Anything but the Absinthe

August 17 – August 23

Since being in San Francisco, here’s a few recommendations for some drinks I’ve stumbled upon and where:

Dark & Stormy, at Harper & Rye

Grasshoper, at The Corner Store

“Tall Boys,” at The Wreck Room

Three Sworn Enemies, at The Devil’s Acre

Nuts and Berries, at Owl Tree

Hemingway Daiquiri, at Wayfare Tavern

Grapefruit Margarita, at Uno Dos!

Venetian Spritz, at Taverna Aventine

Pina Colada, at El Techo de Lolinda

Francois Dillinger, at Novela

Grasshopper
The Grasshopper. I’d sure be glad to have THIS again.

This list is not an implication of a) my tolerance level gone up; b) becoming a degenerate. It is just a list– a list of the good stuff, so to speak. It’s a good thing I was able to turn out a substantial amount of feedback because if anything, this list has implied to myself that all those times I took risks, it wasn’t in vain. It didn’t take much. Dim lights, red leather tufted booths, polished steel mirrors reflecting endless shelving of liqueur in an infinite illusion; the right setting can just put you in only so good of a mood to make the right or wrong decision. I don’t know, that’s the risk you take from when you feel like all moves are the right ones. Kind of just like being in this city is a perpetual bar for making spontaneous choices.grasshopper3

Thinking on these sort of drinks and ideas, for every good luck there’s always the bad ones. And that I was unfortunate to encounter at ironically the loveliest brasserie on a Monday night– the absinthe. I’ll do well not to repeat any stout, heavy licorice laden liquor AGAIN. Still, necessary evils they are, leaving a bitter taste in your mouth, but a beautiful way to know what tastes great. It’s this sort of feeling that shifted other things of this week in motion. Some exciting and rewarding– like deciding on a November holiday in London and Paris for my birthday— and others not too much, like telling my ex in England about it.

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A whole six months later and it’s still a question that’s up on the air and neither of us have a definitive way to answer it. It’s been a blessed summer on my own, in my lovely city, with only myself alone to really find inspiration. It all goes back, however, to the strange but beautiful and perfectly human phenomenon of wants and needs. I know all too well how awesome I can be, and I don’t need a significant other to succeed– but still, you want them there. And you’ve made enough choices with dead ends– and some not so dead, like Him who texted you an article that He knew you would love and you still haven’t even opened the link–you may find one good one in this sea of singles, but none of them are the one guy who matters 5,000 miles away.

So when I told him that Europe was on my mind for the coming winter, we got back to talking. Talking of time off, why I wouldn’t be going to England in my travels and how I felt that there wasn’t a reason anymore to go there and he felt that there was and why and that there was still a chance. Stupid talk. But we had it. And now I can feel a bit more satisfied about the days to come when I do go out to Paris and now London– maybe Hull– too. It feels a lot better to address the terrible truth that you and an old someone from just a year ago still share– a sad, mutual feeling with a chance we’re both taking and hopefully won’t regret. Go down that scary, romantic path– you’re actually in a good place in your life to do so, even if nothing is guaranteed. Doesn’t stop you from an exciting adventure, all the same.

Of all the cheeky choices I’ve made in this city, I don’t feel sorry for not one. In moving forward, you sometimes do have to look back at the past. Any chance to repeat the past with certain drinks, nights out, and British exes, but not with Absinthe. Ever.

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The Bedazzling

August 10 – August 16

Here in this apartment we can’t damage the walls, meaning I’m surrounded by awkward blank spaces. Luckily, I’ve found I have an eye for creating budding little table displays– credit to the constant seasonal arrangements done when working at Paper Source. All the furniture here was included–  and the empty tops of each Lack and Klingsbo (you’ve NEVER shopped at IKEA?) would be made anew with my finishing touches. Mostly books. Tin antique candy or music boxes. Some candles or seashells and fake flowers, too. Now the newest addition to the place come in the little gems of raw crystals that give a subtle sparkle like a cherry on top.

Crystals

I haven’t always been into rocks nor do I have a broad knowledge of healing Chakra powers that they may possess. However, they can give instant life to your decor without looking at all out of place. I mean, they are a part of the Earth, so in a strange way, they pair with everything in this land/apartment/style-scape. The ones I have, their colors do strike me. It’s a rose quartz and creamy green calcite finished off with a fiery pyrite chunk; their flushed pastel tones beautifully offset the light, earthy colors of the studio that I live in. They’re the best way to brighten up this space in being lovely by their own existence.

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You could then see by such little treasures that in fact, San Francisco and the Bay Area shine brightly in its most natural and unusual ways. I don’t mean the people or things like food trucks or crafted beer pop ups funded by a block of FiDi startups. The gems of this city aren’t far from the ones there on my nightstand– the best of the city is set in stone, sometimes in the waters. Take Chinatown, North Beach, or the Mission. Ancient, deep enclaves carved from the early days of the 19th century into stern hills and winding structures that grew over time to still be what they were in the beginning, never really changing. You may think Chinatown is a downright, gritty, narrow little section of this town overrun with dim sum and penny junk stores in its corners– but have a decent look around you  so that you can see that honest, hard-working people have capitalized on their  distinctive, dirty dynasty-esque tenements to turn out what is the city’s most popular attraction. There are no gimmicks here in this neighborhood, only sincerity of appreciation for one’s roots that brings in spectators. The spare ribs and erhu street performers and the side-swept Fortune Cookie factory— even fooling you into buying a bag of adult/ X-rated fortunes in poorly-translated sayings– are just natural occurrences for the people who call it home.

Bedazzling4

Some nights the gems shine brightest in the dark. I’ll meet with a friend for a walk around a block of where we live in Lower Pacific Heights so that she may smoke a cigarette or two, on days when she gets really stressed. As she enjoys that I find myself enjoying a look around, looking up to the dark outlines of quiet Victorians and into the dim parlors of hidden hotels like the Queen Anne. But it’s weird, how the trees seem taller, and even in a hazy blackness everything can still be traced in detail. These are things I’ve found that won’t change, especially in the night, always here a part of the landscape that sings of lovely, perpetual darkness.

Then was the Golden Gate itself, just intertwined with the thick marine layer setting over the emerald waters and the rust that sits atop the Alcatraz Island that my ferry was passing. These treasures go beyond the city, the bigger jewels jutting out form the foundations of the Bay and they can’t really help themselves– nor are they apologetic about how they star-struck us. Thinking back on it now, I’m still in a daze.

I live in a gold mine, rich in history and unchanged wonders that– no matter the year or decade or who lives here– one thing is certain. A driving force. Something that shines in every rickety old Victorian and overbearing skyscraper and charging local who’ll never leave for being convinced that their city isn’t like any others. They’re right. There’s just something that really does sing “Eureka!” about San Francisco and the Bay– and that’s what brings others in. Come and go as you please, but here is a place that’s driven by the very jewels it sows: its dreamers.

As for the dream I’ve always envisioned for myself in this present moment? It’s one that’s nothing big, nothing glamorous; and I sit and look down on the new, shining treasures to this place and think Eureka isn’t just a saying. I really have “found it,” too.

Bedazzling5

The Seagull Speaks

August 3- August 10

A new week! And you’re broke.

At least raspberries are perfectly cheap and a healthier alternative to popcorn or freeze burn ice cream that I would have paired with this glass of wine. Mondays suck already– a universal consensus– so reinforcing a ritual like a glass in the evening is calming. Not to mention the commute back home. When the Cable Car crosses your path downtown, you take it. Locals take the good old-fashioned trolley of SF; if it’s along your way home it’s just as efficient as any other bus in the city. Just get a Muni pass and avoid dressing in North Face vests and standing on the sides of the car to establish that this famous attraction is in fact your way around rather than a tourist trap you’ve been lured onto. Get creative.

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The week starts off pretty lonely. It’s relaxing now after doing so much in the past weekend! Yet a familiar face is always a welcoming comfort. Like, my sister. Or my parents. Some family time right about now would be great– partially it’s my fault when I never want to go back to the East Bay on weekends. Sometimes when you’re alone, you should sight-see. It’s the easiest way to entertain yourself without spending any money and to lose yourself in the mass of strangers around you. Like when you go to the Yerba Buena Gardens after work. The sun shines gloriously high above the clear sky and skyscrapers cluttered to the northwest of the vast paved landscape before still waters that flow over the edge. For having known this place for so long, it is my favorite lookout spot in San Francisco. When you walk across the checkered-like floor and sit on the benches looking out to the garden below and up to the graces of the buildings above, it’s like you’re right dab in the middle of a focal point almost as great as Times Square or the Arc de Triomphe. The summit of a mountain except you’re not at the top. This is calmer. Much quieter. I prefer it that way, even with the collective of seagulls bathing intensely in the waters and disturbing its peace– wings flapping, bills biting and digging through ruffled white feathers as they too have every right to feel the freshness of a new start, even if in just appearances. Not the most admirable birds, certainly not perfect–  but here in this city because they’re adventurous souls living where they want and continually pushing those boundaries to make it all work.

Adventures aren’t always about destinations. It’s the memories, the feeling you try to get when you take yourself away to a particular place. Yerba Buena, like countless other locations across the Bay Area– has been the place I’ve always wanted to make work– not just for me, but me and another (insert friends or guy name here). My first real kiss happened here in 2009, and a few years after that I took a stroll through these fountains with an old friend before weird things like school and mutual friends split us apart. It was the scene of the crime for the last San Francisco monument I took my ex to before he returned to England. At this point I should start realizing that perhaps I should stop with this place in hopes that I find a better destination to have happy ending of sorts. I mean, happy endings can happen anywhere, you can’t necessarily choose where they’ll be. But missteps in your life– especially relationships– shouldn’t hinder you from giving it a shot. Yerba Buena’s views have their sentiments in me, and not the random faces I might bring to it. As hard as I try, these gardens will always be a part of me. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to start all over with new guys here. Every time.

If you do creativity in the right way, sight seeing here starts with taking a seat on a bench and popping in headphones to play the piano track “Photograph” from the 2013 film Her. It’s a soothing match of calm to contrast the skyline and bustle around you in the park. And then, sit awhile and try to look at each skyscraper together and all at once– try keeping the vision focus on all without blurring the other. Hard? Keeping trying– keep yourself in this mode and think about how far you’ve come and how frustrating it is to to just try and fixate on everything. You may or may not turn to see if anyone else is thinking in this same fashion, too. I did. Except now there is no one else. Just me. And only I’ve noticed these things and only I can appreciate such splendor alone and this memory will last to be perhaps the greatest adventure I’m still living.

Invincibles

July 27- August 2nd

A new weekly post on the blog just about the odds and ends and magical thoughts of life as it happens.

PT. 1 INVINCIBLES

It takes approximately the whole duration of Saint Motel’s “Daydream/Wetdream/Nightmare” to leave the Franklin and Sacramento stop on my bus, get off at Gough, and walk down to the front entrance of my apartment building. It’s not bad, and especially as you listen to Saint Motel, you practically dance the whole way.

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It’s a love/hate with the buses of San Francisco. Muni is the patron mobile saint for all and any; with a sound mind or less-than-fortunate hygiene and even if you just want to catch some shut eye on one of its smeared matte brown plastic seats, its arms are open to you! So long as you can prove payment of fare for a paper receipt given at $2.50 a pop. I’ve been riding Muni all the years I’ve set foot in San Francisco, and I’m proud at how savvy I’ve grown in navigating the lines and twists and turns– if they gave medals for bus surfing, I’d have a fair shot on the podium (especially for someone who can do it in stilettos). When i say that I know the bus, it’s not just by the book and maps, too, but the streets. There’s certain lines you shouldn’t ride alone on at night and other where they’ll routinely surprise riders with Muni officers checking to see if you paid the fare. There’s the bus that doesn’t phase you with the gum wrappers or spit and buffalo chicken wing bones on the floor. And I know all too well that sexual harassment can happen– at any given moment, even on what’s considered the safest of the Muni lines.

But there is the wondrous saving grace of this wasteland on wheels: seeing the city in new ways, and its people. More so fascinating– you are one of them.

Santa Cruz 2

I’m at the peak of myself being a confident, self-assured little lady now since being in the city. Honest. Sorry not sorry. After a year and a half working retail and odd jobs with bad writing and losing old friends that made you feel like a terrible human being and student loans, as well as gaining new opportunities like a chance to live in SF– just as losing as who you believed to be the love of your life– damn right you’re going to come out of it all as a queen. And this great and terrible tirade of Paris the Invincible is only allowed to go uphill from here. Tonight I’ve started reading Amy Poehler’s Yes Please and it is a hoot and I want to get on the level of Ms. Poehler. It’s her strong voice and humor that’s easy to grasp and then a few minutes later, I put the book down and take up my notebook and pen. I want to write again all of a sudden– I know I am happiest when spilling out words.

Santa Cruz

I am also happiest spilling out words when sitting beneath a warm sun, sand spilling over you from all angles in the light breeze that skims through a beach on a Saturday afternoon. It’s been two years since I last came to Santa Cruz. It might be the most ridiculous thing to even attempt writing at the beach because of petty hindrances of poor back support and wasting ten dollars on a chevron blue beach towel you’ll only ever use once. There might be flies, there might be too much seaweed, and the bag of curly fries will surely stain your favorite notebook with grease. And those factors may be a bitch to anyone– but I’m not anyone. I simply am a young girl grateful for a day to finally do something she likes and to get away from a city she loves for uncertain adventures. San Francisco, I sure love you, but summer is also the time for Santa Cruz. And given this terrible and long past week where you just needed to treat yourself to some cotton candy and deep fried everything, Santa Cruz had my back.

PT. 2 THEY’RE ALL MAD HERE

Maybe it’s just being invincible that makes all of us here in the Bay Area insane. In heading down to Santa Cruz for the day, the nights were left to explore the night with a good friend from college and her roommate around San Jose. And seriously, the balls these people have– old age won’t stop you from turning it up on the dance floor of Rosie McCann’s, nor will a croaking voice discourage you from singing karaoke in the most lively dive bar I’ve ever drank at. The place was Woodham’s and the songs were whatever people thought they could sing best– SJGarden3and here’s something you can learn from people who sing karaoke: they really give a shit. Not about the quality of singing, but the passion put into your performance. I was a silly bopping songstress with absolutely no game in my performance, but I smiled and jazz handed, and in a duet with my friend, soloed on an air guitar. Yeahhhh, just don’t stand there and look miserable– don’t give into your voice! It’s pure entertainment for laughs and to commiserate with strangers over the tunes chosen, breaking down the weird barrier of creepiness and drunken stupor that usually plagues anyone in a place like that– but not for Brandon who climaxed during his rendition of “Careless Whisper” as an inside joke to the bouncer, for John who gave good advice on picking songs that really showcase you, and surely not Reese, who went solo in the night singing “Feeling Good” and Dionne Warwick because her 15-year-old daughter obviously could not accompany her to the bar. The true spotlight went to Allison behind the bar– constantly taking orders and mixing drinks with the mic tucked between her neck and shoulder as she belted out beautifully Lorde and Metallica.

San Jose didn’t feel like a real place. It’s a city that some would see as an extension of San Francisco, or a capitalist-driven bore that thrives off all the techies planted here in Silicon Valley. To me, it’s a wonderland of sorts; not what I expected of its sights and sounds and people. In a place where the sun drenches over 3,5000 rose bushes and redwoods only blocks away from a piece of the Nile at the Rosicrucian Eygyptian Museum whilst sipping on a Mocha Borgia that is simply a Terry’s Orange in a cup– you’d be happily mad here too.

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From all that occurred this weekend, I must sound mad. Maybe I am, or maybe I just enjoyed too much of a good thing for only a few days and I’ve not adequately expressed how it all made me feel. Well, I feel good. And with passing weekend, it can only get better too. Just be bold, and don’t expect anything. The moment you start planning it only means that you’re limiting yourself, and if you’re an invincible, it just seems like a silly thing to limit one’s self, doesn’t it?