Aunty Me! and more

Well, Justin and I have a new nephew, and he's mighty cute. Sorry, no pix as everyone else was taking so many photos we decided to resist. We're house-sitting and dog-minding while Justin's sis is in the hospital up the street here in San Francisco.

Can't believe we've only been back 2 weeks and 2 days! We found an apartment in Oakland and moved in on the 7th day we'd been back. Since then, we've been getting to know our neighborhood, unpacking boxes of things it was ridiculous for us to have stored for a year and a half but that we are sometimes still happy to see, and applying for jobs!

To my delight, our new apartment is actually on the same street my sister lives on and just about a block away. Despite it being right in the city (it's not suburban at all--at least not in the American sense; I feel that Australians use the term slightly differently, so I don't know if Australians could call it suburban), our next door neighbors have chickens, rabbits, and a garden in their backyard. Most other houses and apartments might just have a garage or shed in the back yard or another living space, so our neighbors are definitely extraordinary.

The neighborhood is predominantly African-American, a mix of working class and probably some professionals. It is probably considered a somewhat "gentrified" area, but I don't know the history of it to know for sure whether it was more "blighted" or run-down in the past.

Interestingly, there are a lot of Eritrean and Ethiopian businesses not too far away, but we haven't seen any Eritreans living right in our neighborhood. Speaking of restaurants (I was, since all the aforementioned businesses are in fact eateries), the sheer number of yummy dining options is pretty overwhelming throughout the Bay Area. Justin was remarking today, as we walked down a street in San Francisco, that pretty much every single restaurant we might come across would have multiple vegetarian options. I just looked online and found Farmers Markets in Berkeley and Oakland six days a week.

A little geography for friends who don't know northern California: the Bay Area consists of all the cities and suburbs around the San Francisco Bay. The major cities are San Francisco, on a little peninsula or knob, then across the bay are the East Bay cities of Berkeley and Oakland. There are many more cities all along the water. San Francisco is attached to Marin in the north by the Golden Gate Bridge, and to the East Bay by the Bay Bridge. The so-called "Silicon Valley" (made up of cities like San Jose and Palo Alto) are south of the actual bay and in the valley, but are sometimes consider part of the Bay Area.

I'm very excited to live in this area for the first time, even if I'm about 15 years older than most people are when they move to the Big City. It'll be fun exploring and getting to know new places, new people, new culture, while still being in some ways on familiar ground. When I was a fifteen year old in combat boots and purple hair, my best friend and I would ride the bus to the City (SF) and just walk around all day long, looking at the people, delighting when we were mistaken for locals (by other visiting suburbanites).

Today Justin and I walked along Haight Street and were amazed to see how little it has really changed over the years. The same kinds of businesses (and some of the same actual ones), the same kinds of people (and some of the same actual ones) hanging out and ambling down the street as when we were teenagers visiting there.