Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hello, San Francisco!

I have been unforgivably bad about posting on this here blog lately. So much has changed since June I don't even know where to begin, so let's just start with the elephant(s) in the room:

I've moved to San Francisco, CA! No need to worry about this blog having a Seattle bias any longer, as we are now broadcasting from the beautiful City by the Bay. Moving to SF was something I'd talked about several months ago, and I'm happy to report this dream is now a reality!

Matt accepted a job at VolunteerMatch, a non-profit clearinghouse that systematically connects other non-profits with volunteers and interns. Located in San Francisco's Chinatown, they are a Craigslist of the non-profit world, if you will. He started this job in mid-July and has been loving it! Seeing him truly enjoy his work and find his niche is so terrific to see.

I finished up my work with SBM on August 4th, after finishing a major safety compliance audit that was like a capstone to my year of employment there. Though due to various circumstances I may not work in the EHS field ever again, it feels good to have both acquired valuable skills through my work with SBM and to have left the position on such a high note.

We made the move down on August 15th and are now living in a kick-ass apartment on Valencia Street! The location of our place could not have been more perfect. Within walking distance of our place are literally hundreds of restaurants, some of the world's best Mexican food, bike shops, renowned fair-trade coffeehouses, more than a dozen medical marijuana dispensaries (not that I intend on visiting them), a major porno film studio, a chiropractor, churches/temples of Greek Orthodox, Vietnamese Buddhist, Roman Catholic, Jewish and Bahai faiths, and a bar called Zeitgeist which serves San Francisco's best Bloody Mary. For all you real geeks out there, our apartment has a Walkscore of 91 out of 100, above the average San Francisco of 86.

None of this would have happened without the help of our good friend Elyse, who was the previous tenant of our apartment. I happened to stumble upon her Facebook status randomly several weeks ago, where she posted "does anyone want my 2 bedroom apartment on Valencia Street?" I called her immediately and told her to take down that posting right fucking now...and as luck would have it, the place has worked out beautifully! I'm so happy we were 1) able to find a place that met our budget (not an easy feat in the 2nd most expensive rental market in the country); and 2) able to help her move into an even better apartment not two blocks away. Our place has 2 bedrooms, a large kitchen and bathroom, hardwood floors throughout, and my personal favorite feature: the fire escape :) Call me cheesy, call me a stupid boho romantic, but our fire escape kicks ass! I'm still getting used to the noise factor (a.k.a. sleeping with earplugs) and the tight quarters, but what better intro to city living could you ask for than living in a traditional San Francisco apartment in the heart of the city's action?

In the week and a half since moving here, I've made it my personal mission to savor as much of the city as possible before I resume my previous existence as a boring white-collar professional. If there is one San Francisco trait that overwhelms me more than anything else, it is the sensation of being a completely square country-bumpkin surrounded by sophisticated city people. I'm learning more and more that Seattle only thinks of itself as cosmopolitan, and San Francisco is truly its muse. Even the densest Seattle neighborhoods of Capitol or Belltown hardly scratch the surface of San Francisco's great urban environments.

Nearly everyone I've met here thinks I'm a moron for bringing my car into the city. With public transit so good and such high density, wouldn't having a car be too much of a liability? They do have a point, as the meter maids here are ruthless; I managed to get three parking tickets in one week the last time I was here! Granted, I was able to find a parking spot in the Castro for $100/month and my car is paid off, so I'm not complaining too much. The car is at least a 20-minute walk from our apartment, so it adds an extra inconvenience for daily commuting. But regardless, I think there is a certain freedom that having a car nearby offers you. What if I need to travel to a Bay Area suburb not covered by BART? What if I want to make a weekend trip to Muir Woods or Santa Cruz?

Or perhaps the most relevant question considering we just moved in: how the hell are you supposed to get to IKEA without a car? You can't say you've broken your apartment in until your first trip to IKEA! We got a bookshelf, end table, and bathroom cabinet there this past weekend so we're golden on that front. On the other hand, the ability to not need to drive on a daily basis here is quite liberating; the city is compact enough to make nearly everything no more than a twenty-minute walk away. Am I guilty of wanting to have my cake and eat it, too? You be the judge.

In matters more pertinent to this blog, I tested out a key piece of San Francisco bike infrastructure today, also known as the "Wiggle". The "Wiggle" is a highly-trafficked bike corridor leading directly from my apartment on Valencia Street through Duboce Triangle, Lower Haight, Panhandle, and finally Golden Gate Park. The genius of the Wiggle is that it completely avoids the otherwise daunting hills of San Francisco that are a major obstacle in certain neighborhoods. The route is safe and includes a special left-turn lane dedicated to bikes, something I'd never seen before. Streetfilms does a great piece on the Wiggle; what makes the route unique is that it's officially designated with signage throughout, almost like a dedicated path cutting through the heart of the city.

I'm looking forward to volunteering with the bicycle culture here locally, perhaps through the SF Bike Coalition. San Francisco is set to select a vendor for its bike-sharing system sometime this fall, so I'll be sure to keep you updated on that. Despite the temptation of multiple bike shops on Valencia Street, I will NOT be getting a fixie anytime soon. Very happy with my Bianchi, thank you!

On a more practical note, I have an interview with Eventbrite tomorrow for a CSR position. After several weeks of intensive job searching, I can say there is definitely no recession in this city! Wish me luck!

Here's to new beginnings in an incredible new city :)

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