Posts tagged “#lynne guey

Why I’m Back on Facebook

“You have to get offline. I’ll say it again. You HAVE GOT TO GET OFFLINE. YOU HAVE TO GET F***ING OFF F***ING LINE.”  – advice from legendary E. Jean Carroll, of Ask E. Jean, America’s longest currently running advice column

Better advice could not be more emphatically expressed. I took it to heart for 4 months. 4 months of purposeful separation, living life offline, unplugged…or at least as unplugged as life can be when you have a smart phone and still tweet and email and you know, do almost everything except Facebook + Instagram. Still, give a girl some credit: pulling the plug on Facebook was a big deal, kind of like moving to a desert island. I even wrote a goodbye letter.  (melodramatic twentysomething)

I remained pretty social on the island. Before I knew it, 3 months had gone by. One night I thought about the social network and tried to log back in. There were several tell-tale signs I had been gone for a while; for one, I couldn’t remember my log-in. My web history was clogged with news articles instead of the usual Facebook photo albums and in fact I momentarily forgot who some people in those albums even were. Months before, merely typing www—>> triggered automatic completion of “site-thou-shall-not-be-named”.com, and now… LinkedIn has replaced it as the most frequently visited site. If ever there were a sign of professional maturity (or boringness)…

Upon sailing Home a few days ago, Facebook almost seemed foreign, like returning to college after being abroad for a couple months. Soon, though, the falsely jolly, slickly disingenuous first-world details that had ceased to exist during my time away came trickling back into consciousness. Bloop! There went the little red notification. And here we go again…

Ignorance is bliss, I had told myself. But what I’ve realized is that the problem was never really about Facebook or the technology or all the obnoxious statuses out there; the problem was me. I needed to clear out my own cache of judgement.

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I deactivated my Facebook and Instagram accounts on 12/12/12. Since it was supposedly the end of the world, I decided to enter the ‘new’ world with a clean slate. I wanted to return to the root of being social without the distraction of a buzzing phone, without feeling compelled to take pictures of my brunch, and without the aid of a red Facebook notification to alter my serotonin level. I entered detox mode.

My primary justification was personal. I thought that my personhood – the very root of my identity – had been reduced to a set of data points on Facebook. I was living my life out online. How could I allow a single website to simplify my life to a bunch of photos, text, and information? It was naval-gazing for sure, but I couldn’t shake it.  So, I left to return to my offline roots but not before posting a status on Facebook asking people to send me their email; I would write occasionally with life updates, philosophical meanderings, and other angsty Thought Catalog-like topics. Several people did reach out and I was happy to keep my social network limited to these newfound thought followers, family, and close friends. It was my way of keeping in touch.

Life offline was revolutionary & simple. It gave me greater appreciation for things beyond the digital realm such as parks, museums, and coffee shops with no wi-fi. I spent a month at home in Tennessee, a month in San Francisco, another month eating a bunch of really really good food for my job back in New York. Normally, I’d be sharing & posting like it was my job but I restrained. I just ate, just observed, just explored. The ‘justs’ were more than enough. No one was validating the awesomeness of my adventure, so I could focus on the actual act of exploring. It was great. There were moments when I wondered if I was missing out (and for sure, I later found out there was A LOT) but I was aware of the really important things.  In fact I remember secretly gloating that I knew about the new Pope before some of my Facebook-hounding friends did.  (Twitter – 1, Facebook – 0)

Ultimately, however, I discovered a glaringly simple truth through deeper offline conversations : we’re lonely. Some more than others, but at the end of the day, it’s a large reason why social networks like Facebook and Twitter have taken off. Introvert or extrovert, we’re all searching for some form of connection.

Yet connection is thrown around like free lunch these days. Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook mission, “to make the world more open and connected” is noble. But just like lunch, real connection never comes free. You don’t amass friends and spit stuff into the never-ending stream of content and expect connection to magically appear. (You also don’t sell that information to marketers, but that’s another topic for another day.) Facebook is not the magic ingredient. If we truly want connection, we must first change ourselves.

When I logged back onto Facebook a few days ago, updating my profile with an affirming Facebook status “They always come back”, I found myself digging back into connections – weak, strong, and the many in-betweens. While catching up with the lives of those I had almost forgotten about, I was reminded of life’s continuous march. Over the course of our lives, things happen, people change. In this digital age, social platforms are there to document it all. While I traveled coast to coast, going from San Francisco to New York, life for others did not stop and wait for me to press ‘play’ to be reenacted. People continued to post, comment, like, and tag whether I was there to participate or not. I had missed a Canadian friend’s trip to New York with her band. I had missed lovely photos from an acquaintance’s wedding. I had no idea the company I worked for had uploaded and tagged an embarrassingly hilarious video of me. (Self-scrutiny commence.)

Anyway, I’ve come to the conclusion that my view of personhood must evolve like the times. I am nostalgic for a Web that no longer exists. I’d like to think of myself, as author Zadie Smith puts it, “a private person, a person who is a mystery, to the world and to herself.”  But I am naive. I’ve taken 4 months time (and an entire Facebook timeline of inner sciamachy) to set aside this identity crisis. I come back because I want to write. Truthfully. Part of that means knowing people. Social media is a way to be part of a conversation you’re creating together with fellow beings. For all its clutter, social media can be rich and multi-faceted. On other days, it can be also be self-glorifying, artificial, and so damn annoying that I wonder if I should just disconnect again.

But that’s life. Life is not always beautiful. Take it or leave it; I choose to take it. Not being on social media means I will simply know less about what is going on with other people.  That is not a bad thing. But even so, I firmly believe humans are not made to be fully removed from each other, whether that is physically or virtually. Do you want to participate and steer the conversation toward good? Yesterday’s Boston Marathon terror serves as an example. People gathered updates and news real-time to help those in need.  Coverage through social media was a mix of qualitative and informative, creating a complete (while heartbreaking) picture of the unfolding scene. The Internet, if we choose, really can be a useful tool for good.

For all its good, though, we must be reminded that the data points we generate can underrepresent reality. Living offline is messier and more complex. Walking away from social media, at times, is not necessarily practical, as we live in an age where many of our communities and lives are built on these platforms. So what I’m granting myself is an approach, a mindset: one of connection rather than comparison. It’s easy to look at the filtered photos and artuflly written statuses as gunk that clogs our news feed. But lighten up. On the days you peer into the screen of your laptop and simply can’t find any semblance of relation to your perfectly posed fellow human beings, just remember that what you see is a mere half-reality and carefully selected portion of life. Life isn’t simply the story you tell about yourself on the Internet. It’s merely one of many.

This is my relapse. I’m back to listen, contribute, and document the evolution of our virtual selves. This time, I realize I am not above it all. While I can’t promise zero judgment, I welcome your sharing. In a sense, I agree with Zuckerberg: our selves evolve and like it or not, it’s a story worthy capturing.

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Girls Talk Shop

The more often you create and share ideas, the better you get at it.

My friend Alex and I have decided to gather a few women every other week to brainstorm business plans, passion projects, and entrepreneurial ventures together. Our 20s are a critical period for growth and at a time when commitment to ideas is especially hard to find, we believe a group like this is necessary.

The goal is to compile ideas and follow through with ones that resonate. Some will be interesting, most will be lousy, one or two may even work. The point is to simply hold ourselves accountable to doing work that really matters. Ultimately, we want to find an idea that sticks and matches our unique strengths with the needs of the world.

What this group is not: a think tank or discussion group. Ideas are a dime in a dozen; money lies in execution. We’ll craft plans to make ideas happen. Some will fail but hey, failing isn’t as bad when there’s a group of other smart, motivated girls experiencing it with you.

If your current routine isn’t cutting it, join us as we experiment with projects that lead to greater fulfillment, if for any reason because doing stuff on your own is hard. We’re looking for a group of 4-6 New York women in their 20s, curious with a desire to learn and do something more. Any industry, talent, or niche is welcome. Leave a comment or email lynne.guey@gmail.com for details. We’ll likely be meeting on Sunday afternoon, so be willing to sacrifice Sunday brunch for this. In exchange, a supply of lady refreshments ie. wine & cheese, will be on hand.

If you’re not in New York, sorry- we’re keeping things local for now. But stay tuned!


For the Love of Lists

Hats off to 2012! Wherever you are, I hope you’re able to reflect on the highs and lows of the year with honesty and humility. Among the many year-in-reviews and recap videos, I found this one particularly gut-wrenching- 2012: What Brought Us Together

Gazing between boroughs on the Brooklyn Bridge. My favorite photo from 2012 (snapped from my iPhone, no less) represents both the grandeur of Manhattan and all the chaos, sweat, and tears this concrete kingdom afforded me in 2012.

Gazing between boroughs on the Brooklyn Bridge. My favorite photo from 2012 (snapped from my iPhone) represents the grandeur of Manhattan and all the shaken beauty this concrete kingdom afforded me this year.

With 2013 fast approaching, it’s list time. I love these handy things. They’re the most basic tool to getting organized when one actually keeps track of them and checks consistently. While charting course for the New Year, I’ve started to think about the ways I can make 2013 better – more authentic, challenging, and meaningful – through…you guessed it!…lists.

Charlie O’Donnell, partner and founder of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, writes a weekly newsletter about tech events in NYC. (Sidenote: If you are new to the space and want a quick way to get acquainted with NYC tech, ‘This Week In NYC Innovation‘ is a great place to start.)

Last week, he included a compilation of list topics to think about for the new year, which I found very useful:

  • Three people I’m actually friends with that I would like to be better friends with.
  • Ten people I should know, but don’t.
  • Five people I’d like to help be successful.
  • Three things I’d like to learn.
  • A physical goal (a time, a measurement, or just being able to be more bendy, less creaky, etc.)
  • An emotional goal.
  • Something you’d like to close the book on and move on from.
  • Three ways you’re going to try to get more sleep.
  • Read a book a month…list the first three you’re going to read.  (Might I suggest re-reading the Great Gatsby before summer.)
  • Five people you feel like you’re supposed to be friends with, but really don’t like, that you’re going to unfriend/disconnect/ignore.
  • Three things that you’ve been procrastinating on that you’re going to get done.

I like this list for its holistic approach. It takes into account practical, emotional, physical, and educational goals. There’s also heavy emphasis on improving relationships, while understanding that not all interactions are created equal (ie. friendships vs. idols vs. mentorships, even un-friendships are included).

I’m sharing a few of my goals from this list because I firmly believe if it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist. Here’s to accountability!

3 Things I’d Like to Learn This Year:

  1. How to cook (I’m keeping a list of my favorite dishes and recipes to learn – open to additions!)
  2. Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, PhotoShop, Illustrator – open to help!)
  3. Bible Literacy (open to fellow faith buddies)

A Physical Goal

  • Be able to do this without sounding or looking like a gorilla. (Getting rid of the pooch would be nice too.)

3 Ways to Get More Sleep

  1. Having a set bed time. I’m setting it for 11:30 – 7:30 (for now) which gives me a healthy 8 hours.
  2. Completely turning off an hour before bed. That means, winding down and turning off the computer/TV by 10:30 pm.
  3. (Hm, I can only come up with two.)

2013 Book-a-Month List (in no particular order; open to other good reads)

  1. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo
  2. On the Road, by Jack Keruoac
  3. The Education of Henry Adams, by Henry Adams
  4. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
  5. Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo
  6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
  7. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz
  8. The Influencing Machine, by Brooke Gladstone
  9. Change by Design, by Tim Brown
  10. Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg
  11. St Paul Trois Ch Teaux, by C. Joybell C.
  12. The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

3 Things I’ve been procrastinating on that WILL get done

  1. Submitting to Thought Catalog
  2. Exercising
  3. Calling a loved one..because in this day and age, it doesn’t happen enough.

The full list of notes are currently scribbled in my TextEdit, and I’m well aware many will remain unfulfilled. Life tends to begin (how dare it), pushing these goals to the dusty, untouched crevices of the mind. Hard to say which will stick and which will be thrown to the wind. Life is unpredictable. Either way, it’s here for the love of lists.

“You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.” 

C. Joybell C.

Happy New Year! I wish you all a fruitful 2013 with many healthy happenings.


End of the World

If the world were to end tomorrow, would you be ready?

My take on 12/21/12 is that the Mayans got it wrong and the world will continue to turn on its axis. NASA agrees. However, I’m of New Age mindset.  To me, 12/21/12 marks the end of an old world and the start of a new one, ushering in an age when Earthly inhabitants undergo positive transformation. In other words, New Years Day. Time to make and break our resolutions with unfailing eagerness.

2012 Recap

It was the most tiring, terrifying, and terrific year in memory.

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It started with bright eyes and high hopes. I moved to a small but cozy Park Slope apartment to begin my New York saga symbolically on New Years. Forget that I wasn’t sure if I would make enough to pay monthly rent. Waking to the sight of the Chrysler building from my bedroom window was enough reason to get out of bed. Anything was possible.

I was first exposed to the realities of the city as a personal/editorial assistant for a wine business owner. My boss was wonderful but after the n-millionth time picking up office supplies and fetching coffee, I started to wonder if this was all a college degree was worth. On the weekends, I drank my share of wine. (Work-related research, of course!)

My second job landed me at a prestigious startup fellowship program that placed college graduates to work at startups in lower-cost cities. I was their first recruiter but was exposed to much more than recruiting. Event planning, social media, office politics – – with a small staff, there was a lot to get done and at times, my lack of corporate/organizational experience showed. I learned a few key things about organization, foremost being that I’m not organized. It’s why writing things down and having clear daily to-do lists have become new resolutions. The job took me to Providence over the summer for a phenomenal training camp which remains one of the best memories of the year, purely for the chance to meet 40 of the most inspiring and creative college graduates. I grew by leaps and bounds but after 5 months, I knew that this company wasn’t the right cultural fit.

Life since has been a mix of freelance writing, tech dabbling, user acquisition, and social media strategy. Highly stimulating work with little peace to be found. I networked, mingled, exchanged business cards, went social to the max.  The freelance/startup life taught me the importance of being disciplined with time. If you’re good at it, go superwoman! Bad at it, never sleep. We’ll see if I give in to 9-5 soon.

So, was 2012 a success? Last year I wrote, “If I can make just one tiny decision that moves me closer to being my best self-whatever that may entail, wherever that may be- that’s success in my flighty mind.2012 was to be the year forward.

And? Am I ahead, off track, 2 steps forward 3 steps back? Well, I can say that I’m officially a New Yorker and now part of the craziness I used to only admire from afar. I’ve spent far too much, slept far too little. I could have been wiser. And  yet at 23, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I end 2012 exhausted, knowing that I tire because I’ve tried my hand at many things, failed, and therefore, moved forward.

2013 – Focus

Notifications blew up my phone in 2012. While this gave me bursts of serotonin, it also lead to unhealthy crashes and reduced productivity. It’s resulted in my decision to disconnect and retire. When I say retire, I mean retiring from perpetual social grooming and focusing instead on real work.

Last week I deactivated Facebook, and yesterday I followed through with Instagram. A friend messaged me saying that he was astonished and a little sad that I was leaving all these social networks. To him, I was the epitome of Generation 2.0: Miss Popular with tons of friends, always connected and blogging and snapping photos. Reading this only reinforced my need to retire. My public image was so well-crafted. So well-crafted that sooner or later, people would be let down. Achieving a self-involved image is no small feat, and I don’t have the energy or desire to maintain it anymore.

Aside from ‘connecting’, I’ve started to realize that all the other stuff that comes with being ‘social’ serves more as a disutility that detracts from my day. Because when you peel away all the layers of perfectly timed and witty statements, cute outfits, and adventurous getaways, what’s left is a pretty plain and boring person too tired to do much of anything other than appear. The thought of being that lame person used to sadden me. Now it just excites me because it means more time to sleep. 2013 will be the year of focus and commitment. Take me as I am, just a lazy being who wants to lie in bed, eat, and watch TV.

In 2013, I plan to focus on building non-social digital skills (CRM, Creative Suite, Mailchimp), cooking more, and solidifying pre-existing relationships. It’s quite boring, but really just a continuance of my 2012 resolution, because only by getting serious will I ever be able to move forward.

I’ve always lived with a sense of urgency, a conviction that time is running out. But with the world ending tomorrow, it’s time to be really honest and live out our truest lives, not just what sounds good or what makes an interesting story. Because what makes us happiest may not be all that interesting. And that’s okay.


Goodbye, Facebook.

After Wednesday, I will be off the Facebook hook for good.

This is landmark. If this was a status, it would say: END OF AN ERA.  After all, this will affect 1,823 “friends” I’ve amassed since senior year of high school!

How it will actually play out: A small percentage of friends will notice a reduction in friend count but likely won’t be able to pinpoint which scumbag dared to de-friend them. Realistically, my “disappearance’ will be just one less data point on the marketers’ social graph.

Friend count and marketing tool aside, I am still somewhat sad. Not because I’m losing 1,823 friends and therefore getting less popular (although that is a very real concern as well). It’s sad because in a small trivial way, I will no longer have digital proof of social status. Sure, I’ll text and send emails and randomly publish works on my blog but that’s all so…boring. Where else on the web can I find photos of my underage drunk out-of-my-ass self  wearing a pirate costume, shouting that I want to barf into a cake box? Where are those mushy gushy high school wall posts from my current big-time dental school friend telling me she misses me soooo much and that I’m the bestttt and “omg I love you!!!!!!” (sorry Anne <3<3 <3) Where else can I surreptitiously look up an office crush and get the real dish on his dealings outside of the cubicle? Hard to find on LinkedIn or Gmail.

Oh voyeurism. How I crave juice and junk. Facebook has filled that need. But now it’s time to get healthy.

Heretofore, my primary reason for remaining on Facebook has been to keep in touch.  It’s been my visual Rolodex of contacts- 5% kindred souls, 83% lukewarm acquaintances, 8% stalking bait, and 4% ‘wait-who-are-you-again?’ Furthermore, recently when I started managing social media for companies, I was given a professional reason to be social. “You can’t be a real business without being on the network” “post relevant content” “engage” “meet the users where they are” blah blah blah.

I get it. Facebook is important and I’m going to lose digital klout. But I’m willing to sacrifice that in return for…competence. I entered college without a facebook: very focused, undistracted, and with fewer friends. I graduated college with a busy Facebook: many friends, greater social acuity, and…a distracted mind.  Which is better?

I’m at the age where I need to focus on honing skills and contributing to the productive half of society. Facebook was and is good for validating the importance of socially undeveloped people, which I very much was.  But I’d like to think I’ve grown up. I’m realizing that just because people “like” my filtered, artfully-taken vintage photo, doesn’t mean that I have accomplished anything meaningful.

Still, I am grateful.  Over the course of 5.5 years, those likes, comments, and flood of birthday wall posts did wonders for my ego. That red notification symbol meant so much more than an additional like. To a 20-year old, it was validation that people cared, that something I did mattered, that I was someone worthy of liking (even if what I posted was actually a quote I copied from Tumblr). And yes, the fact that my old high school crush liked it meant that there totally was hope for us getting together.

Pathetic as it sounds, that’s life. Ultimately, not much changes from the old school yard. What we want is to simply feel included. Facebook facilitates that, however superficial, in a remarkable way.

So, why am I leaving? I have a life to live. I feel included enough. I can keep sharing more and more. Here I am — the posts and pics say — a being not anonymous but alive. I overshare therefore I am.

Or I can simply be.


Day 30: Announcing Retirement

I began the month of November with the vow to write every day. Since then, WordPress has informed me that I’ve published 28 times, garnering just under 1000 views collectively. The goal was to write and I guess in some measurable way, I did.

This is the life: Macbook, a messy desk, and cheap Thai.

This is the life: Macbook, a messy desk, and cheap Thai.

Then I realize that the date is December 3 and my stomach sinks like it did in high school, when my grade would come just short of an A.  My goal was to write every day for the month of November. It’s now December and I’m still only writing for November 30, Day 30: My Final Post. Also, I am somehow missing two days – Day 10 and Day 23 –  so I didn’t actually write every day of the month.

In this not-so-grand finale, missteps and incompletion are revealed. My story is one of backtracking, writing about events that happened days before, yet still documenting in present-tense as if it was all unfolding in real-time. I’m a fraud and time warp if there ever was one. Writing everyday is pretty straightforward. Pitter patter into the blog-o-sphere, publish, boom. Like clockwork, day in day out…yet I couldn’t do it.

Fortunately, I don’t really care. I wish I cared more. If I did, I’d probably accomplish more of my goals and be a better person. I’d finally get more sleep and be less crabby . I’d stop eating cupcakes and be skinnier. I’d meet deadlines and be responsible. Which would be great and then I’d have nothing to write about.

My friend, a fellow writer, wrote me this the other day:

Today, and lately, I’ve felt like I want to just retire. Like how at the end of Casablanca, Laszlo says “welcome back to the fight, this time I know our side will win.” I kinda wanna say fuck him and fuck the good fight and take Ilsa away and live happily ever after. I feel like I’ve lived my life a certain way. Trying to write about the Last Generation. The Novel. Trying to encourage all of us to be our best and trying to be a role model. But I’m tired now and lonesome and have nothing to show for it but anxiety and doubt. Lately part of me, a vocal part, just wants to say fuck it, grab the nearest Princess Jasmine and get out of Dodge while the getting is good (as in, Marry the Girl with the stupid proposal on the ice in front of Rockefeller center, the Big Law job, the Quiet Normal life.) Let the Last Generation fight on without me – it’s filled with 5th columnists away. Not only do I want to retire, I feel like I’ve earned it.

I tire too. I tire of translating thoughts out of an overwrought mind, craving connection with an audience (imaginary and real), dreaming of making it, only to then have people misinterpret me and my words. Forget it. It’s December, Christmas music is playing, and I just want to mindlessly sip hot chocolate. Turn my computer off forever. Pretend I’m normal and forget being the role model, because being a role model at 20something is oxymoronic anyway.

At the ragged age of 23, I’m preemptively announcing my retirement. To those who have followed me on this November journey, thanks for your readership. Who knows what happens from here. Maybe I’ll find a boyfriend, maybe I’ll completely up and leave the digital sphere, or move out of New York. I’m tempted to say I will never jot thoughts into the universe again.

But knowing me, I’ll wake up tomorrow, retreat to my favorite coffee shop in the neighborhood, order an Almond Biscuit with black coffee, and…do it all over again. Because truthfully folks, the day I can no longer pour out the addled contents of my mind will be a sad one. And that day, I will retire.


Day 29: Coast to Coast

A few hours separate one coast – and one world – from another. This morning, I braved gutsy hurricane-like winds in San Francisco, now I’m warmly tucked in to my Brooklyn nook. Air travel, akin to time travel, will never cease to amaze.

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So there I sat at 4:30 am PST, my thoughts dripping steadily like the rain drops coalescing on the airplane window. My SFO – – > JFK flight was delayed. We had been stuck on the runway for nearly 2 hours before the pilot was forced to head back to the gate to refuel and wait the storm out. Storm gusts blew at more than 15 knots per hour. (know what that means? neither do I)

For 72 hours before, I took in San Francisco like a vagrant. I stayed at a humble artist’s hotel with morbidly beautiful paintings adorning the wall (my first two room options consisted of one: a crying geisha, two: a stripper staring me down). I finally settled on a more calming bedroom backdrop reminiscent of a Japanese ‘Starry Night’.IMG_1489

Night time brought walking escapades through the city, often with nary an idea of where I was going. Thankfully there were friends who led the way through various neighborhoods. Interesting to observe their tendencies. Just like some New Yorkers shudder at the mention of certain neighborhoods (ahem Williamsburg), San Franciscans have similar reactions to particular areas (Marina?) Ultimately, each neighborhood has a distinct character and way of life that makes San Francisco what it is. In addition to downtown, there are neighboring suburbs: Palo Alto, San Jose, Cupertino, Oakland, Marin County etc. which collectively comprise the Bay Area, a whole other world to itself.

I jotted mental notes comparing San Francisco to New York. Each is arguably the ‘golden’ city on its own coast so, of course, I was evaluating the potential of each as a future home.

The main differences I noticed:

Residential: San Francisco, while urban, is markedly more residential. You’ll see long stretches of houses and apartments even in the thick of downtown. In Manhattan, aside from maybe the Upper East and West, that’s unseen. And even in neighborhoods like those, Manhattan retains an utterly cosmopolitan environment.

Style: San Franciscans are more casual. Admittedly, I spent all of my time at startups (one in downtown, and another in Palo Alto) but even around the more corporate Financial District I sensed a greater level of openness and earthiness. New York, while scrappy in ways, is all business with its swank and suits.

Health: San Franciscans veer natural. They are close to the outdoors with hiking paths, access to mountains and actual room to breathe. Living in New York, meanwhile, might take a year off your life. Physically and mentally, you drive yourself sick between riding the subways, battling anxiety and other neurotic souls, while being lured into oil-dripping street Halal food. But…it’s New York.

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I spent most of my time in the more touristy parts of San Francisco: Union Square, Ferry Building, Financial District. Next time, I’m intensely interested in understanding the people, values, and pace of the city. This visit was far too short to get at the city’s real essence. But from the few people I did encounter (including the good samaritan who paid my MUNI fare because I didn’t know you needed exact change) –  I’d say it was quite nice.

Other highlights:

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– seeing my childhood best pal and longest friend to date, Diana

– eavesdropping on “big ideas” at Ground Up Cafe, a shared space for employees in the AOL building (which houses several startups and Stanford’s startup incubator)

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– touring the ZeroCater office and shadowing their account managers for a very accurately depicted “day in the life”

– eating cioppino and sea dabs for the first time at a homey family-owned Italian restaurant in North Beach

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– exploring the bar scene. Local Edition (located in the Hearst building; the displays of old San Francisco Chronicle editions with typewriters make this a news nerd’s heaven) and Bourbon & Branch (prohibition-style bar with great whiskey & gin cocktails; there’s an old-school library too)

– being a tourist and eating overpriced hamburgers and martinis while overlooking Union Square. Totally worth it.

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“Look at all those fish swimming in a fish bowl down there.”

Thanks for a great time, San Francisco. I hope I get to spend more time with you one day.