Having just gotten back from a trip to San Francisco (my first time in California!), it’s hard to come to terms with the suddenness of the weather change in New York. What happened to the 70 degree weather we had right before I left in late October? No wonder people told me I’d love SF– sunshine! Flowers everywhere! So much hiking! Humongous burritos for $7! There, in the Gardens at Lake Merritt in Oakland, the sweet olive/osmanthus blooms took me right back to Hangzhou although the orange-tinged squirrels are wholly American. I thought I was prepared for the hills of San Francisco, even hiking at Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley before heading into SF proper (a beautiful nighttime view over the east bay if you end up getting stranded after hiking all day!) but I really wasn’t. Those hills are not kidding around. I don’t know how the cars do it.
There was a lot there that I expected and a lot I didn’t. Beautiful street art, yes. Lack of bicyclists, no. Unexpected how it was just so much emptier than NYC and to see how the housing regulations affect their housing crisis with so many two to three-story houses, not like the many much taller apartment buildings in New York. The ads all over about voting on local measures and the evidence of unhappiness with the tech industry. The lack of hostility. I’d forgotten how it felt to be in a place where people are less confrontational, less belligerent. I stayed in an apartment in Berkeley connected by little paths through separate gardens to the gates and other houses, surrounded by flowering bougainvillea and statuary. We ventured down to the Sutro Baths at sunset, the pelicans flying low overhead, the ocean roaring onto the rocks and the caves, then ate Burmese food where they mixed the tea leaf salad table-side. At night, we listened to the sea lions since it was too dark to see them out on the pier. We walked and we walked until our thighs and calves were sore and we collapsed into bed at 10pm. There was a beautiful hike along the cliffs to the Golden Gate Bridge. There were the botanical gardens at Golden Gate Park where moss rained down on us from the tree, pricking through our clothes, and the California Academy of Science. Uber rides for when we were stranded—one of the drivers told us a tale of woe about losing his job as a hardware engineer and buying the car specifically to drive for Uber. We stayed at a house in Noe Valley where our host took in handicapped cats, one without eyes, the other with a hip problem. Before we left, an hour or so for Randy’s place, a neighborhood bar with strong $3 well drinks and $.75 pool. It was hard coming back.
In writing news, I had a great time at the Center for Fiction reading I did last month with the other fellows. It was wonderful hearing their actual work for the first time! And also, a shoutout to DB, LP, JL, & F for coming–it was a lovely surprise to see you all there. There’s actually a video up of the reading on the Center for Fiction’s website (part I and part II, in alphabetical order! I happen to be in part II.)
There’s also a little interview I did for the Interstitial Arts Foundation here. Yay for cross-genre, boundary-smashing, interstitial work!