Fairytale of San Francisco

December 9 – December 17

‘Twas the season of wants: wanting presents, wanting reasons to wear (faux) fur coats, wanting more Irish Coffee– wanting that absolute feeling of the holiday season.

Especially during Christmas time I tend to favor Irish pubs. I think it’s the dimness, the wood fixtures and the booths that add to the closed in feeling that feels intimate to me. Add twinkle lights and a hot Irish Coffee and the magic is done. A cozy Christmas that makes you laugh and want to chug Guinness, or dance to “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues. I first heard the song in New York, our last night in Manhattan with my oldest friend dancing with strangers in Joshua Tree just a few blocks away from the Chrysler Building. Other songs in the dive playlist of that night varied from Maria Carey’s Christmas anthem to LFO’s “Summer Girls” and “Come On Eileen.” I still listen to those songs when I want to think about nights in New York, but the Pogues’ tune I reserve for December alone.

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A night like tonight has me missing Manhattan the most. There are poinsettia garlands and a cedar tree candle that burns against the half-blown twinkle lights draped over my bed, curtains drawn and the passing of cars humming in the air like any big city– this might as well be Midtown, but it’s not. Let’s try to imagine though, shall we? That this studio isn’t on the corner of the outskirts of Lower Pac Heights; I’m the second floor snug apartment of a brownstone somewhere in the Upper West Side, and it’s snowing out and perhaps I live above a bodega that’s got fat trees tethered and lining the sidewalk against a chicken-wire fence where a Rockette passing through is picking herself one to take back home when she’s done dancing out at Radio City Music Hall. Just a thought, a silly daydream to really just make me feel the Christmas spirit when San Francisco is a little lacking. It’s sunny out by the Bay, only 8 days left to really soak in the festivities around but there’s a great deal of stress at work that doesn’t have me thinking of sugar plums or even my shopping list for friends and family. And I’m alone in this city, tonight at least. I debated calling up some friends from work to join in cheap wine and marzipan while we watch A Cinderella Christmas on cable TV, but it’s too late now.

I get a call. A missed call, followed by a voicemail. It goes, for a whole minute:

Hi, Paris, I was wondering if you could call me back because– I don’t know– it’s your boyfriend– and if you could call me back that would be wonderful! And, I don’t even know what I would do without you calling me back– because it makes me so upset– and I’m upset with you right now not calling me back while talking about you not calling me while I’m upset and I just get so sad while I’m so upset– OK babe, I’ll call you soon! And I’m not upset… I just wanna talk to you! And– ow– I kinda fucked up my knee tonight– but I won at Fantasy Football, so… that happened– I don’t know, I love you! I will talk to you soon, call me ’cause I’m leaving to go to the Rockefeller Tree right now– by myself– and…yeeeahhhh…OK, I’ll talk to you soon, goodbye babe!

I call him back before I even saw I had a voicemail, but I wait now on his promise to call me back once he’s reached Rockefeller Center so that we can Facetime and he can send me Snaps. A soft voice, filled with rye and shots and sincere lament about me not being there when he sees the tree all lit up. And as I wait for his face to light up my phone screen I put on the kettle for some Earl Grey, sit in front of the space heater, and listen to the Pogues again, singing about a night like this I imagine, somewhere out in the streets singing Galway Bay and throwing punches at the sky.

Almost an hour goes by and nothing. I call his phone twice and when it goes to his voicemail I don’t want to think the worst of anything but somehow I still do. Although, I’m not quite sure who’d want to pick on the lanky young white guy in a hoodie and Packers jersey– they did just lose earlier that day after all to the Panthers, and no one would want to fuck with a fan, not during Christmas. Too cruel, no?

But alas, a call back! Turns out, it was just a dead phone. 3 percent it was at when he hung up on me only two hours earlier. And the tree at Rockefeller Center wasn’t even lit up.

“I was confused,” he tells me. “There was only a hot dog vendor and he said they only keep it lit up in the early evening. I feel like an idiot.” I tell him he’s not; he kind of is, but for all the antics any wasted person could partake in, walking alone to Rockefeller Center with the promise to call one’s girlfriend is beyond one of the less stupid things. Instead, in our beds halfway across the country from each other, we sink into conversations about the night and what he’s been doing in New York, catching up with his college buds from St. John’s, the possibility of being stranded there if the power isn’t back up at the Atlanta airport where he’s supposed to fly into Tuesday for his family, and how we wish we could both be there where he is now.

So far, and yet, this is the closet I’ve felt with him this Christmas. Not when we drank from 11AM to midnight in ugly sweaters during SantaCon or danced like bosses in our suit and floor-length red gown on the balcony overlooking the Verso dance floor during my work holiday party with an Old Fashioned and Dirty Shirley in hands. He took off early that night– that was a punch to the gut of an already short night that was meant to be a magical moment for us to really be together. But the farther away we are now, we’re enjoying our company best.

I go to sleep now, with that song still fresh in my head, lights out, and turning my face away to keep on dreaming about a night in New York– at least a memorable night that felt so real, thanks to a fairytale sung tonight.

 

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December Comes for Fillmore Street

December 1- December 3

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December is the one month that makes itself known. All other seasons and months creep into each other, seemingly like the last week before it and then you’ll start seeing flowers bloom early, leaves turning brown and falling one leaf at a time, and maybe the temperature drops or rises a few degrees beneath fog that never goes away. December is an entity on its own, the diva that makes her hurrah and appearance at the 11th hour of the year. I read on Facebook from a pretty-font picture shared that “December you’re last, so be the best” or something to that sentiment. And doesn’t that ring true, and pretty literally, as bells high and low around this town and the world ring with merry and cheer and to signal that Christmas and Hannukah and the lights of the city and coming home for the Holidays amidst the dark days and cold is here. You just know.

Every year I know when it’s December, you just see it. And I saw it for the first time in the way it should matter, frankly. My neighborhood, the very streets within proximity to the very air I breathe in the mornings and before I go to bed at night. The neighborhood you live within is how you make your bones in this city, the place that gets you up in the morning and motivates you to taste everything San Francisco throws at you. The steep hills lined in paint-chipping Victorians leading from Van Ness and through Japantown up to Fillmore Street. I live here, and it’s only right that I feel the most alive when walking around these streets whose unique stories I help create and feel obligated to tell. It’s a good thing San Francisco is a tiny space of 7×7; it’s big enough where I easily neglect to hang around my own neighborhood in search of other exciting ventures beyond its borders like the Mission or Hayes Valley. But tonight, here I remain, and here I see the month makeover the neighborhood at the arrival of the diva I proclaimed December.

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Fillmore Street is the hub of Jazz on the West Coast, or it was where it fermented into the phenomenon that brought life and  bohemia and inclusion beyond the Mississippi. In one of these shacks Allen Ginsburg first exposed the words of his infamous Howl to the literary likes of Beatniks before they knew what the hell they were (and reveled in the namelessness), and it wasn’t called the Harlem of the West without the endless nightclubs lining the street that I now call home, and jazzed up in a different way from that of the 40’s. The music being sung tonight is a typical hum of classics being crooed from beyond the doors of the storefronts lit up in warm white, a glow familiarly cast throughout the year, but spectacular when heightened by the strung lights between the bushy trees that pave the sidewalks. Saturdays the rivaling cafes Peet’s and Starbucks cater to the crowds out and shopping and wandering up and down in and out of these stores, but as we pass Starbucks we see in its quiet facade it is not the victor of this evening. The cup of hot peppermint cocoa cupped in my hands is bubbling and perfect and from Peet’s anyhow, with its pristine corner spot and spacious seating that always spares a few open chairs no matter the crowd size. Too bad theirs doesn’t smother my cocoa in whipped cream on top.

I’m walking besides my boyfriend as we meander up Fillmore towards Pacific Street, a dark peak overlooking the shadow of the bay amidst the buildings frosted in cold and more twinkle lights. We stop at an Antiques store with its door closed to the red walls where shelves house spoons and painted jewelry boxes and fine china that make me nervous sitting close to the edge of the shelves. Outside is a bargain table, all entertaining just the same, especially with a silk top hat, a bit shabby, sitting atop some of the goods and ready for my boyfriend to try on. He smiles at me, and politely declines my offer.

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Turning around at the new Blue Bottle that’s taken over the old vacancies of Tully’s Coffee and the relocated magazine shop Juicy News, we occasionally stop and inspect the new restaurants that cross our path, examine the menus, and mutually agree that we don’t come out to eat here often. It’s mostly me going to his in the Outer Sunset. A corner restaurant is long and dim inside and there’s nothing on the gray walls, but it’s crowded, the new restaurant that I later find is The Snug– it sadly looks anything but.

The Room’s monthly midnight showing is tonight at The Clay theater, 12AM on the dot. It’s a special month though, one that sees The Room more in the spotlight as usual thanks to James Franco’s tell all new film The Disaster Artist. We tried seeing that earlier today, but $15 is still too much for a ticket in the wake of all the Christmas shopping and deposit-saving that looms in the back of our minds. If we had money, we wouldn’t be wandering here, anyhow.

Lastly, disgusted by the $50 mini trees at Mollie Stone’s, we circle back to the narrow shop of the Paper Source, dear to my heart and a monument to my past. Only three years ago I spent a bustling holiday inside, name-tagged and running around helping new faces to the tiny paper craft and stationery store where I ran workshops on gift-wrapping and card-making and quoting invitations for hopeful brides and realized that I was meant for behind the scenes, creating and not catering to. But the store looks nice as it ever did, the new seasonal kits on display to show how easy they are to make, the quirky wreath-shaped tinsel sunglasses or the calendar art pasted against the walls where the punny cards collect dust. A Fillmore Street exclusive delicacy to the store is the Peppermint Crunch Junior Mints– I wonder if they still damage the boxes to mark them out for the employees to snack on behind the counters.

Talk about magic. It’s a beautiful night in the neighborhood this first week of December and it’s not as glamorous of a stroll as Christmastime in the city is sung about. We didn’t hear silver bells, the sidewalks aren’t crowded, and there is a slight chance you can step on dog poop in this dark. All the more charming and unique to the way I start this year’s festivities, and unique, as I sit down on the steps of an apartment building I don’t even live at, to the scene before my eyes where a new home comes to life in a way that only you can see, and know, that a most wonderful time is upon you.

 

Caen’s Truth: Summer Vignettes

June 2017

The fog might thin and the heat may swelter, but then this city becomes a gem that’s fallen out of a dream and into the hands of women in rompers and boys who wander parks wth coconuts filled with rum and falling shades. I sat there by the Phoenix poolside and on the slopes of Dolores waiting any minute to die and truly find that Heaven was nice, but it wasn’t San Francisco.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts I Have About Having A Dog in my Life

September 25 – October 3rd

How much more do I need to wash my hands? The answer, I learn, doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve probably hand-fed Bentley his good boy treats countless times after popping some candy corn in my mouth or removing a stray lash from my eye.

Puppy smell–and especially the breath– is real. The first night someone asked to smell him was a Friday night at the Skippolini’s in downtown Clayton when we were staying over to visit my parents. The woman took in a big whiff, right up on his soft, dirty fur– the face of my mom was priceless.

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Being in India for a week I was prepared for the jet lag, the odd hours at feeling fatigue or waking up. 4 am is like clockwork now– and it’s not because of that. I was prepared for the jet lag but I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be to potty train a puppy in a small San Francisco apartment.

That brings me to budget. When the bills are taken into account, there’s usually a rough amount left for whatever the hell fancies me. Let’s take about a 25% chunk out of that. Let’s just call it a day most days and stay in to watch the dog– and save money.

He’s not much of a walker.

We took him walking before he finished his Porvo shots.

We took him walking after the shots. He still hates walking.

One of my fondest memories of these first walks was over to Lafayette Square, on a Friday afternoon. I think I was hungover, coming from the HAIM concert the night before in Oakland and I was in bed the whole day while thankfully he slept. He slept until 11 and finding things for him to chew other than his actual toys was the name of the game. Then my boyfriend came by to keep us company. Our first walk together was the three of us two blocks away to Lafayette Square beneath small billowy trees still green before the fall hit and fresh-cut grass with those scattered little blossoms he tried chewing on. We sat on a bench as other owners walked by and forgot for a second about their dogs as they looked at us. “Aww!” “So cute!” “Welcome to the world, little guy!” They told us we had such an adorable dog. My boyfriend and I looked over at each other. Someday, we’re thinking to ourselves. Someday we’ll have our own Bentley.

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He’s into big dogs. Namely big girl dogs.

He’s small right now to pick him up if he gets unruly. Same with baths in the kitchen sink. So much water. It won’t be this way for long.

I think about this a lot, especially during the puppy training class we attend at Puppy Prep down on 6th Street Sundays at noon. There’s a special part of the session where the dogs are let off their leashes and they must socialize, not long before owners have to dive in to pick up their dogs as they say “GOTCHA!” in their little ears. How the hell are we going to pull that off when Bentley– whose father was 140lbs–is full grown?

The alleyway called Clementina where we park my sister’s car smells heavily of piss.

You look at the other owners of dogs– not just in the puppy class, but all around the city– and you got Doodles and Frenchies and Corgis and perhaps other little toy dogs that stops Marina blondes in their tracks en route to hot yoga. Not my sister. She gets stares, stares for being a blonde-streaked bombshell in heels and always wearing pink paired with this whopper of a dog, considerably one of the smartest and yet most difficult and intimidating breeds out there. A Rottweiler. Did we make the right choice? Will he get too aggressive? He is now, biting us in class or growling as we try to get him off the ground to keep up his walk down the street. Maybe I should have gotten a smaller dog, my sister says to me, like other girls. She isn’t like other girls though. She loves the big dogs, especially the one she read about as a little girl who, despite his big and scary appearance, made for the perfect family pet and babysitter. We’re talking about Good Boy Carl– the dog that was only meant to be for my sister.

Having a dog means having a new car. My sister’s jeep is mid-sized and perfect for day excursions and getting around this small city with a dog. It’s forced us to get good at scoping for overnight parking and becoming familiar with street cleaning days. And my sister has improved on her ability to parallel park.

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I may be tired, but I’m starting to live for those early 6 AM wake-ups when we all pile into the car and get coffee over the hill and into the foggy streets of Chestnut or Union. Then it’s off to take our boy to Fog City Dogs– from 7 to 5PM. We’re always sad to leave him there for the day but he’s always so excited to be there, especially when he can smell his friends beyond the gate. We can even watch him on the company site’s webcams where he’s tiring himself out with Piper, a Golden Retriever puppy, and Little Mike Tyson– a tiny pitbull pup.

The attention is so crazy. The best way to make it big in the Bay Area is to work in tech or to own a dog.

This won’t be the same for long. When Bentley is bigger, people will be too scared to come by and say hey.

When he does sleep, it’s against walls or in the corners of a room or underneath tables. In his crate he once fell asleep with his head cocked back like some Exorcist fuckery. Weirdo.

Another day comes when I have to dogsit him and my nerves start failing me. He eats anything off the ground. It’s not his fault, it’s the city’s for being so dirty, I realize. But all the same I worry about the people who pass by and stare and admire him but also worry about how badly they must be judging me right now. The last thing I want to get consumed in is the fact that I don’t look like a good dog owner– and sometimes, when you have to be firm with him or tug a little bit harder at his leash, it might seem this way. I wonder now if all dog owners had to deal with this, still deal with this. A small panic attack starts, and you decide to pick him up to avoid further yelling at him but not without a fight. He snarls at you and lashes near your face, biting up your hair instead. I take another look around. No one, right now.

I know this is not the life my sister envisioned. She would have it still with the man of her dreams. If that were the case, there would be no Bentley. Bentley is here now, a reminder of moving forward with new adventures and responsibilities and a promise to herself that this is better than the nightmare before. It’s difficult now, with the training and the teething and wasting endless paper towels and money on pig ears but with the whole world so happy she’s found something that makes her smile so much, the struggle now is only temporary, and we’re all here to see this exciting new adventure through with her.

We had McDonald’s tonight for dinner. He looks up at up and tiptoes over by my sister perfectly sitting down  while looking up at us, never breaking eye-contact with our McNuggets. We’v discovered he’s finally learn the ways of the dog– food is everything, it is magic to help us through these first few months.

The diarrhea is out of control.

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North Beach Gallerina: Summer Vignettes

July 3- July 9 2017

She’s flowing between the hot lights that cast eerie glows on the black canvases pierced to the walls where faces melt, familiar faces with second eyes and splattered screaming mouths. She’s thrilled to know them and walk and waltz there among the artist and his now laughing muses with their second wines. It all ends when a promising night stabs her in the back and on aching feet only her one spectator in the crowd steps in to lift her from the stage and home in the dark of the Sunset.

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See the works of Emilio Villalba here.

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Tea, and by the Sea

June 19 – June 25

Old friends and new fancies, what more could you ask for a weekend staying in the City?

The breeze isn’t too bad when the sun is out, and the J-car that cuts through the steep side of Dolores Park and on tracks behind mossy Victorian houses is perhaps the prettiest rail line of Muni. I made these plans on a whim earlier in the week more so because of an irrational longing for tea. It’s been a frustrating complex, coming back from London obsessed with the lighter, aromatic luxury that tea feels like, versus the creamy, stiff but heartwarming sweetness of coffee– American style. I am a woman in peril, unsure of which beverage to which I pledge my allegiance. No matter the reason for tea, reason is treason– perhaps this was the British’s secret weapon all along to win back Americans: not Bond, not Harry Potter, not actors from Game of Thrones– but the simple opulence of tea time, and the various flavors that entice you to your liking.

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Lovejoy’s Tea Room, Noe Valley.

Tea is best enjoyed alone, I think. When you finally have a book or book of stories to read and a delicate mug or teacup to really take in the taste, to repose against a lumpy couch or at the kitchen table, it doesn’t matter. But there are exceptions, when there is no book to be had but a favorite familiar face, a face of a friend from the old stationery store you two worked together at and saw the worst of people losing their shit over paper goods. She gets there at the tea room, Lovejoy’s, in Noe Valley just off of the J line, and she’s with her roommate you’re meeting for the first time and that she’s been living with in Martinez for a year. Martinez! When we last met up she was living in Potrero Hill, and I feel instantly bad about making them both drive all the way from the far East Bay to here. But queue the piping hot pots of black vanilla-lavender tea and trays serving fresh fruit and perfectly-sliced sandwiches and all is forgiven. We talk about Europe, how I adored London and missed Belgium and was taken aback by the dirtiness, sadness of Paris. Everything feels sincere too, my friend is a dear. She’s the sweetest person I’ve ever worked with and she’s always in good company. This time, her roommate and I discover we’re both INFPs and I’m doing my best to help her prep for her first visit to Paris, even if my view of the City of Light was rather dim.

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The magical array of teacups for sale at Lovejoy’s Attic, across the street from the tea room.

Summer tea is a real thing. The warmth, the calming feeling and always best enjoyed in the evening when the days are longer. Best enjoyed with friends. Best enjoyed no matter where you are during the summer months. Ralph Waldo Emerson figured it out–

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”

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Ocean Beach, San Francisco.

The following day when the sea called and the sun was out, the only thing left to do was drink in the air. Best served up salty, cool, and spraying against your feet in the dark sand. Summer tea has no real formula, but just for this weekend, that’s the kind of taste that leaves you wanting more– and to share it with favorite faces, always.

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Snapshots from a Weekend in New York

November 29 – December 4

I started out for New York less than a week ago. I wanted to go big for my 25th birthday and not alone, so my oldest friend would meet me at the airport just a month after I’d celebrated my birthday, and less than a week before she would celebrate hers. So smack in between us late bloomers, was a journey to a city. After a bumpy, clouded red-eye from SFO into JFK, there at Gate 19, we were united and headed out to town in gold-gilded paper crowns and no plans of sitting still.

No wonder New York is a literary treasure, where writers are born, or at least flock to in giving birth to something from their imaginations that only this city can bring about with its endless characters, sights, sounds, and, especially to each their own, memories. It’s old, it’s rich, it’s a universal consensus that all and any happens in this town. It’s also why I feel that for visiting New York, there wasn’t anything new to tell of it. The great writers before me, who I hope to be, all tore down and ripped the streets of New York to shreds with their stories of the lost who were found by readers around the world. It’s the definitive zeitgeist of storytelling, or launching a story for the masses, so for the masses this city belongs to and always in the public eye– always something seen by everyone.

So let me just brief you on the little moments, the quiet ones not captured by my camera and only remembered in that moment of the sleepless nights had in four days. It’s not much, but that’s the point.

And in the little that I reveal about New York City, it’s a reminder of my grand, personal duty to my own city, San Francisco. It is up to me to be a part of the narrative of this little sister to the literary legacy before it, and she’s got a lot of catching up to do– and not without my help, to write down the stories I keep living here.

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SIGHTS

Rose Pink geraniums, the green tiles of the Bryant Park Bathroom.

Glittering decorations at Rolf’s.

Subway sign mosaics.

Bounded Christmas trees, fresh from Vermont, leaning against wooden frames for sale as their chicken wire reflected the twinkle lights strung from the vendor’s cash register.

Heart-shaped leather seats at Café Lalo.

Silver glitter atop sprinkles and whipped cream and the cherry atop Frozen Hot Chocolate. Accompanied by a single pink striped birthday candle.

Igloos. NY gets obsessed with these things around this time of year.

Yellow leaves of the Villages, East and West.

Boarded-up brownstones in the Barrio.

Rats.

Porcelain dolls with their eyes cut out for steam punk jewelry on the Broadway Market expo.

The Roosevelt Island tram whizzing threw the air past the heavy flood of headlights to and from the Queensboro bridge.

The dried trees of Gramercy Park.

Nameless antique shops on 10th Street.

Dave the bodega cat.

The dancing pie waiter at Lalo.

Cracked knuckles against the bitter cold of New York.

Black-stained steel of the staircase of our apartment.

Brick walls.

Sea green dinnerwear that served our ham and cheese omelet and pineapple-banana-orange juice in mini Coca Cola tumblers.

The Empire State shrouded in mist.

The worn lions that guard the Public Library.

The soft handwriting of Alexander Hamilton to his brother.

Captain America kissing Wonder Woman in the center of a black and white Times Square, circa 1945.

Seeing Johnny Weir’s skating outfit through the screen of a man’s phone ahead of us in the growing crowd.

SOUNDS

“You guys have fun, *whispers softly* take some very cute pictures” – 230 Fifth

“You ever see a cocktail?… I haven’t.”

“Thanks! H&M, Winter 2013 collection.” – The Auction House

“NO FUCKING WAY, Rachel.” – Houston Street, Lower East Side

“The closest we’ll get to Hamilton!” – New York Public Library

“Instagram!!” – Dumbo

“Okay folks let’s move in– make plenty of spaces for beautiful faces!” – Elevator going up to the Top of the Rock

“Kill!… Okay maybe tomorrow.” – 59th Street Subway

“Oh is it gonna be televised?” – Bryant Park

“What the DICKENS!… And I do mean Dickens.” -East Harlem, AirBnB

“I do birthdays, weddings, Batmitzfahs…” -Rolf’s

“Gonna Shrek it up and layer.” – AirBnB

“If you guys are willing to pay the bar minimum tonight, $200 for the two of you.” – Lavo

“Fuck these shoes, let’s dance!” -Joshua Tree

“Everyone, we have two birthdays in the house!” – Serendipity

“This couple is really getting romantic and I’m just mackin’ on chicken nuggets.” – 230 Fifth

Silver bells. Well, red ones.

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A Week by the Bay does A Week in New York!

Starting tomorrow I shall be heading out East to see the sights only one can describe as magnificent and definitive of the coming season: Christmas in New York.

I definitely will be writing and journaling the adventures to be had. From one exciting challenge in #NaNoWriMo in November sees a new and uncertain one for December, in a city I’ve grown fond of in only the brief memory of it from two summers ago. Photos will be posted on my Instagram with #AWeekbyNYC, and alongside one of my oldest friends, Alyssa.

Bon Voyage!

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New Romances, Part II

August 8 – August 14

So I was dating again. Or at least looking for dates.

After getting over the complexes that plague my ideals of love and my ideal love interest, I was ready to dive into the never-before charted realm of online dating. Eager to just see what came up. I was good enough and interesting enough of a catch, and the app I decided roaming on, Coffee Meets Bagel, guaranteed its users at least one match a day. So after the first day, I wasn’t discouraged by these doubts or insecurities. I had to mentally shine and polish myself if I was going to end up with anyone, if I thought I was worth it to anyone. Because with the wrong attitude, you could end up with the wrong person. Wrong was not was anyone was looking for. So bring on another two weeks, fourteen days, of these guaranteed matches.

I averaged 6 matches per day.

I’ll give CMB that much credit– if you are specific, they will listen. My matches from the second day onward were by far an improvement compared to how discouraging the first day was. And still, in that Discover tab, was the never failing hoards of interested profiles that sadly I could not reciprocate. So this was the scene, THIS was what Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg were talking about when it came to Modern Romance. First hand, here it was: I was getting a plethora of choices. And did that feel good!

LEARN YOUR LESSON, WOMAN

I won’t go into the specifics of all that I matched with, just a few highlights. And in the beginning it was, surprisingly, more of the same. The first guy I ever talked with had a great smile, more on the scrawny side, and proudly displayed a photo of himself uncontrollably smiling as he sat next to a famous talk show host on the set of her phenomenal daytime TV show. That was eye-catching, but not as much as where this lad was from– not the Bay Area.

With the paradox of choice that Ansari and sociologist Eric Klinenberg explore, I do see a benefit to this search for The One while trying to obtain as many “choices” to choose from for being the One, and yet being ultimately unsatisfied at settling from having so many choices. For me at least, the notion of dating outside of your geographical range is the most exciting. I’m no stranger to this, having two exes living in different time zones above 3 hours from mine, one met via social media. But as proven from my experiences, it’s not a likely way to find love; still, it’s a visibly unique way to globalize, on an intimate level that really connects the world. Silly as it sounds, but I’m grateful for at least that aspect of modern dating– dating outside your norm, when your norm is just whatever’s within a 30 mile radius. So a man from Australia would just be another fun prospect.

Naturally, when all else fails, the weather is here to save the chat. It was a rather nice week that day, much to his chagrin– he was just coming from Dolores Park, and a pretty bad sunburn was imminent. I suggested some Aloe Vera, made some corny joke, and then nothing from him for two days. Then he came back– still picking up the convo. where we left off. How I wish we could have left his sunburn behind on Day One. If you can’t even find a way to get out of a mundane conversation to something more interesting and natural, then I guess it’s just not a fit. When our day of reckoning came up, I told the app I would pass. All the charms of globalization failed to redeem themselves. With this Australian, I too would pass on any future matches that would mean long-distance, ever again.

He never even told me why the fuck he was on TV.

FISHERMAN (LITERALLY) AMONG FISH

This match was too good not to discuss. And yet too terrible to ever think about how I THOUGHT about giving him a chance.

A subtle closed-mouth smile that echoed Mona Lisa mystique and a decent haircut, dark brown blazer over what I vaguely remember as a striped sweater. Worked at Google, played guitar. What he was looking for in a girl wasn’t that impressive with his one-word answers:

My ideal date is someone who: INTERESTING.

I gave him a shot because yes, he was cute. But he looked familiar. That name looked like I had read it before somewhere. And it was not just any common name for a guy, at least nowadays. Mr. T we’ll call him, moving forward. It was only an after hour I first accepted him did it all become clear.

He had applied to my work. For an opening on my team.

Just a month before Mr. T was the talk of my work team’s Gchat group. How could he not….he was the first guy ever to make it to an onsite interview for my team, an all girl task force endearingly dubbed the Content Convent. Could Mr. T break through the barrier? He seemed promising– definitely something else. I would not say overqualified, but if you were an English major from Portland and had previous experience as a park ranger and saved a man from drowning in a commercial crab fishing accident, you undeniably have something going on for you. Really, this was all on his resume.

But where he lacked in personality– and perhaps a soul– he made up in these adventures. His onsite was terrible, and no more was heard of with Mr. T again.

Until…

MR. T: It’s fate!

I applied to your job a while back. I saw your photo on the blog and thought “She’s hot.”

I should have known/regretted this whole decision immediately at just those first words. But maybe he was just awkward. If we found each other on fucking CMB, it didn’t hurt to entertain the situation. I responded something a bit indifferent yet comical–it only got worse. And I was forgetting whether or not I had signed up with CMB or Tinder. Because it was all feeling like the latter.

Just because I have since deleted the app, I won’t recite most of these conversations verbatim– but they were cringe-worthy enough just to remember without referencing the original messages.

Mr. T:

  • If we were working together, we would have gotten each other fired.
  • I was an English Major too! Are you trying to become a teacher? (only later did I realize he was being sarcastic)
  • What are you doing tonight?
  • There’s a party going on, think we should meet up. It’s in my pants (WHO USES THIS LINE ANYMORE)
  • You busy tonight (the next day)

Good riddance, Mr. T.

NONDRINKERS AND NO-RESPONDERS

He had dark brown curly hair, piercing big blue eyes and his main profile photo was winning as he smiled innocently and candidly. He was also a recent USF grad, and we rejoiced in fondly recalling days of Dons past. But he didn’t drink.

He seemed really sweet and very interested in my time as a Don. But he didn’t seem interested in where I was now, the city at least. He worked and lived out of San Mateo and he seemed very content there. He was, as he said, “over the city.” Maybe I’m thinking small, but with the frustrations and hate that I may find myself having for San Francsico– never have I been over it. And the fondest memories made here, still to be made, have admittedly involve good company– and alcohol.

At the end of our road, it would have been because of me, not you.

And then the ghost. You would have thought that the blonde from my second day seemed interested that I had just come back from the Stanley Kubrick exhibition over at the CJM that afternoon with all his exclamation marks used. But nothing. It’s OK. I had barely any sleep from an anxiety attack the night before and I was dead at 4PM in a heavy sleep. Waking up to nothing except a better peace of mind was all that was needed at the moment, not a response.

AND THEN, PROGRESS

I really enjoyed his company, truly. Yes, with this one, he was my first CMB date.

His initial photo had him looking perplexed at the camera, the Pacific Ocean looming vastly behind him. He had a beard, which I never was really into, but damn it did look good on him. A few scrolls over into his other photos revealed a lovely smile and some humor by the way he mockingly looked at an art exhibit with such pretension. He was studying dentistry here in the city, but upon matching I was very excited to learn that he was not just an English major– but asked about my favorite books. One dream had come true when John Steinbeck could become my perfect wing man.

After much discussion of our influences, his passion for really helping others in an exciting hands-on field as being a dentist, and how he was looking forward to the upcoming Outside Lands that weekend, we knew we wanted to meet. At least, that’s what he asked me about after nearly three days of conversations that just seemed to flow naturally. Even if it took hours in between responses, we always got back to each other. He seemed very receptive to my own pursuits and read my blog, and even gave great feedback. I was swooning before that Thursday afternoon we would meet.

The original plan was to meet at the cafe across from the Duboce dog park, but friends and my sister thought something closer to a bus and less out of the way for me would be an easier escape route should things go south. Fair enough. So the bar and restaurant for some drinks at the top of the Yerba Buena Gardens– my favorite lookout– would have to suffice. Plus, he said, it was definitely more convenient as his campus was just a few blocks away.

It was cold that Thursday, and in the crowd that poured out from the restaurant I spotted him from the window reflection bundled up in a windbreaker and wide-eyed. He had a pleasant voice that I thought would be deeper– maybe the beard made me imagine a more burly tone– and I can’t recall whether or not we shared a hug. It was obvious that our restaurant of choice was not ideal for being that packed. Back to Duboce Park it was.

I got to hear about his family and early days of transplanting from UC Santa Cruz to SF and his family, all while we waited for a delayed N car underground. I think in that time there was no better way to really get to know each other than rush hour– when your true colors would be tested to come out. Though I think he handled it well– as did I, despite holding on for dear life to the railing in that sea of disgruntled, fatigued humans. I was just all smiles.

That was the thing. With this young man, it was so natural to smile lots and just carry on the conversation from one topic to another– about each other’s quirks and political views (me laughing as I declared being ‘woke), to his outlook on life helping others, and feeding into my quirks (“DON’T FORGET THESE” he said referring to the napkins as to move tables away from the hoards of fruit flies drowning in our glasses of red wine. I am a shameless napkin hoarder). Down to earth, quick on my humor, and most wonderfully, fascinated at my ideas and pursuits.

Mostly, it was the dogs. He was quick to note by liking “anywhere near dogs” from my CMB profile which led us that moment there at the top of the grassy knoll, a bench damp from the looming fog and looking down onto the dogs and their owners passing through, playing, taking poops. Oh, yes, he could get why I loved being around these silly, happy-go-lucky creatures we’re glad to call Man’s Best Friend. It’s all you could want. Someone to watch dogs with and convince to participate in next year’s Sexy Jesus Contest down at Dolores Park. I mean, with that beard, I assured him, he had as good as a chance as being crowned as the other contestants.

The N car was approaching again, this time to take us back into the city with its headlights flooding the dark streets around us in Duboce Triangle. The dogs were gone, the cafe was closed, but there we both were. Still talking, still laughing, and me still smiling. At the end of the night as we both parted ways to our respective bus stops– him to the Richmond and I to Pacific Heights– we were both off the dating app which had first connected us, his number with a Central Valley area code lighting up my screen with the hopeful yet simple suggestion to meet up once more.

But he never got another date, sadly. Because I was soon to be taken over in a series of dates that lead to the moment I had been waiting for. With someone else.

Meet Him in NEW ROMANCES, PART III.