What it’s really like living in San Francisco

It’s been just over two years since I moved to the Bay Area from Atlanta. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how completely different it is out here and what it’s like living in San Francisco from a displaced Southerner’s perspective. It’s impossible to capture all the little details when someone from back east asks me “How is California treating you?” Usually I make some generic comment about how nice the weather is, or how crazy it is working in tech. But here’s the full answer ⁠— my collection of observations, musings, and rants about San Francisco and NorCal (yes, it’s really called that).

First, let’s make one thing crystal clear. Despite my drivers license and impending jury duty summons, I will never be a San Franciscan. However, there are times when I’ve come dangerously close. These include when I:

  • Developed a concerning Birkenstock tan
  • Cooked and enjoyed my first vegetarian quinoa bowl
  • Referred to every patch of green space in San Francisco as “the dog park”
  • Finally got a Clipper card
  • Ordered a vape through Eaze and it was delivered to my apartment in three minutes
  • Sold my car

This last one is pretty crazy and happened in November. It was a very strange and bittersweet moment, especially considering that I’ve never been without wheels since I was 16 years old. I’ve always needed a car, but not so living in the Mission. I never drove the damn thing except to move it for street sweeping, and when I did, it was a nightmare trying to find parking. Sometime I would just treat myself to an $80 parking ticket as a kind of fuck-it tax.

But I’m chauffeured to work in a luxury coach with Wi-Fi and I live a five minute walk from the BART station. Lyft is also piloting a rental car program in San Francisco, so there are plenty of options for getting around. This morning I rode an electric rental bike to the gym. But mostly I prefer to walk. Some days I walk seven miles without even realizing it!

The Mission

As I mentioned, I live a neighborhood called the Mission. It’s the home of Dolores Park, brilliant street art, countless shops, bars and restaurants, and is a place where people come from all over to people watch, wear their leather jackets and feel cool. It’s like if Little 5 Points and a mariachi band had a baby. On a one-block stretch of Mission Street you can get a street pupusa, a bootleg copy of Gilmore Girls season 3, a $4 happy hour whiskey ginger, a pair of glittery pink hot pants, and a hair cut at a salon called WERK. Continue reading

Melissa Witt | A Tribute to the Gold Standard of Friends

[Now Playing: “That Place” by The Lion’s Daughter]

“Our earthly bodies will surely fall
But the love we share outlives us all”
– “Only Memories Remain” by My Morning Jacket

Yesterday I stood at the gravesite at Rest Haven Memorial Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky in the pouring rain and said goodbye to one of the dearest people that I’ve ever had the privilege of calling a friend.

Melissa Witt was smart as a whip, quick-witted, funny as hell, curious about the world and how it worked, a brilliant artist and designer and a kind and loving friend. She could pick up new languages and their accents at the drop of a hat. When we went to Tulum, Melissa’s accent was so impeccable that people thought she was a local.

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Age of the Eighties Party

Editor’s Note: This was a rant that I wrote my first year at SCAD in 2007-08. I submitted it to District, SCAD’s newspaper, the following year but of course it didn’t get published. 

We’ve all been to one at some point in our lives, or at least we’ve seen the pictures. The mindless droll that sets us back five intellectual years with every photo we see. I’m talking about Eighties-themed parties. You can’t spend a weekend on a college campus without hearing about one.

Party of the year

The first quarter I was at SCAD, I got invited to “The Party of the Year,” according to some very credible sources and Facebook bullshit. My knee-jerk reaction was to say no because it was, in fact, an Eighties party. I get dragged to said party because I have unfortunate lapses of judgment and moments of pathetic weakness.

80s punk, 80s rocker, eighties punk costume, anarchySince these events are always about the clothes, my wardrobe choice was an outfit a la Debbie Harry-meets-Nancy Spungen (deceased girlfriend of the Sex Pistols bassist, Sid Vicious). It was a completely ridiculous mix of glam rock and punk including a leather jacket and overly teased hair.

I didn’t expect too many people to be dressed as ‘80s punks, but when a friend told me he was going as Dee Snider, I figured there would be a few people there representing hair metal, or glam rock like David Bowie. At the very least, I expected to see some power suits with huge shoulder pads and skinny ties, because let’s face it: it doesn’t matter if you’re in a nursing home or the fourth grade, everyone’s seen Miami Vice.

I was wrong.

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Sound City: A Non-Review

sound city cover, sound city, sound city dvd

Why a non-review? I actually learned once in The Long, Long Ago how to write a film review and this is most certainly not that. Being that I’m a bit of a Dave Grohl fangirl, this post will be completely biased. However, I promise The Foo Fighters actually have very little to do with this review, so rest easy, hoss.

Nirvana, nirvana nevermind, nevermind album coverSound City is a documentary, directed by Dave Grohl, that is all about the San Fernando Valley recording studio of the same name. Incorporated in 1969, Sound City Studios has used their completely analog technique to record more than 100 gold and platinum albums over the years including Nirvana’s Nevermind. Continue reading

Charm City Trip: Murals, Records, and the Sexiest Chicken ‘n’ Waffles Ever

Last week I took a trip out to Baltimore to see some family for Christmas. I flew out Christmas morning and had the pleasure of enjoying the soothing sounds of a screaming baby for the first 30 minutes. And we all know how much I love children.

A Little History

I was born in Baltimore at St. Agnes hospital. It was around the time of Independence Day and my mom told me that she could see fireworks over the Inner Harbor from her hospital window.

Baltimore's Inner Harbor

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor

My parents moved us down to Florida when I was three months old, but I would fly up to visit my grandparents in Baltimore every summer starting at age nine. Continue reading

Music Midtown 2012 Recap: Foo Fighters and Shit

Dave Grohl, foo fighters, music midtown 2012, atlanta

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to see my favorite band play live at Music Midtown in Piedmont Park in Atlanta. The Foo Fighters headlined the first day of the festival, Friday, September 21, 2012.

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Unknown Hinson: Pure Country Western Psychobilly Magic

Taking some much-needed time off from work to head down to Florida for a grown-up spring break has proven to be pretty rewarding so far. A few hours after rolling into town on Friday, it was time to jump back in the car and head over to Tampa for the Unknown Hinson show for which I’d been recruited.

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“In My Time of Dying”

By now I’m sure that most people in my social network and in my personal life have figured out that my relationship status has gone from “in a relationship” to “single.” Not to make light of the situation, but everyone knows that when it happens on Facebook, it’s really official.

{Currently listening to Neil Young: “The Needle and the Damage Done”}

Harvest, Neil Young Harvest Moon, Needle and the Damage Done, Old Man, Heart of Gold

Neil Young

I don’t even have a playlist made for this occasion. That’s how serious things have become. I find myself grasping desperately at any song that might make me feel better.

A Perfect Circle: "Mer De Noms" album cover

When I want to be angry and spiteful, I might put on A Perfect Circle when I’m driving or listen to some Fiona Apple, but then there are times when I want to be happy, so I’ll put on some Passion Pit or MGMT. But the happiness seems forced.

Passion Pit: Chunk of Change album coverWriting with raw emotion is not something that I am used to. I usually practice restraint and throw out the quick-witted joke here and there, but now that all seems mundane. I know that this too shall pass, but my questions is when? Exactly how much time has to pass before I am able to get some answers?

So I decide to let go and let iTunes do its little shuffle thing and we’ll see how it goes from there. Pretty good I’d say.

{Led Zeppelin: “In My Time of Dying”}

Led Zeppelin, In My Time of Dying
Led Zeppelin Live in San Francisco, 1969

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Music really can save your life. And now that we’re in the age of the iPod, it’s easy to be a control freak and decide each and every song that comes on. But every now and then, if you have a little faith and leave things up to fate you may be happily surprised.

 

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What I’m listening to

1987: Dad at 17 years old with me

I’ve always been a playlist kind of person. I believe that music can completely affect the mood you’re in and even save your life. My dad says that every morning, before he wakes up and starts thinking about all the shit he has to do that day, he puts on a CD and cranks it as loud as the Bose will go.  He says that he has all of the mixes I’ve made since the summer of 2005. Hearing that inspired me to make a new CD for him. I titled it “Sunshine of Your Love”. Here are the tracks:

America – Simon and Garfunkel

Overkill (Acoustic version) – Colin Hay

Blossom – Candlebox

Lucky Trumble – Nancy Wilson (from the Almost Famous soundtrack)

Thank You – Led Zeppelin

Lakeside Park – Rush

Around the Bend – Pearl Jam

Father and Daughter – Paul Simon

Wet Sand – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Sunshine of Your Love – Cream

Box of Rain – The Grateful Dead

Lightning Crashes – Live

Harvest Moon – Neil Young

Us and Them – Pink Floyd

Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones

Rivers of Babylon – Sublime

1988: Dad and Sarah