Monday, August 12, 2013

Week 2: Wood Shoppe SF concert series

This week my free activity was a free concert series at Brick & Mortar in the Mission neighborhood. Every 1st Tuesday of the month, Brick & Mortar Music Hall offers up a selection of up and coming musical artists, from SF and beyond, free of charge! Normally, shows at this venue cost $10-$25, so a cover-free evening of music is a treat.

This week I went to this monthly event with a friend to check out an evening of female indie singers. I was particularly excited about the 2nd act, Louise Burns, a Canadian singer songwriter with that Jenny Lewis vibe that I love so much. I'd elaborate, but there really isn't much more to say! We went, had a cheap beer or 2, and enjoyed some lovely free music on a school night. I really enjoy live music and discovering new bands, and this night allows me to do that for free! I'll definitely be back in months to come.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Week 1: First Thursdays Art

To start off my #6weeksofFREE, I recruited some friends to join me at First Thursdays Art in downtown San Francisco! Every first Thursday of the month, high end galleries located in the Union Square area that are normally open by appointment only open their doors to the not-so-wealthy public from 5-7pm.  If there's a new exhibit or a gallery is trying to get some attention, there's even wine and snacks at certain locations, all free of charge. Check out the website here: 

After checking out a handful of galleries and consuming 2 glasses of free white wine, a few of us made our way from the ritzy end of downtown over to a newer First Thursday event, the Upper TL art walk. (See event info here: )The Upper TL/Lower Polk Art Walk takes place on the edge of the Tenderloin neighborhood, a neighborhood made infamous for its drug culture and generally seedy nature. The Tenderloin, a central neighborhood next to downtown, has avoided gentrification for years due to its (somewhat truthful) reputation as a very dangerous neighborhood. Despite the smell of urine, drug venders on every corner, and high concentration of homeless, the neighborhood has begun the inevitable process of gentrification and has been deemed the "Trendlyloin" by certain circles, blogs, etc. The Upper TL Art Walk is a newer event spawning from recent alternative growth in the neighborhood, highlighting the emergence of new art galleries and workshops along the streets surrounding Polk St. between Geary and Sutter. We were handed a little postcard map with locations and gallery names and our exploration of the"upper" Tenderloin began. The galleries were a bit more hip, raw, and young feeling than those we had just visited in the high rise buildings surrounding Union Square. These galleries had walls filled with graffiti art and light installations and were less crowded.


 There was free wine and snacks to celebrate a new exhibit at SMAart Gallery (, a gallery that along with exhibits offers pottery/ceramic classes and studio space. Wandering around to different galleries listed on our postcard map handout was a bit like a scavenger hunt in the TL and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I should mention that I and my art appreciating cohorts for the evening actually work at a social service agency in the Tenderloin, so while the art galleries and art culture was new to us, the neighborhood is not. The Tenderloin is not quite as terrifying as most make it out to be, but its still a place to be attentive in as you're walking around. This Art Walk would actually be a great way for those less comfortable in the neighborhood to get a little introduction into world of the TL.  

So to recap the FREE...
10+ art galleries, 2 neighborhoods, 3 glasses of wine

All in all a good evening. And we ended on something not free but worth the money...a serving of Kunefe for dessert at my favorite Turkish eatery in the city, A La Turca.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

On $an Franci$co living.

I have been living in the city [of San Francisco] for just over 1 year now. I live in the Presidio, which means I live here...

But a lot of the time it looks like this...

But I really don't care because these things are in my backyard...

The San Francisco housing market is a nightmare, but I got very lucky and ended up in a nice (though dated) split level apartment on a lease that's over 5 years old, meaning that it dates back to a time when rent was semi-affordable. I'm actually only paying 1/3 of my income for my housing (which all the HOW TO HAVE GROWNUP FINANCES articles I read via the internets tell me is what I'm supposed to be paying), which is fantastic because I work in the nonprofit sector and love my job and would prefer not to have to leave my job or sector just to make ends meet in the city.

SO life is good, right? YES! Life is good. Except for one thing....San Francisco living (as most city living around the world) has a funny way of draining one's assets, no matter how "frugal" you think you're living. I've been pretty good this past year, taking a cheap trip to New York City last fall and still managing to save a bit in a high yield online savings account (shout out again to all those HOW TO HAVE GROWNUP FINANCES articles), but this summer has killed all my budgets and overspending has made my grownup savings plan in danger of arrested progress. Thanks to Justin Timberlake, Jayz, Beyonce, summer sales (DAMN YOU UNION SQUARE BEING SO CLOSE TO ME NOW) and one too many delicious foodie #treatyourself dinners out, July wasn't my best month for $$. 

So why am I blogging again about this, of all things, after such a long hiatus? Well, I have an idea about how to get myself back into the habit of blogging! I need to save money this month to make up for my overspending the past couple of months. To do this without having to resort to a hermit lifestyle, I've decided to do a 6 week FREE fun only challenge, and I think blogging about it will keep me honest and be a fun way to get me back into blogging. Starting this week and ending the 2nd week in September when I go on vacation to Turkey, I vow to only go to events that are free

it will be LEGEND....wait for it.....DARY!
well not really, but I think this will be fun. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Things I have Learned from Public Transportation Travel this year....

A few things I have learned this year from taking Public Transportation....
  • If you help a little old Italian lady with her bag on an Italian train, she WILL talk to you for the rest of the 5 hour train ride and you will not be able to study for your exam. BUT she will flatter you by complementing your Italian (even telling you that she thought at first that you were actually Italian...) and she'll tell you fun stories about her life in Liguria and how much Milano sucks. 
  • Sometimes you just have to rely on the kindness of strangers. Getting on a train with your life packed into a giant luggage? This is not physically possible. But someone will help you, usually a man, and he will usually do it without even you having to ask. When I took a train with all my stuff from Bologna to Rome, I showed up at the train station knowing that if no one would help me, I'd never get my stuff on that train.
  • Bring snacks. Always bring snacks. 
  • The snack cart on Italian trains will run you over if you're in the aisle. (And "snack cart pusher" is one of the worst jobs I can imagine doing...)
  • Just because you have an assigned seat on an Italian train, doesn't mean you'll get to sit there. Get over it.
  • Pick and chose when you pay for bus tickets in Bologna. At night and on Sundays, don't bother paying. But on the weekdays on the buses that go to the train station, you better do it. I got checked 3 times in 1 month, and 1 time the ticket checker guy completely took me by surprise by sneaking up behind me dressed as a civilian (luckily I had paid)
  • There are the same weird smelly people on buses in every country. But they can be fun to watch. But don't let them see you're watching them cause it can lead to awkward situations. 
  • White girl on the mini-bus in South Africa? Foreigner Alert! 
  • White girl on the 3rd class train in Cape Town? Again.... Foreigner Alert!