My first documentary

I have decided that I am going to make a documentary. I know I can do it and have always wanted to…so why not? Sure, I don’t have any money, equipment, or real connections, but I have ambition and the will to make it right. I’m really fascinated by urban art and, more specificly, this whole knitted graffiti thing going on. I recently realized the leader of the movement lives in Austin. Maybe she will let me film her and tag along. Here goes nothing!

it is a happy birthday, thank you for the wishes

26 is so far not so bad. I’ve never really had a problem getting older as long as I’m not stagnant in life. I use my birthday as a marker of another year gone by which I use to help evaluate what I’ve done. In the past year, I feel like I’ve grown a lot. I went to camp for the first time and got an experience that nothing can compare to. I have 3 jobs that sustain me. I traveled the country. I’m doing pretty well for myself. Why would I not want to get older? Sure I’m closer to the grave than I was last year but No wise man ever wished to be younger. I feel like I’m getting better with age like some cheese and wine. Mmm wine and cheese – yum!

On Monday my mom and I went out to celebrate my birthday. It’s tradition that we go to Olive Garden and treat ourselves. We always get appetizers and sometimes desserts too. It’s also tradition that we take a picture together at the table. We’ve been doing this for the last 8 years. It’s pretty cool if you look at all the pictures next to each other. Though it wasn’t my birthday yet it was a nice prologue to the weekend ahead. I started my real birthday off with drinking at the Austin Film Festival Closing Night (producer’s badge) party. For the second year in a row, John got his short in the Austin Film Festival and gave me his extra complimentary Producer’s Badge. We mostly were very chill with this year’s festival, maybe doing one event and one movie a day. I tried doing some panels but they knocked the energy out of me. After the opening weekend was over we only saw Black Swan and did the parties. Last night was the last party. It was fun just chillin’, talking to the usual festival junkies (like myself) and drinking our free Dos Equis. My lovely friend, Jean Lauer and I share a birthday and always end up running into each other on it. We chatted and did our thing.

So far, today, I feel like my day has been full of special gifts: I slept in a little (my boss wasn’t coming into to work today) and cuddled with my sweetie but Brodie wanted us to get up. After some morning bed playful sheet games, we begrudgingly got up. As if a gift from my bed, sheets and pillow, I did not have to do anything to my hair. My bedhead was the perfect balance of form and style for my work day. I slipped on my new dress that I bought on sale for myself from Urban Outfitters the day before, which hugged my every curve just the right way, grabbed an apple and some juice for breakfast and headed out on my bike to job 1. Austin gave another beautiful day for my birthday, 69°F Sunny without a cloud in the sky (74°F | 44°F); cold in the shade but perfect in the sun. The university, will more specifically the Communication building, gave me my favorite spot on the bike rack near my office. Rock star. I talked to my buddy, Greg, in LA who on top of calling to send his birthday wishes, he called to let me know of a gig for next weekend. John came by my office to deliver an actual birthday gift which is a beautiful watch necklace that I had pointed out to him I liked. I gushed over it for awhile but had to get back to work. Pandora gave me an awesome mix of songs which kept me very happy and working. Oh work. At job 2 my boss surprised me with cupcakes, a bottle of wine and a gift card which was way more than I had expected. All n all I feel very loved.

I’m not going to let my jobs get me down today. Job 1’s computer is being evil and won’t let me log in to do my work. I guess I wrote down the login’s password wrong. Job 2’s boss is sick and thus making more work for me on top of calling me into work on Saturday to pick up the slack. And Job 3 won’t be able to write me my paycheck until next week. AND if that wasn’t enough, I’ll probably be late to Job 2 today because I’m waiting for John to get back so I can use his car. My intern will probably hate me. This all doesn’t matter though. Tonight I will be eating at my favorite Indian food restaurant (the Clay Pit) with my friends. Tomorrow I will be do the Halloween thing and helping John with his Halloween party. Sunday I will be laying in the autumn sun, having a picnic at Zilker with my friends. AND AND AND Amy has been working on a cheesecake that she made from her grandmother’s recipe. It’s going to be awesome. I have a great weekend ahead of me.

I’m just feeling good and it’s good to feel good. I love birthdays because it gives me one day (or 3) to indulge in life, friends and love. Too cheesy? Fine, I like all the attention, even if for such a short amount of time.

I saw this quote and I thought it was appropriate even though it’s making my head swim: Today is the yesterday you worried about tomorrow.

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Amy and I got up kind of early because we had to go back to the Haight and return the bikes. We accidentally went on the right bus the wrong direction so it took us a little longer than we had expected. On the plus side, we got a bus tour of the city. Once we returned the bikes we anxiously went back to Rachel’s. We packed and got ready to leave. It was a very quiet morning. No one really wanted to talk. We were starving after the bike stuff and thought we’d eat burritos at Hol’s favorite place Taqueria El Farolito. They were okay but really greasy. I still like Papalote better. We walked back through the Mission to grab our stuff and go to the BART. We said our good byes to Rachel. It was sad. She and I got along as if we’d known each other for years. She’s an incredibly warm fun person.

The BART ride to airport was long. Again, we didn’t say much to each other. We didn’t want to leave. We were both going back to our stressful lives in Texas. Everything just seemed better in San Francisco, simpler. I wanted Rachel’s life, biking to her job, living in the Mission. I could do that in Austin and I do but something seems to be lacking. On the plane we watched Nick Swardson‘s comedy special on Comedy Center which coincidentally was filmed in Austin. When we landed John greeted us but lost his car in the parking garage. Everything was different. I don’t know if it’s because my ears hadn’t gone back to normal or what but it was as if the volume and saturation was turned down.

Finishing our lists

After our long day and late night, we let ourselves sleep in a little. Today was going to be the day we bike across the Golden Gate bridge and try to accomplish everything on our to-do lists. Yesterday was Amy’s big list day: we went to Ghiradelli and had Irish Coffees. Amy still needed to see the Haight and eat oysters. I, on the other hand, had barely started my San Francisco to-do list.

We headed to the Castro: Rachel knew of a great brunch place, Crepevine, that specialized in crepes. The food was good but with huge proportions. I ordered an omlette and Amy ordered a crepe and once I tasted hers, I wished I had ordered a crepe too. We walked around the Castro, checking out the sites: We saw  the Castro Theater, we people watched and we met the gayest dog in America. But after looking for Castro Camera without success and it getting later and later , we gave up and headed to the Haight.

The walk to the Haight was long and exhausting. Amy and I had probably walked more in the last couple days than we had in the last couple of months. We admired the beautiful houses on the way and imagined ourselves living there. The Haight was just as I had remembered, a mixture between old psychedelic ex hippies and modern day hipster united under the shared marijuana and fashion. We popped our heads in Ameba Music but kept on towards the bike rental shop. It was getting late and we weren’t sure if we’d make to the bridge in time.

After getting our bikes, putting on our helmets, we were ready for anything. The only snag was that Rachel and I had to keep stopping every now and then to check to see if we were going the right way. There were like 10 different bike routes and it got confusing going through Golden Gate Park and later Presidio. I realized very early on that Amy was not as excited by this experience as Rachel and I were. We kept on through the city towards the bridge with the occasional regrouping stops. In the Presidio we got a little lost. Thankfully there were more experienced bikers that stopped and told us where to go. We knew we were getting closer when we saw and stopped at the scenic points. After more hills, sharp curves and Amy cursing under her breath, we made it.

I’ve always been a fan of bridges. There’s something beautifully metaphoric about a structure that brings together two estranged pieces of land. The Golden Gate bridge is obviously a favorite bridge not just because of it’s vivid red color but also because of the stories it holds. Have you ever seen the documentary the Bridge? A film crew basically filmed the Golden Gate bridge for one year after finding out that it is the number one suicide destination and catch a bunch of people jumping off it. It’s such a compelling tragically beautiful film.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zwl-Pa_QT0M&fs=1&hl=en_US]

Once there Amy parked her bike decided she would rather walk across the bridge as we rode across it. I didn’t want to beg or push her to ride any more than she already did so I didn’t protest. It was sunset and as Rachel and I rode across I felt invincible. It was an amazing adrenaline rush. We did it. The whole experience was magical. There’s a feeling I get on a bike that I don’t get from anything else. I feel untouchable like I can do anything and go anywhere. It was windy up there but I hardly noticed. The sun light warmed our side of the bridge in a golden glaze of warmth. It’s hard to say how long we were up there but we definitely experienced the whole magic hour on the bridge.

We met back up with Amy and now that the sun had set behind the ocean it got ridiculously chilly. They grabbed some coffee and hot chocolate and we set off into the darkness in search of oysters for dinner. This ordeal felt like it took the longest of any of the other activities of the day. Everyone was tired and hungry and no one really knew where we were going. We headed towards to piers in hopes of some amazing sea food restaurant but settled on one mostly because of location. Amy got her oysters and we sat, relaxed and ate our dinner. Biking across the city does give you an appetite.

We followed Rachel back to the Mission. She took us a round-about way that she assured us had less hills and would be the quickest. I was starting to feel the hurt of biking for 6 hours but I was just going to keep peddling through it. Once we got back we decided to go back out to Kilowat and grab one last drink.

The rest of the night is a little bit of a blur. We went back to Rachel’s and we all got ready for bed and crashed.

Below is a rough idea of how far we biked. We back tracked and got lost more than this map lets on but you can get an idea.

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A San Fran Day Out

Amy and I started the day at our own pace. Rachel was working and we weren’t going to see Hol until that night. We relaxed, got ready and left to go explore the city.  Rachel was working at a cheese booth at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market so we took the BART to the Embarcadero stop and headed to the Ferry Building. It was another ridiculously beautiful day. I can’t believe people live here. It’s just so flippin’ perfect. It was very crowed but manageable. On the outside of the farmers’ market, there were people selling crafts, handmade purses, jewelry, clothing, etc. and on the inside and back area there was all the food you could imagine. We searched to fine Rachel’s cheese booth with great effortless success.

Amy and I had plans to gather food from the farmers market and have picnic on the pier. We got cheese from Rachel’s booth, a loft of bread, some berries, apples, and salami. The apples and salami were the hardest to settle on but in the end we made the right choices. We parked our selves on the pier and feasted. It was kind of a beautiful moment because there were two old women doing the same thing right next to us. It made me wonder if Amy and I would be doing this together 40 years from now.

We walked down the pier in search for things to scratch off Amy’s to do list. We went back to Musee Mecanique and spent about $1.50 each checking out the different machines. I was really fascinated with the early moving picture machines, like nickelodeons etc. I could have probably spent hours in there. I was temped to drop $20 for a book of old photobooth pictures but it was $10 more expensive than I wanted to spend so I didn’t. We followed the Blue Angels gazing crowd along the harbor. There were hundreds upon hundreds of people sitting the the grass knoll of Maritime National Historical Park watching the air show with their families. We made our way through them to Ghirardelli Square. Amy’s dad had told her to check out the old chocolate factory. It was a cute little square. We checked out the Ghirardelli store but were completely overwhelmed with people. While Amy fought the chocolate loving crowd, I found to restroom and chilled next to a fountain. She gave up and sat next to me on the fountain only to be splashed by some toddlers whose parents were not watching. Amy was pretty annoyed. 

We left in hopes of drinking the best Irish coffees ever. Irish Coffees were actually invented not in Ireland but in San Francisco at the Buena Vista Cafe. Buena Vista Cafe was just as crowded as everywhere else. We managed to get one bar stool that we both shared and ordered an Irish Coffee. I was more thirsty for water and to be honest, I’m not a coffee person. Some old men talked us up while the old bartender, who was actually a little famous, winked and made kissy faces at Amy. The Irish Coffee was really good but super strong and so was our company.

Rachel was suppose to meet us when she got off work but decided to go home instead to rest up for tonight. Some how I convince Amy that we should walk to Union Square up the steepest hills of the city. It was beautiful but we were already a little tired of walking. Needless to say, that didn’t last long and we took a cab over to Union Square. We shopped around in the Levi Store and H&M. Amy found a couple pairs of pants and I got a cute functional dress that I planned to wear later.

When we got back to Rachel’s place we did the girly thing that girls do: Dress Up. Oh yes we tried on different outfits, played music, and danced around. It was fun. I think we do this because it helps get us pumped up for the night. Once we were ready, we hopped on the BART towards Oakland. Hol was having people over for a BBQ. We were excited because we were starving. We got there ate some tacos, drank some beers, talked to some people. We probably stayed for an hour or two and then left. Hol was too messed up to give us a ride to the BART so we hitched a ride with two of his friends. Amy, Rachel and I were really hyper and being very silly. On the BART back into town we made friends with a school teacher, Doug, who lives in the Haight.

Once we made it back to the Mission, we headed to Kilowat which is like a hipster metal/punk bar. We sat at the bar drinking our beers and I started up a conversation to the guy to the right of  me and Rachel started up a conversation to the guy to the left of her and Amy was in the middle. We both got bored of these guys quite quickly, nudging Amy to save us and moved on. More drinks and more guys later, the bar closed and we considered our options. We could continue hanging out with Lion and Dragon or we could go home. We went home.

From Woods to Wine

Today was the day we were going to hang out with my good ol’ friend Hol. The funny thing about Hol is that he has been Mr. Plans for the last month and half. Every couple of days he would call or message me asking “so what’s the plan for your trip?”. Amy and I didn’t really have solid plans, just a list of things we wanted to do. If you know Hol, you know he has to be in control all the time. He wanted to take us camping, hiking and kayaking but because of time and Amy’s lack of enthusiasm at these ideas, we limited it to just hiking and we adding wine tasting. Hol was reluctant to pick Amy and I up in the Mission but he caved. He told us he would pick us up at 11am so Amy and I got up, got breakfast at Atlas Cafe just down the street and walked around the Mission.

It was another ideally beautiful day in San Francisco. Hol ended up picking us up closer to noon because he’s Hol. Now Hol’s plan was to take us hiking in Muir Woods then we would go to Napa Valley. I argued with him for awhile about this because most wineries/vineyards close at 4 or 5pm so it seemed obvious to me that we should go to Napa Valley FIRST, go to two wineries/vineyards THEN go hike in Muir Woods. But Hol didn’t want to drive back through San Fran, he wanted us to go to Oakland with him after our day. And since he was driving and we did it his way.

I was excited to drive across the Golden Gate bridge towards Muir Woods. Hol and I mostly caught up in the car while Amy was off in the back seat in her own world. When we got there, we had to hike to actually get to the park itself. The park was simple, beautiful and small. It was reminiscent of the California Redwoods but with smaller trees. The trees were tall enough to create a canopy that seemed to make it about 10 degrees cooler in the forest than it is outside of it. We did the hillside trail and walked. The terrain was very tame but pleasant. It was very relaxing. To be honest, my heart wasn’t into the hike. I really just wanted to get going and go to Napa and try some wine. I felt very anxious that we were going to run out of time and miss our opportunity to do a tasting at all. Amy was really excited about the possibility of Napa. She manages a restaurant in Austin and hosts a wine tasting at her there every other week. I really wanted her to get to have a good Napa experience.

After listening to the heartbeat of the earth, we got back on the road towards Napa Valley around 3. No one wanted to make a decision where to go. Amy had never been there and didn’t want to add her opinion to mine and Hol’s overly-opinionated mix. Hol was whatever about it since he didn’t even want to go there in the first place. I tried to see if they were more interested in reds or whites since certain wineries have different specialties. I just decided that we should go to V. Sattui since I had been there, liked it, and they had food. For $5 we got to try 5 different wines from a list but, our bartender was not counting because we each got to try like 10 different wines, some they were the special ones that were not on the list. I ended up buying a couple bottles that I plan to give to my family for Christmas. We each got some food from the deli and went out side to have a great lunch full of wonderful food and wine. I can’t remember what wine we paired with our meal, it was wine and delightful. I’m not going to lie, I got a little tipsy.

The tip back to the bay was somewhat relaxing. Watching the sun set over the hills, painting the sky with different shades of oranges, reds and purples, put me an a satisfied lethargic state, but the wine buzz probably had more to do with it. Hol took us to some bar in Oakland, The Missouri Lounge. We got the “special”, a shot of some really awful whiskey and some cheap ass beer for $5. Now I don’t really love cheap beer. I mean Lone Star is not that bad and drinking enough Miller or Bud Light can be nice but that’s it. No Keystone. No Natty. AND I don’t like Pap’s Blue Ribbon (PBR to you hipsters out there) – Sorry! We chilled and people watched at this cute little dive.

Hol ended up taking us back his place so that we could decided our next move for the night. I love his house. He has managed to make an amazing garden in his backyard, which I couldn’t really show off to Amy because it was dark. Once we got there, Amy and I realized just how tired we were. Hol ended up taking us to the BART station instead of continuing the fun. Rachel was asleep when we got in because she had to be up early to go work at the farmers’ market.

We’re here! Sushi, Sea Lions, Sailors and Burritos!

It’s been a pretty exhausting day. Most of this is because I only got 2 hours of sleep before going on a plane, flying for 3 and half hours then walking around the San Francisco area pulling my 40 pound luggage for over 7 hours. But I’m not complaining at all.

Amy and I got into San Francisco at 10am west coast time. We took the BART to Embarcadero because that is where her friend, Rachel’s work is near. We were going to drop our bags off at her work after she got done doing her company’s mandatory volunteering which was suppose to be sometime around noon. Thankfully I had my Formmer’s California 2008 guide to help us entertain ourselves. We were pretty loopy from the flight, my ears still hadn’t gone back to normal, and we were pretty hungry. Since I had been to San Francisco more recently than Amy I took her to the place in Chinatown that my sister and I ate at, Floating Sushi Boat. I love this place. It has these boats with plates of sushi + other stuff that are in a moat that go around and around in front of you and you just pick what you want. The food is good, it’s not too expensive and the atmosphere is just right for a Chinatown experience. The only thing is that we were the only ones eating in there for most of our meal so it felt like they were just putting sushi on the boats for us.

We didn’t do too much shopping since we had our bulky bags with us. We walked towards North Beach. On the way I explained to Amy all about the Beats and Jack Kerouac and why City Lights is cool. She was pretty neutral about the whole thing. North Beach is really neat because of all the Italians. We would have gotten gelato or coffee but we kept moving. We walked down to Fisherman’s Wharf which is the major touristie around of the marina. There are a lot of shops, restaurants and street performers. As a fortuitous turn of events, it is fleet week. Yes Fleet Week! The Blue Angels were flying overhead and doing all sorts of stunts. We hung out on the piers and watched. We went down to Pier 39 and saw the sea lions or seals. Amy was in complete awe of the air show. We started to make up stories about the different pilots and their back stories. There was Bob the lovable balding nerd, Jim the good-looking cocky one, Cody the rebel from the wrong side of the tracks, and Eric is the funny jokester. Later two others, Gerald and Tony, joined them in the sky. We were pretty amused.

Rachel finally gets done with her volunteering around 2:30 so we start to head to her office in the Financial District. She works off Sansome and I think Greenwhich at a textbook publishing company. Rachel really does live the dream: She interned for a publishing company in New York City while she was in college and when she graduates she gets a call from her old boss asking her to move out to San Francisco to work for them full time. She moved out there like seven months ago, got a place in the Mission, and has been getting acclimated. We said hi and dropped off our luggage and headed back out to the piers.

Rachel’s building is next to these stairs that go up to the Coit Tower. Amy and I thought it might be fun to climb the stairs and go up there. It’s suppose to be the best view of the bay. At first I joked that we could jog up the stairs. Boy was I wrong. They just kept going and going. We would hit the top of the stairs only to see that there were more. It felt like over a 1000 vertical steps. Once we got to the top and caught our breath, we did take in the view. It was nice but we were tired. We opted to not spend money and go to the top of the tower, we had better places to be. Amy needed to pee and saw the perfect opportunity to do so with one of those self-cleaning public toilets. The experience wasn’t what she had hoped. (Please refer to picture) Hilarious.

Rachel had mentioned that there was some sort of arcade museum. Amy remembered that we had passed it so we walked all the way back down to around pier 45 or so to the Musee Mecanique. Musee Mecanique was amazing. It was a collection of old arcade games and old mechanical machines. It was so awesome. We ended up taking the typical photobooth pictures.

We walked around the piers more in search of a restroom and window-shopping. We took our time back to the Rachel, stopping into Starbucks for some much needed caffeine. We took the BART to 16th and Mission and Rachel biked there and we all walked to her place at 20th and Folsom. This was probably the longest walk ever! Ever step I took, I felt like I was going to die. Rachel has a great place that she shares with 6 other people above a Mexican food restaurant called El Faro. It’s a great place in a great location but some of her roommates are better than others. The shared space in the house like the hallway, bathroom etc. can get kind of cluttered. Rachel has a really great room full of beauty and character just like Rachel.

We were all starved and wanted some good ol’ Mission burritos. Hol was heading our way to meet up with us. Hol really wanted us to go to his favorite burrito place, Taqueria El Farolito but we went to Rachel’s top pick, Papalote, instead. The burritos were awesome but the place was really crowded. My high school friend, Sara Norris, met up with us at a dive bar called Dirty Thieves. We were running low on energy. We each had one drink and headed back. It was a long day after all.

Tomorrow is a new day full of adventures.

If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear flowers in your hair…

Back in March Amy, my awesome travel buddy, was planning on going to San Francisco in the fall and I told her I would be down on going with her. Her friend, Rachel had just moved out there and Amy wanted to visit her and just see the city. During the summer Amy found some great deals on cheap air fair there. Since I was at camp I let her handle all the logistics. She got our tickets and I paid her back. Once camp was over and I actually had time to think I realized that our trip was planned for October 7th- 11th, the same weekend of Austin City Limits Music Festival, which I had already bought tickets for. Frantically I tried to get our tickets changed for a different weekend but it would have cost over $250. I reluctantly sold my ACL ticket and got pumped for my trip.

The last time I went to the Bay Area is was only a so-so trip (read all about it here). It was my lease favorite stop on our west coast road trip. Jessica had been there earlier that year and wasn’t as excited as she was in other cities and Hol was hard to plan around. Jessica and I walked around and saw Union Square, Chinatown, the old Beat hang outs, North Beach, Pier 39, and the Haight but I didn’t even get to see the Golden Gate bridge.

This trip with Amy is going to be different. I’ve made a list of things I want to do and I’m sure Amy has made a list of things she wants to do. Here’s my to do list:

I want to see the Golden Gate Bridge
I want to ride bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge
I would like to lounge around in Golden Gate park
I would like to go to Castro Camera
I want to see Hol and Sara Norris and anyone else I know in the Bay Area.

There you go. We leave Thursday at 8am. I’m excited. So much to do before I leave.