Back from Travels: A Captain’s Photo Log


Let me come home!

As two weeks have passed I find myself back in the comforts of home, but nonetheless pining for one of the best weekends I could possibly imagine. A little getaway to Portland, Oregon was an overdue promise finally kept to my friends and aunt and uncle living out there– and in return my memories are the promise of good writing to come from this wandering to the Northwest. Stay tuned as I write about beavers, old villages, spiked pudding, waterfalls, strangers, and train travel from this busy time in Portland. But I’ll leave scattered here some fun and sentimental photos from one of the best writing inspirations:

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Second Coming

September 7 – September 13

Short. And brief. Writing this now, it’s rather different as my memory’s as clouded as the fog itself setting into the city. Maybe because the past week was pretty stagnant, more of the same.

But all the same too, autumn comes for the Bay. Quite sooner than expected, forgetting that an uncomfortable Indian Summer should take place beforehand from September to October. That’s something new, if not delightful on its own. And with it shall mark a Second Coming, a wave of feeling alone as the seasons turn the page to a set of actual celebrated holidays, and layers built in both the clothes worn and emotions shown to block each other out from how isolated we feel nearing winter. I like these quiet hours for now, but soon enough a sudden realization beneath this heavy marine layer will show that I am still a constant, small, uncertain, and alone young girl in this place.

So autumn marks change– it’s up to me to determine what change that will be, and I’ve decided on for the better. Take up cycling classes, even if it means I get up at 5 in the morning– it’ll be better. Get on a new bus line to meet up with your sister at that unfamiliar sushi bar on Geary Boulevard– for the better. And see a new neighborhood in a new city that happens to be Sacramento, rich in old trees and the air stinging of familiar heat and smoked by the treacherous fires pouring from Lake County– and it will still be better than another Saturday night cruising Polk Gulch. I’m even learning to pace myself, saying “no” to less wine– that is, when I can’t afford it.

NOTE TO SELF: Immediate to always fit wine into the budget.

See? Positives. All change in favor of a more fulfilling, self-rewarding Paris.

As the heat thins out and the chills of foggy days grow thick, so shall this outer shell of little P, hardened as to never let any doubts or vulnerabilities reimpose themselves on me during this natural transition.

Just a Girl

August 31 – September 6

Let’s actually begin on the Saturday afternoon from the previous week. if I’m going to move forward with this particular piece of the latest week, allow myself to step back into the preceding one. Because what happened then influences what follows in these past seven days.


You ever talk to strangers? I do. Not willingly but the chance of doing so may occur if you pick an open table next to a kind, unfamiliar face reading the SF Chronicle, and proceed to scribble down thoughts and words into a huge notebook. Twice in less than two hours my works was approached by curious older, European men. It’s the easiest place to meet non-alarming strangers to converse with, only coffee on everyone’s mind and no other expectations than that. Being a coffee addict myself, we know all too well how good of a mood we get once we taste that perfect blend, and breathe in that smoky, deep scent of the raost. I go to coffeehouses to feel at peace, and I’m certain even if not the definitive reason for the rest of the patrons, each one of them will feel that way some time in this duration. Perhaps so at ease you’re in in the mood to strike up conversation– or won’t mind it when someone tries it with you.

From my talk from both gentleman– a German named Peter and a French-born Jean-Pierre– I learned of things like ancient Grecian ruins within the waterways of underground Istanbul, and the films of Geling Yan and the colorful life of Paul Bowles. Just a lot of art as influenced by a person’s simple existence. Real experiences. And talk of these experiences earned me a most beloved gift I’ve ever gotten from a stranger– beyond just great conversations. Only less than five minutes of my first acquaintance’s departure from the cafe did he return, with no words and a single present wrapped in red paper with polka dots. He gently laid it on my table. Opening it on the spot after he was gone I discovered that it was the one book that eluded me for quite some time: Patti Smith’s Just Kids. He had asked earlier if I’d read it and I regretfully told him I waited for the day I could get it at a really good bargain price, having missed my chance two years ago when I came across it on sale for $4 at the Half-Price in Concord.

Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. Google Images.

Now it is mine for nothing. Actually, I make it a point to gain this gift not for nothing. The first payment to this generous, unspoken debt being to finish the book– and that will be easy. Patti Smith’s rich prose and attention to details that might seem vivid for having occurred 40 years ago grab me  into the story of budding artists relying on faith and love in a strange city during an era of starry promises. For knowing little about Patti Smith or her music, this is a very enticing memoir I read as a simple story with a new character and truly not knowing what will next happen to her. I forget for so rich a tory, that all of it is, as a nice surprise, real.

The second payment is to keep on going. Go where? Well, this whole encounter has also been a chance to really see that all I do now is nothing– nothing now that’s slowly building its way to somewhere better. Patti Smith agrees. There’s always going to be an audience needing your particular work. Every night I sit crookedly in my bed chiseling away chapters of this book, or walk around these hot September afternoons catching hints of fall in the smell of the air. I’m trying to live on the edge or make the most of every second I’m given in this city, but really, at this age and time in your life– you really can’t have it all. Not now, at least. Because you’re still just muddling through all sorts of emotions– especially those emotions of the self-diagnosed FOMO, Fear of Missing Out– and you just have them, without any real sense of direction. The thing that they keep telling you is that it’s OK. Keep having them, and don’t do anything if you can’t.

I read a lot this week. I read about a particular time and place where one of the most influential and kick ass women in rock and roll wasn’t that kick ass. She was a lost twenty-year old who found another twenty year old just as lost, and just as driven to find their direction in a city like New York. Timing was perfect. I hope to find mine too, I know I will. I have encouragement from the right people, even if only just a small brush in the café on Fillmore and Sacramento Street. You can’t expect much from me now, but you will soon enough. For now, as I’m reading, I’m not anything in particular. Still just a girl, but at least she’s got a pen to start her in the right direction.

French Music Nights

August 24- August 30

If I want excitement on a beginning of a week night, I’ll turn a Criminal Minds episode on, like clockwork every Monday and Tuesday on channel 16. Sometimes there’s a hot shower and fresh blackberries or ice cream and if I paced myself from the weekend, a full stocked bottle of cab sauv to accompany it. But this week, I’ve found excitement by just popping on some Francoise Hardy tunes and sinking into my couch with a new pair of beautiful strappy stilettos on.


I’ll be going to Paris in three months and just knowing this is true, I feel suddenly sick of San Francisco. Ready to move on. Well, I can’t be so hateful, and not to this city! But I resent the fact that SF is all I’ve ever really known in regards to a glamorous, worldly lifestyle– if you’d count the squalor of a shared ground floor studio Victorian and a humanities degree with that bottle of wine in the fridge as worldly. I’ve also resented the idea of travel. It was a crazy, privileged thing only money could get you to do. And in those past four years as a broke English major, any whim to travel was accomplished by after-hours scrolling through my now defunct Tumblr.

But my, how things have changed. I’ve got money, yes, but I’ve also acquired a better understanding of self that would have fallen weak at the knees if I did find myself abroad. To travel is not without embarking on an adventure being anything but a frail, timid creature. To dive into great lengths, you have to be a fearless, determined fool– foolish enough to face this abyss of culture shock and think you’re invincible. If you’re none of these things when you step off a plane, good luck keeping the wind beneath your wings if you won’t even be able to keep yourself together. Before the real thing, there must be the simulation course. And that’s what San Francisco’s been.

Being in San Francisco for the time being is also yet another way to test your romanticism. My generation is, in my opinion, not only overtly sexualized but it comes so naturally and frequently that the context behind this intimacy that makes it worth while is lost. Sure, I’m old fashioned, and I’ve had my experiences to know that casual isn’t my cup of tea. You don’t feel indulging and estatic as you do if you found love on some level– yes you feel daring and perhaps naughty in a good way but in all truth the casual scene is just one big breath you’re holding, and to hold back on the side effects of real dating: disappointment and heartache. A natural occurrence. Try as you may resist this, but even in the end, there is a slight chance of falling for her or him and the absolute chance of being hung up on them.

This is the way that San Fran’s go-getting millennials live now. Twenty-year-olds with 65% in tech and putting all their eggs in separate baskets and forgetting purposely on where they place them. San Francisco is supposed to be a city of love and romantic settings. It’s been referred to the Paris of the West. So when did this Paris suddenly turn into Neverland?

As I live here among Peter Pans, I endure by finding ways to keep this city sentimental and meaningful. Starting with French music. Just perfect to fill in for nights wandering through FiDi and SoMa skyscrapers back to your apartment, or when your sister steals your headphones. Let Tann Tiersen accordions get carried away in your head to make up, no, perfectly accentuate the street sounds around you. And the streets before the sun rises? Had I not start going to Soul Cycle 7 AM classes I would have never known such a beautiful sight. Old French tunes and scenery, you get drunk off of it like you might with wine and a good brie. But in this case of a city early morning and the street lights and tall trees lining California Street while looking down the hill into the dark downtown skyline so distant and illuminated by the still present moon– that will all do you in more than a wedge of cheese ever will.

For now, we’ve come to a Sunday evening. And voila the wine, with the bittersweet promise to find ways to keep falling in love with this city, even if without the boys.