A Whirlwind of a Trip:
Jenna, me, Elisa and Ari.
Deb, me, Lauren and Melissa..
January 30, 2007
What a crazy-packed two days I had…
It started this morning by doing something I haven’t done in a very long time – actually taking the time to ‘get ready’. This consisted of
putting on a little thing called make-up. I think I can say with certainty that I have not applied such a thing in the daylight over the past
nine months. I have to say that I enjoyed this. I was looking quite presentable. This look was further achieved by slipping on my 3-inch
heels before heading out the door.
Within the first few minutes of leaving Ari’s place on Chestnut, I was reacquainted with MUNI. Would anyone believe that I was actually
really happy to be having this reunion? I am one of the lone people in the world that really enjoy public transportation. The only
unfortunate thing about taking the bus in the morning in San Francisco is that it is not a prime time for fun MUNI stories to ensue.
Somebody typically has to wait until the afternoon or evening to get the full-on MUNI experience of a crazy bus driver or a drugged-out
passenger pushing other passengers (can you tell I have witnessed this?).
The first item on my agenda for the day would not be shocking to most of my friends. All I have to say is two words: The Nook.
Back to my old stomping grounds. Just one block from my old apartment. This is where I spent many o’ hours doing research for my trip
thanks to their free wireless access. And then there are those vanilla lattes. Ahhh…
I was meeting a friend at my old company for lunch at noon. But since I was really excited to see some of my old friends from there, I
headed out much earlier than that.
As the bus went through Chinatown, I felt a slight bond with the place. Almost a connection. I passed a hair place and all I could think was
“Hmmm… I wonder if they chemically straighten hair.” I almost went in to inquire. I passed a food store and wondered “I wonder if they
have those pseudo rice krispie treat thingies.” Then the bus stopped on Kearny and that was my cue to get off.
The Bank of America building was just how I remembered it. With the exception of one thing: waiting in line at the security desk to get my
pass to go onto the elevator. Now I see why clients used to get so annoyed by this. This was quite a lengthy process as I waited for the guy
from Specialty’s with his many trays of food waiting for his clearance.
I walked past ‘Puffy’ (as Maria likes to call him) and he was asking where I have been. Then he went down the list of people who are no
longer at Bernstein. Then he started going down the list of who was still at Bernstein. Gotta admit that Puffy sure knows his Bernstein
crew. Not only does Puffy have a good memory of names, I am reminded that he has quite good etiquette – I received a ‘thank you’ note
during the holidays a bit over a year ago when I made the elevator crew at the BofA building cookies. I never knew his name before that.
Sadly, I don’t remember it. I blame it on Maria. For better or worse, the name ‘Puffy’ has just always stuck.
When the elevator stopped at the 43rd floor I saw Maria already getting up to greet me. I loved seeing her again. But just like everybody
else, it felt like I had just seen her weeks ago. And then I saw Jamie. And Cearull. And Tyler. And Lauren. And Christen. And Christina.
And Geoff. The list could go on and on and on. Each and every one of them looked the exact same and our conversations picked up without
skipping a beat.
I was further reminded that the last nine months of my life felt like the blink of an eye.
I dropped my computer off for Geoff and Lauren to look at since it has been experiencing a few problems along the way. I had to watch
Geoff beginning to disassemble it right before my eyes. All I can say was that this was almost the equivalent to watching my future baby
go into surgery – it was a sight that was way too painful to watch. I had to leave. Thankfully, the timing was perfect as Karen was ready to
go to lunch. When I got back from lunch, my computer was still going through various tests. I would have to come back at the end of the
day. This worked out well as Lauren and I decided we would hit up Happy Hour once I picked up the computer at 5pm.
I had a few hours to explore the latest and greatest in downtown San Francisco. Aside from the construction of Barneys, this would consist
of the new addition to San Francisco Centre. I didn’t get a chance to fully explore but if judging by the ground level alone, all I can say is
that this place completely rocks! I was almost sad that I had just gone to lunch as everything on this level looked oh-so-good (it happens to
be a floor is dedicated solely to food). I made another pit-stop at my dentist’s office to dispute a charge that came up while I was on the
road. My sister wasn’t able to get the answer I wanted when she spoke with them so it was time for me to go in for a face-to-face.
Friendliness and kindness go a looooong way as I was cleared of the $200 charge when they called back today with their verdict of the
At this point my poor little feet were not used to walking around on mini-stilts. They just could not take it so I went to Old Navy for some
flip-flops to give them a bit of a rest. While I was there, I also took it upon myself to buy an entirely new wardrobe for the next leg of my
trip. God, I love Old Navy. Where else can you buy clothes at prices where you don’t even mind getting rid of them four months later???
Lauren did not have good news about my computer. I drowned my sorrows over Happy Hour wine (i.e. $2.50 wine) at The Nook (yes, I
went there again). But then it became celebratory wine as Lauren expressed her interest in meeting me in Buenos Aires. She told me she
would look at prices.
Ari and Jenna then did a drive-by for me at The Nook and then we headed to Mamacita on Chestnut for dinner. Annette and Kristina
were already there. Soon after, Kellie, Elisa and Annie arrived as well. I had a great time seeing all of them. While there were some
questions about my trip, I didn’t really want to talk about it. What I wanted to find out was what was new with all of them. I’ve been kept
up-to-date with a lot of the bigger things that have been going on in my friends’ lives but there were little things I wasn’t aware of.
Everything was more-or-less very much the same as when I left. The biggest change I noticed not only last night but of the whole time I
have been home is that Annette now has bangs. Sad but true that that was the biggest change that was noticeable to me.
They wanted to know if they were going to make it to my website. It was them that gave me the idea to do a ‘San Francisco’ page for
these few days that I was home. I told them it would be on!
Since it was a Monday night, most of the girls left at a normal time. Lauren came and met up and then Deb and Melissa came. More wine
had been drunk. It was then time to stumble home. But not before going to the 24-hour donut shop so I could get my old-fashioned glazed
donut. Exciting stuff.
What wasn’t so exciting was waking up this morning at 3:30am with a hangover. I took some Excedrin and could barely manage to get a
half-glass of water down my throat. This was painful. I ended up getting sick and then feeling like a new person. But then I couldn’t go
back to sleep. I just laid there wide awake. Finally at 5:00am I woke up and was back to my old tricks. I utilized my 24 Hour Fitness
membership and headed down to the gym. Despite the name, this particular gym doesn’t open until 5:30am so I killed some time
browsing the aisles of Safeway. Since I have developed somewhat of a hobby of going to grocery stores in different countries to see what
kinds of products they have, it sounded like fun to roam a U.S. grocery store to see if I noticed any changes. Yes, even at 5:20am this
sounded like fun.
Observation #1: We have more choices of cereals than anywhere else I have been. Not only that, there are so many new flavors of cereals
that did not exist before I left on my trip (e.g. Cocoa and Vanilla Krispies, another type with chocolate clusters – I don’t remember which
cereal this was as my memory doesn’t work exceptionally well this early in the morning, etc.).
Observation #2: We have more choices of granola bars than I have seen anywhere else. Just like the cereals, there were choices that did
not exist when I first left. Nature Valley Vanilla Nut sure sounded tasty. So did the Caribou Coffee Vanilla Latte and the Chocolate Mocha.
And I can’t forget about Hershey’s Sweet and Salty with peanuts, pretzels and chocolate.
Because it was so early in the morning, my observations didn’t really go beyond this.
By 5:30am I moved across the street and put the gym membership (that I have not used for nine months) to use.
I forgot to mention how easy it is to take things for granted when coming out here. Most of the time I would have just focused on going
from Point A to Point B. But not this morning! How lucky are we to walk to the gym and see Alcratraz? And what about seeing those red
lights shining from the Golden Gate Bridge? These are things people literally travel from around the world to see…and I get to see them
when walking to the gym. What a great city this is!
Because I got such an early start to the day, it only meant that I could maximize my last morning out here that much more.
Instead of taking a bus to the Nook, I would walk down Union Street and Polk Street and do a little window shopping before getting to the
café. Being somewhat a ‘visitor’ this time around, I would also pay special attention to the Victorian architecture of the buildings that
surrounded me. How is it possible for somebody to not fall in love with this city? And I was reminded of another thing to love while sitting
and drinking my latte…the cable cars. How incredible it is to watch these things turn the corner and make their ‘ding-ding’ noise. I was
taking it all in. Nothing was going to get by me!
After grabbing lunch, it was time to head on down to Burlingame (courtesy of a ride from Ari). Karen then came to take me to my storage
locker to put all of my luxury items away for another four months or so. I got dropped off again at Jen’s house and made a trip to Safeway
to grab some American snacks to bring with me for my trip to South America (after all, I could I pass up all of those great new granola
bars on the market???). Then I headed down to (my travel agent/friend) Andrea’s office to finalize a couple things. It was at this moment
that she asked if I had all of my clothing/equipment for my Antarctica cruise that was set to take off in three short days. I just looked at
her and said “No”. She gave me a very non-reassuring look. I told her that I was sure that I could get this stuff when I got into Ushuaia.
She immediately started Googling away to find out if rentals were available from that city. We found one place that came up but it was not
accepting our email inquiry. I assured her it wouldn’t be a problem. I took the website with me and emailed them when I got back to Jen’
s. I know I will hear back tomorrow.
I went to dinner with Andrea and Linda. Had a great time and then it was off to meet Cristen at Starbuck’s. The last time I saw her was
the very morning I left for my trip. We had lots to talk about and it was great to finally do it verbally instead of by email. Finally I would
go back to Jen’s and get to see her for the first time (since she had just left me her key in her mailbox earlier in the day). Talk about just
like the old times. Yes, I saw her the day I left for my trip but 'hanging out' with her was just like the old times. It was great. I kept her up
way past her bedtime considering it’s a ‘school night’ but I’m sure it was worth it to her. I know I had a great time.
Now I’m just journaling for the last time before I leave San Francisco. The taxi is picking me up at 4:45am. Ouch! Once I arrive in Atlanta
for my layover, I have about six hours to hang out with my sister. And there’s even the chance that my brother-in-law will be able to
meet up at the airport. At least with such a long flight, there is something to look forward to!