On Tuesday I walked a server over to the data center. Since the data center is only half a mile away, and since there was only one half-depth 1U server, I tucked it under my arm and walked over, instead of finding a cab.
The walk was enchanting. I keep recounting a dialogue in which a Dutch woman asked Speed Levitch why they don’t turn off the office lights at night to conserve energy in New York skyscrapers, and Speed answered that “New York City is a movie star, and she’s posing.”
I get that feeling from San Francisco. Where Chicago is practical and utilitarian, San Francisco is in it for looks: the cable cars, the old-timey streetcars that run up Market Street, building rows and rows of cute little houses atop sand dunes in earthquake country, the fog that comes in and gets caught up on the hills, leaving the Sunset grey and the Mission sunny. The weekly parades celebrating sexual identity, ethnic identity, political identity, and assless chaps. The highway that fell down and was replaced by parking lots. The streets that twist back and forth, up and down hills, and then rarely end up quite where you are hoping. I can never turn onto Market St the way I want to the first time, it always takes some finesse. But then that’s why they built the Muni.
I keep getting this buzz when I walk around here, like I am in Europe. And in a way, I am in Europe. I get to frolic in a pedestrian-friendly metropolis after being “let go” much as I spent months on the urban streets of Europe after being “let go” from Transmeta. But this time instead of an interruption or a break from normal life, this is, until normal is redefined yet again, my new “normal”
I remember telling Yayoi that I liked that she was a foreigner, because then I could vicariously enjoy the alienation that she felt about my own country. Alienation can be a burden, though. Anyway, now I can enjoy the nostalgic reminders of my own alienation abroad, and directly engage the alien minds of new people. It is a blast so far but I need to spend more “me” time getting the house unpacked and beautiful, and start cooking for myself again.
One nice thing about San Franciscans is that they, like me, are keen to walk everywhere. This is the first CITY I have lived in that was not Chicago, but back in the old country, we have our feet and our transit, but we also live in a sprawling city, with an intuitive grid system, Lake Shore Drive, and for the most part, potential parking. San Francisco, on the other hand, is seven miles on a side. Seven miles! You can walk across the city in an afternoon! Then you hit the ocean on three sides and suburbia to the South. San Francisco, like Manhattan, is an island, and my favorite description is:
San Francisco: 49 square miles surrounded on all sides by reality.
Anyway, my body has been griping because I have been eating out all the time, which is delicious but rich. More importantly, and counter-intuitively, I have been getting less exercise! How is this? I walk everywhere! I drove once this week to the peninsula, and just last night someone drove me home. But, as a city boy, I tried to walk a lot in Walnut Creek, and the distances were greater. And my coworkers and I would regularly take the 2-mile circuit around SBC headquarters, talking and watching the geese! With a Muni pass it takes some dedication to walk two miles in any single direction here in San Francisco!
But it is a fun city to walk in and the hills are definitely good exercise–I will make an effort to walk more, unpack the house, get new clothes, and start feeding myself.