Monthly Archives: January 2010

Letters From The Bay, Week 26: The Great Cosmic Shove

It’s a chilly Bay Saturday, and I’m cleaning.

Cleaning, as you know, is the precursor to packing.

Packing, of course, being the precursor to moving.

And moving is generally a first step in the direction of changing your own life, in both small and large ways.

In an effort to become in the smaller way, AKB and I hit the gym this morning, and took a nice long walk afterward.  After a shower, I slid into my favorite pair of jeans.  The pair that has holes in awkward places and small frays at the ends.  The pair that always makes me feel skinny, no matter what, and the pair of jeans I cannot wait to throw on as soon as the weekend hits.

Only there is a problem.  Because I actually attempted to slide on my favorite pair of jeans, and it didn’t work.  Because after 26 weeks, or about six months of living in San Francisco, walking everywhere – including the massive hills – my thighs are too big.

Yes.

Too big.

For my favorite pants.

If that’s not an uncomfortable thing to admit to the Internet, I don’t know what is.

I could whine about it a little bit, but why?  As LP always says, you can whine to make yourself feel better for awhile, but nobody really wants to hear it, so get over yourself.

So instead of mourning the loss of said pants, I have gotten over it.  New pants, new attitude.

I’ve found that motto has served me well for the past few tumultuous weeks.  Roommates moving out?  New house!

Job still horrendous and panic-inducing?  New job!

New pants, new house, new job, new attitude.  The new decade is starting out with a bang.  Or a bitch slap to the face.  It all depends on how you look at it.

Part of me feels like I’m being shoved out of my life in all directions.  After all, I was basically forcibly pushed out of my apartment as it currently exists. I have an incredible job offer dangling in front of me, and a job that is awful enough that taking a massive pay cut in order to do said job seems like the best idea I’ve ever had.  The cosmic forces are at work in the world, and I feel like I’m stuck in the middle.

But not really.

Because it’s all about attitude.  If you choose bang over bitch slap, and choose to look at everything new as being a good thing, you have nothing to lose.

Or rather, I have nothing to lose.

So that’s how I’m looking at it.  2010 is starting with a bang, and I am breaking free.

From more than just my old jeans.

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Letters From The Bay, Week 25: The thief, the bully, and me

The city is so many things.

Sometimes this city is really lovely.  October comes to mind: sunny days, stargazing on the roof, Scrabble in the park, root beer coolers by the pool.  And a particular breeze that comes from the Bay, sweeps up the hills, and catches the back of your neck and the flip in your ponytail as you turn around on Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights, after having spent five minutes looking at the view, pinching yourself because you live by water now and oh.  It’s lovely.

Sometimes this city is really hard. There have been some hard days recently – the kind of days that cause little tiny cracks in your soul, and cause you to question what the heck you’re even doing here, not just in the city but in this life in general. I’m getting better at dealing with them, because that’s just life, but I have begun to equate difficulty with the city, because life just didn’t seem all that difficult before now.

Sometimes this city has a weird smell about it.  A funk, if you will, that will churn your stomach and cause you to recoil.  I experienced just such a funk yesterday, and I almost threw up in my mouth a little bit.  Yes, it’s true.  I almost did.

But always, always, this city is weird.  At least, I think so.

My lovely roommates don’t agree.  They think that I somehow attract the weird, as though there is some magnet for awkward encounters embedded deep inside me, somewhere near my pancreas perhaps, or a frequency that broadcasts out from the top of my head and only the crazies are picking up the signal, like dogs and high pitched noises, because nothing weird ever happens to them.

I think it’s just because they don’t pay attention.

Last night on MUNI, we were stopped outside the Patagonia store near Ghiradelli Square.  A man got on the bus, sloooowly, inching his way up the two bus stairs, holding on to the railing so tightly the knuckles on his left hand were white.  His right arm was crooked under, and a blue windbreaker was draped over it.  There were raw scratches on his face, and his nose dripped like an old farmhouse faucet, one drop at a time down onto his worn sweatpants.

“Well are you comin’ are aren’t ya?” The bus driver asked.

“I’m coming,” the man labored out.  “It’s only just that, I’m very sick.”

“Well take your time then,” the driver said, “just take your time.”

The man finally reached a seat, and puddled down into it, pleased to finally be sitting.  I stared at him as the bus pulled away from the stop, and I noticed his eyes were bright and red.

As we began to pick up speed, suddenly, the man’s demeanor changed.  He straightened up, wiped his nose, shook his head, and pulled his arm free.  He was carrying a jacket.  A really nice jacket.  A jacket that is $499.95 worth of really nice, actually, tags on, from Patagonia, but no bag and no receipt.

It was clear this jacket was stolen, and it was very clear who had stolen it.

What was unclear was what, if anything, I was supposed to do about it.  Or about the horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach when I realized what he had done.

The man flashed the jacket around for the whole bus to see, except there was no one on the bus but me.  “My new jacket!” he kept saying to himself, or maybe to myself. “Look at my new jacket!”

The thief and me.

He opened his mouth and was whistling loudly, impressed with his own ingenuity, when a large woman boarded the bus with a rolling suitcase.  She instantly eyed the man and he eyed her, and they sized each other up quickly according to some bus hierarchy I don’t know.

For some unknown reason, the man looked at the woman, and inexplicably he stuck his tongue out at her.

“Sir,” she said, revving up for something, “you need to put your tongue back into your mouth, because that is not cute.  No, it is not.”

“Fuck you, bitch,” the man said, almost pleasantly, as though he had just asked for the time or for directions to Fisherman’s Wharf.

“You are not cute at all,” the woman said again, as though she were talking to a small child who was misbehaving.  “Ummmm-mmmm no.”

“Really, fuck you,” the man said again nicely.

And on and on it went, for four more blocks.  She’d insult his cuteness, he’d tell her to fuck off as pleasant as can be, and she’d rear back and insult him again.

The thief, the bully, and me.

It was finally my stop and I got off the bus just as the language was starting to get creative.  As I stepped onto the curb, I could hear them screaming at each other, the thief and the bully, gesticulating wildly, warping slightly through the wavy plastic windows of the bus.

And I walked up the hill toward home, just me.

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Letters From The Bay, Week 24: Oh Dear

I have spider juice in my hair.  Or guts.  Or mangly arachnid half-legs.  Whatever.  Whatever it is, it’s in my hair.  Right now.

And that’s not even the weirdest thing that happened to me today.

8:00 a.m. I spot a woman wearing a yellow terrycloth towel as a shawl.  It was draped artfully about her shoulders, over her pinstriped pantsuit, and secured with a jeweled brooch.  I know I did not mistake it for a towel when it actually was a shawl, because I’m pretty sure “Egyptian Cotton Handtowel” is not a brand of shawl.

Where was I, you ask?  Where else: China Town.

Dear China Town,

This is America. Get a shirt.

Annoyed,

Hilary

6:45 p.m. I shove myself onto the bus like the last clown in one of those tiny circus cars.  I stand in the stepwell, and get off and back on the bus no fewer than four times, so all my fellow financial district clowns can disembark without knocking me over.  By the time we have made it all the way to my stop, I am the only person left on the bus.  As I collect myself and begin to walk out the door, the bus driver yells after me, “Merry Christmas!”

Dear Bus Driver,

And a very happy Fourth of July to you, sir!

Festively,

Hilary

8:00 p.m. I take a house tour of a lovely old residence in the Presidio, San Francisco’s former military base and my dream location for housing.  I quickly realize that the Presidio is everyone else’s dream location for housing, and that we are going to fight this out like those fake boobed bimbos on The Bachelor, only with fewer sequins involved.  Fighting over a man is one thing, but fighting over a room is something else entirely, and these people were out for blood.

“I like to cook!”  one girl says.  “Yeah, I like to cook AND bake!” says another.  “Yeah, I like to cook AND bake AND clean!” said a third girl, entirely too desperately.

That third girl may or may not have been me.

Dear Self,

Low point.  Really, low.

Ashamedly,

Hilary

9:30 p.m. I leave the house tour.  I am strolling through the forest, keeping a sharp eye out for raccoons, but also for any for rent signs.  I sit down on the bench at the bus stop, and then I hear an engine roar up behind me.

“Hey, do you need a ride?” says a man in a shiny sports car.  The man is wearing a suit, and his car is really nice.

I very briefly entertain a Pretty Woman fantasy in which he looks like Richard Gere and I look like Julia Roberts, but am not actually a prostitute and instead am a nerdy, yet charming librarian who has lost her way in the woods, Red Riding Hood style. And then I call out, “No thanks, I’m good.”

“Are you sure?”  he asks again.

I decide that he thinks he does look like Richard Gere, and maybe he thinks I am a prostitute who is dressed as a nerdy, yet charming librarian.

“Yeah, I’m sure,” I say again, and turn away.

Dear Fake Richard Gere,

No I do not want a ride in your car, as I am sitting at the bus stop.

Duh.

Obviously,

Fake Julia Roberts

9:45 p.m. I am on the bus, talking to The G, telling him how house hunting is like The Bachelor only worse, because in this case you end up homeless instead of unmarried, which, in my opinion, is way worse, when a frizzy haired older man punches me in the left arm.

“Yes?” I say, slightly freaked out.

“Um,” he stutters along.  “Well, you seem to have a spider in your hair.”

“A WHAT?” I respond, quite loudly.  It wasn’t the crazy man’s fault I had a spider in my hair, but yelling is my default reaction when surprised.  He’s lucky he can still hear out of that side of his head.

“Yeah,” he says, more comfortable now that he has cleared his conscience and delivered his horrifying spider news. “Here, turn your head and let me swat it.”

“G, I’m going to have to call you back,” I say, hanging up on my brother immediately, as I submit myself to letting a complete stranger touch my hair and swat about my head with a MUNI brochure that was lying on the seat next to him.

He finally crushes most of it, though he assures me “there’s still some in there.”

He hands me the brochure, now wadded up and full of spider, and says, “Here’s your souvenir!”

I think I would have preferred a t-shirt.

Dear Presidio Spider,

Get the fuck out of my hair.

Disgustedly,

Hilary

There is a great cosmic shift occurring in my life. I have been here for six months, and all of a sudden I am finding myself in the midst of a potential new job, a search for a new house, a newfound familiarity with what I have already come to think of as “my” neighborhood in “my” city, juxtaposed with a recent trip home and a deep longing for the life I might have been living there.

What to do?

Like anything in the Capital R Real World, I have to make some decisions.  I need to make choices, sacrifices, informed decisions, and I need to do it soon.

Dear Real World,

Uh, help?

Respectfully,

Hilary

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