Friday, June 22, 2012

In the City by the Bay, Day 5.

So, after my day of walking all over the Haight with Josh, I was pretty sore. I decided I didn’t care, because I was going to spend the day with my girl Hilary and her awesome kiddos! You might remember her former blog, Plate + Simple. It will forever have a place in my heart because Hilary and I became instant friends, and she later interviewed me. I still remember how tickled I was that someone cared enough about my ramblings to want an entire interview. You blew my mind, Hil. Now she blogs at Mod Apron, where I get daily doses of the kid-filled domestic bliss I hope to have someday soon. As soon as I knew Red and I would be in San Francisco, I emailed Hilary to tell her that we’d not only be in the same country (as she hails from that utopia to the North known as Canada), but in the same city! I’m not one to make big distinctions between “Internet friends” and “real-life friends,” because why can’t they be one and the same? Still, I was psyched that we could finally meet in person.

That day was the grayest and rainiest of our week in San Francisco, but it didn’t matter. Hilary made me breakfast (oatmeal and fresh fruit; I couldn’t have asked for anything better on that chilly morning) and welcomed me like I’d been dropping by her house on the regular for years. We walked her daughter Maya to preschool (OMG so much walking that week) and made funny faces at her little boy Henry. (Seriously, hie thee to Mod Apron just to get a load of Henry’s contagious grins.) It was exactly the mellow day I needed. We talked about damn near everything—it was like hanging out with one of my oldest friends, one who shares valuable life advice while brewing fragrant herbal tea. And she bought me this fantastic pretzel bagel, too:


Red and I had dinner plans (not Millennium, though—that’s coming!), so after Hilary and I picked up Maya, we posed for this drop-dead-gorgeous photo and I managed to find the right bus back to the hotel. Thank you for a wonderful day, daahhhling!

I ♥ Hilary.

I feel like I must have taken a nap when I got back, but maybe I didn’t. Probably I rubbed peppermint lotion into my feet and read a few chapters of the book I’d brought, A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. It’s so good, you guys. I’d call it the perfect vacation book, but that makes it sound like dumb chick-lit. It’s a combination of fast-moving, engaging plot and intelligent writing with a lot of historical detail. The sequel comes out next month, the day after my birthday (not that I’ve hinted about it to anyone, of course).

When Red got back, we headed to North Beach and the Beat Museum. I’m sure I’ve mentioned my Beat cred, if you can call it that: Naropa, Anne Waldman, degree from the Kerouac School (Amiri Baraka offered me clam chowder during my first summer), etc. Some say this makes me part of a lineage; I’m not sure how I feel about that, since I’ve barely written a damn thing (blog notwithstanding) in six years, but I do know that Naropa, Kerouac, Ginsberg, and the hungry poetry beast still occasionally pop up in my life. Since Red feels similarly, to the Beat Museum we went.

It is so fun there! I went to a witch museum in Salem once that had the same vibe: totally hand-made and unpolished, but so knowledgeable and sincere that you can’t help but love it. We more than got our money’s worth, as you can see:

Hey there, Jack.

Blew my mind the first time I read it. True story.

Obligatory mention of The Ladies.

We couldn’t respect ourselves if we didn’t drop some major coin at City Lights, which is right across the street. I want to live there, cuddled under piles and piles of books. (Public service announcement: If, like me, you’ve been spoiled by Amazon, books are actually expensive, and selling them is a labor of love. Support the indies! They’re worth it.)

Next stop: dinner. Red’s friend and his wife waved to us from their table at the Stinking Rose, but the menu didn’t have anything for us. Pity, because the gimmick of a garlic restaurant is a good one.

Killer garlic!

Back to the Supreme Master we went. Yes, friends, we succumbed a second time to the temptation of Loving Hut. I don’t remember what we had, but as you can see, it was pretty good.

I think it was raining again by the time we finished. We were both ready to crash, so we headed back to the hotel and did exactly that. We needed to rest up for our last day, and for Millennium!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

In the City by the Bay, Day 4.

I was free until dinner, so I headed back to the Haight to meet up with my friend Josh. Despite not having seen each other since grad school (so, 6ish years ago), we fell into an easy conversation as we walked. And walked. Jesus H., how we walked. We walked through Golden Gate Park, all around the Haight, to his house (where we paused to leash up his roommate’s dog), then walked some more. I saw many interesting things, most of which distracted me from my aching legs and ass.

You know, how you do.

Twin Peaks! This is major for some of you, I know.

The view from Josh’s place. I swear the Golden Gate Bridge is out there somewhere.

I wish I had a photo of Mini the furry (not wrinkly) Shar Pei, but she was very happy to be out for a walk and not inclined to pose for pictures. She did help me miss Lucy ever-so-slightly less, though.

Views from the park where we took Mini.

Amongst Josh’s other excellent qualities (writer, world traveler, soccer fan), he is vegan and tends bar at Millennium. SCORE. If
Yoga on the Labyrinth was my only San Francisco must-do, then Millennium was a close second. Because he is a kind and generous person, Josh suggested that Red and I come in for dinner on our last evening in town, sit at the bar, and he’d take care of us. I didn’t care how far I had to walk—I would have dinner at Millennium.

After we dropped Mini off at home, we had a very long, serious discussion about what to have for lunch. Because Josh knows food (like, really knows food) and I could barely find my way around the city unassisted, I deferred to his suggestions.

We settled on Herbivore. I was feeling like ramen would be a good idea, and Herbivore does a very good ginger ramen. It was warm and spicy and did the trick. I don’t remember what Josh had, probably because I was too busy slurping my ramen and giving up on making any sensible use of chopsticks to notice.

After lunch, Josh walked me to the tiniest little Whole Foods in existence so I could pick up some fruit and snacks. I think Red wanted bananas. Conveniently, it was right next to my bus stop, so we hugged and promised to see each other when Red and I got all dressed up and went to Millennium.

I could have crashed when I got back to the hotel, but it was not to be. Red and I had dinner plans with Giselle, my soul sister. I hadn’t seen Giselle since 2005, when I visited her and her husband at their home in Mexico. She is currently based in Oakland, which is a short BART ride from San Francisco. Y’all have probably heard shady things about Oakland, but I’m from Baltimore, so I have little fear of urban dangers. I think this concerns Red sometimes. Giselle met us at the BART station, and we walked (more walking, dammit) to Souley Vegan. With apologies to Jane Austen: It is a truth universally acknowledged that if any city is in possession of at least one vegan restaurant, it will be a soul-food joint. I find this very comforting.

The food was awesome. Red had barbecue tofu, which he thought would be a sandwich but was really just a pile of tasty tofu on some lettuce leaves. Not a hardship. Giselle had spaghetti with falafel, which is not a combo you’d ordinarily think would work, but it did. And I had this yummy little bowl full of grits, jambalaya, and popcorn-fried tofu. Maryland is not really Southern enough for grits to be A Thing here, but I love them, so this was a special treat. Giselle and I had some sake-spiked lemonade, which was delicious. I don’t really like sake, but I liked this.

Really, I was just so happy to see my friend and for she and Red to finally meet. Giselle and I have seen each other through some fairly shitty times, so for us to finally be together as people with semi-coherent lives and decent measures of grown-up happiness was a joy. I was so sad when we parted company at the BART station, but I can’t wait to do it again.

Love is all you need.

Coming up (in like 10 years, given my blogging pace of late): A day with Hilary!