What a month July was! I feel like throughout the whole month I never stopped moving; imagine the energizer bunny and multiply that by ten. While it was an absolutely insane month both on a personal and a professional level, everything that happened was incredibly positive. One of the main things that made July so crazy was moving into our new apartment! The whole process has been overwhelming in a way I didn't expect it to be, but as of a couple of weeks ago, we're really starting to feel settled in our new place, and I honestly could not be happier with our apartment. Luckily, I had a lot of weekends off in July to spend time with family and friends, and thoroughly enjoy summertime (even though I'm not much of a summer person).
June was quite a month! Most of the month was consumed by apartment hunting, furniture buying, and general planning. There wasn't a whole lot of free time this past month, which mainly means there hasn't been as much to photograph but I still tried to document as much as possible. I definitely found myself forgetting to take out my camera during the more exciting parts of the month because I was trying to be more in the moment and whipping out my camera just wasn't the first thing on my mind. However, looking back I wish I had photographed some more of those moments and I definitely will for this next month's post!
I've been quite the reading machine the past couple of months. I've been trying really hard to cut back on my Netflix streaming and screens in general and been spending more of my down time reading. Making the shift away from scrolling through Instagram endlessly or mindlessly watching Netflix for hours on end has massively helped with my general mental well-being, as it helps me to decompress in a much more conscious way. Rambling aside, here are the books I've read over the last season.
The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair ~ This one was definitely of a light, fun read, which was much needed seeing as the books I had read prior were pretty meaty. As a lover of history and color theory this book was super interesting. The book goes through some of the most famous and interesting colors produced and tells the story of how they were made and the historical significance they have. This is a really great book if you just want something to dip in and out of on vacation. I also loved that while it is a kind of nerdy book, it would be very easy to read and understand if you weren’t very well-versed in world history or color theory.
Autumn by Ali Smith ~ I had heard a lot about Autum prior to reading this book and was thoroughly interested in the plot line. The book largely centers around the relationship between Daniel Gluck, an elderly man, and Elizabeth Demand, a 20-something woman, who have been friends and neighbors since Elizabeth was around 12 and how their lives are affected living in post-Brexit England. This is definitely a book I foresee myself re-reading in a couple of years time not only to have more perspective on Brexit itself, but also because Ali Smith writes in a stream-of-consciousness sort of way that lends itself to being re-read.
Himself by Jess Kidd ~ I love true crime but can’t say I’m as much of a fan of mystery or crime novels. However I absolutely loved reading Himself by Jess Kidd. This book was definitely a bit of a slow burner for me, especially because I was reading it during a particularly busy month, but by the last 150 pages or so I was absolutely devouring the book, reading 50-60 pages at a time. The book is about Mahoney, an orphan, who makes his way back to his small west coast Irish hometown from Dublin as an adult to find out what happened to his mother. There is a strong likelihood that his mother was murdered shortly after he was born, but he has no way of knowing for sure. The book is not only a mystery, but also explores the inner-workings of a very old, tight-knit Irish community with a lot of secrets.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado ~ I heard about this book because of the Belletrist book club pick of the month several months ago. Every couple of months I like reading a book of short stories or essays just to break things up a bit and I’m really glad I finally got into reading this book. Some of the stories are somewhat futuristic and even take a slight surrealist tone. At their core though, every story revolves around the struggles women face on a day-to-day basis, especially those struggles related to female bodies and the trauma that female bodies often endure. This definitely isn’t a light read, but is incredibly rewarding.
When this post goes live it will have been exactly a year since I graduated from college. College, graduating and post-graduation life are things that I've talked about a lot, but I thought that this post could provide a bit more perspective than my previous blog posts have. I guess the best place to start is acknowledging the fact that this past year has been rough, and I think that comes down to two major factors. The first one being that I have always been the person that loved school and for the majority of my life, school was my safety net. So, to be thrown out of my comfort zone and into the work force felt like a major shock to my system. That's not to say I didn't like work, because I absolutely did, but there isn't a clear path set for you finding a career (especially being someone with a liberal arts degree) as there is being in school. The second major factor in my feeling unsettled by this transition was the fact that I moved home after having previously lived completely by myself for the last two years of college. I definitely should make the disclaimer that I am by no means ungrateful about moving home and consider myself incredibly privileged that I have parents who would let me move back and who I have a great relationship with to make a difficult process that much easier. However, when you're so used to creating your own space and having your own routines and ways of doing things, it can be a little bit weird to inhabit someone else's space. Because my boyfriend also moved to San Francisco, I spend a lot of time going back and forth between my parent's house and his apartment, which adds to not feeling fully settled.
I guess a lot of my troubles this year have come down to figuring out a solid direction in my life, and feeling as though I’ve never been fully settled for the past year, which is a feeling I’ve both never really experienced and also am extremely uncomfortable with. I’m someone that sees my life in very black and white terms and I am incredibly hard on myself, so if I’m not doing exactly what I’m passionate about (i.e. creating content and writing) as a job it feels like failure. It’s a trait that I have become more and more aware of over the past year and something that I am trying desperately to work on. Because school was very much my comfort zone and something I was good at, I very rarely felt failure for prolonged periods of time. For most of my academic career I felt like a big fish in a little pond, whereas post-graduation I've definitely been a little fish in a big pond. I've needed to learn how to give myself the space and time to just figure things out and to be more comfortable inhabiting that grey area. After all, I'm only 23, and most people my age have no clue what they want to do or have found a job that is there "dream job".
I don't want this post to be entirely negative, because there have also been some incredibly positive things that have happened this past year, one of which being getting back into blogging on a consistent basis. Even though I don't have nearly enough time to dedicate to blogging and creating content as I'd like, carving out time on my days off and maybe waking up an hour or two early on my working days to just sit down and write has given me a sense of comfort and stability in an otherwise very unstable period. It's also made me realize that this is what I want to dedicate myself to long-term. Whether this becomes my full-fledged career is neither here nor there, but I know that this will always be a creative outlet for me and something I will dedicate time to even if I'm not making money from it.
Another incredibly positive piece of the last year has been building friendships and spending lots of time with my girlfriends. It's something that I wrote an entire blog post about and am extremely grateful for. Not only have I gotten to see some of my oldest friends more, since we are now in the same city again, but I've also been lucky enough to cultivate new friendships with some of my co-workers. I definitely worried a little bit post-graduation about making friends outside of school, simply because making friends and maintaining friendships whilst in school is relatively easy. I was most worried that I'd have trouble meeting new people and making sure I had enough time to spend with friends, despite having a rather packed schedule. I think what it all comes down to is understanding that you might not get to hangout with a certain friend every single week, but to keep the channel of communication clear and stay in contact even if you're too busy to see them in person.
Last, but not least is probably the most positive thing that has come out of this year is that my boyfriend and I found an apartment and will be moving in the next couple of weeks! It was funny timing because we got the place almost a year to the day that we graduated and I'm so incredibly excited not only to have a place that we can call our own and to really settle into, but that it also represents moving on to a new chapter with my best friend. I know moving will be somewhat stressful, but I'm more excited than stressed about the process. I will definitely be sharing aspects of putting our place together on this space.
I know this post has been one hell of a ramble, but it's definitely been therapeutic for me to write. If this helps even one person, I know that spending hours writing this will have been worth it. I want to end things by saying, certain wrinkles from the past year have definitely been ironed out, but I also don't pretend that I've figured out what it means to be an adult fully, and who knows if I ever will (and that's ok!). I've definitely learned more about myself in the last year than I did during my four years in college, and that's mainly down to the fact that I've been thrown out of my comfort zone more than ever and had to face that grey area.
First off I apologize for it being such a long time since I wrote my last Neighborhood Diaries post. I definitely planned on making this a more consistent feature on my blog, but with some serious time constraints the past couple months, these posts have gotten put on the back burner. I'm going to try to get one of these posts out at least once per quarter so that they can be as thoughtfully put together and researched as possible. I wanted to kick things back off with a post all about Hayes Valley, a neighborhood which has seen an incredible amount of change in the last ten years or so. When I was growing up, Hayes Valley wasn't a place where I spent a lot of time, and that's mainly because there wasn't a whole lot in terms of shops, restaurants, and open spaces. However, all of that has changed so much, and the whole corridor of Hayes Street is bustling with new shops and restaurants opening constantly.
One of my favorite Hayes Valley restaurants is A Mano. It's a relatively new restaurant, having only opened about a year ago, but wow does it pack a punch. The drinks are amazing, and I foresee myself frequenting their bar many a time this summer for a good ol' aperol spritz. The food is incredible and also won't completely break the bank. They have a daily special and a standard menu that is homemade pasta-centric (so basically I want to eat here every day). My advise would be to go on the earlier side because the place gets packed. They also have a ton of outdoor seating, so if you do end up having an earlier dinner you can at the very least enjoy a nice sunny relaxing dinner outside.
There's nothing I love more than a good cozy café, and 20th Century Café absolutely fits the bill. As the name would suggest the theme of the café is very much in the style of a 1930's home. All of the utensils and dishes are antique and mismatched, which just adds to the character of the space. A lot of the food and baked goods are inspired by Eastern European cuisine. They also do a much more extensive brunch service on the weekends, which is definitely worth going to. And if you have any extra room after breakfast, definitely get a slice of their honey cake!
I don't think I could write a post about Hayes Valley and not include Absinthe. Even though Absinthe, definitely errs on the more formal, pricier side for restaurants in Hayes Valley, it is absolutely worth the price if you want to splash out on a fancier dinner. The food is definitely that of a typical French brasserie, and while it isn't the most experimental restaurant you'll find, the food is always consistently incredible. The bar alone is definitely worth a visit (especially if you've never actually tried absinthe) and they have a bar menu, which is a bit cheaper than the usual dinner menu.
There are a lot of amazing shops in Hayes Valley, in fact it's kind of become the hub for a lot of millennial brands to set up brick and mortar shops (such as Warby Parker, Away, and Outdoor Voices), but there are also a lot of local boutiques that have a more curated and unique selection of products, one of which is Seldom Seen. This boutique is definitely more focused around high-end clothing, but they carry a lot of lesser-known designers in a very edited atmosphere. I can't afford most of the clothes in there, but it's always a nice shop to have a look around , and the space is beautiful!
As someone who has been getting more and more into incorporating plants into their home, Plants and Friends has been a welcome addition to the neighborhood. The store is so small but somehow they manage to fit a ton of plants in. When I first saw this store after it opened, I passed it off as a hipster, most likely overpriced plant store, but after my first trip in I was pleasantly surprised. The staff is so helpful if you're new to or bad at caring for plants. The plants and ceramics they have also are also very reasonably priced.
The main open space in Hayes Valley, Patricia's Green, is smack-dab in the middle of the Hayes Street corridor on the Octavia cross street. Besides the mini park itself, the space is also home to a drive-in style movie screen (where the neighborhood puts on movie nights in the park), and an array of food vendors from Ritual Coffee to Smitten Ice Cream, which are housed in formerly used shipping containers. The whole space just feels very quintessentially San Francisco.
One of the things I love most about Hayes Valley is that despite how new most of the businesses are, there is something old and provincial feeing about the neighborhood. Nowhere is this more apparent than the tiny, alley-like Linden Street. One of the reasons why Hayes Valley feels so quaint is because of the old Victorian architecture, something that is also very much associated with the city of San Francisco. Linden street definitely encapsulates a lot of the character that I love so much about Hayes Valley with it's low profile Victorians and brick structures. Even though there aren't any shops or restaurants along Linden street (from Octavia to Laguna), it makes for one of the most peaceful walks in an otherwise bustling neighborhood.