I hadn't walked in the mornings in awhile so imagine my surprise to see frost the last couple of days. The weather is so weird this season. Still, it does provide some amusement.
Beautiful sunrise this morning.
I remember once seeing a tv show or movie in which a character, I think it was a woman, had a life that wasn't going well. She was dating the wrong people, doing and saying all the wrong things at work, just generally screwing up her life. Then one day she decided to do the opposite of what her first instinct was. If a guy asked her out who she would normally say no to, she said yes. If she would normally agree to take a project from her boss, she told him no. Suddenly her life was going incredibly well.
Lately I feel a bit like that character. My life wasn't going so bad, it just hasn't been very interesting. Not that there's anything wrong with working, coming home, hanging out in my cool apartment, writing occasionally, and going to bed. Weekends with my friends and family. It's not a bad life by any means. But there's always room for improvement.
I've been doing the things I always said I was going to do then didn't ever get around to doing. I've been taking singing classes for about 6 months now. I always loved to sing but was always petrified of doing it in front of people. Now every week I get up in front of 10 to 15 people and sing my little heart out. Last week I actually got up in front of them and my knees didn't shake. I even had fun. I told myself I wasn't afraid, when normally I would have given into my fear, and suddenly I wasn't afraid.
I've started taking salsa classes. I've had two so far. I was afraid to go the first time, and probably wouldn't have if my sister hadn't gone with me. I don't consider myself athletic. I think I dance ok, have good rhythm, but I'm usually too self-conscious to dance well until I've had at least a beer or two. So here I was, as a beginner brought the front of the class with 5 or 6 other people, as we started to learn the steps. I was afraid I wouldn't get it. I was afraid no one would want to dance with me. I did it anyway. And I'm doing pretty well. A guy even asked me to practice with him after the last class. Someone wanted to dance with me. I didn't think I could do it and I did it anyway. I even went alone to the second class.
I've decided to go to Europe. I haven't been since 1995. When I went then it was a huge adventure. I went through all kinds of changes and had epiphanies and became a stronger person when I was there for two months travelling. Up until now I haven't really wanted to go back enough to go through the saving process to be able to do it. Suddenly I want to go more than anything. I want to go more than I want to shop. So I'm starting to save. I sort of thought I was done with Europe. Instead I'm running to it.
I'm going to take Spanish classes. I always wished I'd tried harder in Spanish class in high school. And I listen to the spanish-speaking people I work with and wish I could understand what they were saying. Wish I could chatter along with them. Even listening to my brother-in-law and family speak French to each other makes me want to learn Spanish. Not to spite them, but just so I can do that too. French never interested me much, but Spanish is a useful thing to know in SF. When I took my last Spanish class in high school I swore I'd never look back. Now I want to leap in again.
I'm not doing everything differently. I'm not doing the opposite of everything for the sake of doing the opposite. But I am trying to do the things I know I should be doing but might not normally do. I'm trying to follow my heart and do what will make me happy, what will make me a better person, what will give my life some oomph.
I'm still not saying yes to the guys I would normally say no to. You'd understand if you saw them. *shudder*
note: Does anyone know what tv show/movie I was talking about in the beginning of this?
I realized on my way home tonight that I'm approaching the end of my 6 month lease on my apartment. I couldn't believe my own counting. I'm not worried that my lease won't be extended. But I couldn't believe that I've actually been here for 6 months.
It took me at least 3 months to actually unpack most of my boxes. It's taken me the last 3 to get my apartment to look the way I want it to. Actually, I'm still working on it. I still don't know what to do with the pole in the middle of the living room. My kitchen remains too small no matter what I do to it. And the middle "closet" room still has no structure but does have a few still-unpacked boxes.
Still, I'm very happy here. And the day I stop working on my apartment is probably the day I move out. Everything in my life is inevitably a work in progress, including my life.
However, I do pay a lot of rent. I walk by signs for studio apartments for rent and am tempted to write the numbers down, just to see what the rents are like. I know I could never get my life into a studio. I seem to have crossed that life moment--I must always make enough money to afford a one-bedroom or above.
I've been eating a lot of Ramen lately. I know it's not great for me, but it is incredibly cheap. And since I pay nearly half my month's salary in rent, I have to save a buck here and there. Last time I went to Safeway, Ramen was 20 for $3. That's damned cheap.
Anytime I get cranky about having to watch my money, not shop as much as I'd like, not buy new clothing as often as I'd like; I just remember my fabulous apartment. I get excited to go home at night. I used to love housesitting for my parents because I got the place to myself. Now I just love getting to use their car and see my cat.
I'll post some pics of my fabulous apartment, probably on my 6 month anniversary. Right now it needs some cleaning up, which I will do soon (see yesterday's post). Still, clean or dirty, boxes or not, it's my place and I love it. It's worth the struggle.
And speaking of Ramen, check out this site: Friends, Ramen, Countrymen... Especially check out the recipes for Ramen Pizza and Chocolate Spiders.
I don't make New Year's resolutions. I just don't do it. I used to and then would beat myself up for being weak when I failed. I don't do that any more. What's the point?
So, seeing that it's January 8th and well out of resolution time, I'd just like to mention a few things I'd like to try to do in the coming year.
I'll try to post more to my site. I know I can be kind of lax and I feel bad. Not just for you guys but for myself. When I write on the site, I exercise my writing chops. It's good for me. I can get kind of lax with my other writing as well, a novel that exists almost as a whole in my head but covers only a few pages of actual computer screen. At least I can write this stuff while I watch Buffy.
I'll try to write more in general. It makes me happy.
I'll try to get back to walking to and from work everyday. It's been hard with the rain and the holidays. Not to mention that fact that at my new work site I have to wake up about an hour before I used to if I want to walk. I'm a snoozer. I can snooze for 2 hours. I'm not good at getting up in the morning.
I'll try to do more things that make me happy. I'll continue singing classes. I'm starting dance classes. I may do some acting.
I'll try to be more organized. I'll try not to procrastinate so much. I'll try to clean my apartment more often. All things I want to do generally, not just at this time of year. Things I'm always trying to do. But I won't beat myself up if I don't do them. I'm in more of a rewards system these days, not punishment. I get to stop and pick up a Viccolo pizza on my walk home from work, if I walked to and from work. I get to buy a new desk if can keep the one I've got organized for awhile. I can go see a movie on a Sunday if I've done some writing on Saturday.
And my reward for getting up in the morning before the sun is a gorgeous sunrise.
I was asked for directions three times on my walk home from work tonight. It's odd that I can go a year without anyone asking me for directions in this city then be asked three times in the course of an hour. And it's not even tourist season. I was wearing braids today, too, so it wasn't that I looked particularly reliable.
Once when walking down Market Street in early summer I was approached every few blocks by people with various levels of english spoken in a variety of accents asking for directions. It still seems odd to me that I must look like a native, or at least someone who belongs in San Francisco.
People are always surprised to find out I'm from Iowa. I'm always pleased when they're surprised.
It took me many years to learn my way around San Francisco. I have a terrible sense of direction, or at least I always thought I did. When I used to visit SF when I lived in Sacramento I'd always eventually find myself driving around lost, usually in Chinatown. Maps are little help, I find, in San Francisco, unless you take time to really study them. The streets are confusing.
For instance, 9th Street turns into Larkin when it crosses Market and though it's one way most of the way it turns two ways when it crosses California. Or how Potrero turns into 10th Street (sort of)--at an intersection of two other streets where I myself have been in several near accidents--which started out up north as Polk Street, which was two way when it was in Russian Hill and Polk Gulch but became one way when it crossed McAllister. Then there's Market Street which doesn't make much sense at all as it winds East/West through the middle of the city, and Fell Street which does this weird thing around Franklin and sort of turns into Lincoln at a strange intersection where you have to get in the right lane to make a left turn on Stanyan.
Bear in mind that I was living in Sacramento which is basically a tic-tac-toe of alphabetical and numbered streets. I never got lost in Sacto.
Now I know where I'm going in SF. I never get lost. I can get anywhere in the city by at least 3 different routes and I can get there on public transportation.
Ironically, I'm still not the best person at giving directions. My dad complains that I usually pick the interesting streets, the streets with lots of stores or interesting houses as opposed to the fastest way. I don't necessarily give the quickest way, the way without stop signs or the way with the widest laned streets. But I'll get you there.
I grew up in the country in Iowa. The fact that I don't think twice about driving around this city, walking around this city, or busing around this city makes me feel like I'm Mary Richards. I'm gonna make it after all.
Well Happy New Year. Welcome to 2002. A palindrome year.
I've been spending a lot of time watching the waves in the last few days. They've been huge, due to the storms we've been having. I've never seen waves so large at Ocean Beach. I sat and watched them this weekend and wondered. Can you apply the phrase used for March "In like a lamb out like a lion" in reference to the year?
2001 began quietly for me. Uneventful. Then at the end of June I had my bag stolen with very expensive gadgets inside. July I sprained my ankle. End of July I moved. My sister's husband moved to the US at the same time. August my mom got laid off. She had a new job by September.
Then September 11 came and the world changed. I walked around in a haze for weeks. Old fears from my youth of nuclear bombs and random acts of destruction seemed alive again. Anthrax made me fear opening the mail at work.
Everything for the rest of the year has been colored. The US is at war. Crazy people wanting to hurt us can be anywhere. The next door neighbor with wife and kids who's lived there for years could turn around and fly a plane into your building. Every few days the news shows are talking to survivors, families of the dead, families of heroes, families of villains. In November a Bay Area man was found supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan. The world seems scary and strange and unreal.
Before Thansgiving my office flooded. I was sent to another due to mold allergies. The office continues to leak in new places. There's talk of building an ark.
The day after Christmas an old friend's mother died, losing a long fight with cancer.
It rains almost every day. The waves just seem bigger and bigger. 2001 left like a lion. Therefore 2002 has begun like a lion as well. Maybe it means things will get better. Maybe it means Bin Laden will be found, dead or alive, and dealt with. Maybe it means the war will end and America will realize what an idiot Bush is under all the patriotism he cloaks himself with. Maybe it means I'll find my place in this new world and let go of my old fears. Maybe we'll all relax a little and things will go back to normal. I just hope 2002 doesn't end up reading the same forward and back.
I hope the year will go out like a lamb. I just hope the lion doesn't roar too much more before it puts on its sheep's clothing.