Monday, September 10, 2007

A Toe Hold in San Francisco

From Don in Blue and from Max in Red.

Labor Day seemed a good time to start a whole new approach to working, so Max and I left Monday morning on a flight to San Francisco to get this adventure started. The prime objective was to find a place to live in this city. We had no idea what to expect, but both believed we could find something that would be OK. P&G did line us up with a realtor who knew our needs and also the town. On Tuesday she showed us 11 different apartments in about 8 different parts of the city. We went from Cow Hollow to Marina, to Nob Hill, to South Bay, to the Financial District, to Russian Hill, to North Beach and to Pacific Heights. We looked in high rise buildings, quaint Marina flats, 8 to 12 unit apartment buildings, and “corporate housing buildings (reminded us of a college experience). We had great views of the bay bridge, terrible views of a run down building next door, and some with no view at all.

After our first day we had narrowed it down to about 4 that might do. I liked the 10th floor in the Financial District right in the middle of the city and only about 2 blocks from where I’ll work. Max liked the Marina district and it's 2 block walk to the bay just inside the Golden Gate Bridge. None were ones we fell in love with, but all acceptable.

But this is my dream and my dream is not to live in a skyscraper amid “suits” and noise. Now the view was incredible out the wall of windows overlooking the Bay-

But my dream is the quaint charm of the neighborhoods on the hills- not the concrete of the city. In fact sometime I don’t even think of San Francisco as a city- usually bypassing the downtown for Nob Hill and the Wharf and parts hither.

Don did remind me that we had stayed downtown on one of our trips and walked the piers- But for all I could remember it might have been Chicago or New York- Not my fantasy of this beautiful city of hills. But for Don the convenience called- no walking uphill (both ways) to a bus daily. Why living downtown is rather like living in the convention hotel of one very long Biotech conference. But then the Marina wasn’t exactly what I wanted either. I’d really never been in this neighborhood and knew that part of the attraction was my growing terror of driving- and of course walking- up and down steep hills whenever I ventured out of my cocoon of a home. THESE HILLS ARE STEEP! If a hill is too steep that only parking vertically to the curb rather than the parallel fashion is permitted, you know you are close to the top- And of course you can’t ever see what is at the top because the hills are just TOO steep. And we had been driving up and down and up and down and up and down for a day. So the Marina seemed safe- very, very flat- and of course a short walk to the Bay. And we did need a place to stay and time was running out.
Our realtor spent some of Tuesday night searching for more and got us an appointment at one more place in Pacific Heights for the next morning. Now this place is called Pacific Heights because it is at the top of the hill. The apartment was on the 3rd floor of a building that has 12 apartments in it. This one was still occupied, but the people were packing up to move out. It was on the south side of the building, so the view was of the city and the lower bay, which is a long ways away. But we both loved it. It has a very nice kitchen with fairly new appliances including a dish washer, washer and dryer in the apartment, hard wood floors, two bedrooms, dining room, living room, but only one bath. The second bedroom is on the south side of the apartment and extends out with windows on 3 sides. There is a large pine tree out the window and nothing else except the city and bay in the distance.

We decided on the spot that we wanted it, and since the guy showing it was the owner, we agreed. It won’t be available until late September, so our move will be a week or so later than we thought, but that gives us more time to get the move organized.

But go figure- we drive to the very top of a very steep hill (only vertical parking to and from this street) and walk into a beautiful home away from home. It of course is the farthest from Don’s work- with the longest daily (steepest) walk and then longest bus ride. But it is bright and sunny with charm that is refreshing (Did I mention the large apartment we visited the first day seemingly totally inhabited with old ladies and tiny yip, yip dogs and a slight urine smell in the halls- very easy to eliminate that one?) But our home away from home has windows along two rooms looking out over the city with sunlight streaming in (probably helped that this was our sunniest day in San Fran). We went back that evening and parked close and practiced our first walk down to the restaurants we’ll frequent (a wonderful Italian was our stop but there are about a dozen or more in walking distance). Anyway- we navigated the first walk up and down and Tara (our realtor) kept reassuring me that I will quickly become accustomed to driving the steep hills of this beautiful city.

Then since we had time to spare we spent the afternoon finding a piano to rent (it will be delivered October 3). Though it is not my baby “the Grand”, it will keep me in touch with the keys while away- Hopefully it will fit into the very small, very old, very jerky elevator in our building – but if not for just $2 a step they’ll take it up the 3 flights to our apartment.

With finding an apartment done, we could finally relax a little and get on with the reason for the rest of our visit. I had a meeting with Burrill, the VC firm I’ll be working with. They already have an office ready for me with a computer that will get me into their system. I got to meet most of the staff and also got some perspective about what I’ll be doing and what I should bring with me. It’s going to be a great adventure of learning about the world of venture capital, how it works and how they work. I’ll be reviewing business plans from biotech companies from around the world. My office is on the 27th floor of the Embarcadaro Center with a window on the city. The real employees have the great views of the Bay Bridge and Telegraph Hill, but since I’ve been living in a cube with a wall in front of me for the last 10 years, this will be a real treat.

And I have a job! I interviewed with Sutter VNA on Thursday afternoon and was offered a fulltime position as a home health nurse. I am so excited. It has been too long since I took direct care of patients and this will be such a glorious opportunity to know San Fran in a way visitors (and even Don in his downtown Financial District) can know. I start on October 8th.


Liz Lucas said...

Wow! The area you guys are going to be in is so pretty!

Lucas said...

I LOVE the sunny rooms and great windows! I'm so happy you two found a good spot. Is there a guest room for visitors? ;)

Anonymous said...

Looks like you found the right spot! Wish I could say i would be coming to visit... Althought I am so glad dad is well and back home... I kind of miss talking to you both every day!
Love to you!

Shannon said...

Hey Guys!
LOVE your new pad! You are really going to enjoy those bright sunny rooms! Can't wait to hear more about your adventure in CA.
Have fun!

Once the Kappel family affiliate makes it out to Cali, Wyatt & I will be out for a visit! Hope to see you then!