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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Happy Now

January 30 – February 5

In the two years since arriving in San Francisco the world has changed. It’s a loaded sentiment I give you there but then again, it really is true. The obvious, surface change: my bangs are grown out, there’s new books in my apartment that I’ll never get around to reading, I’m fifteen pounds heavier than my California ID says I am (100 lbs exact). And then there’s a new man in my life, and a new president in the lives of millions of those who call the United States home. Good and bad, respectively.

Not so obvious, I’ve come to a realization. I am happier now. Or at least, I will be. The last few months were when I came to realize mistakes in love I made, bad calls in purchases of shirts and drinks and reliance in unlasting friendships, and finally my admitting of anxiety. But that shall all change again. Even as this new year is off to one of the darkest dawns of new days to come. All the opinions, the shouting, the marches, the headlines of stories that you wish were anything but the truth keep me going. The bad? It is all bad, but even worse would be if there were silence on the whole.

I am a generally quiet, if not timid person. I get in no one’s way; I won’t even go back to a counter at a restaurant to say that my order is completely wrong. It’s easier to not cause controversy, as far as my life goes, and everything really is pleasant. So long as no one treads on this casual, innate submission. But in this time, I see now that that doesn’t do much for a defining life, defining in your principles, your thoughts, your heart on your sleeve.

Maybe Hamilton has helped me understand this: “What’ll you fight for [Aaron Burr] if you stand for nothing?”  You couldn’t have asked for a better musical soundtrack than now to really hit those sentiments I feel.

And I feel that I want to show my support, to those who need it now and to speak up alongside those braver than me. Maybe it’s a mob-mentality thing, but it’s comforting to contribute to the conversation— even though a lengthy Facebook status is not going to change anything. But it’s spreading the awareness.

I know who I am, and I know that a miracle isn’t going to save this country overnight, at least, not with my contributions. Not with anyone’s actually. But it’s a positive statement, to know that with all the bad that goes on now, there’s going to be good. People are going to try to be good, to be better, to stand up for what’s right. On the macro-level, that’s comforting. But on a micro-level? The right thing to do for me is to have hope. To have a positive attitude just for my own life—the world seems to have it figured out, so why shouldn’t I (well, if the world really had it figured out, there’d have to be no outcry whatsoever)? Who would I be kidding with my daily postings and angry rants and call to arms for immediate uprising? I’m not a cynic, but I am an idealist based on what realities I have faced, and I like to think that my faith in the future guarantees happiness, as far as my little life is concerned. I say that now, I am happy: my job is taking off to new directions with little limitations and more room for the creativity that I’ve been seeking. I’ll soon be reaching my six-months marker in a relationship that for the first time in awhile, feels secure, feels like it will be forever—and maybe if it’s not, that’s something for the future, not now. And in this little drafty studio, still decked out in gold and mint streamers from birthday parties of yester-months and vases of white roses fake and real alike, that’s where I remain; I’m still here. Still getting by in this city of mine by the Bay where it seems like I will never leave. And why would you, when everything seems to be perfect?

So I’m a year older and I won’t change the world. I’m not looking to, because as far as I am concerned my world is right here in this city, with these people, and if I can’t keep those things together, God help me for when I do try and keep the rest of the world from slipping into catastrophe. I just have to keep living life, but this time more defined, with a clearer sense of direction— and so long as that direction is seen through rose-colored shades. Because in this day and age, heading down that blazing road with your bare eyes will drive you mad thinking that you can do what Icarus couldn’t— head straight into disaster thinking all will be well.

I think everyone else in this world is well prepared with those same shades, the ones who continue on that march in resistance to the new order. Beauty and love only changed things for the better.

Mark on the Jackson

January 23- January 29

This is a confessional about modern love hang-ups. It starts with a guy named Mark.

I saw Mark again. He’s got short, wavy hair and I usually see him in a gingham button-up under a dark jacket. It doesn’t matter what bus I usually see him on but today it’s the 3 Jackson line. He tries to sit towards the back in one of the four seats that face each other; I’m lucky enough to sit towards the front. I’m sure he’s seen me. There’s no animosity or past between us. We just happen to get off at the same stop, there on Gough and Sutter. We only talked once.

The only reason I’d want to avoid talking to Mark is just because I think he thinks there could have been something. Maybe at one point, maybe in that one evening ride when we first made small talk about some debacle that just happened on the bus around Polk Street, something that got us laughing at the absurd happenstance of any Muni ride. He was new to the city, getting a Master’s at USF and gleefully I spoke up on how proud of an alma mater I was. He made a great choice. He could have been a choice for me. But there were decisions I was already making– already committed to a second date to someone else, somewhere else. Someone who now isn’t anyone other than the love of my life.

But there are times where I still think, if Mark was the way things should have been. Here you have a young woman whose whole life revolved around the stories of fate and chance encounters that turned into greater stories, and after many of not-so-great encounters, resigned herself to the new world of modern dating. And it worked for her, the way that her chances faired better than her colleagues and friends who’d been on apps for months, a year– six months later, here she was, head over heels with the second man she matched with. And then out of the blue, Mark was on the bus again.

It’s been about three times since our first meeting, and the second time he came up to me and asked how I was. Thank God I remembered his name to save me from just an awkward reunion. He seemed really glad to see me again, and I won’t lie that it felt good to have a stranger’s face seem so satisfied to say “hey.” But the guilt came over me as I talked as politely as I could trying to brush him off, to get off the bus and head in the direction that I needed (it didn’t help we got off at the same stop, but at least turned into different directions). There was a brief moment of rejoice in seeing each other, and nothing more. I didn’t want him to think there was more. And by the time I saw him the third time, he got the hint.

I still can’t help but think, as in love and happy a relationship that I am in now, the way that my love life happened still gets me. I hate saying it, but it was inauthentic. The hopeless romantic in me still thinks about the ways I might have met boys or in the case of my boyfriend, if we would have ever met on the street by chance, no swipes involved. Would it ever have happened? What bars might we have nudged shoulders at? Whose car would we possibly have shared in an Uber Pool together? Could there ever have been some fluke accident that would take my boyfriend onto the very bus I ride, far away from his own work and route? Would this city have given us a chance on our own? Still sitting and thinking about the ways I could have met my lover in countless scenarios I’ll never have, I wonder if this is still all how it should be.

But Fate is Fate, no matter how you plug it into your life– it doesn’t just stop once you’ve signed up for the League or Bumble. From there, it’s still up to Fate on who you meet. And count my lucky starts, but friends who’ve been on the scene longer than I have are still there, looking, waiting, waiting for Fate to finally work itself out. My fate was decidedly more unique. It was easy. It was easy the moment I gave in to dating apps and let go of my ideals of an organic romantic encounter. And that’s the way it was supposed to be. If Mark was meant to be given any chance, then I would have met him a week before I’d signed up for CMB, weeks before I started feeling those butterflies for someone I had still yet to meet up with for a date but couldn’t wait to get a message from. Mark would have happened sooner if it was meant to be anything. If I was meant to meet my One and Only on the street, I wouldn’t have hit so many dead ends walking around this goddamn city.

I start thinking about everything that’s happened in those six months since I started dating someone. Think about those things, and replace his face with another and perhaps everything else about him. Put Mark in his place. In the place of the movie dates at the Castro or meeting my friends at the office on a Friday night for cheap drinks or by his side as I plan his hypothetical birthday out to John’s Grill. Would he have given even a shit about coming to hear my live reading revivals? I’d be looking up from the mic in the dimly-lit basement tearoom of the community center there in the Haight, right next to the Church of 8 Wheels roller disco, there in the small crowd and I’d look in his face, forget my own words in my mind for a second to reassure myself that he is there for me and wishing for my success up on the tiny stage. I think about these moments in my life where someone else might have been, and it kills me. Because when I start thinking about “what if,” there is no more what if, there is only now the sobering thought of can you imagine? I cannot– I will not, I will not forget any of the happiness that’s been brought to me on my own terms and fate designed for me. I am happy now, meant to be happy in this way with these memories with someone who everyday I thank God for not passing up that second day of matching in that first week on the dating app. Whose face I look into every day and comfortably associate with all those memories and moments I don’t have to hypothetically think about because they were real– and know that this was how it’s all supposed to go.

As an overthinking, anxiety-ridden person, I don’t feel ashamed wondering this as I see a familiar stranger’s face again. I think about everything, and then I remember that everything is good as it is. So simply put, I saw a guy on the bus again. A guy whose name is Mark and is a student at USF and who could have potentially been the love of my life. But he is not. That is life, and that is the life I love right now.

 

 

 

Storm Days

January 9 – January 15

All of a sudden the rain came.

What seemed like Karl the Fog just hovering over this city slowly turned into a well-planned coup of nature, the dark skies thickening as the mist lifted and the streets and deco houses of the Outer Sunset became visible again, only to be glossed over by torrents of rain that went from heavy to light. The feathery kind felt the deadliest— you underestimated how wet you’d really get until you’d been walking for at least four blocks.

So in the wake of these next few weeks you take extra water and Coca Cola from your work, maybe some Cheetos and chewy chocolate granola bars. You put these in your big bag, an old worn-down Eddie Bauer leather tote that used to belong to your parents and now can fit all these resources alongside the toothbrush and pair of pajamas and socks— because you’re shacking up, but shacking up elsewhere.

A movie night is much needed after weeks of cold and getting back into the groove of the work week, the new year— the last days of Obama and the America as you know it. It’s also been too long since seeing your boyfriend. You have only met up twice since reuniting since the dragging Winter Break. So bring on the storm— let our love keep us warm, as the song goes. But really, we’re gonna have to snuggle lots— it’s actually the best way we can beat the icy apartment he lives in that’s dropped to 41 degrees before. But no heater will be touched, as it’s a sacrifice worth making to save money for other pleasures of this godforsaken city.

I like rain. The petrichor is fine and the slick of cars going downhill on the roads winding through Pacific Heights can be heard so crisply against the wet pavement. It’s a metallic sheen that is as deadly as it looks without the right shoe traction. Sounds like a travesty. To me, it’s a pause in time. The usual protocol of sunshine and roses is easy for everyone— when you’re out in the rain beneath that gray sky, all is quiet, few people are about and only are walking somewhere out of necessity (unless they’re like me), and it’s like the everyday tune of a bustling life is taken a step back for the quiet. The peace. The reminder that it’s something you should do once awhile: pause and remember those beautiful moments when they’re absent. Even though the present state of weather in the city is just as breathtaking.

We wake up and though I heard the heavy fall of the raindrops from overhead on the sky roof that shadows this tiny room, there’s nothing now. It looks rather bright up top, like the sun broke through. We’re shacked up in layers of blankets and socks falling off our feet in a room that’s small but long just like the man whose love I’m entrusting in to keep warm during this storm. And it’s sunny out. But we’re still together, rain or shine, and though disappointed, we’re not going to let this weekend go to waste.

We start by never getting up until maybe, 2 hours after we first woke. It will then be 1 and my sweetheart’s already left to go fetch us some fresh hot coffee and those maple donuts sprinkled with bacon bits on top that I love. There’s never enough glaze though, and so I tell him to make it two for me. Me? I won’t get up until I hear he’s back and setting up the dining room table and the TV. I walk out and smile at the small gesture he’s done towards starting our late day. I’m just delaying time to use his bathroom— there’s still only one bathroom I’m comfortable using and that’s just mine.

I’ve seen my city in the rain many times before— its lightness as it descends gracefully through the air forty stories up from downtown, its illumination against the old yellow streetlights of Sutter Street all the way through to Fillmore where the trees get too heavily drenched and let off the water like little waterfalls from each leaf. But the Sunset feels exactly like a blank canvas, stretched out and devoid of trees and plenty of spaces to be painted over in the evening dew. As the sunlight dims out we can slowly hear the sticky pavement on the cars and crystalized beads latching onto the glass of the front windows of my boyfriend’s place. We’d been awaiting this only with extra shows, ordering in bland Thai food, and a refreshing shower in the evening that I very much enjoyed despite being not my own bathroom. The best part of all of this was warming up, getting through another season of my favorite show, and jumping onto the couch, acting like the worst was over. It was only the beginning.

This isn’t going to be a long recollection but just one of a moment in this week, a few moments about rain in this fogged up city. When the fog is too much, it gives gracefully out and then fiercely into nearly two months of dreary, pounding storms. We did finally get the rain. Terrific it was, as a second movie night was moved to my place amidst strung up twinkle lights that I’ve kept all through the months from my birthday party and the scattered blankets and pillows on the floor where we are joined by my sister dining on Village Pizza from Van Ness.

Now this is the movie night I had in mind, one enjoyed against the storm days of San Francisco outside and away, away from the company I now enjoy. We set ourselves up for this moment, with the late afternoon awakenings and disappointing sunlight and tasteless takeout, all that’s a part of what makes two people really enjoy each other’s company for this cold, wet day.

Hygge, or the Love that Keeps you Warm

December 5 – December 11

December is here. It’s an intimate time that puts things in perspective if other moments throughout the year hadn’t. Winter has that effect, naturally. The cold and dark mood of the world, especially as rain drenches all and you can see your breath cut through the air at 9 in the morning in the lowest part of San Francisco, is only fitting for the human spirit to start radiating what warmth it can to fight against them. And in Denmark, it’s all praise for such a phenomenon: ’tis the season of Hygge.

I first heard about Hygge in some radio commercial of Christmas Past for Cost Plus World Market, when the celebration was marked by candle light and lots of pillows and blankets around cups of hot coffee. “Hooga” is the celebration of coziness, as the word roughly translates to. Visit Denmark elaborates on the notion of Hygge as “creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people… Danish winters are long and dark, and so the Danes fight the darkness with their best weapon: Hygge.” And I had my eyes set on Denmark this year for traveling. What I would have given to seen the country in the time of all this warmth; the candles, the thick wool, the cheerful winter markets and colorful harbors lively and busy against the cold of Copenhagen as boats bob in the canals. How marvelous it would have been to see, especially for a fairy tale city I grew up admiring from the stories of Hans Christian Andersen and summer visits to California-based Solvang. As life goes, Fate had it that my time would be spent elsewhere, with my oldest friend whom I met up with amidst the holiday sprawl of a snowless New York City. But, timing is everything. In the time that I would have seen myself gone away from home just made me remember that for this time of the year, home is where you really should be. Hygge isn’t just a holiday or in one place– it’s coziness all around, a feeling one must create so that the darkness of winter does not consume them. As far away as I remain from the hub of Hygge, there’s no telling that what I have experienced here in San Francisco during December isn’t Hygge at all.

Start with coming back from New York. Although the heart of the Silver Bells myth, it felt as Christmas in New York as it would in a palm tree laden paradise. Maybe it was the lack of snow, maybe it was how 5th Avenue and SoHo felt so identical to Union Square back home, but coming back to San Francisco is when I truly felt the Christmas spirit. There really is no place like home for the holidays, as the song goes, so I like to think it was that. Nothing beats the familiarity of

  • The wreaths in all the windows of the gleaming Macy’s across from the tree and skating rink flooded with amateur couples on the square
  • A strong cup of Irish Coffee sipped at the counter of the Buena Vista before a holly and bell-decked Cable Car ride back downtown in the brisk late night, through the rolling hills of Hyde Street and Chinatown
  • Lights strung around grand old Victorian ladies of Pacific Heights and their curbside bare trees, holly berry wreaths hung on white glass doors
  • The Embarcadero on a Friday night, the lights of cars and bridges and towering skyscrapers alike flickering against the rain, and carrying a single yellow umbrella in heels walking with a case of PBR under your other arm
  • Watching classics like Elf with baked Brie and Pecan Pie beer and friends in PJs, and moving on to not so classics like Krampus
  • Fur collared coats, cracked hands, old lace up boots, deep red lips like blood that lighten all the black you wear
  • How light glistens through the dozen delicate mason jar snowglobes you proudly make yourself for gifts
  • The many alley ways where these lights continue, as well as artificial garlands that are stuffed into the cracks of Japantown store windows and along the mirrors of Kearny Bars
  • A studio apartment kept cozy by a space heater and Home Alone 2 on repeat, where most evenings end in melted Junior Mints and whiskey-cokes, and the carolers visit in the constant sound of Ambulance sirens headed to the hospital up the street
  • Santas, Santas aplenty has Santacon rolls around once more– many of their hats ending up in gutters along Polk Street where the heavy rain of that Saturday float them along in floods of dirty water. But they’re too busy to notice, drunk on peppermint-chocolate schnapps and feeling alive in their cheap red suits and felt hats with white pom poms dangling by a lazy string. Some might be familiar acquaintances hosting a cramped party beneath cheap decor bought from your company, others being new faces with motherly intentions giving over their half of a turkey sandwich at Lefty O’Doul’s.

These strange, familiar occurrences really put forth that feeling of love and joy needed most in your city just weeks away from Christmas– and best feelings when they’re the gifts you find giving back yourself.Having been broken up with by boys from afar and by friends who grow busy with their new lives in new homes in different cities or with other friends who are less weird than yourself– you start slipping into a self-despair of insignificance. But that’s the beauty of Hygge, and how I’ve found that this is the year where that feeling only comes best from when you find yourself becoming the warmth that another lost soul had been searching for, too.

Being there for someone is better than the other way around– it’s you in all your imcompletion that someone else begins to feel complete, a miracle and reminder that you alone are desirable, worthy of the love that keeps the human spirit alive and well in the winter. Reminders like serving as the date for a holiday party that isn’t your own, a date who was so proud of your elegance in a blue dress in the private room of the Waterfront Restaurant where wide windows embraced the glow of the Bay Bridge lights across the dark waters. It’s them that you keep falling more in love with and less in love with the band right before your eyes, the band that was the first love of your modern life. They say money can’t buy happiness, but it sure does when your purchases create the best memories, and the night of chaos and familiar tunes at Not So Silent Night was most memorable. I would have never had the pleasure of Bastille, Head and the Heart, and Green Day all at once in so beautiful and vibrant a memory without the utmost love and appreciation from someone new. The music plays loudly the songs you know by heart and classics you think only you as a true fan knows– and by some Christmas magic, you find you’re not singing alone.

In the past, the love and joy were things I received from many–and those many faces are gone. Little would I know that a year later, this was to be the Christmas for me, a lifelong dream finally fulfilled at the expense of a stranger who’s been the blessing I hadn’t seen coming, a face with soft eyes that make me feel alive and less alone as they sing softly to Rivers and roads when the Head and the Heart close their set on one of their most heartfelt songs that pierce the arena– rivers ’til I reach you.  As Christmas miracles prove,you suddenly feel like there’s nothing else needed in return for marking this most perfect moment in the cold of the world.

In creating that perfect intimacy most needed now, Hygge is best found by old, familiar experiences. Except for now, when you can relive them with new others, when you can feel that these moments need not be bound by one cold winter, but for eternity. Timing is everything, and if you’ve found Hygge, then time is aplenty to keep cozy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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