Thursday, May 27, 2010

Runaway Horses and Flight Cancelations

After wrapping up my blog entry last night, I emailed my mom to vent on a more personal level about the frustrations ailing me with my job. She replied back with understanding words laced with advice of patience and reminding me to be thankful for having a job. She also included a Hindu parable taken from the book she is currently reading, Have a Little Faith:

A farmer wakes up to find that his horse has run off.
The neighbors come by and say, "Too bad. Such awful luck."
The farmer says, "Maybe."
The next day, the horse returns with a few other horses. The neighbors congratulate the farmer on his reversal of fortune.
"Maybe," the farmer says.
When his son tries to ride one of the new horses, he breaks his leg, and the neighbors offer condolences.
"Maybe," says the farmer.
And the next day, when army officials come to draft the son- and don't take him because of his broken leg- everyone is happy.
"Maybe," the farmer says.

Ironically, this parable happened to also translate nicely as plans for my weekend visitors began to unravel due to inclement weather and some bad luck

My work day was going a bit rocky as I was delayed in wrapping up some emails and invoicing inquiries when my laptop negated to cooperate and I was forced to spend the final hours of the afternoon on the phone with tech support. Already disheartened with the unproductive afternoon it was turning out to be, I also received a desperate call from a friend stranded in the LAX airport. Her flight from LAX to SFO was canceled, and there were no open seats on succeeding flights. Flight cancelations are the most paralyzing and thwarting of flying scenarios, and her novice traveler status only heightened her anxiety.

I balanced the next 45 minutes gathering info from her via text, relaying in to the representative at the airline carrier while on and off hold with tech support for my disagreeable laptop. I managed to book her onto a later flight, though it delayed her arrival by about 5 hours. After instructing her on how to get her new boarding pass, I checked in with another friend also en route for the weekend. Turns out, I managed to book friend #1 onto friend #2's flight. Not only would this consolidate my runs to the airport, but they'd be able to keep each other company at the airport.

Though I'm still waiting for a resolution from tech support, I managed to make traveling acommodations less stressful and my pick up routine more relaxing. All seems to have work out.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

a Neverland waiting for you

I think I need a little pixie dust.

I've always wanted to be a Peter Pan, carefree and young, but I'm a Wendy, imaginative yet responsible and pragmatic. Wendy fears growing up and leaving the nursery, but acknowledges and accepts the responsibility to be bestowed upon her. Even in Neverland, the weight of reality bears down on her and no matter the pixie dust sprinkled over her head, Wendy's feet want to take root on the floor.

"Think of the happiest thing.
It's the same as having wings."

I've been frustrated lately with finding my professional niche. What I want to do for a living vs how I make a living are vastly different things, and the grueling economy doesn't present a job market cohesive to paying my bills while fulfilling my dreams. There's so much of me that wants to fill my head with happy thoughts and soar away through the clouds to my NeverNeverland, to go to follow my heart and just drop my worries of financial stability, bills, rent and 401Ks behind, but I can't seem to get my feet off the ground...

"Think of all the joy you'll find
when you leave the world behind
and bid your cares goodbye...."

But Neverland wasn't a place Wendy could return to; she eventually had to choose. If I choose to wait, will a Neverland still be waiting for me?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Porcelain Throne- Literally.

So never did I fathom that I'd be compelled to gush about a bathroom. I think, if anything, I'd be reporting my disdain for filthy bathrooms along Polk St pubs on Yelp reviews, yet somehow through my adventures in San Francisco I landed in what had to be the Mona Lisa of all water closets- and in the least likely of locations! I popped into a copy store to send out a fax early Friday afternoon and was desperate for a bathroom. Normally I don't seek refuge in small businesses, but this was not normal circumstances. After pleading my case and ensuring that I was in fact going to patron the shop, I was admitted to the back where I stumbled through a dark, cluttered hall way to a narrow door. My fingers fumbled along the bathroom wall searching for the light. When I clicked on the light, I was amazed at what I found nestled the back of the hole-in-the-wall:

It's not a habit of mine to snap pictures of bathrooms, but consequence of my recent purchase of the Droid phone and my absolute astonishment of the art adorning the walls, the art-deco tiled walls and the ornate details on the sink, this warranted a photo.

After I spun around a few times, relishing in the beauty of this bathroom, yes, bathroom! I demanded details from the shop owner. He grinned and admitted that the bathroom actually belonged to an adjoining upscale bar, though he didn't mind the shared access.

Net value for the interior design: $60K.

There are endless hidden gems between the walls of this city. San Francisco, you never cease to amaze me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bay 2 Breakers

This weekend was my first encounter with the annual Bay to Breakers race through San Francisco. The seven-mile stretch across the city is hailed as being a wild showcase of San Francisco's most bold and bizarre inhabitants slinking through the city streets with excesses of alcohol, music and decorative garb. While I had my camera nearly glued to my eye through the entire day, snapping photos as the next incredible costume (or lack there of!) passed me by, what I was most in awe of was that Bay to Breakers made a pulsating city completely pause for the entire day. People who weren't parading through the streets were watching or barbecuing along the sides. Businesses flanking Howard and Hayes street shut their doors and turned off their lights. Even homeless were not exempt from the festivities and trolled along with the masses, collecting discarded beer cans and dancing to the blaring tunes.

While the one-day moratorium of daily life is impressive (albeit a Sunday), my six-month tenure in Spain included two week long celebrations: feria de abril and Semana Santa. The Spanish lifestyle certainly is more privy to putting aside work to relax and enjoy, but the economy survives and trucks on even with these two spring celebrations.

Left: Semana Santa, Right: La Feria

Often in Spain I struggled with the lack of obligations to keep me busy. The Spanish universities don't assign reading, homework or clog your datebook with quizes and exams, so days were completely mine when outside of the classroom. As Americans (or at least those like me), we tend to focus so heavily on constantly producing, scheduling and working. From the time I reached 11, my sports and school obligations dictated my daily activities. The prospect of shutting down and actually taking time off, not just working remotely or answering phone calls, but really shutting down, seems like a death sentence. Even as a young professional just one year in the field, the joy of vacation is tainted with anxiety for the stack of work that will greet me upon returning.

Yet somehow, in Spain, even with the weeks away from work where production comes to a hault and no handshakes or signatures consummate deals, the sun still rises and falls and businesses survive. Sunday, San Francisco shut down, and on Monday the city resumed it's typical Monday ruitine- the streets already washed of the Sunday crowds and business suits cluttered the sidewalks where men in diapers and vikings had tred just one day earlier.

I don't propose that we continue to parade through the streets dressed as Avatars, knomes (or in nothing at all!), but to see an entire city stop to inhale and enjoy together was something I found refreshing and a positive reminder that even in these tough economic times, people can still celebrate together.

Monday, May 10, 2010

jog and blog

I find my daily jogs around Chrissy Field to be therapeutic. I know that each day when I begin my ritual, lacing up my running shoes and plugging in my ear buds, at some point during my run I'll find inspiration for my blog or realization of whatever ailment had been clogging my thoughts.

Today I was just short of the end of Chrissy Field where I usually loop around to head back to my apartment when a sudden down pour tumbled from the sky. It'd been off an on rain storms all day, but I thought it was safe to jog when I saw the clouds had subsided and allowed the sun to peak out. I turned down another path, cutting short my usual route and tucked my iTouch into my pocket to prevent water damage. I quickened my pace, hoping to reduce the complete drenching, but just as quickly as it'd come on, the rain stopped giving way to the perfect arc of a rainbow. The complete prism of colors touched down into the bay just between Fisherman's Warf and Alcatraz. The vibrancy of the colors was so incredible, that both me and the girl that'd been running right in front of me stopped to just stare and inhale the beauty.

If ever there were a rainbow deserving of a pot of gold to greet it's ends, it was surely this one. As I continued, the scenary framing the rainbow changed, and continued to impress. When I approached the marina, the arc beamed behind the fragile white masts sashaying in the breeze. I believe that a good writer can usually describe an image as well as any picture can capture, but this was an image I wish I'd been able to capture.

...if only my iTouch had a camera.

happy {{belated}} mother's day

Growing up, I used to beg my mom to tell me stories about Amy the Dancing Bear. I owned a copy of the story, but my mom would lay by my bed at night and invent new adventures for Amy.

Amy struggled to fall asleep at night. As soon as bedtime approached, she'd invent a new game or a new adventure to explore. Try as her mother might, each brief extension she allotted were insufficient for Amy's imagination.

Much like Amy the Dancing Bear, my mind would awaken at night. I didn't sleep very much (and consequently neither did my mom!) I'd saunter down the hall to my parent's room to shake my mom and whispered, "I can't sleep." She'd take me downstairs and put on a VHS of Winnie the Pooh, or lead me back to my bed to rub my back, recount adventures of Amy the Dancing Bear or sing to me until I relaxed and drifted back to sleep.

Though now I live three time zones away and don't make a habit of waking my mom in the middle of the night from across the country, when I do call her with my latest anguish or anxiety, she's still able to find the right way to rub my back with her words and help me relax.

Mom, thank you for your patience, your amazing baking, your guidance, support, love, inspiration (...and for reading my blog).

Friday, May 7, 2010

spring by the bay

Spring in a mild climate like San Francisco just doesn't feel the same.
In Pennsylvania, spring is a long, arduous stretch of weeks where the weather bounces around like a pinball between snow showers, heavy rains and 80-degree days with endless sunshine tormenting us with glimmers of hope only to be diminished once again. On the first warm day, coats and boots are tossed aside in exchange for flip flops and tank tops revealing stark white shoulders and arms. Tiny red buds emerge, spotting barren trees with hints of color. Snows banks begin to recede and brave green stems slither out from beneath damp, vacant flower beds. But just as quickly as the sweaters were filed away and the grills were dusted off, another snow storm blazes through whiting out the early colors of spring. The cycle continues, a war pitting white vs. green until finally green prevails, normally around the end of April. Little bit little spring creeps in, each advancement and victory over the signs of winter celebrated.
In San Francisco, spring seemed to arrive over night. The trees flanking Bay Street seemed to catch fire with leaves overnight. It was as if a spring arsonist crept out in the dead of night sometime in mid April, coated the leaves with kerosene and lit a match igniting the season. While spring does mean longer days, some warmer temperatures and more tourists, spring in San Francisco happened without notice; the city inhaled and sneezed, and spewed spring everywhere.
But today, I saw the first "sign of summer" for San Francisco: fog. The menacing cloud of damp air was enveloping the hills of Daly City along highway 101 this morning. I shudder to think that soon my evening runs along Chrissy Field with a clear view of the Golden Gate Bridge will soon be gone as Summer arrives.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

22: too-too confusing

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my 23rd year of life. 22 was by far the most confusing year I have yet to experience. On my 22nd birthday, I had just accepted a position with my current employee and was finishing college within a couple of weeks. I was ready to graduate- to gain some financial stability and independence, to start a new adventure and to break out of the rutted college social scene. Even though I had a job. I knew where I'd be living for the summer and was ready to put on my cap and gown (though I skipped graduation for a trip to South America), I battled a mix of emotions.

Leaving college meant really growing up. I'd be managing all my bills, finances and be moving far from home. I was going alone, and would be saying goodbye to my biological family as well as the family I'd built in my four years. It wasn't just relocating, but also a complete life style change. Friday afternoons would no longer be spent lounging on the adored "waffle couch" with my roommates as we dozed in and out of light sleeps and clicking through Facebook photos. I'd no longer cruise around campus, one pant leg rolled up en route to the gym, class or the library. Monday through Friday wouldn't be cramming for exams, translating Spanish literature or debating assigned reading with my classmates. I'd no longer spent Sundays buried in books in my favorite corner of the library or fall asleep at night swapping hopes and dreams with my best friend just one bunk down. Yes, I was ready to be an adult, but there was so much of me that yearned for just one more year to enjoy these simple pleasures that I would never have again.

After college and my South American adventure, I packed my bags and headed to Chicago for job training. I remember fighting back tears as my sister's finger tips dug into my back and she whimpered that it would never be the same again.

Job training was fun and a great segway between college/childhood to adulthood, but my contract with my company required that I be willing to move wherever they placed me at the end of the summer. There was no guarantee that I'd end up somewhere on my list and I wouldn't find out my fate until days before I was slated to make the move. Even though the summer flew by, I worried each day of where I'd be calling home come the end of August. I had no control over my fate. I had no way to plan or prepare- and this is the most stressful aspect for someone like me who has always mapped out each stage of her life with precision.
Rumors flew of what cities were accepting trainees, and my blood pressure continued to escalate each time I was reminded that every city on my list was already overstaffed. Placement day, August 21 arrived and I celebrated my placement in my top choice: San Francisco. August 24th I landed at SFO, suitcases of shoes and clothes in tow and I embarked on the quest to find housing, furniture and friends in a city completely alien to me.
Once things slowed down and I'd secured some basic furnishing in my apartment (mattress, couch, TV and some kitchen wares) and I settled in, I realized how much free time I had on my hands. I didn't have my network of friends and family to keep my social life pumping and I didn't know any groups, sports teams or organizations to join. I had to build a life for myself from the ground up. I'm an extrovert, and though I love reading, after a while, I began climbing up the walls desperate for my jam-packed lifestyle I had back East where I had to actually make plans to ensure I could squeeze it all in. I had landed in the most-fitting city for my interests, hobbies and lifestyle, but I wasn't able to enjoy it to the fullest. I was confused. I was torn. I spent restless nights wondering if I should just throw in the towel and move home...
Fortunately I stuck it out and thanks to jumping onto to random sports teams and teaming up with a local non-profit, I rounded out 22 once again having to defer to my calendar to see when I was available and what weekends I had free.
But overall, 22 was a year filled with confusion: wanting to grow up, but still desperate to hold on. Wanted to move away and find my way on my own, but clinging to my East coast roots. I had never been more confused in my entire life. I knew what I wanted, but I wanted conflicting things at the same time. While enduring the consequences and reality of my choice to challenge myself and take a risk was painful at times, looking back, 22 was the year I grew the most.
I don't believe that just because I've crossed the line to my 23rd birthday that suddenly my mind and thoughts will be clear and the haze that once clouded my mind will be lifted, but I do feel stronger after confronting with double the "terrible two's".

Monday, May 3, 2010


This weekend was the completion of the my eighth month living in San Francisco. As I retired Sunday night I reflected on a weekend spent celebrating my 23rd birthday with friends I truly care about, dressing up in sundresses and oversized hats to watch the Kentucky Derby and a day in the sun playing flag football I suddenly realized- I felt home. In the past few months I have had yet to experience a slow weekend- no matter the weather. And as I clicked off the light, I closed my eyes and dreamed for Friday.

A bouquet of pencils

Aside from failing to be as diligent as I'd like in my blogging, I have also been neglecting to keep up with my personal diary. I've kept a diary, and a pretty steady one, since I was eight years old. I've traded in book after book through the years as I've gone and colored the pages with stories of adolescent turmoil, romance, dreams and disappointments. Each time I near the rear of the journal, I get slightly nostalgic for the memories and moments gone by since I placed my pen against the opening page. This last installment is over 500 pages that stretches from my junior year of high school through college to my first year as a young professional- there will never be a more dramatic evolution of my life within such a short time frame.

Although I often catch myself paging through scoffing at the devastating heartbreaks I once mourned or my teenage battles for freedom against my parents, the prospect of finding a new home for my handwritten releases is more than inviting. I'm desperate for a rainy Saturday to beckon me in to one of the small book or office supply shops around San Francisco. The opportunity for excuse to spend hours gingerly stroking handmade bindings, torn paper edges and smelling the aroma of new, crisp pages makes me toss and turn at night with anticipation. Finding a new journal is not something I take lightly. The new book will require the right spirit- it can't be too inspiring so as to sway me to write in any voice than my own and it most certainly can't have lined pages. I could spend hours in stores fretting over not just the right page softness, page tone, the cover or the binding, but even the pens I'll want to use as I write.

Hi, my name is Allison, and I'm addicted to office supplies.

One of my all-time favorite movie lines of comes from You've Got Mail with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Early in the movie, Tom Hank's character, Joe Fox remarks,

"Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address."

Forget lines from The Notebook or Love Actually, nothing says romance like an anonymous bushel of #2 Oriole pencils cinched together with a red bow- especially on a crisp fall day in the North East with leaves of red, orange and yellow performing pirouettes until they finally collapse on the sidewalk.

This romantic gesture could perhaps only to be trumped by one: the surprise receipt of a book on loan from your crush... but that's an entry I'll reserve for handwritten entries only. ;)

In the meantime, I'll be scouring the streets of the Mission, the Haight and Columbus Street for my new personal literary release.