lessons earned

San Francisco is the Internet’s city. That is not particularly surprising. Most of the things you see online were built by and are maintained by people somewhere around here. It takes a village and for whatever reason this one got the job. With the job market being what it is, I’m happy for it.

The village people are fascinating, both the ’70s super group and the people of San Francisco. They live, which is cool. I’d rather have people that way. They are fantastically diverse. I’ve lived in New York. It does not come close. Information built this town. It is an expression of ideas. And so too are it’s people.

There are people here who chose to be homeless. They gave it a think and that’s what they decided. Because that’s who they want to be. I know that because I’ve talked to them. When you are wandering the Haight at 4:30 AM, you meet people like that.

"I didn’t want to be part of it anymore. I have so many problems with it, and I just hate the idea of it. It’s fake and shallow. I’d rather do something and be something that feels real." That was one of my friends. He lives on the edge of the Haight in Golden Gate Park. He is tallish with long blonde hair. He wears the same flannel every day. It’s kind of cartoonish. Also, he doesn’t own any other flannels. Or clothes at all.

Most people are afraid of commitment. You know that because that’s a thing. It’s a truth universally acknowledged. I imagine Jane Austen wrote about it at some point. Commitments show you who somebody is. Most people are afraid of mirrors too. Because sometimes mirrors tell you that you are not who you thought you are. They’re reflective.

On rare occasion, someone makes a declarative statement. That’s weird because that usually indicates that they actually believe in something. And that’s weird because if you believe something, it’s only on peoples’ newsfeeds for a few minutes, but you’re tied to that belief. I suppose you could delete it. Everything else is editable. Why not you?

Sometimes I wonder what it is like to live with conviction. So, I ask people who live with conviction what it’s like. And sometimes they say something beautiful and true like, “I like who I am because it’s who I want to be.” And I think about tweeting that or putting it on Facebook, so that people can read it and like it and retweet it. And then I decide not to do that. Because that’s not who I want to be.

a time in hour lives

At any given time. That’s it. You’re there.

It is astoundingly unastounding that right now it is right now. In the time it takes to say “right now”, you’ve already missed it. It’s on the run. And I think I must be really sketchy or something because it’s always running away from me. Clearly, I have no game.

I wonder sometimes if people actually wait a lifetime for a moment like this. Then I’m reminded that I already waited a lifetime for this moment. Last night, I had waited my entire life for a burrito that had this really obnoxious patch of cilantro in the middle. That moment taught me that burritos are to men what diamonds are to women. Go get ‘em, ladies.

Last time is often a lot like this time or next time, but just a little off. I feel like times spend most of their time in a carnival fun house. They get warped by those goofy mirrors. They look fat. They exaggerate.

I remember this one time when I was somewhere, doing something, and it was perfect. I could not tell you what I was doing or where I was. I could probably tell you who I was with. I’m pretty sure Facebook remembers everyone who was there. Facebook has all my times set up in a line. I finally caught them. I know where they are. Do not think too hard about what that means given the metaphor I set up earlier.

Some people argue that despite the degradation of quality textual communication we are entering a new era of storytelling. We write our narratives as jpegs or pngs, and we drop them on Facebook. I love scrolling down my newsfeed and glancing through all the little windows into peoples lives, checking out the times they have tied to their timelines. You can catch a glimpse of the entire spectrum of human emotion with a flick of your fingers. And then you can hit a link and buy a pair of jeans or attend an online college.

A few days ago, I was looking through an old, old photo album with someone I’d just met. I saw children grow up and get married and die. I saw first dates. I saw proms. I saw weddings. I saw fantastic feats of athletic, academic and professional accomplishment. I saw moments for which people had waited a lifetime. I saw a girl’s dreams come true. I wonder where all the pictures of her blacked-out on a friday night riding a mechanical bull shirtless went.

less a place to call home

I am a street urchin. By day, I masquerade as a functional member of society. I go to work. I wear clothes. I buy things I don’t need. But at night, I turn into something completely different. It’s kinda like being Batman, but shitty.

I arrived in the silicon valley without having figured out housing. I guess I thought it was just going to work out somehow. It didn’t. It also hasn’t. I attribute that to laziness. For whatever reason, after spending nine or ten hours making computers do things and four hours getting to and from San Francisco, I don’t really want to get on Craigslist and try to identify which landlords are legit. I should really be doing something with my life.

I don’t think I’ve ever cared about sounding conceited and elitist. And I still don’t, so I can comfortably say that being homeless is a good time. It’s fun. I like leaving work not knowing where I’m sleeping. I’ve had a few pretty steady places while I’ve been here. But there have also been a number of nights when I really don’t know where I’m going to sleep. Consequently, I have mapped and memorized the location of almost every 24 hour Starbucks in the city. I have not yet needed to put this knowledge to use.

Being homeless changes the way you think. When someone starts talking to me at a bar, my first thought is no longer, “is this girl cute?” Instead I ask myself, “does this girl look like she has an apartment and a couch?”

I also say “yes” to everything because almost anything might be fun, and I might get a place to crash out of it. Thus far, I have gone to a Christian Root Beer Kegger, the Four Seasons, a rally to raise money for “Women” (but actually), San Matteo, a party for Spotify, Oakland, every bar in the Haight, a cocktail-infused discussion of the future of thought, a gallery opening, an open mic night for bloggers and a bunch of other stuff. All of these things, in one way or another, contributed to or directly resulted in my having a place to stay for a night or two. And all these things were fun. Because there were people there.

Having done this whole homeless thing for a while, I have a bit of advice for any aspiring homeless people out there.

  1. Drunk people are your friends. And if they are not, they should be because they’re having a great time.
  2. If you are crashing, be gone before 7:30. This is closely related to (1).
  3. The contents of your bag should always include: a toothbrush, a couple extra articles of clothing, cash, a notebook, a sharpie, some sort of mildly abrasive soap and something impressive.
  4. If you are hanging out with people late at night, accidentally fall asleep on a couch. The likelihood that they are going to wake you up and ask you to leave is actually zero.
  5. Everything is fun. Have it.
  6. Take care of people who are smashed. Do not limit that to your friends. The smashed need you, and they will be forever grateful. Sometimes helping someone into bed after he’s covered his zen garden with a semi-digested burrito and tequila is all you need to do to make a friend.
  7. Be honest.
  8. Sometimes people just need someone to talk to. You know what they look like because you used to look like that. Talk to them.
  9. Anytime you hear music, follow it. Somewhere close by someone is dancing.
  10. Be kind. It’s not hard.

There are people here who are homeless. I just don’t have a home. I cannot begin to imagine how difficult life is for them. Not having a place to call home has made my life interesting, challenging and pretty bat shit. But I have always had a place to stay. They have not. That is terrible.

Two days ago, I was waiting for a cab, when an older man approached me. He asked how I was doing. I told him I was good and asked how he was. He asked me how he looked. He looked all right, so I said all right. He said he was homeless and a poet, and he began to recite. I don’t remember the poem, but it was beautiful and I gave hime some money to help him get dinner.

We said goodbye, and he walked away. Down the street, someone was handing money to someone who needed it. The recipient was grateful, but at the last second, the giver snatched the money away, yelled, “Gotchya, bitch,” and walked away laughing. The poet went over, gave the spurned a pat on the shoulder, and handed him some money. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

I wonder where he slept that night.

breaking the fast and the furious

When I was in college, I had a column called “Chicken and Waffles” in the school paper. A few people read it. Probably not many. I have reasons to believe that my mother did. Although, I also have reasons to believe that my mother did not. It is almost infinitely more likely she watched “The Devil Wears Prada” instead.

I miss writing. Kinda like how sometimes you miss a bus when it’s early and you spend just a little too long in the shower. Although, in San Francisco, the bus is usually running late too, so you just end up missing each other. I take the train instead.

I want chicken and waffles back. I skipped breakfast. You should never skip breakfast. For starters, it’s a start. Also, mimosas. Brunch is okay too. Never start with lunch. You can have breakfast for dinner, but not for lunch. It’s weird.

The beginnings of things are more fun anyways. Because at the beginning, you never know what the end is going to look like. Or if there’s going to be an end at all. Or if the end is really an end. Geometry’s complicated. My degree in Math hasn’t help me with it at all.

I need to go meet a bus now. I hope she likes me.