Tag Archives: traveling

Watching Dogs Crap and Other Joys of Living in the City

Just out of sight, a baby is de-feathering a pigeon.

I am but a prairie lass, born and raised in the gated communities of Oklahoman suburbia, where everyone besides me got a car for their 16th birthday and our motto is “Free parking for all!” Now that I’m living in San Francisco, which is a bigger city, if not the biggest, I get to experience those subtle joys of urban life, the things that make living in the semi-tropical concrete jungle worthwhile.

Take yesterday, for example, when I was riding the MUNI (subway) and reading my NOOK (not as good as a kindle) while heading to the outer sunset (a neighborhood.) After a couple of stops, a rather vocal and drunk man across the aisle decided to direct his conversation to four other passengers scattered about in the car that were reading books, including me. “People used to f-ing talk!” he said. “Now look at them, with their f-ing tweetering and facebook…….(mumble)…there used to be CONVERSATIONS.” I smiled inwardly while staring determinedly at my NOOK. “This is great!” I thought. “City life!” Seconds later the man asked me for a cigarette and shortly after that I hopped off the train and skipped home.

In addition to the characters on public transport, part of city life in San Francisco is getting to watch people watch their dogs take a dump. At any given time in a dog park, 20% of the animals are crapping and 100% percent of their owners either staring in order to know the location of the turds, or pretending to ignore it while mentally mapping Fido’s mess. This bizarre kind of human-animal interaction is something only the urban could have come up with, and it’s just another reason I love living here!

Awkward secondary interactions with strangers are also an integral and precious part of city life. While in line at McDonald’s, a popular local joint, the man in front of me started berating the innocent employee because she had “lied” to him about the cost of honey mustard AND not given it to him. “I’m not here to argue with you!” the man yelled. “I’m here to do business!” After one of the more uncomfortable minutes of my and the employee’s day, the man grabbed his sauce, sat down, and proceeded to eat his gigantic meal alone.  This was business.

As if the city couldn’t get any better, yesterday I ran to the ocean (that’s right mom, I was exercising), and stood triumphally on top of a sand dune, having a spiritual moment as the sun sank red into the ocean. After about a minute, a man walked up to the dune on my left and and assumed a characteristic position that indicated he was about to be sick. Ah, nothing like enjoying the sunset with the promise of someone nearby blowing chunks. Unfortunately, I had to leave and could not stay to watch any bile-spewing, but maybe I’ll catch it next time!

Life in the city sure is fun! But seriously, it’s better than the suburbs. I’ll take the vomit and the weird human-animal and human-human interactions any day. The only thing I miss is my parent’s kitchen.

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The Highlights of Istanbul, Now With Clever Wordplay

So pretty it’s disgusting. At Gulhane Park. 

You can do fun things to the word Istanbul, like turn it into Istanbrew, Gristanbul, Istangourd, Grumpstanbul, etc. This is the part of the story where I modify the word Istanbul and describe different aspects of my trip.

Istanbloom: I think I finally realized it was spring when I saw all those dang flowers peeping everywhere. I attempted to deal with the tulip madness by taking pictures. In fact, I took many boring flower pictures, all of which my family will be forced to view.

Sweetstanbul: Oh sweet tooth, how we tickled and fed and indulged you in this fair city. We sunk our fangs into the chewy but oh so delicious Turkish delight with wild flavors such as kiwi and pomegranate, accented with the most pistachio-y pistachios I had ever tasted. Do I even need to describe the baklava, whose layers were drenched in sin and delicious in every incarnation? Even the angels would have wanted and been denied a bite of my baklava.

Nutstanbul: The Turks like their nuts. Daily I thanked Jesus and the lucky stars that I am nut allergy free and was able to stuff my gob with every nutty creation imaginable.  If they could, I think the Turks would pave the streets with hazelnuts and pistachios and build their homes with walnuts.

Istanhill: Because it was hilly. Duh.

Istanbus: I was very impressed with Istanbul’s public transportation, which included busses, ferries, metros, and funiculars, all of which could be paid for easily with the Istanbulkart. Because waxing poetic about public transportation can get boring if not weird, I will quickly move on to my next topic. Just know that the busses had screens in them telling the passengers both the current and the upcoming stops. Okay, moving on.

Bluestanbul: The Bosporus and the Golden Horn were so blue! Blue blue blue! While sailing to the Black sea on a Bosporus cruise, I couldn’t stop thinking how jewel-like the water seemed as the light refracted through the waves and pierced into the deep. We could see jellyfish. They are my friends.

Istanpuff: The Ottoman sultans loved their puffy clothing. Based on the sheer size of the clothing on display at Topkapi palace, it was clear that the sultans’ bodies, when cocooned in their palace garb, bore only a passing resemblance to a human figure. Everything from their ridiculously huge turbans to their pointed shoes was an exercise in puffiness.

The Fortress of Rumeli is more like a big park. Great for kids and conquering Istanbul.

Histanbul: The place was disgustingly full of history. I couldn’t spit without desecrating a famous landmark that was named something ridiculous and looked like it came from a fantasy novel. Around every corner there was a mosque, church, church-mosque, or doner stand that seemed beautiful and worth visiting.

Blisstanbul: Because Istanbul restored my faith in cities. It had been so long since I’d enjoyed spending time outside in a metropolis and felt comfortable in my foreign woman skin. When I think of Istanbul I think of colors and peace and happy and days spent watching the waters and the people flow by. And the trees were good too.

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Walking on Feet in San Francisco

I walked almost 8.7 nautical miles (10 miles) today in my Sperry’s and skinny jeans (no prairie dress yet). I wore a black jacket and sometimes it was a little too warm in the sun, but I liked having it for when I was in the shade. I tied it around my waist when I wasn’t using it. As the day wore on I talked louder and more often to myself, to the point where it was nearly a constant conversation, but I feel like you can do that here in San Francisco, where people can be who they want to be. I want to be a wildly gesturing person on the street wearing a puffy black jacket tied around her waist.

San Francisco is easily one of the most beautiful and livable cities that I have ever been too. I’ve been to cities in Morocco or Colorado, for example, that are beautiful to visit and quaint to look at but would likely be quite suffocating to live in, like beautiful quaint hands slowly closing around my throat. But San Francisco’s hands are not suffocating. They wear funky, locally made jewelry and make funny gestures. I like San Francisco’s hands.

When I am in a new city, I love exploring it on foot, without a map or an agenda, and that’s what I did today. I had made a halfhearted plan to go see stuff but then ended up wandering my day away, which I believe is always a good decision. There’s nothing I like more than the feeling of complete freedom, being in a city in the world with no agenda and the ability to follow any whim I have, like to poke around the campus of University of San Francisco, or to hunt down a church spire I saw gleaming far away, or to turn onto a random street because the trees look really fluffy or because the sunlight  is hitting it just right at the golden hour in the late afternoon when everything is beautiful and I have to follow the beauty.

Walking in San Francisco is unlike walking in other cities. I would be walking on a street lined by those beautiful houses that remind me of whimsically decorated gingerbread men and all of the sudden in the distance, the street ended in a crest, over which I could see nothing. Did the world end? Was there a breathtaking view of azure bay water? Yet another park? The urge to climb these hills was impossible to fight, and climb I did, and sure enough, I would be rewarded with a lookout into the distance, either towards more hills covered in trees with bright buildings clustered around the bases or the bay with its islands and other bodies of land reaching into it. I didn’t want to leave the crests.

In San Francisco flowers bloom in the winter. I like it here.

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