Wednesday, March 01, 2017

If You're Going to San Francisco

If you're going to San Francisco, I don't know why, but be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. Maybe because if you're going to San Francisco, you're going to meet some gentle people, gentle people with flowers in their hair as well, and you'll want to fit in.*

*Thanks, Scott McKenzie, for an outstanding song.

When I was a youth, I was in the school choir. This was the kind of choir that basically admitted all seniors and some juniors if you were really good. It was sort of the cool thing to do, i suppose, and I had a lot of fun, trying to sing well but not once practicing. Joking around with my nearby fellow singers.  For our choir tour where we competed, our destination was San Fran.  We drove all night on a bus and had a rip roaring fantastic time.  It was also one of the first times I fell in city love.

What did I love so much about it? It's hard to say. It wasn't any single thing, I suppose, but the feeling and the energy I found myself exposed to and ultimately infected by. I looove a town with a personality. And it was beautiful and exciting. And so, so hilly. And charming with the trolleys and the stunning bay and, as they always are, the awe-inspiring city bridges, stretching like mammoths linking other mysterious lands green and sparkling.

While there on the choir tour, I debated with some trolley drivers about cities vs. the country. Though I was loving my time there, I felt loyal to my roots and defended the need for living space vs. what the city had to offer. Yards vs. parks. I did not know then that I would have a serious change of heart in about 5 years to come.

Whilst living in Bklyn and loving the heck out of it, whenever we'd try to consider another place we could see ourselves living (when anything other than NY really felt intolerable), I conceded to say that I could live in San Francisco. I'd always wanted to go back and revisit that first love and last week we did, and we took the boy with us.

The highlights included:

  • Being in a city again. All three of us put our city legs on and couldn't wait to just get out and walk. It's all I really want to do in a town like that.
  • The loveliness of all of it. It felt so much like New York and even Julian, who left when he was just five, could feel the likeness and commented on it often. But it was cleaner, prettier, smaller, with the energy efficient, eco-friendly old timey buses still in use and trolleys that are just still the best ever.  It had its own Union Square but with palms surrounding it. Yay. Also, it felt so mediterranean to me! With its brightly colored houses stuffed into the hillsides by the bay, something I'd forgotten the last time i was there.  It's really so beautiful and even the midtown area that's supposedly newer and not the beauty focus of a city (at least the midtowns I know of) were charming and full of museums and very pleasantly walkable.
  • Speaking of, the museums. We went over Sean's birthday and to celebrate, I wanted to hit every museum possible. But it was tough to manage, especially with a boy who is actually quite museum-tolerant but to a point. We did manage to hit up the MoMA and just filled our museum bucket as much as we could. Sooo much good art there. New shows and the regular ones. We ran from room to room, trying to see it all before we tired ourselves out. We commented on our favorites and least favorites. Julian said he prefers the sculptures. I particularly loved Chuck Close, photorealist painter. He paints these giant portraits of people and Sean told me Chuck suffered some kind of spinal cord problem that left him partially paralyzed. It hampered his ability to paint with such detail which to me feels so tragic, but he continues to do these giant portraits by other means like using a billion scraps of paper of a billion different shades of gray which made me be like {shocked emoji} and then {cry emoji}.  Amazing.  Anyway, click here for his google images and here for his wikipedia. Here's a pic of his paper scrap: 

say whaaaat.

  Here's a quote of his I took off the wiki page:

"I went to the Seattle Art Museum with my mother for the first time when I was 14. I saw this Jackson Pollock drip painting with aluminum paint, tar, gravel and all that stuff. I was absolutely outraged, disturbed. It was so far removed from what I thought art was. However, within 2 or 3 days, I was dripping paint all over my old paintings. In a way I've been chasing that experience ever since."

I love that. The rage! Of being exposed to something that comes from such an opposite realm you live in, to ignite such strong emotion and then to be fundamentally changed by it.  I watched Julian have his own mini-outrage in this museum visit:  "I could make that! It would take me ten seconds, no problem!" 

Other highlights and hopefully in a more condensed format:

  • The Wharf and the sea lions and the aquarium and clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl which was totally legit.
  • The Musee Mecanique with old timey--some SUPER old timey-- and functioning (!) video games and fair games. The WONDER! Pure magic.  I couldn't get over it. Such old weird scary contraptions meant to amuse and delight. Everything moving by crank, either hidden inside or employed by the patron. Yaaaay. Julian kept asking what his prize was and I said "your own amusement."  Just the BEST ever. This place was legit as well and I would highly recommend.
  • The Exploratorium, an enormous museum? i guess? jam packed with what I would call a billion totally interesting and astounding professional science projects.  Of all categories--physics, biology, and other... fields of science.  This place was vast and too huge to see everything. It was so much fun trying to figure out what everything did and maybe learn the reason why before we moved on. My favorite thing and what blew my utter mind, was in the biology quadrant where there was a table displaying four egg yolks in petri dishes covered in what looked like a simple sheet of plastic wrap and showing the various stages of LIVE EMBRYO DEVELOPMENT. LIVE.  I SAID LIVE.  I had NO idea this was possible. They had things labeled and it was the coolest most basic example of life i've ever seen in an up close way, to state it weirdly.  I took a video of the chick embryo where you can see the heart beating(!!! no big deal!) In the video you can hear me reacting to what a man near me said about watching a show about this, how they hatched a chick from a plastic cup(!!!)

  • We walked the town until our legs fell off, a particular goal I had.  Ohhh i have lost my walking legs. They have forgotten. It is so sad. I was SO sore which was exceedingly lame, but worth it.  We hiked up and down those hill-mountains.  We saw the Lombard street and then manually walked ourselves to the trolley stop for not one more step we could take.  Loved every second of the trolley.

  We ordered seamless to our hotel for dinner every night because we COULD. 

Is there anything better than eating _________ in a hotel bed? (pictured: ramen)

  • We ate fancy tapas where the cool nice owner approached us to thank us for bringing our kid (you're welcome?) and offered to show him and Sean the back cooking area and to give us a bunch of free tapas--yay. Julian ate octopus and became obsessed with Alcatraz, as we knew he would. Creepy old prison? Right up his alley. So you would have thought we'd have bought tickets in advance to take the tour but we did NOT. And could not. {sad face, full of regret} So sad. Parent fail. He was enthralled. We have decided to put it on our "next time" list, to ensure there is a next time and not too far off in the distance.  He did get a stuffed shark though and named him Alcatraz.

  • As I do whenever I detect a hint of a possibility it might be of decent quality, I purchased hot chocolate whenever I could. Sean told me later he was keeping a running tally of how many hot chocolates i got (wise guy) and gave me a total of five.

When we got home I had (have) severe post-vacation depression so to ease my pain Sean and I watched Vertigo last night. I never really saw Vertigo much in my Hitchcock adventures; I don't know why. But I thought it was super weird. Kind of interesting, at the end, I guess.  Who am i rooting for, exactly? Who's the villain? Is it the vertigo? Maybe these are all important questions. Though it may not be my favorite of Alfred's, the SF shots were glorious and it did help a bit.  Now onto making our list of good things about being back...  hmm....{thinking with a pen poised}


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