Alcatraz and champagne fountains

December 4, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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On Friday night Blake and I went to the YouTube holiday party, and it was about three times fancier than any party I have previously attended. Ever. And I went to a presidential inaugural ball in D.C. once, so that’s really saying something.

Earlier in the week I’d asked Blake to find a female coworker and get some guidance on how much I should dress up. Before that could occur, however, he heard a guy on his team brainstorming about where he could come up with a tuxedo at the last minute. A tuxedo! When Blake told me, I was sure the coworker was kidding. I have been to a number of business-sponsored parties — Christmas and otherwise — but usually I would stand out as the most dressed up in a sedate ensemble of tights, a skirt, and a turtleneck.

Not this party, though: to our great surprise, nearly everybody was wearing a suit. And in my blue rehearsal-dinner dress (which you can also see in the sidebar of this blog), I was among the more mildly-dressed women.  Once we got inside, it was clear why: this party was fancy. Bowties. Cummerbunds. Dresses covered in sequins. I was glad I wasn’t wearing a turtleneck!

It was held on the fourth floor of a building in downtown San Francisco with an incredible skyline view and a terrace. After we checked our coats, we mostly just drifted around oohing and ahhing about, well, everything: the champagne fountains, the caterers in tuxedos carrying around little trays of rare ahi tuna or mini croque monsieurs, the many open bars with every liquor imaginable, the free photo booths, the dim sum station and mashed-potato station and fancy meatballs and salmon skewers, the crab sliders… it just kept going. When I asked the bartender for the girliest drink he had, he made me a cosmo which left me pretty wobbly for the next 25 minutes. We found out the next day that there had been a doughnut-making machine on the terrace, but sadly we missed it.

Anyway, it was pretty neat. I met most of Blake’s teammates, which was fun, and all in all it was a lovely evening. I asked Blake to please not start a company until after next December so we can attend next year’s party as well. =)

Oh, yeah, the party was James Bond themed. I'm not really sure what that has to do with the holidays, but whatever. Blake's coworkers assured me that the tuxedos were because of the party itself, not the James Bond theme.

The next day we went to see Alcatraz, which was pretty nifty. The weather was great and the tour was pretty interesting. Here are some photos:

Alcatraz Island (taken from the ferry). To our surprise, the prison itself is only that little building on the top, which really isn't even that big. It only held about 300 prisoners at a time! The rest of the island is other stuff -- a garden, a nature preserve, apartments for the guards' families, etc. That lighthouse was the first lighthouse on the Pacific coast.

From Alcatraz with San Francisco in the background and century plants in the foreground. Those things always look like they came out of a Dr. Seuss book.

The view of downtown San Francisco from inside the cellblock. (The bridge on the left is the less famous Bay Bridge to Oakland -- the Golden Gate is behind us.)

Anyway, it was pretty neat. Driving around San Francisco was a huge pain, though — not even considering the terrible Saturday-afternoon traffic — and it convinced us that we need to get a GPS. It’s too frustrating to have to spend our drive consumed with navigation instead of conversing and having fun.

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Moving day! Again!

December 1, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Honestly, sometimes it feels like all we ever do is move boxes from one place to another and live out of our suitcase. But not anymore! Today is the last time for quite a while. For the first time since July 2010, we are planning on residing in the same building for at least one full year. (You may recall that at each stage of our time in Seattle, we thought we’d only be in the current place for a few months — which prevented us from really settling in.)

Sunset over San Bruno Mountain on our last night in San Francisco. (Looking southwest.)

So here we are (finally!) in the lovely town of Foster City. We actually were able to get into the apartment one day early — on November 28 — which made our transition from the San Francisco apartment much less hurried.  We had almost 48 hours of overlap between the two places, so I could ferry items over in several trips while Blake was working. It was stressful, but nothing too terrible. And every time I walked down the path to our new building with a load of stuff, it was so nice to see the trees and the birds and the lagoon and the grass and the flowers and the sunshine. Rarely have I been so happy to move into a place.

On Tuesday the moving truck came, and for five hours the movers squeezed boxes and furniture from an 1,800-square-foot house into a  1,050-square-foot apartment. We knew it would be tight and we expected to have to get rid of a lot of stuff before it’ll really be pleasant in here, but the movers still made me nervous. As each new guy would come in for the first time with a handtruck full of boxes, he’d look around, widen his eyes, frown a little, and say “Do you have a garage? I don’t know if this will all fit in here.” We don’t have a garage, but I told them we expected it to be tight and we’d just deal with it. Then he’d give a look of concern and futility, look around some more, and say “okay…” And even though he was saying okay, his tone said “you’re the customer and I’m not going to argue, but no way is this going to work.” And these were professional movers. They put boxes in houses for a living. My confidence cracked a little.

The dining room. This shot was taken when the movers had unloaded about 30% of our stuff. (It's more crowded now.) But look, it's my ficus! Just seeing it makes me happy. (The paper lanterns in it were a gift from Bonny many years ago.)

But it all fit. We knew it would. It is tight, though. The guest bed is leaning up against the wall, and my white couch is still wrapped in plastic and up on its end in the second bedroom. We’re planning to get rid of some of my excess furniture, a fair amount of excess kitchen stuff (since Blake and I each had a full kitchen before we met), and a boatload of excess clothes. Okay, really the excess clothes mostly just belong to me. I think I might have ten pairs of shoes for each one Blake has. Maybe fifteen.

Everybody knows I have trouble getting rid of stuff. I love to look at some old piece of junk and think “Ooh, remember when I was [some age] and I went to [some place] and I had to buy that pair of shoes because my other pair broke? That was a nice trip.” And now that pair of shoes is scuffed up and dirty and kind of outdated and pinches my toe a little and I have five other pairs that I like better that are also black and cute and look nicer and are more comfortable. But it still makes me sad to contemplate throwing them away! Honestly, I think at least 40% of my clothes fit into that category. It’s going to to be rough.

Who doesn't love close-ups of dogs' faces? Nobody, that's who. Have some Nano.

But I’m determined. And having lived in Uwajimaya for a year is really helping. When I moved into Blake’s house I went through my clothes and got rid of a lot, but there were many items I just couldn’t part with. Like the yellow shirt I got in Rome when I went to Europe with Brad and Eric in college. It’s kind of stretched out and the arms are stained (bleached?) with deodorant. I never want to wear it. Yellow doesn’t really look very good on me. But there it hangs in the closet reminding me of college and Italy and Brad and Eric, and the idea of getting rid of it just tugs at my heartstrings. Those were good times!

But being in Uwajimaya for a year and not seeing my stuff for so long has reminded me of how little I care about some of it. I don’t know if I can part with my yellow Rome shirt yet, but as we’ve unpacked I’ve seen lots of clothes that I can kiss goodbye with a clear conscience.

There’s more to say, but I need to go run some errands and do some more unpacking. The rest will have to wait for a future post. But life is good! We’re finally settled in a place for a long time, and that’s pretty exciting. It’s nice here.

The view from our porch. It's so beautiful!

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