In January, I will be embarking on the adventure of a lifetime, moving to San Francisco for a new job as managing editor of Synapse, the student newspaper at UCSF.
My goal in maintaining this blog periodically is simple: keep friends and family back home up-to-date on everything going on. I have no delusions of grandeur regarding a wider audience, but I will try to offer a mix of personal musings with posts of more general interest about life in SF. Simply put, it will be part journal, part travel blog and mostly just a record of my time out west.
For some it might give a chance to live vicariously through my travels out west. And for those already familiar with the Bay area, it may be a chance to re-experience it for the first time again through the eyes of a newcomer. As I become a more savvy and sophisticated SF native, it may grow to be more of an in-depth exploration of the city’s hidden gems, but for now it’s pretty much me discovering the obvious stuff that the natives already know about.
For those who don’t know already, my story begins with a trip I took in June/July 2014, which I considered to be my great pilgrimage to some of my high school heroes of the Beat Generation. Between Denver and SF, I managed to cross off a great many site in a few short days and to visit some friends along the way. But when summer ended and the time came to return to my life as high school English teacher with just a few posters as souvenirs, I wasn’t quite satisfied.
It so happened that I stumbled upon a job listing on the UCSF website that was perfect for me. I applied, but quickly wrote it off and forgot about it as something too far away and too far out of my league. Then came the phone call for my first Skype interview. Having courted several interesting job opportunities in the recent past, none of which panned out in the end, I was still cautious and measured in my optimism. But with school about to start anyway, I figured I had nothing to lose in seeing where it went.
I felt pretty good about outlining my multitude of experiences as youth editor for The Free Lance-Star’s it! magazine, my adjunct professor/newspaper adviser job at the University of Mary Washington and my active role as a board member of the Cavalier Daily Alumni Association. Still, those were a far cry from the campus culture of UCSF, a graduate wing of the UC system that mainly provides professional schools in health fields and also scientific research.
As the rounds of interviews progressed, the number of finalists dwindled and I had still made the cut, simply by being myself and emphasizing my well-rounded experiences. While I grew more and more intrigued with the idea, there were still several roadblocks:
1) The school year had begun, and breaking my commitment (and contract) could reflect negatively, as well as put my students (a group that I had already developed strong bonds with) in a difficult spot.
2) The job was only advertised as 75%, and worries abounded that it would not be affordable to live in such an expensive area doing part-time work.
3) While I have traveled a lot, I didn’t know how my friends and family would take it when I told them of such bold move so far away, and in Nancy Pelosi country no less.
When the offer came, though, all of these worries were allayed. They were willing to allow me to work remotely until January while tying up loose ends at North Stafford, planning the move and adjusting psychologically. Moreover, they could make it a 100 percent position when I arrived, at least for the current budget cycle.
I sought the advice of trusted friends and family, and the surprisingly resounding answer was yes. So, I put in my notice at school, and that was that.
The first day of announcing the news was glorious–congratulations all around. Then it was time to tell my students.
They were disheartened–“Does anyone else feel empty inside,” one asked–and some simply refused to believe that I was not pulling their leg (as I’ve been known to do), even when I showed my “Facebook official” post.
A few weeks later, it all seems a little anticlimactic. Most people know and have moved on, and yet I am still at school doing business as usual while now balancing some new commitments to produce the UCSF paper. It is hard closing one chapter while opening another at the same time and trying to figure out where my mindset should be.
There are a few hurdles that remain: enrolling in benefits, rolling over retirement accounts, updating addresses, and finding an affordable apartment in a decent, safe, convenient location being the main one. And figuring out how to transport all my stuff across the country, as well as whether to sell my car. And, oh yeah, trying to save money for the move!
On the bright side, I have pretty much mastered the SF public transportation system since my most recent visit (more on that in another post), and I have some promising leads in the apartment hunt now that I am better able to target specific needs, like proximity to the Muni line.
To top it off, the new job is off to a strong start, now that I have met my colleagues and the students I will be working with. I see tremendous untapped growth potential if they will allow me to do my thing. It also promises to be a busy holiday season as I work hard to balance the needs of both jobs.
More stories coming soon on my recent weekend visit, starting with the plane ride from hell (sort of), my first impressions of UCSF, my wanderings around Union Square, Powell and Sutter streets, a visit to a start-up tech mixer at the W Hotel, and late-night foray into North Beach, as well as sunny Saturday explorations in the Embarcadero and Mission Bay areas and a promising lead on an apartment.