San Francisco Trip, Day 1

Herewith the beginning of several entries detailing our anniversary trip to San Francisco last weekend (the 11th through the 13th).

It was a good trip! We had to get up too early, though: five in the morning on Friday, so we could be at the airport by 6 or so (our flight was 7:15). I always dread traveling when I have to get up early, but this time it wasn’t too bad.

It was a good flight though, quick and without incident. We had everything we needed in carry-ons, so we didn’t have to worry about checking luggage. So we were able to go straight from the airport to our hotel, the Tuscan Inn, even though it was too early to check in. We left our bags with the hotel and wandered around the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco.

It was cold, too; we had just come from 90+ degree weather in Bend, to 70-ish degree wind and fog. Fortunately, it cleared up later in the day and warmed up.

Non-sequitous side note: the biggest and most interesting culture shock moment for me was seeing billboards advertising programming languages and platforms, like J2EE, Enterprise JavaBeans, stuff like that; I’m used to the “mainstream” billboards we have around here (you know, real estate, cars, etc.) and forgot that we were visiting one of the most wired cities in the world. What can I say? I’m still a country boy when you get down to it.

A good part of the afternoon was shopping at Pier 39, which, as I sit here thinking about it, isn’t really all that exciting. So I’ll skip ahead to dinner.

Friday night we did the Hornblower dinner cruise. It was very, very nice (very similar to the Portland dinner cruise we did last year). It was a three hour cruise of the Bay: you swing by Alcatraz, around Angel Island, skirt Sausalito, pass under the Golden Gate Bridge, cruise back down past the Bay Bridge and finally back to dock. Excellent food, wine, service; an all-around good choice. We had a great time.

Funny story, too: at the table next to us, a young couple were having dinner and bickering a lot. The girl seemed older than the boy (it was his 25th birthday, as it turned out), and she was pretty, but I can’t guess what their deal was. I said “funny,” it’s getting there. One of the things they were arguing about was the boy quitting smoking—I think. He was “only” smoking a cigarette a day, but he was passionately trying to make the claim that “all” writers smoked, drank, did drugs, etc., were basically messed up in the head.

All writers? I resisted the temptation to step in and correct him. It was starting to seem obvious by this time the guy was making a play with his girlfriend/spouse/significant other to get permission to party more. Because, of course, he wants to be a writer, and all writers smoke a lot, drink like fish, etc. etc.

Yeah, I know. But it gets better.

A little later, we start getting to the root of the problem. This is a direct quote, believe it or not, and I’m emphasizing just as he did: “I’m 25 years old and I write children’s books. Children’s books! Do you have any idea how unsexy that is?”

Swear to god. He actually used the word “unsexy” like that. I had to fight back laughter; I couldn’t hide my smile, so I had turned away. I think one of the first thoughts that went through my head was something along the lines of, At least he’s not equating “children” with “sexy.”

Pathetic. So he wants to be a writer, a “serious” writer, one wracked with angst and depression that only nicotine and the bottle can dull long enough to produce brilliant literary prose. You know, like every “serious” writer. But he writes children’s books, which is about as far away from the stereotype he’s so desperately seeking that it’s driving him crazy.

I hope he’s reading this, because: Get the hell over yourself. Writers don’t sit around whining about how unfair it is that they can’t write what they want, or that their lifestyle doesn’t measure up to their skewed vision of what they should be: they write. And if you really do write children’s books for a living, then you’ve already got a huge step up: you’re a published, professional writer. That’s huge in the publishing world. You’ve got instant cred, instant advantage over every other up-and-comer. So shut the hell up and write, and I don’t want to hear whiny, self-piteous shit about how unfair you think life is being because you won’t take the time to actually write what you want to write.

One more thing. Don’t knock children’s books. They’re hard to write. I should know. I have children.

Okay, my rant is over. I feel better.

So, to recap: Friday in San Francisco was good, cold in the morning, nice later, did shopping, and a dinner cruise. All went well. My next entry should deal with the rest of our trip, so stay tuned.