Oh it’s a Perfect Day

img_0692 Indulge me. We are four days into the recent storm with promise of at least one more day of non stop rain and dangerously to the brim reservoirs. Oroville Dam, 50 miles south of us is back in evacuation orders and I feel as if all of Northern California is washing away. Like can we ever have a happy medium? Either we look like Mad Max at Thunderdome or we’re you know, an ocean.

I am thinking back to Wednesday, February 15. A perfect day.

Wednesday was a beautiful day. Gray in the morning. Blue in the afternoon.


It was kind of a two-fold reason trip. I had a reading to do as part of Notre Dame de Namur University’s Creative Writing Series –thanks to poet Zack Rogow (who read with me) down in Belmont. But my Wednesday morning was at the top of Russian Hill, hanging with a good friend of mine—one of my original friends in San Francisco. Most of us of course have long since left because you know, priced out. But it always warms my heart to have a moment back in The City–even if it is a shadow of its former self. I was still on the clock as a reporter though… I brought my notes and my phone and got to look at down on North Beach and hear  the clock on St. Peter and Paul’s Church tell me to hurry it on up.


After filing a couple of items, I totally wanted to go down to Russian Hill but my friend and I had some pressing concerns.

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Down to Zen Spa on Union Street for a long  afternoon of talk and green tea and nails and oh yes, that wonderful moment when a spa woman you’ve asked to wax your eyebrows turns around and says ‘What about mustache? It’s looking big!” Because who says nah, that’s okay, keep the stache?

16681913_10155088929384407_6124818170128306768_nBlue sky. 3 O’Clock in the afternoon on Union Street. I’m holding on to this image of blue sky in case I never see one again.

Then it was a drive down to Belmont. For the reading where we got to read in the beautiful Wiegand Gallery at the top of campus. A nice showing of students. Full of questions at the end. All laughing at the right spots in the three stories I read. Notre Dame de Namur has a pretty diverse student population–which was amazing to see and so refreshing. I found myself wanting to send a kid there. And I got to read with Zack Rogow–who was my professor way back when at University of San Francisco in the late 90s. Here he is below reading poetry by the poets who influenced him as well as inspired poems he wrote.


At the end of the evening I headed to Bush and Taylor to Club Moderne for a nightcap and a quick visit with one of my favorite photographers who recommended The Aviation.


It’s purple. It’s yummy. It’s 12 bucks. Yikes. I’m such a mountain woman these days. That’s 3 dive bar drinks in the mountains. But you know, worth it. I had a second reason for hitting up Keith Song. He does these great calendars every year and since he’s kind of family at this point usually I see him at Christmas but he didn’t make it to the mountains this year. So voila. I finally have this year’s calendar.


In the morning with high winds in town, I just hung out with my buddy Lynn in her apartment. Not wanting to go anywhere. And she’s a huge fan of uber eats. So when we felt like deli we had it  brought it to us.


As good a day and a half as any in San Francisco. I got to no museums, no restaurants. no cafes, no shopping unless you count the 30 seconds in Sephora before I got overwhelmed by product. It felt like one of those days when I used to live there instead of being a tourist. And I’m happy not to be a tourist.

Also because I’m totally obtuse and traveled on Valentines Day, I got to the City and was like wait why is the city hall all lit up red? What political thing is being done or said?! I was running through every organization I could think of, possible anti-Trump statement (but wouldn’t it be Orange?!). And then I was like. Oh. LOVE. LOVE. Valentine’s. Sigh. I’ve been married and a mother too long.


For the first time in a long time, I can’t wait to get back to San Francisco. Damn. I actually miss my city of my 20s. I think I have to come back in April for a few more days.


Feeling No Burn: San Francisco

Last week was Burning Man in the Nevada high desert. And though I live in the mountains near by I hate camping out. On top of that I have a hard time doing anything where I have to force myself to be festive. And given that I wear any number of strange retro vintage outfits, I don’t have a problem ‘being me’ in public. So, every year I don’t put out money for a ticket to go play in the desert. Instead I go back to San Francisco–where I lived in my late 20s early 30s. And relish in a couple of days in something that’s nearly completely gone. The old San Francisco.

Of course you can’t go home again, I KNOW. But you can visit. I’m a creature of habit in The City by the Bay. I have no need to try new restaurants and new fangled things. I just want the old. The steady. The constant. That San Francisco that is a whisper now. The one that was almost affordable. The one that rolled in with the fog and made me feel like I had done the right thing to leave Los Angeles for the North–before I knew what living in Northern California really was.

Our story begins here:

14202625_10154509633784407_8753268914024601102_nBecause we live in Plumas County there isn’t an In n Out for miles around. So thank you, Yuba City for being our road trip food. In n Out is the source for my grilled cheese animal style sandwiches. My beast of a husband still orders 4×4’s protein style as if he’s a teenage athlete with energy to burn.

Burn. Burning Man. There’s just something magical about driving into The City on a Friday night without having to constantly use ones break, to go faster than 20 miles an hour on the 80 West to the Bay Bridge. Thank you, Burning Man enthusiasts for leaving town and making The City manageable.

We get in late. We’re old. We don’t go out on Friday night. We just sit up all night talking over white wine. The husband and I stayed with a good friend of mine who lives in an apartment building that one would think Doris Day might live in the 60s.

In the morning we take off for North Beach on foot.

img_8825There’s no way to walk down Macondray Lane to North Beach without thinking of Tales of the City and Amistead Maupin–and a San Francisco which once welcomed idiosyncratic behaviors a little more.

img_8826 It’s still a magical walk that all at once feels like SF and doesn’t at the same time.

14233196_10154511352954696_1921069193934735943_n(photo by Julian Wells)

People often want to give me recommendations on where to go for coffee. A new place. A hip place. I appreciate that but my love affair with San Francisco goes way back to before I lived there. I was a college student in Orange County in the 90s. A land of pink cotton sweaters and identical housing. I went on a trip to SF with other students for a march in favor of reproductive rights. We got 10 of us in a Travel Lodge. We went to North Beach where I saw people dressed in berets without irony. Dark colors. Italian and other languages rushing passed me.

I happened on Caffe Greco — a cash only cafe with to die for paninis of fresh mozzarella and tomato sandwiches. Not to mention the cookies and coffees. The two guys running it are always slightly but not obnoxiously flirty and no one makes the fat girl feel bad for ordering AND eating dessert first thing in the morning.

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I of course wear the WRONG shoes for walking. Because vanity. So I don’t even Uber. I taxi back up to Russian Hill to meet with a client while my husband goes exploring record stores and antique stores. I meet with a client on the 12th floor of a high rise –and then my girl friend and I Uber Eat in while we watch the sailboats out her window. To have a view of both bridges–that’s something else indeed.

The husband comes back all smiles and purchases –a few old records that he totally did not need but had to have on the cheap. We get ready for the night and come up with like 10 plans knowing full well that if we make it to 3 of them we’ll feel accomplished.

First we head to Mission Comics and Art on Mission Street. There’s an event there that’s a pre party and talk for the San Francisco Zine Fest we’re planning to go to the next day. Mission Comics gave the Library Project a few really cool boxes of books! I wanted to say thank you in person.  THANK YOU MISSION COMICS. I got to shake the owners hand. It was standing room only. We got a comic for the son at home with grandma.

We actually first went to Community Thrift on Valencia because like all San Franciscans , if you get a killer parking space you just kinda have to go with it. We were right there! 4 new vintage skirts in my collection and for cheap. My husband bought books. BOOKS. OMG. Cannot get away from books.

Next we headed to Tonga Room! Because I havent’ been since my 30th birthday and the husband had never been. Mai Tais and Singapore Slings (which I ordered in my best Tom Waits growl voice but it went unappreciated). I remember coming here and the room was almost empty. Now it’s hip again. Even with Burning Man happening. GRRR… But it was fun. Even the house band floating on the pool was cool. I wish however that Disneyland’s Tiki Room theme song wouldn’t play in my head so much.

14238303_10154514293404407_3912201755033846331_nBut I did get to wear my new pin up girly black dress so that was fun. It’s kinda a chi chi dress no doubt about that.

And the husband got all artsy in front of Grace Cathedral where we parked.  (Good free parking).


And we totally meant to go dancing after the drinks but forgot to eat. But we found good eats on Union street which had plenty of empty parking spaces (Burning Man). So many in fact that I was looking to see what was wrong with the spaces. We did Japanese.

Tamashi Sushi Bar was yummy. It was my one venture into something entirely new —I think I ate at the ghost of the sushi place that was there before. We didn’t make the dance club as we’re middle aged but we were there in spirit! In the mountains we can kinda get sushi but it seems way too far from the ocean to eat sushi and I get nervous. This was solidly good sushi.

I gave the doorman the key to my car and reflected upon the idea that that’s definitely a mark of…..many things. .. I love the doormen at my friend’s apartment.

In the morning we got ready to head out. I know. Short trip. But first a trip to the old neighborhood. I used to live in the Inner Richmond on 6th Avenue and California.

img_8836 Again. Easy parking. Bless you, Burning Man enthusiasts!  I took the husband to my favorite brunch spot in my old neighborhood. Because crab cakes benedict is just something that should always happen on a Sunday morning. And of course, a Bloody Mary.



img_8837This is the Clement Street Bar and Grill. So happy it is still alive and running.

It all made me realize that I’ve spent far too much time in a library this summer. So happy to relax –if even for 48 hours. Not thinking of schools, not thinking of books, not thinking of bureaucracy. Just me and the man. Hanging out. Over crab cakes and bloody marys.

That’s also the trick to San Francisco. There are many San Franciscos. I chose the old school one–far away from downtown or the wharf. Far away from the hipness that’s taken down so much of The City. I hope I’m back for more before the end of the year. I need more time away.  Is there another festival half the city could go to so I get great parking and service again?