Jul 13

The Danger Zone: Breaking My Routine (Sometimes)

Panneau Zone dangereuseLifehacker recently had a good article about the science behind why it can be difficult to break out of your comfort zone, and the reasons it’s important to do so.

Your comfort zone is a place “where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk.” I get stressed out pretty easily so I love my comfort zone. However, if things are too easy, I get bored, which explains why when I’m busier I’m more productive.

This is called Optimal Anxiety, and “it’s just outside our comfort zone,” says Lifehacker, “a space where our stress levels are slightly higher than normal,” but not too high, otherwise “our performance drops off sharply.”

My brother Greg took himself out of his comfort zone (sometimes way out) every day for a year. He’s said it’s not necessary to do what he did, that even small challenges are good, but sometimes I forget that. The Lifehacker article reminded me of Greg’s points, that sometimes it’s as small as doing an everyday activity differently.

17_viewfromsacrecoeurWhile YP and I were in Paris, he asked me what I hoped to get out of the trip. I realized then that I had no idea. “To have fun?” I said at the time. That was true. To get away? Not really. Even with recent struggles, I love my life. I love my job and writing; I love where I live. I love my routine.

Ding! ding! ding! I wanted to go to Paris because, well, Paris, but also I wanted to change my routine, no matter that the trip would be slightly stressful what with leaving work for so long, spending money, and being in a brand new place with a language barrier.

Now I realize that those slightly stressful reasons were partly why I wanted to go. When I returned to my comfort zone, I knew I’d feel great. I’d be physically tired, but mentally and psychologically re-energized and more creative. (This is probably why I like vacations that require effort, rather than, say, a cruise or resort.)

This weekend I broke my usual routine, and I’m so glad I did, although when I planned it, I didn’t think, I need to break out of my comfort zone. What I wanted was to be a tourist here in San Francisco the way I was in Paris, and see some things I’ve been wanting to see.

How I bailed

Let’s get this out of the way first. I did bail on one of my planned activities. The night of July Fourth, I was supposed to go to the Exploratorium. Every first Thursday of the month, the museum stays open late for adults only and has special programs. This month it was about the science behind fireworks. Cool, right?

But the later the day got, the less I wanted to go. Then I started hearing firecrackers in the street, and remembered that there’d be tons of drunk people out, and I wanted to go even less. In the end, I stayed in.

The Winchester Mystery House

Going to the Winchester Mystery House was scary, but not because of ghosts.

I was going alone. I’m not someone who always needs to do stuff with people. I love going shopping, to the movies, and museums by myself (although I love doing those things with friends too). But I’ve been wanting to go there for a while, and the timing was perfect.

However, when I got there, I kind of felt like everyone was looking at me like I was a freak (ironic considering the freakishness of some of the people there). Was it because I was Asian? Or because I was on my own? But they didn’t necessarily know that. Anyway, what these random people thought made no difference in my life so I ignored them.

Next I had to brave being in a tour group as a single. After they checked our tickets, they made us take a picture with props, which they’d try to sell to us afterward. GOOD GOD NO. I was not going to be made to stand there by myself with everyone watching. Sure, that would have taken me right out of my comfort zone, but I was already there, wasn’t I?

While the photographer was distracted, I sneaked in behind him and avoided it all together.

It was in a place I had never been before. The house is in Santa Clara, which is not far from San Jose. The Caltrain goes straight there, which was a comfort to me, but once I got there, I had to figure out where my bus was, and then get off the right stop.

Getting to the house was easy (although the bus ride was much longer than I expected, about 20 minutes, and I kept thinking was, Where the fuck is this place? [off the highway and across a mall, that’s where]), but returning to the train station was another story.

I assumed the bus stop would be on the opposite side of where I first arrived, and so that was where I waited. And waited, and waited. The schedule said the next one was due to arrive at 7:51. That time came and went, and that was when I started to panic.

I ducked into a nursing home and asked the man behind the counter if he knew anything about the bus. He said it came in more like 40 minute increments. I went back outside and tried to calm down. Sure enough, it eventually arrived, and I got to the station in time to catch the next train back to SF.

Was it worth it? Yes, in that I’ve wanted to see the house since moving here back in 2009, and I overcame my fear of going to a new place on my own. But the house itself? Not really, I’m afraid to say. It was neat but pretty cheesy and not worth the 1.5 hours on the train, plus the 20 minutes on the bus, plus waiting 40 minutes for a bus to go back.

Alcatraz and Angel Islands, or How I Almost Bailed Again

I know, I know. But these were circumstances beyond my control. And I said “almost.”

I woke up early Saturday morning to get ready to catch the 9:30 ferry to Alcatraz. First thing I checked my phone – Instagram, Facebook, email, Twitter, and Words with Friends (in that order) – as I do every morning. That was when I discovered my internet wasn’t working.

Long story short, I called my provider and they said the earliest someone could come was between 8 AM and 12 PM that day. At first I thought, Screw Alcatraz, I can’t be without internet. But after a few minutes I thought, No, I want to ride a ferry to see a cool prison. I don’t want to sit at home for four hours. So I wouldn’t have internet for a couple of days (I still had cable TV). Living on the edge!

I rescheduled for the next afternoon, but in the end I didn’t even need the appointment because by the time I got back that same day, the internet was working again.

View from ferry to Alcatraz

View from ferry

I’m really glad I didn’t skip Alcatraz and Angel Islands. Alcatraz was the opposite of the Winchester House: gritty, dirty, smelly (large flocks of seagulls STINK, even the cute fluffy baby ones), and real. In other words, I freaking loved it. Other highlights:

  • The ferry rides. Who doesn’t love a ferry? Even when they’re freezing cold.
  • The park ranger who led the Escapes tour. I can’t remember his name but he was nerdy and awesome. Made me want to be a park ranger.
  • The audio tour. The narrator is a former guard and has this gruff voice. “Now walk down this hallway. Turn left. You’ll see a photo. LOOK AT IT.”

The tour on Angel Island wasn’t as exciting. It was an hour-long tram ride. The scenery was beautiful, but I’d rather hike there. In fact I hope to return and do just that. More Danger Zone!

The Lifehacker article mentions that the comfort zone is neither good nor bad. It’s a natural state for most people and shouldn’t be thought of something that’s holding you back. It’s a place of recovery after stepping into a more dangerous zone, a “head-space where we’re least anxious and stressed so we can process the benefits we get when we leave it.” That may be my favorite part of these danger zone adventures: returning to comfort to remember them.

[Photo: “Zone Dangereuse,” CC BY 2.0 by Frédéric BISSON]

Aug 12

Another bus story

Yesterday on the bus, a homeless guy came up to me and said, “Young lady, can me and my girlfriend slide in there?”

I stared at him. What he meant was can you move over so that we can have your seat. Oh hell no! I first thought. While my seat wasn’t the best one on the bus, it was maybe third best. Also: first come first serve.

On the other hand, I didn’t really want to get into it with the two toothless homeless people who reeked of alcohol. So I begrudgingly said, “Sure,” and slid over.

Only afterward I realized: He called me young lady!

You can have my seat for that, toothless sir.

Nov 11

Annoying neighbors

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I have some crazy ass neighbors who fight constantly.

And the latest:

I’ve had my fair share of loud neighbors. In Boston there were two girls who argued all the time. Once I heard a chair being thrown; another time I heard one holler: “You’re such a vindictive cunt!”

In New York I never had to deal with fighting neighbors, but that doesn’t mean they were quiet. My upstairs neighbors in Westchester were particularly noisy. The little kids would run around and jump well into the evening. I remember once when it was going on past 10 (sure it was a Saturday but it’s still annoying), I went up and asked them to quiet down. The woman was a total bitch about it. She “fauxpologized,” saying, “They’re just having fun.”

Yeah, fun right on my head.

In my Manhattan apartment, the worst I had to deal with was the guy upstairs who seemed to walk with concrete-filled shoes and would blast cheesy music, as well as idiots who thought it was a good idea to stand in the hallway or stairwell and have a conversation late at night. In MB’s place on the Lower East Side, I rarely heard his neighbors at all. Once in a while, we heard the girl upstairs having sex, but that was it.

In San Francisco, it’s been a different story.

Our former downstairs neighbor was a complete nutcase. Sometimes I’d hear her sobbing; other times she had very loud sex. Once I think she had sex with two guys at once. Then she got a boyfriend, and she seemed to even out except for their occasional epic fights.

Their fights were usually just yelling (“I’m sorry I ever met you!”) but once we heard what could have been hitting. They were fighting and fighting, and the guy said, “You’re fucked up! You’re fucked up! You’re fucked up!” and the girl sreamed, “Then go away! GO AWAY! GO AWAY!” followed by the sound of banging and the girl crying. At that point, MB called 911.

The police came, and MB showed them which apartment it was. I heard the girl yelling, “You have him up against the wall?! You have him up against the wall?!” I don’t think they arrested him. I think they just made him leave, after which the girl wandered back and forth in her apartment, sobbing. Then she – get this – opened her bedroom window and jumped out.

At the time I didn’t know she did this. All I heard was their window open below ours (they were on the second floor), her grunts of exertion, and then her cries coming from the garden behind our building. I was confused because I hadn’t heard their door open and close, but the next morning when I saw the pillows below their window, I put two and two together.

What a fucking idiot.

Even when the girl wasn’t fighting with her boyfriend, she was still noisy. She was a total night owl and would stay up all night talking to her boyfriend, or on the phone, or with some equally loud and annoying friend. Last winter, for two or three nights in a row, she stayed up all night watching TV full blast in her bedroom. I guessed that her boyfriend was away for Christmas, and that she was lonely. Like I gave a crap. It was as though her TV were in our room.

By that point, MB had gone down several times over the course of a few months to ask her to turn down her music or whatever, and he was fed up. One night she had her TV going, he stomped on the floor really loudly – so loudly she gave a little scream. And she turned down her TV a tiny smidge, which made no difference.

Later I found out some stuff about her, like she had had a really hard childhood with all kinds of abuse, but still: we were really happy when she moved out.

Then in moved the fighting couple upstairs.

Usually they’re not too bad. The girl walks incredibly heavily, and the guy sometimes plays guitar and sings, or else raps terribly. Otherwise they keep normal hours.

But they fight. ALL. THE. TIME.

Last night we were woken at two o’clock in the morning by the guy yelling. (I don’t why it’s always at two. Our former downstairs neighbors would also get noisy at two AM. My only guess is that that’s when the bars close and they come home, drunk and riled up, which is AWESOME for us.) Anyway, last night the guy yelled, stomped around, then stomped around A LOT. It sounded like a herd of elephants running back and forth. We guessed that his girlfriend was trying to get away from him, and he was going after her. Things were thrown; our lights shook.

At this point, we were up and watching television. There was no way we could sleep through that, partly because it was so noisy, and partly because we were on edge that something REALLY bad would happen, because in case you’re wondering, we could tell that there wasn’t any hitting involved. At one point the girl said, “You hurt my hand!” and the guy said, “Oh, you can push me, but I can’t push you? You’re heavier than I am!” (which is true: he’s a wimpy a little guy, and she must outweigh him by 20 or 30 pounds).

But just in case we kept our ears peeled. MB heard the guy yell something like, “I’m never voting for anyone you work for again!” whatever that means. I heard him holler, “You’re a liar and a coward!” She was crying. Finally, close to four AM, the yelling and stomping finally stopped. Either he left, or they just pooped out.

Next time they fight, I should just live tweet it, like this guy.


Nov 11

Invasion of the drunk CalTrain people

Three days a week I ride the CalTrain to my job. Usually it’s lovely. The train is clean and comfortable, and my ride is long enough to get a bit of reading or writing done, but not too long to be boring. In the mornings it’s very quiet, and not too noisy in the evenings (except when there’s a baseball game, and then it’s douche central).

One day after work last week the trains had major delays. Signal problems, I guess? Whatever the reason, all the trains were backed up by 20 or 30 minutes. We were waiting and waiting, and I ended up chatting with a couple of people. Nearby was a drunk guy, but he was far enough away that we could ignore him. Then suddenly he was talking to us.


As he was drunk, he didn’t make much sense. “This place is filthy!” he kept saying. “I wear flip-flops and my feet are black!”

Then maybe you shouldn’t wear flip-flops.

“I have to get pedicures and facials every week!”

Uhhh. . .

“In Miami I don’t have this problem.”

Then  maybe you should go back to Miami.

“I’m a real man. I could kick anyone’s ass.”

Before or after your facial and pedicure?

“We grew up poor! We had a cardboard box for a table.”

No one asked but okay.

While he ranted, I tweeted about him.

Eventually he went away, much to our relief, and that was the end of him.

Or so I thought.

Yesterday I was walking back from the gym in the rain. I had neglected to bring my umbrella, and was holding the hood of my rain jacket tight around my neck. I was waiting to cross the street when this guy next to me said, “Keeping it closed like that’s not gonna keep you dry. Just leave it open.”

And it was the drunk guy from the CalTrain.


He was wearing the same exact outfit: black sweater, jeans, and (yes) flip-flops. And he was drunk again. Or still. Who knows.

Keep in mind I saw this guy in the town where I work, and then again three days later a block from my apartment.

“Did he follow you?” MB asked, all concerned.

Highly doubt it. I’m surprised the guy was lucid enough to make it into San Francisco. Plus he obviously didn’t recognize me, and immediately after his comment, ran off to try and steal this woman’s cab.

Let’s hope he’s on his way back to Miami.

Oct 11

Building troubles

I don’t think I’ve written here about the troubles my building has been having. Well, not so much the building itself but the building owner.

I love our original landlady. She gave us a furnished apartment without much to-do; she made it easy for us to move from a smaller place to a bigger one in the same building. She offered us a special deal in which we paid several months of rent at once for one month free and a year’s worth of free cable, internet, utilities, and twice a month maid service. She’s smart and fun to talk to.

I won’t go into her specific troubles too much, but let’s just say that now we have a new owner. During the various changeovers, I was often given the impression that anyone taking our previous landlady’s place was not to be trusted. I kept hearing different things from different people, and didn’t know what to believe. So I was wary with these new owners.

However, so far they have been awesome. They’ve been very open and helpful, and right now they’re doing some much-needed renovations to the building. My previous landlady also had big dreams for the building, but they were sort of ass backwards. Like, how about repainting the crummy exterior first before getting new fancy furnishings for the apartments.

One of the great things about our place is that we had a hideaway bed in the living room. I say “had” because when our previous landlady was still our landlady, she asked if she could give our bed to a neighbor who was having guests soon.

“I have a brand new mattress coming soon,” she told us. “And I’ll give that to you.”

Sure, why not.

Weeks passed, then months. We weren’t having any guests so we didn’t care too much about the new mattress, but every time she saw us she said, “Oh yes! It’s downstairs. I just need to have it brought up.”

Well, finally, we’re having a guest. (My brother, by the way, who will be performing in Mortified. Go see him!) I doubted the new mattress was still around, but I thought it didn’t hurt to ask. Turns out there was never a new mattress.

“Just old ones,” the super told me. “And we’re getting rid of those. Unless you want one.”

No thanks. Air mattress to the rescue!

And just this morning I was handed a check for two years’ of interest on our security deposit. I completely forgot that we were supposed to get this.

Another thing I found out: to entice us to pay rent ahead of time, our previous landlady had told us that electricity, gas, heat, and garbage would cost about $300 a month. Well, I just switched electricity and gas over to our name, and they say it will cost only about $35 to $40 a month, and the new owners will continue paying for heat and garbage collection. So I guess that’s not really a lie, but I guess owners paying for the other stuff is not unusual.

Our lease expires at the end of the year, and I’m hoping our new lease will be okay. I really don’t want to move.

Jun 11

This just in: People are jerks

*Sigh.*  What is it about people and their sense of entitlement?

Yesterday, a beautiful sunny Sunday, MB and I were hanging out in Union Square.  It was pretty crowded so we shared a shaded table with an older British couple.  The altercation wasn’t with them.  We largely ignored each other.  They relaxed with their ice cream cones, I wrote and read stuff on my iPhone, and MB, as is his fashion, played his guitar with headphones on.

When he plays, he stands.  Helps his back.  It so happens he was standing in front of me, but what the fuck do I care?  I could see around him, and was writing, and it wasn’t like we were at the movies.

So we were hanging out peacefully, minding our own business, when suddenly I heard the horrible scrape of a metal chair, and that chair bumping into mine.  No, not just bumping.  Basically crashing into and past.  I turned around and this old guy stared at me without apologizing.  Okay, whatever dude.  He gave me a creepy vibe so I scooted my chair up.  Creepy turned into annoying when he REALLY made himself at home at the table, already shared, please note, by four people.  He took out a plastic bag and some other junk and proceeded to noisily, lip-smackingly eat his smelly, onion lunch.  I tried my best to ignore him, though I felt uncomfortable with him at my back.

Then, all of a sudden, he got up, walked by me – almost bumping into me again – sidled up to MB, and stood right next to him.  I was sitting there thinking, What the fuck? The guy was old and grizzled, and didn’t look homeless, but had an odd pink shirt, green pants get-up.  He just kept  standing there RIGHT NEXT to MB, not saying anything.  Finally, MB removed his headphones and said, “Can I help you?”

The guy still didn’t say anything.  He inexplicably handed MB some change.

Finally, after much effort, we got the idea that the guy wanted MB to move a little, that he was apparently right in his line of sight, although, um, we were there first and for a good forty minutes before old guy whack job decided to move his chair DIRECTLY behind where MB was standing.  Needless to say, some words were exchanged.

“Oh, so you want me to fucking move?” MB said.

“You could move a little,” the guy said in a Russian accent.  “You have your back to your girlfriend.  It’s not good.”

Don’t make this about me, asshole!

“So instead of asking me politely,” MB said, “you come up and stand right next to me, and hand me change.”

“You didn’t move when I asked you to move.”

“No, you never asked me to move. You stood next to me and handed me change.”

“Please move,” the guy said sarcastically.

“NO,” MB responded, put his headphones back on, and started playing again.

At one point, MB turned around to take a sip of his coffee, and saw the old guy shaking his head.  “Don’t you shake your head at me,” MB said, and more words were exchanged.  The old guy went on and on about how MB was in the way, how he shouldn’t have his back to me.  I said, “You moved your chair right behind us!”  But he didn’t listen.

“You have your ass to your girlfriend,” he kept saying. “It’s not nice.”

“I don’t care!” I cried.

“She likes my ass,” MB said.

After that, we couldn’t really enjoy our time, so after a few minutes, we left.

And get this, the security guard followed US out.  What the fuck?   A guy vying for biggest asshole on the planet gives us a hard time when we’re just hanging out, and WE get followed out by security?  Why, because we stood up for ourselves and refused to let the asshole get away with being an asshole?

*Sigh” again.

I don’t understand these people who demand respect.  I don’t owe you respect.  Sure, I owe you common courtesy, and vice versa, but you EARN respect.

Let’s take another example.  Last week, the CalTrain, before a Giants game.  The train was crowded of course, but there’s almost always a seat on the upper level in the last car.  I got on and a skanky girl BLOCKED the stairway.  She stood on the last step like that was a perfectly reasonable place to stand.  I came up on her, and she didn’t move.  I said, “Excuse me, could I please get by?”  She still didn’t move.  I raised my hand like I was going to – gently – push her aside and said again, “Excuse me,” and finally, reluctantly, she moved, BARELY giving me enough space.

After I passed – note: AFTER – she said, “Don’t think I’m going to move again when you can’t find a seat.”

Why?  Did I DISPRESPECT you somehow by asking you to move out of the way?  Did I call you out on being wrong, and no, you are not wrong, you’re NEVER wrong?  It must be fun to be your boyfriend.  And you know if I had returned to her said, “What did you say?” and confronted her, I would have labeled the crazy bitch, not her.

Anyway, of course I found a seat.

AND, this morning on the bus (it just doesn’t end).  Crackhead-ish lady with several missing teeth missed her stop.  She pulled the cord right after we left.  “Can you please stop?” she called. “Please?”  Of course the driver didn’t.  As we got nearer to the next stop, she kept yanking the cord, and pushing the back doors like they were going to open by her sheer will.  She finally, angrily, got off the bus, but then ran to the front and banged on the door.

“My purse!” she yelled.  Crazy crack-head forgot her wicker purse that was, for some unknown reason, wrapped up in a garbage bag.  The driver stopped and let her back on.  She dashed on, grabbed her purse, dashed off, and as she did, whacked the driver with her purse.

Yup, it’s TOTALLY his fault you fell asleep in a crack-laden stupor, missed your stop, and forgot your garbage bag purse.

The driver was unfazed as we drove away.  “I got it all on camera,”  he said, pointing up.

Think I need to stay away from the general public for a while.

Apr 11

CalTrain trouble

Last night I got to the train station only to hear that “All Northbound and Southbound trains [were] stopped.”  That’s it.  No other explanation.  My co-worker checked online and found that in Palo Alto, a train had hit a car.  Yikes.

It’s not the first time someone’s been hit.  At my stop in San Mateo, a person was hit and killed a few months ago.  Awful, yes.  But at the same time, I was cold-heartedly glad that it was early enough in the day that it didn’t affect the rush hour commute.

Yesterday was a different story.  My co-worker and I waited.  Waited and waited and waited.  The announcements offered no information except, “All Northbound and Southbound trains are stopped.”  No shit lady!

I started to get worried.  How the hell was I going to get home?

Forty minutes passed.  Finally, my co-worker had the brainstorm to ride his bike to Millbrae and take the BART from there.  Lucky!  Then I noticed that the sign read that SamTrans was accepting CalTrain tickets, and remembered that I walked past a SamTrans bus stop every day.

Thankfully there was indeed a sign at the bus stop that said, “Downtown San Francisco.”  Thank God!  But there was just one girl and a homeless guy there.  Would a bus really stop there?  I waited.  Waited and waited.  I started to think I should grab a cab to Millbrae and take the BART.  One passed, I hesitated, and someone else snagged it.  Damn!

I wandered away from the bus stop, looking for a cab.  Then I saw it, the SamTrans, and hightailed it back to the stop. Now it was suddenly teeming with people.

Unlike the MUNI buses and MRSA-laden BART trains, the SamTrans was surprisingly clean.  The seats were comfy and hardly anyone was on it.  I thought, Why don’t I take this instead, especially if it stops closer to my apartment?

I soon found out why: it stops every-fucking-where.  It stops at the airport and all three terminals.  It stops in every shitty podunk town between the airport and the city.  At times I thought, Where the fuck am I?

At the same time though, it was sort of an adventure (albeit from tragic circumstances).  If you had told me two years ago that I’d be traveling through San Francisco and its outskirts like a native, I’d have highly doubted you.  I didn’t even bother checking to see where the bus stopped.  “Downtown SF” was enough.  I knew that wherever it dropped us, I could figure out how to get home.

After an HOUR (the train takes half that) we were finally in the city.  I got off on 5th and Mission, and walked the rest of the way home.

Got in at about eight, about an hour later than usual, which is actually not so bad, considering.  The article said that trains didn’t even start running again till that time.  I’m really glad I didn’t wait around.

On the news later that night, MB and I heard that in the car, the husband was able to get out but not his wife.  Apparently she was driving, they got stuck on the tracks, and she couldn’t get out in time.  I can’t imagine how the husband must feel.

Jan 11

Chivalry is dead

At least in SF.

If you’re my Facebook friend, you’ve already heard me ranting about the altercation MB and I had with a middle-aged douche in Union Square over the weekend.  If not, you get to read all about it here.

Apologies to my East Coast friends, but we had a gorgeous weekend.  Sunny, upper 60s.  MB and I spent a good part of Saturday and Sunday in Union Square – he played his guitar, I read and tried to write – which while lovely is overrun with tourists.

We were maneuvering our way through the crowded and narrow sidewalk just outside of Macy’s when I noticed a guy engrossed in his Blackberry, blocking the way.  Now, the guy wasn’t right smack in the middle, but he was standing perpendicular against the building.  In other words, his body was still blocking at least 1/3 of the walking path, the walking path that I was on.

“Excuse me,” I said to him as we neared.  When he didn’t move, I told him, “You’re right in everyone’s way.”

That’s when he flipped.  “How am I in the way?” he shouted after us.  He was in his 60s, had on a polo sweater, khakis, and boat shoes with tassels.  “Answer my question. How am I in the way? I’m standing against the building. How is this in the way?”

“Look,” MB said.  “All she said was excuse me.”

“No, she said I was in the way.”

“I said,” I said, “excuse me. But you didn’t move. Then I said you were in the way.”

“You have no right to talk to me like that.  How can you talk to people like that?”

“All she said was excuse me,” MB kept saying.

This went back and forth for a couple of minutes till finally the guy said, “You’re crazy. You’re certifiable to think I was in the way.”

I almost started to laugh.  Good comeback!

We left but then MB said, “No, I’m going back,” then went after the guy although he had already crossed the street.  I can’t even remember what he said, really, but I do remember the boat shoe douche’s face got very red as he shouted, “What is this really about? I don’t suffer fools! You’re a fool! You’re foolish!”

Look, dude, if someone says, “Excuse me,” obviously you’re in the way.  You don’t ignore them just because *you* think you’re not in the way.  And if you heard me say, “You’re right in the way,” you heard me say, “Excuse me.”  And by the way, standing perpendicular to a building, if you’re six feet tall and 200 pounds, is not standing out of the way.

I wasn’t really surprised by this.  What I’ve noticed around here, more than the East Coast, is this passive aggressive sense of entitlement by white people 40 and over.  From the women I almost expect it, but from the men I expect a wee bit of chivalry, not refusing to get out of my way, or pushing in front of me, or ignoring me as I hold open the door for you, which I’ve experienced a lot here (especially for some reason on Fillmore Street).

Not that there aren’t rude men in New York.  But more often than not, they’re younger, and the older guys tend to be more old world – from Italy, Greece, or some other European country.  Here you know they grew up with their mommies spoiling them, and everyone telling them exactly what they want to hear all their lives.

The only upside is the now I appreciate when people are genuinely polite, and I don’t mean fake-polite, expecting me to kiss your ass for common courtesy.

Oct 10

One whole year

It just hit me this morning that it’s been exactly one year since I moved to San Francisco from New York. I guess it’s been too long now for me to say I “recently” moved here, but it actually still feels recent. At the same time, a lot has happened.

I was jobless for the first time in a very long time. Excluding my freshman year in college, I’ve worked every summer and school year since I was 18, at least part-time. Basically 20 years of working. Then suddenly I had all this free time. It was kind of like kids’ summer vacations, a combination of luxury, boredom, and loneliness.

I lived in a new city for the first time in over 10 years. Last time was Beijing in 1998, and before that Boston. SF is more like New York than Boston is, but it’s still very different. The lack of sidewalk traffic, the hills, the hobos. The sucky mass transit, a fewer variety of restaurants, the better weather. Speaking of which. . .

No winter, no summer. This was the first winter – well, ever – that I did not experience snow. New Jersey, Boston, Beijing, and New York all have snow. To tell the truth, I didn’t miss it. Snow is pretty at first, but it gets disgusting really fast, between the dirt and those menacingly deceptive slush puddles at curbside (you know: you think it’s a frozen sheet of ice when actually it goes up to your hip).

While there were some pretty cold days they weren’t unbearably cold, not like those days on the Lower East Side that MB and I couldn’t even walk the 10 minutes to the subway but had to take a cab there.

We did have several days of summery, almost 100 degree temperatures, but at least it wasn’t east coast humid. I took just two showers a day instead of four.

A big Thanksgiving dinner. Excluding stressful Thanksgivings with my in-laws, it was my first ever. Usually it was just my parents, brother, and me, and then just my parents and me since my bro lives in L.A. This year it was my parents, brother, me, MB, my aunt, my grandmother, my cousin, her husband, and their child. It was great fun.

But I don’t really want to do it again, at least not this year.

Christmas away from home. My first since Beijing, and it affected me more than I expected.

Getting published. All my writing and hustling the months I didn’t have an office job paid off! I entered contests like crazy, did National Novel Writing Month, and started writing for the wonderful literary site, The Nervous Breakdown. Earlier this year I pitched my first idea to The Frisky.

I didn’t realize how much of it difference it makes to write and pitch basically 24/7. When I was working full-time, I wrote continuously but rather slowly, and didn’t spend as much time pitching and hustling. That’s a different kind of energy, and it’s easy to get discouraged.

I feel like now I’ve done it so much, the rejection doesn’t get me down (at least not for very long). A new goal now is to pitch an idea to a magazine about every other week, and to submit more stories to other places to diversify my clips.

Getting vertigo. That really sucked. But at least it pushed me and I –

Got a writing job. That was another one of my goals this year – to be able to put a writing or editorial position on my resume that would lead to more writing/editorial gigs. I applied for tons of positions, some of them not even paying. I had an interview for one marketing writing job during which I said, “I got my MLS because I realized marketing wasn’t for me.” When I decided to branch out beyond SF, I finally lucked out.

Plus I decided to have fun and be honest. Fed up with getting rejected, I wrote more of an essay than a cover letter for my application. They asked lots of interesting questions, and I thought why bother repeating what they could see on my LinkedIn?

It has worked out wonderfully. The job itself, my co-workers, the part-time schedule – all of it. Plus my health insurance just got approved. Yay!

This year, in addition to pitching and submitting more stories, I want to self-publish my book. You know, THE book. I know I’ve talked about it before, but it’s for realsy this time.

Yesterday I “published” my book on Lulu and sent myself a copy. I want to see it in book format before I start editing it one last time (fingers crossed). I made a very simple cover, and am excited to see how it turned out.

Sep 10

10 ghetto ways to beat a heat wave

First off, fuck you San Francisco. You’re not who I thought you were. First you bring me mosquitoes, and now, not just one, but TWO heat waves.

But I’ve made this commitment and there’s nothing I can do about it now except deal, in 10 ghetto ways.

Complain. Sure, it does nothing to make me feel cooler, but complaining, whining, and sighing is second nature to me when it comes to the heat.

Wear ugly capri pants. Okay, everybody, quit staring at my pants. I know they make my legs look even shorter than they are, but they’re the coolest pants I own, and by cool I mean the least warm.

Hang out in a supermarket. The A/C at work yesterday wasn’t working to its full potential. Doesn’t help we’re on the top floor. I wasn’t really hungry but I definitely needed some air so I headed over to the supermarket.

Ah, the air conditioning! The dairy aisle! I could have stayed there all day.

Eat popsicles. So green, so icy. Will make you feel like a kid on a summer night, eating the drippy melty goodness outside so you don’t get your mom’s clean house all sticky.

Eat a salad. I for once have much less of an appetite during hot weather. Except for popsicles.

Wait till dark to walk outside. At least unlike New York, it does get cooler here once the sun goes down.

Take a hot shower. You’d think a cold shower would be the thing, but I for one feel warmer emerging from cool water. After a hot shower, the air feels cooler in comparison against my skin.

Turn on all the fans. Self-explanatory.

Try to lie perfectly still in bed. Because any movement feels like you’re expending energy, which equals heat. Lie still and sweat, I should say.

Check the weather constantly. Like I’ve been doing every day, multiple times a day since this weekend. Supposedly today is the last day of this heat wave, and tomorrow we’re back down to the upper 60s/low 70s.

I hope so!