A Best Year, 2017

December 26 – January 1

Sitting on the couch now  nearing the end of my first week in the new year having a small cold that gave strange feverish dreams This year, I’m already batting 1,000, as my boyfriend said.

But the promise of the future is that there is always the good to outweigh whatever bad, small or big, is thrown at me. 2018 is proving to be a more unpredictable year, and while I go along with each day and what it brings, at least I can remember a beautiful ending to the most extravagant year of my life, now gone but never to be forgotten.

I had no expectations going into 2017 when the clock struck midnight just a year ago, downtown at the Havana Nights-themed party held at one of my favorite bars, Novela. I was there under the gold balloons and stealing kisses with my sweetheart in a plastic top hat, his hands around me and a glass of champagne which he drunkenly kept clinking against mine. A sweet memory to start off the year, and I should have taken that as a marker of the glorious things to come.

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Traveling was the first adventure of the year– in fact comprised of many. It began with the feathery Spanish Moss draping old Oak trees in Georgia where I met my boyfriend’s family for the first time, and not long after I was moved along into unknown lands beyond the sea where my dreams of London came true, followed by a tough love wanderlust through the streets of Paris and finally a breath of fresh air and warm sun in the two days in Bruges that wrapped up Europe. Then I was fortunate enough to be chosen by my team at work to represent and train our colleagues out in Mumbai– a place I never dreamed of going, just on my own. Almost turning down that opportunity, I look back now and for certain know that it was all meant to be, with no regrets and just perfect memories in my mind of a new world I enjoyed to the fullest. Rounding out the year was an intimate, wild weekend of adventures with my sister in New England, apple picking and casting spells and getting caught in the rain of old seaside towns where fishing boats swayed in still waters.

In the magic of the moment, you really hold onto the offerings of these new places, unfamiliar people, and a life so far from the one you’ve only known. The many adventures of the past year remind me that I was lucky to get away– lucky to come back too. Travel is a fleeting privilege, chaining us by timing and means and frankly, our drive– when those two other factors fall into place. And when they do, you’re only left with the destination– or one of many– before you, and an open door that will always tempt you with each passing year. There’s that feeling of never knowing whether you really will return or not– and that’s what makes every second away home unforgettable.

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Motivation and drive have always been engrained in my spirit, the force behind why I still write. Making a difference, having an impact– in 2017 these were made possible with the simple daydream I had one morning in March that became the beautiful joy Marjorie Magazine. Having felt the strain and hangups of freelancing and submitting in pieces to publications of all prestige, now was the time for me to create something beautiful for the world– by the world of writers. Something to help our cause and give the voice and power back into the dark of writing for nothing– here, you find writers writing for something, something that they’re passionate about and coming to you and placing the moment of truth in your hands. It’s been strange to have such power, but it’s a noble cause to keep the faith and give fellow writers a chance they really want.

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Marjorie Magazine has already published two print issues, gathered slow but genuine interest across social media, and we have photographers and contributors scattered across the country. Making these connections to people sharing the same love in beautiful, old things has been the most rewarding, a new adventure without having gone anywhere. Is it successful? Not on the level I hope to achieve one day, maybe this year, maybe not– but existing alone is already success in itself. Until then, getting the word out, mapping out what marketing techniques are working on my own, and getting the privilege to turn my own experiences into an awkward yet truthful and positive presentation at a Blurb X Weebly X Unsplash Business and Branding Panel cannot say otherwise about a bright future ahead for these risks I’m taking at making my own dreams come true.

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And lastly, loves of the past remain in the present. Old loves, old friends, and new loves, like that in our newest family addition, have entered into 2018 with me, and right now my only concern is not whether or not anyone might go anywhere– only where our journeys will take us together. Raising Bentley has rekindled a new sense of joy in my family; my daddy talking in baby voices as he once did when we were little girls and when we had our other dog, Louie, my mom who’s notoriously indifferent to animals and yet chasing the 6-month-old in circles around our family room table and petting him lots when he’s sitting still. My sister still struggles at getting him to behave, in getting him to be more cuddly and trusting of people, but she’s proven herself stronger, more motivated now that he is in her life. Bentley is the perfect young boy to further cement how lucky I’ve been in finding new ways to love, when already been blessed with this family of mine, and that perfect sweetheart already by my side.

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Yes you, you nearly 2 feet taller than me and indulging in my crude humor and too much sugar and cold hands and listing to Hamilton while we quote The Room together. To this day, to the night we had a fight on the steps of an apartment where a Christmas party went on inside or the uncomfortable morning after both being drunk out the night before and getting mad at each other for damning actions, we always talk about the future, and how it will never change as long as we’re together. You still proclaim that I am a saint, putting up with the stress of law school and night classes and constantly worrying, but no, that has never bother me. These things are in your mind, and I shall always stay here to remind you that that’s where they stay, in your imagination, far from the near perfect reality we are happily living together.

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So when I think of how 2018 might go, and how it’s already been going– simply 9 days in– I also remember how uncertain I was of anything in 2017, how much was unplanned, and how many extraordinary. A year of magic is behind me, but it is not THE year of magic. More are to come, as magic is only real when you believe in it. And to the very last day of the year before midnight, I believed it all. In the drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, to the quiet silver waves in the dark after dinner along the shores of Sausalito, and as I kissed my boyfriend in an Outer Sunset Irish pub to the sounds of a favorite tune singing of sleepless city fairytales, I couldn’t have found 2017 to leave us on a bittersweet, almost perfect night.

And so this magic is always going to be there, with each passing year, just so long as you remember to look out for it. 2018, proceed to inspire.

 

 

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Row Boat for Sunday: Summer Vignettes

It’s a luxury that I’m used to be completely secluded with my loved ones. It was last with faces from college when our boat was Rihannon, and now in a nameless rower we’re still just the two of us, untouched and separated from the beauty of these old trees and turtles below that find us circling and troubling these shining waters where as we try to stay afloat, we’re still falling in deep for each other.

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Weekly Wonders: October 16th

Weekly Wonders Oct. 9 (3)

Perry Ellis boots, these are my absolute favorite for fall weather. I stumbled upon them at the Vintage Thrift West store in Greenwich when I was in New York last December. I tried them on, left the store, and not two blocks away I asked my friend if we could turn back. No regrets! And were only $24. You must check out the pretty embroidering on the toes, too.

Julia Engel of Gal Meets Glam just came out with a gorgeous rug in a collaboration with Lulu & Georgia! She’s one of my favorite bloggers, being a fellow California gal with a love for the south and florals, plus her and her husband (and her photographer) Tom are just adorable. The Garden Party Rug is the first thing I want to add to my apartment when I get around to redecorating next year.

I came across Pascal Campion’s artwork this past month simply scrolling through Facebook. The first thing I fell in love with was his style; the composition of light and contrasting simpler, neutral warm colors make his work feel so welcoming. And then the subjects, mostly of him and his wife and their three children. They live a happy life, family pillow fights, days at the beach– but the intimate paintings of Pascal and his wife alone, when they’re having coffee together in the kitchen or talking to themselves on a fire escape at a party or embracing in bed in the early morning resonates so much with me. Looking at those particular works, I don’t see the artist his wife– I feel like I can only see me, and my own love.

Tea is always the perfect way to start and end the day. I’ve been working from home a lot this week, and I couldn’t go get coffee– so it’s nice to get back onto tea for a bit! And best served in a pretty little mug.

My favorite spot in Golden Gate Park is the Shakespeare Garden. Despite the heavy smoke from the fires up north, I still found myself out in the sunshine and thick haze to admire its glory. It’s peaceful, rather hidden, and contains all the flora mentioned in Shakespeare’s works. Also, it’s the only place in San Francisco where I can soak in the beauty of my favorite plant, Spanish Moss, draping the dark trees overhead. It’s a lovely sight, as anywhere there is Spanish Moss, as far as I’m concerned, is Heaven.

While walking about Golden Gate Park, my friend (who is back from living in Portland!) and I stumbled upon John Steven Morgan sitting at an upright piano and playing this own breathtaking compositions aloud for all to hear and fall in love with. I sure did. I particularly am drawn to his song, “Robots.”

I finally did it. After years of wondering and hearing the buzz surrounding last year’s revival and constantly being told it’s a show I would love, I am finally getting into the Gilmore Girls! OMG! It truly is the show for me. Some of the scenes and plot lines can get a bit fantastical, but the heart and soul of the story is perfect. The characters, their dynamics with each other, the magical setting of Stars Hollow, all belissimo! This is the kind of story I aspire to writing down the road.

When in doubt, Fairy Lights. It’s actually the best way to get your home or work desk to feel festive (I’ve strung it around the desktop screen) for all seasons– summer, fall, and of course, Christmas. Little effort, everlasting impact.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Wonders: October 9th

Weekly Wonders Oct. 9 (4)

Enamel Fall Candles in Kitchen Spice (mint) and Pumpkin Spice (orange), $5 each at Target. The apartment is just perfect for fall now, paired with twinkle lights and a few pumpkins. Masks the smell of dog accidents, too.

Stevie Nicks, particularly her single “If You Ever Believe.” Been watching one of my favorite Halloween favorites, Practical Magic. The perfect mood and aesthetic for a magical month.

I have my eyes set on a monogramed vest at Marley Lilly. I’ll be heading out east for a sister weekend trip to Rockport and Salem, Massachusetts, and if there’s not an ounce of prep in my step, the excursion will feel off. For not having anything personalized, I gotta feel fancy.

Confession: I scaled myself over the summer and found to my dismay I’m twenty pounds heavier than what my state ID says. I started walking to work, I hydrated better, and am currently attempting intermittent fasting. Besides morning coffee or tea, I hydrate the rest of the day with just Hint water since my company stocks the kitchen to the heavens with it. Blackberry is the best, the sweetest and most subtle. Forget La Croix, techies– reach for the Hint bottles!

My birthday is less than a month away. To save on Massachusetts, there will be no big celebration at home other than a delightful small tea party for which I plan to wear this flower crown. Get it here on Wish.

Somehow I rediscovered Tuck Everlasting. The children’s novel by the late Natalie Babbit remains as fascinating and magical now as when I first read it in 6th grade. A simple adventure with such a deep and tragic theme about life and immortality that’s really relatable– and still a better love story than the eerily familiar Twilight saga. It’s set in the late summer but the lovely descriptions of the woods and time period make for a relaxing and charming fall read.

The search for the perfect fall lipstick has ended. Nyx Lip Creme in Berlin.

 

 

A Week in Europe: London

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I am here. That’s all I can really say— feel about this place; it only took me 10 years to get here. It took Moses 100 to get his people back to Israel— this was nothing.

Upon leaving Saint Pancras Station you’re greeted by the big red double-deckers hurling by on opposite directions of traffic from what I’m used to. The little black cabs weave through the congestion like professional that they are, straight from the scenes of films I’d only ever saw in The Parent Trap or Notting Hill. I watched Notting Hill on the plane, fell asleep to it with a plastic cup of cheap Spanish red wine in my hand. Here I was, two airports and a tedious second train in through the English channel later, the land of my favorite bands and literary heroes and quaint tea-time in the twilight of a cold, dim-lit dusk.

I always dreamt of London and London came true. I wake up to it in the twilight.

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It’s like the financial district, this little part of what’s called Marylebone. Men and women bundled in wool coats and dark trousers pressed against each other at this crossing where my mommy and I sit in Costa coffee. I’m having tea— she asked for a coffee but had to get an Americano, without milk. American style with the simple drip and helping of sugar at your discretion does not exist.

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Costa is a big coffee chain as with Pret a Manger, Boots pharmacy, and Ladbrokes— a betting establishment for soccer games. Pubs aren’t hard to find. It’s England.

The Underground saves us. Navigating the tube was thrilling, especially as the announcement is made that based on the next stop, you’re going in the right direction. Connecting can be tricky— but all is straightforward. For how overwhelming the map looks— the intersecting lines of Jubilee and Circle or the Victoria crossing Bakerloo— I felt my most confident in London taking the Tube.

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Not so much on walking on the wrong side of traffic, however. Or ordering food, asking about whether my card will work of if my coins make up 7.50 exactly. There’s a colder, indifferent disposition to Londoners. You honestly feel stupid sometimes, just asking these little questions— questions in English. Sure, they smile, but out of politeness you might suspect these manners are just to display their pity.

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It makes me a little sad. Not the feeling stupid, but just how once, only a few years ago, I would have felt better being so because dating an Englishman boosts your confidence in their crudeness. Instead of feeling like a stranger as I do now, I would have felt some comfort with all the friends and faces from this country I once knew, now estranged, only feeds on Facebook. From the photos I have posted online, some have reached out— telling me to come visit up north in Chester where “proper” English history (Welsh, Roman) resides, or down to Exeter to experience The Garden of England. All lovely gestures, all outside of London. But here in London, we are alone.

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On the last night of my stay in London we are at the Allsop Arms down the street on Gloucester for some wine, and steak in  peppercorn or hollandaise sauces and chips. Our order is done up front at the bar— so strange that I need to sign everything and they have to look at your ID to match up the signatures— and then we waited for our meal. A lovely window seat dinner becomes spoiled when the meat has a bad cut with two much tendon or heavy fat that I trim off, and on the arrival of a young couple in college taking their seats next to us. The girl is American, her boyfriend is English. They’re hosting their friends visiting from outside of London at their flat on the other side of the Thames and who would even show up. I wonder where the girl is from. She’s a bit heavy with brown hair and a floral dress underneath an unbuttoned chambray and crossbody purse. She’s not from the South or midwest, maybe East Coast. They’re talking and it makes me sad because that girl– all my life I thought I would be here, the American abroad and happily settled into this life. My life is different now. A lot changes in 10 years. And when I was dating Matt, I saw that a lot can change in just 3.

I message him occasionally throughout this trip. I tell him on the last night about how London made me feel. He says firmly, “I hate London.”

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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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October City

October 10 – October 16

You wouldn’t think of October as others think of it outside of San Francisco. It’s hot, for starters, and when it does rain and grow gray, humid. But that, I like– it reminds me always of New York in that July when I was stranded at a park bench in Verdi Square beneath a sheltering canopy of a tree. Someday I will return to New York and see it at, in my opinion, its most visually stunning, fall. But for now, I only know the season for what it is in San Francisco. That in itself is a lovely, unrivaled thing.

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You have the Victorians really come alive without any effort, haunting beauties stepping out onto the scene like straight from the childhood tales that frightened me to the bone. My mom lived in Noe Valley as a little girl in the 60s, where off of Noe and 24th was an iron-gated mansion grand and gray with flowers wildly take it all hostage. The witch’s house, her and other neighborhood kids mused. I now see that in October, the city is lost to many of these homes, and it is a city of witches. It’s not too bad, not at least when ginkos and other trees fade into bronze and butter yellow.

The pumpkins are out, small and round or on the scrawny side, sometimes of a golden orange or a sickly pale cream. You can purchase them overpriced at the Target down on Mission or Mollie Stone’s where while your at it might be able to splurge on the Starbucks just outside of it with your leftover change. That’s the easy way, what I would have done had I never found out about Clancy’s Patch. It’s out past UCSF in the hills overlooking the Sunset where a disheveled grove in the fog transforms into a buzzing marketplace to pick up pristine pumpkins and have yourself a few pictures with loved ones. Yes, you can go alone, but if you wanted to buy a pumpkin on your own you might as well just haul your ass quickly over to Target.

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Sometimes the nights are humid, the best time of year to host evening events for the annual Lit Quake festival and down an assortment of wine paired with only the most riveting and political poets of these past few years. That way you can run to the bus stop with your friend and drink in the warm night and the lit windows in skyscrapers seeming like stars, something moving you, whether it be wine or words. You’ll look back and realize that seeing Natalie Diaz read “Catching Copper” live never had you feeling so vulnerable, even in a way wine could never cast on you. Poets come alive in October, it is a bewitching month where ghosts and their words latch onto you even after you’ve left their haunts in hotel hallways, Vesuvio.

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October has a tendency to break your heart here. As much as you feel moved and enamored with words of passion you’re just as easily fooled into a false hope, disappointed and bitter that your heroes have fallen. 2016, another even year, and not another championship for your favorite baseball team. Maybe I’m getting overly sentimental, a bad sport, but it’s so easy to get sentimental over America’s pastime. You won’t be missing the thrill and stabbing pressure of each game they battle through while you’re downing another Stella at Harry’s or Murphy’s, nor the defining catch or double that might win them into the next game or end them all– you won’t miss the chaotic parade that floods into the streets of Market where you might be able to watch it rain orange and white and gold confetti atop from the 40th floor. You’ll miss the memories that you could have made like you did in the past three championships where all those moments did come true. The cheap pennant you bought on the street for not-so-cheap, being on the shoulders of a friend to see Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum giving standing ovations as they’re driven through in convertibles, the golden and brilliantly orange sky that pierces the day and McCovey Cove as dawn breaks the night after Pablo Sandoval had caught the pop up from the Royals. You’ll miss having those kind of moments to look back on, and you wish it were that way rather than remembering the last game that knocked them out and knocked you to your seat in the living room.

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October is not an easy month to love, but the best thing about it is that whatever happens, you can always do nothing. Sit back, cold night or hot, get under a Mexican throw blanket and pop on some scary movies or catch up on the first season of Narcos. You might get to do it with someone you love. He could live in the outer Sunset close to the ocean and always chilly out in the art deco-designed row houses that trudge along the flat streets between 48th and 9th Avenue. Occasionally as you watch movies his roommates will pop in, a Brazilian student at USF and an East Coast transplant working odd hours to make this new dream out west work to forget old ones and old loves back home. They’re wonderful people, always smiling and hugging you on first making their acquaintance– and you might get a bit jealous that you mostly live alone. The friendly new faces aren’t just the best part of a night in at San Francisco. It’s waking up beneath a skylight on warm sheets and getting up in this unfamiliar apartment to coffee perfectly concocted with too much cream and sugar, and maple bacon donut from Uncle Benny’s that truly warms your heart upon first bite.

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I’ve always felt strongly that fall is a likable sort of season for its drastic and explicit flair for change. In the weather, the trees, the clothes. San Francisco is an October city in its own, stiff yet consistent way. Always the same in habits, but just taking each year to make something new emerge from each passing. That is how October should feel.

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