Tuesday, July 5, 2011

the san francisco chronicles, day four

on the last day of may, i flew into san francisco for a few days of r&r before my stint crewing on the aids lifecycle. i stayed at a b&b in the castro district from tuesday through sunday morning, and i took no netbook with me...instead, i took an old fashioned composition book and a pen. i found myself writing--a lot! this series of posts are my transcriptions of the writing i did in the foggy city. below is the fourth day in the city, friday, right before "orientation day" for the ride, and the week long trip back to los angeles.

it was important for me to visit the east bay during this stay in the city. i had a couple of reasons for this. as you know, i am looking primarily at the east bay as a destination for re-location. i feel that if i am at all close by, i should make an effort to spend some time there. the more i visit the more familiar i get with the area, and the more i get a sense of whether or not it could work for me. fortunately, i had a friend who was willing to not only accompany me, but also to drive us there, so i took advantage of the company and the ride.

we drove into Berkeley, our goal being the cheese board pizza collective. the collective is made up of two storefronts: the cheese shop, and the pizza shop. during my last visit here my friend dave and i came to the cheese board twice, once to gawk, and once to get fresh pastries. we didn't buy and cheese, but if we were going to, this would be the place to do it. the cheese is displayed rather plainly in a case, and is then cut to order. nothing fancy, just a big case full of amazing cheeses. the idea behind the collective is that there is no main owner--the place is run and co-owned by the workers, who, i think, all benefit equally from the sales. in other words, every worker holds a stake in the business. and it shows in the service they provide. the pizza store is similar in concept, except that they just offer one kind of pizza and salad each day. on this day, the selection was incredible: roasted potato, feta, mozzarella, garlic oil, onion, cilantro, chilies, and key limes!
we bought a half pizza (four slices), and i am here to tell you that i have never had anything like it! it was, simply said, fantastic! we did not leave a single bit uneaten. i love the idea of good food being served (and made!) in a context of community.

afterwards, we stopped into philz for coffee. i have not seen these shops outside of san francisco, but let me tell you what i know of them: they serve AMAZING coffee, and they make it fresh, by the cup, to order. i had stopped into another one in the castro that very morning while doing some laundry at the sit and spin. that time, i ordered a cup of the "tantalizing turkish", and for lack of better words, it was like coffee soup! they are that serious about coffee up here. this time i ordered a cup of the "arabic", which is what the clerk suggested. i was no less disappointed.

properly fed and caffeinated, we drove to piedmont ave. in oakland to check out the store of the woman i met on the plane. erica's place. it is called "the rare bird". she was so surprised to see me! and i was glad to be there. the store is fun, and full of unique handmade and vintage clothing and jewelry and knickknacks.
i didn't have to buy anything, but i did--a chain necklace with a bullet casing filled with smoky quartz. there is something rewarding about buying something handmade locally at a friend's store. it is not about spending money there, it is about support. and i love the chain!

that evening i met my friend rolando and a few of the people i know doing the ride at the lookout, a bar near where i am staying. it was lively and crowded, and once again, i was aware of the fact that i "fit" into this environment.

good to know.


thoughts on san francisco:

here is the thing about "getting older", at least in the way that i see it. i am not sure, but i do think, that i become less convinced that i am capable of undergoing major change. now let me see if i can explain exactly what i mean. change, as i have discussed in earlier posts, is complicated. first, it is necessary to understand what we have the ability to change. nutshell: attitudes, opinions, perspective, ways of thinking, goals, and the like. then we need to understand what we cannot change, and these things i have listed before. finally, we need to consider what it is in our behavior, relationships, and primarily in our environment that can have an effect on those things we want to, and are able to, change.

i have been in a "different environment" for nearly five days now--not so long. yet it has been long enough for me to have an inkling, just an inkling, of what might be possible for me were my environment change for a longer period of time. and what i can report to you is that in this amount of time, i believe that i have budged, perhaps, and inch. i have budged and inch. i have budged and inch. not much to report, but then in my defense i must say that it has a) only been five days, and; b) the environment change was not drastic. and yet, even given these restrictions, i expected more. how much more? i don't know, just more. at least enough more so that i could feel it.


  1. Bravo on your "get up and go" attitude. I'm more like a "sit and stay put" kinda guy. Change makes me nervous. Good for you!
    Your Friend, m.
    p.s. See, only compliments! At least I think hey are.

  2. Tony, an inch can be pretty 'life-changing ' for some folks. Going in with expectations can alter one's perceptions as well. As you said, you felt good in that 'community' environment and five days is a very short time.
    I believe that if and when you 'allow' it to naturally take hold of you over a longer and more natural period of time (like working and living there)you will appreciate the benefits of being out of LA. I can sense that you put heavy demands on yourself......
    That's my 2cents worth!

  3. i really enjoy having read about little moments from your SF trip. You're writing is very entertaining!... so about change, while I am younger than you i am finding i am old enough to realize that a lot in me really hasn't changed in 3 decades. I came upon a whole series of writings from 5,6,7 years ago and it's fascinating how I still have the same concerns as i do now and this considering i have gone through a rediculous amount of life changes just in the last 7 years that anyone should have to face. (end of long term relationship. major moves of home. major occupation changes. major friend/group changes. economic crises. et al.; not like you haven't been thru big changes yourself, buddy)Looking back i wonder if i've budged an inch myself, yet then again i know i've changed a helluva lot. it's frustrating actually, because i have changed so much and still think i haven't changed at all. These writings only supported how I haven't, and i'm ready to toss something out the window. i just don't know what. I expect changes, i expect more out of me, but myself, i don't feel like a whole other drastic change is something i can deal with. or maybe all these changes and i haven't really felt anything? that possible? and so maybe i just wanna feel something too.