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.

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New Year, Old Childhood Books

January 1 – January 8

One of my favorite quotes is from C.S. Lewis, in a letter written to his goddaughter:

Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.

For me, that time may be coming sooner than expected. There is a sudden longing for books again first read during mid-morning visits to the library at Mountain View Elementary School, only 6 years old and never forgetting the stories of Frog and Toad and Rainbow Fish or freaking out over what happened to Ms. Nelson. Simple stories that most of all, excited the senses with their illustrations. I drew a lot as a little girl, and mostly just copying those books if not scenes from Disney movies. When you’re young like I was when reading these silly books, they’re anything but silly, shaping the world for you through rich colors and cozy little pond-side burrows and even down to the frills of a lovely dress. The allure for good books as a child is unforgettable artwork– things you’ll see first before the actual entire world.

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I still haven’t seen much of the world, but I’ve lived long enough where sometimes when I clock out of work right at 5 or overthink anything that gets my blood pressure up (which can be most things as an underpaid young adult in a big city), all I want is to escape back into one of those books. And on a rainy Sunday afternoon, the first day of a brand new year, I stepped into Green Apple Books on the Park and browsed the children’s corner for sometime. I didn’t leave empty-handed.

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Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney

Of all the childhood tales, the drawings of Miss Rumphius took me in, enchanted and showed me the beauty of innocence which I would forever take away from its story. A little girl who grew up doing the three dreams that would change life for the better: travel the world, live by the sea, and do something beautiful for the world. It was the last task she, Miss Rumphius, found the hardest to do, so daunting and yet so vague. As she tried figuring out what it would be, the story’s soft colors and delicate depictions of Main seaside to the far away lands like Egypt or the Bahamas reeled in its readers, wholly convinced that yes! Miss Rumphius, you live in such an incredibly beautiful world, please do something to preserve it!

(Even Miss Rumphius herself had no idea how she would achieve it, declaring on page _, “The world is pretty nice already.”)

Our titular character finds that making the world beautiful was easy after all– she sprinkled seeds of lupine in her village and along the coast where they bloomed into deep shades of pink, purple, and sky blue. By the story’s end, Miss Rumphius is old and white-haired and reminds children of the neighborhood to carry on these deeds to have a full life. On that last note was a lasting impression, a cycle if you’d like to call it that, for a young reader such that I was. For how was it that a kid’s picture book no bigger than 20 pages could tell a person how to enjoy life– get excited about it while all at the same time add to its wonder? That’s just why I know that I need fairy tales again in my life, way beyond 6 or 7 years old and sick of the hardening reality I am in now. A child wouldn’t know this same reality, they haven’t grown up to be aware of breakups, overdrawn account fees, crowded public transportation in the rain, or doing dishes after Thai food takeout. But we all need children’s literature, depicting the world for all its unique possibilities through their magical pictures, a reminder that the world is still the same one as you were a child– only thing is, you are not a child anymore.

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Favorite illustration of Miss Rumphius

I am still trying to accomplish those three tasks from the book I now own and have placed like a Bible right there on my nightstand. I’ve lived by the sea, if you’d consider Ocean Beach only 40 minutes away by bus or working in a skyscraper with breathtaking views of San Francisco Bay. I’ve seen little of the world beyond the East Coast, but I’m slowly chipping away at those borders into new continents and over oceans, but what places I have seen show me how diverse even my home country can be, for better or for worse.

And then there’s this “world beauty” part– how, or when? Then maybe– maybe I have already started this. Every time I walk along Sansome towards the 1 California Street line and greet the old man with the long, white-haired ponytail bent over with a dirty coffee cup for change held out. Or the seats I give up when children or elderly jump onto the bus. With the glass door into my office that I hold open for our front desk security as he thanks me running in as to not be late from his lunch. One of these nights I gave what change I had to the pony tail gentleman with a “Happy New Year!” and then came across a new face: Cindy. In a scooter where she fastened plastic bags stuffed with her personal belongings, she smiled up at me and asked what I did for a living. Her eyes were a lovely soft gray in the street light and her voice a jolly tune– things I took note of as I told her I was a writer. As we shook hands and exchanged names, she sincerely hoped that we cross paths again so that I may show her my work.

These beautiful things I find aren’t in how to create or maintain a literal, beautiful world, but even to keep its beauty alive through what daily interactions I have with it, especially its people. So it’s not so hard, not so bad. Actually, helping the world keep its beauty is in no way bad, and it shouldn’t be something we forget. But we do. But that’s where children’s stories come in, like fairies of their own right waltzing from shelves to save us from ourselves, our loss of memory for better, simpler views. And when you help the world, you’ll see that it’s a cycle, that when everyone does something for this world, it’s for each other.

So like fairy tale magic, there’s always a way to make things even more lovely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merry and Bright

December 19 – December 30

I tried my hardest, God knows I did. but this was not to be the Christmas I envisioned for some redemption of the dark ages to be known as 2016.

Everything is as perfect as it should be for a Christmas by the Bay, and even more so for when I am home in the outskirts of Concord, California. My mom’s wrapped the banisters of our strangely layed-out 1970’s home with multicolored twinkle lights and red tinsel garland, and she’s using the massive white paper snow flakes I created three years ago as mats on which to set her eclectic sets of Santa trinkets in the family room; the smaller red glittering ones for the whitewashed brick fireplace mantel downstairs by the 9 ft. tree that she always needs my dad’s help putting up. It’s not the only tree in the house– the old 7 ft is adorned upstairs with old wooden ornaments that look like candy and and cheap new ones from the 99 Cent Store on Clayton Road in the same strip mall where I later discover she’s bought some of my Christmas presents (black skinny jeans, a metallic notebook with a bicycle on the front) at their TJ Maxx. The tree’s red lights accentuate the warmth of the red decor against he off-white walls of our home and all the Santas and snowglobes within. Santas are the usual motif, even though my mom says she will change the theme every year. There’s some plaid on the coffee table runners and the rags that drape the oven handle in the kitchen where she’s put on display my red candle that’s burnt out and surrounded by nuts and twigs hot glued to a block of wood, a masterpiece of my CCD classes in the Second Grade.

This is the Christmas scene of our home these past nine years.

And to fit these embellishments so have the memories of Christmas past– for the most part. The early morning coffee treks to the Clayton or Oak Grove Peet’s at six in the morning, shaving down the Christmas lists as we shop in Walnut Creek, rewatching The Bishop’s Wife as these gifts are wrapped by the fireplace. There really is no place like home for the Holidays, the familiar and comforting feelings that they bring– but they were gone this year. God knows I did try to find them.

For the full week I had taken off from time and work in the City I only wanted those comforts. With the fondness I could recall from last year’s Christmas and the year before that, you could only anticipate what this time would bring. A natural human default is wondering how things can always be better, just as overthinking is another one– it was in the latter that I believe my turmoil started. A sister absent on Christmas Eve to be at the Raiders’ game with her boyfriend and too drunk to drive back home from his place in Lodi. The NBA Christmas Special almost reenacted to perfect a showdown with the Cleveland Cavs and our Golden State Warriors, and losing a $5 wager on the Super team to my sister’s boyfriend who’s showed up on the misty morning of Christmas Day. Family late to lunch and presents and knowing the game loss throughout the whole opening while your devoted fan of a dad proudly dons his new team sweater without having finished the game yet. Family leaving early– not even when it’s sunset. Too much champagne, or in my sister’s case, having to be elsewhere for Christmas night. This was Christmas day– just one of the whole week that fell short of those seasonal feelings I so badly wanted to have.

With all these small setbacks in the holiday season back home, I now find myself rather pleased with what seemed back  then a terrible Christmas. It sort of was, at lest not in any way a perfect one. But something I’ve firmly believed for sometime now is only telling to this way I feel now about this past week: things can fall apart so that better things may happen. The arrival of my aunt who hasn’t spent a Christmas with us in years. My other aunt’s husband, feeling homesick and yet hoping that this first Christmas makes that feeling less worse. The absence of my sister so that making her own choices and moves away from us may cement other meaningful relationships in her life. Having a breakdown over your weight gain on the 26th because of the frump of your new jeans and exchanging them for your first pair of running shoes in six years. A road trip repeatedly cancelled  so that a compromise may take us not far away, but to new sights and winding roads where little towns rest among towering pines of Highway 9 in the Santa Cruz Mountains and serve you Italian sweets with perfect Chai. Even down to the soothing chill of the eight o’clock wind of the Ygnacio Valley hills where our tire blew out minutes before returning home. All things that only now in my frustration to think back on a wonderful Christmas shine bright against the sour turn of events. They’re all now just another feed into the collective of those memories of the Christmases before, a bigger picture that will always still make me remember and love– and anticipate– the next one. Things fall apart– and what’s left over is a reminder that the constant memories are the only necessities to creating the spirit of the holidays.

I even saw my first live musical during these most wonderful times of the year. White Christmas, with its saturated sets and costumes and glamorous tap dance routines, was to be in my mind a quick yuletide fix. In the end, the snow being blown into the audience and the haunting, lovely lyrics of the titular song crooning in unison from the company, delivered.

May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be white.

No, not every Christmas will be peachy and pure, but it’s still a Christmas made merry in its own magical ways.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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November by the Bay: Participating in NaNoWriMo

From November 1st to November 30th, I will be taking a break from my weekly posts at A Week by the Bay.

The time I spend writing this coming month instead will be completely devoted to my participation in National Novel Writing Month 2016. Since 1999, NaNoWriMo has been encouraging inspired individuals to dole out their definitive story at the novel’s length within one whole month. At 50,000 words, it’s not an easy task, but if you’re passionate enough, along with the right tools and sources to keep the spark alive, there’s nothing to it. I’ve always known about the organization but never had anything, or time for that matter, to get something started. Usually there were novel ideas I had in mind, but they were stories that required way more time than a month to accomplish. And to be frank, I was a bit condescending to the whole idea– that anyone can write a novel. The English Major snob deemed Nanowrimo too general and inclusive, mocking the art form I spent four years studying.

But the goal of Nanowrimo isn’t about perfecting the art, it’s about just even trying to create it at all. A novel isn’t an easy piece of work to write, let alone start. With the allotted one month frame for its participants, it’s a true test of determination and creative drive that proves to the writer that essentially dreams are always achievable. If you can think it, you can write it, and you can do so when you put your mind to it. Because now, with Nanowrimo, I hope to finally try my chances again at writing longer fiction. The right story is in mind, and I’m just ready now to play my hand.

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Some inspiring images on my Pinterest Board for reference in writing my new story

I’ll follow back with my progress within a month, when my novel in mind, American Romance, is, hopefully– and most likely– finished.

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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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New Romances, Part III

August 15 – August 21st

A kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh…

And then sometimes, they really aren’t those things. Not when at least, you meet the right person.

I’m writing this now, nearly two months from the day that I really knew I came upon something wildly special.

I can recall specifics of his profile now, and even our subsequent chats; I’m feeling those same, warming feelings of comfort and intrigue as I did when we first matched. I have disabled (and now deleted) the CMB app with no urgency to yet again renew my profile– probably never. Because as luck might have granted, I met someone through the battlefield of modern dating.

He was in Law School, 6’5″ (good lord), and had an interest in bar hopping and cooking meals at 3 A.M. His first photo was taken besides whom I assumed were his parents and that struck me in a good way, someone who didn’t get weird or have some complex about photos on a dating site featuring their parents. On his religious preference he listed Christian, and it did worry me a little at a chance of him being more conservative than I was looking for. For a second, I thought he might not have been a fit. But everything he said stuck to me, all different than the other profiles. Sure, no guy on CMB is the same, but that’s how I felt with each match. Until I saw the 3 A.M. cooking, professional In N Out stalking, being a bit of a smart-ass confessing, and getting lost exploring San Francisco.

Sometime later in that afternoon, I got an alert from my phone:

– Hi Paris! Would you like to hear the story about how I thought I could fly when I was a little kid and split my head trying to jump from the kitchen counter?

No pickup I’d ever seen before. But different, different is what count.

-Well you pretty much just told me the whole story [laughing emoji]

– But damn, it does sound intriguing.

This was the beginning of a beautiful, odd friendship between two weird souls discussing fatal incidents of childhood, who had worse scars, and then onto our families, his excitement at becoming an uncle again any day now, then more about each other, the city we both lived in and loved. It all seemed effortless, honestly. With the dentist, we had passionate discussions about literature and careers. But with Him, we were passionate about everything. And it felt like we’d nearly been talking about everything longer than those first three days.

I remember that weekend leading up to our first meeting. Getting to know each other’s schedules we rescheduled meeting up three different times, but still the same place. Talking about books he brought up the brilliant suggestion we grab drinks together down at Vesuvio, the fabulous old haunt for Beat writers. Soon it wasn’t about where or when, but the occasional “can’t wait” with each phone message. I’d been going out twice on the town with friends from work, and he to hang and see Suicide Squad with close buddies, and throughout the long evenings dancing and sobering up on 4 glasses of water and watching men pick up girls from the mezzanine of Harper and Rye we were still messaging, apart but unified in the same isolation we were feeling out on the town. We still hadn’t met– and we couldn’t wait until the next afternoon.

We met an hour earlier than we were supposed to. I was done with all my Sunday chores and I was bored. We both weren’t about playing games, the sooner the better. And hey, if we weren’t a fit, at least we’d end the date early and I’d be back home before dark. He was very receptive to the idea, more so now since I mentioned the parrots of Telegraph Hill, and how I was hearing them now outside my own apartment in Pac Heights. Already catching the 1 and getting off at Chinatown to walk, I felt like I wore the wrong dress, the wrong shoes, not enough curls in my hair, no preparation to get the high squeak out of my first impressions voice. Uncertain of what to expect, and vastly unprepared. Not trying to get ahead of myself, all I needed to focus on was at least getting through the doors of Vesuvio and scope him out, lest I awkward miss his lanky figure in that low-ceiling place. I was turning the corner from Grant onto Broadway when I double checked his text to see if he had beaten me:

– So bummed. It’s $6 to go to the top and they’re going to close soon 😦

I called him straight away. Besides finding out that he had misinterpret our last chat as meeting up at the top of Coit Tower, there was also this: a voice, deep but smooth and filled with notes of jolliness, the kind only people who laugh a lot would possess. I heard his voice for the first time and somehow I wasn’t nervous anymore.

Sometimes you get those feelings that only make sense in stories, the instant rush, the flush in your face–even a faint tingling . You hear them in songs, you think it’s just fiction. But all stories come from somewhere, some real feeling. It’s been three months since, but those feelings are still here. I can’t explain all of our weird inside jokes, or our first date from meeting each other halfway at Washington Square. I won’t share much about how we wandered among the starry streets of North Beach and our first kiss at the bus stop he waited with me at, or the subsequent dates where each one seemed just as unique and effortless as the last. How he and I both love Arctic Monkeys and can slip in Godfather quotes during our conversations, or talk about obscure historical architectural achievements in stupid little things like Corinthian columns. I can’t break down the date that did it, the one where I was so excited to dress up like Ingrid Bergman in the wake of our movie date to see Casablanca at the Castro Theater and he surprised me with dinner and dressed in his very best slacks and button up– not quite Humphrey Bogart with his build, but rather Jimmy Stewart. Both of us seeing the movie that only months ago, I had already watched alone at the Castro Theater, alone on Valentine’s Day.

I can’t explain any of those things to my readers, but these feelings from those memories, that he, gave me– the feelings are enough. The smile is enough. The smile, three months still grinning, is strong and words don’t need to be dragged on to really make those feelings known, or shine through. Just meet him, some day you will. Some day is where I hope we’re heading to.

…As time goes by.

At the end of this series, I begin with an adventure, and end with a love letter.