Friday, April 25, 2014

Hayes Valley Love


How is it Friday already?! Wow, this week flew by.  I've got several posts that aren't anywhere near done sitting in my drafts folder, awaiting critical elements like words or photos (ha) but I've been stunningly unproductive, blog wise, this entire week. It's not just that I've been busy, to be perfectly honest. It's that my life is really complicated and emotional these days, and all of the topics I want to discuss frequently have those "tough to write about" elements to them. So then I think, "Oh, well, I'll just do something else and write it later, since I know it's going to be hard to write." And then nothing ever gets written. I am having trouble thinking of non-heavy things to write about. Either that, or I've not taken photos of my food. You know what I'm saying here? I just go round and round.

But there's one thing I keep thinking about that's positive and really easy to write about: just how much I am really enjoying my new neighborhood, Hayes Valley.

I'd only previously lived in one neighborhood in San Francisco, South Beach/Mission Bay. And while I really loved it there, what I see now is that it is not necessarily a good microcosm of SF's personality. I mean, it's certainly a part of it, but it has a completely different vibe than where I'm at now. And I'm really not dissing my old neighborhood here. Living there for 10 years was amazing, and the proximity to the water, in particular, along with endless parks by the water, is something I actively miss.

But that said: I'm enjoying living in another neighborhood way more than I thought I would.

My new neighborhood really feels like a community.

I really, really love it.

Why? Well, here are a few reasons. It seems small, nestled in between several other neighborhoods, and that adds to the quaint feel of it, along with that sense of community. It's adorable. It has unique shops owned by people who give back to their community and know each other, along with the people in the neighborhood. There's a lot of open space, a park, a German beer garden, an ice cream shop, tiny coffee shops and incredible amounts of culture right there (the symphony, ballet, Asian Art Museum, SF Zen Center and city hall are within just a few blocks). There's a ton of great food, and much of it is actually affordable. And the neighborhood draws in a diverse group of people, a group of people who typically keep it classy. The only real downside is the lack of proximity to a large grocery store. I'm within easy walking distance of many of the music venues I shoot at, which feels like a ridiculous luxury, and my commute to work in NW Berkeley is actually shorter now.

Here's one of my favorite things: I love walking up Hayes Street on a weekend morning, on my way to get coffee or wherever else I might be going, with sun poking through the trees, or the fog, and hearing the birds chirping around me. It's pretty deserted at that point in the day, and it's so beautiful. So calm. I am in love with this little neighborhood -- and I can't wait to go back to it each day. I know there's so much more to discover (food, drinks, a community garden, the yoga studio I've been yearning to go back to).

Here are some of the many snaps I've taken in Hayes Valley, tagged with #instahayes on Instagram.













Friday, April 18, 2014

Layers, cells, constellations

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.” —  Anais Nin


I saw this quote on another blog this week, and it resonated with me for so many reasons.

blossoms / seen on last sunday's run
I have perhaps never felt so imperfect as I feel right now. There is a rawness to it, but also, a self-awareness that I've only been able to achieve in my 30s. It's less than two months until I turn 32 now, and I feel I've never known more or less about life. And honestly ... mostly less. This is such an unusual, unplanned for time in my life. I keep saying "I'm off the timeline," and that's exactly how it feels, and the only way I can hope to describe it. I had a map of my life, and now I'm off the map. I have no idea what's going to happen anymore. It's absolutely terrifying, but I'm trying to embrace the beauty in the terror. Universe, I am open to whatever comes next, and I am at your mercy. I know nothing. You win.

The universe always wins, ultimately, though, doesn't it?


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It's been a weird week. Most of it is "classified" (ie, work-related, mostly) so I can't talk about it specifically, but I will say that I've rarely felt the need for a weekend like this one. I'm desperate for it. Thank goodness it's finally here. The boy and I have been sick again over the last two weeks, but hopefully that's about to wrap up for the time being -- if I could stop getting sick repeatedly, I would be so very happy. And I've just been feeling really responsible and stressed out and there's only so long I can maintain Adult Mode before I need to go blow off some steam somewhere.

I am raring to go for this weekend, but my biggest goal (other than running 6-7 miles on Sunday morning) is to relax, be productive, sleep and enjoy myself -- all at the same time. I am such a contradiction, and you can feel free to call me crazy, but I think all of this is actually possible.

This is the conclusion of a challenging week. My eyes and heart are open, and I'd like to end this post with a few things I've been telling myself all week long, as I stumbled through a rocky landscape:
I am an endless work in progress. 
I will never be perfect. 
My heart has scaffolding on it right now. 
I am not a role model. 
I answer only to myself, and to my own standards. 
Myself is the only thing I can be. And for better or for worse, that has to be good enough.  

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my latest tattly, at north berkeley bart station this week

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Have a safe and happy Easter weekend, internet.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Eating Well: Fried Rice

Last summer, while staying in Berlin, I ate the best fried rice in the world.

I'm not kidding. I did. And it was all thanks to my Airb&b (and now real life) friend Josh. One night, I was in bed, headed for a very early bedtime (such things happen when you begin drinking at noon every day). Suddenly, the most amazing smells began wafting into my bedroom. Given that I was a random person in my pajamas, and he clearly had company, I didn't go out to see if I could have any of whatever was cooking, but I did get into the leftovers the next day, with permission. And oh my goodness. Amazing. Hands down, the best fried rice I'd ever had.

I asked Josh to reveal his secrets, told him I'd be making fried rice basically every day once I returned to the states, and made very good on my promise. I've eaten more fried rice than anything else since I returned stateside at the end of August. The great thing about fried rice? It's really easy to make vegan, it's really easy to make period, and it can occur in endless variations based on what is around or in season. Plus? If you're eating on a budget and need something conveniently healthy and easy to transport to work, this is the perfect meal for you. It's saved my hide endless times in the last eight months.

I'm going to share an example of the basic formula I follow. Thanks Josh, for the inspiration!

First, assemble your ingredients:

Ingredients:

Rice (1-2 cups, depending on how much you want -- and cook it the day before!)
Shallots (2)
Green garlic (and/or regular garlic - at least 4 cloves, use as much as you want!)
Carrot (1)
Ginger (around a 1 inch piece)
Green/spring onions
Peas (frozen) (not shown)
Mushroom (I just used one here, but it was pretty big)
Toasted sesame oil
Soy sauce
Optional: red jalapeno or other hot pepper


Instructions:

Chop up all ingredients.

Using a wok or a pan, heat sesame oil.
Add all chopped veggies. Pan fry or wok fry - don't forget to stir!
When everything seems cooked (but not browned!), add rice.
Add soy sauce, then continue to fry, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
Whenever you think it's done, it's done!
ENJOY. AND EAT FOREVER.

...yes, it really is that easy. And you will have leftovers for days.



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Weekend

cherry blossoms in Japantown

Isn't it funny how getting back into the blogging groove can be so hard after an extensive break or extensive life changes? I've thought to myself "I have nothing to write about today" -- but thinking back, that never used to stop me. Why am I letting it now? Absolutely I'm up in my head about nothing again. I love to overthink everything, haven't we established that? Anyway, I'm going to try to stop that.

So. This weekend.

I had one of those jam packed weekends. You know the ones. And because I'm choosing to focus on the positive, and have this place be a place of positivity, I'm not going to talk at length about when I had one of those weird 11-years-later breakdowns about my dad on Saturday afternoon, or when I cried on Sunday afternoon, or any other time I was sad/upset/uncertain about life this weekend. Because though those times were absolutely present -- they aren't what make me, me.

Those things don't define me. I won't let them.

So anyway, on to the happy things.
  • The weather finally started to cooperate this weekend after a week of (relative) cold and rain. And now it's ridiculously nice outside. I got to go on a really nice bike ride to the grocery store in the sunshine yesterday (thank you spring!), there are flowers everywhere, people are smiling.

  • I attended two really excellent concerts, which left me exhausted but happy. Saturday night was one of my favorite bands in the universe, VNV Nation. You may recall that one of their songs was my #1 song of the year in 2013. To say I love them, and have waited years to see them live, is an understatement. There are not words to adequately describe how much this show meant to me, and how great it was, and how many tears I shed out of pure joy. How often do you cry from joy? That's the only context in which I cried that night, and it was beautiful. Life was so beautiful. 

  • My 5 1/2 mile run on Sunday (I'm now in the thick of training for Bay to Breakers and the SF Marathon) was amazing. Just a really great run. One of those runs that could have easily gone on for much longer, except that I was meeting G for breakfast/brunch/lunch at our favorite diner, and I didn't want to put off the veggie burger & fries gorge-fest any longer than I had to!
  • So much good food. This all started when my dear friend April came to visit from Portland, and we got to enjoy some Japanese lunch together while catching up. I'd been craving sushi and seaweed salad just the day before, so it was perfect (we went to Takara). Then I got to come back to Hayes Valley and eat more delicious food at DragonEats, my favorite local restaurant. Other highlights of the weekend (other than the aforementioned diner -- which is SO good) included my first visit to Chez Maman, and a memorable trip to Don Ramon's (I do love me a cantina). 

This week has been challenging so far. I'm getting sick again. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. But I am trying my very, very best to remain positive. With 75-80 degree days so far each day this week, it's tough to be sad or frustrated when out in the sunshine. Speaking of which -- time for my afternoon break. I'll be back with at least one recipe post this week (my specialty fried rice, which I've just started making again!).

 
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