Tuesday, January 8, 2019

An Ode to the Richmond

It Was December - Rose Gardens, Golden Gate Park, SF - Dec 2018
I can't say I ever thought I'd find myself writing an ode to the Richmond. Not when I first moved to SF and was told by a then-resident, "When looking for places to live, avoid Richmond and Sunset. They're too far out. It's like not even living in SF." And I definitely did not see myself writing one when I lived in NOPA, where I couldn't figure out why anyone would ever live anywhere else if at all possible. And yet, here I am, writing one.
See the Irony? - My Backyard - Richmond, SF - Oct 2018
Sidewalk Koi Fish and Bougainvillea - Richmond, SF - Oct 2018 
Moving to the Richmond was more by convenience than by choice. A friend of mine moved out, and I needed a place to move in. As with most things in my life that I grow to love, I didn't like it at first. It was too quiet (both literally in terms of noise and figuratively in terms of restaurants, bars, etc.) It was too spread out (you mean I have to walk 10 blocks to the closest grocery store?) And, almost all my friends lived elsewhere.

It's still quiet. It's still spread out. And almost all my friends still live elsewhere. But I grew to love the Richmond Spread, as I'm deeming it. Call me crazy. It's okay. One-year-ago Leah would too.
There's a Bus Stop - Richmond, SF - Dec 2018
Bad Hair Day - Baker Beach, SF - Oct 2018
Let's begin with the Richmond Spread in terms of distance. Initially incredibly damn irritating. The distance from one place to another is multiplied by four in comparison to the rest of the city. But also, so what! Because everything is a bit more spread out, every errand is practically begging to be an adventure. And while I'm not always looking to make an adventure out of grocery shopping after work in the dark, weekend roaming can be a good ol' time. Every other block offers a view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and if anyone tells you they're tired of seeing that, then they're lying or nuts. Also, the park and the ocean are present.
If You Look Hard Enough, There's a Bridge There - Richmond, SF - Dec 2018
If You Look Hard Enough, There's a Bridge There, Pt. 2 - Richmond, SF - Dec 2018
So now the Richmond Spread in terms of what the Richmond has to offer. I mean, what doesn't it have to offer?! Lots. But also lots to offer. It's like a smorgasbord board (thought it was spelled 'shmorgeous') of nearly all of SF. You've got Trad'r Sam's, the best tiki bar known to man (I'm biased.) You've got the best ramen known to man (I'm not biased.) You've got Cinderella's, Arsicault, Fiorella's, The Bitter End, Tommy's. You get the picture. The place is overflowing and yet empty, and I love it.
The Greatest Wednesday on Earth - Japanese Gardens, Golden Gate Park, SF - Oct 2018
And now the Richmond Spread in terms of variety. The people don't fit into a type. There's families and college kids, young professionals and old winners. Not once have I thought, "Do all these people get their hair cut at the same place?" And I like that kind of a neighborhood. Keeps you grounded.
They Weren't Running Before This Photo - Golden Gate Park, SF - Dec 2018
Much like the people, the houses and architecture don't fit into a type either. There's Victorians mixed with...other styles. I'm not going to pretend to know architecture. But I will tell you, there are all sorts of houses mixed together. It's eclectic and not always cohesive. And, yep you guessed it, I love it.
A Photo of the Power Lines - Richmond, SF - Nov 2018
The Camera Could Have Been Crooked - The Richmond, SF - December 2018
So anyway, before I get too carried away, does anyone know of any apartments opening up? It's like I don't even live in SF.
Breakfast That Died and Went to Heaven - The Mission, SF - Dec 2018
Ornate, Who Me? - The Haight, SF - Dec 2018
The Holidays When You Live in a Van Down by the River - The Haight, SF - Dec 2018
That's a Damn Rooftop Right There - Duboce Park, SF - Dec 2018
Could Only Find One Paint Can - Duboce, SF - Dec 2018

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Yosemite and Lots of Words

Could the View Get Any Better? - Glacier Point - Yosemite, Day 1 - September 2018
The thing about Yosemite you must never forget is that it does not have a free shuttle that'll take you around the park. Nope. Not even after you've backpacked roughly 15 miles in 3 days with over 6,000 feet elevation gain. Not even if your permit tells you to start at Glacier Point and end at Little Yosemite Valley. Not a chance. Don't even think about it. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Glacier Point is the prettiest point I've ever stood and looked out. Okay, that might be an exaggeration because this is Earth and there are a lot of beautiful points. But I couldn't have asked for a prettier beginning. At Glacier Point, Half Dome stands proudly naked surrounded by its lesser friends, family and enemies (assuming of course that nature comes to life when we aren't looking as I was told as a child which resulted in me, sometimes even still, trying to sneak up on flowers to catch them talking to each other). Just look at it!!!
A Couple of Nature-Loving Kiddos - Nevada Falls - Yosemite, Day 2 - September 2018
After driving four hours, we were thrilled to begin. We started by hiking the Panorama Trail, which really lived up to its name—you know, panoramic. We saw four deer! One was clearly a teenager trying to be cool and hang at the back of the pack, a few hops behind the rest but actually just looked a bit lost. We camped at Illilouette Creek. That was a lovely campsite. We ate our dehydrated dinners by the creek (It was more like a river in my opinion.) Some of the guys had the best mac-n-cheese I've ever tasted. And then I went to sleep terrified bears would eat us while Ryan calmed me down.
Butts - Panorama Trail - Yosemite, Day 1 - September 2018
Up on Cripple Creek - Illilouette Creek - Yosemite, Day 1 - September 2018
What a Bridge View! - Illilouette Creek - Yosemite, Day 1 - September 2018
Day 2:
The next day we started at 9am to take on Half Dome. Our first stop was Nevada Falls. That place was damn pretty. It might have something to do with the horses that rode past right when we got to the top. But it also might have nothing to do with that and is just inherently spectacular. We then made our way to Backpackers Camp at the base of Half Dome. We ate lunch (delish PB&J roll ups) and left our packs to hike Half Dome. At this point, we're three miles in with three and a half more miles up and back and I'm wondering how I got myself into this but also really happy to be there. You know? So we hike up Half Dome and the views are wow. Being too terrified of dying, I hung at Quarter Dome while the guys did the ropes to the top. I took a nap while the guys were up there. They raved about the views. I raved about my nap. It worked out well. Gosh, everything was so beautiful. We all descended together, made dinner and relaxed by the river on the hammock. The campsite had toilets (!) where a sign informed us cougars had been around. Ha ha. But also scary. What a day.
Sure Hiked up a Hill for This Perspective - Panorama Trail - Yosemite, Day 2 - September 2018
Vanna White Never Looked So Good - Nevada Falls - Yosemite, Day 2 - September 2018
You Come Here Often? - Nevada Falls - Yosemite, Day 2 - September 2018
Quarter Dome - Yosemite, Day 2 - September 2018
Nap Views - Quarter Dome - Yosemite, Day 2 - September 2018
Watching People More Brave Than I - Quarter Dome - Yosemite, Day 2 - September 2018
Down We Go - Half Dome Trail - Yosemite, Day 2 - September 2018
Day 3:
We hike down the four or so miles. The path was essentially a set of stairs for miles, which was a bit tough on the knees and quads of those who have little to no muscle mass from not working out for three months (me). In hindsight, I loved the rickety staircase that lead us down the mountain. At the time I was focused more on my legs not giving out. Once at the bottom, the shuttle stop bench was the most comfortable thing I had ever sat on. We planned to meet at a bar in a nearby town. But that was before we realized the shuttle wouldn't take us back to our car. It was either buy a tour bus pass for a tour two hours from then or hitchhike. There were six of us. We bought the last five tour passes and lunch and hoped the standby list wasn't wishful thinking. Luckily it wasn't. And bonus, the tour was super interesting. We got back to the car and headed home, stopping not for a beer but instead in Nowhere for dinner at Taco Bell before carrying on. It sure was nice to sleep in a bed that night.
Shaky Legs and Joyful Hearts - Vernal Falls - Yosemite, Day 3 - September 2018
Ryan, the World's Best Hiking Partner - Yosemite, Day 2 - September 2018
Some Fun Bits:
-I made Ryan and I bring too much food because I was terrified of being hungry. Smart right? Well no. It really just resulted in extra pack weight and lots of leftovers we didn't want to touch because that's all we had to eat for three days straight.
-I almost cried twice from exhaustion, heat and out-of-shape-ness. But I was lucky enough to be with the best group who was supportive when necessary and not-noticing-a-thing when also necessary.
-Snickers and Coca Cola are wonderful pre-hike snacks. And now that I think about it, they're wonderful after-hike snacks too.
-I loved the trip so much. And I love reminiscing on it even more.
Glacier Point - Yosemite - September 2018
I've been putting off writing this because I couldn't decide what words to pair with the ol' Yosemite—I didn't want to let it down. It's a place, I felt, that's far more for the eyes (and perhaps the lungs) than the paper. But in true Leah fashion, some written something is better than no written nothing. So, if there's any way to end this, it's to urge you all to GO! Go see it for yourself!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Trust Your Gut

Who needs green grass? - My house - Salt Lake City - Sept. 2018
I've been a huge fan lately of killing time by writing 500-word short stories. This is especially convenient when I have little to do at work because I still appear to be working. Suckers! Convenient when your pass time is similar to your work time. This particular story came out of a writing challenge with my guy. My story is slightly morbid, but in a fun way. You know? The topic was Origin and the length was 500 words or less and the time with which to write it in was repeatedly extended and go!
Meticulously placed rocks - Salt Lake City - Sept. 2018
Landscaper came yesterday - Salt Lake City - Sept. 2018
Trust Your Gut
By Leah Saycich

The cookies showed up unannounced but not unwelcome. Cookies weren’t her favorite treat by any means, not even close. Apple cobbler, strawberry shortcake, her mom’s cheesecake, a cannoli, eclairs, ice cream sundaes, peach pie, and fruit tarts all came before any cookie on her list of favorite treats. This particular cookie, the classic chocolate chip, didn’t even come before shortbread, oatmeal cookies, raspberry thumbprints, madeleines, and frosted sugar cookies. She wondered how they became the classic treat to bequeath upon others. But, again, the cookies weren’t unwelcome.

With one hand on the door and one on the frame, she stared down at them lying uncomfortably squished and stacked onto a single red paper plate. Some cookies were no longer flat but more of a downhill slope after resting half on the edge of the plate. They should have let them cool first. 
She noticed the stark contrast her West Elm jute doormat had against the cheap red paper and saran wrap loose and stuck to itself. As she picked up the heavy plate—they always weighed more than they appeared to—she had to remind herself it was a kind gesture, the cookies.

But kind as it was, the origin of the cookies themselves remained a mystery. What sort of person leaves cookies on another’s doorstep and doesn’t leave a note. It’ll be humiliating when a few weeks from now at a neighborhood barbecue she felt obligated to attend the bestower says in front of three other neighbors, “I hope you enjoyed the cookies!” And she’s left scrambling together a thank you three weeks late, and not in the proper fashion with a thank you card, for cookies that were probably made with frozen Nestle cookie dough.

But that wasn’t the only thing that worried her. If she didn’t know where the cookies came from, were they safe to eat? She wanted to eat them, of course, even if they weren’t among her favorites. The crispy on the outside and soft on the inside three-bite delight sprinkled with the perfect amount of chocolate chips, or were those chocolate chunks, to cookie ratio. The longer she looked, the more appetizing the cookies became.

She decided the origin of the cookies didn’t matter. It was a safe neighborhood after all. She unwrapped the plate like it was Christmas morning, tugging a bit too hard and a bit too fast—her eagerness getting the best of her.

Two bites in and her delight turned to repulsion. Something was very wrong. This was not how a chocolate chip cookie should taste. She looked closer and found it wasn’t a chocolate chip cookie at all but a snickerdoodle with walnuts(?). As her throat began to swell in allergic protest, she crumbled to the floor. The anaphylactic shock was setting in before she could reach help. So, there she lies on her itchy jute mat dreaming of all her favorite treats that would never leave her to perish on her own doorstep.

Hide and Seek - Salt Lake City - Sept. 2018
Trees for bangs - Salt Lake City - Sept. 2018
See ya later - Salt Lake City - Sept. 2018
I've taken up morning walks lately. Since moving to Salt Lake, I walk like 90% less than I did in SF. And not only did I feel unhealthy, antsy and just generally lazy, I also absolutely love walking and looking at my surroundings. So I decided to start walking in the mornings when it's actually cool enough out that I don't sweat my entire body weight of water. And there was a beautiful time period where I would say hi to a family of snails playing (or so I assumed) in the water of an early sprinkler, but they don't come out as much as they used to. Looks like I'm going insane. But seriously, have you seen a baby snail ride on the back of a larger snail?! Add it to the "To Do" list. 

Is the house crooked or am I? - Salt Lake City - Sept. 2018
The house not on a hill - Salt Lake City - Sept. 2018
The photos of the houses are the houses I see on my walks. They're all unique and beautiful in their own way. One house always has its front door open in the morning. Although I never see anyone in or around it. Another has two lab puppies they very trustingly let play freely in the front yard. And one has two plastic lawn chairs on the driveway where an old man and his wife sit and relax at the end of the day. I sometimes walk in the evenings too. That is how I know that detail.

Lawn over living space - Salt Lake City - Sept. 2018

Lay low - Salt Lake City - Sept. 2018
P.S. I'm returning to SF. I'll miss you Salt Lake houses. But also, where are all the people?

Monday, May 7, 2018

Commuting and The Chaos that Follows

The Lost Coast - Day 1 - April 2018
I wrote a story about my commute. I originally wrote the story for a writing prompt on ManRepeller — a fashion website turned all-things-life-in-general website. Spoiler alert: I did not win. The winning submission proved to be far more endearing and hopeful but most notably involves actually being on a train at the time, while mine mourns the loss of a beer as I wait at the bus stop. But, alas, I enjoy my story. You might too.
My Favorite River Crossing - The Lost Coast - Day 2 - April 2018
Sheila the Wonder Pup - The Lost Coast - Day 3 - April 2018
The Screamer, The Sheriff and A Little Sumpin'

On my way home from work I turn a corner and stumble upon an altercation. A man in his mid-thirties and disheveled to the point of concern is holding a beer and screaming at a man a decade older dressed in an all-grey uniform complete with a sheriff’s badge. Screamer throws an arch of beer in the direction of Sheriff but most of it lands directly in my path. I pause and look over, gauging whether it’s safe to run-walk past. What strikes me is not Screamer, but the fact that the beer Screamer is wielding is a Lagunitas Little Sumpin’. Good taste in beer, I think to myself.

The two shift out of my path, providing me the perfect moment to sneak past. I, like most people on the sidewalk, have learned that the safest thing to do in these situations is to simply keep walking. I do just that and make my way to the nearby bus stop.

So there I stand with 30 other folks facing the road but looking to our left, watching as Screamer lunges toward Sheriff. Sheriff declares, “Now you’ve officially hit a member of law enforcement.” I find myself, somewhat shamefully, wondering, Is Sheriff actually a sheriff? Do they wear grey? Did his badge look plastic? I feel like it looked plastic.

In response, Screamer throws his bottle of Little Sumpin’ on the ground. It shatters. I, again somewhat shamefully, think, What a waste.

The altercation intensifies as if the sound of the shattering glass were the toll of a boxing ring bell. With two free hands, Screamer is more confident, throwing open-hand hits at Sheriff’s face. Sheriff attempts to grab Screamer and pin his arms down. When this doesn’t work, he throws Screamer on the floor. Screamer’s head smacks the sidewalk. There’s a collective inhale from the bus stop crowd. Screamer gets back up. There’s a relieved exhale.

I think to myself, This is getting out of hand. I’ve gotta do something. Someone should do something. A young professional steps between them. I think, Oh my gosh, this man is a hero. We can’t hear what he’s saying. He must be speaking low and calm. That’s smart, I think. But then Young Professional takes three large steps back and begins flexing, pumping his right fist. Wait, is this guy kidding?, I think.

Screamer has taken a new opponent. Sheriff appears relieved. Young Professional apparently decides it isn’t worth it and walks away. Screamer’s attention returns to Sheriff and the squabble continues.

Finally, after what feels like hours, the 5R arrives, and I board my bus. I turn around to get a last look at the men arguing and find Screamer is sitting calmly on the ground, legs spread in a forty-five-degree angle while Sheriff stands above him breathing deep.

I take a few deep breaths myself, letting my anxiety dissipate. And as the bus rolls on, I find myself, no longer shamefully, mourning the loss of a perfectly delicious Little Sumpin’.
Sea Urchins Have Pretty Skeletons - The Lost Coast - Day 4 - April 2018
Cool Cats - The Lost Coast - Day 3 - April 2018
The photographs that are delightfully separating blocks of text throughout this post are all from my backpacking trip down The Lost Coast. It was a four-day trip, 25 miles in length, with an incalculable amount of smiles. Walking through sand and loose rock for miles on end is no easy task. It's definitely exhausting. But as you can see, it's worth it visually speaking, and as you can't see, it's worth it physically speaking if you like that sort of exhaustion. The trip taught me a few things, including I can do "it," I can keep going, and that there's certainly truth to the concept, "The only way out is through." Keep ya head up.
Not a Bad Campsite - The Lost Coast - Day 2 - April 2018
Happiest Beer of my Life - The Lost Coast - Day 4 - April 2018

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Japannnnn and following your dreams

Kinkaku-ji AKA the Golden Pavilion (who knew) - Kyoto, Japan - February 2017
A lot of rambling paired with some fun pics from Osaka, Kyoto (my favorite) and Tokyo. I did many fun, new, uncomfortably-wonderful, somewhat-exhausting, enjoyable things and went to many fun, awe-inspiring, centering, overwhelmingly-stimulating, unique places and talked with many fun, polite, kind, helpful, creative people. The trip was eye-opening, beautiful, cold, enormously-fun (Can fun be enormous?), too short, delicious (in terms of food) and dreamy. I pet an owl which was terrifying because I thought it'd bite me, sad because it was chained up and soft because duh. I ate lots of the best ramen I've ever had, onigiri at every meal and loads of sweet bread. I bought lots of souvenirs I sometimes stare at and remember where I got them and what was happening around me. I talked with people who were thrilled to meet us and excited to help us find our way and take photos that had all of us in them (Where's the button? Oh yeah, where it always is.) I drank lots of coffee made by the hippest people I've ever seen. I walked A LOT. I saw 10 story buildings covered to the top in one square inch ceramic tiles over and over and took photos of them over and over then dreamed aloud with Courtney about what color we would cover a house in — hers: cream/beige/grey, mine: indigo. I'm almost crying of joy thinking about all the things we did and how wonderful of a time we had.
Osaka, Japan - Feb 2017
I was obsessed with their taxis. This was the most boring color of them all. - Osaka, Japan - Feb 2017
Courtney being her usual thug self - Osaka, Japan - Feb 2017
Some of the few blossoms we were lucky enough to catch - Osaka, Japan - Feb 2017
I urge you to get up, to get out, to go look out and up, to go looking at pretty things, things that you can't look away from. It's so easy to get stuck in the same routine. To look at the same things and not quite see them any longer. But they want to be seen just as much as you want to be seen. (Sometimes I get a bit frantic and worried about others missing the beauty around them. Forgive me.) These pretty things can be so inspiring — if not inspiring, then at least uplifting.
Top-notch, tour-guide Courtney and wising-I-had-a-warmer-jacket me - Kyoto, Japan - Feb 2017

Tourists dressed as Geishas & tourists dressed as themselves - Yasaka Pagota - Kyoto, Japan - Feb 2017
Look at that sign though! - Nishiki Market - Kyoto, Japan - Feb 2017
The prettiest pork bun there ever was, also the most delicious - Nishiki Market - Kyoto, Japan - Feb 2017
I have taken up running again now that it's light out past five o'clock. Okay let me be clear, I jog, not run. I wish I ran, but perhaps someday. Anyway all this running, sorry, jogging, made me re-fall in love with San Francisco. I love all the green and the beautiful, highly-detailed homes and the crazy, amazing people.
Yasaka Shrine from Gion - Kyoto, Japan - Feb 2017
Me being me - Yasaka Shrine - Kyoto, Japan - Feb 2017
Tiny one - Kyoto, Japan - Feb 2017
Lit lanterns - Yasaka Shrine - Kyoto, Japan - Feb 2017
Stone family - Arashiyama, Japan - Feb 2017
Looking up in the Bamboo Forest - Arashiyama, Japan - Feb 2017
A quote from the book I'm reading reads, "Keep your dreams, you never know when you might need them." And while the first time I read thought I thought it to be sad, I now see it as more beautiful than sad. Following your dreams is terrifying and I understand accidental and purposeful detours happen, so it's nice to know you can keep your dreams for later. They'll always be there, waiting for you. They can oftentimes be too patient.
Fushimi Inari - Kyoto, Japan - Feb 2017
Jenny and Courtney being fun - Kyoto, Japan - Feb 2017
Refreshing and uplifting, also ginormous - Kyoto, Japan - Feb 2017
Lunch half-eaten - Arashiyama, Japan - Feb 2017
Fushimi Inari - Kyoto, Japan - Feb 2017
On the other hand, for those who have followed their dreams, we all know the road can be a hell of a ride, and not always the thrilling sort. Keeping your dreams safe allows you to refer back to why and how you got here in the first place, which gets you to persist. I have no idea why I seem to feel road/driving metaphors are naturally associated with dreams. Will the world ever know?!
Some cool shop - Tokyo, Japan - Feb 2017
Tokyo, Japan - Feb 2017
Space ship, just kidding - Tokyo, Japan - Feb 2017
Casual stroll in Shinjuku - Tokyo, Japan - Feb 2017

Some fun facts:
I still wish everyone I love could live in the same place.
I've been eating a lot of roasted veggies lately — like so many I'm afraid I'll turn into one.
There's been so much to fight for lately; it can be very exhausting.
Dishwashing gloves are highly underrated.
Sparkling water makes every day better.

Ceramic tile city - Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan - March 2017
Tokyo, Japan - March 2017

The sun came out for our last day - Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan - March 2017

Twins drinking beers on Route 66 - Cheers to the last day - Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan - March 2017