Dear SF, it’s not you, it’s me

For those of you following my blog, you know I’m still getting accustomed to my new home. While there are aspects I absolutely love – the weather, the food, the lower cost of living, the lack of rats and mosquitoes – there are some things I need to get used to (more homeless, sucky mass transit, not having a Bed, Bath, & Beyond within spitting distance).

But yesterday as I rode the elliptical trainer at the gym, surrounded by tons of people of all ages in all states of dress, assaulted by the stink of douchebags working out in 100% humidity and the stare of the 50+ year old Asian weirdo on the machine next to me (though he might have been eyeballing the gaysian dude on my other side), I realized maybe I’ve been New York-insulated all this time.

I’ve mostly lived in gentrified areas
While I went to college uptown in the pre-Giuliani early ‘90s, when I returned in 1998, I lived in more gentrified areas: Prospect Heights, which was a bit sketchy compared to other parts of Brooklyn at the time but still okay, and the Upper West Side, the home of yuppies, the Natural History museum, and Zabar’s. Then it was off to the suburbs of Westchester, followed by the Upper East Side, which they might as well call lower Scarsdale. Finally, the Lower East Side, which while mixed is still pretty gentrified.

I’ve mostly walked around with my 6’2” boyfriend
On the UES, the only danger were tiny dogs that tried to bite your ankles. On the LES, I spent most of time walking around with MB (who maybe I should bring to the gym next time and make him lift heavy weights to let the freaks know they shouldn’t mess with me) so no one would say anything to me. When I walked alone, even in that area, there was more of a chance of something obnoxious being tossed my way (“Ni hao!” said by some Italian dude) but not as often you might expect.

I worked for a giant corporation for 10 years
For a good decade, my pattern was home, train, work, train, home, with trips to library school or Lord & Taylor thrown in. My company was so big, you didn’t have to leave for meals, the bank, the post office, or the gym.

At the gym everyone was kinda the same because we all worked for the same company and were made to wear a “uniform” – shorts and T-shirts provided by the facilities (which some found appalling but which I liked because you never had to remember to bring clothes or bring home smelly, sweaty ones in a plastic bag).

Because we were at work, you’d never think of hitting on someone. My only experience was some random 50-year old (what’s with me and the 50-year olds?) who told me my form on the rowing machine was incorrect, tried to tell me the correct form, then said, “Go on, try it, I’ll watch,” kneeling next to me. Um, creepdom!

So maybe it’s me and not SF
In New York, I frequent only the safe routes – the streets that take me quickly home without incident, or where I can walk leisurely without worries; the areas of Central Park where I can sit for hours and daydream, or run with headphones and not worry about some crackhead coming up behind me – and avoid the areas that make me uncomfortable, which, for better or worse, are fewer and farther between nowadays.

I’m still getting to know San Francisco and so am venturing everywhere, not sure of the places to avoid. MB is at work all day so I’m walking alone more, and I don’t have an enormous bubble of a company to insulate me. Of course I’m going to be hit with “reality” a lot more here.

So dear SF, I’m definitely not breaking up with you. You deserve two or three years at least.

Though that Portland fellow is looking mighty fine lately. ;)


  1. I’ve been here for just over four years, and I completely understand. It takes a while to get used to this weird little world that is SF. Hang in there! It gets so much better!

    (Also, just perusing your other posts… have you considered joining City Car Share? It’s a non-profit, cheap, and gives you access to wheels, which are very helpful for furnishing-the-house missions.)

    • hi, thanks for commenting! i’m sure it will get better and that it’s just a matter of adjustment. i’m already impressed by all the fresh produce and have started taking the weather for granted. yesterday my mom told me it’s about 40 in NJ, and i was shocked.

  2. Don’t forget it’s not just the change in location, in a shift in culture as well. I remember plenty of people back in college or just after college adjusting between SF and Boston, even between SF and LA. Conan alludes to some of the difference in his skits. Glad you’re trying to keep an open mind.