Lost and Found

Lately, when people ask me how I am doing, I have been telling them that I am feeling very lost. With my US visa about to expire and my imminent departure from San Francisco approaching faster and faster, I have gone back and forth between ignoring my life and falling into sheer panic whenever I don’t. Everything I love is here. Everything I want is here. I belong here. And in a fair world I wouldn’t have to leave. I felt defeated and that’s not a good thing to feel.

When we lose ourselves, what we really mean is that we’ve lost our way. We’ve lost our direction, our end goal, our carefully charted course that we once found ourselves barreling down. We’ve lost the drive we used to use to propel us. We’ve lost the vision we once used to light the way ahead. We feel lost when what we had dreamed our life to be like falls through and it is beyond our influence to fix it.

But here’s the truth about being lost – we’re only ever as lost as we are in denial. When we don’t want the past to be over and the future looks too daunting to touch, we call it lost. When we’re barreling forwards at a thousand miles an hour but gazing determinately out the rearview mirror, we call it lost. When what’s been is so painfully appealing compared to what is coming up next, we call it lost. Because we’d rather be lost than be found in this new, uncomfortable place. And so we bury our coordinates. We toss away our compasses. And we declare ourselves citizens of no-mans-land.

The truth about being lost is that we choose it when we just aren’t ready to be found yet.

When you’re lost, you find yourself in every step you take towards gaining back control of your life. By stopping the cycle of passivity and replacing it with one of autonomy. You find your new self in each small choice you make, each risk you take, each opportunity that you fail to pass up, even if it ends up being a flop. You find yourself by re-creating yourself into the kind of person who is ready to take on what’s next.

Because the truth is, we can’t ever truly lose ourselves, because all ‘losing ourselves’ means is that we’re choosing a story that ended over the one that is still going on. It means we’re gazing in the wrong direction and calling our disorientation lost.

Getting found, by definition, is the simple act of recognizing where you are.  You simply have to recognize that you’re somewhere new now. Somewhere different and challenging and less than ideal, maybe. But there you are. And to find yourself somewhere new, you simply need to start walking.

You’ll find yourself in wherever you end up.

You’ll find yourself in any place where you go with your whole heart.

So, game mode is on. I’m fighting back. It sucks that other people decide that I can’t stay in the place I am so happy in, surrounded by the people that make me happy. It has been driving me mad. But here I am. Moving to Berlin to help my current employer expand to Europe. And working my ass off to come back next year. California is where I belong and heck, I won’t let anything get in the way off that. Well, at least nothing within my power. Now excuse me, I am taking back my life…

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Oh San Francisco, how I will miss you

I will miss your rolling hills, in which the city is safely embedded. No matter how often your inclinations may have annoyed me, my upper thighs have never been fitter. If I can walk up Lombard Street, I can walk up any street in the world!

I will miss your beaches, your foggy, never-warm-enough-to-wear-a-bikini-at-beaches. I will miss sitting at Baker Beach, looking out at Marin and the bridge, searching for dolphins in the shallow waters and knowing that this place is all I need to be happy.

Speaking of which, I will miss the Marin Headlands. I will miss the hiking trails and waterfalls. I will miss Mt Tam and its majestic views. I will miss Stinson Beach and the Parkside Café, especially the brunch options there. I will miss the liberating feeling of being so close to nature and so far away from everything while, really, it’s only an hour bike ride from downtown San Francisco.

I will even miss the downtown area. I will miss the unique ringing of the F trains, when they turn corners. I will miss shopping at the farmers market at the ferry building and counting the pride flags in the Castro. I will miss all the restaurants in the Haight and North Beach and every restaurant in between. I will miss getting tanned in Dolores Park and standing in line for BiRite ice-cream.

I will miss being able to be weird without being perceived as such. I will miss walking around with flowers in my hair and long hippie skirts and I will never stop dressing in layers. Because that’s what you do, when you’re from San Francisco.

I will miss Karl the Fog. I love living in a city where the fog not only has a name, but also its own Facebook, Instagram and Twitter account. I will miss watching it roll into the city, devour the bridges and the hills and the ocean. I will miss being annoyed at how it suddenly got 10 degrees colder.

I will miss the sunshine too. Because we do have sun from September till April and it’s awesome. Even after two years of living in California, I have never once taken a day of sunshine for granted. I have never once stepped outside and gotten bored by the fact that it is – once again- sunny. I have never once passed by palm trees without sending a silent prayer to whomever for getting me to this magical place that is called the Golden State. I have never once doubted that I was the luckiest girl on earth for being where I was.

I will miss the Mission, my Whole Foods in Ingleside, the lake I run around, the beach that’s close by, my office on Market; heck, I might even miss my weird Muni encounters occasionally. I will miss Land’s End hikes and whale watching and going surfing. I will miss being only 5 hours away from Malibu, Yosemite, San Diego, or Hawaii.

I can’t believe that I only have 2 more months left in San Francisco. I can’t imagine that there will ever be another city I will feel so at home at. San Francisco is home. More so than Wismar, Bremen or New York ever were. And I am so sad to leave home.

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Hawk Hill

I haven’t been sharing much about favorite or must-see spots in SF and the Bay Area lately. But I am back with a BOOM! Having recently decided that I will return to Europe after my work-visa ends this September, I immediately started making a bucket list of all the things I still need to do and see around here. And there is still a lot to explore!

One of the items on my list was a bike ride up to Hawk Hill, in the Marin headlands across the bridge, to catch the sunrise from there. And so I did. Getting up at 5am on a Saturday might not be your definition of a perfect start into your weekend at first. But lo and behold, what’s ahead of you will be one of the most gratifying rewards for early birds like you!

My boyfriend and I cycled from the Sunset district through Golden Gate, the Presidio and across the bridge. Hawk Hill was tough for someone like me with little practice in climbing. The elevation is 8% at times and I was cursing like a sailor. Don’t get me wrong, of course you can also take a car up there and get a similarly amazing experience. But there was something very magical about riding through a completely deserted city, having the streets all to yourself and not dealing with annoying tourists on the bridge. The 2-3km of climbing up HH is a bitch but do ride all the way to the top. After an hour, we were there and could take in the city on this completely clear morning. A pictures sometimes says a thousand words, so here are six thousand words for you:

Waiting for the sun to rise

Waiting for the sun to rise

Taking in the awakening city, bathed in pink and orange. You can even see Sutro Tower!!

Taking in the awakening city, bathed in pink and orange. You can even see Sutro Tower!!

The San Francisco skyline.

The San Francisco skyline.

Sunrise from Hawk Hill

Panorama view of the sunrise from Hawk Hill

It's called Golden City for a reason!

It’s called Golden City for a reason!

Golden State of Mind...

Golden State of Mind…

 

So, when in SF, try fitting this experience into your schedule!!

Cheers,

Ari

What NOT to do when riding Muni during Rush Hour

There are a couple unwritten rules one should follow when riding Muni. And there are certain unspoken expectations your fellow passengers have in you when you ride it during Rush Hour. Overcrowded platforms and crammed trains simply do not allow any social faux-pas. I have compiled a guide for you on how to properly ride Muni during those stressful hours based on situations I have observed while commuting.

1. DO NOT stand in the middle of the platform gesturing like a crazy person.

There are people around you EVERYWHERE. And one would think that hitting strangers left and right would be enough of a reason for those gesturing crazies to stop, to cease teir ridiculous way of making a point with both their hands and feet. But no. Some people have a hard time getting that message. My bruise is still healing off…

2. DO NOT clean your ears while riding Muni.

I don’t care how carefully you are trying to hide your Q-tip, I CAN WATCH YOUR REFLECTION IN THE WINDOW! It’s 8am, I am crammed into a car with strangers, I do not need you cleaning your ears right next to me on top of all that! That’s what bathrooms are for.

3. While we’re at it, DO NOT pick your nose so obviously…

… and then reach out with the same hand that had just searched for boogers in your nostrils to press the stop button. Just…don’t. I need to push that button next and I am at the point where I might just keep on riding until someone else eventually requests a stop.

4. One last thing about body hygiene, DO NOT clip your toe nails on the train.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me but I am appalled by the thought of having a piece of your toe nail get accidentally shot in my direction. Again, that’s what bathrooms are meant for.

5. DO NOT pretend to sleep so you don’t have to give up your seat.

You know who you are! All you people sitting on the seats reserved for elderly or disabled, shutting your eyes just before the train rolls into the next station. Pretending you don’t realize what’s going on around you because you are oh, so sound asleep. And then opening your eyes again right after the seating fight mayhem is over, only to repeat it all over again at the next station. You’re pathetic.

6. On that note, DO NOT pretend not to see a girl in need for a seat.

Hey, not gonna lie. I would like to enjoy my 30 minutes on the train sitting, instead of being pushed back and forth by other passengers. I carry a heavy bag. I am wearing heels. If you see me getting up to offer an older person my seat, and you are a guy, would it be too much to ask to at least offer me your seat? Kindness pays forward!

7. DO NOT try to talk me into a free Jesus-Magazine Subscription

Independent of religious beliefs, neither 8am nor 6pm are good times to talk me into something I have never heard off, will never need and am absolutely not interested in. Especially after I politely decline two times in a row. There is only so much patience you can ask from me while I commute.

8. DO NOT spit on the platform.

Again dude, people everywhere! Somebody will inevitably walk through your freaking spit by accident. Have a tissue on you or wait until you’re outside or near a sink. Come to think of it, most of the typical Muni issues could be prevented through a more frequent use of bathrooms and all they have to offer.

9. DO NOT sit with your legs wide apart…

…blocking off two more seats than necessary. Can’t you SEE that people are tired and just seek the comfort of their own little 646 sq inches?!

10. DO NOT cut the line at a platform.

We have all been waiting in this line, at this platform for a reason, we would all like to get into the next train, we are all trying to be patient. Nothing is more annoying than an overly self-righteous person who just walks straight past everyone, almost pushes the person closest to the doors out of the way and then cuts corners to get a head start on a seat.

 

True story. I have observed all these things listed above in the past weeks- and some even more than just once. Public transport is already annoying as is, let’s all at least try to contribute our share to making it a little more bearable. ‘Kay? Thanks for riding Muni!

Cheers,

Ari

Hidden Gems: Land’s End

If you’re looking for hiking trails with views that will leave you speechless, you have come to the right city! Land’s End is by Ocean Beach’s Cliff House (great food and great views!) and what I like about this trail is how close it is to city life yet, once you’re on it, you feel like you’re miles away from everyone and everything.

I would recommend you start at Sutro Baths. Sutro was a big swimming pool complex built in the 19th century but became unprofitable and shut down. But don’t sweat it, you can still see the leftover ruins today and they look pretty gorgeous!

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How this place used to look in the 19th century.

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View over Ocean Beach and Cliff House from Sutro

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All that’s left of the mighty Sutro Baths

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After hiking from the baths back up to the trails, walk along the Coastal Trail. It’s really only about 1.6miles long (2.5km), but because the trail follows the coast’s natural line, you will climb stairs up and down. All along the hike, you have the ocean to your left and Golden Gate bridge right in front of you, at an angle not many people get to see:

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The hike will also take you down to Mile Rock Beach, which…is a beach covered in rock sediments instead of sand. Go figure.

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Eventually, you will get to a couple of cliffs that feature the Land’s End Labyrinth. My roommate, and hiking companion, phrased it very accurately: “Following that Labyrinth path reminds me of life. You wanna rush and just get to the good part, the goal, the end of the labyrinth. And then you’ve reached it, but you wish you’d have focused a little more on the journey and less on the goal. Be fully in the present for every step that you take”
So, do that.

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And, eventually, you will reach Eagle Point and the Legion of Honor. That’s where you will find bathrooms and water fountains, so rest up and walk back to the parking lot on the Camino del Mar path. Enjoy some coffee and Hot Cocoa at Cliff House or one of the Cafés and just breathe in all this beauty around you. Hopefully, if you haven’t already, you will fall in love with San Francisco after taking this hike!

Cheers,

Ari

Hella hot!

It is hella hot this weekend in our city, although I bet L.A. people would still chuckle at us calling these temperatures “hot”. If you are hitting one of the beaches, good for you, I’ll see you there! If you, however, prefer to stay inside, get your A/Cs powered (if you are lucky enough to possess one) and just chill, check out this three-minute love letter to our beautiful city by the bay!

Brian Emerick, a film maker, moved to San Francisco last year and spent months filming all around the city. The result is a beautiful Ode to joy, love, nature and one of the world’s most beautiful little piece of heaven. The video consists of hundreds of one-second-shots that, combined into three minutes, do the city more than justice. Watch it, fall in love and put SF on your bucket list, if it isn’t already!

Cheers,

Ari