Thursday, September 27, 2007

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

It's just about one month down, three months to go on my sublet, and it's amazing how much my perspective has shifted on what I want to do next.
First of all, there's the neighborhood dilemma.  I had decided that given my current workplace is in Oakland, that there was no way I'd want to do the two-part commute, the bus to BART.  This basically means living in the Mission or Noe Valley (since I don't want to live downtown, in Glen Park, or in the East Bay), and I preferred the Mission because the park is so much better for dogs.  And in fact, the park has exceeded my expectations.  I was a bit concerned that the Mission's rougher vibe would have my little 14 pound dog running from pit bulls, and I would have to pretend I was really cool with it or risk shunning from the dog community for being anti-pit bull (only ones I don't know) for being nervous about it.  Well nothing could be further from the reality of Mission Dolores Park: there are plenty of small dogs, many of them fancier breeds than my pseudo-mutt.  Also, there is a very strong society going on up there with rules and etiquette, and unsupervised big dogs hassling the smaller dogs is a widely accepted no-no.  A husky apparently bit a pomeranian a couple of weeks ago, and it's all anyone talks about.
However, I have ultimately decided that the Mission is no longer where I want to live.  I lived there for five years before school, so it's not like I didn't know what I was getting myself into.  But I'm apparently getting older (shock!), and my tolerance for certain things has diminished.  The night I took Satchel out for a walk and could not get into my apartment without either stepping over the homeless man sleeping on my front steps or going around the homeless person going through my trash at my back door was not one of my favorites.  The day a man lunged at me and Satchel on the street while yelling about whatever demons are in his head was another low point.  I hate to use him as an excuse, but I do think that what I can accept in a neighborhood is different when I walk around with a small dog.  I by myself am very good at evasive maneuvers when it comes to undesirables on the street, and I generally project a sort of badass vibe that makes my encounters few and only verbal and thus easy to ignore.  But when you walk around with a dog (not an intimidating big dog, but a little cute one), you are more open to all sorts of encounters, and the ones in this neighborhood are generally not good.  Also, Satchel seems to lack the evade-the-crazy-person skill (he even seems to not be racist any more, which is a good thing), and I can't scurry away quite as quickly when I have him with me.
I love the restaurants in the Mission, but can't even get into Tartine on a weekend or Delfina Pizzeria ever, and I can come back and visit whenever I want.  As for my commute, it takes me 15 minutes to walk to BART, and an extra 10 minutes to get downtown.  So if I were to bus to BART, operating under the assumption that the buses have many more stops and so are closer to wherever I might live next so I lose the long walk part of my commute, and it takes me less than a half hour to bus downtown, I think it's almost a wash on the commute. 
So where do I want to live?  Well Russian Hill was where I fled the last time I got tired of stepping over drug addicts as part of my daily routine.  And that would definitely be a good option.  I really like what my friend Matt said about Russian Hill, which is basically that it's a really nice neighborhood with no personality.  When you tell people you live there, it says absolutely nothing about you.  Marina means frat guy, and Pac Heights means super yuppie, and Russian Hill means you like Okoze and Swensen's.  It somehow flies under the radar of San Francisco stereotypes, and I like that.  It also has Greens (my favorite sports bar except during baseball season because it somehow has become San Francisco's Yankee bar), the Buccaneer, Nick's Crispy Tacos, and Polkers. 
Another thing I like about being in Russian Hill is it is in the northern part of the city, which makes it easier to walk to all the other cute safe neighborhoods up there and makes it a lot closer to my new mecca, Crissy Field.  Given that, I am broadening my search area to include a few neighborhoods I formerly ridiculed and now would feel priveleged to live in, namely the Marina, Cow Hollow, and Pacific Heights.  I also am putting North Beach on that list, though it is not a neighborhood I ever knew enough about to malign, except for the fact that it has too many strip clubs and tourists. 
So the second thing is that I don't know any more if this means buying or renting when my sublet is done.  The market shift is technically good for me because everything is slowing down and if you have access to capital, you're in a very good position.  But this also means that inventory is not coming on the market, and I have not seen anything I'm interested in putting an offer in on in many many moons.  So taking on a year lease is a definite possibility as my next step.  I want to get my stuff out of storage, and I don't know if a home is going to be mine in the next three months.
But I do know that I will be done with the sunny, beautiful, ethnically diverse, culinarily blessed Mission I have called my home for five years formerly and now these three months, and will be moving to quieter more boring pastures.  I guess I've officially become a yuppie, and it feels so good.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Long Overdue Photos

My bad, I never posted Mendocino pics!

Hey, Hey, Paula

I was going to devote today to my insights on SF neighborhoods, which have been dominating my thinking and conversations over the past few weeks as I evaluate my current living situation and re-evaluate where I want to buy/sign a more permanent lease in a few months.

However, something WAY more important happened.

To say that my devotion to Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me on NPR borders on fanaticism would be to understate it by a bit. I listen to the podcasts multiple times, and refuse to listen to the live broadcast for fear I will be interrupted and will not be able to pause it. I also have some strong opinions on the contestants appearing on the show, well basically I have two strong opinions: Paula Poundstone is a goddess, and Angela Nissel should be fired (if they fire panelists off of public radio shows, I don't know). You never know who is going to appear in any given week, but it's a sure bet if Paula's on, you will get stared at on the bus for laughing out loud several times as you listen. The other great thing about Paula (beyond her unwavering hilarity) is that she almost never wins the show. The audience has so rallied around this fact, that the one time she did win, they played the final bit and the audience's reaction on a "Best Of" edition last summer.

Well I headed out the door this morning with a fresh downloaded podcast already excited because Trish had mentioned that Paula was on this weekend. But my excitement escalated to heel-clicking joy when Peter Sagal revealed that the last time Paula had been on, she had won but not been given credit for winning due to a scoring error. Apparently her many fans wrote in to lambaste the show over this. So they have 'guaranteed' that she will win this time. I assume this will come in the form of an outrageously rigged lightning round, but she's already won the bluff the listener challenge, so maybe she won't even need the help. Either way, I am so in love with this episode, I may never delete it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The 510

So far, I've really been enjoying Oakland. The area around my office
has a cute little modern strip of restaurants, and just around the
corner there's the historic district with yet more restaurants,
Chinatown (ditto), and on Fridays there's even a Farmers' Market.
We're also just a few blocks from a place called Preservation Park,
which is a small oasis of old Victorians, one of which has a cheap
Brazilian sandwich place.

However, I experienced the dark side of my new commute this morning.
I ended up cutting it a little late to work today given a misplaced
boot incident. I was going to arrive at my station at about 5 til 9,
which would actually have me at my desk at like 2 til 9 (shortest part
of my commute-- getting off the train and to my desk). But as we
approached the West Oakland station, we suddenly stopped. We sat for
five minutes. We got an apology but no explanation from our driver.
Five more minutes. Finally, we were informed that we were being held
for 'police action' at the West Oakland station. I have been scouring
the paper, but apparently such activity is too commonplace to make the
news. But I ended up stuck for almost 15 minutes. At least at that
point BART is above ground so I had a pretty view (of West Oakland).

Friday, September 14, 2007

Rockin' my Jeansfit

It's my last day of my first week of work, and it's too early to say
what it's really like. Since I don't have any official project yet
(since my manager is out), I have been getting myself set up on the
many systems I'll have to use, taking online training courses, and
reading decks. All in all, nothing too taxing. I consider this week
basically a transition back into the working world. I am going
through the motions of being a working person without actually
working. I get up in the morning, dress up in nicer clothes, and walk
down to BART and pile on with the commuters. I go into my office, I
sit at my computer, and then I don't do much. I go to lunch and/or
coffee with people. Then, I call it a day, get back on BART with the
commuters, and head home. It's like I'm play-acting as an employed
person. I am sure I will miss this carefree existence when the work
starts piling up.

My heading refers to a term I learned from a woman who was working
counselling troubled teens in Oakland. A 'jeansfit' is simply an
outfit that includes jeans as part of it. A recent and welcome policy
change here is that jeans are allowed on Friday, a fact I didn't know
until my first day. This thrills me to no end for some reason, though
I did fear coming in this morning that this was a prank pulled on the
new girl so she had to walk around in inappropriate clothing all day.
But in fact, we are all sporting the casual look today, aka what I
wore every day for the past two years.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Glad to be Back

I started work today, leaving behind the adorable creature at the top. His first day seemed to go pretty smoothly, and my guilt at having left him (even with top-notch day care) led to an extra long session at the park when I got home.

It's definitely weird to be working, though today didn't really feel like work. You never really do anything the first day anyhow, and this was especially true for me because my manager is out of town all week on a business trip. This gives me a week to do a lot of the online set-up and training that other people say they still haven't been able to do, and a week where 9-5 is the maximum I will be working. I also saw nearly every person I know who works there through the course of the day, which made everything seem friendlier.

So now I'm home, with a grateful and worn out puppy, contemplating wardrobe choices for tomorrow. The most exciting news is I was told I will be headed back to Philly at the end of October for a recruiting trip, potentially including a Thursday night. So heiressmba, I'll see you at Bonner's on the 25th.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Fog Dog

I haven't posted because I've been so busy doing things like pilates and eating fruit crisp straight from the pan. I was hoping to post some Mendocino pictures, like Satchel's first canoe trip, but will have to use these in the meantime. Satchel has become a Crissy Field pro, much to my delight. Here are pictures of him attempting to socialize-- note the great San Francisco landmarks in the distance.

24 hours from now, I will hopefully be done with my first day of work!

By the way, I appreciate the lovely Ms. Whitney, my almost neighbor, weighing in on the Satchel vs. Sasha debate-- I posted two comments on your blog because I thought it didn't work, but realize now you have it set up so you have to APPROVE comments before they appear. Juliedelphia readers are too well-behaved to require such measures.