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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Along the 101

I'm just back from five days in San Francisco.

Thanks for having me, Norcal. You were your usual self in all the good ways.

I haven't spent a ton of time in San Francisco, truth be told. When I moved to Los Angeles almost twenty years ago, I talked myself into thinking that living in L.A. was almost as good as living in San Francisco would have been. I had read Tales of the City rather breathlessly.  The result was a certainty  that if I could get to San Francisco, it would all be just as interesting as Maupin wrote it.  It didn't matter, really, that I was to arrive 10+ years later.  Or that it was--well--fiction.

At the time I thought Los Angeles would just have to do.  No one from Norcal was beating down my grad student door.  And L.A. had called.  Offered money.  So loaded up my babyshitbrownyellow Camry and "hit the San Diego freeway doing 60 miles an hour" to quote Miss Nanci Griffith.  (Who--oddly--is playing on itunes right now.  It's another song, but still, eerie.)

I told myself that I'd go to San Francisco a lot.  I haven't, but I think sometimes about that promise I made to myself and what I thought my life was going to be like back then.

I've come to love Los Angeles.  I appreciate it, too.  I went to a concert a couple of weeks ago and the artist said, "people in New York always ask why I love L.A. with all the traffic and the freeways, and I say, 'exactly.'"  It's not about the freeways, of course.  It's about the city itself.

Anyway, I had been looking forward to this trip when I thought Honey could come.  Then she couldn't.  And it was the first week of the semester.  And then it turned out I was staying at a hotel other than the conference hotel and not particularly nearby.  All of which served to make me cross.

I decided to drive up the 101.  I couldn't take the 5 and feel ok, what with all the crossness.  I'm not sure I'll ever take the 5 to get to the Bay area again. 

California has all sorts of problems, I know this.  I'm not from here.  I know this, too. 

I thought a fair about about where I was from because I listened to The Help on CD some of the way up and all the way back.

Ok, so it's New Orleans, not Mississippi (where the book is set) or Georgia (where I'm from).  She mentions New Orleans and I'm taking a little poetic license based on the photos I just downloaded from my iPhone.

Driving to this city where I thought I wanted to be from the city where I do want to be, listening to a novel about a city that resonates with my past (or at least with my mother's) all served to be a little disorienting, in both time and space.


The sea lions weren't out in force to greet me. 

I always forget the damn hills, too.

Did I mention that I like Hipstamatic a lot?  I do.  Made me not want to take my regular camera. 

The conference I went to was terrible.  Not terrible in the way MLA or AAA can be.  That terrible is epic.  Shuttle buses, wide-eyed grad students, pretentious papers, really trendy girl glasses, drinking, people having sex with people they don't know, kind of terrible. 

This conference was just bad.  Boring, tedious, and talking about important stuff from 1000 miles away without acknowledging the distortion.

I stole the time I could. 

Went to the Ferry Building

Had Rickshaw make me an fabulously great new bag (which I deserved).  Ok, bag aside.  I promised Honey a "one-in, one-out" bag trip.  I was determined, therefore, to be deliberate about bag choices.  I started with Rickshaw.  They couldn't have been nicer.  Gave me a tour of the factory.  It's a great space.  They're committed to the right things.  Timbuk2?  Not so much.  Want to support a good SF based company all about sustainability?  Rickshaw, friends.  Rickshaw.  I got a Zero Messenger made of recycled coke bottles.

I also explored the coffee of the place.  Two words to simply your search for goodness of coffee.  You ready? You sure?



I had good coffee elsewhere in SF and just made it to Intelligensia a week or so ago down here.  It's a good time to like coffee here on the coast of west.  Portland and Seattle are out here too, you know.  They're not bad at coffee either.

It's a great city, San Francisco.  And I need to go back more often.  The hills are not fun.  The food is great. 

It's what I wanted it to be, especially early in the morning when the fog stays thick and I could ignore the conference and walk along the Embarcadero. 

And yet, all week I wanted to come back to L.A.

I drove home on the 101 and stopped in Gilroy for lunch.  The sullen waitress and cheesy singer seemed bearable with the garlic.  As I walked back to my car after lunch, I noticed this cool old building, which had once housed the newspaper in the town.

The earthquake warning was meant to keep me away.  Instead I peered into the windows and stood and looked at it a long time.

I moved to Los Angeles just after the riots.  The earthquake happened not very long after I got here.  I moved to the "wrong" city. 

When I pulled into my driveway, my car smelling of fresh bread and coffee, I was home.  What's a little unsecured masonry among friends?

As good as my car smelled, the house smelled better.  Honey had baked me cupcakes. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

of i

Taking some time off work this month and things are generally ok-ish.

Today, though, I read a book I didn't like that I have to lead a discussion on tomorrow. I also didn't work out. (Or eat much, so I guess it's ok-ish).

Feeling kind of down.

So I cleaned all my Apple products. Pad of i, Pod of i, Phone of i. All with Klear of i and the wonderful blue cloth.

At least one thing went well today.