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,



Name: Jes
Age: 20
Hometown: Westchester, NY
Favorite Food: My mom’s spaghetti and meatballs with my grandma’s sauce
Superpower: Read minds; teleportation


Jes isn’t a stranger on Brilliant Buckets – you’ll recognize her as my vivacious best friend who traipsed across Europe with me! Though she’s too tough on herself, Jes is a beam of pure sunshine shining on the rest of the world. She’s laughter and warmth, as she tries to capture life’s fleeting beauty in the snapping of her camera lens. If you’re in trouble, Jes is there, before you even think to ask. She has the craziest knack for remembering the exact date of obscure events and as you can see, does pretty incredible things with make-up. She also watches entirely too much television, even the cheesiest shows. But that’s more proof of her genuine nature. Jes happens to be a believer. She believes in happy ever afters for everyone, beyond the TV screen.

–       Make candy sushi

–       Visit all 50 states. Completed 23 so far, and three continents.

–       Visit all seven continents. Do South America and Antarctica in one fell swoop. Go to Panama to see both oceans

–       See the Great Wall of China.

–       Road trip across the United States. The World’s Largest Sandwich or Yogurt cup. Random crap like that would be so fun to see.

–       See the Northern Lights. “I’ve been to five places that have the Northern Lights, but never at the right time.”

–       Drink beer at Oktoberfest; “I don’t even like beer.”

–       Mardi Gras in New Orleans

–       “I want to throw a dart on a map and just go where it lands”

–       On that note, “throw a dart at a wall and whatever it lands on, get a tattoo. I’d have to make sure it has a lot of tattoos I’d want.”

–       Have a photo in National Geographic magazine. “One of my Africa photos probably.”

–       Publish my own photo book. “Probably of my family. They don’t like how I portray them. They were beautiful photos, but not beautiful photos of them. Now they shut off when I take photos, but it’s the first body of work I’m really proud of.”

–       Go on a romantic date

–       Fall in love and have kids. “At least three, I want to say. It depends on what we’d decide together. I wouldn’t have more than five.”

–       Conquer a fear. “I don’t have anything specific, but everyone’s afraid of something.”

–       Ride a mechanical bull at a bar, while wearing a cowboy hat

–       Fire a gun

–       Be a movie or TV show extra (for Buffy or Charmed if they were still on air!)

–       “Get to my goal weight and do a shopping spree of really tiny clothes. And then I’m going to feast. I’m an eater and I’ve always been an eater – that’s not going to change no matter my weight.”

–       Solve a Rubik’s cube

–       Rescue a dog from an animal shelter, ideally a corgi

–       Live somewhere other than New York, probably California. “I wouldn’t want to live in LA. Too much traffic and no subways. Beach house maybe, that’d be cool if I could afford it. I don’t think I’d ever want to live in a foreign country for a while.”

–       Go skinny dipping

–       Have an awesome apartment. “I think it’s unnecessary to have a house if you don’t have kids. I want really funky furniture – really strange, really bright colors but comfortable.”

–       “Be as satisfied with my portfolio as I could be. Be consistent with my work. I’d love to make it into the mentor program at SVA. I want to know what I want before I graduate.”

–       Honeymoon somewhere warm on a beach. A nice tropical island.

–       Dream wedding – “Somewhere outside with lots of flowers. A big fairytale wedding. Gazebo, rose petals. Really, my dream wedding is my entire family getting along.”

–       Always wanted a really nice designer dress, a beautiful floor-length one to wear to fancy events. “It would have to have some sort of black lace in it.”

–       Learn how to ballroom dance. “I don’t mind acting like a fool but I’d like to learn.”

–       Learn how to cook. “I want to be able to cook all of my mom’s recipes without having to call her to walk me through it because I’m afraid to burn the house down.”


Name: Evan
Age: 20
Hometown: Westchester, NY
Coveted Superpower: To fly
If he lived in Avatar he’d: be an Earthbender


Evan has been one of my friends since high school, where we were shy, bumbling, and awkward together. We worked summers at our town’s day camp, blistering in the summer sun, enduring endless eternal bus rides, and for Evan, dodging my little campers swarming him. He reminds me of a lovable puppy – goofy in the best way possible, always smiling, and fiercely loyal to his friends. Since our thorny high school days, Evan’s really grown into an impressive person that I’m proud to call my friend. He stands straight and tall, and moves with the smooth confidence of a man who knows what he wants from life and is not afraid to face it head on.

–       Go on tour with a band. “That’s definitely my number one.  Even just a band I start. It doesn’t have to be any popular band, just with a bunch of friends – play music, on tour, on a bus, for weeks. Be gross and smelly.”

–       “Learn to sing because I can’t.”

–       Release a AAA game. “I don’t want to be programmer; I want to be the designer behind it. RPGs are definitely one of my favorite things to design because there is so much that goes into it; there’s a lot to do. Maybe a class based game, because of the different characters to design.”

–       Go to Tokyo, for both the technology and culture. “I want to see, oh what’s over on this side of the world?”

–       Go to Hawaii; learn to surf  – “not necessarily a bucket list item, but something I want to learn eventually. Maybe not in this life, maybe my next one, but definitely surfing. Maybe not the whole surfer attitude with the long wavy hair, no shirt, the weird beads all over myself. ”

–       Go to Sydney and the rest of Australia, camp out in the outback with friends

–       Go to Germany for Beerfest, aka Oktoberfest, “because why not?”

–       Learn two languages: Japanese and ASL

–       Road trip from the East Coast to the West Coast with a bunch of friends and go along Route 66. “We’ll stop at all the local places, find weird food challenges, and all of the cheesy sights that everyone should see. It’s seeing the country for what it actually is. We’re seeing the entire country. Just get a group of your best friends and go. See what the United States is, without the tour. I want to be the tourist in my own country for once.”

–       Take a vacation with entire group of friends.

–       Own a corgi and a black lab at the same time. “I’m all about dogs. I love dogs; I love my black lab. I’ve grown up with them so I can’t see myself not getting one in the future. And I think corgis are absolutely hilarious and adorable. The corgi is going to be the comic relief of my life. Name them Waffles and Syrup. I was going to get a black lab corgi mix and name it McGriddle, but I thought that was going a little overboard. Three dogs… I can’t take care of three. I don’t want to be the crazy dog guy.”

–       End up in California – “That’s where I want to be – an apt in SoCal, with two dogs, walking on the beach, and just live the life. And then probably convince all my friends to move out there with me. Because I don’t want to leave them.”

–       If game design doesn’t work out, get into animal psychology

–       If game design AND animal psychology don’t work out, get into the National Guard, Coast Guard, or Air Force. “If I cannot flourish as a person in the business world, at least let me do something productive for someone else.”

–       Have dream car: a 1969 cherry red mustang. “It’s classic, it’s American, it’s all I need”

–       Be an extra in a movie

–       Have a family; just be happy. No laundry list of details for a soul mate – “As long as being in their presence is enjoyable, that’s all I ask for.”

–       Maybe try voice acting, “for a movie or a show, or even a video game; that would be totally awesome.”

–       Fly a fighter plane. “Both my grandfathers fought in World War II, and flying has always been a dream of mine. I’ve already taken flight lessons and I don’t really like commercial planes or small private planes. It definitely would have to be a fighter, like a raptor or an F-16; those are what actually intrigue me the most. The day an Iron Man suit is purchasable, I will invest all my money in it. I will drop my house; drop everything just to own one of those. A personal flight suit that allows me to fly anywhere in less than an hour, that’s okay with me. ”


Name: Marie
Hometown: Westchester, NY/Bronx, NY
Favorite Quotes: “Brevity is the soul of wit,” Dorothy Parker; “Don’t panic,” Douglas Adams
Trapped on a desert island foods: Lasagna and strawberries


Today’s bucket list is a very near and dear person whom I share 50% of my genetic code with – my darling mother! I love my mom. I call her Mamasan. She’s an incredible font of knowledge about English literature, gardening, and humorous life lessons from her absurd Italian-American childhood. She never kept my brother or me on a tight leash, but she was firm about us cultivating our curious minds with reading and exploration. There weren’t many rules – my mom knew that sometimes you had to leave your flowers alone for them to grow. She’s an amazing person just to be around, and her bucket list echoes with the tranquility, poise, and dash of eccentricity that I’ve come to associate with my mother.


– Spend at least a season in Europe

– Have an apartment in Manhattan. “That’s like my springboard to another world. It’s never boring. You can grow old as gracelessly as you want. You can have a Mohawk, slippers, a little dog, and lipstick when you’re 90 and no one has to know shit about you. You can be private and in the middle of things at the same time.”

– Make jewelry and get back to sculpting. “I would sculpt things that I would cast in silver, like interesting little figurines– things that would be kind of like amulet. People carry rabbits’ foot or a rosary or whatever, so like little things people could see and have on them and hold onto.”

– Write. “I could amuse myself for hours just from writing.”

– Work with plants or in a nursery. “I used to want to hybridize things, make my own creations. I’m fascinated with the idea of bringing back the American Elms. I was never really good at painting but to me gardening is like 3D painting.”

– Visit the Smithsonian

– Visit the Vatican and its museum – “They’re supposed to have an astonishing art collection, plus I love old buildings. I love run-down buildings too. People want to go to Vegas for the lights; I’d want to go see the desert and the rocks.”

– Go back to Australia and explore more of it, especially the nature.

– Learn how to drive stick shift.

– Spend time in San Francisco. “There’s a train that runs all the way up to Seattle, and down to San Diego, I really wanted to take it. It’s very beautiful to look up the coast. It’s nice to walk on the beach and just keep walking and walking and actually have very pretty things off in the distance.”

– Spend time in Montauk, Long Island.


– “I’d love to go to one of those [observatory] places and look up at the stars through one of those very cool, fantastically expensive telescopes. I find it fascinating, I could stare at those things all night. You look close, they’re just these burning fizzling balls of energy. It’s very strange, it’s kind of like looking an ember from the fireplace, but it doesn’t change, it doesn’t go out, it doesn’t get smaller, it’s just there. It sort of makes me feel connected to the universe.”

– Go to a resort in the middle of nature, like a tree house hotel.

– “I’d like to try a proper French meal one day just because I’m curious. Is it really that good, is it worth it? Or are you just going to walk out of there and say, ‘I could use McDonalds or a slice or pizza right now’”

– Reread all of Paradise Lost and actually understand it. “Literature is brain-food.”

– Learn Italian

– Go horseback riding again

– “I always wanted a little house in the woods somewhere. Aside from my Manhattan apartment, fantasy would be house in the woods somewhere, off on my own. It’d sort of be like those little English cottages where mostly you’re heating it by chucking wood in the fireplace and you can be completely self-sufficient. And it’s quiet and peaceful and you can watch the wildlife go through your yard. Have a dog or two. If I wanted just to retreat there as an old lady and be eccentric I could. If it snowed out and I didn’t leave for two weeks, I’d be okay. I’d have my books and I’d be snug and warm.”

– Learn how to handle/fire a weapon, either a firearm or archery

– “I always thought it would be fun to have a falcon. You have it on your glove or shoulder and you can send it out, it does your bidding, and then it comes back. I don’t know that I actually want one, I just like the notion of it.”

– Live with love.

– Get back into weight-lifting

– Take a trip with best friend across the world, probably to friend’s home in the Philippines, and experience a completely different culture.

– See wonders of the world. Both natural wonders and architectural ruins or castles. “I would love to do that; or just living in a town that’s been there for two thousand years. America, we’re like babies compared to these places.”