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!
It’s been a little over a month since the move, and I’d say the castle in a box has gone through a detox. We are completely moved in, and so I wanted to share some pics to all those who’ve asked (and who’ve not asked but are curious) to see the new place.
View from our living room, facing west.
A tree blocks about half the window, but we get a good amount of light. We live in the Western Addition, and are in somewhat of a valley I’m finding, thus you can see the houses go up in the distance. The sky is amazing, it changes pretty rapidly. It goes from blue sky and sunny to cloudy/foggy, to hazy and rainy, back to sunny.
View upon entering.
This has been our general set up since we’ve been married. It’s called using what we have. I have peacock feathers in vases from our wedding. We are a TV-less, but internet dependent family. I’ve gotten rid of all my CDs, and the only books I have left are the handful sitting on the desk in the back. The wandering jew vine that borders the top is from our wedding, what we used to decorate the center arch. I like how I feel when I’m among plants, and I love the look of the wandering jew vine. I was inspired when I saw the inside of my friend’s apartment, where his parents had used real ivy to grow all around the top of the apartment, it was really remarkable. I’d love to one day use real plants, but considering my growing record for container planting, it hasn’t been great. I hear that succulents do well here, so maybe I’ll give that a try, they seem more hearty anyway, and I love the peaceful look they give off. We were in a basement in our last place, so maybe this setup on the 5th floor and more mildweather will be more encouraging.
I am happy with the empty space, this is where I like to do exercises in the morning, or play our beautiful handmade djembe drums in the evening. I can bring my easel out with the natural window light and paint, or cut fabric, etc. It’s also a big enough space for Drew to practice his martial arts, and for us to do our daily massages at the end of the day:) And it’s big enough for our air mattress for whomever wants to crash here ::hint hint::.
My decorating style is basically to use beautiful fabrics to drape surfaces. I LOVE to use fabric!!
View of the entrance and kitchen.
Kitchen and laundry cove.
That big white block of an eye sore is our breadmaker. I make bread every week, it’s cheaper and fresher, and I can control what goes in. If I was really hard core, I’d make bread from scratch, but that takes all day, and I don’t know that many people have all day anymore. I still like to make sourdough from scratch when I make time.
I am really happy with our setup. I always felt like I could have studied interior design and been very good at it, but I also know that I have a very different aesthetic from what a lot of the design “rulebooks” say. I think I’m more conceptual and less consumerist focused than what interior decorators are “supposed” to be. For example, I don’t like furniture. I mean I very much appreciate the art of furniture, finding the balances between art and functionality through design. But for my home, at least the communal areas, I would more prefer empty space.
“We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.” – Lao Tzu
You know, for me this really applies to interior spaces too! I love the potential of an empty space. I’d rather have the space be filled with family and their activities and energies, rather than furniture/stuff. Our little dining table is perfect, it’s just the way I want it, intimate, simple, and soothing. We have received a lot of criticism and confusion about sitting on the floor. I welcome the inquiry! In many areas of the world, sitting on the floor is a normal part of culture. In Japan, and parts of China, India, and Africa, they sit on the floor to eat, work, or even in school to learn.
I like sitting on the floor because it feels more natural and healthy to me. When my chiropractor learned that I sit on the floor, he said it’s actually quite healthy for the spine to sit on the floor. It encourages the body to stay in motion more than sitting in a stagnant chair would. It activates the hip muscles more often, and increases flexibility when your legs are stretching different ways to sit. If you think about it, getting in and out of a chair does not require as much flexibility as getting up and down from the floor. This is why many elderly have trouble getting up from the floor, amongst other reasons with age. But if you look at the elderly in the parts of the world I mentioned above, they are fine with it, generally, because their body has adapted. Sitting in a chair allows some muscles to not be used at all, where others become fatigued because they are constantly being used with no chance rest (lower back pain). I also feel that when I sit on the floor with others, it facilitates relationship more than if everyone was in their own chair. There is something about sharing the same floor space that is unifying. Sometimes I feel that clutter divides people. Especially for me, as an artist, I am very distracted by things, because I love things. But I love people more. I definitely have my organized clutter, as you’ll see in my studio:
My art nest.
Close up of the sewing table.
Yep, weird, I know. I used the old curtains we had at our old place (the white fabric was the huppah at our wedding) to make a little partition to divide the studio from the bedroom space. It’s kinda ghetto, but I’m happy with it, I’m still getting used to the space since I rearranged about 90% of EVERYTHING.
So maybe from the picture, the curtains appear to be hovering magically in the air. You could believe that and I’d be fine with it. Or I could say that I used fishing line. Either way, it was a fun process. Did I say that I LOVE FABRIC?!
The love nest.
It’s significantly more dim in here because of the tree. But I actually like it, gives more privacy and with our bed placed next to the window, we still can have our faces bathed in sunlight in the morning, and depending on the mood of the moon, we can see it as we go to sleep:) How romantic! I’ve always wanted to have more flexibility with the bedroom than I have in past apartments. It’s like, we are fine with a tiny space, but I would love to have more space to create a real atmosphere, lusty, sensual, healing, and therapeutic. One day, one day.
Entrance to the bathroom.
I made the curtain! I’ve had the sunflower curtain (which I also made) for years and decided to put it to good use by extending it’s life, literally, with some cream linen fabric I had laying around. Gives a little more privacy than just an empty entrance.
It’s kinda different than what I’m used to, we have a nice luxurious counter space, and a separate space for the shower and toilet. Hard to photograph, but I like it! Yes, that is a ladybug rug
There you have it, our castle in a box. I’ve been spending more time at home than I have in a while, and it’s been wonderfully refreshing. I think that I’m not alone if I said that many educated women feel a stigma upon “staying at home” because it implies inactivity, failure, lack of ambition, skill, worth, and other ridiculous beliefs. I say DOWN with that crap. Those beliefs existed in the 70′s-80′s in order to free women from the expectation of existing only in the home and not in society. I’m not saying those times are completely over, many are still feeling strapped and discriminated against. But when we start acting out a new way, we are more likely to speed up the pace in progress. I’m driven to showing the happy medium for work-at-home (not stay-at-home) women (and men). Working-at-home is actually what a lot of women and men desire, and it’s more possible now than ever with technology. I love cooking my own meals and I love the freedom in my schedule. As much as I’d like some work outside the home, I am very happy working-at-home. With my computer, my art nest, my kitchen, and my empty space, I can do what I want to do in River world.
This trip to L.A. was a shorter one, only 5-6 hours. Our first event was crossing the border to California. THEY TOOK OUR FRUIT!! Totally unexpected…but apparently because California grows EVERYTHING for the USA, they have to crack down on any foreign foods entering the state. They searched our van, because we had an Illinois license plate and from the dirt on the sides, it looked like we drove around the world. We had a bunch of fruit and other produce for snacking on, and they took it if they couldn’t declare where it was from. So that was interesting. Nobody warned us of this, so we didn’t know. I kind of felt purified after crossing the border, haha.
We were coming into L.A. at around 3pm, so it was before rush hour had started, and we were driving into the city, not out. I was the one driving into the city. Drew did great navigating me. I did great staring forward, tensely, only blinking once a minute. It was a smidge nervewracking to be in such a big city after so much nature, but we managed.
We stayed in a hotel this time, called Custom Hotel. It looks really poshe but it was under $100, not too shabby. What’s unique about this hotel is each room is individually decorated. No more cookie-cutter decor.
Yes, those are dogs in suits on the bedspread.
The inside of the hotel was very cute. Some might think it’s too minimal or bare-bones. I’d say, I like it that way, it’s a hotel people, you’re a vistor, which means you’re probably there for a reason other than checking out the cool hotel interiors in the area.
Anyway, we just stayed a night, and honestly I wasn’t thrilled with the area, I mean it was by the airport, so there was that. L.A. didn’t grab me. But we did get to see a very cool friend of ours, she made time to see us for a few hours.
Credit: Remrie Ra Arrie
Remrie was the first person on the west coast that I shared my news of changing my name! I felt excited because Remrie had also lived in Illinois, and moved to the west coast, and changed her name, so I felt it was a topic we could both relate to. She gave me some good advice on the process and how to transition. Future blog post will be coming on the name thang.
We actually played it safe and called it a night pretty early, with our plans to beat rush hour traffic in the morning, and with at least an 8 hour drive, we needed an early shut-eye. In reality I believe we stayed up past midnight anyway, we really are hopeless, I know. BUT, we rose at 5:30am with grand plans to beat the traffic. I did get to see the traffic at it’s worst (coming IN to the city, thank goodness we were going OUT of the city). I will tell you, I don’t wish that kind of daily torture on anyone. I really don’t think L.A. is worth it, but that’s just my truth, everyone’s got their own desires and priorities for where to live and what kind of commute they want to endure.
We took a stop off at Santa Clarita, which is about an hour north of L.A. We met up with an elementary school friend of Drew’s, Lewis Consoli! Gotta love reunions.
Kids, just kids.
It was these short and sweet meetings with friends and family that made the long hours in the van and $_ _ _._ _ in gas money ::dagger wound:: totally worth it. Traveling reminds us of our soul, our purpose, at least it does for me.
Before no time we were on our way again, driving straight north this time to our final destination. We encountered the true California farms!
Admiring the lushious greenery.
We loved the scenery because the California farms are so different from Midwest farms. In the Midwest, there are about 3 different kinds of farms: corn, soybeans, or cattle. And with most of these farms, they are small enough that you can see a house attached to the land. In the California farms that we saw, we rarely saw homes attached to the land. It was just acres and acres of land as far as you could see, and the variety of plants were wonderful to see. We saw a lot of citrus, fruit trees, lots of olive and wine trees, lots of veggies, just everything! We saw cattle too, but not as much. It was a very peaceful and beautiful drive.
When we got to San Francisco it was soo cool. I was actually nervous for a good 15 minutes while driving through the new architecture. I think I was nervous because my “new life” was actually in sight now. Disclaimer: I don’t believe I’m starting a new life, it’s more of a fresh start.
We got into the city okay, and had to unpack everything immediately. Despite some miscommunications with our leasing company on how long and where we could park our van, with the help of my AWESOME friend Kathy, we hoisted everything up to our 5th floor of our building, took about 4 hours. We actually took a risk and left some of it in the hallway because we had to return the van by a certain time, and we weren’t done loading everything into our apartment. It was a risk, and thankfully nothing got taken. I do believe that risks should be taken daily in order to maintain a sense of balance and happiness in life. If you don’t believe me, read The Joy Diet by Martha Beck.
We ended the night with a 10pm dinner at Sushi Boom, a place in walking distance to our new home. It was a nice ending to a long and eventful day, not to mention, Drew’s 29th birthday:)
Who knew Albuquerque to Phoenix was an 8 hour drive? Well that worked out perfectly, because Drew has a friend who lives there. They were very gracious to let us stay on a Monday night. I got to meet his wonderful wife, Melody and their 3 KIDS! I was not even expecting a third child to the mix…she just came down with this little one and I’m like “Ohh…didn’t know you guys had another!” It was funny. They have two young boys and now a little 9 mo girl. AND two big dogs, a full house for sure. Again because I’m lame (my excuse is that we only stayed a night) I didn’t get any pictures.
We had an amaaaazing meal though, Melody is a star chef, we had broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken, a yum yum salad, green beans with garlic, and awesome chocolate chip cookies afterward. It was a real treat, especially after so much car traveling…although we tried to pack healthy foods…it’s still just, packed foods. Fruits, trail mixes, yogurts, baby spinach, etc.
I really enjoyed our stay there, and am in awe of their weather. It just never gets cold, the best times of the year are the “winter” months. After the kids went to bed, we talked about how it was for them to be parents, and we had a nice convo about how parents don’t really need a lot of “stuff” to have a baby. The market just leads you to believe that. Melody says all you really need are cloth diapers, a table for diaper changing, and a good baby sling/mobi wrap. Honestly she’s right. Much of the extra baby items come from parents needing to travel so much with the baby. Think about it, bottles, stroller, baby carrier, baby carseat, diaper bag, pacifier, excessive toys…of course I’m generalizing, and there are other small things like clothing and toiletry type things, but I’m just thinking about all the expensive baby items that people freak out over if they don’t have.
One kewl thing we did on our way to Phoenix is we stopped at the Meteor Crater, near Flagstaff, Arizona. We did get some sweet shots of this:
Amazing the perspective a little phone camera can have.
Couldn't get the whole hole in the pic.
I had actually been to Meteor Crater back in the day, when my family took a huge road trip out west. We only saw it this time because we drove past the signs for it on route 40, and I recognized it. We weren’t planning on seeing it, but I thought, when the heck are we going to be near this thing again? Exactly. So we drove the 5 miles off route or whatever it was, paid the $15 each, it was worth it! You can even see it on Google Maps!
We were here!
There’s a informational museum tacked on to the crater, it’s really hilarious because it makes you feel like you’re really going back in time, because the graphics and videos and everything are really retro! I’m glad we went, Drew likes sci fi things so I thought he’d especially enjoy it:)
Now that I actually have time to type things in a composed manner, I wanted to share a little synopsis of our elaborately exciting trip out to San Francisco.
We took a small moving van from Urbana, IL to San Francisco, CA. But we didn’t go directly there, cuz that would not be taking advantage of the possibilities! Here is the route (generally) that we took:
When "straight ahead" doesn't appeal to the senses.
Why did we choose this path? Because A: The people we know, and B: the warmer climate. We were traveling in early January after all, which is basically the coldest time of the year. Not the best time to be risking a van breakdown or road accident due to weather, having all our belongings with us, traveling through miles of desert, mountains, farms, etc. Also, what is more exciting during a big move, than getting to visit friends and family that you either haven’t seen in years, or haven’t even met yet? That paired with watching the terrain and temperature change as we drove, was the most enriching for me. Here’s a breakdown of our itinerary:
DAY 1: Jan 5- Travel from Urbana Illinois to Lincoln, Nebraska
Right before take off. This sadness cracks me up, in the best possible way.
This picture confirms for me that Drew cannot be sad, no matter how hard he tries. He looks more like he has acorns in his cheeks that he’s saving for the trip ahead. And, I just look homeless. Well, at that point, I guess I was.
Seriously though, this was a very sad moment for me, when we were ready to actually depart. I love and miss Champaign-Urbana. It’s where we spent our newlywed years…and a good portion of our twenties. ::Siiggh::
Why did we stop in Lincoln? Because we wanted to break up our trip into 8 hour or less chunks. Since neither of us knew anyone in Kansas or Nebraska, we decided to get a hotel. I wanted to get a cheap bare bones place to save money, and Drew wanted to get a nicer place (this is usually how the decision process between us goes) so we got a Holiday Inn Express. To our surprise, this one was really nice. I still have the shampoo and conditioner containers and plan to use them as my travel bottles. Yep, they are even labeled on the bottle, can’t beat that. You can tell a lot about a hotel based on their shampoo and conditioner freebies.
The little pleasures of traveling.
There’s not as much to say about the weather or terrain. The ground was frosted over in Lincoln. It’s pretty much all flat manure-laden farmland, which, with all due respect, has it’s beauty, but I have seen my fair share of it, having both sides of my family from Ohio and Iowa, I’ve done a lot of visiting in those areas. Basically, it’s familiar territory. But, I did sing a song about Cows with Square Butts…which I conveniently don’t remember the words to, so I’ll just supplement with:
Coming soon…Colorado update!
Wow, a wee bit much to catch up on! Current forecast today: 66 degrees in January, whaaatt?! It’s our two week anniversary of living in San Francisco! The stream of boxes, phone calls, gas station fill ups, and credit card swipes have subsided (well almost). I’m feeling more like I can do “normal” life now, like blog, job hunt, picking up where I left off, but also leaving some old ways, and starting new ways! So wait, I moved across the country? Yes! And, we had 3 weeks to do it, oy. I’d like to share what’s been going on in the last month or two:
There is something about verbalizing your dreams that is very powerful! I actually believe this can help one to achieve them. Psychologically, we know that when we’ve voiced something we want, if we care in the least about who we’ve voiced it to, we will make more effort to take steps towards these desires. It’s a type of accountability.
Living in Champaign-Urbana, IL, where Drew was doing a PhD at UIUC, I had been voicing a general desire for the past two-ish years to in the future, move to a more artsy and techie city on a coast, most excitedly, the west coast, but was not tied to it. Ever since I got married to Drew, I’ve felt this would be the best type of environment for both of us to succeed. This was just a far off dream when Drew was still finishing school, but as time went on and things changed about our beliefs, desires, and environment, I felt the dream was a possible reality!
I could feel it pulsing in my body during Thanksgiving time, as I attended my 10 year high school reunion that weekend, in ol’ faithful Columbia, Maryland. This was my first reunion that I’ve been to, and I really had a blast!
Gettin' our young on.
Reunions are all about re-hashing the past, and judging everyone by “where” they are now. Whether that be where you live, who you’re dating, how many kids you have, your job, how much weight you gained. It’s just about as mature as, well, high school. I kid, I kid. Not gonna lie, I did feel liberated every time I expressed to someone ”I’m hoping to move to California soon.” At that time, Drew had an interview in San Fran, the following week, and after his well fought duel with a position at Google, we both felt even more confident about his abilities in the professional world of programming. But really, I had no freaking idea what was going to happen of course.
Fast forward a few weeks…December 9th, Drew receives an offer! ::double take:: …::faint:: OH. WHOAZ. All of a sudden, our world looks really different, and tons more exciting. Could we even afford this? San Francisco is basically the most expensive city in the country, after New York and L.A. We are used to Urbana livin-$520 for a spacious 2 bedroom. And…our families are on the east coast and midwest. It was a big decision. The female instinct in me feels that if I move farther away, I am “abandoning” my friends and family. How terrifying, especially with the timing of little ones coming along in the next few years. This has definitely nagged my heart as long as I’ve ever desired moving west.
But…SAN FRANCISCO!! It’s so dreamy… Yet I was kind of surprised to learn that not everyone thinks so. It’s especially dreamy for artists…but at that, only certain kinds of artists. The startup culture is huge, which is perfect for Drew, that’s been one of his dreams. The alternative-hippy-eco-health nut-emerging artist-independence on crack culture is huge too, perfect for me at this time in my life. What I’m saying is, it’s a very specific and special type of city. But when I visited my awesome friend in the city back in 2005, I fell in love with the city. The support for artists, the earthy colored, modern, beautiful architecture, the crazy hills, the mild weather, the romantic fog, the diversity, the youthfulness, the health and environment consciousness, the pugs, the boutiques, and the food. What can I say, love drives me.
Speaking of love…I love my husband.
Loving on our 3 year anniversary
I would not be here if it weren’t for him. Applying, interviewing, taking the job, and everything around it, this is one of the biggest acts of love he’s ever performed for me. I love him for providing such wonderful opportunities for me.