Living in the city of San Francisco was a great experience for so many reasons. My life was a kaleidoscope of adventures, always interesting, always entertaining, always challenging.

San Francisco is so many different things to so many people. When we describe the city with the term 'diversity' that's not just about it's architecture, cultural heritage or culinary hospitality. It's the cross section of it's inhabitants and their experiences. People who have been uprooted, transplanted and transformed by this almost magical place I once called home. There's a veritable smorgasbord of people and possibilities. Here, in these roughly 47 square miles lies a vortex of parallel universes all living simultaneously side by side and in layers, all atop of one another. If we're ever visited by another species who come down from the cosmos in search of interesting human specimens, they can do their one stop shopping in San Francisco.

The following is a chronicle of my daily observations beginning in 2007. It's a kind of patchwork quilt for me to re-live with you and one that I will no doubt look back on again and again. I decided the best way to share these hand written essays with my family and friends was to format it into a blog, so I hope you enjoy reading it and please feel free to comment.

Feedback is really important for any writer. I only ask that for now to keep it just between you and your bestie, lest I should figure out if it is monetarily valuable at some point and officially publish it.

-Roanna Z.

Friday, October 28, 2011

All hoodies all the time. SF is burrific.

The sun is sneaking away on this January day, bathing lower Clement St buildings in a dusty orange. The last rays are hitting the steam and dancing above my Earle Grey tea and the string has spun itself around my spoon as I dip the tea bag in and out. I'm lost in thought while staring out the window from the Blue Danube coffee house.

As we have come to expect it, the late afternoon wind has picked up from the north west, blowing around errant newspapers and neglected napkins left on outside cafe tables.  Taking tourists by surprise, these chilly breezes are the driving sales force behind the invisible campaign to send every traveler home with an over sized sweat shirt or hoodie embroidered with the SF. logo below the upper right shoulder, the one with the abbreviated Golden Gate bridge. This chilly wind catches everyone by surprise. It can be warm as toast, then suddenly it blows in off the bay. A wind that makes you grimace and walk a little faster. Dogs leashes are tugged before they've had a chance to sniff out the daily news, the cafes empty out of Laptop commuters and there is a sense of anticipation in the air, like that of a stage curtain drop for intermission.

When the air is chilled in SF. a wave of denial takes hold. When the temp drops below 58f the denial holds strong. Men leave the jacket unzipped and young women proud of their figure prefer the arms crossed method of staying warm. It's allowable to whine a little bit over the chill as a little drama attracts attention, which also apparently has a warming affect. But this cool temperature will not affect the evening's plans of standing in line, outside of a night club in the Mission district for 45 minutes past the the bouncer's promise.

The clubs in SF. are opulently adorned. Beautiful lighting and furnishings, plush velvety window treatments reclaimed wood bars, something old and something new. Crowded and loud enough to drown out limp jokes and lame passes. Drinks are mixed with ritualistic intention, behind the bar there's a blur of colourful bottles and shapely glasses being passed to thirsty patrons. Money is exchanged in frenzied flow. Bar tenders pace the mats like lions in a zoo cage at feeding time. Smokers huddle in doorways, perfume wages a war over fresh air. Every lounge or club has it's own distinction and each draws a following with cult-ish allure.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Weekend brunch on Chestnut St.

Many people I've known would have a lot of very reasonable excuses never to go to Chestnut St. and I accept that. If you're against chain stores for example or you've fatigued of yoga couture, or maybe you hate double wide SUV baby carriages and the 20-30 something's overburdened with Baby Gap shopping bags, talking on their cell phone while jogging with their golden retrievers and flashing looks of entitlement as they overtake you on the sidewalk. I get that, but if you are in a mood where none of that kind of thing is bothersome, you could partake in a brunch on an outside patio in the sun and enjoy the parade of economically care free consumers going by.

We were seated once at Squat & Gobble, on Chestnut St. (and by the way I have a friend that is so offended by this name that she refuses to enter the place).  So, there we were outside, under the heat lamp, (ah yes, memories of the chilly, foggy San Francisco Summers). Next to us there were three men brunching, one with a French Bulldog on his lap who could win an award for both good behaviour and best dressed with his red and orange pin striped vest, having his ear stroked, sedate and seemingly uninterested in the plate of breakfast sausages a mere 6 inches from his compact snout. I felt amused and distracted with my study of this dog, I was amazed that he was so well disciplined and also wondered what the health department rules were about having a dog on ones lap at a table on an outside patio.

 San Francisco is definitely the place to live if you like lunching with your pooch. Water and snack bowls decorating a shop or cafe entrance are a sure sign that Fido is welcome but usually they are left at the door. Let me say here that I love dogs, no really. Pretty much all dogs and actually many of them I like more than people. I mean to say that I am pretty much dog-gone mad for the fur family. I'll go farther and admit that I will 'paws' mid sentence and even leave a table of food to interact with a dog nearby and that I may or may not apologize for this behaviour. My favourite people to hang out with are also dog loving enthusiasts, I am in fact a happy dog in spirit.

It was during our lunch, on that chilly afternoon, while I was enjoying what I deemed to be a very European atmosphere that I fell into a day dream. I started writing stories in my head and pondered the thought of jotting them down to see how they would come together. I visualized a jigsaw puzzle of pieces, which comprised of my personal experiences all laid out on a table waiting to be assembled. I thought it would be fun to share my musings. And there shortly afterward I began, not with a laptop, but a pen and hardcover book, sitting on the bench, outside of Books Inc. on Chestnut St.