Tag Archives: San Francisco

Choose Your Own Adventure.

I no longer live in San Francisco and this baby is from the archives but you never read it, it’s so old. I’m so glad I read it because that is what I needed. Now in Chicago, in the middle of winter, I still feel that thrill and wonder and the click-clack of all the gears working together, when I just know I’m where I am supposed to be. But there are other days too. Those days are hard and long. But I go to bed and sleep. When I wake up, it is a new day.

It’s worth it to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, to choose adventure every single day, even when it’s hard.

***

Do you know that feeling, when everything seems to be going right, all the chips are falling into place, and you use every cliché in a sentence? No, but really. Today at work, everything went smoothly. It’s a super busy time for us so the energy is electric. I don’t have time to really think and so I go on auto pilot, only it’s auto pilot on speed. I have to crank it out. I have to. I cannot fail. In the middle of it all, I ran to a doctor’s appointment that normally would never be scheduled during this time of the year but I’d been on the waiting list forever. I walked through the gorgeous city and enjoyed the San Francisco September Summer, cutting through Union Square. I felt home. This place is mine now. It is a part of me.

But not every day is like that.

Some days are so hard it’s like trudging through mud. San Francisco does not feel like home all the time. It feels like a place very far from my friends and family. I haven’t explored the way I want to explore. Cab to real grocery store. Cab back home. Then cook? Right. Most nights, I go to bed before my friends and family (including my three year old sister) who live in the central time zone. On my birthday this year, a homeless man spat on me. He wasn’t aiming for me but nonetheless. SONY DSC

And I know I am twenty five, but sometimes I want my mom. She came to visit me for a week and did life with me. She finally admitted, “Your life is exhausting.” I can’t just take a drive to Walmart when I am out of things. Everything is an adventure–and that word does not have a good connotation in this sentence. When she saw how I have to do laundry, I think she had a conniption. One such laundry example (there were many: from how hard it is to get quarters, to creepy basement, to the expense):

Mom: Well, we’re at Target. You need laundry detergent.

Me: But we’re walking home.

Mom: But you need laundry detergent. And it’s more expensive at that corner store.

Me: Do you want to carry that with us? (along with a poster sized frame and other assorted goods) (You win some, you lose some, Mom.)

(Oh, P.S. in an effort to be more green, San Francisco has a LAW where one must pay 10 cents per bag at any store. When I go to other cities and they ask, “Would you like a bag with that?” I get so excited because it is free! free! free! “Why yes, I would LOVE a bag with that.”)

Do not get me wrong.

I have some great friends–here, there, and everywhere. These are girls who know me, deep down to the heart of me. If we fight, there is no question if we will make up. We make up. We’ve become family. I’ve made a few friends like that here, don’t get me wrong. Friends like that don’t come cheap and they don’t come easy. Friends like that are born through the fire of hardship and difficulty. You see one another at your worst and at your best. I do have friends like that here and they are one of the reasons San Francisco still feels like a place I need to be.

Sometimes I feel as if I am scattered, made of pixels, not even really whole. Who am I? Who do I want to be? I hear (supposedly) your twenties is the time to ponder such things but sometimes it is good to have people to remind you of the answers.

Sometimes the story of the San Francisco Adventure is much better than the reality of it. But then there are those days, when everything flows together, and I am walking across Union Square and I am not a tourist; I am not here on a visit. This is where I live. This is where I work. This where I do life. And really the adventure has been incredible, not just the made for tv movie version of it.SONY DSCA grown man said to me, when I first moved here, “Sometimes I wake up and walk out my front door and I thank God that I live in San Francisco.” He was completely serious and he isn’t one to invoke God in a sentence unless the words damn and it follow. But that’s how people are here; once you live here, you cannot imagine living anywhere else because it really is that great. I loved it when I came, but at first, I didn’t get that concept of the superlative. It’s great but so is Chicago, so is Rome. But then. But then. It really is that great.SONY DSCOne day, I was walking down Filmore and I realized. I love it here. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in that moment. (Let’s just not talk about my rent, okay?)

The San Francisco Forty Niners and their fans are known for this phrase:Who’s got it better than us?” To someone who has never lived in San Francisco, it can come off as extremely pompous. Actually, it does come off that way. But people mean it genuinely. They throw their arms around you with drinks in their hand and look at the skyline. “Man,” they might say dreamily, “Who’s got it better than us?” In a weird way, it’s an actual acknowledgement that living here is a blessing.

I would be a liar if I said that I don’t think that on some days–who does have it better? This city does something to you, I am not kidding. I am not the same; yet I am not wholly different. And so, maybe it is like falling in love. Once you fall, there is no going back to the person you were before, whether it works out or not. And you can’t stop those questions either: will this be a forever love? will we just be friends, seeing each other once a year? how will this story end? So yes, I do think on a day like today: who’s got it better than us?

But there is one problem. When this picture was taken:IMG_1798I thought the exact same thing. Who’s got it better than us, Ava, right now snuggled up together in this bed? Nobody.

Adventures are complicated. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

***

But not so complicated. If I had to choose, even if it means feeling the constant push and pull, I will continue to choose to leap. Because adventures are complicated. But they are beautiful too. My San Francisco Adventure taught me that.

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Started from the bottom now I’m here | One year of blogging officially!

Hello! Saturday marked one whole year of blogging which is remarkable to me because it means that I wrote something nearly every week day for the past year and sometimes more often than that. How crazy is that? Something is being built here. Brick by brick. Post by post. And it’s starting to take shape. HOW CRAZY IS THAT?

And how far we have come together, buddies.

Just look. Here is my first post:

In Chicago, you can smell spring before it arrives–the air softens and sweetens, making you want to frolic around in the grass like a puppy, roll down the windows and sing oldies (“I bought my first real six sting/bought it at the five and dime/played it ’till my fingers bled/was the summer of ’69”). But summer, ah, summer in Chicago, with its tongue of humidity sneaks up on you, so you only realize its arrival when sweat is dripping down your back and the heat is so thick you are sure it would be easier to walk through pudding than this type of air. (Recently, I flew back with a chest cold and as soon as I stepped off the plane, it cleared as if I was in a steam room).Why, hello there, Chicago.

It was around this time I agreed to fly to San Francisco for an interview for an entry level tech sales job. If you’re confused at this point in the story, that’s okay, so am I.

It didn’t make much sense to anyone except that I waited and waited for something NEW, something INSPIRING. I thought it meant Manhattan. I thought that was where I was suppose to go. The West Coast was for hipsters and hippies, right? Instead of east, I flew west–on a hunch, on a prayer, with well wishes and lots of shock, too. Especially when I got the job and decided to build a life for myself in San Francisco.

The best advice I ever gave myself on a chalkboard.

A girl who only ever wanted to write fell in love with Sales (weird) and fell in even bigger love with the city of San Francisco. It’s like a fairy tale or some cute chick flick (Working Girl, anyone?) except the writer in me never went away. She needs the words, the syntax, the diction. She carries around a notebook and a novel everywhere she goes. She dreams up stories that keep her awake at night. Characters pull and tug at her. Sometimes her own life is more like a story than she would prefer–hence the blog. (Also, I would like to point out that life here is not like a movie. Nobody ever asks: um, so how will I pay my rent in Sex and the City.)

The second best advice I ever gave myself on a chalkboard.

Adventurers and explorers always record their exploits, both real and imaginary.

Read at your own risk.

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To the tune of: Where have all the cowboys gone?

You guys. I remember the days when I would call my friend up and I would say, “Hey, wanna go to Borders/Barnes Noble/Any other bookstore?” And we would seriously spend hours there. And if you think that sounds lame, well then. I just don’t know what to tell you except that when I am in the underground parts of the El, all I can think of is Frank Underwood and Zoe Barnes and if you don’t know who that non sequitur is referring to then I really don’t know what to tell you. IMG_6224City Lights Booksellers is an SF landmark. It’s even in an SF coloring book I own. While we are on the topic of SF and I am typing SF, I want to teach you something important. You know when people go to Europe and they refuse to learn even the most basic of the home country language because they think everyone in the world should speak English? Well, there is an SF equivalent.

Do not call San Francisco: San Fran.

Do not call San Francisco: Frisco.

Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

I am just trying to help you out because anyone from/near the area, anyone who has ever lived there, literally cringes (including me) when people say: I love San Fran. Or worse caption their photos like this: Rode a trolley. #sanfran #frisco.

This is a public service announcement. Just like NO ONE who lives in California actually calls it Cali.

But hey, the more you know, right?IMG_6234This book store is a microcosm of what SF used to be–the weirdos (in a good way), anti the man and so on and so fourth. Writers flocked here and so of course in this city landmark there are signs like this and also entire sections of books like this:IMG_6232And this too:IMG_6231This is what SF used to be like before the tech boom (which I mean, can I regret? It is what brought me to that amazing city in the first place). And now there is this tug of war happening in SF. Because of what the tech boom has brought and continues to bring and the whole Keep Portland (SF) Weird vibe San Francisco has always rocked. I mean the city did not have a target until two years ago, okay? Whole neighborhoods go up in arms over yuppie chain stores and sometimes the neighborhoods win. I root for the neighborhoods even if I like the brand because…I love SF.IMG_6239And yes, I did buy a second copy of East of Eden (my favorite book) while at this store, the day before I moved away from California for good. But really let’s get back to the title of this post because if this post has been anything, it has been completely focused. Right? Wrong. Where have all the cowboys gone…is a good song. And I don’t even know why. And I don’t know where all the cowboys have gone.

Where have all the bookstores gone? I too enjoy my kindle app on my iPhone and yes they are a little less expensive, oh that instant gratification, ya gotta love that, right? But nothing will ever replace the weight of a book in my hand, the smell on the pages. Or just going to a book store and browsing, reading the backs and inside flaps of books until I had chosen some.

Also, books don’t give you that blue screen poor sleeping habits issues. Just sayin’.

If you read this, I hope you laughed because I did writing it. Also I hope these words are banned from your mouth and keyboards: San Fran, Frisco, and Cali. Trust me.

🙂
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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes, Turn & Face the Strange.

To describe the last few months as a whirlwind is not an exaggeration. In fact, whatever word is more intense than whirlwind might be apt. Since the end of April, I: decided to move from SF back to the Chicagoland area, packed, began the interview process for a job in Chicago on Skype, moved (with much help from my mom), dealt with moving disasters (I’m still dealing with them), moved into my dad’s house in the burbs (which he and my stepmom graciously allowed), interviewed downtown for the job a few more times, my things arrived (another whole mess), got job, started commuting (with help from dad and stepmom driving me to the train), started new position, became pretty sick, and signed a lease for an apartment in downtown Chicago on this past Sunday.IMG_7723

preview of the new place

When I put it like that, I become a little sick to my stomach. I can’t take any credit for the fact that I have not gone crazy. It’s all God. I stress. I function in a state of anxiety. But God. I see a pattern of God engineering situations that leave no time for stress or anxiety both times I moved across the country. I can barely catch my breath and I’m so tired that staying up at night worrying over things or waxing nostalgic about all the change is impossible because I’m zonked. I need rest to prepare for the whirlwind of just the next day and so far God has met me. I find myself talking (silently) to him on the train quite often: just today, God. I’ve only got to think about today. Help me with today…to get through and to obey you. Keep my mind here…on the next 12 hours. And we’ll talk about the rest after that. God, just help me put one foot in front of the other for the next 12 hours, metaphorically and literally. (The literally came into play when I was coming back from being sick but still felt awful.)

This is not how I expected things to go. Of course, I wanted to move back. Of course, I wanted a job (and am so thankful for one. The same goes for an apartment.) But I never, ever expected all of these things to happen between April 30 and July 20th. I imagined more time enjoying the little sister I missed so much while in SF and long talks with my mom over the phone (we are still long distance but during change you/I need her more than ever). Instead, I didn’t have buffer time to go on great adventures with my sis; I’ve had to tell Ava I’m too tired to play. Talking to my mom has been hard if not impossible even though I need to talk to my mom, man, when my life is crazy. Catch 22.

Still, I trust God’s plan and even I can see that this is for the best, despite my imaginings and what I thought I needed; I mean, I will make the argument that my imaginings were good things, things I still need to do but I’m not in charge of the way these last three months have rolled over me like a tidal wave. I can’t even use the word overwhelmed because I am not allowing my mind to go there. At least not yet. Maybe never. I still have to move into my apartment next weekend. I can’t think about all the many changes that I’ve lived through in such a short amount of time or what I have left to do (to start my life in Chicago and also just to move the basics into the apartment) because I would go crazy. It’s a bit like when I moved to SF…if I considered all I had to do while starting a new job in a new city, I would have curled up in a ball and cried.

I don’t curl up into balls (although I have my moments).

I will admit I have shed a few tears of anxiousness and stress.

But as my four year old little sister says, “You’ve just got to keep moving forward.” (Seriously, she says this.)

Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated. I know this isn’t the end of the world, believe me. It’s all good stuff. I’ve been through much more difficult things in my life. A part of me thinks: oh boo hoo, everything is falling into place for you. But then I think of Frozen, when Anna and Elsa are little and Elsa has to build the hills of snow quicker and quicker until she can’t anymore. Even the fun things, the happy things, can turn difficult if they are squeezed together into about fifty days. So much change. So much to process. No time to do it. (Also Frozen is on my mind because a certain four year old just had a Frozen birthday celebration.)

So I say my prayers on the train and I just keep moving forward and I trust there will come a moment where I can take a deep breath and let out a long sigh and not have to think about the next urgenturgenturgenturgent thing on my list.

P.S. I promise I will tell you about my apartment soon and not just my emotional turmoil. And I hope this does not seem like I am complaining! I’m just trying to absorb all the changes.
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Goodnight, San Francisco.

In  my last days living in San Francisco, as I walked and rode through it, I could hear a voice in my head saying goodbye to a million special places (I’m not nuts, promise.) It sounded an awful lot like the book Goodnight, Moon which makes so much sense. You read it to a child before she sleeps; she is able to say goodnight to the moon and the rest of her tiny world; she says goodnight but not goodbye. That’s how my farewell to SF felt: goodnight, but not goodbye. Also that may or may not be a song.

So..to the tune of Goodnight, Moon:IMG_6254Goodnight, Union Square.SONY DSCGoodnight, painted hearts & the Christmas tree amidst palm trees in the wintertime. Goodnight, ice skating rink and random art shows.IMG_6252Goodnight, vibrating trolley lines beneath my feet.SONY DSCGoodnight, trolleys; they aren’t just novelties…they’re charm never wore off.SONY DSCGoodnight, lovely architecture–SONY DSCGoodnight, fun colored buildings.SONY DSCGoodnight, farmers market. Goodnight ferry building. Goodnight, Blue Bottle Coffee. Goodnight, law that says I must pay 10 cents for every disposable bag.SONY DSCGoodnight, Bay Bridge–my secret favorite, especially alit at night. Goodnight drizzly days perfect for sleeping or shopping for freshly baked bread.IMG_6213Goodnight, 846 Bush Street. Goodnight, rent control. Goodnight, ridiculous rent prices. Goodnight, to the scariest elevator and the mailbox that never shut. Goodnight, useless buzzer which never worked.SONY DSCGoodnight, Golden Gate Bridge. I will never forget going over you for the first time or any time after that.IMG_0944Goodnight, walks that could lead to the craziest of views. Goodnight little voice asking: is this my real life?IMG_0733Goodnight, Lombard Street. Goodnight hills. Goodnight to the thrill in my belly as the car flew down them.
SONY DSCGoodnight, outrageous, breathtaking views.SONY DSCGoodnight, skyline. Your broke my heart a million times.SONY DSCGoodnight, new & amazing photographs every time I turned around. I cannot count the ways.IMG_6202Goodnight, corner grocery store. Goodnight, the wisdom and counsel given to me here. (Nina? Are you happy?)IMG_6258Goodnight, apartment–both empty and full. Goodnight crumbling grout. Goodnight favorite ceiling. IMG_6264Goodnight, french doors to the fire escape. You made me feel much fancier than I was.IMG_6209Goodnight, home of two years. Goodnight to the place I laughed and cried and did it all over again. 
SONY DSCGoodnight, San Francisco. You are my greatest adventure, because you taught me how to wear flowers in my hair. I wouldn’t know an adventure if it hit me in the face without you. Goodnight to the place that taught me to say: to the next adventure! Goodnight, City by the Bay. 

Goodnight but not Goodbye,
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