Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Vacation Recap Part 2: San Francisco

YG and I arrived at the airport for an 8:30 flight with enough time for coffee and reading. The flight was rather uneventful, so I listened to some music and started Empire Falls (an awesome read, highly recommended). We also watched Poseidon – a movie so horribly bad that it was hilarious. You know your movie sucks when people laugh when the lead characters die.


When the flight landed, I flipped on my cell phone to discover that I had 4 missed calls and 3 messages. Huh? Readers, I am not a phone person. I hate talking on the phone and only call people when I need to ask them something or I really, really miss them. Even as a teenager, I was not so into the phone. So…I don’t get a lot of calls except for work-related stuff, and the occasional check-in with family and friends. Four calls on my mobile in 6 hours was just off. They were all related to the impending home sale. The buyers wanted to move the closing up a week, and my lawyer didn’t know I was on vacation and needed me to sign and notarize a bunch of documents. HUGE pain in the ass. I immediately got in a foul mood, and moved quickly into “I hate myself for being in a foul mood on vacation” mode. YG reminded me that I didn’t have to agree to moving the sale up, so I didn’t – crisis averted.

MSquared picked us up at the airport, and we drove back to his neighborhood, North Beach, and dropped our bags off at the hotel. He took us out for some great pizza, and then YG and I explored the neighborhood. City Lights Bookstore was the high point – I’ve been wanting to visit for ages. Yeah, it’s a bookstore, but if you love to read and if you thought The Dharma Bums and all that other Beat writing was the shit, you want to visit “just a bookstore.” We had some coffee at Café Trieste and then walked up to The Coit Tower -- it was a perfect day and the views were amazing. I’ve never been in a city more beautiful than San Fran. Paris is gorgeous because of the amazing architecture, but the natural landscape in California is breathtaking.

We went back to the hotel and had some champagne and did some people stalking. If you look at The Washington Square Inn website, there’s a fabulous picture of a room with bay windows and a great view of the park. THAT was our room! Amazing. I spent more time than I can recount, staring out the window, people watching and scribbling away in my journal. I thought I’d post some of that stuff here, but it’s a lot of “so happy” and “so great” and ideas for short stories and just details. We then had evening hors d'oeuvres and wine in the lobby, before meeting Msquared and his girlfriend K for dinner.

I was a tad nervous about meeting K because I had heard so much about her, and YG had such a crush on her, it’s hard not to get into “step off, bitch. That’s my man” mode. She also supposedly was very cheery and laid back, and allegedly knew all kinds of stuff about man things like cars and guns (i.e. things YG knows about, but JM does not) – and is a Red Sox fan from New England. Because I’m immature and apparently still in high school and could keep any number of therapists in business for years, I was feeling: K being cheery and fun and great = JM being fat, dumpy troll who is boring, negative AND high maintenance. So I approached dinner with a bit of trepidation.

And that was so dumb! K was awesome – really nice and engaging, and she’s involved in a lot of interesting projects at work that were cool to hear about. I *love* meeting people who are good at conversation and just relaxing to be around. And I like hearing how people find ways to mix their corporate and philanthropic lives.

We had the yummiest dinner at The Slanted Door. While the whole meal was pretty much the best Vietnamese food I’ve ever had, the ribs were a religious experience. I was reluctant to eat ribs while I was all gussied up in my pretty dress, but I ended up inhaling them and slurping the rib sauce off my fingers. It was that good. If you’re in San Francisco, go to this restaurant! It’s a must.

After dinner, the four of us walked back to North Beach. I’d like to personally thank Kenneth Cole for designing high heels that are easy to walk in. Four-inch heels are never easy. Four-inch heels while buzzed and walking up one of San Francisco’s famous hills is daunting. My boy, Kenneth, doesn’t fail, though.

Thursday morning began with more people stalking at “our” window, and enjoying the hotel’s yummy breakfast of oatmeal and fruit. We then walked down to Fisherman’s Wharf and checked out a bunch of the silly, touristy places and bought postcards. We also saw the massive USS Pampanito, and the ridiculous sea lions flopping around on the water docks. They’re so fat and funny and there’s so many of them.

We took the ferry to Alcatraz and did the audio tour. The views are amazing, and the history is impressive. It’s this massive building, and you hear the wind howling through it, but then you look out the window and see gorgeous San Francisco – it must have been psychological torture for the inmates. I listened to all of their stories, but the one that broke me was an inmate describing New Year’s Eve on Alcatraz. It was cold and they could hear the singing and festivities going on at the Yacht Club. Heartbreaking stuff.

Post-lunch, we picked up salads at the Ferry Building and ate outside and then had some wine at a nearby wine bar. The tasting flights were great – I tried a lot of stuff I normally wouldn’t be interested in. Then back to Café Trieste for more coffee and a long, relaxing lounge in Washington Square. It’s a strange little park – every morning, we’d see all the locals doing their tai-chi. It’s very disorienting to wake up in the morning, look out the window and see hundreds of people holding their hands over the ears. There were lots of folks lounging in the sun with their dogs, and you get to see the beautiful St.Peter and Paul Church. There’s that famous picture of Joe Dimaggio and Marilyn Monroe taken outside of it. They couldn’t get married inside because she was divorced, and Catholics don’t go for that sort of thing (once my divorce is final, I think I get to officially be a whore. Woo hoo!) MSquared joined us so I had time to journal while he and YG chatted and discussed work and their various business ideas.

For dinner we met my friend, M, in The Mission. I met M in New York a couple of years ago through a website when we were both planning our weddings. She’s lots of fun, really smart and great to talk to. We had some yummy tapas and then went to see her husband’s band play. I hope they don’t mind, but I’m going to publicize these guys and tell you to GO SEE THEM! The music was great, the band was really tight, and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time.

Friday was a YG/JM special. Again, people stalking and reading and oatmeal in the morning. Then we walked downtown to Banana Republic's flagship store, recommended by K, where we bought some stuff that you can't find in the BRs in the mall. Tooled around a bit, and then did our touristy fun thing of the day -- taking a cable car. Recommended way to get around the city? No. Cheesey, fun thing to do and experience? Yes.

We got off at Lombard Street and walked down and took pictures. It really is crooked. And it really is a trip. We then walked over to the Marina District and I got my first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge, not covered in fog. Beautiful. Some lunch and window browsing on Chestnut Street and then we walked back to the hotel -- I think we walked about 4 miles day, my second pair of Kenneth Coles serving me well.

That night, we went to a baseball game at AT&T Park. We knew it was going to be freezing, so I stopped in this little hat shop next to the hotel and bought a winter hat. We met this girl in there who was from Massachusetts and familiar with the way-out suburbs where YG lives. We chatted her up for a bit, and when we left she gave us an honest-to-god "peace" and held her fingers up in the peace sign. Welcome to San Fran. :-)

The game itself was great. We took a cab there because of all the walking and had great seats. I got to see Barry Bonds hit (no homers) and make fun of that little bitch, Mike Piazza, who now plays for the Padres. YG also got booed for wearing a Red Sox cap, and when he said "my life is tough. This [said while pointing to my Yankee sweathsirt] is my girlfriend." The guys responded with "the Yankees are the greatest sports team in history." Hee. Nuff said.

It was cold, and since SF was winning, we left early and took a cab back to North Beach where we had pizza and wine at one of the little Italian places on the strip of streets home. Then we went to Enrico's , had a couple of drinks and chatted up some drunk folks who happily accepted the Giants bobblehead doll that was a free giveawy that I didn't feel like dragging around anymore. AFter that, we checked out another bar that a little too "investment bankers and the women who date them" for me, and then turned in for the night.

An awesome day and night with my awesome boyfriend.

Next installment: why San Francisco is beautiful, but San Francisco beyond is even more so

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