Posts Tagged ‘Balmy Alley’

What A Long Strange Day

March 1, 2015

It’s been.

Not a bad day.

No, not at all.

Just strange.

Disjointed, out-of-place, off my schedule, up and about and going places and doing things, not much things, but things, that I don’t ordinarily do and places I haven’t been to in a long time.

24th Street for one, below Valencia Street.

It’s been a long while since I was in that neck of the woods.

I had a workshop that I was running up in Noe Valley today and it was sort of smack in the middle of my early afternoon.

Too early for me to get lunch out and about, but too late to get stuff done here in the neighborhood before I had to be up in Noe.

I did get a call from a girlfriend as I was writing this morning and we made plans to meet and hang out after my commitment was up.

A commitment that I am extremely grateful I got to show up for and do and be of service.

“You are gifted,” she said to me, “you really know how to do this thing.”

I’m not sure if she was referencing my style or the way I ran the workshop or what, but I do have to say, I was quite happy with how it came off.

I have never done anything quite like it before and it was a unique experience for me to go through.

One in which I did a lot of reflection around for the weeks coming up to it and one in which I was happy to say went off so well.

It was also fun to dress up for it and flounce about town in my polka dot party dress.

A lot of the workshop was showing the steps I took to be my authentic self in recovery and discussing body image and sexuality and how I have found growth, amazing growth in those areas.

It felt not only appropriate but down right correct to be dressed up in my outfit with my hair done up with roses and bright red lipstick on and just be me.

I have felt like I am stepping more and more into my skin and I so do like that.

Afterward I took myself out for a late lunch at a little Chinese restaurant, Tung Sing, on 24th.

Simple, light, easy, steamed veggies and shrimp, brown rice, green tea.

I ate half my meal, packed up the other half for tomorrow, and walked down 24th from Noe Valley into the Mission nibbling on an apple I picked up from the Farmer’s Market in Noe Valley.

Ah.

The Mission.

Loud.

Dirty.

Weirdly gentrified and old school drug addled all at the same time.

It was a boiling pot of tourists taking Uber straight to Balmy Alley in their Coach leopard print slip ons and Kate Spade clutches to snap photos of the murals to the homeless nut bag talking to himself on the corner where the line wound around the block to Humphrey Slocombe for artisanal ice cream.

Olive oil ice cream anyone?

I met my friend walking up the street and we window shopped and talked about life and schedules and Burning Man.

If I’m going.

I want to.

How I’m going to go.

I don’t know.

She’s already got her ticket, has a place to camp, is roaring into her second year ready to have a new experience after the debacles at the Gate last year getting stuck in the rain storm at will call.

I have no idea where I would camp, where I would get my ticket from, how I would go, what I would stay in, how I would do it.

But I suspect, do it I will.

She and I talked scenarios and meandered at a slow, leisure like pace.

We stopped at Philz so she could grab her coffee.

I declined staying for coffee.

I was actually a little overwhelmed by the crowds and the tourists and I cannot remember a time when I had ever walked into Philz before on 24th and Folsom and felt so not a part of.

It was such an awkward combination of tech guys and tourists and hipsters, but out-of-town hipsters, that I did not want to stay and intermingle.

Maybe another day.

Today I was grateful for my quiet, or quieter, life down by the sea.

There are tourists out here too, but it’s just a little different and not as developed and nowhere near as crowded.

So instead of grabbing a cup, large, no sugar, just cream, of the Greater Alarm, I went with my friend and looked at more shops and made sure to walk on the sunny side of the street.

I got my sunshine on, that’s for sure.

We walked up 24th to Noe Valley, stopping at Issa on 24th and Chattanooga and then over to Common Scents before hitting the Whole Foods salad bar.

Then.

Starbux.

Not because I like the tea or the coffee all that much, but because it’s central to my evening commitment, there’s WIFI and there’s big cushy window seats to people watch from.

And sky watch.

The sunset tonight was spectacular.

Not so much the news that I heard shortly thereafter, namely, that the spot I was headed to had been cancelled without notice.

Well shoot.

Who knows what I might have done with my day if I hadn’t been wandering around waiting to cover my Saturday evening commitment.

I was miffed momentarily, then whipped out my phone, looked up some information and headed off to catch the MUNI back to the Sunset.

Arriving at my destination early I popped into Tart to Tart and got a lemon ginger tea and read my book for about 45 minutes.

Then I ran into old friends also displaced from this evening’s routine.

We joked about being ex-pats and caught up.

It was as strange day, again, not unpleasant, just long and meandering and in some ways good for me to see that I have really grown quite fond of my side of town.

I’m a city girl for sure, just look at how I dress, but I need the quiet and the stillness out here, down by the sea.

I thought I would always be a Mission girl, for always and forever.

And while I know I will always be a San Francisco lass.

I may have turned the corner.

To becoming a local from the Sunset.

The Outer Sunset at that.

Who would have guessed.

 

I Am Seeing A Pattern Here

December 23, 2013

My friend said to me as we sat on the bench outside of Philz Coffee at Folsom and 24th.

I had deliberately not planned anything except one thing, meet a lady, have some tea, and go do that thing were I sit in a room for an hour and listen to other people’s crazy.

Other than that, I wanted, as I have been trying to do, to have a free Sunday.

So, when I received the text asking me what I was up to I was able to say, nothing really, chilling, hanging out, maybe a wander through the Mission.

Let’s meet!

She was on call and had to stay in her neighborhood, the Mission, and I for once, was back in the Mission.

Rearing its busy, confused head with tourists, locals annoyed with the tourists, hipsters staying in for the holiday, people complaining about the Air B-N-B situation at their TIC that was trying to get bought out and not for an owner move in, but so that the land lord could rent out the place to tourists.

I will say the Mission is a long way from being full on Disney, but it’s happening.

Truth be told, I don’t have much of an opinion about it all, I find it interesting for sure, the neighborhood changing, the increase in traffic, the people looking at maps, the number of younger and younger people.

Or maybe, I am just getting older, I remember when Philz was actually manned by Phil.

When the coffee shop was a quiet local secret.

Before they had the mugs and the hats and it was cash only and Phil would hand feed me spoonfuls of some coffee blend he was making up.

“Here, now, try this,” he said with deep sensual pleasure, skimming the foam off the coffee roast after having poured piping hot water over the fresh grounds. That same concoction a few weeks later was to become Canopy of Heaven, a very special light roast coffee blend.

Light in roast, high in caffeine–which also may explain why it, Canopy of Heaven and his other light roast, Greater Alarm (blended up for the firefighters who worked the overnight shifts in the Mission) became my favorites.

I learned from Phil that just because those beans are darker roasted does not mean they have more caffeine, nope, it is the exact opposite–the lighter the roast, the higher the caffeine, and the more tender, I believe, you have to be with the bean, to coax out the flavors–lemon, currant, butterscotch in Canopy of Heaven–as opposed to letting it get too bitter.

Oh.

Yum.

Then the heavy cream.

I do mean heavy.

It’s not half and half.

It’s not milk.

It’s not regular cream.

It’s MANUFACTURING CREAM.

Jesus on a pogo stick, when Phil told me that, well, no wonder.

Manufacturing cream is whipping cream, you know the stuff you put on top of pumpkin pie or a Belgian waffle.

Sinful.

I remember when there was no counter, no line, no tables, a battered store front with weird art and odd posters, no restroom, coffee sacks in heaps on the floor, the cooler had six packs and the odd bottle of Champagne in it, eggs, sad-looking bananas by the front, and a couple of old battered metal shelves with the strangest array of grocery store items ever.

It was a down and dirty Bodega with a guy in a fedora hat winking at you while he made you a pour over coffee.

Now it’s being served on Virgin Airlines.

Um, yeah.

And that is what the Mission is.

It’s now in all the tour books and that’s cool, you know, that means money into the local economy, but sometimes when I am waiting ten minutes to order a coffee from a person who is ironically being condescending to the people in line–do you want to get a tip dude–I do miss the old Mission.

However, the coffee, as always, was really good, and the company amazing.

We sat outside, watched the world go by, talked about an upcoming trip she is planning, one in which there is a Paris leg to it, and I down loaded, probably way too much information into her brain, and then, as well, about the house sitting gig I am at and the person who was staying at the house.

They Air B-N-B the front room.

I felt a little bit too much like a concierge.

On one hand I don’t mind sharing tips and tricks to San Francisco.

The guest wanted to ride the Golden Gate Bridge and I told him where to go, whom to rent from, how to get there, what to avoid, when to go, how to get back–take the ferry–and a few other details.

I had no problem with that.

But I did take a little issue to having to show him a few other things and having someone rely on me for information when I was trying to get out into my own day.

And I was not about to clean up the mess he was making.

I recounted some things and told my friend how I was thinking, acting, and learning.

She told me my pattern.

Actually she and a few other folks recently have.

And I am listening.

Truly I am.

I don’t want to isolate anymore by being too busy to see my friends because I am house sitting, cat sitting, being tour guide to strangers I don’t know, dog walking, or baby sitting on nights when I am not working as a nanny.

I isolate myself by making busy.

I get busy.

I don’t have to feel.

We walked.

The sun shone down.

We went down Balmy Alley and I took photographs.

Murals

Murals

It made me chuckle.

I was a tourist in my own city, in my old neighborhood, I was a tourist, no longer quite a local, I live in the Outer Sunset, you know that place way over on the other side of the mountain, Twin Peaks, in the land of Nod.

It’s so much more mellow and quiet where I am, although, truth be told, there’s a bit of the gentrification happening there as well.

In the end, though, I don’t mind, I don’t care, let them eat cake, or hand crafted artisan chocolates with crushed sea salt harvested on the Solstice by young women with owl tattoos and labia piercings under the new moon, in the end, ultimately, I love living here.

Getting to live here.

Getting to be here.

I parted with my sweet friend to get lunch and ride my bicycle down Folsom Street to Rainbow.

I stocked up on the rest of the things I will need as I continue to do my house sitting gig and I vowed to let myself be not quite so busy, not quite so isolated, to get out into the world and see it.

Even if it means I look like a tourist in my own town.

And, speaking of tourists, I returned home this evening to find the Air B-N-B guest had left, cleaned most of his mess, and I now have the house to me, myself, and I, plus one very cute orange tabby cat.

Getting again to get grateful for the fact that I still get to be in the Mission, if just for a few more days, before I return to the beach.

Either way you slice it, I am in San Francisco.

And though I may play a tourist on tv.

This is my home.


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