Retro Post: 10 Years Ago Today, 1-Aug, Part 2

For the next few weeks, we’ll be observing an anniversary: 10 years since we left San Francisco and moved to Ann Arbor. I’ll repost articles Frank and I wrote at that time for our Ann Arbor blog, aSquared. Bittersweet, very definitely they will be, bittersweet.

‘Here’s another retro/anniversary post … skip it you’re not into my sentimentality. I apparently made a laundry list of things I would and would not miss about San Francisco. A year later, well, my list is holding up pretty well. I still agree with most every item on the list.

‘‘I’m Taking My Heart With Me

‘‘Frank makes note in his blog of a woman asking him for directions to Lombard Street today … quite possibly the last time he’ll have to give a tourist directions to the “Crookedest Street in the World.”

‘‘It reminds me of one afternoon after work while waiting for the cable car down to the Embarcadero at Grant and California, the heart of Chinatown, across from St. Mary’s Cathedral, etc., etc. Two tourists, obviously lost and confused, asked me how to ride the cable car. Turns out they were from Jonesboro, AR. They seemed to be enjoying themselves in Baghdad-by-the-Bay. It was just your average day in a tourist mecca, something that I’ve been rather blasé about; on the one hand, the geography, weather, history and … fabulousness … of this place is wonderful, but on the other, sometimes it can be a royal pain-in-the-tuckus.

‘‘Now, the encounter with the Jonesboro couple was pleasant, as was a 7 a.m. cable car ride up the hill to work one spring morning when I found myself riding with the members of a Swiss national folk singing choir, who sang a beautiful melody as we ‘climbed halfway to the stars.’ But other encounters weren’t as pleasant. During the summers, height of tourist season, it was often really annoying, and sometimes downright scary, to wade through the throngs in order to get to work at 700 California. Annoying because apparently people leave their brains at home when they go on vacation and tend to congregate in clumps on the sidewalk, impeding all progress by anyone else. Downright scary because I can’t count the times I’ve seen a tourist do something truly stupid in the street, either getting on/off the cable cars on California, or thinking that Grant is an open-air shopping mall, not a busy one-way street open to cars.

‘‘All-in-all, I kind of enjoyed the cachet of living in a cool place. I do grudgingly admit it. In certain ways, SF is very hip and very cool and I think the bottom line is that I’m pleased and proud to have been a resident of it once in my lifetime.

‘‘But no place is perfect; even Eden had its snakes. San Francisco can be dirty, filthy, incredibly physically stressful, amazingly packed with people in a small area (or at least so it seems to this New Mexico/Okiehoma boy); it can be ridiculously provincial while being ridiculously pretentious, all at the same time. It’s a fabulous, glorious, stinky, seething … PLACE of a city. As much as I moan and groan about it sometimes, there are things I will dearly miss. The fog has been particularly thick and pervasive for the last few weeks and as I write this, I can barely see the buildings across the street. That won’t be easy to say goodbye to.

‘‘So I’m starting a little list: Things I’ll Miss About San Francisco and Things I Won’t Miss About San Francisco. Let’s take the negatives first so we can end on a positive note, shall we?

‘‘Things I Won’t Miss About San Francisco:

• The smell of urine-soaked doorways

‘‘• The possibility that my home might fall down in an earthquake

‘‘• The approaches to the Bay Bridge

‘‘• The bad attitude that the place seems to engender in its citizen

‘‘• That ‘Excuse me’ means, when it comes from a San Franciscan, ‘Get the f*** outta the way!’ and is said in a tone to match

‘‘• Feeling like a rabbit in a particularly crowded hutch

‘‘• The stench of my neighbor’s daily 4:30 p.m. fishhead soup binge

‘‘• San Franciscans attitude towards allowing dogs to run around without being leashed

‘‘• Muni (although that one might change after I’ve ridden Ann Arbor’s public transit a few times)

‘‘• Living in a tourist mecca

‘‘• The memory that is triggered whenever I pass the corner of Sansome and Market where the bike messenger was smacked in the back of the head by the Muni bus mirror. Trust me, it was very not pretty

‘‘• Hawai’i. So close, yet so far

‘‘• Living within range of Kim Jong-il’s nuclear missiles

‘‘• The fact that the San Andreas is within spittin’ distance

‘‘• Certain nameless local television ‘news’ personalities … particularly that weatherlady who thinks that cable-knit sweaters with tight leather miniskirts or a kicky little denim tuxedo jacket over a spaghetti-strap top is … acceptable fashion for the rest of us to have to see

‘‘• Not being able to get out and just … drive without having 45,000 other people sharing the experience with you

‘‘• The incredible physical toll the place takes on you when you’re commuting to work or just buying groceries. It’s all drama. All of it

‘‘• Did I mention the urine-soaked doorways?

‘‘Things I’ll Miss About San Francisco:

‘‘• #1: The fog

‘‘• The climate

‘‘• The hills and mountains

‘‘• The Pacific Ocean

‘‘• The Golden Gate

‘‘• The eucalyptus trees outside my windows

‘‘• The cliffs overlooking the GGB and Baker Beach

‘‘• The Presidio

‘‘• Swiss choirs singing on the cable cars

‘‘• The labyrinths at Grace Cathedral

‘‘• The view from Twin Peaks

‘‘• San Francisco International

‘‘• The Castro Theater

‘‘• Standing at Fort Point underneath the GGB at the spot where Jimmy Stewart jumped into the bay to save Kim Novak

‘‘• Driving in the rain in the winter through wine country

‘‘• La Cantina Mexican restaurant in Santa Rosa

‘‘• Virgin Megastore

‘‘• Milano’s Pizzeria

‘‘• Cheap Pete’s Frames on Geary

‘‘• Mt. Sutro rearing up behind my apartment

‘‘• Sassy raccoons going through the garbage bins at 3 a.m.

‘‘• The possibility that an big ol’ earthquake might add some drama to your life at any moment

‘‘• The beagle’s favorite trail to see the feral kitties behind the greenhouse in Golden Gate Park

‘‘• The National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park

‘‘• UCSF hospital

‘‘• The daily parades in Chinatown during the entire month of February to celebrate Chinese New Year

‘‘• Attempting to order breakfast at McDonald’s at Grant and California in Mandarin Chinese

‘‘• Being able to get on a 777 and be in Paris 12 hours later

‘‘• NorthPoint

‘‘• Ghirardelli’s ice cream shop

‘‘• Monterey Bay and Carmel

‘‘• Sausalito and the ferry ride to and from it

‘‘• Giovanni’s Pizza on Bridgeway in Sausalito

‘‘• The fact that I can pretty much be who I want to be and not be hassled by the Fascists for it (mostly)

‘‘• That fact that Republicans can’t hurt you here

‘‘• And, of course, the friends I leave behind …

‘‘Hmmm. Well, THAT was an interesting exercise …

‘‘—Posted by Steve at 00:02 | 01-Aug-03’

‘Wonder what I’ll write about Ann Arbor when/if we leave here?’ [grin]