This time of year is consistently filled with excitement (and for some, dread.) Softening twilights signal the end of summer, when we put down our popsicles (or mugs of hot tea, if you’re a San Franciscan) and pick up our books, strap on our backpacks. It’s back to school time.

The little girl who loved school, who couldn’t wait for classes to begin…could hardly have predicted the evolution of the phrase “back to school” as a thirty-year-old. She likely could not imagine that one simple object and its meaning, its weight, would evolve alongside her.

 

Backpacking SF beach-8


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A walking tour through SF’s Mission District for travelers from around the globe…and this local.

It’s an all too familiar scene.

Friends visiting San Francisco text to ask if I’d like to join them somewhere in the city. They know I love sharing my city with visitors, especially those who haven’t been before. Yet a small part of me cringes when I hear their list of plans: Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Union Square, Ghirardelli Square, riding in a cable car, clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl.

I resist the urge to text them back with “No! Don’t do it! It’s a trap!” …Those are all parts of San Francisco that I have fond memories of, especially as a child. And for those who haven’t been before, they’re essential parts of the SF tourist experience.

The moment in which I shudder has less to do with any given person’s San Francisco itinerary and more to do with thinking back to when that was all I knew of the city. It’s all that most who visit know of the city.


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Where does one go to find the best bookstores in San Francisco?

It’s no secret that I’m a huge book nerd. My ideal afternoon includes prancing around foreign cities in search of the best libraries and bookstores. Yet in just over two years in San Francisco I’ve gotten to know my local bookstores — and they’ve become some of my favorites in the whole world.

In honor of #NationalBookLoversDay this week (which I am celebrating fully,) here is a list of what I consider to be the best bookstores in San Francisco.


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Years ago (two, in fact) I wrote to you about a little thing called Bloghouse. Still some of you think it’s like a reality TV show for bloggers — which, while not entirely untrue, is not its purpose.

What is Bloghouse then? It’s an offline gathering of bloggers new and old that somehow transforms a group of strangers into blogging gurus and new best friends. (Not exaggerating.)

I had no idea what I was getting into when I applied (let alone showed up) for the workshop in Chicago. But since then I’ve often looked back fondly on those four days, and I’ve been able to see all the little ways it changed my life personally and professionally.

So when the opportunity arose to go back to Bloghouse, I didn’t hesitate. Sure, from the outside things were a bit different this time around: it was to be held in Philadelphia (not Chicago,) in a hotel (not a house,) and I was to return not as a student…but as a teacher.


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To connect, or not to connect? That is the question.

In my ideal world, the word ‘connect’ would simply pertain to interactions between people, in real life. Especially because as a freelancer and a writer, I spend a lot of time on my own. I’ve become quite used to keeping my own company, to being completely independent, and as such, doing things my own way.

Yet I’m undoubtedly an extrovert. I get my energy from being around others. I welcome the chance to collaborate as often as possible, and that often means traveling with others. Traveling (or even sometimes eating dinner) with others lately has illuminated just how much the phrase “seeking connection” has shifted, in as little as the past few years.

More and more the word ‘connect’ means to the Internet — to our Twitter accounts, our Snapchat memories, our Facebook overshares, the ol’ email ball and chain. I’ve often said I have a love/hate relationship with social media. Lately I’ve been questioning the amount of time we spend documenting our lives versus simply enjoying them.


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The City of (Unexpected) Love

You came to Paris to fall in love. You just didn’t know it when you did.

For what does the city of love and light have to offer a solo traveler?

Love, and light.

Paris window

You stroll contemplatively. You have days where your only agenda is to go by a certain ice cream shop or pop in to a particular bookstore. You look up at the rows of structured buildings and admire the stretch of intricate, iron balconies placed delicately upon beige facades.

You pick one arrondissement and decide: this is your home for the next two weeks. You explore the neighborhood, find the cheapest place for wine in the evenings and cafe au lait in the mornings. The pâtissier begins to recognize you as the days pass slowly into evenings. You sit in parks and public squares and watch life and the city go by.

You dine alone for three hours, sit in a cafe with a glass or two or champagne, cherish three courses, and end with a cafe gourmand. No one rushes you. No one hassles you. You write in your journal or lose yourself in thought. And you enjoy every single minute.


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