San Francisco Tulips

Last Saturday as I was heading back to San Francisco from Oakland, I looked into what events are happening near me. One of my quick go to websites is events12. It focuses on free and priced events in big cities. They feature: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Portland, Or, San Francisco and Seattle.

I found American Tulip Day in Union Square. It featured 100,000 tulips you can pick for free. There was a line heading around the block just to get in. Although it was long, it went quick and I only waited about 10 minutes. As you walked in, you could see hundreds of people walking through the tulip beds picking flowers. There were red, yellow, pink, purple, white and a mix of yellow and red tulips. Once inside you were given a small bag. But if you came prepared, you would have brought a grocery bag to fill.

I thought the flowers were going to be already cut for an easy picking. Nope. They made you work for it. They were still in their beds, bulbs and all. If I had a garden I would have picked more than I could carry so I can replant them. I took home about 19 of them. All very beautiful. I got a few strange looks on the metro heading back across the city to go home. I guess not everyone knew about free tulip day. I wouldn’t have either, had I not looked online. I typically don’t go into the touristy part of town.

For those who don’t know, Tulip Day is a version of a Dutch holiday that brings a pop-up garden of thousands of flowers to Dam Square in Amsterdam for thousands of people to enjoy. Further note on tulips: Tulip mania “was a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for some bulbs of the recently introduced and fashionable tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then dramatically collapsed in February 1637. It is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble.” Click the link… I never knew about that… and it’s pretty interesting.

20180302_213135Also this weekend, on Friday I stopped over at First Fridays in Oakland after work. It sort of got rained out, but they kept on going with what they had. There were food trucks, music, a DJ and even a bar. They even feature half off the Oakland Museum of California since the event is held on the street level of it. The event is free and it’s super fun and community driven.

After that, I headed to Independent Brewing Company to try some new beers. They’re located in Oakland too, but a bit hidden away near an overpass. I wouldn’t have known about it, had my friends band not played there. Occasionally they have art shows and music. This last weekend they had a Tom Waits cover band play. A trio featuring a quiet bassist, a banjo player/singer (who was also the opening act called the “1 Man Banjo”) and a female accordion player/singer. They were decent, but they could couldn’t (wouldn’t?) play one of my favorite songs Chocolate Jesus. I mean, c’mon… it’s almost Easter.

The place was pretty empty, but I still had fun. Hopefully this next weekend is better than the last. Let’s hope nothing gets rained out again.

One more thing before I forget! The bay area features a plethora of shows, from punk to metal to jazz. You can typically find most shows on The List. It’s assorted by date and club in which the bands are playing. Occasionally I find shows that aren’t featured on it, and that’s a shame, but knowing the right people and places to go always help with a good time. 🙂

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Let’s Feed Some Pigs

pig

A blog post I never posted… Enjoy!

I flew into London from Italy on the 30th of July. I met up with a friend from high school whom I have not seen since then. He had offered a couch and to take me around town. He even picked me up from the airport! I had about a day and a half of sightseeing to do and he was extremely patient and up to pretty much any adventure. There were a few minor setbacks though.

When I got into London, the UK border was INSANE. I had not realized that it was a Friday and the start of a lot of people on holiday. I spent an hour and a half at the border in the airport and got waived on through in 2 minutes. That was the first setback. The second was when after we had drove for about 40 minutes, dropped off the car at a lot and started walking across the London Bridge and towards the bus.  Suddenly, I was feeling very ill. Like, shaking, clammy and just yucky. My friend was nice enough to ditch the sightseeing and go back to his flat and have ice cream and watch Black Mirror. We spent the rest of the next day sightseeing. I found Paddington Bear, yay! And was super impressed by Big Ben. I need more time in London next time.

I finally flew into Inverness, Scotland late that night and started my journey in the chilly weather of the northern Highlands.

The first week on the farm was amazing. The family that is taking care of me and the other Workawayer, are incredibly amazing people. Laid back, hardworking and great chefs! The first week, I have: Fed the piggies every morning, picked elderflowers for a homemade cordial, packed and processed farm fresh produce to sell at the market, worked the local farmers market, cut some cucumber chutes, picked strawberries and planted herbs and vegetables. I’ve also had time to check out a local town called Cromarty, hike, see a castle and have a movie night in with the family.

My favorite parts about this place are having my own caravan to live in. It’s cozy, it’s my own space and I have plenty of farm fresh food. I also love the piggies. They’re like muscly dogs and they love to be pet and scratched. They are a bit scary though when they are hungry, they are quite ravenous, but the reality is they won’t hurt you.

However, I heard that if treated badly and inhumanely, they will devour you. Bone and all. So be weary of pig farmers that don’t treat their piggies well and have them stay in tiny pens. 😉

California Dreamin’

I haven’t written in 6 months. I needed a break, and I’ve been hiding from the world.

I got back to the States at the end of July and finally made it home to California on August 5th after 3 long days on a Greyhound bus. May have been longer, I’m not too sure.

I had been very fortunate coming back home to find myself rehired at an old job and a room vacant that my friend had just left from that I was able to rent out. For 3 long months I endured insanely long days of work and no free time. I had 3 jobs and typically worked from 6am – 2pm and then from 5pm – midnight. I often called out because I was worn out and made myself sick from over working, lack of sleep and not eating in between jobs or on breaks.

But I stuck to my goal of working hard enough to pay my rent and get ahead as much as I could. I was living and working in San Jose and was determined not to stay there. When the end of October rolled around I got several interviews in San Francisco. I interviewed once, twice… 3 times with 2 different companies and got the one job I wanted and started at the end of November. From then, during the month of December, I made my way around all over the Bay Area to find me a close home.

On January 5th, I found my home near the beach in San Francisco. No more 2+ hour commutes. No more staying with friends and family in the East Bay. I finally have my own space in an area I love.

Since I’ve been back home in the Bay (for those of you who don’t know, I’m originally from the Bay Area, but lived in and around Seattle the last 9 years) I have connected with only a couple of friends and have also fallen out of touch or cut others off for my own mental health. I’ve mostly been hiding and doing my own thing. I have plans to visit my daughter soon and maybe pick up some hobbies.

Europe was interesting. I met a lot of people, experience some things and ate some delicious food. I’ve been in touch with some of those I met and spent time with, and I hope to see them again soon.

As for the future, I hope to do weekly updates on my blog about living and working in San Francisco to keep myself, as well as you entertained.

The Loneliness of Travel

Life in the outside world is weird.  It can be crowded, and it can be empty.

You meet a lot of people while traveling, and some make an impact on you. I have had the pleasure of knowing an awesome human by the name of Martin. I met him while doing my Workaway in Scotland. Since he arrived, he has been in so much panic about his future. He was ready to take off the day he got here so he can go back to Germany to figure his life out. Our hosts convinced him to stay, rather than drive 24+ hours to Munich. As the week had gone by, I learned he went to university to become a teacher and had amazing knowledge on philosophy and life in general. He’s wise beyond his young years and I adore him greatly. A week ago, he came in to my caravan to announce that he is going back to Germany as he was offered a few interviews to get him started on his journey toward becoming a teacher.

Although I was extremely saddened by his early departure, I noticed was not brought down and into the dumps. Although it had only been a week and a half of time spent with this man, and we have spent every breakfast, lunch and dinner together and worked very close together on the farm, I am not crippled by the sadness.

I suddenly realized that in the past I was co-dependent. I certainly was independent, but when I’ve become attached to people I enjoy, I typically become dependent on them for conversation, friendship, help, etc. I have been traveling and have met so many people here, there and everywhere. I am now so used to people coming and going out of my life for a day, a week or months at a time that I feel so happy when they (or myself) move on. Not everyone sticks around in your life forever, and I have to get used to that fact. People become a part of your life and become big or small influences. Some will stay, others leave. Not everyone needs to be in your life forever. People change and it’s okay to let the people and past go, to not only benefit them, but also yourself. This one instance has impacted the way I feel about my past regarding my friends and relationships and what and who is important to me.

It’s amazing what a little travel can do for your soul.

Bidet/Bidont-Butt/Vag Towels

Have you been to Europe? Because if you haven’t, you have to pay for almost every public toilet. There are also towel warmers (which I had no clue what those were until someone told me). My first bathroom experience in Italy was not all that impressive. I got off the bus and had 3 hours to kill. It was 31 degrees Celsius out, I had a large backpack on my back and a small laptop backpack on my chest. Luckily, I found a nice big park where I was able to lay down with my towel on the grass and read a book. Being as I just got off a 6 or so hour bus ride from Munich and lazily drinking water and snacking in the park, I had to get up to pee. So, I packed up my bags, threw my backpacks on and started to wander. Mind you, no one speaks English in this tiny town. I found some local men that worked in the park (at least I assumed they did as they were wearing bright yellow vests) and asked for the toilet. It took several times to pronounce the word toilet correctly for them to understand.

Side note, remember to call them toilets not restrooms or bathrooms while abroad from America. Otherwise people won’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

Anywho, they point me in the right direction and off I go. I get there, and there’s a gent sitting there with a till. He’s on his phone, doesn’t say anything and completely ignores me.

“Excuse me, do I have to pay?” I say to him. He looks up, and tells me it 50 cents. At this point I have to go pretty bad and looking back at it now, I probably could have just walked right in and gone. So I take off my bags and find my wallet thinking I must have some Euros left over from my trip in Berlin. Success! Sort of, I found 30 cents. I asked the young guy if that’s okay. He hardly looks at his phone, grumbles and says “fine”. I run into the stall to find a toilet and another bowl which I was convinced was a urinal. Didn’t think much of it.

Later on, when I got to my living quarters, I noticed both bathrooms in the flat I was living in also had these urinals. I didn’t bother to ask why they were there or why they separate, I just figured it just was. This is how naïve I am to the world. Hahahaha! I didn’t know what these “urinals” were until I got to Venice and stayed with a friend and her roommates. They are bidets! And they are everywhere in Italy (and I’m sure quite a few other countries) and very unusual in the States. I have not yet used one and I’m pretty sure I missed my chance since I’m no longer in Italy. But I can imagine that it’s a great tool after a good poo, a crazy bloody period, and cleaning up just before a lucky night in with a date. I’m not really sure. With that being said, my friends roommate stated that there is a butt/vag towel to use with these bidets.

One side for the front and one side for the back, I assume now those were the small towels I saw hanging on the towel warmers just above said bidets. I honestly don’t know how you would keep track of which corner of the towel is for the front or for the back. The roommate insisted that it doesn’t matter because your “privates” would be clean and it’s just as clean as a hand towel….. That is up for debate I think.

After a week or so after this conversation, it dawned on me in horror that perhaps I had used those butt/vag towels to dry my hands while at the flat I was staying in. Shit…. Literally.

So please, when travelling, ask questions and make sure you know what towel you should be using when drying your hands after a trip to the toilet.

Bikini Island

American culture and the rest of the world. While abroad I’ve noticed a great deal of difference in image culture. Although there are plenty of advertisements with almost naked women, eating pizza or just advertising for a perfume, the women here are not obsessed with looking like that. At least in my opinion. In America, during the summer, lots of women want the perfect bikini body. With this new body positive movement coming up with models like Tess Holiday, they say everyone has a bikini body. AND IT’S TRUE!

Before I left for Europe I bought a super cute 1-piece swim suit that’s black and white striped. I thought I’d be the best-looking chick at the pool/beach. I also thought that I would be too embarrassed to wear a bikini. I’ve got a little belly and some stretch marks and just didn’t feel comfortable. However, going to the pool I quickly realized I was the ONLY person there in a one-piece swim suit. There were women there tiny and big, boney and plump from all walks of life all in 2-piece swim suits. For someone who sees people down on themselves too much (including me) to sport your body however you like, this is amazing.

As I witnessed this and as I traveled more, some other things came up with body image. Since travelling, I have had little time (or interest) to primp myself everyday with makeup and nice clothes. Every so often I will get around to looking nice, but often it is just trousers and a t-shirt. I hardly shave my legs and arm-pitties and I almost never put on make-up or do my hair. And you know what? It feels good. I’ll be honest, there are some women I have met, who take the time out of their day/week while travelling to take care of themselves by grooming and putting on loads of makeup. But that life is just not for me while traveling. If you can do that, more power to ya. But I’d rather take that time and use it for something more productive. I can go back to looking normal when I stop traveling.

In short, the one wonderful thing I learned out here in this great big scary world of ours is: selflove. I am here to impress myself, not other people. Love yourself.

Question the Indigestion

Real talk…

About a month ago I came to the conclusion that food is ultimately better in Europe. I’ve also had this conversation several times in the last week, with natives of Europe and people who have traveled abroad to Europe from U.S.A.

Why do you ask? I have never once in my time in Europe, gotten indigestion from the food here. Except the few times I went to McDonald’s (but it’s McDonald’s, so it’s expected). The only time I have had any kind of stomach ache, is from eating too many dumplings with my goulash or over eating food here in Italy. Italians take their food very seriously and consider it an insult if you don’t eat what is given, at least in my experience.

The meat in particular is different. The best burger I have ever eaten was in Berlin. The U.S. has so much shit in their food: sugar, sodium, chemicals, etc, etc. Everything is pumped full of them. This is the reason you won’t find some American foods anywhere else in the world. Because they are banned from all the shiiiiiiiiiiiiit they put in it.

Don’t get me wrong, I looove American food. Especially shitty American diner food. I love a good burger, fries and milkshake and a side of ranch (I miss ranch so much, I dream about it on the daily). I love hollandaise sauce and over processed potatoes. I love fried foods and sauces and all the bad things that make life worth living. But….

I will be sad when I leave this magical place. So if you ever travel to Europe, especially if you’re a meat eater, even if you’re not (I won’t tell anyone you cheated on your vegan/vegetarian diet thing)…. eat the goulash, eat that weird meat, eat that unknown foreign meal full of deliciousness. You deserve it, cuz you won’t find that same quality in America.