Tag Archives: Seattle

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.

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I Left My Heart in San Fran Seattle

16 Sep

It’s been a pretty hectic few weeks. James and I spent the last few days in Seattle doing some whirlwind socialising (more blog posts on that later!), culling our possessions (argh – stuff creep despite our best intentions) and organising the final details of our move. I’ve been in a bit of a funk since moving and don’t have my blogging mojo back yet, so here’s an abbreviated, somewhat depressing, update:

The Bad

I miss Seattle and our friends. I spent the first week in San Francisco intensely homesick. That didn’t happen when we left Melbourne, which is strange because Melbourne to Seattle is a way bigger move and we were leaving close friends and family for a whole other freaking country. I don’t know why it hit me so hard this time. I actually try not to think about Seattle because then I start crying and I can’t stop.

I’m sure that eventually I’ll get used to it, but right now I’m pretty upset at the prospect of spending almost double to live in a city I don’t love as much and having to make friends all over again. I don’t want new friends – I want our friends. =( So yeah, James feels awful because he felt like he’d pressured me into moving here (which he totally didn’t) and I feel horrible for ruining what should be a really exciting time for him. James always tells me that my one job is to be happy. He’s always given me anything I’ve wanted and I can’t even manage to do this for him.

I haven’t found a replacement gym either (which I’m sure isn’t helping). I should probably start doing some bodyweight exercises so I don’t waste away into nothing. I bet I can’t even do pull-ups anymore.

The Good

James loves his new job. He said he gets to use really innovative technologies an the projects he’s working on are even more interesting than they had led him to expect. He really enjoyed his time at Amazon, but he said Google is on a whole other level.

I can see how much happier he is working on something that he’s passionate about – the famous (and in no way exaggerated) Google perks are just the icing on the cake.

Moving Forward

James said that if I still hate San Francisco after 18 months he will transfer to the Seattle office. He said that my happiness is his number one priority, but his happiness is my number one priority! I really hope that I can learn to appreciate it here – I know that Seattle didn’t feel “right” to me until we moved out of corporate housing so maybe that’s the case here. We have two more months of free housing and I don’t want to give up the ability to save all that extra money even if it means being occasionally homesick and mopey.

Maybe in six months I’ll be able to look back on this post and laugh at how silly I was being. I was hoping I’d have a happier update for you guys, sorry. =(

A Visit to Google in Seattle

20 Aug

Apparently Google has three campuses in Washington State: Kirkland, Fremont and Bothell in order of size. This morning Luke invited me and James (well originally Chuck and James, but Chuck had something come up last minute) to have breakfast with him at Google in Fremont.

It’s a pretty small campus – just two buildings. From what Luke showed us there seemed to be a cafeteria and cafe in each building, plus the usual well-stocked microkitchens everywhere. The restaurants were decorated with things like painted tyres, propellers, and Fremont Troll artwork.

Also if you know me you know that I go kind of crazy when there’s free food. For breakfast Luke had what looked like cereal and cream (he said it was parfait) and James had some pancakes. I had pancakes, scrambled eggs, breakfast sausages, hash browns, green beans, carrots, juice and a croissant. =(

This is the restaurant in the other building, though it’s not open for breakfast. I think Luke described it as having pizza and tacos.
IMG_2676He also showed us the gym, which is about the size of a regular apartment gym but heaps better. They have two squat racks, kettlebells, heaps of weighted vests, and even heart rate monitors that you can borrow. The gym is right next to the water so they also have paddleboards and kayaks that you can take out.

But this was my favourite part of the tour:

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Claw machine, ohhh yeah.

You could play for free by getting a play token from reception. It was play until you win, and the claw was nice and grippy, not like those bullshit loose ones. I’m happy to report that James and I both got ours on the first try.

Inside the claw machine was various Google swag. Little soft toy keyrings, mini footballs, water bottles, t-shirts, and randomly some Google slippers. Those little white rectangles that say “Google” on them are actually t-shirts (I thought they were notepads) and when I realised that the “L” was actually the Space Needle I thought it would be an awesome souvenir! We were debating the ethics of asking for another token but a guy that worked there told us that reception would just give us a t-shirt if we asked.

Behold!
IMG_4509The t-shirt has the Space Needle, Rainier, Lake Union (?) and a forest. I wonder if all the Google campuses have locally themed t-shirts?

Mouse was a big fan of the toy (James: I knew the cats would like it):

IMG_4545Even though the office was small compared to Mountain View, it was really cute. And there’s definitely something to be said for not needing shuttles or bikes to get around campus. And the claw machine!

We have a little over two weeks until we move to the Bay Area and James starts work. We allowed extra time in case something went wrong – Australia Post losing James’ passport is still in recent memory. But everything went smoothly in Mexico and we had a great time, so watch out for a blog post about that soon!

I Bet the Germans Have a Word for HappySad

6 Aug

I get soo many hits on my blog from people looking for information about Amazon interviews and/or relocation. (I also get recognised on the street more often than you would think!) So it’s sad to be posting this, but James will be leaving Amazon at the end of this month. =(

Even more sadly we will be leaving Seattle. I can’t tell you how much I love it – the weather is perfect, it’s close to beautiful hikes and amazing snowboarding, and we’ve made such wonderful friends. Honestly I feel like I could have lived the rest of my life here. I don’t even get hayfever which is freaking astounding.

So why would we leave? Because James has accepted a job offer in California! He’ll be working for Google in an area he’s passionate about, so I’m absolutely thrilled for him.

It wasn’t something he’d planned in advance (as our SEA-LAX-MEL flights, my half-used CSA subscription and completely un-used 2014-15 season’s pass will attest to) but once the ball started rolling everything moved pretty fast. We just came back from a location scouting trip in the Bay Area and later this week we’re heading to Mexico to get our visas sorted. Then at the end of the month we’re moving into corporate housing in San Francisco!

These next few weeks will be pretty hectic. I’m super sad at leaving all our friends and this beautiful city but happy that James will be working at his dream job. So yeah, HappySad.

Skillet Diner

1 Jul

Skillet Diner
1400 E Union St, Seattle

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I’ve been meaning to go to Skillet Diner for ages, and last Friday James and I were in an eating out mood. It was Pride Weekend, so the whole neighborhood was celebrating and rainbowed up.

We arrived about 20 minutes early for our reservation but there was room so they seated us straight away.

We ordered cocktails to start – I had a Brunch 75 ($9) with vodka, st. germain, prosecco and grapefruit juice and James ordered a Smoky Paloma ($10) which was basically a grapefruity margarita. Later in the meal he ordered a Basically a Fancy Old Fashioned ($9) which used jicama-infused whiskey. They came in cute, teeny tiny hipster Mason jars.

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I had the ultimate grilled cheese ($11) with bacon jam ($2) and fried chicken ($5) and a side of poutine ($3). I could have gotten a side salad instead but I prefer the “heart attack on a plate” look.

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The poutine was crazy dense. It was also only a bit above room temperature, so even though it was tasty the combination of lukewarm-ness and sliminess was a bit off-putting. I probably would get fries next time.

The grilled cheese was amazing! Perfectly browned and I loved the combination of the cheese, bacon jam and chicken thigh. I ate half the sandwich and maybe a third of the poutine. James polished off the poutine and I took the rest of my grilled cheese home for breakfast the next day.

James ordered the special of the day – Denver lamb ribs – juniper coriander crust, yuzu marmalade, adobo marinated grilled pineapple, grilled corn, frisee, english peas and charred spring onions ($29).

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It came in a skillet (“how eponymous!” James might say).

The meat was super tender and had a really interesting flavour. I think James particularly liked the marmalade, which added a touch of sweetness and wasn’t nearly as marmalade-y as you’d expect. It’s exactly the sort of meal I love ordering at restaurants – delicious with PITA flavour combinations that you would never consider making at home. Definitely worth ordering!

We were super full at this stage – and remember that I’d only managed about half my meal. But when we eat out I always want to have dessert! James ordered the doughnut holes ($6).

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They were light, warm and fresh. Also way more massive than he had anticipated.

There were a lot of awesome-looking desserts but because I was so full I ordered what looked like the lightest option – the cheesecake in a jar ($6)

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It was nice but not outstanding; I’ve definitely had better cheesecakes. The strawberry layer was a bit too gelatin-y and I think it suffered from not having the usual ratio of topping to cheesecake.

James definitely got the best of the ordering competition that night, but overall we were both really pleased with the meal. There were multiple menu items that I wouldn’t mind going back to try – namely the boozy shakes, some of the fried desserts and the fried chicken.

The walk home initially started as a waddle, but the food wasn’t heavy in our stomachs for long – impressive given their fried-ness. I was expecting to feel way worse afterwards. Perhaps it’s because we were in a good mood but we both agreed that Skillet Diner was one of the best dining experiences we’ve had in Seattle. It’s one of the few places here that’s lived up to the hype for me (the others that come to mind are Paseo’s and Shiro’s) and I’d highly recommend it.
Skillet Diner on Urbanspoon

The Quintessential Seattle Hike: Mount Si

12 Jun

A few weekends ago it was a beautiful day and we needed to use our Zipcar quota for the month so James and I decided to hike Mount Si. It’s a 3150 foot (960 meter) elevation gain over 8 miles, so a nice leg workout.

I read somewhere that it’s the most hiked trail in Washington, so we were prepared for crowds. We arrived in the parking lot around 9:15am, snagging one of the last available parking spots.

As you can see it’s not particularly scenic on the way up. The majority of the route is through the trees, so at least you don’t have the sun on you.
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Most people on Yelp said they reached the summit basin in 2.5 hours, one guy ran up in under an hour, and someone said that 2 hours was reasonable for someone in decent shape. James wasn’t feeling 100% (getting over a cold and some lingering asthma) but we made it up in 1.5 hours.

I often had to trot to keep up with James. It was pretty much constant uphill broken up by slightly steeper uphills. I do feel that my hill sprints paid dividends here – I definitely couldn’t sustain a jog but it wasn’t a huge deal to break into an uphill run every so often to catch up to James.

Also, and I’m sure this is only interesting to me, but my glutes only started getting sore during the last 20% of the ascent. I’m super quad-dominant so I think that’s how long it took for my quads to tire out and stop doing all the work.

As predicted, it was a really busy hike. We were constantly passing people on the way up and there was a steady stream of people on their way down. This is how many people were at the entrance to the summit basin, and by the time we left it was 2-3 times as packed.
IMG_3682It was entertaining doing some people-watching. Hikers ran the gamut from young kids to the elderly, the super fit to the obese. Some people were in jeans and others were kitted out with massive packs and hiking poles (and James got a fair few comments about his Vibrams). We also passed a brave little chihuahua.

We spent some time exploring the area; scrambling over rocks and finding nice views (protip: pretty much everywhere had a nice view).
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The good thing about the summit basin was that it was really spread out, so even with the crowds it was easy to find somewhere secluded to sit and admire the view.

This was where we had lunch (I may have taken James by surprise when I took this photo).
IMG_3708After lunch we decided to climb the Haystack, which is the true summit of Mount Si. When we were hiking up we hadn’t decided either way, but once we saw it we thought it was doable.
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On a sunny, dry day like ours it wasn’t difficult (lots of easy handholds and places to put your feet), but it is a little scary because if you lose your footing you can fall a long way, and apparently people have died doing it. Plus sometimes people higher up would accidentally kick loose rocks down.

There were a lot of people attempting it but not many people made it all the way up. I don’t think we saw any of the people in this photo at the top.
IMG_3716Funnily enough, although James is afraid of heights – he doesn’t even like being in a chairlift – he was fine climbing the Haystack. He said he doesn’t like relying on things that aren’t himself to keep from falling.
IMG_3717Although the WTA website recommends against climbing the Haystack I was really glad we did it, and James said it was his favourite part of the hike.

The view at the top was pretty similar to the basin, but I guess a bit more panoramic. I don’t think it’s worth climbing to get the slightly less obstructed view, but if you feel like some additional work and are a completionist it’s nice to get to the true summit.
IMG_3723It’s also a lot less crowded at the top – maybe 5-10 people at a time compared to 100+ spread around the summit basin. We chatted to the others up there and had a nice time just looking around and taking everything in.

IMG_3726Going down the Haystack was trickier than going up, but there weren’t any worrying parts. Some bits it was easier to do facing the wall and other parts it was easier to face out.
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But yeah, not technically difficult by any means – just a matter of taking it slow and making sure you had good footing.

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By the time we’d finished mucking around on top it had gotten massively more busy at the summit base as a several big groups arrived. Mount Si is the wrong hike if you’re after a solitary experience, but it’s as challenging as you choose to make it with a phenomenal view (and optional fun climb) to reward you at the end.
IMG_2100We trotted the whole way down, but it didn’t make much difference to our time – maybe because I was in the lead. A slow jog down, not even fast enough to start breathing heavily, was about as fast as I felt comfortable going, and our descent took 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Afterwards we met up with Rian and Sandra for dinner at Marination Ma Kai in West Seattle for victory fish and chips, fries and sliders.
IMG_3759I don’t think the food is as good as their other locations (still tasty!), but it makes up for it with cocktails and the view across the water towards Seattle. It was a beautiful end to a beautiful Seattle day.
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Hike at Poo Poo Point

2 Jun

Hee. Poo Poo.

A couple of weeks ago some friends organised a hike at Poo Poo Point. It’s a 7.4 mile (12 km) round trip with a 1650 foot (503 meter) elevation, so probably the easiest of the hikes we’ve done in Washington. It’s a very popular hike through a forest and quite narrow for most of the way. There was a sign warning about bears and cougars but we didn’t see any. =(

This was near the start and one of the widest parts of the trail:

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Since I skipped hill sprints that week I tried to jog up some of the hills. It was surprisingly okay, especially since then I got longer breaks while I waited for people to catch up.

Poo Poo Point is definitely one of those hikes where the payoff is at the end. I kind of don’t mind hikes like that – on something like Yosemite’s Mist Trail I definitely want to stop to ooh and aah, but on trails where the scenery is a bit same-same I like to challenge myself a bit.

We did find a nice bridge though:
IMG_3617About 2/3 of the way through the hike James was assigned baby-carrying duty. James said it was like having a little furnace strapped to his chest. He was a good little baby though, and apart from some slight awkwardness when he tried to suck on James’ boob, was content to dangle there in quiet confusion.

IMG_3626I think at this point we saw a sign that made us worry we’d taken a wrong turn (we hadn’t). Notice TJ looking like a vengeful ghost in the background. You stoooole my baaaaaby …

The view from the top was beautiful. We were fortunate because it was a clear day so we could see Lake Sammamish and surrounds. There was also a green strip that hanggliders and paragliders use to launch.

IMG_3653This is my James. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

We set up at a picnic table and had some snacks, which attracted scavengers.
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Victory photo!

IMG_3658The descent is always a bit boring because you’ve already seen the scenery and it isn’t the same physical challenge that going uphill is. I did get a chance to test out my new (to hiking) shoes going downhill and they were fine – much better than my old runners (toes jamming against the front) and my Vibrams (even worse – toe webbing jamming against the front).

Afterwards we had Victory BBQ. That’s right, Victory BBQ is a thing. A delicious, delicious thing.