Tag Archives: San Francisco

Move It: 2017 Edition

Back when all my worldly possessions amounted to a twin bed, a stack of CDs and a Mr. Coffee, I thought moving was fun. These days, things are a little different. With five bicycles, three grills and a small collection of non-Ikea, grown-up furniture, changing addresses is a stress-inducing hypothetical endeavor. Add a pretty lady, a big black dog and their stuff to the mix, and the subject of relocation is enough to inspire visions of a massive bonfire fueled by unnecessary household goods.

So when the landlord’s real estate sign went up in our yard back in June—roughly eight months after we moved in—the task before us seemed daunting. The Craigslist search. The big dog discussion. The you-want-how-much-for-the-deposit shock factor. The packing. The truck. The loading and unloading. But we did it. Mission accomplished. With a little help from a friend*. Now, as we dig our way out of the boxes, we’re up against the real-life limitations of physical space. We’ve stacked, stored, reconsidered and rearranged. I gave up on recovering the tape measure two weeks ago. I’ve come to terms with the idea of never owning a couch again. I hate shoes (other than the ones on my feet). Extra shirts seems extravagant. I find myself questioning why anyone would need more than two forks. All the things I’ve loved before are clutter and clutter is the enemy!

But one must remain calm. It’s the only option a relatively sane person has. In the end, we’re lucky to have a roof over our heads, a wonderful new neighborhood just beyond our front door and, of course, a magical sunflower watching over the entire process. Without the sunflower, I’m pretty sure the above mentioned bonfire would’ve been the first and only thing on my agenda.

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Cut from my lady’s garden at our previous address, this sunflower has kept me grounded.

* I hired a mover who happens to be a nice guy and by the end of the process I considered him a friend

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In bloom.

Grand Lake42nd StreetNorthbeach

The neon flowers of the bay area are alive and well around every corner. I snap pictures like a tourist and occasionally spot a theme among the many. In this case, Bougainvillea that’s so healthy it’s become an architectural element. Just one of the many reasons I’m proud to call this place home.

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Is this thing on?

The gray is starting to appear, and I’m no where near being the man I’d hoped to be at this juncture. Still crammed into small spaces. Still no savings to speak of. Still motivated by small, simple endeavors. 

When I was a kid, my parents seemed like adults and followed a certain orderly process. Cars in the garage. Yard trimmed. Hamburger Helper on the table. 

I never wanted any of that, but I often wonder what it would be like. The comfort zone. The safety zone. The not-too-spicy, fall-asleep-after-the-evening-news zone. 

Something tells me I’m not destined to find out anytime soon. Maybe I’ll look good in gray? 

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San Francisco sunset.

The loud talkers mix with sirens, jackhammers and car horns.

Those who don’t have their heads down in the soft glow of cell service, seem to have their heads up their asses. 

It’s an errand here and a rush to get to the next thing there. It’s life as we know it and reality as we never could have expected. So much information flowing, so many opportunities and yet, beneath all the self-importance, we’re still basically human. Still lonely. Still searching for magic we can only vaguely recall from a time we barley remember. 

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Sleeper.

Skyrocketing rent prices, lack of space, mild weather and liberal policies have led to a homeless epidemic in San Francisco that’s apparent around almost every corner. And contrary to what small-town conservatives might think, I’ve seen practically every walk of life wallowing in the gutter. Aggressive white kids. Old black guys. A well-dressed lady from India breast-feeding a kid while another sleeps nearby in a stroller. Some are daily fixtures. Some seem to be just passing through. They all make you feel guilty about something—like sometimes not feeling guilty at all.

I don’t have an answer. I’m not even sure where to begin asking questions. But I’ve adopted the routine of a typical, heartless asshole: I don’t hand out money and I generally don’t even engage in conversation. It’s not lack of empathy, it’s more like a general feeling of helplessness.

Tough act aside, my early-morning treks to work are the outings that bother me the most. My rush to get to work coincides with the sleeping schedule of many of the homeless in the neighborhood. The vulnerability and harsh reality of having no place to go really smacks you in the face when you see someone curled up next to a building using a trash bag as a blanket.

Destitute people snoring outside stores full of expensive, mostly worthless stuff is one thing, but it was the absurd irony of seeing a homeless guy sleeping in the doorway of a mattress store that really got me a few days back. Seeing his head resting on the cement while a row of fluffy white princess beds sparkled just over his shoulder sparked a feeling of disbelief and hopelessness that my feeble mind had trouble processing.

I stood there for a second or two and nearly got rear-ended by a fast-moving pedestrian trying to take a client call on the sidewalk. The sleeper began to stir as the fluorescent lights inside the store came on row by row. Life kept moving and so did I—reminding myself to never take my fluffy bed for granted again.

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Fired!

Now that I’ve joined the bridge and tunnel crowd that floods into San Francisco each morning, I understand the robotic nature of the downtown population better than ever. It’s a boring, monotonous cycle—commuting to get to some gig at a company. So everyone generally falls in line, heads down, hands in pockets, hearts and minds safely tucked away.

But every so often a random junkie, homeless person or purple-haired office dweller knocks me out of my trance. It’s a welcome distraction from the day-to-day work routine. And one guy I encountered last week found the perfect captive audience at the crowded corner of Market and Beale.

I heard the metallic rumble of his shopping cart as he approached. People stared at their phones, impatiently waiting for the walk signal. He began his performance.

“None of this matters, people! Because…guess what…YOU’RE ALL FIRED!”

There was a maniacal laugh as he sifted through the crap in his basket. He still had 15 seconds.

“That’s right…you…and you…and you…YOU’RE ALL FIRED! FIRED! FIRED!”

Eventually the light changed and everyone rushed off into oblivion, but the whole scene made my day. Technically he was wrong, I wasn’t fired when I got to work, but it was a great reminder that life is never as predictable as you might think.

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Twice.

The train came to an abrupt stop as we approached the platform. We grabbed our bags and adjusted our coats. Everyone walked like zombies. The smell of rot and urine was apparent as we made our way toward the exit. The whole depressing scene was interrupted by the magical sound of a cello echoing through the cavernous underground structure.

The turnstyle set us free and we saw a busker in the distance. He was dressed well and played with his head down. I noticed an impressive collection of singles and random change in his instrument case and considered making my own contribution but we were running late. Onward.

Halfway up the stairs we heard a furious howl as the music stopped, “motherfuckers, fuck you, that’s the second time today.”

The busker had been robbed. Again. Something tells me he won’t be going back to the 16th street station again.

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