♫If you’re going to San Francisco♫ … I’ll be coming along too!
Yesterday I discussed partial employment and its various pratfalls. Today I will celebrate one distinct advantage of holding short-shift Egg Timer Jobs: mobility!
Today I’m writing from a hotel room in the Financial District in San Francisco. My boyfriend has to travel up here for work semi-regularly. Ever since I self-emancipated from the draconian chains of moribund industry—i.e., gave my two weeks’ notice at Variety—I’ve been technically free to fill the days up in the manner I dictate.
As an L.A. resident of several years, I’d taken a handful of trips to San Francisco. Mostly they were Friday evening-Sunday night affairs, made possible by my humble Hyundai hatchback. The drive is about 400 miles, maybe 5-7 hours depending how you do it. You can also take the scenic route, Highway 1, and enjoy breathtaking coastal views and cute little towns. But that takes 9-10 hours, conservatively, and I’m generally nervous about car rides and loath to extend my time making them. Also, hairpin turns are my ipecac, so I’ve never taken this route. I’ve made the trip a few times, but two standout bad experiences soured me. One, my fault: I stopped to fill my car up with gas, but used diesel instead of regular, necessitating a tow, drainage and multi-hour delay. Two, a big rig filled with noxious fumes overturned on the highway, blocking every lane and slowing traffic down to what I could swear was a backwards pace. So I wrote off the exhausting and often problematic quick leisure trip to San Francisco.
Fast-forward to now: I’m older and wiser. My “urpy reflex,” like Miley Cyrus circa 2010, can’t be tamed. (“Urping” is my grandmother’s endearing term for projectile vomiting.) I’ve also entered a period of psychological penury due to leaving my regular job/paycheck. All these things seem to suggest I’d be hunkered down in L.A., and yet this is my third trip up here in six months!
The difference is that I signed up for a British Airways credit card on a whim. Well, not a whim—they were offering a signing bonus of 100,000 miles. Pretty magnanimous, right? I opened the card a few months before a planned trip to London, so I figured I could use the miles to chip away at the cost of getting to LHR. Ha! Turns out London has sky-high air travel duties. The second most expensive in the entire world! (Chad is #1.) That means you can spend the miles for your ticket, but still have to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fees on top. Naturally I didn’t spend a red mile on that trip!
Luckily, it turns out BA has some unusual and forgiving domestic rates. If you can manage to stay inside one country—and it doesn’t have to be Britain—you can get roundtrip airfares for 9,000 miles and $5. Steal! So … divide my 100,000 miles by 9,000 and you can see where these San Francisco tag-along trips are coming from.
Unfortunately for my poor boyfriend, having me bouncing around unfettered by pressing obligations is probably an extra annoyance. He’s been very kind and understanding about my presence. I have two sisters and we all went on a lot of family trips in close quarters, so I definitely understand the inevitable roiling feelings of “OMG I love you but GET! AWAY!”
Also, I caught a dreaded summer cold, which I seem to have passed to him. Double oops! Put it on British Airways’ tab.
I’ll share more about the jaunts, meetups and experiences shortly. But for now here are some amuse-bouches:
1. In SoMa, a man sprinted out of an empty warehouse and asked me if I wanted to “help out a local startup.” Is this normal? Was the startup his penis? When I gave no reaction, he said, “We’re paying people to taste test!” OK, he got my attention with “paying.” I didn’t stick around to ask how many shekels I’d be rewarded with for sampling his array of chloroforms.
2. Lovely houses! This is Pacific Heights, where I traipsed en route to meet an old friend. BART schmart! As an L.A. resident, I relish the opportunity to walk and absorb the architecture, shops and street culture. I overheard a woman bossily explain to her boyfriend that “lotta different shades and shapes of discharge be comin’ outcha pussy before the period.” The discharge matches the houses?
3.I got to see one of my oldest rivals, and now one of my closest friends, in his new natural milieu. David and I are from the same town in Georgia, and squared off frequently on the cutthroat middle school academic bowl circuit. We went to the same high school together and crossed paths in band, debate, state literary competition, Science Olympiad (actually, I was rudely booted from the team by a cantankerous curmudgeon who allegedly/probably felt up his colleagues behind the emergency eye wash station, but nevermind), etc. Competition gradually gave way to collaboration, especially when we ended up going to college together.
Fresh out of Harvard Medical School, he’s slogging through a grueling residency at SFGH. We swapped tales of our latest career challenges: he, pronouncing the death of a patient for the first time; I, crafting the perfect indoor cycling playlist. We’ve come a long way from Augusta, Ga. … geographically, at least. More on this conversation in another post.