Here is one New Years Resolution: to adventure more outside of San Francisco. Berkeley, Oakland, etc. are all close by. And even though I'm a little obsessed with the 415, it's also nice to explore other parts of the bay. Plus, I have no good excuse not to--BART makes getting around incredibly easy.
Last weekend Nora and I took the 11:15 train to Berkeley to grab French food in the Gourmet Ghetto. (A short story I just read* describes Berkeley as being "full of nerds and dirty teenagers with their noses pierced like cow noses and also, the disabled." Still, let's give it the benefit of the doubt. Not that there's anything wrong with nerds, dirty teenagers or nose piercings. Or, the disabled. But anyway.)
We started to walk along Shattuck.
There we saw some neat things, like space catz.
The restaurant we went to prints their menu on disposable tablecloths. Creative! For dessert, Nora got the sorbet duo. I made her share some of the chocolate scoop.
When it got dusky out, we rode the Richmond train back to Mission. Came home to eat a bowl of Spaghetti-O's in record time, then headed out to barbecue in Zack's backyard.
* Aforementioned story is "If You Can Hear Me Thinking" by Kiara Brinkman, which I found in the free books shelf at my internship. It was published by One Story, a literary journal that features, as the title suggests, only one story per issue. Each installment is about the size of a slice of store-bought bread. While this format can feel a bit anemic in comparison with fatter, glossier journals, there's also something tender about it. You just have to learn to be satisfied with slightly smaller portions.
The beginning of my internship has coincided with a miniature heat wave--70 degrees in (a San Francisco) January! In a nineteenth century novel or a Shakespeare play, this would have some sort of metaphorical significance, but here it only means that my daily walks to the North Beach post office are a bit more laborious. Made six sticky trips to various mailboxes in the area while shipping a few hundred international subscriptions yesterday. (Man in hard hat walking past me: "Girl, you need a truck!")
Still, I'm loving it. Working for a literary magazine is just what I'd hoped to be doing this year, and right now, being able to pour myself into this work is a good distraction. I'm fascinated by all parts of the process, from the littler tasks (addressing the new issue to fans in Azerbaijan) to the big ones (reading through some of the 1,000 submissions the journal receives monthly.) The editors have been wonderful to me; so far, it seems to be a good fit.
On the third floor, I have an office of sorts, an octagonal room with two desks and a spinning chair and many crates full of submitted stories. Usually I'm spread out on the floor, digging through a box or two of manila envelopes. The internship is unpaid, but there are lots of perks: focaccia and brownies in reception, a room of free books, and the occasional celeb sighting, as the magazine is connected to a film company.
The first few weeks of this year have been very surreal. I've fallen behind on many domestic duties, such as general straightening-up and grocery shopping. In fridge:
I'm going through some tough stuff right now, so I decided to take a long walk to clear my head. A very long walk. A sixty block long walk, to be exact. I started at Haight and Divisadero.
Then I continued down Divis toward California.
There I saw houses like an ice cream trio: blueberry, lemon, orange sherbet.
As I turned onto Geary, a plane flew by overhead. Its trail divided the sky in two.
When I reached Masonic, I took a detour. Trader Joe's is my favorite place to spend money. They may have rejected my (job-hungry) advances, but I am still a loyal customer.
Clement street always feels like home...
... even if I do not always understand its storefronts.
When I was little, ASIA-STAR FANTASY INC. (their caps, not mine) was a source of endless intrigue. The store contained a bounty of brightly-packaged Chinese items. Due to the language barrier, I had no idea what they were, which only increased my fascination.
Many of the shops in this area seem to specialize in inexpensive but relatively useless items. Need a miniature plastic watering can or a large fake shrub? They've got you covered.
The glass walls of the second-floor House of Banquet restaurant create an interesting fishbowl effect.
One reason Clement street rox: 99-cent avocados! Bell Market could learn a thing or two from Lien Hing Supermarket Number Three.
Here is Green Apple, my favorite San Francisco bookstore. This is the music and movie portion of the store; I tried to get a shot of the book part but was intercepted by a homeless man, who began to accompany me down the street while muttering compliments under his breath. While flattered, I thought it best to move on.
My brother's favorite stop along Clement, which features a large variety of inexpensive amphibians and the repellant smell of fish food. Only die-hards can stick it out inside for more than a few minutes.
I've always found the greenery that runs along Park Presidio a little eerie. It looks to be a place where dangerous, medieval-sounding things might happen, such as ransacking and pillaging.
By the time I reached 20th avenue, the sky had become dark and my camera was being ornery. Even the flash wasn't working, so I put it back in my bag and walked home in the quiet.
One thing I hate is taking a plane ride. But one thing I love is traveling by car. I've always been this way--Mom says that when I was a baby, starting up the old Honda and driving somewhere was the only way to get me to sleep. This is basically still the case. I feel most calm and inward when I'm observing things unnoticed, and a moving car provides the perfect habitat for this kind of predilection.
Around you are all the things you really need. (For me: good company, music, something to write with, and crappy coffee sweetened with those flavored creamers they sell at gas stations.) Outside you is a catalogue of everything else. Roadside oddities, disagreeable weather, small-town businesses, fast food conglomerates, farm animals--it's all there to be perused and imaginatively expounded upon, while you are safely sandwiched between upright seat and glass window. The ideal car ride length falls in between two and four hours. Any less and your thought process is brought to a halt right after it kicks up; any more and your legs begin to cramp.
On the way up to Tahoe, I saw more cows than I could count, a mini golf course snowed over, and lots of creatively-situated houses (tucked into a nook on a mountain, extending off the side of a barn). I also made everyone play the license plate game, in which you have to think of a word that has the same letters, in order, as a specific plate. PZE: Puzzle. CNQ: Conquer!
Job hunt update: had an interview with Trader Joe's. Did not get hired. Things are not going well.
Me: Did you hear that there's supposed to be an apocalypse in 2012?
Nora: Yeah. That's some Y2K bullshit. Here's what's really gonna happen. In six hundred years, the world will be over. Then everyone will file off to a space station on the moon the size of California.