Tag Archives: san francisco

16 Pointers on Visiting or Living in San Francisco

  1. Just go ahead and buy the Doctor Scholl’s gel inserts when you buy new shoes. Expect to replace those insoles often if you do any walking at all.
  2. Join a gym – you’ll need to lift weights to relax after your exertion getting from point A to point B.
  3. Carry cash. This may be Silicon Valley but a lot of the small business owners here don’t give a damn – many won’t even use Square. ATMs are every few feet, most easily spotted in bars, convenience stores, and coffee shops. The ATMS are not, however, well-maintained – part of the underlying technological resistance that is part of old-school San Francisco. If you can, sign up for a membership at one of the credit unions that forgives all out of network ATM fees. Otherwise paying those fees is well-nigh unavoidable.
  4. DON’T use Air B&B when you visit. It may look cheap and easy, but you are screwing someone out of a place to live and quite possibly contributing to your host’s inevitable eviction. Seriously, there are entire buildings of people that have been thrown out of their homes so the landlords can run de facto hotels.
  5. The tourist attractions have all the mediocre food. Go where locals live and work (everywhere else) and you’ll be hard pressed to find something that isn’t awesome. There is a health rating system that is especially helpful – a green card placed prominently shows the restaurants health rating. Anything above a 90 is generally OK, and just about  any hole in the wall has amazing food. Also, refer to #3.
  6. Fuck Yelp. No, really, when it’s as popular as it is in San Francisco, it’s actually useless because it’s the cacophony of the lowest common denominator. One chiropractor I visited due to the high praise on yelp a)had Scientology stuff on the walls b)had anti-vaccination pamphlets in the lobby c)had some really transphobic doctors in the practice and d)never actually treated me for what I came in for. This has not been my only Yelp-fueled error. At this point Trip Advisor is actually more useful for local life information. There is one exception; finding places that deliver. Then Yelp is awesome.
  7. There’s a Reddit for everything.
  8. Craig’s List was born here – and it’s used for just about everything if you’re over 35. The younger set, however, seems a trifle less engaged.
  9. When someone asks you how you find the city, all they really want to hear is how much you love it. If, like me, you find it troubling, just keep it to yourself and pick one or two more-or-less positive things, like the fantastic quality of the cheap food or the ridiculously affordable massages and manicures. Any response that suggests you are anything but madly, uncritically in love with this place is taken as a person affront or a reason to feign concern for your mental health.
  10. The cheap manicures and massages are all located in Outer Richmond
  11. There is always parking in the Presidio.
  12. Unless you’re under 35 or over 60, you’re going to have one hell of a time meeting people for stuff besides sex. Age segregation to unnecessary extremes is the cultural norm here. Most of it is because apparently sex is the most important of all social activities in San Francisco. This is closely followed by politics, most of which involves people under 35 an people over 60 screaming at each other and blaming one another for the appalling state of housing and the cost of living in San Francisco. Somehow the landlowners and exploitative landlords, who foment and encourage this divisive hatred, only remain a focus for nanoseconds. No one has commented that this is fishy.
  13. For some reason, it’s acceptable to advertise events in private homes on Meetup.com. Apparently stranger danger is not a concept out here, because from the looks of it many people actually do go to these. San Francisco Parks and Rec does seem to offer plenty of affordable spaces, as do various dance studios, etc. but no one seems to be interested.
  14. There’s going to be a huge wave of anti-technology activism from the children born after 2002 and it will start in the Bay. Why? Because their parents don’t ever look up from their SmartPhones and it’s the ultimate in absentee parent. Around 2018 start short-stocking Silicon Valley.
  15. Cheap haircuts are a little harder to come by. There’s two on Geary that are under $20. Otherwise you need to go to Cinta Aveda or the SOMA beauty school – and it could still cost you.
  16. This is an allergy sufferer’s hell. MORE POLLEN YEAR ROUND.

This is what i have gathered in roughly a year of observation. Perhaps next year I will have a more nuanced view.

Rain in the Bay

Falls mainly in my shoes. Here’s my latest style rethink thanks to a ripped umbrella after the wind tore it up Friday as I rushed to lunch with a friend.

San Francisco Style Update

Services in San Francisco–the trade-offs

One of the odd financial aspects of city living is that housing usually costs a lot. It costs enough to scare most people into the suburbs. The offset, however, is that most other expenses – transportation, groceries, general services you might pay for, entertainment – are often lower than their suburban counterparts. Most of this is competition leveling the field, and less cost involved in the to-and-from.

San Francisco’s grade, especially in light of recent abusive gentrification, is especially steep. I am paying quadruple rent than I am on the mortgage for my townhouse in Minnesota. I also have less space, less privacy, and I know have to share a garage with 3-6 surfers who, while kind-spirited are also at times typical dah-headed college boys that forget I need to be able to get in and out of my car.

On the other hand,  services I usually skipped in Minneapolis because of the expense – mani/pedis, massage, facials – are ridiculously affordable here. Every few feet on Geary has yet another salon or parlor. There are two caveats with this abundance, however:

1)Hairstyling is absurdly expensive – an average price of $60 in most salons. So I hike it to the Financial District and go to the Cinta Aveda school for hair care. I noticed another such school in SOMA, so I may try that for a new experience sometimes.

2)Massage is tricky. I’ve heard hearsay that human trafficking in massage parlors is a huge issue in most massage parlors. I’ve also known women who were 100% willing to work as happy-ending masseuses. According to my source (who has no reason to visit such places) the ones with shades that even block off the lobby are the questionable ones. The cold Machiavellian part of me wants to start reporting the ones I come across just because it would free up some housing. The ghost of splooge is a lot easier to clean up than the remains of a destitute Scientologist. But this also means that I have to quietly ask around when I see the super cheap foot-and-body $45 massages advertised. Believe me, after the last year, I could use some pleasure massage.

If desperate enough, I may actually use pendulum dowsing to determine the illegal from the legal massage parlors. The last thing I want is a “no, that part is perfectly comfortable, thank you,” conversation. (Dowsing would be a last resort, should I never find a Yelp-after-dark type site to corroborate business names.)

No, I’m not loving it and I probably won’t

The adjustment to the Bay area has been rocky. I miss my friends. I miss being able to travel seven miles in less than half an hour. What I miss most are the familiar rhythms of regular events, the familiar methods of clear communication (when, where, how, cost, parking and transit solutions), and if not common knowledge than a common approach to gaining knowledge. Here’s what I miss about Minnesota: it’s grounded. It’s far, far more grounded than what I’m coming across in the Bay Area. While I’m delighted that there are other people who practice magic to the degree and frequency that I do – those folks were astonishingly rare back home – the other half of practice, the ability to sort out “when/why/where,” and to temporarily rate getting stable as an important first step to pursuing ideals seems to be gone.  It’s not just the Pagan community with this problem. There’s also a deep disconnect when it comes to balancing the fundamental need for modernization with preserving what’s good in San Francisco. Often people are so overinvested in their political ideals here that they are harming the very people they claim to want to help.

I am also fighting some serious resentment and anger towards people I have been friends with for years. I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE AND TELLING ME TO HAVE YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS PLACE IS ONLY ANGERING ME MORE.  Yeah, I know, there’s snow where I call home. Last winter almost killed me. The winter  before that was also painful. But I had my city, and all the secrets, and I could get around in it without bleeding money. There is no not bleeding money in the Bay area. Many are calmly expecting me to love this place, and that offends me. Not only does it minimize and dismiss my feelings about my designated home, Minneapolis, it’s like putting George Clooney in front of me and telling me it’s expected I fall in love with him, because George Clooney.

It doesn’t work that way. I can’t just love something or someone or somewhere because everyone else does. In junior high and high school, I was the girl that wrote writing nerdy boys’ names in the back of my notebooks. My girlfriends might go on about how “dreamy” the popular guy in my English class was, but even if I could acknowledge his comely symmetrical features, I was too repulsed by his behavior to ever feel any attraction to him at all. Once, one of those so-called handsome boys developed a crush on me out of the blue – in his case at least it prompted him to leave me the fuck alone for the rest of high school since he knew I viewed the way he treated people outside of his social class with contempt. It’s the same thing, on a city level. San Francisco has pride, it has attention, and it has absolutely none of the depth I require to feel something for it.

My partner, on the other hand, adores it – and while it may not seem to outsiders like I care that much about his experiences, I really would do anything to see him happy and engaged. I can’t always access those feelings – PTSD tends to do that – but I do have them. He is happy and engaged, and so I live with this and I will keep living with it until he’s no longer happy with it, or until something profound happens to call me away. This will, however, be the last time I put his feelings before my own when there’s not a family crisis involved. There never is a reward to being self-sacrificing – which is very obvious when I look around at where it’s gotten me … fucking California. The UK would be better, and every time I try that it tends to go bad with the first time someone calls me “luv.” But women are expected to be self-sacrificing, and I have lived up to that bullshit expectation for the last time. I’m getting punished because I did what women are expected to do, and I’d get punished if I did what I really wanted to do. I’m exhausted with all the no-wins presented me.

But this no-win, the one where I smile and pretend I love something I really don’t – that I’m opting out of right now.

Quit asking me to assuage your feelings by acting like I love it here. I already know you love it and I don’t need to hear about it.

San Francisco Bay Area… it’s pretty. A lot of people find it sexy. But it’s gone from being a stoner – something I outgrew after my romp with a very cute stoner in spring of 1996 – to being kind of a jerk. I’d rather be spiritually connected to a city that’s not a jerk, thank you. I’d rather people expect me to have honest reactions instead of cooing about how “cute” that boy is. I have never been one of those women that hook up with a man or with a city thinking “I can change him into who I want him to be.” I work hard not to be an asshole, so I don’t think like that. I’ve always been disgusted by the men that come to me hoping I’ll fix them – it’s always a waste of time and energy, since that’s work you have to do on yourself. It’s also a form of objectification, expecting me to take on some Florence Nightingale role instead of taking the time to figure out who I am and what I’m inclined to do. I am the person that accepts you as you are. I may not like you, I may not have the feelings you want me to feel, but I will accept you. I will accept any changes you make, even point to tools you can use for that transition. That’s your journey, not mine.

I really wish someone out there would do that for me.

I’d rather people respect that I’ve been separated from something – SOMEONE I love deeply, and asking me to only say nice things and put on a happy face or just try to see it how you see it  is a shit thing to do right now.

Update from the Sea Side Palace

This is definitely going to be tl;dr for some of you. My summary:
I am getting things taken care of, but this is a lonely time that is really about me, and about getting my partner to pick and choose what to “fix.” Too much fixing feels like control, and we know I take to that…poorly.

Note: if you do want to see the whole thing, you’ll need to click on the Storify link. It cuts out after page 3.

As for “why not just write a blog post?” Well, it would take less time, that’s for sure. But these social media posts are actually a good on-the fly framework for where I’m at.

The suburbs are easy to spot: they have all the open parking spaces

  • Number of wardrobe malfunctions: 3
  • Number of beneficial wardrobe malfunctions: 1
  • Number of apartments lined up for viewing: 5
  • Number of apartments actually seen: 4
  • Number of apartments walked out on immediately: 1
  • Number of apartment managers late for their own open house: 2
  • Number of apartments just driven by because we saw the neighborhood and thought “Oh hell no:” 1.


A lovely, purple fitted cotton shirt purchased in June already has a mysterious stain on it that evidently dish soap got to too late. It wasn’t bad enough to change out and most of my clothing is in storage – I put myself on a very limited wardrobe – so I decided to just deal with it.

Then I noticed that the one pair of jeans I brought with were pulling out at the zipper seam. I had no time to fix it in the morning so I had to walk around pulling my shirt down a little to cover it until I could unearth my mini sewing kit from the bathroom disaster.

One of these reflexive pull-downs resulted in the top button of my shirt coming undone. Mike did not say anything, but boy were the male property managers friendly.

So, the first property in outer Richmond … no. Just no.

The next one, in Daly City, was cool for its community design but the interior was designed terribly. Also, no bathtubs and shit for storage. The person that showed us gave us references to other apartment communities that fit what we described, but advised us that the closets all kind of suck. Mike had not eaten at all, and I was just tired.

Omen: three dogs appeared as we left, all exhibiting warning off behaviors. Most dogs like me. So when this appeared, I took it to mean that even though I’m leaning towards Daly City it’s not where the universe wants me to go.

The third one in Sherwood Forest was cute as a button and had the storage we needed but is too far from the stuff I want to access – and if I have a bad sciatica day or an allergy that makes me not able to walk day, just getting to a bus stop might kill me.  The problem? It looks like it has a daycare on the first floor. I work from home. If I wanted the pitter patter of little feet en masse I’d have become a teacher. Instead, I developed a will to live. So a daycare plus shared laundry running around daily beneath my beleaguered immune system now? No, just NO. The smog index, BTW, is not kidding around. I had a massive headache all day on top of the cold I already have. I’m starting to feel rushed to get a permanent apartment just so I can get my ass back into allergy treatments.

Omen: The mail carrier was driving through the neighborhood. He got a good look at us when we went past him and parked. As we waited for the late landlord, the mail carrier turned back and looked toward me again, and waved. Mercury saying hello? Signalling approval? The landlord, when he finally got there, seemed wholly inclined towards Mike and I.

The fourth one, in Russian Hill, smelled like fish. Also, when the group of prospects got on the elevator, they all got worried about the elevator’s weight – and of course, as people helpfully identified what they weighed, they all came to stare at me, the largest person on the elevator. Since at that point I still had reason to play nice I just said “It’s fine,” instead of “You guys be just as uncomfortable as you’re trying to make me.”

I think it said enough when Mike and I did one walkthrough and just walked the hell out, to the apartment manager’s discomfiture. The place on the inside seemed way too much like Franklin Coop – on its worst days.

We then drove through Visitacion, and while looking for a place to park decided to just drive the hell out.

So that was our first day of apartment hunting. I need to talk Mike out of the open houses – while we are looking at a relatively low competition level (it’s us versus groups of five roommates, which landlords hate) it is still pretty damned high stress, since the really nice apartments start at $6K and we are looking around at $4K. That, and I get a sense that I am supposed to live as close to the ocean as I can manage. And I already went through my shitty apartment salad days with my ex AND with Mike and I am really unhappy about having to go through all that again.

Also, a few observations/interactions:

In the evening, after a Target run that cost way too much money and some rest, we walked around the complex finally. It’s cool, very high-end startup culture. I’m a little worried about sexual/body harassment in the workout room, but I am going to try to spend about two hours a day there anyway. Looks like I’ll be trying Google shop out in the next day or so to get myself a few things I will need to work out, since evidently my workout T-shirt never made into my stuff.