Finally Adjusting to San Francisco

8 May

I don’t want to jinx it but I think after 8+ months in San Francisco I’ve finally gotten over my homesickness. It was truly awful for a really long time. A short, but by no means exhaustive list: I would cry (not even tear up; like, legit sobbing) when I heard my parents’ voices, when I saw anything Seattle-related and when I saw heartwarming scenes of people surrounded by friends and family on TV. It’s better for James too because he was feeling guilty and stressed worrying over me – he said that he used to panic if he missed the first bus home.

Our social calendar is more jam-packed in San Francisco than it was in Seattle. We still don’t have a group like we did in Seattle but we have lots of individual friends and that is getting us by for now. A few weekends ago we went to a lame Cinco de Mayo celebration in the Mission with Eliot and Michelle. There were a couple of food trucks but the stalls were mainly commercial – like for insurance and lasik eye surgery. Laaaame.

This was the only slightly non-crappy business stall at Cinco de Mayo – the Wheel of Rice where you could spin the wheel to win silly little prizes like spatulas and get free rice samples.

IMG_20150502_134219(I don’t remember making Mr. Burns hands)

Then on Sunday we had lunch with Bo and Christine in Mountain View, dinner with Chris and Alex in San Jose, and post-dinner Game of Thrones with Eliot and Michelle.

When we were talking with Chris and Alex, Alex was talking about how much she hated San Jose (which I totally get – every time James and I drive down that way it’s a huge reminder how we would absolutely hate to live there. It’s just so sprawly – nothing but houses and roads, and the weather is way too hot). But when Alex was talking about how miserable she was it made me realise that I wasn’t anymore.

A big part of it is that I’ve found a teeny tiny circle of friends. Helen and Anne Marie are also free during the week so we meet up every week for walks and girly things like brunch and afternoon tea. Last month we went to Kitchen Story (which blows Melbourne brunches out of the water. James wants to go because I keep raving about it) and a couple of weeks ago we had afternoon tea in Japantown. Then this week a bunch of us went to Erica’s rooftop pink party (where I got horribly drunk off just three cocktails).


image stolen from Erica

James and I have also been going to a board game meetup every fortnight. Everyone there is super nice and it reminds me of playing games with our friends back in Seattle. And James found out that he actually has friends in common with two of the board game guys!

Now that I’m not miserable anymore hopefully I can get back into the swing of things with gym and writing. I’m also very conscious that I’ve been neglecting the blog! We’ve been doing a bunch of stuff so I have a backlog of updates. =)

Hiking Around Mount Tamalpais and Lunch at Fish.

28 Apr

Last Sunday we went hiking with Daphne, Chris, Lisa and Cagri. It was a beautiful sunny day – perfect hiking weather, which I’m learning seems to be almost every day here.

The drive up was pretty packed, but I think there were enough different trails that no individual trail was particularly busy. This is us at the start of the hike.


image from Chris

We intended to do the Rock Creek loop but there were a lot of crossroads and the trail wasn’t well-signed (which was weird because it wasn’t a remote area – at some points we were walking next to cars on the road). I think we managed to stay on the trail for most of it, but we made a wrong turn somewhere in there because we finished much faster than we should have.

Never mind, there were so many hikes in the same area that we just started on another one!

Attachment 3

image from Lisa

We had a peek at the Mountain Theater where they were rehearsing what looked like Peter Pan. The construction was super elaborate and you could see the water from the top seats.
IMG_20150426_110436Then we kept randomly walking. It was a pretty easy hike through meadows and then forest. I preferred the forest parts because we weren’t in the sun as much.

After the hike we drove to Sausalito for lunch at Fish., a super popular cash-only restaurant. We got there around 1:30pm and there was a massive line.
IMG_20150426_132551It took a long time to get to the front, and the line stayed out the patio gate until around 3pm. At least you could buy drinks while you waited, so everyone got beers and I had a nice refreshing water.

James and I ordered fish and chips and some BBQ oysters. At just under $60 for the two of us it was pretty expensive, especially for a cash-only place!

The food was great though, and the portions were generous. I couldn’t finish mine and had to give James one of my fish and a big handful of chips.
IMG_20150426_142314Stuffed, we went home where I napped until it was time for us to go to Eliot and Michelle’s place to watch Game of Thrones and eat brownies.

It was a pretty busy Sunday but it was nice to get out and explore a bit. =)

Android Perks!

2 Apr

Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile – James’ brother came to visit for a week and then we were in Mammoth for another week.

One of the nice perks of James working in Android is that he gets a lot of free stuff to play with. He has a Sonos, two Nexus tablets, two watches and a Nexus 5 phone. And today all the people in Android were given these:
2015-04-02From left to right: Nexus 6, a gamepad for the Nexus and a Nexus Player.

The best part (for me) is that he gets to keep his old Nexus 5 phone, so he just needs to change it from a developer phone to a normal one and then I get a free upgrade! I’m so sick of my iPhone – it sucks not knowing if a charge will last for 5 hours or for 30 minutes.

He’s been enjoying work a lot and apparently all his projects have been going well. So the swag is a cool perk on top of loving his job and getting to work on interesting stuff. Oh yeah, and he gets to go to New York at the end of this month. =)

Surfing in Santa Cruz

19 Mar

A few months back Luke came to visit his team in Mountain View and stayed with us over the weekend. We made the drive down to Santa Cruz so he and James could go surfing (I don’t like surfing so I jogged along the cliffs).

We had a fairly unmemorable breakfast at one of the diners in the area and then James and Luke rented surfing gear at the newbie surf beach.

Apparently the surf conditions weren’t very good but it was still a beautiful day. And you know, photos can be massaged a little.

Here they are waiting for a wave:

0147c0cae9106b430e5aa6aa9f00e132c11d523166And James coming to greet me after my jog:
01e9637a91d8b198a0442e887ad2b8ba0c21882b5eThen at the end of the day.
01dc2d1df2a53fa2f372487e1ec82e0330233f7af0After they got changed we checked out the boardwalk amusement park. James waited in line for 20 minutes for an elaborate potato twisty thing that you could put different seasonings on (it was delicious).

While he waited, Luke and I walked around and looked at the rides. I told Luke I’d go on one ride with him and he carefully gauged my reaction to all of them until he found the one I was the most terrified of:
IMG_20141019_160341I screamed my head off. Luke spent the whole ride laughing at me and showing off by like, lifting his arms in the air.

Afterwards we dropped Luke off at the airport and headed back home. I’m glad that he’s able to visit every few months for work. We are making new friends here but it’s always good seeing old ones. =)

The Google Christmas Party

4 Mar

3 months late is better than never! And blurry photos are better than none!

Last December James and I went to the Google Android Christmas party (the company is too big so they have to split the parties into different departments). It was 1940s themed and held on the USS Hornet, an old aircraft carrier.
IMG_20141206_192403There was a lot going on as soon as we entered the carrier – music, food, drinks, games, etc. There were also tours of the ship but we didn’t sign up for those in time – bummer.

We both got some silly press-on tattoos to start the night.
IMG_5016There were lots of food and booze stations. James was drinking Old Fashioneds all night but I was more excited about the sushi.
IMG_5020 And the fresh donuts!
IMG_5021We met up with James’ coworkers and it was awesome to see how well-regarded he was, even after only a couple of months. One of the managers was introducing James to someone and was like “this is one of our new hires – and what a hire!” =D

We also rode in a fighter plane simulator and got to look at various exhibits. Here I am clutching my fresh donuts (also you can see my flaming skull bicep tattoo):
IMG_20141206_204423And here James is in one of the planes!
IMG_20141206_213213We also played some casino games like craps and blackjack with fake money.

You could walk up and down the (very narrow and rickety) levels of the aircraft carrier, and on the deck they had a band, some scotch tasting and souvenir cigars.
IMG_20141206_202642Of course, James and his friends decided they had to smoke cigars and drink scotch the rest of the night. =P We bummed some matches from some other people but it was really windy on the deck so they kept sputtering out. James eventually managed to light his cigar by using one of the lanterns inside.
IMG_5027Look at Jamesy. He thinks he’s so cool with his cigar, face tattoo and little hat.

It was a fun night (aside from James feeling a bit sick on the shuttle ride home). I’m looking forward to this year’s party because I have a couple of friends whose husbands work in Android so I’ll know some people in my own right. Plus I won’t be as crazy homesick as I was last year, so it will be even more fun! =)

Homesick in San Francisco; Wishing I Were Sleepless in Seattle

8 Feb

At the end of February James and I will have been in San Francisco for 6 months. Though I don’t know if it’s fair to count it as 6 months since we went back to Australia for a few weeks and were in corporate housing for 3 months.

I’m still desperately homesick. It’s better than it was (which was crying multiple times a day), but crying a couple of times a week still isn’t great. I’ve never been so sad in my life. If you know me in real life you know I’m really cheery, and I’ve had multiple people tell me that they can’t imagine me not smiling. I don’t recognise myself anymore. I’ve cried more in these past few months than I have the past 31 years. I’m rattled at how fragile my happiness apparently is.

It’s not like I’m living in Siberia or Afghanistan. San Francisco isn’t even very different from Seattle or Melbourne. I’m in a beautiful city in a beautiful house with the best husband in the world, but I can’t stop crying. First world problems indeed.

So here is a list to cheer me up:

Things I Like More About San Francisco

  • James’ career (better paid, more interesting, and the ceiling is higher here than it is in Seattle)
  • Better restaurants
  • Quality and cheapness of produce
  • More things going on in the city
  • Weather (this one is kind of half-hearted because I really liked the overcast drizzly weather in Seattle but people told me that after a few more years it would start to wear on me)

I started to make a list of things I liked more about Seattle but it just made me tear up.

Right now the plan is to stick it out until we can condo convert. That will add value to our place and also make it easier to sell. If I still hate it here we’ll sell and take a loss (which isn’t as bad as it sounds, because if James can keep his SF salary in Seattle it won’t take long to offset any money we lose). If I’m managing okay we’ll stay a few more years. I can imagine getting to a point where I no longer hate it here. I can no longer imagine loving it.

My parents called a couple of nights ago and I just bawled my eyes out. Dad was being sympathetic and telling me the things I have been telling myself – to keep busy, do fun things and establish a routine, and that as an adult I have to take care of myself. And then mum snatched the phone away from him and was like “your dad is wrong. I don’t care how old you are; you will always be my baby and I want you to come home for a month so I can take care of you.”

I can’t even type that without crying.

I miss being within walking distance of all our friends in Seattle. I miss snow-capped mountains. I miss grey skies, constant drizzle and green everywhere.

I miss long, slow days at Shoreham. I miss dinners with my parents. I miss laughing with my cousins. I miss the friends I’ve known since high school. I miss my sunburnt country.

I know this is my brain playing tricks on me. I know that the stress of buying a house has exacerbated my homesickness. I know that homesickness is more about missing familiar things and the sense of belonging, and the only reason I didn’t have it in Seattle was because we were absorbed into a friendship group so quickly.

James has been wonderful, and it helps to know that this isn’t necessarily forever. But if I’m asking him to give up his dream job for me I’m going to try as hard as I can to make that a last resort. We didn’t leave Seattle lightly and I have to trust the decision we made to move to San Francisco and not trust my depression-fogged brain. Because this isn’t me. I don’t get depressed. I’m cheery and happy and fun, and I make lemons out of lemonade.

We joined a gym, so I’m going to get back to my regular workouts. Once we have a working fridge I’ll be able to stock up on meat and vegetables. I’ve been going to meet-ups and have met some really nice people (and some promising couple-friends), but it’s like dating randoms when I want to be in a long-term relationship. I try to remind myself that our friends in Seattle and Melbourne were all randoms once, and as Chuck said, making good friends is just a numbers game. So I’m just taking things one day at a time, and maybe one day I’ll just wake up and be happy again.

Asian or Hispanic?

27 Jan

San Francisco has a much larger Hispanic population than Seattle (and Seattle in turn has more than Melbourne, where we have like, none). So to my chagrin, a lot of the time I have a hard time figuring out whether someone is Hispanic or Asian.

Not all Asians and Hispanics, obviously, but there is definitely an overlapping area where I can’t tell if people are Hispanic or maybe Filipino or half-Asian. Anyway, a couple of months ago I discovered that James has the same blind spot.

James: There’s a Chinese guy in my office who lives near us.
Me: Oh cool. What’s his name?
James: Rodrigo.


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