Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Normal in San Francisco

Don in Blue and Max in Red

I guess the first part of this post is exactly what is normal in San Francisco. So far I think the answer might be: "almost anything". It is certainly a city of diversity. There are hundreds of street people and homeless, and you see them everywhere. Some are young some are very old and they can be either men or women. This was someones home overnight not far from Max's office.

I have been surprised at how many "street" people there are here. Now the street people are a bit more affluent than the street people in Cincinnati- they push laundry size bins around the street- not just a shopping cart. And of course here they can live year round in the streets. There is a bit of speculation that because San Francisco has so many social programs (in comparison to other cities) it is actually a magnet for the homeless. But I just know I was surprised- I hadn't noticed before when I just came for a visit. They are mostly men- not all of course- And some live for years in the same location- rather stable homeless population. Recently there was a man knifed to death near Golden Gate Park- And the newspaper said that he had lived at one location in the park for 11 years. I took the picture above- not sure it came out very clear- from my car window on the way to work. The city is beginning a "clean up the streets" program- sending out police officers and social workers to corral the homeless into shelters- but not sure how it will end- this being San Francisco has caused quite an uproar about whether we are impinging on the rights of the homeless-

At the other extreme I would guess most of the houses cost well over $1 million. In fact our meager apartment would probably sell for over a $1 million if it were to be for sale. On our street alone, there are enormous beautiful homes that I would guess range in price in the tens of millions. I don't necessarily consider that normal, but it is common here. Below are a few examples of houses on our street. These are not apartments, but single family houses.

I can't even guess what this one must be worth. There are views of the bay the the Golden Gate from the rooms.

I love to drive through the neighborhoods (I can drive- I get the car everyday- Don can only see out the window of the bus)- I have never seen such variety- And our neighborhood is absolutely stunning. I think I have to pinch myself because it can't be real.

People seem healthy here. We are used to the Ohio obesity epidemic where the state laid claim to be one of the fattest states in the Union, but people are always exercising here, even running up and down these hills. I sometimes wonder when these people actually work. I could go on about this for a while, but my real intent is talking more about what Max and my life looks like now that all of the moving in and settling is over.

And- you'd think with all the hills and all the walking people do that women would wear "sensible" shoes- But no- I look around and I am the only woman in sensible shoes. Other women are wearing strapy sandals, high heels, flip flops, NO SUPPORT whatever- And on these hills- with all the walking- I am amazed- Not me though- I am wearing sensible shoes!

For me it's a bit strange. I worked at P&G for over 30 years, longer than all of the other people that I worked with. But now I am suddenly the new guy in the office who doesn't even know where the copy machine is. I did find the bathrooms my first day, but only because I had to walk by them from the elevator to my office. The people are all very friendly, but it is obvious that I am on a learning curve. I also have noticed that on some days I am the only Secondee here. Maybe I have the wrong idea about how to do this job. I'm still getting used to having an office with a door and a window. I haven't had an office with a door for about 10 years. At P&G we all lived in cubes about 1/3 size of my office. This isn't so bad. I do have to wear a suit every day and of course Max had to take a picture of me on my first real day.

I always took pictures of the kids on their first day of school. It is really hard to give up things like that- I miss that. But here I am- And Don has a first day of school! He is all dressed up in his new suit and new tie- And has a new brief case (remember the new backpack for the first day of high school) and he is going for his first day on the bus. I am taken back to all those years- so many years- of first days- and new clothes- and new book bag- and new bus- or new school. I miss that. I always liked taking pictures on that first day....

Then when Max and I moved my stuff into the office on Saturday, she also needed a picture of my name at my office.

And of course me sitting at my desk in my new office (note that suits are not required on Saturday)
And even a picture of my view, never mind that you have to sit on my desk at the window and look to the side to see this particular view of the Bay Bridge.

I do now have my October bus pass compliments of Max being next door to a transit office that sells them. I have found my bus routes and even have now found the express bus routes that go from the financial district where I work to within 5 block from our apartment. Unfortunately, the bus stop is at the bottom of the hill and the apartment is at the top of the hill, but we just consider that to be my exercise. It is a good thing that I got the new batteries in my pacemaker because it is working hard before I reach the summit.

Note that the cars on this, the last hill to our street is so steep that they make the cars park perpendicular to the sidewalk so they won't have runaway cars.

This is the view looking the other direction toward (toward the north). Unfortunately, our view is to the South, but this is only intersection is only two houses from our apartment.

When I first started taking the bus, the local (not the express) stopped at about every corner and went right through the middle of Chinatown, filling up with lots of Chinese and then quickly emptying out once we got to the center of the China district. I did have to get used to not sliding off the seat every time the bus braked to a halt on a steep downhill slope. I do appreciate the express.

When we were driving around with Tara- our realtor- looking for a place to live driving the hills was really intimidating. It was like living on a roller coaster- And I don't really like roller coasters. I asked her if she thought I'd get used to driving these steep hills- she looked puzzled and said of course. Well she was right- I hardly give them a second thought- though I'm really glad I don't have a stick shift- but with the Honda it is a breeze- and I've stopped (well almost stopped) avoiding the ones with the perpendicular cars.

The apartment is in great shape - although we did have to buy some more area rugs for the hard wood floors. It seems that SF has a law about apartments and how much carpeting you have to have to decrease the walking noise for your neighbors below. Well right under us is the VP of the our Apartment Governance Board (just our luck) and we have already gotten two "friendly" letters from her about our walking in the mornings disturbing her sleep. Max suggest we get her some ear plugs, but we got some more carpets instead and now only wear house shoes in the apartment.
I just thought that maybe a "friendly" note that reported our additional carpets- and of course concerns for her sleep- might end on a little suggestion- something like- I'd found when my sleep was interrupted with a snoring husband- or whining dog- I'd found earplugs especially helpful- I'd have even recommended which ones are especially nice/comfortable. Don nixed the idea- so we didn't write the note. I just don't think this woman has had the life experience that prepares her for such minor morning noises- try children- or dogs- or husbands- Her life if just much too quiet.

We also put the 31 pictures of family and friends plus the 4 watercolors of Cincinnati that we brought with us into frames and got them hung on the wall last weekend. The place is actually looking kind of like a home, at least our home away from home for a while. (I think we need an acronym-like P&G has for everything- I'm thinking that perhaps we should call this place our HAH- for home away from home- so when you see HAH you'll know we are P&Gers through and through)

PS- You'll hear more about my job later- just suffice it to say that I am putting in long hours- and still have much, much, too much to learn. For the first time in our marriage I am working harder and longer than Don- Who would have guessed!


Anonymous said...

i like the first day of school part the best. don, you look sharp! who knew you dressed up so well (aside from weddings, of course)?-marianne

Anonymous said...

ALthough it took me a while to get to reading this one, I enjoyed it very much! Especially seeing the pictures of Don's real office! :)Your place looks great! Can't wait to hear about your visit with Michael!

Anonymous said...

Don looks great! I hope he's not "pitting" out his suits as he walks up the monster hill to get home. - Brandy

Lucas said...

Snappy office. Snappy suit. Snappy apt. What a couple of city slickers you two are! Much love,