Accomplished: Visit San Francisco!

Last Thursday, I took a trip to San Francisco with my father for the weekend. I hadn’t been there since I was a baby. Fun fact, we almost moved there when I was an infant—sometimes I wonder what the West Coast version of me would’ve been like. Probably, I’d have dyed hair and be saying ‘namaste’ all the time.

golden gate gaby

Things about San Francisco:

  • The hills are enormous. I expected them to be hills, not miniature mountains. My legs were so sore after all of the walking we did!
  • Food. Food everywhere. Of every kind. If I lived in San Francisco, I would go all Pac-Man and eat everything
  • Bikers, joggers, dog-walkers… this is your city! It was lovely to see so many outdoorsy people out and about, being active
  • Diversity! The city’s population is one-third Asian, which was a welcome change from growing up in homogenous suburbia
  • Weather – perfect with a dash of more perfect. Although not quite hot enough for me, San Francisco weather was lovely, breezy, and warm enough to not be bundled in a billion layers

So what did we do?

Friday, we went to the Presidio, which is this re-outfitted army base. It was gorgeous. We visited the Presidio Graduate School, a wonderful, innovative graduate school that bestows MBAs/MPAs, but with a focus on sustainability at the core of every lesson. All of the students and professors were so passionate and motivated. It reminded me of my alma mater, seeing how much people actually cared.

After visiting a class, my father and I went to the Golden Gate Bridge and then up and over it. My inner middle-schooler was screaming because the tv show (Charmed) I was obsessed with back then used the bridge as a frequent backdrop! I had no chance to climb up and stand at the top, unfortunately.

Golden Gate Bridge, the view of the hills from our hotel, and some pretty accurate graffiti

Golden Gate Bridge, the view of the hills from our hotel, and some pretty accurate graffiti

We went toward the Muir Woods, though we didn’t have a chance to explore. Those winding, curvy turns with no guardrail and a steep tumbling drop made me super nauseous. Even my father, a bit of a thrill-seeker, was saying how often they must have to rescue people (or recover bodies). I could never drive there.

On our way back into the city, we went to this cliffside that overlooks the bridge. When the fog rolls in, you can see the top of the bridge poking out from up there. People were biking up there. People were biking everywhere in San Francisco. I don’t know how they tackle those crazy hills.

We had dinner with people from the graduate school. Presidio Social Club is a renovated army barrack and my goodness. If I lived in SF, I would be SO FAT. Luckily everything is super expensive, so if I lived there, I couldn’t afford any of it. And I tried raw oysters for the first time.

On to Saturday!

Full House!

 

We started off by driving around the piers and people-watching. The piers had a huge open-air market that made my veggie-loving heart happy. We drove to the Full House house, and there were a bunch of bros who got there as we were leaving and they were all, “IS THIS THE HOUSE?! I need a picture!”

We drove by the Painted Ladies, and then stopped in the neighborhood of Haight-Asbury. It’s where the Summer of Love originated. There were the quirkiest stores there: Rasputin Records, East Asia hippie-dippie stores, a huge vintage clothing store, among countless others. It was Greenwich Village, turned way up. There was a guy in a tie-dye shirt with a beard crossing the street just as we were, holding out a plastic baggie of pot, totally nonchalant about it.

Haight-Asbury: Vintage store, Rasputin Records, a really awesome outfit

Haight-Asbury: Vintage store, Rasputin Records, a really awesome outfit

After that, we explored Chinatown and from there, we made it down to Union Square, where there was an art exhibit going on. I particularly enjoyed heart sculpture with Yoda’s face on it. We had lunch at a sushi place, Sanraku and omg. I can’t get over the food in this city. The population of San Francisco is extremely diverse so there is every connotation of food (and some of it gluten free!) around. And the roll I had was amazing – avocado, cucumber, and tobiko on the inside, with salmon and lemon slices on top. NOMMMM.

We explored North Branch, and passed by Coit Tower, which overlooks the whole city. We saw the spiraling of Lombard Street. We made it to Fisherman’s Wharf again, where we watched as the fog eclipsed Shutter Island and as piles of sea lions basked in the attention of tourists.

A cathedral, Union Square, and Chinatown

A cathedral, Union Square, and Chinatown

Dinner that night was at a club called the Battery, which is more of an actual club, than a nightlife club. We ended up sitting outside, having more wine!, and getting vittles. I had these rice crackers with black sesame seeds in them, and tuna poke, which was chunks of raw/seared tuna with avocado, macadamia nuts, and big tobiko. See?! I WOULD GET SO FAT IN SF.

We walked back to the hotel afterwards, and my legs were crying. And then it was our last night… very tragic, but we did enjoy all the TCHO chocolates the hotel left on our pillows.

Like all trips, it was over far too soon. Hopefully my next trip will be sooner rather than later!

Love always,
Gabriele

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Accomplished! Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown!

Happy belated Lunar New Year! For the first time, I went to the Chinese New Year Parade in Manhattan’s Chinatown. I’d been to Chinatown once or twice before but never for the Lunar New Year. And with it being the Year of the Ram beginning, I had to go. One’s Chinese zodiac year only comes around every 12 years, after all.

Luckily the weather actually agreed. I felt warm in the sunshine, despite the slush under my feet and the piles of snow on the sidewalks. Vendors sold firecrackers along the parade route, while business went along as usual for some. Fish markets laid out their catches openly and my friends joked I should have a raw fish or two while they pigged out on dumplings. We ooh’d and ahh’d over all the jade figurines and fans we wanted to buy. But… later! There was a parade to see!

lunar new year 2015

Once the parade started, it was magnificent! Performers drummed and danced along the street, decked in colorful costumes. Floats all flaunting pictures and symbols of rams drifted by. There were even people dressed in adorable lamb onesies. Oh, and of course there were dragons, which were my favorite! Oddly enough, some of these floats were sponsored by the most random assortment of companies: Wells Fargo and Verizon among them. Even Senator Chuck Schumer was there.

Firecrackers went off all around us, sending glitter and confetti twirling into the sky (and tangling impossibly in our hair). People watched from the rooftops, and some on the fire escape even joined in filling the sky with more confetti (and… our hair). A child on the shoulders of their parent reached out to catch the confetti in his tiny hands.

We went exploring for dumplings and food after a while. But since my friend’s family owns a Chinese restaurant, we didn’t consider it too big of a sacrilege when we settled on a Japanese barbecue place!

gyukaku

I’ve never been to Gyu-Kaku before, but there are several in the city. You order some meats or veggies (all veggies, in my case), and they marinade them in different soy sauces. You then get to have the fun of grilling them right in the center of your table, like your own little hibachi. Chef hats not included.

As someone with celiac, I always worry about cross-contamination and getting ‘glutened’ but there’s a fresh grill on the table for each use. And I just grilled my veggies before my friends had their food. So yummy! Will definitely need to go back.

So. My celebration of the Lunar New Year is complete. I hope this year of the Ram is a fantastic one! My next related bucket list goal is to see Lunar New Year in an actual Asian country! Maybe by the next year of the Ram?

Love always,
Gabriele

Accomplished: Try Short Hair

So I chopped off all of my hair.

Let’s preface this with a little backstory. So. Every couple of years, I get the devious urge to do something ridiculous with my hair.

Super short

Chopped.

It all started when I was four and the much cooler, much awesome-er, middle school girls down the street got bangs. I, too, HAD to have bangs then and there, and so I chopped them messily into my hair… Right before a ballet recital. Whoops.

Then there was the time at Young Shakespeare camp (my nerdiness started way, way young) where my camp bestie who cut her own hair, gave me an impromptu set of bangs and layers – right before I went on stage as the snarky Boyet in Love’s Labour’s Lost. A haircut that I tried with epic failure to replicate on my best friend. I still cringe about that.

I went blonde in college, and as a penny-pinching student, decided that dying my roots couldn’t be all that hard. I was very, very wrong. My roommate got quite a good laugh out of my bright, neon orange hair, and graciously loaned me a hat to wear to class. My hairstylist clucked his tongue and fixed it, only after whacking my hands and making me promise to “never, ever, do that again”.

Flash forward about four years. I’ve returned to my mousy brunette locks. But I am restless. I am in love with the fairylike short hair of Audrey Hepburn, Ginnifer Goodwin, and countless other beauties. It’s summer. It’s time for a change.

Well, I reasoned that if I was cutting all my hair off, I could just go to a barber shop, right? The one in town cut girls’ hair. The woman there hacked haphazardly at my hair, leaving me with something that more looked like Mulan’s hasty attempt to join the army disguised as a man. Eyes on the clock, I sped to the next town over and took refuge in a salon. My angel was a curly haired redhead stylist who took one look at my desperate face and salvaged my tresses.

And that was the very dramatic, hopefully very last time that I attempt to cut corners when it comes to my hair.

So! Things I have learned as a card-carrying shorthaired woman:
• It dries faster! Yay!
• I look exactly like how my grandmother kept her hair, all my life – causing my dad and uncle to do a double-take when they saw me
• Less attention from skeevy guys, more attention from hipster/nerdy guys
• Less being mistaken for a high-schooler
• Short hair is addictive. You will want to go shorter. Sigh – I’m in love with pixie cuts, but they’re terribly expensive to maintain…
• You will receive at least one “are you a lesbian?” and a “you’re so brave” comment
• Bobby pins = new best friends

I don’t know if I’m going to keep it this short, grow it back, or go full pixie, but it’s definitely fun to change things up every once in a while!

Love Always,
Gabriele