Friday, December 19, 2008

The "give up your seat" controversy.

The west coast is generally thought of as being nicer than the east coast. I've had the benefit of living on both coasts, as well as major stints of time living in the middle. What entertains me the most about these stereotypes is what "nice" and "mean" are defined as in each city.

I got indirectly ripped on in a missionmission shoutout about a week after moving here, about how assholes move from the east coast and then don't understand what life is about. 
maybe because all the bad attitudes come from points east. i love this thing about carpetbaggers wishin frisco was more like the crappy places they come from. we californians try to take it slow & easy but there’s always some new-be not gettin w/ the program. we have become LA. sorry for the rant but were on edge down here in the flats.
And, I mean... fair enough. Feel how you want to feel. This dude portrayed "mean" as me yelling some equivalent of "If you hit me with your fucking door, so help me God" at a guy who... well... almost hit me with his fucking door. This, of course, is sort of a panic instinct for me. Being able to throw that many words out was somewhat shocking, as I usually have the time to scream "Seriously?!" in the hopes that they realize it was directed at them, by which point I am half a block away. So, if that's mean, I'm mean. I'm also from a crappy place, I guess. And I don't really wish San Francisco was more like where I came from. If I liked where I came from, I probably would have stayed there. Ah, but I digress.

The definition of mean and hateful is subjective. "Fuck you" really, honestly isn't that offensive in New York. It is a way of showing displeasure. They are words that are forgotten as soon as the two involved parties - the fuckee and the fucked - have gone their separate ways. They are forgotten, because they are just words. Certainly I wouldn't throw out a "fuck you" at my grandmother if she bumped into me on the subway, and I would feel badly if I threw one out after someone stepped on my heel and I turned around to learn that they were seven years old. But I believe that we get to a certain point as adults where maybe words aren't so illegal. I'm just saying I would much rather someone tell me to get fucked than tell me my bike is ugly. (Sometimes, words do hurt.)

A post from BART Musings that I  just came across brings up something that I find to be really awful: not giving up a seat to people who might need it on public transportation. This is where New York owns you, rest of the country. If you are sitting and remotely do not look like you need that seat, and someone comes along that really does need it, watch your ass. The ragamuffin teenager who spent approximately thirty-four subway stops talking about "that ho" will spring to action when someone with a cane rolls deep onto the 1 train. It is a beautiful phenomenon. Someone will give up a seat, somewhere, for you.

MUNI riders kind of don't do this. Of course, I am speaking from somewhat limited experience, I guess. I'm not a daily MUNI commuter. I was riding it regularly when I broke my collarbone and couldn't hold myself up on a bike for awhile. I ride it when I'm with people that aren't cyclists. There are other special occasions, like today when I bought a new bike for The Roommate and learned I cannot ride one and roll the other along with me like that super hot cyclist girl from a few months back on Van Ness. But I do know that I have seen a lot of sort of shameful behavior when elderly or disabled people get on the bus and there are no seats.

What I find funny about this is that maybe this behavior really isn't a San Francisco thing. One of the comments on the aforementioned post says something about being afraid they'll offend someone. I've gotten this sort of reaction - I'm a seat giver. I feel so crazy guilty sitting down on public transportation that I pretty regularly stand when it looks even remotely crowded, even if there are still seats I could squeeze into. I've offered my seat to people and had them look completely shocked. I don't mean to offend someone. I'm really trying to help. 

I got pretty irritated with this during the collarbone incident. I had the sling on. There was a day in particular where I was carrying a few huge bags. There were no seats and I was in a lot of pain. But I'm also very young, and I look healthy aside from that sling thing. I don't like being the one to select who doesn't deserve a seat that day, so I felt really weird asking. It would have been nice to have someone offer. I would have been grateful. No dice - from 4th street to 20th on the 12, not a single offer. 

The "to give or not to give" controversy is interesting to me, and people talk about it pretty much anywhere with an active public transportation system. I think the dynamic is very different. Here, I see so few people actually offering seats that I can see how someone might get offended. In New York, it is customary. You are sixteen years old and I am eighty holding this walker. Give me your seat.

Yes, we all pay the same $1.50, yes, we all have equal rights to that seat. But really, it's just kind. I would destroy someone if my grandmother got on a bus with me and no one offered her somewhere to sit. It's nice. She is old and tired and hopefully gave up seats in her day. Let the poor woman sit for sixteen blocks, for God's sake. I was still giving up seats even with the broken bone. I still felt like people needed to sit down, and it was clear that no one else stepped up.

So what's up, San Francisco? Am I totally clueless? Is offering someone a seat actually a dick move and I don't know it? Are there really nice bus lines where everyone just stands in the event that someone with a cane shows up, and I just haven't taken any of them? Tell me how it really is so I can judge fairly.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I saw Milk at the Castro on Saturday night. If you live in San Francisco and have yet to do this, you should probably get on it.

For anyone who's not following movies, doesn't live in a major city that's playing it, or has managed to stay under a rock when it comes to cinema, Milk is the true story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay public official in San Francisco. He was killed in 1978 by another supervisor, in an act that stunned the city and will forever tarnish San Francisco's history. (I would have given you a spoiler alert, but that's sort of like when people reminded you that the ship sunk in that big boat movie a few years back. You should know how this story ends.) 

The film couldn't have come out at a more poignant time. One of the biggest moments in the movie is when Prop. 6, an initiative to keep gay and lesbian teachers (and anyone that supports them) from working in the public schools, failed. It was around this point that I started uncontrollably sobbing. I'm not a crier. It's not really my thing. But seeing all these people getting to dance in the street for gay rights only made me think, "That should have been me." And once that thought hits you, you can't let go of it. And if you're me, it'll mean you continue crying until the lights come up in the theater.

The movie is stunning. Truly. I know what Sean Penn looks like and might be able to do a quick illustration of him off the top of my head. But he becomes this character. He is funny, he's a little awkward, and he makes you fall in love with him. His supporting cast is absolutely fantastic. They capture the spirit of the 1970s in San Francisco: over the top, but with a mission, because they're more than a little scared. This is not the flamboyant, out-and-proud Castro district of 2008. This is people coming together because they need each other's help.

If you live in San Francisco, please do not go see the movie at any other theater. Please have the experience of seeing it across the street from where this movie actually happened. There is no greater landmark for the neighborhood than the giant neon "CASTRO" sign outside of the theater, and we are exposed to grainy 1970s footage of it over and over in the film. You are sitting in the building you are seeing on the screen. People laughed and cheered, everyone got the little jokes and the ironic parallels to our current time, people cried together. Gus Van Sant manages to take one of the most tragic events of San Francisco's history and turn it into a beautiful celebration of life and a reminder of where we came from. 

If Prop. 8 would have lost, we could have all left, gone out and had a drink, and congratulated ourselves for continuing his legacy. But it passed. I wish the movie had come out before the election - not that I necessarily think THAT would have turned the tables, but still. I think everyone got complacent. I kept my voter registration in Ohio (to my defense, by the time I had to register in California, I didn't know if I was permanently relocating here or not), mostly because I thought they needed my Obama vote more. This state is full of transplants like me. I think we all just assumed that Prop. 8 would fail because, come on, it's California. Of COURSE we're not going to pass this crazy proposition.

If you have the opportunity, go see Milk. I've already admitted how much I cried, which means you don't have to feel badly if you do. Promise.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Caltrain commuting.

So, I've been doing this Mountain View thing for a couple of weeks now, and I'm starting to get the hang of it. I feel like public transportation is an intimidating system for people who have never done it before, so hopefully my grand two weeks of experience can be helpful to someone else.

The first three times I took Caltrain, I was convinced it was cursed and that I was never going to get to work on time. 

Trip #1: Truck stopped on tracks, gets hit by train, fatality. Trains run 2+ hours late and the system completely shuts down.
Trip #2: Wandering pedestrian gets hit by train, system shuts down.
Trip #3 (very next day after trip #2): Computer that controls train signals goes on the fritz; trains run 75+ minutes late.

These, however, appear to have been pure coincidences, as I haven't run into a single problem since then. (If everyone could knock on wood a little bit, that would be great.)

Here's the deal with Caltrain. Buy a ticket before you get on. It may or may not actually be checked - there's nowhere to swipe, no one looks at your ticket before you get on the train, but it is required that you have one. I've never had someone check my ticket in the morning yet, but the regular conductor on my nighttime trip always checks between Millbrae and 22nd. You can buy one way tickets, day passes, books of 10 tickets (that have to be validated when you use them), or monthly passes. The fares work by "zone". So, San Francisco is in zone 1, the very first stop. Mountain View is in zone 3. So I have to buy a monthly pass that allows me unlimited travel between those three zones. It costs me $152.50 a month, a number that sent me reeling at first until I compared it to the cost of owning and driving a car 80 miles round trip every day.

And, to my major joy, Caltrain is doing what it can to be bike-friendly. Every train has at least one bike car. Now, to be honest, there is not enough room to accommodate all the cyclists. Caltrain appears to know this and I haven't seen anyone get particularly lippy when too many bikes get put on there. Technically, it's four bikes to one rack. The new cars have four racks; old cars have eight. This really, truly is not enough space. Sometimes the train ends up with two bike cars, which makes life much easier. The racks are metal and have bungee cords attached to them. Wrap them around your bike and you're set. Every bike is required to be marked with its destination so bikes going the same place can be grouped together, and if I'm going to Mountain View in the morning, I don't end up having to dig my bike out from five others on top of it going to San Jose. 

Oh, Caltrain. I had hoped to be productive on you. So far, I've done a whole lot of crossword puzzles. I had hoped that I'd finally start reading the newspapers I buy every day instead of just turning to my puzzle, but alas. I'm tired when I get on the train to come to work. I'm tired when I get on the train to come home. I get halfway through a puzzle and then I just want to stare blindly out the window for a little while. Still - enables me to ride a bike eight miles a day, and it keeps me from driving a car. You are my best $152.50 investment of the month.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Oh, internet, we simply have so much to catch up on.

I will provide you with a lovely touristy post soon, but here are the highlights from Mom's visit: Inner Mission, Make Out Room, Ferry Building, Fisherman's Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, 49 mile drive, Mt. Tam, Stinson Beach, Presidio, Dolores Park, Tartine, Bi-Rite, El Faro, Sutro Baths, Ocean Beach, Mission Bar. We'll do the real re-cap of that later.

Today, we're discussing the job situation. Again.

So, I moved to San Francisco because I had no money and I really wanted a job. The midwest showed interest but didn't really love me. So here I am, California. Employ me.

Yeah, me and the rest of the assholes that recently got out of college. Then Wired laid everyone off. Then Current. Then... well, you get the idea.

My first client was amazing - a banner ad for one of the city propositions. (The campaign was ultimately successful, and they sent me an email later thanking me for my work on it. Score.) My second client was the one that paid all my bills for November, but we had to split ways because we were honestly not suited for one another. His process and mine just did not line up. He paid me as soon as I had completed a day's worth of work, he paid me incredibly well. I'd paypal him an invoice and he would have money to my account within 10 minutes. I was grateful for him, but our differences were just too much and we had to end it. Haven't heard from him since one mixup where I didn't reply to his email within a day of him sending it and he flipped out. Probably for the best.

Then there was the little animation that I took about a month to do and could have finished in a week. I am a bad person. He was an amazing client and loved the work I did for him. He also didn't seem to mind that I took way, way too long to do his very small job.

Then came the biggest success yet: on-site freelancing with a really amazing little firm. This company showed me what my life could be if I could really sustain this lifestyle. They loved me and I loved them, and that's all I have to say about that. I am invited to their Christmas party despite not being salaried with them. They're Net-30, so I have yet to prove that they pay their freelancers, but they are an amazing little company and I sincerely hope to maintain a relationship with them.

They are all wrapped up by one of my favorite people I've gotten to meet in San Francisco. I talked to this gentleman in August before I ever moved here. He gave me hope that I'd be employed. Then I bought a plane ticket. Then I wasn't employed. But he kept in touch with me, by god, brought me in for a coffee chat in October, then randomly emailed me out of the blue a month and a half later to ask me if I could do some freelance for them. I was - and still am - ecsatic. We had our first meeting this morning after over three months of email tag, and now my foot's in the door and I actually have files to work on.

Leaving the meeting, I got the phone call with my full-time job offer from the company I thought had given up on me. 

Allow me to show you a timeline:

September 26th: Apply to job from craigslist.
October 1st: Get email asking salary requirements.
October 1st, 12 minutes later: Reply with salary requirements.
October 24th: Get email at 4:18 on a Friday asking if I can come interview on the following Thursday.
October 24th: Reply at 4:29 that oh my god I absolutely can.
October 30th: Trek to Mountain View, learn how to operate CalTrain, have amazing interview and get really excited that they're going to hire me.
November 11th: Send email, nervous that they hired someone else and that I'm not going to be able to pay my student loans ever.
November 12th: Receive email saying they have three more interviews but hope to make a decision soon. Cry.
November 27th: Tell mother that job will not be mine, pretend it's for the best, get excited about continuing to freelance.
December 2nd: Receive phone call while in 30 minute meeting with newest freelance client, offering job. Make three very important phone calls to closest family and friends. Take job.

It is not enough money and it is in Mountain View. But I am employed, after six months of being out of college and financing my life mostly on credit.

So I'm a commuter now. I think I've decided to try and be a pseudo-bike commuter. Riding from 21st & Guerrero to 3rd & Bryant every day? Not an issue. But now we've got Caltrain to contend with. I think biking to 4th & King is honestly my best way to go. I could BART it to Millbrae - I live close to the 24th St. station. But it takes me 10 minutes to walk there, I don't get any exercise, and I don't save enough money losing that one zone off my monthly Caltrain pass to justify the daily BART expense. Plus it's one more method of public transportation I can't control. I can basically control the time it takes me to ride to 4th & King. I can take my bike on Caltrain, though I've heard the horror stories about not having adequate room for bikes. At least I'll be getting on it at the very first stop, so as long as there are less than 32 of us trying to get bikes on there every morning, we should be okay.

I never really wanted to be a commuter. But we don't always have control over the way things go. Here's to commuting - and to getting a paycheck, by God, perhaps even before 2008 ends.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Love letter to Bodegas.

In my pre-San francisco life, I was quite the cook. Dinner parties for 30+ people? Not a problem. Thanksgiving in my two-bedroom apartment? Bring it. Since moving here, well, let's just say I've been a little more... restrained. I don't have any money, I just acquired pans, and ultimately it's just me and The Roommate. So save a ridiculously overpriced chicken parmesan exploit and a whole crab episode (I live somewhere that has a CRAB SEASON!), there hasn't been a lot of cooking in my life.

Part of this is that my grocery exploits are a little different here than in the midwest. Midwest grocery shopping, oh my god, is one of my favorite things in the whole world. You drive your car (this is the one place where I will defend an automobile to the death) to a giant food warehouse where ingredients are usually fabulous quality and you stuff your cart with enough food to cook for weeks and then you get home and unpack it all and it got there IN YOUR TRUNK rather than you carrying it for miles and oh my god I might be hyperventilating.

Non-believers may have thought I was kidding about how much I love grocery shopping. Non-believers are probably wrong.

The grocery thing is the hardest one for me to get over when moving to a bigger city - or, at least, a city with no car. Now, San Francisco, let me hand it to you - here's your advantage over New York. You've still got those sprawling, ridiculous grocery stores with fantastic quality items, and god love you, you have the courtesy to sprinkle them all over the place. (I know Safeway might be boring, but I love them. I know this is probably going to cause problems between us. It's the midwest in me.) San Francisco is this funny little hybrid city. A lot of residents still own cars. It's certainly urban and populated enough that you don't NEED a car, but having one isn't impossible, like New York.

The bulk of my grocery shopping in New York happened via Fresh Direct. I could wax poetic for days, but let's just say it would be in the top five reasons for me to move back to the city. Amazing ingredients, delivered to my door when I want, FOR FREE. I have recently learned Safeway delivers, but they want to charge me $15 or something ridiculous if I don't order enough stuff. (Perusing FD's website now leads me to believe you do have to pay for delivery, but it's still way cheaper. Love. Fresh Direct.) Also, I lived on the fourth floor, and they would bring my groceries into my kitchen, because they are awesome and I am easily winded.

Delivery services are your best friends if you need a lot of groceries. It certainly makes life more convenient. My NYC train stop was also right in front of a local grocery store. It was an awful grocery store, mind you, but not the end of the world if I needed something they couldn't screw up. (No meat. No meat ever from the C-Town on 145th.)

Then there are what I consider specialty grocery stores. They have ingredients of absolutely the best quality you can imagine and they are sprinkled all over the place. Some are really specialized - cheese shops, meat markets, etc., like Lucca's. Love to Lucca's at 22nd & Valencia. An Italian market that makes fresh pasta and has fantastic sandwiches, a good cheese selection and a nice wine spread. Some are just small grocery stores that carry a sampling of amazing ingredients. This is where I give a shout-out to my baby, Bi-Rite. 

Bi-Rite, you beautiful bastard. You heartbreaker. You are my favorite place in the city and if I had $100 to drop on a meal for two people you better believe I'd do it every day inside you. Your meat is exquisite, you have fresh whole crabs, you just got in actual Jamon Iberico for $100 a pound, you have truffles, your ice cream is the most sinful thing that has ever passed my lips and it is $8 for a damn quart. This is the downfall of the specialty grocery store. You are going to spend too much money, and you are not going to know how it happened. Chicken parmesan for The Roommate and I this weekend? $42. Yes. That included an $8 pint of ice cream (Mexican chocolate with salted peanuts, I'm looking at you). But other than that it was two chicken breasts, box of panko, italian seasoning, half a pound of shredded mozzarella, pasta, jar of pre-made tomato sauce, aluminum foil. $42. I could have gone to Valencia Pizza & Pasta two blocks away and gotten twice as much food for half the price and wouldn't have had to cook it myself. But, in all fairness, it was an apology dinner since I had just been a giant jerk about my bicycle's gears slipping and I needed to be nice to The Roommate. This was my $42 penance.

This is where I introduce to you... the bodega.

San Franciscans, you probably call it something else. I don't know anyone, so we never have a chance to talk about these little bundles of joy, so I have yet to test the waters. Rest of the country, you call them convenience stores, and they're usually attached to gas stations. You will probably not get why bodegas change my life.

First of all? They are everywhere. Everywhere! Between me and the Bi-Rite, I think I pass four of them. In two blocks. There are literally two on the same block and I can see a third one from there. There is one on every block. They are slightly overpriced but they are RIGHT THERE. Mere feet from my door! You want milk? You don't want to go all the way to the grocery store because you have to do that on your bicycle and you just know it's going to blow up in your bag in the mile and a half it takes to get home? You should probably walk down the hill less than a block and get a gallon of milk. Okay, it costs $5.50 and that is obnoxious. But... it is right. there. And god bless San Francisco, your bodegas always seem to carry the most beautiful array of Pepperidge Farm cookies I've ever seen. Out of my apartment and back into my apartment with Double Chocolate Milanos, a gallon of milk and a Chronicle in less than five minutes. 

They occasionally serve food. The bodega at 19th & Guerrero (you could probably call this one a deli if you really wanted to) actually has a fantastic array of food. You can walk in and get lasagna heated up and then walk to the park and eat it. And here, god love you, they often have huge selections of wine. Decent wine, even! 

People usually have preferred locations. It entertains me when these preferred locations are not actually the closest one to their homes. In NYC, I was all about 144th & Broadway. I was 6-pack of Heineken girl there. I'm loyal to 20th & Guerrero and 21st & Mission. Some bodegas have names. Some don't. The Roommate understands what I mean when I ask if we can go to the bodega. That is all that matters. They don't need names. They are nearly identical but all of them have their little quirks. 20th & Guerrero has rogue board games hiding in the little side room. One day, I'm buying one.

This is the trade-off I accept for losing my car and my giant grocery stores. I will suck up the delivery charge and let Safeway bring me my groceries. I will strap a big messenger bag on my back and go to Foods Co. or Rainbow and buy as much as I can fit into it and ride it home awkwardly down 20th Street. I will go to Bi-Rite and spend way too much but eat like a queen. And I will sure as hell stop at my bodega every day, where the incredibly nice man talks to me about the weather every single time and never remarks that maybe I'd be less of a fatty if I could buy a gallon of milk without a bag of cookies, for once. 

The bodega does not judge you. It knows what you need. It does not judge when you're a single female walking in and picking up two six packs AND a 22 oz. of Anchor. You can walk in sweaty and disgusting after you've ridden home from work, and it doesn't even make a catty remark about how you probably just ride a bike to overcompensate for all the Milanos. (It's kind of true.) The bodega is slightly over-priced, but humble and unassuming. It is there for you in the best and worst of times. Thanks, bodega.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bicycle commuting.

I am a bicycle commuter.

Sort of.

I don't have a "real job", you see. I'm a freelancer. Lately, I've been freelancing with a super fun, very small company around 3rd & Bryant. I live around 21st & Guerrero, which means this commute is about 3.5 miles. Since I am a giant scaredy-cat about getting back on a bike ever since I went over its handlebars like an idiot, I rode the bus one or two mornings. It's a fairly easy bus commute. Walk from my place to 20th & Folsom, grab the 12, get off at 4th & Folsom, walk down 4th to Bryant, hang a left. Simple.

When I did this, it took me 40 minutes. It's .5 miles to the bus stop and .3 miles from the bus stop to the office. Let's just say I have a history of never catching the 12 in a timely manner - waiting 15 minutes is not unusual. I don't know if it's the bus or me, but this happens pretty regularly. All of that means I have to leave my house at 8:15 if I have any hopes of getting to the office by 9:00. 3.5 miles away from my house. 

So I sucked it up and got back on the bike and took a nice, not terribly scary route to work. And you know what? It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. I ride down 20th to Folsom and take it all the way down to 4th, where I jump on 4th for a couple of blocks and then head down a back alley so I can ride into their parking lot. I feel fantastic when I get there. I want to fill my body with water rather than over-sugared coffee. Riding seven casual miles every day makes me feel better, more healthy, stronger. 

But let's talk about why bike commuting is a bitch. Folsom has a bike lane once you pass 14th. Great. Except Folsom is lined with businesses, and businesses get deliveries, and delivery vehicles park in my bike lane. So now I have to check out what traffic is doing and whip around the vehicle taking up my lane, and cars get pissed, and I get pissed. (The other day, a Bud Light truck around 11th & Folsom was parked entirely blocking the car lane so that the bike lane was completely clear. I yelled out a thank you to him as I rode past, because I legitimately appreciated that.)

Taxis are the worst. They have absolutely no regard for other vehicles on the road, and that might be fine if you're in a car, but I'm not. Drivers in San Francisco think they're used to cyclists, so they know how close they can comfortably drive to me. Here's a hint - your comfort zone from the inside of your SUV is significantly different from mine, on top of my 35 pound bicycle (it's a late 70's mixte, leave it alone). I may be a cyclist, but I am not a terribly good or adaptable one. It is me versus a car for twenty minutes every morning. 

And nighttime is worse. Coming down Harrison is terrible. No bike lane. Despite the fact that it's something like a six lane road, cars get pissed off that I'm there. And fair enough - at my fastest, I'm probably clipping along at 20 miles an hour. If someone was doing that in front of me, I'd get angry too. 

The worst is when I can't figure out what a car is doing. When we're both trying to anticipate the other's actions, it gets dicey and awkward. Someone needing to turn right across my bike lane when I'm approaching an intersection is like running into a brand-new co-worker at a sex shop. And not in the tame "I just dropped in to grab condoms" section, either. Neither one of us knows what to do and so we're both going to dance around awkwardly until someone figures out how to duck out of the situation. 

There are signs all over this city reminding cars that bicycles have the right to take up an entire lane, but no one really gives a shit. If I take up an entire lane, I've got cars on my ass waiting for me to speed up. If I ride to the side, cars are going to nearly side-swipe me trying to pass in a lane that they don't really have room to pass me in. And that's saying nothing of someone opening a car door without looking, allowing me to run head-first into it. 

But I love it. I do. I don't mind walking in to work all sweaty with my pants rolled up. I've learned to not mind the honking. I'm a considerate cyclist - I'm not diving in and out of traffic unless I have to because something in front of me is blocking my path. I don't run red lights - I have a tendency to stop at yellows because I know I'm not actually fast enough to get through an intersection. I panic when the walk lights don't count down their seconds, because I don't know when the light is going to change, so I speed the hell up. I only become an asshole the second time you honk at me when there is clearly nothing I can do to change our situation. 

Cyclists and drivers hate one another. Hate. And we are all self-righteous. I am better than you because I am on a bike. I am getting exercise, I am seeing the city block by block rather than setting my car to auto-pilot and ignoring my surroundings. I roll up next to people in the morning and we occasionally have conversations, while you are caged up and will never interact with another human being between the time you lock your door and the time you arrive at your destination. You've got the morning radio show, I've got nature. You pay $50 a month to push metal plates around, I get my exercise twice a day as a side effect of how I get to and from work, and the city is my gym.

But we act like assholes. We are all better than one another. I get that cars are irritated with cyclists. If I was in a car and someone in front of me was going twenty miles under the speed limit, I'd honk my horn and act like a jerk too. If I've got somewhere to be, never mind the fact that they're propelling themselves with their feet and I know they can't go 45 miles an hour. And cyclists weave around unpredictably, and who knows if they're going to run a light... Look. I get it.

I get angry when drivers seem to do things out of spite. The other day, coming toward the mission on Folsom passing under the bridge, a giant F-350 who had been honking at me flew by me really, really close. I would have been fine, but it made me really nervous, so I swerved a little. Could have fallen. And sure, that's because I'm skittish and not very good at what I do - but all I'm saying is that you're not proving a point. The way you "win", with your two-ton+ vehicle, is by hurting me. The bicycle and I barely break 200 pounds. We are tiny and slow. You are not winning by proving a point to me. 

Through all the rage and indignity, I simply can't get enough. I had a slight mental breakdown to The Roommate on Saturday when it occurred to me that I'm still really, really scared on a bicycle. The slightest thing goes wrong and I am completely powerless to recover from it. But it turns out all I can do is just keep riding the damn thing, and eventually it'll get easier. The other option is being caged up. That doesn't even sound like me. 

I've read two stories today about cyclists getting hit and injured at busy intersections. How about we all try to be safe and not act like assholes? And this is directed at you too, cyclists. You know we're jerks. I get the indignity and that we're trying to take our streets back - but whether we're proving the point or the car is, we're the ones at risk for getting hurt. Let's keep this shit fun.

(P.S., a side note to The Roommate. It appears I am doing this for myself, after all. Sorry I had forgotten about that.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Every city has them. In Kansas City, it's barbecue. Cincinnati has its chili, New York has its pizza. Prior to moving to San Francisco, I had given the Bay area chocolate. There's a lot of really, really good chocolate here, people, from my favorite and somewhat-well-known artisan chocolate maker Scharffen Berger to the lesser known, web 2.0-ey up and coming Tcho. (Full disclaimer: I am a tester for Tcho, but the fact that they send me free chocolate doesn't make me love it any more. Okay, maybe a little more.)

And then? Well, then I moved to the mission. Home of the mission-style burrito. People. San Francisco has BURRITOS. That's their thing!

The mission-style burrito is a thing of beauty. You have had something similar to them, most likely. The chain burrito craze hit a few years back and has since blown up, largely thanks to Chipotle. (Say what you will about Chipotle, San Franciscans, but be very careful. I eat your burritos now, but Chipotle burritos defined five years of college for me.) I remember eating New York Burrito in Salt Lake City back in 1999, but that was my first experience with burritos the size of my face. They are an art form here. You can get a regular burrito, but if you're smart, you'll go with the super burrito - which has, among other things, cheese and sour cream, my favorite parts of any Mexican dining experience. They'll run you around $6 and you can probably make them last two meals, depending on where you go.

I will not make any claims as to the "best" burrito, because I have only had a couple of them, and that would not be fair. There are more taquerias in the mission than there are anything else (they rival the number of bars, I swear). Supposedly the first super burrito came from El Faro at 20th & Folsom, a location I pass almost every day but have never gone to. It's a San Francisco tradition, and I'm incredibly excited to share it with my mother two weeks from today. Incidentally, I was the first one to take her to a Chipotle, so it's only fair that I show her where they came from.

What are your favorites, locals? I'll admit, I really like Cancun's food - I know it's kind of a standard answer, but they've been good to me. I didn't mind El Toro's (17th & Valencia), and I was recently subjected to one from Chavo's, which is totally not in the mission but was still a decent lunch. 

Oh, and since I've mentioned my San Francisco biases, it's only fair that I list the other three - get your pizza from John's on 44th when you're in New York, your barbecue from Arthur Bryant's on 18th in Kansas City, and your chili from the Ludlow Ave. Skyline in Cincinnati. You're welcome. :)

P.S. I just wrapped up one big on-site job and another small personal job, which means I have nothing to do. Expect more posts this week, including the "furnish your completely bare kitchen" post I've been working on for months.

Friday, November 7, 2008


I am a shitty San Francisco resident, people.

You see, here was the point of starting this blog - show people my experiences living in a new place. I really love hearing people not from New York talk about New York. It makes me see certain things in a new way and get all nostalgic about when I found those things to be weird too. (In Cincinnati, when someone doesn't hear what you just said, they'll often say "Please?" instead of "Could you repeat that?". I say "Come again?" and people there look at me like I'm crazy.)

It was also going to be an excuse. A beautiful excuse to get out and explore the city and do all sorts of... whatever. You've heard this before.

And I have done none of it. I moved to the mission, like an idiot, and I have no excuse to leave my neighborhood, ever. I break a collar bone and can't ride a bike. I decide to freelance instead of getting a real job so I never leave my house. I get an on-site job and it's at 3rd & Folsom, a 15 minute bike ride from my house and a commute that involves not one single degree of difficulty.

Now? Now, I have lived here for over two months, and my mother and best friend are coming to visit me for Thanksgiving. They have never been to San Francisco before and it is my job to make their week worthwhile.

They are exactly like me - pool, dive bars, burritos. Yes. All of it. So I'm not worried about what to do around my apartment. I know those answers. What I don't know is where else to take them. We have no desire for the overly-touristy, though going to see the bridge might be nice. But where are all those beautiful hilltops that everyone takes the touristy pictures at? I don't even know how to be a tourist in my own city. I have failed myself, and I'm about to fail them.

Nothing expensive, nothing that involves a wait line. (Ice cream from Bi-Rite excluded.) When Mom came to visit me in NYC, there was no Empire State Building. Violates both rules, so it was out. Both of them claim that they couldn't care less about sight-seeing, but the fact remains that they are in this amazing city for the first time and I'd like to give them a couple of experiences to write home about. 

The Roommate recommends Sutro Baths, and I agree. I recommend seeing the bridge from somewhere high up and pretty and accessible by MUNI. They will eat burritos and do dive bars in my neighborhood. There's probably going to be a Market St. shopping trip, but we have no money and I'm not sure what there really is that's super unique to this great town of ours. 

Help me not look like an asshole, guys. What am I missing out on? (Probably taking them to Boudin, and somewhere with chocolate. Side note.)

Oh, and P.S., you crazy liberals, thanks for Tuesday. I sincerely hope it was as good for all of you as it was for me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I am so busy I don't have time to breathe, thanks to an on-site freelance position that I really enjoy. We'll speak more of that later. Right now, though, here's what's important.

Today, commuting to work on my bicycle, someone pulled up to me in the bike lane and asked if I knew where a bank was. I didn't. But it opened a line of communication between myself and another person. We talked the rest of the way to work. He gave me advice on my bike, I told him about my broken collar bone. We didn't exchange names. There were lots of people parked in the bike lane today, so we called back and forth to one another to let the other person know it was safe to go around. I made a human connection today as I flew in and out of traffic. This is what riding a bike affords me: there is a sense of community, a sense of belonging. I am a part of something.

This story could not have happened to me at a better time. I am 23 years old and have participated in two presidential elections. I left my grandmother's funeral early in 2004 so I could fly back to Ohio and vote. My candidate was already chosen, and I wanted him to win, but I was in the "lesser of two evils" crowd that you hear so much about come voting time. I didn't feel like I belonged to a movement. I was simply making a choice. I voted for Kerry, who ultimately lost. It would be easy to say my vote didn't count, but it would also be painful and pointless. It would imply that I regret voting; that it didn't matter.

But this time? This time, I am in it. I have invested for over a year in my candidate, from the steps where he gave his first speech declaring his intention to run, to the convention where he accepted the nomination to be this year's candidate. I was the first on my street with a yard sign. I attended every function I could. I participated. I became a part of something bigger. I didn't let the fact that my vote "didn't matter" in 2004 deter me from committing to this as hard as possible.

I cannot say this enough: Your vote matters. I very strongly believe in my candidate and my political views, but this is not the day for me to push them on you. I hope your mind is already made up. I hope you believe as strongly in your candidate as I do in mine, no matter who you're voting for. You can debate all day whether or not your vote matters, you can spout facts about the electoral college, but this is the one thing you can do.

This is your vote. Belong to something.

(Oh, side note, if you would like me to push my views on you - YES on Prop 1A, a really gigantic FUCK NO on Prop 8, and YES to Obama/Biden '08. But honestly, just get out there.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bar roundup, and why I'm really loyal to Make Out Room.

I'm unhappy with my work situation right now, so I don't want to talk work. Let's talk drinking.

I know I've mentioned bars here before, so it's probably no secret that I'm kind of a major critic of them. Here's what you've got to understand about me: I really, really like bar games. My social life is centered around them. I throw a mediocre game of darts and play a similarly mediocre game of pool, but god help me, I could do both of those things for hours. I love cards. I love stupid little bar machines. And also? I really, really love beer.

San Francisco and I are okay as far as bars go, mostly because I live in an area of town that's littered with them on every corner. We are not okay, because I don't make very much money, and my desire to pay more than five dollars for a beer is really low. That being said, here's a roundup of my experiences so far:

Doc's Clock. I like Doc's a lot. It's on Mission between 21st & 22nd, so it's close to me. Their happy hour lasts from 6-9. Midwest happy hours - and most east coast happy hours, for that matter - exist until 7 if you're lucky. I can get cheap drinks until 9?! Thanks, Doc's. I also like Doc's because I don't like to have to wait twenty minutes to get a drink. It gets busy, but it has a tendency to get busy way later than I arrive. The Roommate and I have a tendency to arrive at happy hour time and be done by 10 or so, which is just when Doc's is hitting its stride. They've got a fantastic shuffleboard table, and an assortment of board games that are all missing a few pieces, but work well if you're willing to adapt. (Our favorites: Trivial Pursuit where all of the pieces have at least one wedge stuck in them and Connect Four missing half of the pieces.) PBR is $2 until 9p, or all night on Sundays. And after that, the PBR price only goes up to $2.50, so you don't have to be too worried. Plus, the bartenders are awesome - I had to wait a ridiculously long time the other night because the bartender was involved in a conversation and didn't see me. Two Anchor Steams for free because he felt bad. Yes to all of it. Thanks, Doc's.

Kilowatt. Oh, Kilowatt, I moved further away from you and now you feel like you are SO FAR AWAY. (Five blocks. Suck it up.) Kilowatt is the best place to play pool in the Mission IF you want to rotate in and out of tables. And if you're not completely worthless as a pool player. Free pool on Sundays. Gets wicked crowded when football is on, unfortunately, so we occasionally end up across the street at Delirium until it clears out. Beer isn't particularly cheap, but isn't the end of the world. They've got a nice selection and a killer pale ale on tap. $3.25 for most beers during happy hour, which only lasts until 7. Also, they've got two dart boards. They're awful dart boards, but they exist - and they're on a raised platform so assholes aren't constantly tripping over you while you try to shoot. Plus one for Kilowatt. Unfortunately, there are two tables up there, and when there's nowhere else to sit, people default to sitting there - making it impossible to shoot. I can't handle Kilowatt when it's busy, but I love it on Saturday afternoons.

500 Club. Love me some 500 Club. I will fully admit, however, that I've only been there when they were showing the presidential debates, so I can't say anything about the clientele. What I can say is that their happy hour lasts until 7, all drafts are $2 on Tuesday during happy hour, and the bartenders are very good at what they do. I will be investigating this deal tonight while I rock today's crossword puzzle, because I am a nerd.

Delirium. I kind of don't feel like I belong at Delirium. Ever. Still, the beer is cheap, and on Sundays, they've got free food and free pool. The free food is seriously an event - they grill about seven pieces of meat at a time and set it on a table in the middle of the bar, and you better be watching for it, because seven pieces of meat go very quickly. Like, seconds. And it'll be about 30-45 minutes until the next run of meat comes up. But it is free, so it's hard to make a major case against them. A couple of TVs if you want to watch a game and don't want to battle the Kilowatt crowd.

The Phoenix. Love/hate relationship. $5 Hoegaarden. Grumble. But they have food, and occcasionally I just want to sit at a bar, watch World Series of Poker reruns with The Roommate, and down an order of fries with mayonnaise. This is the perfect location to do that, if you hit the timing right so you're not battling way too many people that are trying way too hard. I've got a soft spot in my heart for this place, but I just can't figure out why.

Inner Mission Beer Parlor. If I wasn't so poor, I would love the hell out of this bar. It looks super divey, and hell, maybe it is. What I know is that they have a simply incredible beer selection. Absolutely my favorite in the Mission. They're also $5-7 per draft, and that's a little much for me to pay for a real night of drinking. Getting $25-30 deep with tip for a night is a little more than I'd like to pay, and I feel a little bit like an asshole ordering $3 bottles of PBR in this place. They do have two pool tables, a decent amount of seating, and the pool tables aren't as competitive as Kilowatt. I'd like this place a lot if I could feel less guilty about dropping a lot of cash on beer. As it stands, I still like it a lot - I can just only go on nights I don't particularly feel like drinking. Too bad. Good beer = I want to keep drinking it.

Elbo Room. I probably have to say that I don't like Elbo, and that's too bad, because I kind of do. Decent beer selection. But oh, god, it's so dark. SO dark. Your eyes have to adjust something fierce. I know. It's a bar. But if you've never been there, you cannot understand how damn dark the place is. I don't like bright, shiny bars, but this is ridiculous. They have pinball machines in the back. I understand they have an upstairs, but I've never been there. I like sitting at the bar for a beer or two occasionally. Also, they start to get packed pretty early, and then it's obnoxious. They also claim to have the longest happy hour in the city, 6-9p, which is a lie, because that title is held, in my experience, by my favorite of the Mission dives so far...

Make Out Room. I love this bar. I have a really ridiculous amount of reasons to love this bar. Also, please realize that my experience with this bar is mostly before 10, and does not involve shows, and those are the two things that they kind of specialize in. That may be why I have such a ridiculously high opinion of it. But allow me to paint you a word picture. In SAN FRANCISCO, they have $5 pitchers (!!!) of PBR until 10. Look, people, I know it's not great beer. But The Roommate and I can get two beers each for $5, and that is amazing. Their other drafts are cheap during happy hour too, and they have cider, which I can drink like water. They claim to have no cover charge Monday-Thursday. We turned up there on a random weeknight and they were charging a cover. When we talked nicely to the door guy and said we really just wanted a pitcher and didn't want to see the show, he let us slip in and just sit at the bar. (We weren't trying to be assholes - it was a comedy show, we paid absolutely no attention, and sat at the bar chatting instead.) I've never had a huge wait for a drink. I'm also usually there before it starts to get packed.

The most recent reason I love them? I got real, real messed up there last week, and I have a certain bartender to thank. We went to see the debates at 500 and had a couple of drinks, then ended up here a little later. (Post-sandwich.) We bought the first pitcher of beer, then made friends with a bartender who looked really bored. I asked him if he was doing okay, he said he was super tired, and I asked him to tell me about his day. After immediately insisting that I didn't really want to hear about his day, I reassured him that I actually did. We made friends quickly. Turns out he's moving soon. We told him that we both recently moved here and wanted to know what awesome things we should probably be doing. Our beer was nearly out, so he poured us another pitcher as he was talking. We're certainly not ones to refuse free beer, so we hung out for awhile longer. This incredibly nice bartender proceeded to introduce us to some friends and try to integrate us into the bar scene. A little later came the shots. 

People, I can't take shots. I just can't. But when a bartender pours three shots of tequila for him, you and your roommate, you suck it up and suck it down. And shockingly, for the first time in about four years, I managed to successfully keep a shot down. A couple drinks at 500, then two pitchers, then the tequila shot? It was all over for this girl. But I got to chat up a really great bartender all night, I became successfully reacquainted with hard liquor, and I did it for $5 because the really great bartender was buying us drinks. (We tipped him incredibly well on our way out because we were incredibly grateful for how our night turned out.)

Much, much love to Make Out Room. And much love to all of the mission bars. (Except the creepy one on Mission where we drank $4 Coronas and I got hit on by an incredibly lewd fellow who did not speak English, but spoke the international language of gross hand gestures. No love to that place again, ever.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mission Street Food.

I have a set of storyboards that I had wanted to get out in an hour and a half, but I literally have no ideas for them, so I've decided to procrastinate by making all of you jealous of the incredible food I got to eat last night.

Have you heard of the new Mission Street Food truck? It's honestly a really brilliant concept. The chef from Bar Tartine, a restaurant I simply cannot afford to eat at, has rented an already-established food truck. On Thursday nights, he parks it at 21st & Mission and makes three sandwiches, as well as an Asian Pear Slaw and brownies. This was the third week. It's been a wildly popular concept, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out why. $5 sandwiches! GOOD sandwiches! $3 brownies!

I'm a food nerd, so the concept is honestly amazing to me. We're taking very good food and making it accessible to a lot of people. It's incredibly experimental - we all know the stigma some people see behind food that comes from a truck - but it's backed by a solid name. This is good food that you can get in a paper tub on the street.

Chef Anthony has a blog, so we can all keep up on what's going on in his world. I convinced The Roommate to walk down with me (two blocks from the apartment!) and grab dinner with me last night. 

Let's face it: the wait is astronomical. I waited an hour for a sandwich. The signs claim they're open from 8p-2a, but I have a really difficult time imagining that to be true. We got down there around 9:20, and the whole experience probably took us about an hour. We waited in line for about 45 minutes, then waited about 15 after placing the order to get our food. The thing is, we knew that was going to happen. For whatever reason, no one seems to really care. Sip a soda, watch the crowd, smell the pork cooking - we all know the experience that we're participating in. They aren't advertising, so we all only know about it because we're blog-reading nerds. We read that there were 45 minute waits, so what did we do? Flooded them with orders and made it last even longer. 

The food is incredible. "Sandwich" is a sort of tricky term. I consider it a sandwich as much as I consider a taco to be a sandwich - because, well, I ate it like a taco. It's one piece of flatbread topped with delicious, delicious toppings. Both The Roommate and I had the cleverly-named PB&J - pork belly and jicama. The pork just melts in your mouth, the jicama provides a starchy textural contrast, and I swear to you I would drink the damned aioli that they drizzle on top of it. I could have killed two of them, and next week, there's a strong chance I'll skip lunch so I can do just that. 

Be aware, though, that they run out of food. And OF COURSE they do - you don't want to bring food you won't sell, so you have to estimate a little low, but this place is being absolutely flooded with traffic. There is no way the truck is open until 2 a.m. By the time we actually got up to the truck around 10, they were a customer or two away from running out of the handmade flatbread - but were substituting tortillas for $1 off each sandwich. They ran out of the brie for the brownies far before we got up there, assuming that most people would probably not be open to the idea of cheese on their brownies. (They compensated by giving me $1 off my brownie as well.)

Oh, and the brownie? Delicious. It just disappears in your mouth. So moist, so rich. These brownies will kill you. It's a good thing The Roommate and I decided to split one, because I couldn't have eaten it on my own. 

The hype and the wait are worth it. They do this once a week, kids. Every week they're practicing and refining. As long as you go into it expecting a learning experience, you'll enjoy it. Also, there's one of my favorite bodegas across the street, so you can go get a beer and pound it while you're in line. (Still hung over from Make Out Room the night before, we opted for sodas, but the group behind us took the 22 oz.-in-bags route. More on Make Out Room and my tequila shot later.) Do NOT go there expecting a short trip, do not get impatient, and get there early. After just two hours they were desperately running out of things and making substitutions. I don't know what the line was like when they first opened, but I wish I had gotten there early enough to get brie with the brownie. Next week, you can bet I'm going to get out of my apartment closer to 8 rather than watching The Office before I go. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Perspective.

Today is Blog Action Day, everyone, and this year's theme is Poverty.

I have a history of being exposed to poverty. I also have a history of talking about how I have no money. But if we could, for a moment, let's sit down and consider what it really means to not have any money. 

Growing up, my family wasn't always doing terribly well. My parents were where I first learned the dangers of credit. They didn't make a ton of money, but we always had very nice things. The hot tub in the back yard, the satellite dish back when that was a super huge deal, the new cars every two years. My mother loves Christmas. I was technically an only child (step-siblings and half-siblings, but we never lived together), so I was spoiled. Presents as far as the eye can see, all lovingly wrapped for me to destroy on the morning of December 25th. As a kid, you don't necessarily consider where these things come from. It took me awhile to learn about the concept of credit. 

I worked in pre-foreclosure for my first year of college. I was making enough money to support myself and my live-in boyfriend, who was finishing up an incredibly difficult college major. It paid our rent ($345 for an efficiency; I miss the midwest), it paid for our food, and it paid for us to occasionally go out and do fun things. It was also the worst job experience I've ever had. I sat at a desk every day and listened to people tell me that they could pay their mortgage or feed their kids, and what would I do if I was in their position? The truth is that I could never understand their position. How do you get there? How do you purchase a house and suddenly not have the capacity to pay for it? I pitied these people, I really did, but I had difficulty understanding their situation. But I listened to them yell at me for eight hours a day, and then I would go home and cry. I hated my job. But it was major exposure to the idea of living beyond your means. 

I'm sure we're all looking for some heart-warming tale of how I learned my lesson about credit from that job, but I don't know if I'd get ready for that just yet. It should be noted that I have incredibly good credit. I've got a high credit rating, because even if I'm carrying huge balances, I pay my bills every month. A high credit rating means that my bank keeps raising my limit, which means that my balance keeps raising, because I'm going to pay it off in that magical "someday" where I don't have to worry about money anymore. And now I carry close to $20,000 in credit card debt. It's a combination of factors. College, the year-long stint in New York working at a job that didn't support my newly-turned-21 habits, a wedding, moving to San Francisco after being unemployed for seven months with absolutely no savings.

I live more modestly in San Francisco than I ever have, because, well... it's pretty easy to do so. The Roommate isn't a huge money-spender. I don't really know a lot of people around here. I am a $2 PBR girl, not a $10 cocktail girl. I live in a neighborhood where the best food is often the cheap food. I don't spend any money on transportation and I am splitting the cost of the cheapest studio I've seen in this city. I get by. But when I first moved here, I had no money. However, I've got really good credit. So if I was hungry, I could just transfer a few hundred bucks from a credit account and eat modestly for a few weeks. Sure, the credit runs out eventually. But I've got enough open that if I HAD to pay my rent and get by like that for a few months, I could make do.

This is where I am lucky. If I have to dig up money for an emergency, I can. It's not a smart way to operate. But it is an option. I have parents who don't really make a lot of money, but are willing to give me what they have if they know I'm really struggling. Sure, I moved here with "no money", but I am not going to bed hungry because I have no other options. Also, I am going to BED. In a bed, wrapped up in a comforter, with no concerns about my safety throughout the night. I wake up the next morning and take a hot shower. I grab a bowl of cereal. I go to my coffee shop, with my computer, and I work. I'm buying $1.75 house coffee instead of $5 lattes, but I am still living comfortably. I have nothing to bitch about, ever.

Over the past five and a half years, I have always found myself living in low-income neighborhoods. It's not really a matter of taking advantage of pre-gentrification - the neighborhoods immediately surrounding my college were certainly lower-class. In New York, I moved in with two good friends who happened to live in a safe, but as-yet-ungentrified location. (I have a feeling it's coming eventually.) I live in a neighborhood now that's a strange mixture of people who are legitimately impoverished, families that have been here for years, and hipsters. (I really have no idea how the hell to describe my neighborhood in a way that's fair and beautiful, so I'm just giving up.) 

If I want to walk to the train station, I have to pass people who are crazy. And I don't mean to be derogatory or sound like an asshole, but I mean legitimately crazy. The type of crazy that only comes when you haven't eaten for four days - and when you did eat your last meal, it might have been some McDonald's leftovers that you dug out of the trash. The type of crazy that comes from not having a good night's sleep in a decade. The type of crazy that comes from not having any friends, not having any family, not having a single person to turn to. The type of crazy that has to literally sleep with one eye open lest you lose the possessions that look like trash to passers-by, but are literally all you have to cling to. The type of crazy that comes from feeling like the system has failed you. The type of crazy that KNOWS you are crazy and can't do a single thing to save yourself. The type of crazy that has completely run out of rope.

It makes me feel awful. I feel awful because I legitimately can't imagine it. I'm sure my parents had some incredibly close brushes with being impoverished when I was growing up, but if they did, I certainly didn't know about it. I always had shoes on my feet and a meal on the table, and at the end of the day, I got to curl up in my warm bed and sleep, safe and sound. I have been incredibly lucky in my life. I've got a lot of debt, and it's going to take me a long time to pay it back. But I'm college-educated. I can charge a lot of money for my freelance work because I am good at what I do and I have five years of education and work experience to back it up. My clothes fit a little loose now and I don't look quite as professional as I should, but I still have nice things to wear to a job interview.

Everyone around the blogosphere has been offering their tips and tricks for what you can do to combat poverty, so I'm not going to add to them. The truth is that there are no hard and fast solutions out there. What I want everyone to do is just think. Consider a world where you have to put your head on the sidewalk at night, a world where you have to paw through garbage in front of well-to-do individuals in the morning to see if someone threw out part of a sandwich. Consider how humiliated you might be and how hard it would be to retain your pride and your sanity. I don't have a lot of money. I'm working on making my income a little higher, and I certainly hope that when the day comes that I have disposable income, I'll be trying to help others with it. What I can do right now is smile at someone I pass. If I'm walking out of a restaurant and I have leftovers with me, I can offer them to someone I see digging through a bag of garbage instead of just throwing them away eventually. 

I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen my biological father cry. One of them is when he was telling me a story about why he always carries change. He used to do a fair amount of traveling in dense, urban areas, and would often be asked for money. Rather than ever handing someone a dollar bill, he would always give them change. When you do that, you have to touch the person. You don't have six inches of paper separating you. You give them what you can spare, but at the same time, you're making an actual human connection. He felt people didn't do that enough anymore, that we're too detached, and it's his small way of making a difference.

So what's your small difference going to be? If you can't come up with anything else, I would just like to ask you to think. Consider for a moment what it would mean to have nowhere to turn. Kiss the one you love, and think before you fall asleep about how lucky you are to have the things you have, even if you wish you had more. There are people who wish they had anything.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Full-time freelancer.

My life is a little weird, kids, and I understand that my next few statements are probably going to open the doors to a whole lot of "poor baby" comments. So, just get ready for it.

I have completely abandoned the idea of getting a full-time job. I go back and forth between using the word "full-time" and "real", and this says a lot about how I feel about my current situation. After taking a couple of freelance jobs, I realized that I really love it. I had always felt like that was true about me. I freelanced off-and-on during college to pay a few bills and it always worked out really well for me. Then when college was over, the work simply didn't exist. I picked up a couple of freelance jobs out here, and honestly? I love it. As an indicator of how my life goes, The Roommate actually asked me the other day why I ever bother leaving the house. I'm pretty sure he kind of meant it as an asshole statement, but I couldn't care less. It's a pretty good point. I don't have to leave my house, ever. 

My life as a freelancer is an interesting one. I make a really obnoxious amount of money... kind of. I make a really obnoxious amount of money at an hourly rate, and that would be great if I was actually working 40 hours a week. However, I am not, so it ends up balancing out to a simply livable amount of money, and I manage to live pretty cheaply here (especially since I discovered the $5 pitchers of PBR at Make Out Room, and no, Mom, it isn't what it sounds like, it's just a dive bar). It is the world's most liberating feeling to be able to work when I want to. It doesn't mean I'm not working hard - though I certainly could be working harder. I'd say I divide my time right now between actually doing work that makes me money and seeking out new work. 

I have to be honest, the freelance lifestyle is scary when you first start it. Also, I'm sure this will change when the work is a little more regular, but I honestly don't feel like I'm ever working. I spend my days hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop, occasionally heading downtown to attend a meeting with a client or to network with potential clients. (I also try to schedule my meetings around lunch so I have an excuse to grab the $5 lunch special at Mehfil on 2nd & Folsom with The Roommate, but THAT is another story.) If I wake up at 8 and I'm still tired, I can go back to bed. I'll just work a little later in the evening. If I feel like sitting in my pajamas and drinking milk all day, I can do that. Or I can actually get motivated and go to one of the many free wi-fi hotspots in my neighborhood. (Because, as mentioned before, my neighborhood basically rules.)

It's difficult to say that I won't be getting a full-time job, because if someone came along right now and offered me a lot of money and benefits, it would be really hard to turn it down. I'm not secure as a freelancer yet. I need the jobs to keep rolling in so I can build up a little savings and not constantly worry about how I pay the rent for the next month. But if that happens, I'll be really pleased with my life. For now, I'm just sitting back and letting it happen. I've made enough to pay my credit card bill for this month, pay the rent for next month, and buy the occasional $5 pitcher of beer. And honestly, as long as those things exist, I'm secure enough.

On that note, it's time to get back to work. (You see, even though it's 6:30, I didn't choose to get out of bed until 11. So now I'm overcompensating.) And after that, we'll be investigating those $5 pitchers at Make Out Room. I might even get cocky enough to ride a bicycle there. Fingers crossed.

Monday, October 6, 2008

San Francisco microcosm

To say I love living in San Francisco feels a little strange. I really, really like being in San Francisco. Living here has been an experience. I'm not sure if we can say I love it yet. I don't know many people here, and I really miss my house. I have an apartment that is twice as much as my mortgage for a third of the space. My job prospects are still few and far between. The broken bone factor sort of put a damper on a lot of things. What I can say is that I think someday, I'm really going to love living here. That magical day when the money starts rolling in enough that I'm not actually afraid of how to pay my rent for the next month and I get some of my stuff out here from home, I'll be much happier. There's nothing I dislike so far, there are just things I miss. Like being employed. And having something in my kitchen other than two bowls and a skillet. (And ants.)

Here's what concerns me. I'm concerned that San Francisco is destroying me, and I will never be able to live anywhere else as long as I live. I was talking to a friend the other day, and somehow weather came up. I have literally forgotten it is autumn. The weather has not changed since I got here. It's occasionally a little chilly in the morning or the evening, I suppose. I have no concept of what the rest of the country is going through. I have yet to see rain. I grew up with snow. I have lived through snow in October. If the day ever comes that I actually bitch about weather here, someone should probably remind me that I'm an idiot.

So I'm afraid I'm going to simply lose time. October means something to me in the midwest, but it does not mean a damn thing here. I am still wearing shorts. I can ride a bike year-round. I am petrified that it is going to suddenly become March and I'm not going to know where the past six months of my life went. I am petrified that I am going to turn 30 and not have any idea how I got there. (Note: The jump from six months to turning 30 is a much larger one than I would usually lead you to believe.)

I'm also a little afraid that I'm going to forget how the rest of the country works. Can I ever move back to a conservative town after living here? I will have the experience of observing the presidential election from one of the most liberal towns in America. (Note: I would have said THE most liberal town in America, but a newspaper here recently endorsed McCain/Palin, and I know it's a worthless newspaper, but the point is that A NEWSPAPER IN SAN FRANCISCO ENDORSED JOHN MCCAIN. Ahem.) I come from a somewhat conservative town, followed by an incredibly conservative town. Somehow, one month in San Francisco is managing to make me forget 23 years of living everywhere else. The options of where I'm able to live next are dwindling rapidly.

The San Francisco microcosm is a funny one, and I'm only mentioning this now so that when I forget that a little later, I can look back and see that I actually wrote these words, and there was a time when I acknowledged that the world I'm living in is a little strange. Don't take that as a complaint, by any means - I moved here for a reason, and it's just been a slightly different adjustment than I had anticipated.

Today marks five weeks that I've been here. I'm pretty confident that's the reason my "time slipping away from me" post here came about. The job front is looking up a little. I've decided to be a full-time freelancer rather than getting a "real" job, something I'm pretty excited about. My only concern is my ability to keep the work coming in, but it's going solidly enough so far. I've got a client right now that seems like he's going to be a fairly repeat customer. There are a couple of communication issues, and I hope we're able to resolve those to develop a good working relationship. I wanted very badly to freelance full-time a few months ago, but it didn't quite work out. Now, the work is starting to come in, and I'm just keeping my fingers crossed every day that I can keep enough balls in the air to make this a successful enterprise.

So, thanks for five good weeks, San Francisco, even though you're making me broke and destroyed my collar bone. Here's to the future.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

No on Prop 8.

My freelance job I just finished up was for a political cause that I actually care about. As much as I can care about something that is on a ballot for a state I'm not registered to vote in, that is. I'm choosing to not update my voter registration to California just yet, because I still own a house in the midwest and quite frankly, that state needs my Obama vote a whole hell of a lot more than California does. Also, I'm not ready to deal with all of the official bullshit that comes along with moving from one state to another. 

The point is, I'm not going to speak too terribly much about politics here, because I can't vote on California ballot issues. Since I can't use my actual vote for them, all I can do is say that I really hope people feel the same way I do, and I really hope my opinions are in the majority on election day.

Whether or not I deserve to talk about it, I'd like to call attention to Proposition 8. If Dan Savage can do it, I'd really like to be able to as well. Proposition 8, in a nutshell, eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry. Every state in American needs to get prepped for the idea that this issue is going to come up again and again. People want, and as far as I'm concerned, certainly deserve to share rights. Feel however you want to feel about marriage as an institution and what "family" means, but as far as I'm concerned, people should be permitted to define their own family and they should have access to the same rights and privileges no matter who they want to spend the rest of their lives with. 

I'm straight, but I'm committed to the cause for a couple of reasons. One, I legitimately believe everything I just said about rights being available to everyone, and two, my dad is gay. The story is much longer than that, as is the case with everyone in my age group with gay parents, but the short version is that I was raised in a home with straight parents and my father came out when I was about 17. I feel physically ill when I think about the idea of him having a partner that he wants to spend the rest of his life with and that partner not being able to make decisions for him if he (god forbid, knock on wood, the whole bit) ever ends up in the hospital after some tragic accident or something. His roommates (living in a freakishly red state, I might add) have been together for a very long time and live as if they're married - but no matter what they feel for one another, whether or not they would want to be married, it's a right that isn't available to them. I have to be against any issue that keeps them from having the option to make that choice.

So, please. If you're the type of person who has money to spare, support the Prop 8 people. I'm not sure how much good it does to donate to political causes sometimes, but if you're thinking about getting involved and donating to something, consider the incredibly bright people behind Prop 8. It's 2008. Seriously. Let's stop keeping people from doing things they want to do that don't affect or hurt anyone else.


It is all too appropriate that the day after I talked about how public transportation is my favorite thing in the whole wide world, I ended up driving a goddamned cargo van through the streets of San Francisco.

First of all, to anyone that actually owns a cargo van - how do you people do it? Fifteen seconds on 16th Street and I simply wanted to die. 

Second of all, the most fun thing about strange broken bones is that you don't realize what you can and can't do with them until you've actually done it. For example, with a broken collar bone, I cannot turn the steering wheel of an automobile. Of course, this isn't information that was made clear to me until I attempted to turn the steering wheel of the van I had just rented.

Thanks to the wonders of craigslist, I went from having no furniture to being the proud owner of a double bed and a coffee table. The bed cost me $140, the coffee table was free because it was literally 100 pounds and the owners really wanted someone to take it down their stairs and get it the hell out of their apartment. The thing is, as mentioned before, I don't own a car. So after considering zipcar, we just decided to suck it up and go U-Haul style. It ended up costing me $48 total, which isn't so bad.

What is so bad, however, is the fact that I haven't driven a car in a month, I have a broken collar bone, I have never driven something this big in the city, and my foray into San Francisco driving came in the form of a cargo van. CARGO VAN!

It went well enough. I took advantage of my situation and did some driving around the city to buy a few things that we need for the new apartment - two gallons of milk, tacky shower curtain, etc. The necessities. (Also: Oreos, cottage cheese, turkey, 6-pack of Anchor Summer.) I managed to hold up my side of the 100 pound coffee table with minimal wincing; The Roommate put a bed together so I didn't have to even with the PDF of Ikea instructions that was for a different model. 

My other thing to bitch about today is internet access. Everyone can feel free to hate me for this, but let's just say I spent September stealing internet. Look. It's a major city. I live in an area that's incredibly densely populated. Nothing is keeping you from protecting your wireless internet. So if you leave it unprotected, there's a chance I'm going to steal it. I am poor and was living in an apartment illegally for a month. It's really hard to keep the morals in tact. So I stole internet for a month. New apartment building is surrounded by people that are incredibly smart, so all of the routers are protected and I can't steal the services someone else is paying for. 

The midwest and the northeast have Time Warner, and while there's certainly enough reasons to complain about them, they never charged me for a single thing other than monthly service. Ever. That means no $100 "internet installation fee" (here's looking at you, comcast) or $80 modem. If only I had realized how great I had it.

So, I ended up selecting the cheapest service that AT&T has, and we'll see if it sucks. I always have the option to upgrade it if it's wicked slow, but I figure I went the past month with really awful internet service and managed to survive, so I'll probably make it through with my $20 internet at least until I have a job that actually enables me to pay a bill or two. 

Oh, right, jobs! The reason I'm out here in the first place. Yes, jobs. Freelance job finished up yesterday, and I'm hoping something more will come out of that. I have a casual coffee meeting with someone who owns a firm I'd really like to work for next week. I emailed about a freelance job that I would be absolutely perfect for today. A company in Mountain View emailed me to ask me about my salary requirements. (No interview yet, but I'm hoping when they realize how relatively cheap I think I can be bought for, they'll bring me in.) Things are beginning to look up. No call from incredibly cute bakery that I applied at a few weeks ago, which is disappointing. Win some, lose some. 

Who's watching the VP debate tomorrow, kids, and where are you going? I'm thinking about hitting 500 again, but realize that I can most likely go anywhere in the mission and they'll have it on. I've learned my lesson with 500, so if I attempt it this time, I'll be there super early.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Public Transportation.

I really wish I could convince every person that lives in a city with public transportation to take it. Having lived now in four cities of various sizes with public transportation systems, it's always fascinating to see the way people feel about no-car life. It only occurred to me after I started riding a bike that I could get by without a car in the last city I lived in. You have to understand - midwest cities are car-based. (The exception might be Chicago, but if you've ever had to deal with rush hour there, you'll realize that there are still a ridiculous amount of automobiles.)

I lived in Midwest city #1 until I was 18, then shifted to Midwest city #2 for college, with a break for awhile in there to live in New York, and now I've ended up in San Francisco. City #1 has a public transportation system, but honestly? I don't know a thing about it. I lived in a suburb, you see, and I'm confident that city buses didn't run out there. Or if they did, I surely didn't know about it. I had the parental taxi until I was 14 or so, then started dating a boy who was old enough to drive, then was the proud owner of a 1990 Mercury Sable when I was old enough to drive. (Her name was Mabel and I cried the day she ended up in a junkyard. For the curious, she was followed by her 1995 edition, Boris the Taurus.) Also, at this point, my parents could give me $10 and I could drive on it for a week, so I wasn't freaking out about gas prices, and at 16, I hadn't quite realized that I was hurting the environment.

Midwest city #2 has, actually, a really fabulous public transportation system. As mentioned before, I didn't know that until I got on a bike. It's a very hilly city, you see, and I think I've stated in the past that I'm not a particularly good cyclist. (Reference: five wrecks in two months; broken collar bone.) Bike racks on the front of buses are the second best thing to ever happen to me. 

The first best thing? About a year and a half or so into college, a bunch of people reached an agreement that let every student at my major public university ride the bus for free. A flash of my student ID and I didn't have to pay a cent to get wherever I wanted to go. The bus system was kind of confusing and hard to get used to, and it wasn't terribly fast or consistent, but if you learned how to make it work for you, it was a godsend. And it was, again, free.

New York, I cannot say enough about your public transportation. I miss it so much, regardless of the time I spent bitching about it when I was there. A combination of subways and buses could get me anywhere I needed to go. I lived pretty far uptown and wasn't yet on a bike, so the subway and I made good friends pretty regularly. For $76 a month, I could get off at all the wrong stops I wanted. And I firmly believe that every 21-year-old girl needs a couple of good stories in her repertoire about what she saw on the Manhattan-bound E train at 4 a.m.

San Francisco public transportation is weird. Really, really weird. There are buses. There are cable cars. Some lines have numbers and I think some have letters and then there's a subway system that appears to be run by a completely different company. I remember visiting my then-boyfriend in 2003 and he took me all over the city on this method of transportation or that, but I had no idea what the hell was going on. The Washington D.C. Metro that I mastered at the age of 8, as well as the Paris Metro at the age of 17 when I was mostly pretending to speak French  made more sense to me. (My problem with BART, for locals, is that I can't grasp the idea of anything other than flat fares. NYC: $2, wherever you're going, ever. $7.80 to go to Oakland? Weird.)

I really encourage people to take whatever public transportation they can, if for no other reason than to prove to them that it's probably way easier than they think it is. Midwest city #2 recently held a day where people could come downtown and learn how to ride the bus. There were buses set up so you could get on them and take seminars learning how everything worked. I'm not kidding. And while I think that's kind of stupid - it's a bus, people, seriously - it isn't a foreign concept to me. There's all this anxiety with people who have never been on a city bus before, and it certainly surrounds the fact that everyone but you totally looks like they know what they're doing. An incredibly brilliant friend of mine told me a story once about how she wanted to ride her bike around, but the bus pulled up and she couldn't figure out how to pull down the bike rack so she totally didn't do it. It makes me really, really sad. 

I was a part of the issue, though. I lived less than three miles from my college, and I spent most of my time driving there. Ridiculous. $228 per quarter, plus gas, plus the ridiculous toll I was taking on my car by only driving it in the city for super short distances, etc. 

The PT issue here is getting slightly easier thanks to the recent injury. Getting on a bike simply isn't happening for me, so I've got to get around somehow. It's also encouraging me to get out and walk neighborhoods more, as I have very little desire to take two buses to get somewhere, especially if the first bus is only going to take me less than a mile. Of course, in the case of getting to the hospital for my follow-up appointment, I decided it was really stupid to take one bus .8 miles to take another .8, so I just walked it. I will continue to get exercise even without a bicycle, I swear it. 

If your city is smart enough to have some form of public transportation, take a Saturday or something and check it out. Don't do it when you have somewhere to be ASAP, because you'll just panic and get all anxious about the fact that you're not in control of how fast you get there. Ride somewhere just for fun. You'll be surprised at how awesome it is, and how much you totally didn't spend in gas that day.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

500 Club + Debate aftermath.

Note to self: Next time you go to 500 Club to watch a presidential debate, you might want to get there an hour early. Good lord.

So, 500 Club was absolutely packed by the time I got there at 5:45. I will say this - it's the type of place I think I'd like a whole lot if it didn't have so many people in it. It could use a pool table, but quite frankly, I feel that way about every bar I've ever been in.

It is an interesting experience being in a room of people just like you. I managed to get up to the bar, thankfully, because this sling is still putting a damper on my ability to hold a beer. I was standing next to a guy who was really, really unhappy to be there. He was older and really hated the fact that his bar was being infiltrated by crazy hipster liberals. I wanted to feel badly, but it turns out I didn't. When we'd get all riled up about Obama, he'd attempt to shout out some counterpoint. Didn't so much come across as intelligent debate so much as being curmudgeonly. He left fairly early, and because an incredibly kind girl wanted to be nice to the chick with her arm in a sling, I managed to snag a seat at the bar right in front of the television. Score. 

Props to 500 Club - it was a little difficult to get drinks, but the bartenders were fabulous. They ran out of Anchor Steam about halfway through, but they have a fantastic selection of other beers, so no one seemed too distraught. Me? I was throwing down $2 PBRs, partially because I'm very poor, partially because I like hipster beer, but mostly because I was a little afraid that someone was going to knock into me, and I am notorious for spilling beer all over myself if someone gets within two feet of me. I have yet to spill a bottle of beer on myself or others, but a pint glass? Watch out. Also, The Roommate couldn't get close to me at the beginning, so I needed something I could pass over people's heads to him, and a brimming glass of Racer was not going to work out.

A friend of mine in her assessment of watching the debate at a hipster bar in New York said "We're really partisan, so we don't know if Obama is winning or not." This is how I felt. Don't get me wrong - I'm making my Sarah Palin jokes ("Oh shit, they asked about Russia! If McCain mentions Palin, we're taking shots!") and pounding the bar every time Obama says something about healthcare. But really, he could have thrown the debate and we would have cheered at everything he said and booed McCain. I felt like both parties made some incredibly good points. But really, we were just happy to watch Barack Obama and ponder the idea that we might have a president we actually support in a few months. 

So, thanks, 500 Club. I'll be back, but I know how to play your game now. See you at the next debate.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Working + Debate.

So, I've been a little absent, and I apologize. 

Very, very good news: I picked up a very short freelance job that will pay my rent for the month of October, which is a pretty huge thing in my life. I have also started opening up some fairly healthy dialogue with a few companies that are looking for freelancers, so with any luck, maybe I'll never have to put on pants or leave my apartment, ever. I'm loving the work I'm doing right now, even though it's a small job and it's pretty simple. I'm doing motion graphics and getting paid for it, and that's the whole reason I moved out here. 

In addition to paying my rent, it will also be paying for my beer for at least a couple of weeks, at the rate/bars I've been drinking at. ($5 pitchers of PBR at Make Out Room? I know it makes me sound super hipster, but if The Roommate and I can get drinks for $1.25 each, I really don't give a good damn. And I feel way better about the $4 Anchor Steam we order after that pitcher.) And speaking of beer, go to a bar tonight and watch the presidential debate. 

Really, just watch the presidential debate. But I don't own a television, and I'm sure many of you are the same way. It's foreign policy tonight, kids, so let's fire up the McCain drinking game and see who at least talks like they've got the most experience.

SFist has a list of places that will be showing it. I'd like to hit the 2 Lips showing, but have little desire to get on a bus, and I'm still all slung up from this stupid collar bone thing. Instead, I'll be at 500 Club, and a recent text message confirms that The Roommate will be meeting me there. So if you're in the mission, swing by! And if you see a redhead in glasses, launching back the cheapest beer they've got and wearing a sling, there's a chance it's me, so come say hi. I still know enough people in this city that I don't need to use my second, broken hand to count them. Come make friends!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Accidental delay.

It's been a couple of days, folks, and I apologize for that. Let's go ahead and get it out of the way: I snapped my collar bone falling off of my bike. 

It is incredibly difficult to refer to myself as a cyclist sometimes. We should also get it out of the way that I've fallen off of my bike five times in the past two and a half months. 

Test ride: Ripped up left foot. Still scarred.
Rounding a corner too fast: Convinced my pedal was going to scrape and I was going to land in traffic, I chose to give in to it and slammed my bike directly into a curb, flinging myself into a pile of dirt. Still scarred on inside of left ankle from pedal scrape.
Totalled bicycle: A really, really not pretty incident involving a lot of injury. Scarred on elbow.
Meeting train tracks: Like an idiot, threw bike into BART tracks on Market St. on a Saturday night. Convinced I broke a small bone in right foot.

And then there's this one. I've considered coming up with a really cool story, but there isn't one. What I can come up with is this: I was in my highest gear and my chain slipped off. I was pedaling really, really hard. When my chain slipped, my feet flew off the pedals, and I simply lost control of the bike. I went over the handlebars, directly onto my elbow and shoulder, causing a stress fracture in my right clavicle.

If you see a red-headed girl walking around the mission (uh, let's say from 16th to 22nd between Mission & Dolores), with her arm in a white sling, probably wincing a little, possibly walking with a tall boy with brown hair and a red beard, it's probably me and The Roommate. Stop and say hello to us. I look really, really pathetic, and I promise you my hair is usually a lot cuter than this.

Special thanks: There were four people who stopped to help me, called an ambulance, and called The Roommate. If you helped out a cyclist on a little blue bicycle around 7th & Townsend on Thursday, thank you so much. I don't remember any of your names. I was really scared and in a blinding amount of pain, and you were all really great. I wish I knew who you were, but thanks for staying with me and making sure I was taken care of. I'm sure you had better things to do with your day.

Additional thanks go to the paramedics that said it was okay to curse and told me that when someone offers you morphine, you should take it. I'd also like to thank every single person I came into contact with at San Francisco General Hospital, especially the male nurse who helped me fasten my bra when I was crying and couldn't do it myself, who reassured me that he had one just like it.

I'm not going to lie: It hurts. Really, really, really hurts. It's getting a little better by the day, but "better" from "worst pain I've ever experienced, literally" is not much of a step up. I took a successful shower yesterday, and managed to BART it over Potrero Hill to go to a job interview this morning, so these are all steps in the right direction. I have learned that morphine makes me sick, vicodin doesn't affect me, and that I really like Bayer with caffeine added to it. I have also learned that Farmacia on 20th & Mission has Mexican coke for $1.29. That doesn't have anything to do with the rest of that information or my health, but it's pretty important to me. 

Plus, I'm wicked angry that I can't ride a bike. It was the one thing keeping me happy and entertained around here, and now I've lost it for 6-8 weeks. There have been much happier girls than myself in the past.

How are you doing, San Francisco? It's hot out today. Hope you're staying remotely cool. Get a Mexican coke. Totally worth it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New apartment, inconveniences.

So, despite earlier claims that I was going to stay in my $600/month, no-kitchened studio (in my defense, it was going up to $860 for October), I'm signing papers on a new apartment tomorrow. It comes with a year lease, which is incredibly scary. In good news, The Roommate is capable of affording it on his own in the event that I have to bail and go back to the midwest where I might actually be employable. It is an incredibly large studio apartment with a separate kitchen around 21st & Guerrero for $1150 a month, and it probably goes without saying that I can't imagine a world where I'm more excited. As my mother was kind enough to remark today, who would have guessed a month ago that I'd be so excited about just having a kitchen? Ridiculous. But that's my life for you.

The employment search is, well, continuing. Still haven't heard back from incredibly-cute-bakery woman, but I'm not expecting to hear from her until the end of next week or potentially even the week after. I've started applying to every single job I might be even remotely qualified for, as well as some jobs that I just know I won't get. Today's joy comes in the form of a high-end artisan chocolate shop setting up an interview with me. It won't pay nearly what I need to make to scrape by in this city, but it will be significantly more than the negative income I'm working off of right now.

I had kind of forgotten how inconvenient it can be to live in big cities with no car, especially when you're somewhat used to having a car. Or at least the option of a car - my last month and a half in my previous town, I wasn't really driving the car, but I had the option if I wanted it. Now I have to move. With no car. And I might be buying the furniture that is currently in my furnished apartment, so I need to figure out how to get that to the new place.

Other things that are irritating? I've got to buy all sorts of crap for the new place. I'm a cook, after all, and now I have a kitchen. Nothing but my incredible chef's knife, a microplane grater and two potholders (priorities.) made it to San Francisco with me, so things like pans are all of a sudden going to be incredibly important. As a cyclist, I can officially buy what can fit into my larger of the two messenger bags, which is still not terribly big. I might have to suck it up and go public transportation on this one. 

Grocery shopping was among the most frustrating things about living in New York, that is, until I decided to exclusively use FreshDirect. Anyone living in a city that has grocery delivery service, you're an idiot if you don't take advantage of it. Especially if there's no delivery charge, and the things you can buy are super high quality. Sure, I paid a small premium for some of it, but I was also living in a city where it was incredibly inconvenient to go grocery shopping. I was also living in an area of town with awful grocery stores. So to acquire enough groceries to last me a week - we weren't big takeout people - meant getting on the train, going somewhere else, then carrying whatever spoils I acquired back to the train, riding with them, getting off, walking home, etc. I know these things make me sound like a little bit of a whiner, but when you're buying $150 worth of groceries in a single pass, things get heavy. And I get irritable. Enter FreshDirect, the answer to all of my problems, and the city got instantly more convenient for me. 

I've been googling around and may try out Planet Organics. Not quite the same thing as my beloved previous solution, but those people haven't gotten smart enough to expand out of the NYC market yet. The Roommate is on board with just going to the grocery store and buying whatever I need for dinner that night, but I like my solution better. Having food already in the fridge is a pretty likely sign that I'm actually going to cook. By the time I get home, I probably don't want to go out again, and the chances of me actually making a decision on what I'd like to make before I leave the office (ha!) and get to my apartment are pretty low. If the food is there, I'll make it. Plain and simple. This may sound lazy, but I suspect I'm not the only one like that.

Oh, related news? I'll be even closer to the ravioli place, and now I'll have a kitchen. Mmmm.

A week and a half in this apartment, and I'll be out. I'm already thinking about what I'm going to cook first. (Hint: it's probably ravioli.)