It’s hard to believe that only a week ago I was waking up for the first morning in my new (temporary) room. Within the first couple days, with so much happening, it seemed like I’d been here at least a month.
It’s been easier to adjust than I expected, due to the routine of work as well as being able to stay occupied in the downtime, either watching episodes of “Breaking Bad” with my roommate Keith or going out and exploring San Francisco with cousin Drew and his wife, Caitlin, and with my Virginia pal Matt and his friends.
A week ago, I was getting up at 5 a.m. to blog, still on Eastern time, but my sleeping pattern has been remarkably resilient–and without having to worry about the stress of teaching, I haven’t had a need for the Ambien prescription I brought along. Better yet, I finally received some of my boxes from back home, so for the first night I was able to sleep with my fan, my alarm clock and my own bedspread.
Unpacking the boxes brought the first minor touch of homesickness (like unpacking after a visit to Barnesville), but anticipating a return visit made it a bit easier.
Being so connected through various media also helps bridge the gap. As the cold snap hit the East Coast I took much delight in sharing a screenshot of the 60-degree weather here. When Jack countered that he was already off work and getting ready to have a beer while I still had three hours left, I replied that it was a little slow that day, so I might walk out to the terrace and have a look at this (click to see larger image):
Great vistas are pretty much everywhere in SF, due to the hills, one of which the Parnassus campus is situated on. The Golden Gate Bridge, of course (at left) is the most iconic sight, but it can also be pretty inspiring looking out onto the lights of the city or (if it isn’t too hazy) the view of Ocean Beach to the west from Drew’s and Caitlin’s house on 15th street.
What also keeps things interesting when walking around is the variety of architecture depending on where you are in the city. The Victorian row houses that SF is known for are everywhere, but the more Spanish influences on the western side of town are impressive too for an East Coaster. Finally, there seem to be hidden places everywhere, where a neat little community will spring up.
I’ve been impressed by Hayes Valley, a redeveloped area a few blocks from the apartment that used to be freeway underpass until the ’89 earthquake damaged it. It has a neat little green space at its center and many boutique-style stores. I also enjoy the Irving Street area just northwest of UCSF, which has some nice bars and restaurants. On Thursday night, Drew, Caitlin and I found a neat place with Cajun-Asian fusion cuisine, and I’m still thinking about the shrimp and sausage boil that they put out on the table in a plastic bag in front of us.
As food goes, I have paid a little more than I would like (I am finally making it to the grocery store today), but it’s been worth it to try so many new things. I’ve probably had some form of potstickers every day since I have been here and went (again with Drew and Caitlin) on Saturday to a restaurant in the Richmond district that specialized in dim sum.
Some of the unique cocktails have also been another weakness. (My favorite place so far is Absithe on Hayes Street, which had a very extensive menu. ) On Friday, I went out with Matt and a group of his work friends in the Financial District to celebrate his birthday and tried several different drink variations.
This newfound cosmopolitanism continued on Saturday (before the dim sum restaurant), when Drew, Caitlin and I went to one of the city’s big art museums, the Legion of Honor. Its biggest claim to fame is a collection of Rodin sculptures, including one of a few original casts of “The Thinker.” It also offered another great view of the Golden Gate Bridge looking eastward from the affluent Sea Cliff area.
The only other thing of big note that I needed to mention was my putting the holding deposit on my new apartment, which will be available starting February 6. As much as I have enjoyed the company of my roommates, the opportunity on this 300-foot studio near the Giants’ AT&T ballpark seemed too good to pass on. While $1,800 a month may seem ludicrously expensive for most, this is a bargain for the area. By popular demand, I uploaded some photos of it here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk7B3MNg.
Today promises to be a little more low-key. My goals are finally getting to the grocery store and post office. But I already have spoken with another Virginia friend, Fionualla, about catching up sometime this week. Another friend, Jason, from The Cavalier Daily, loaned me a book about some of the history of the city. As a way of not getting too complacent, I am going to set a goal of reading at least one chapter and exploring the area it talks about each week. That should keep me busy for the better part of a year, and give me something to talk about with Jason and Matt.