11 September 2014

Moments on MUNI

(In case you missed it, I moved to San Francisco almost two weeks ago.)

So I use the MUNI train/metro/cable car system to get around here. (Still don't know what to call it.) 

I get on a couple blocks from my house and ride through various neighborhoods right to the heart of downtown each day to get to work. It’s about a half hour, which is not bad at all.

(Unless you get trapped in the underground section for 20 minutes when there’s some type of something stuck on the track that you don’t know what it is because the conductor’s voice is always muffled [unless it’s the guy this morning who wouldn’t stop talking the whole trip, telling you MUNI loves you and he also loves you]. THEN you hate your life and your mild claustrophobia threatens to give you a mini panic attack. But yeah, it’s usually a half hour.)

Being that it’s a conglomeration of all walks of life (minus the super rich, of course), you see all sorts of things. Yesterday there were two dudes who wanted everyone to know about their crazy weekends and their drunk vomiting escapades. There’s the crazy man who yells at the wall. There’s the troubled woman who yells into the air for not getting on the packed train with her stroller. There’s the adorable Asian baby sleeping on his father’s lap.

I get glimpses of the most lovely streets and parks and colors and architecture. Each house has a unique personality. Many of them are beautiful and all I want to do is stare at each one until I’ve figured it out. I will come to know them all with time.

When I’m lucky and the weather’s good, I get to see the fog slowly lift from where I begin in my neighborhood of perpetual fog to the land of suits and ties.

Yes, it’s exhausting to stand in a packed car at the end of a long day. Yes, it’s depressing to leave the sunlight and get enveloped in foggy gray when I go home. Yes, I’ve been trapped right next to an extremely affectionate lady couple. Yes, I made the mistake of sitting by a homeless man and realized in subtle horror as he kept scratching his head and I worried about getting fleas.

But I’ve missed the study of the human condition that public transportation provides. And everyone was right, people are actually surprisingly nice here.

I’m sure there will be days that I loathe my commute. But for now it provides me with a fascinating peek into the lives of my fellow San Franciscans—along with the added bonus of uninterrupted reading time. And I get to feel like a champion when I sprint for two blocks as the train is pulling past me and barely make it on.

So far me and MUNI are getting along just fine.

03 June 2014

A Small Ode To Provo: The Newsroom

So I was going to do a whole series dedicated to my near decade in Provo. But, you know, life is busy. So I leave you with one simple essay of one place that changed me. I wrote this right before I moved a month ago.

My first few weeks working at the paper were stressful. I had just quit my full-time job at a place I’d worked at for three years. Suddenly I was surrounded by so many strangers. And these strangers were loud. There was so much movement, so much commotion. There was a TV right by my desk that vacillated among the news stations. It always seemed like the broadcasters were yelling at me. People milled about and I struggled to focus. And I had no idea how to edit a newspaper.

But then I adjusted. And I fell completely in love with the newsroom. I loved the quick pace of the work there. The high pressure. The tight deadlines. The complete lack of privacy.

Without question the people there were the best part. These loud, opinionated, honest people became some of my closest friends (some of whom would leave me sticky notes when I wasn’t there simply to tell me they missed me). I began to see myself in them.

In the newsroom you have to speak up or you will get drowned out. You have to yell across the room to get someone’s attention. You have to back up your opinion. If you don’t have an opinion, you truly have no place in the newsroom. I wasn’t a loud person before I worked in the newsroom. I wasn’t prone to raise my voice. Well, that is certainly no longer the case.

For myriad reasons, grad school was (and still is) a time when I felt stretched to my limit in every way. The newsroom was my haven. It’s where I would go when I needed a social outlet after a long stretch of solitary studying. It’s where I went to complain about boys (obviously). It’s where I went to feel completely loved and accepted. Because there I was completely loved and accepted.

As I became more comfortable with my newsroom family, I found that I also became more comfortable with myself. I came to know myself in a new way. I became a truer version of myself.

I had an exit interview with my boss a couple weeks ago. He expressed his gratitude to me for my time at the newsroom. I tried to express just how dear the newsroom is to me, but I started to get emotional so, obviously to stave of tears in front of my boss, I stumbled through some lame response.

Working in the newsroom was easily one of the best things that has happened in my life. I will never forget my time there and the beautiful people who changed me.

Newsroom forever.

08 May 2014

My New Beginning

I went for a run today. My back was sore from sitting all day and I felt like exploring. So I went.

There was this moment of freedom as I ran. I felt alive and perfectly content. The weather was perfect. Endorphins were exploding in my body. I was in the company of several cyclists and several dogs getting walked. It was that moment when I felt like I had come home here.

I didn't realize just how out of place I felt in Provo. I've only lived in Salt Lake for five days, but it already feels like more of a home than Provo ever was. Yes, I know I'm in my honeymoon phase with Salt Lake and I'll come to a place of better reality with things here. But I feel at home here.

So here's to my new beginning. Another one. And only one in the string of many, I am sure. But so far I love my Salt Lake life.

The only thing that would make my life complete here would be a dog.

11 March 2014

‘Everybody Take a Ride on the Peace Train’

Recently I’ve started an internship in Salt Lake, which has been perfectly lovely, but that’s another story for another day. As part of this internship, I commute from Provo to Salt Lake. Rather than drive and get road rage every day, I take the train.

When I was on my mission there was a train I would ride to get into Lisbon. At one point it goes over their version of the Golden Gate Bridge (Ponto 25 de Abril) across the river (Rio Tejo). On one end you could see all of Lisbon unfold before you, cruise ships chilling in the river, the red tile roof standing out against the grimy, old buildings. On the other side was this magnificent, green cliff. Though I loved seeing Lisbon, that cliff was my favorite view of the whole train ride. I would look for it both ways.

I love the train.

Riding the train is peaceful and perfectly pleasant. Yes, it makes for a longer day. But it’s fine by me. I catch the 6:50 a.m. train and that gives me my most productive time of the day to work on my ominous thesis. It’s quiet (unless there’s a random dude sitting across from me playing back football highlights on his phone sans headphones) and I get to sit by a window and work.

 (I’ve recently discovered how important sitting by windows is to me. I will get as close as possible to a window whenever I need to be productive. As in, I moved away from one of my coworkers on the train just now and sat somewhere right by the window. A bit rude? Perhaps. Healthy for my soul? Absolutely.)

The ride home I work and hope the Internet will cooperate with me. It’s a craps shoot every time.
But without fail riding the train feels like breathing a sigh of relief. The mountains stand ever majestic. The clouds toy with them. The lake glistens in the rising and setting of the sun. I listen to music and bask in the beauty that surrounds me. 

And I am healed. Every time.