Day 390 (aka Christmas)

Merry Christmas everyone (who celebrates Christmas)!

This is actually the second time I’ve spent this holiday away from my family. The first one happened the year I moved to NYC. Since I arrived in the city at the end of November, I thought it kind of silly to pack up and fly home a few weeks later—plus it cost an arm and a leg. I spent the day wandering around Times Square, which was completely empty. Let me tell you; it was a sight to behold. I bet very few people out there have ever seen Times Square without thousands of people mulling about. It was actually a really special moment, because there was a light snow coming down and the weather was just perfect. It’s an image I’ll never forget. Though I followed that up with a visit to this random diner in Queens and the food ended up making me sick. So, I like to chalk the whole thing up as a wash.

But despite its flaws, I’ve decided to try for a similar adventure today. This afternoon I’m going to walk around Market Street in the Financial District, as I assume it’ll be rather empty as well. I then plan on picking out a new movie to see (I say new, because I ended up watching The Interview online yesterday) and heading to one of the city's many diners to chow down. Hopefully, my stomach will be more forgiving this time around.

Those are my plans for the day and I’m sure they’re far different than yours. I just ask that whatever you’re doing today—whether celebrating or not—enjoy it. Every holiday is unique and you should never let it pass you by just because things don’t go as planned.

Merry Christmas everyone,

-Steve-

Day 380

Over the weekend, I decided to check out some of San Francisco’s beautiful parks. Located mainly in the city’s west side, they’re known for stunning views and a vast amount of relaxing green space. My first stop was Alamo Square Park, which most people will recognize from the opening credits of Full House. I never realized just how close my AirBnB is to the park, but I’m actually only 5 or 6 blocks away. It’s crazy how much the scenery can change just a mile or so down the road.

Next up, I ventured through the Presidio neighborhood, which is kind of like a park—aside from the houses and whatnot. It’s a really beautiful area, filled with rolling hills, well-manicured trees and pristine fountains. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s probably a bit out of my price range though. From there, I headed south to Golden Gate Park, a spot I nearly hit the prior weekend because it begins just one block west from Amoeba Records. 

The park itself is home to a Japanese Tea Garden, a handful of waterfalls, a buffalo sanctuary, several windmills and the rather stunning de Young Museum. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend taking a hike through the park over to the bay. It’s filled with an endless number of gorgeous views, which is one thing SF never seems to run out of. To be honest, the space actually reminds me a lot of Central Park, because of it’s oblong shape, massive size and collection of venues.

That brings me to something rather odd I’ve noticed about San Francisco. There are a lot of things here that seem to parallel many New York City locations. From places that honor the Big Apple, like Manhattan Hub and Hotel Astoria to parks with the same name, like Union Square and Washington Square. They even have a rival bagel culture here, which I’m sure there’s plenty of debate about. Heck, both cities even have their own light-up billboard courtesy of Old Navy.

It’s all kind of weird to me and I’ll admit that I’m completely in the dark as to why there are so many similarities. Come to think of it, I do tend to get some curious looks anytime I bring up NYC too. I have to imagine there’s some sort of competition going on that I'm unaware of. So, I guess if you love NYC but not the cold, try a visit to San Francisco. Or if you love San Francisco, but not the west coast, try NYC.

Regardless of what’s going on, San Francisco has proven to me that it’s a great city with a lot to offer creatives—from the tight-knit communities I spoke of last week to the endless number of great restaurants and its proximity to hike-able mountains and forest-lines paths. It has all the drive of NYC, but somehow maintains some semblance of natural wonder all around. It’s a curious city indeed and I can certain see why people love it here.

-Steve-

Day 130

Which way is up?

BooneOakley continues to surprise me with each passing day. Whether it’s the number of friendly dogs roaming around or the casual demeanor of the office, I feel at home here. I guess you’d call it “southern charm,” but I’m not even sure if Charlotte really considers itself a part of the south. Nonetheless, the team here has a much different vibe than those I’ve encountered in my previous four stops.

It all started to hit me on Monday, when my colleagues discovered I had walked to work in the pouring rain. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good stroll in the rain, but I really misjudged the light drizzle, which soon became a full on downpour. As soon as they heard of my journey, nearly everyone in the office volunteered to drive me, if ever faced with a similar situation again. It began to register in my brain that this unsolicited kindness wasn’t a one-time offer. Since I first stepped foot through the doors of BooneOakley, I’ve been met with positive attitudes better suited for Disney World than the ad industry. You can honestly tell the people here love what they do, who they do it for and who they do it with.

The sunny dispositions aren’t regulated to the office either. From the Movie Theater and barbershop to Target and Trader Joe’s, I’ve encountered kindness across the board. I’ll admit it’s a nice change of pace—albeit a bit shocking—after living in New York City for four years. Now before anyone gets up in arms, I’m not saying the people in NYC are bad. In fact, I love them. Life up there moves a lot quicker than it does in Charlotte, so it makes sense that everyone is always in a rush to get somewhere. I’m just saying it’s a different—and refreshing—change of pace to experience it. 

As for the weekend ahead, I plan on checking out NC Music Factory on Saturday to see comedian, Doug Benson. And on Sunday, I’m going to venture away from the city for once and check out Charlotte’s Historic South End. I also discovered that my brother gets into town this weekend. It should be pretty cool, as I haven’t seen him since Christmas. He'll also have a car, so I'm sure he'll be nice enough to drive me a few places. 

Lastly, if anyone has a good taco joint recommendation, I’m still hunting!

-Steve-