Mice in the kitchen, bums on the streets, gay men in short skirts–a day in the city is one of colorful encounters, sightings, interactions. In the spirit of a day spent among these streets, here is a collection of verbal snapshots, moments captured in memory in San Francisco:

The mice in our kitchen on Haight Street loudly announce themselves at all hours of the day. It is as though we invited them to inhabit the crumb-filled corners of our old Victorian. Perhaps, though, they’ve simply lived here longer than the rest of us and have no qualms staking their territory. This morning I wandered to the kitchen around 8:30 for a shot of espresso and caught sight of a dark grey body scurrying beneath the trash can. Ugh, gross, I thought, eyeing up the trash and the random bits of food scraps around it. While cooking up lunch a couple of days ago, I was serenaded by squeaks coming from beneath the refrigerator. Can’t they keep it down? I thought. People live here! I guess having extra bodies around is kind of friendly though, and given that our kitchen is shared by six, what’s a couple of more? At least they aren’t the hand-sized cockroaches my best friend Katie had in her apartment in New York; if they were, then we’d have a problem.

Given my current state of minimal employment, I often find myself roving San Francisco’s streets. Despite all of the incredible and enticing ethnic eateries that I constantly refrain myself from stepping into–I repeat the mantra ‘once I have a job I’ll eat at [insert scrumptious ethnic restaurant name]…’–San Francisco is an excellent city to be unemployed in. With all of the wild, view-boasting parks, picturesque streets, diversity of faces and otherwise beautiful surroundings, who could get bored? A surprisingly large population of homeless people agrees. As common a sight as flannel wearing hipsters on the sidewalk is, passed out bums wrapped in blankets or sleeping bags strewn across the pavement are just as common. Yesterday I passed a bedraggled woman on Church Street who sleeping on the sidewalk, half covered by a filthy once-white blanket, a ripped open paper bag of chips next to her face. Her mouth was half-open as though she had fallen to the sidewalk and passed out mid-chew. Today I passed a black man in a sleeping bag on Market. His head and upper body were burrowed in his overturned shopping cart; it was as though the shopping cart was his house. During my morning strolls through Buena Vista Park, I routinely encounter rustling in dense clumps of bushes and can just barely make out the shapes of bodies behind the branches and leaves. My friend Andy, who lives in Aspen, recently told me about a bear who tried to enter his house one night. It reminded me of my Aspen days when I’d fall asleep to the sound of bears rattling the lock on the dumpster. Homeless people are the bears of the city. They descend from the parks, the alleys, the nooks in the sidewalks to roam around and eat the discards of others.

Life in this international city is fantastically diverse. On any given day I ordinarily hear snippets of Chinese, Indian, German, French, Spanish and other languages I don’t even recognize. Yesterday I stopped in to the Fax and Copy store on Divisidero. The sign outside advertised $.05 black and white copies and a brown skinned Asian boy and girl greeted me when I entered. As the copy machine rattled off reprints of my restaurant resume, I noticed beautifully patterned Asian shirts hanging on the wall beneath a sign that read ‘Handicrafts for sale.’ “Where are your handicrafts from?” I asked the girl. “Nepal,” she replied. “Are you from Nepal?” I asked. The girl nodded in response. As it turns out she is from Kathmandu and has been living in the city for four years. “It’s a slow adjustment,” she said quietly, a bit sadly. She misses Nepal but her family lives here now. I paused for a minute digging in my brain for the once familiar Nepali phrases I’d learned while traveling, “Tapaioke nam ke ho?” I asked. The girl’s eyes widened in surprise and she laughed. “That is good!” she said. “My name is Paravati, and yours?” “Manasseh,” I replied. “Well it’s nice to meet you.” We shook hands, I paid my $.39 for the copies and walked out with a smile that beamed from my heart.

Skinny legs on wedge pumps

a Fedora and flip of straight coal hair-

the girls of San Francisco are beauty queens,

so are the boys-

their knee high boots are shinier than mine,

snug skinny jeans accentuate perfect butts,

square-cut sunshades fit just right.

Competition for male attention in San Fran is spread

across two genders, you better hope you catch the eyes

of the cute boy you want, and not the one

who’s eying up the boy you’ve got your eyes on!

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