I’ve officially moved into my apartment (well, it’s the first floor of a house) in Haight Ashbury and for the foreseeable future this is where I’ll be. A little grimy, a little echoey, and very dusty, but hey it’s mine.

The to-do list still feels massive, and includes those not-so-little tasks like build ikea furniture and find a mattress. It also includes some more fun items, like buy a bike now that I’m not living at the top of a very steep hill, and send my life from the East Coast to the West Cost in boxes. Not to mention all the decorating I get to do.

It’s hard for me to express how relieved I am to have found a place before going home for Thanksgiving. It felt somehow wrong to be headed back to Providence to visit when I still felt like a visitor here, creeping around spaces that weren’t my own. Now it seems like maybe just maybe I’m starting to figure out this whole growing up thing. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves..

The only other life development in the past month or so is the removal of three fully grown in wisdom teeth. If my memory serves me I believe I was first told to take those wisdom teeth out when I was 16 or 17, and they started coming in my senior year of high school. Five years, a cavity and an infection later and I finally got them out. The oral surgeon gave me my wisdom teeth to keep, which seems entirely creepy since it’s not like the first tooth I lost or even the first tooth I had pulled, and 22-year-old wisdom teeth don’t seem so special. I will however save them to show to my future children, The Captain and Tyhmm* (pronounced Tim), as proof that you should listen to your dentist. There’s a massive whole through the cavity laden wisdom tooth and believe me you it means business.

Next on my plate is a whirlwind trip to the East Coast in which I stuff my face with turkey and a little tasty treat we Otto’s like to call Aunt Minnie’s Potatoes. My only contribution to Thanksgiving dinner this year is my irresistible wit and charm, and that smell that you bring when you get off red eye cross-country flight.

*I’m hoping that maturity and age will lure me away from my intense desire to give my children inconvenient and/or misspelled names. I’m not so¬†optimistic.

Scratching the Creative Itch

The summer after my junior year of college I had a boss who gave me a constant stream of wise and not-so-wise words to live by. It was he who first dumped on me the harshest reality of the working world. “Molly,” he growled, “Life is a lot like high school. You wake up early, do work you don’t want to do, and report to a lot of other people. Enjoy college, because life will be high school all over again, except longer.” Or something more eloquent than that.

Well, Wise Boss, in many ways that’s true. I have a schedule that’s more like high school, a set of tasks more like high school, people telling me to do things (pay for this, prepare for that) like high school, and an alarm clock that I actually have to listen to, no matter how tired I am, just like high school. Wise Boss, however, left out the part where it’s totally acceptable to kill a bottle of wine after work, you have no real rules to speak of, and I spend my days considering how to best accommodate women and their breasts (okay to be fair he couldn’t have planned for that part).

But since my jazzy entrance into real life I have noticed one other thing that’s happening just like high school: I got that creative itch that wants to be scratched. Since I spend my day being less than artistic, I’ve found myself more and more antsy to start being creative again, either by drawing or making videos or painting.

The beckoning of very sharp pencils

I’m no Frida Kahlo, and by that I mean I don’t have a unibrow. But I’m also no Monet, and I don’t fancy myself ever being one. I make the arts just fine, and the best compliment anyone ever lied to me was by telling me I was a great artist (but he was also a boyfriend and contractually obligated to appreciate my art). I do, however, love to draw and paint, and I’m increasingly realizing that it’s something important for me to do in my life. I’ve been trying to set aside just a little time here and there to draw, whether it’s doodling a few pages while I watch TV or sketching my feet as I fight to stay awake in bed.I haven’t yet invested in a set of West Coast paints (that’s my new thing, having West Coast versions of all my East Coast things), but that’s next to come.

Being in a new city has also reawakened my love of wandering around museums for hours at a time, something I’m hoping I’ll finally get myself to do at the De Young soon. I did make it to the Cindy Sherman exhibit at the SFMOMA which was pretty amazing. But even just being in a city that’s still relatively new, and that’s fairly creative, has made me realize how much it’s something I miss. There are murals everywhere, museums galore, and a bevy of creative people. Hopefully that will give me the kick in the ass I need and one of these days I’ll finally get around to making myself do more than just doodle.

Side note: it took me until now to realize just how many parentheses I use. Wow.

In the meantime, I’m looking for projects to start to keep scratching that creative itch and to stop the creative part of my brain from atrophying. That’s a thing. Any suggestions for projects or creative prompts? A true artist wouldn’t need internet inspiration, but as we already decided, I’m no Damien Hirst, by which I mean I have no room to play with formaldehyde.