Wednesday, May 30, 2007

California love

So I got the idea from Hilly to come up with this list. I figured it would be would be helpful, given the dark mood I've been in lately, to come up with some stuff that I actually like. So here goes ...

Why the Empress Is Happy to Live in California

1. Carne asada burritos from Roberto's in San Diego. One of the things I have missed since graduating from undergrad. I find myself periodically dreaming about them. I've had some good burritos elsewhere but none have made me want to drive two hours for one.

I once drove to San Diego from L.A. with the express purpose of getting a couple of burritos. Well, and also stopping at my fave bar. But that's all the trip consisted of -- burritos and cocktails. And this was on a Friday evening after working all week. Insane, huh?

2. Tilden Park in the Berkeley hills. I still get a kick out of going by the Little Farm up there. Just as much as I did when I was a kid. And the Jewel Lake trail? The Botanical Garden? Totally calming.

3. That certain block of Lombard Street in San Francisco. You know the one. The one dubbed as the "crookedest street in the world." Now I know that this is a usual tourist destination but the key here is to go later in the evening. Say around 10 p.m. or so. Late enough that the pesky tourists are not around. You can take the street a little faster then. Kind of an adult version of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

4. The California State Fair. Sure you've got the livestock exhibits and crafts and rides. But there's also harness racing. Oh, and let's not forget the wine competition. Oh, and food. There's a vendor who's been there a few years at least who makes scrumptious fried catfish. If you catch him at the right time, there's peach cobbler too. And finally, the concerts. Of course, I usually luck up and get the VIP tickets. This means reserved seating with a catered meal. And lots of free beer and wine. Plus it is so much fun to sing along with a bunch of strangers to the likes of The B-52s and The Doobie Brothers.

5. Not having to pack away seasonal wardrobes like I did when I lived in Virginia. I love living in a place in which the climate is fairly stable. I like to say that in NorCal we have two seasons -- wet and dry. I love sweaters and I love that I can wear my wool sweaters the majority of the year.

6. And speaking of Virginia, I love that the houses out here are painted a variety of colors. In Virginia, everything was either white or beige or brick. Boring. I love the technicolor display of houses. It seems so alive and vibrant.

7. The laidback feeling at times. Even though Berkeley liberals can be irritating at times, I still love them. They're part of the reason why I chose to live here. Probably because there is such a variety in personal expression. It's all cool. If I had stayed in Virginia, I probably never would have pierced my nose. Last summer when I was looking for a job (That seems to be a recurring thing.), my relatives in the South asked, "Do you think it's wise to pierce your nose while looking for a job?" Heck yeah. It's becoming pretty common around here. Just like how folks compare what kind of ink they have. Reminder to self -- must see about getting some ink in the near future.

8. Proximity to both the beach and the snow. Not that I go to either very often but I like the idea of being able to.

9. My commute when I worked in South San Francisco. I learned how to avoid the hell that is known as 80. If I took that route home, it would take me at least 90 minutes to get home. My alternate route took one hour. Skyline Boulevard to Great Highway to Lincoln. Cut through Golden Gate Park to Park Presidio to the Golden Gate Bridge. Then a quick jaunt through Marin County to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Once while driving home, I was speaking to one of my uncles who now lives in Alabama. He said, "You have to have one of the most beautiful commutes." During daylight savings time when the sun is just starting to set and there are pelicans flying over the ocean? Breathtaking. It's one of those things that I take for granted of which I have to remind myself periodically.

10. And finally, one of my other favorite drives. Taking Coleman Valley Road from Occidental out to the coast. I love the juxtaposition of one minute being in rolling green farmland and the next being at the rocky coast.

So if you feel like joining in, try to come up with ten non-traditional as to why you love the state in which you live.

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