I am very, very fortunate. Fortunate to have wonderful friends and family visitors. Fortunate to live in such a beautiful city. Fortunate for such a pleasant lifestyle. This past weekend we all got to play tourists of the town. Our brother Ryan came into town from Gainsville, Florida. At this point, Drew hasn’t gotten to explore much because of his time at work. I have explored my immediate surroundings and some other areas outside of the thick of the city, but I hadn’t really had the run around of downtown festivities. As much as I lust after San Francisco, the downtown area isn’t my top choice to explore on my own, especially since I’m unfamiliar with it, it makes getting around more stressful than traveling outside of the thick of the city.
However, this weekend we really got to experience some of the jems in downtown. A friend from college (lives in Seattle), and his college roomate (lives in Berkeley) came down for the day and we romped around all day, doin’ many a fun thangs. If it wasn’t for our friend in Berkeley, we would not have had as thorough a touring experience for sure. Things we did:
- Went to visit Drew’s work, although it was locked on Saturday, we went up to the rooftop!
On the rooftop of 50Cubes
- Yerba Buena Gardens, ahhhh. San Francisco has the most green space out of the big U.S cities.
Credit: Josh Pilachowski
- Walked to the Ferry Building to experience the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, the biggest market in the city.
In front of the Bay Bridge at the Ferry.
- Ate Japanese fusion lunch on the water of the bay.
- Walked along the Embarcadero, which is a long “boardwalk” that stretches the eastern coast of the peninsula.
In front of the Aquarium.
- Saw the Sea Lions makin a show! They would nudge each other off the docks, it was so cute, they are so squiggly and jiggly.
- Stopped at the Ghirrardelli Square where you can get free chocolate and we also had some amazing ice cream.
On the other side, mermaid nurses babymaid.
- Walked to Fisherman’s Wharf, and visited the Musee Mecanique, an AWESOME free museum full of retro arcade and carnival machines, and they all were in working order, it was REALLY creepy and surreal, what an experience. And this magnificence is FREE, although to play the games is not, most are the vintage amount of 25c.
- We then waited forever to take the Cable Car through town, and did not take pics during the ride for fear of dropping the phone. Some fears do not make you fearful, but instead, wise. This was one of them:)
Beginning of the route, still standing in line.
Credit: Josh Pilachowski
- Saw a bit of Chinatown. It’s cool to see once, but a bit of sensory overload for me. A lot of the merchandice is cheap imported clutter, but there are some nice things, too. I saw an amazing turtle purse.
Chinatown snippets, I like the street lanterns.
- Walked through North Beach’s Little Italy and ate at a fancy Italian restaurant, Trattoria Contadina.
My favorite window display, a garlic restaurant on Columbus Ave.
- Called it a day!
The next day, we did some nice Zipcar driving, since our feet were pulverized from walking so much the previous day. We did:
- Drove down Lombard Street
The crookedest street in the USA!
- Drove along the north edge scenic drive, through the Presidio park and across the Golden Gate Bridge
- Drove to Tiburon, a beautiful (rich much?) area in North Bay, near the water.
Tiburon view, very beautiful architecture.
The next day, we walked around the Haight, Panhandle and the cusp of the Golden Gate Park, just past Hippy Hill. We ended the day at Cafe Gratitude, a verrrry special and well loved raw vegan restaurant that Drew and I really enjoy.
I got the "I am Fabulous" Lasagna.
This restaurant is amaazing. I love them because of their point of view on the dining experience. They look at the raw vegan diet as not only healthy for the body, but nurturing for the soul, and the dining experience is treated differently from any other restaurant I’ve known. Everything is done with a relational touch. We love it so much that we even have the Cafe Gratitude Cookbook. Yes, we are food nerds. Most of the stuff in there is out of our price range to make strictly as they say, but I always alter recipes anyway, so it’s nice to have it to get ideas for healthy cooking. I have lots to learn about the raw diet.
So during Ryan’s stay, he got to sample Thai, Japanese, Italian, Japanese-Mexican fusion, Ethiopean, and Raw Vegan. He had wanted to try lots of different foods. Not bad for a 3 day stay!
Along with the big (and sudden) move to California, I decided to act upon a desire that I’ve had for some time now; the desire to change my first name.
I’m now introducing myself as River Drum!
I know, weird, right? Or maybe your reaction is more like “WHAT?! WHY on earth would you do that? Isn’t that an insult to your parents who named you? I have known you as Rachel my whole life, I can’t think of you as anything else.”
If you look at this kind of decision as a burden, that’s okay, I understand that. Our culture, like many, puts a lot of weight on our name. I have always found names interesting. Those who know me well can tell you that when I was a kid, I had this random baby names book that I would basically stare at and obsess over, before bed every night, over and over again I would study the names and meanings. I would also practice writing my favorite names in my sketchbook. Most people just thought this meant I was maternal and loved babies.
This is TOTALLY accurate! But there was more to it. I like symbols, meanings, and people. Names are the instant way of attaching meaning to our being, and this is always done once we our born, or soon after, before we have formed our personality. That is, if you believe we form our personality as we grow, but that’s another blog post.
I have always believed we are much more than our name. Some of us are told that we look like our name. Is that true, or do we just emanate a way of being, and then others subconsciously attach a meaning to the name? I have had people who are still getting to know me mistake me as “Rebecca” or “Sarah.” Isn’t that interesting? It’s happened on many occasions, so it’s a pattern. Somehow I give off a first impression that connects them to those names. Or, maybe I just look Jewish. People say “What’s in a name?” It’s true, what IS in a name if one’s parents just pick a name that they like at the time? It is arbitrary for the individual.
I have been wanting to make this change for over a year or so now, and with moving to San Francisco, I figure this is a great opportunity! I just really love the name River, and feel it fits me better. It’s not that I dislike the name Rachel, in fact, those of you who would still like to call me Rachel, you may, I won’t be offended. I recognize that Rachel is how many of you know me, regardless of what my social security card says. I just figure, if I have the opportunity to own my first name, why not take it? It’s a symbol of a fresh start for me out west. It’s exciting to me, I hope you are excited too.
Side note: To any of you who feel aghast that I would “reject” my name given to me at birth. I would ask you to question so many of the women who abandon either partially or totally their maiden name when they marry. The identity shift that happens for women in this position is just accepted as normal and positive. Yet we are still at around 50% divorce rate, so basically there is 1 out of 2 chances that the name she takes, will just end up being potentially awkward, like a bad aftertaste, unless she changes it back to her old name. I’m not making any judgements on women who take their husband’s name, it’s their choice. I’m just pointing out that it’s hypocritical to judge one who makes a conscious choice to change her name as opposed to someone who might do it with less thought because it’s the norm.
For the record, my full name is (will be) River Fister Neff Drum. I’ve kept my maiden name (Drum), and I’ve kept my second middle name which is my mom’s maiden name (Neff). I’ve also changed my middle name from Lynne to Fister, which is my husband’s last name. So, I think I’ve been quite loyal to family heritage. Not that one needs to be, just sayin’.