How will San Francisco change me?

I moved to San Francisco on 1/17/2015. I’ve visited SF before, but have never really had a chance to explore the city. That being said, I knew there were a few things I could expect, like high costs of living, lots of liberals and gays, rampant homelessness, and lots of fog then sunshine, but that’s about it. One of my friends moved to Chicago from San Francisco and was going to be my guide to the city. I told him I’d give him regular updates about my experiences here and how my views may change as live here longer and longer. I knew that this city would change me, but I wasn’t sure how. We’ll see how long it takes for SF to make me soft. Here are the positions that I held before moving here. We shall see how these change over time:

  • Displacement of people due to rising rent sucks, but that’s capitalism and the way of the world. If you don’t like the Google bus, toughen up.
  • Fucking homeless people.
  • Fucking cyclists.
  • Organic, gluten-free food is stupid and costs too much.
  • I wonder if people here will be so open-minded that their brains will fall out. Damn hippies.

To be continued.

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Subway thoughts: DC vs NYC vs Chicago vs San Francisco (update)

During the week of Veteran’s Day 2014, I got to travel from Chicago to DC and then to NYC all within 3 days. As with all things, you notice the differences about home once you leave home. Before I called Chicago home, I called DC home. And NYC is like the friend who’s house you’re always at, so it’s basically your other home. Here were my thoughts and the things that I noticed about the differences between each cities’ transit systems, for better or for worse:

UPDATE: I now live in San Francisco and updated my subway thoughts.

DC:

“Oh right, they charge by distance here. Fuckers.”

“Good lord did the trains always look this old and sad?”

“Wow DC subway stations are beautiful. Great job, architect. There’s even some cell service! Sweet.”

NYC:

“Hell ya flat rate transit!”

“I can get anywhere on this thing. This is so extensive.”

“These seats must be really easy to clean. I wonder if they ever had cloth seats at one point and then the city learned that New Yorkers couldn’t handle the responsibility. Probably.”

“There’s absolutely no signal down here. This is probably a pretty great excuse if you don’t want to be contacted, but what do people do when they can’t play with their phone? Do people just focus on listening to their music and not read something at the same time? Books on tape are awesome.”

Chicago:

“Flat rate really is the way to go. Get with the program, DC.”

“Hello my loud-ass train. How I’ve missed your shiny, metal ass. So beautiful.”

“Awww yaa cloth seats! My ride is so scenic and filled with sunlight. I wonder what NYC would look like if their subway was also above-ground. I wonder if they would also think it’s a scenic ride.”

Home, sweet home.

 

San Francisco:

“Why are there 3 different transit systems?”

“BART charges by distance? Greedy bastards”

“Oh thank goodness there’s a separate transit system in the city that’s flat rate.”

“Wow, this MUNI train is tiny. It has stoplights above ground? What the hell? Who designed this? The fact that there can be traffic jams is unacceptable.”

“CalTrain isn’t bad. Wish there was wifi on this though.”

“Holy shit the train systems basically all overlap each other and if you live north of market street you’re screwed. Seriously, who designed this thing?”

 

Books on tape are the best

Both of my jobs after graduation have involved quite a bit of travel. After a while just listening to music during my commute gets boring. The mind needs to be fed, just as the body does. I’m sure many of you have experienced this even during your daily commute to and from work.

I love books on tape. I can be entertained, learn, and feel productive during these empty spaces of the day. I didn’t realize how much time I was spending just traveling until I started listening to these books. I was finishing an average of one book per week. Luckily my local libraries carry books on tape so I was saving money on that front. Yay taxes(not sarcastic)! If you’re interested in doing the same thing, sign up for a library card and an Overdrive account then download the Overdrive application onto your computer. Follow the instructions, then you’ll then be able to download the books onto your phone and listen to the digital file instead of an actual tape or CD. There’s quite a few ebooks that you can download to your Kindle app as well. I think the last time I actually visited the library was when I went to sign up for my card. In any case, here’s my list of books that I have recently read and recommend reading. I chose them based on what was available, what I’ve heard is good, and what I cross-referenced with Amazon ratings. Enjoy!

Non-fiction:
It Worked for Me – Colin Powell
Delivering Happiness – Tony Hsieh
Bossy Pants- Tina Fey
How the Hippies Saved Physics
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me – Mindy Kaling
Art of War – Sun Tzu
Seriously…I’m Kidding – Ellen Degenerous (rambles a bit)
David and Goliath – Malcolm Gladwell
Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
What the Dog Saw – Malcolm Gladwell
Heaven is for Real
Super Rich – Russell Simmons – about hip-hop, peace, and happiness
The Depression Cure – beating depression without drugs using science
Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela
Good to Great – Jim Collins
Built to Last – Jim Collins
How the Mighty Fall – Jim Collins
The Lean Startup
The Happiness Project
4 Hour Workweek
Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance – Louis Gerstner
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

 

Fiction:
Crazy Rich Asians – I was hoping it was a how-to guide 🙂
Dare Me – Megan Abbott
Devil in the White City
Sin in the Second City

NYC decent into darkness

New York City is an interesting place. It changes people and not in the good way in most cases. I’ve noticed this in 2 ways in particular. First, a once-kind and loving person will descend into the dark side and hate people way more than they used to. Second, and I don’t know how I never noticed this before, but their wardrobe color palette will also quickly descend into black, white, or grey.

As I mentioned in my About section, I’ve lived in multiple cities now and have made friends  who were born and raised in other cities. Quite a few of those friends have moved to other places, including New York. Before moving to New York, they were all about meeting new people, being kind to strangers, and generally loving everyone. And then New York happened.  Now, they pretty much recoil in horror anytime a stranger tries to talk to them (because they’re usually asking for money or mentally ill) and are perfectly fine shoving someone out of the way if they have somewhere to be (because it’s crowded as heck and people have places to be). I’m reminded of the Sunscreen Song by Baz Luhrmann, where he advises people to live in New York once, but leave before it makes you hard. It seems to bring out the crazy in people. I’d say 90% of my friends are over New York now and know it. A few weeks ago when some of my northeast friends came to visit Chicago, we were buying some groceries for the weekend at my neighborhood grocery store and I turned to the lady behind me during checkout and we started chatting about our weekend plans. She was prepping for her son’s slumber party and only lived a few blocks away. I learned what soda brand is popular with the kids these days. When we had finished checking out, we exchanged goodbyes and went on our separate ways. The northeasterners were dumbfounded by what they just saw. They looked as if they had just seen chickens speaking Swahili to each other. We’re just friendly here in the Midwest.

When was the last time you saw Jay-Z where an article of clothing with color on it? Do a Google search. It’s ok, I’ll wait. He’s a native New Yorker so the answer is pretty much never. It seems to be the official uniform of the city. It’s especially noticeable with my friends who moved from Miami to NYC. Gone by the wayside are the splashes of neon anything or even the color green. The resounding response? Black is sophisticated and goes with everything. Which I completely true. I’m just amused that pretty much all my bros and broettes have all jammed the greyscale slider to the far right and have MAYBE one or two pops of color as accents to their outfits of the day. They often make this change without even realizing it. They do look sharp though. While at the MoMA (which has an awesome gift shop) to see the Matisse exhibit (which you should definitely go see), I noticed that everyone there looks beautiful – girls, guys, old people, everyone. They all looked like they should be in their own museum. Great style and perfect hair. And all with required uniform. I think I need to step up my game.

As a resident of the Second City, it’s fun to point out the differences between us and New York. But when all is said and done, I love visiting New York and will be back soon. After all, there’s an infinite number of things to do and see there. In the meantime, be excellent to each other and plan your summer trip to Chicago!

– Josh