san francisco funk

I was gone this week. I was in San Francisco for work. Linette and Clementine had been planning to come out with me. The idea was that they would spend their days sightseeing and visiting relatives while I was doing my work stuff, and then we’d spend our evenings together. Due to looming deadlines with a huge design project, however, Linette had to pull out of the trip. As I’d been looking forward to being in San Francisco with her and Clementine, I was a bit depressed by this, but there wasn’t anything that I could do about it. (I’d even planned to stay a full day after the conference, so that Linette, Clementine and I would be able to wonder around together. Once Linette decided that they couldn’t come with me, I tried to change my flight back, but couldn’t, at least not inexpensively. It was going to cost about $240 to change my ticket, on top of the $200 we already had to pay to cancel the reservations for Linette and Clementine, so I just decided to stay the extra night.)

As I was going to be in sessions all day long, I knew it wouldn’t be much of a vacation, but Linette kept telling me how lucky I was to be getting away. She said that I should just enjoy the free time alone, walking around San Francisco, going to museums, leisurely sipping coffee, watching TV, and doing all the stuff we can’t really do now that we’re a family. I tried to convince myself that it was possible for me to do this. I even made a little list of things that I could accomplish on my trip. I thought that I’d start writing a short film script, and begin working on the next issue of “Crimewave.” I also put together a little list of restaurants that I wanted to check out, like Swan’s and Shalimar, and a few other places, like the 826 Valencia Pirate Shop. I also brought my gym clothes. I tried to convince myself that it would be fun being out on my own in the big city, maybe getting up early in the morning aand working out, jogging a bit, and then working on my projects by night.

As it turned out, I didn’t do much of anything. Entire days passed where I didn’t leave the hotel. Burned out by back-to-back conference sessions that stretched up to twelve hours a day, I just flopped on the bed and watched TV whenever I had a spare minute. I watched lots of shitty TV. I saw my first full episode of NBC’s disgusting “To Catch a Predator” series. I watched Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail (at the end of which I got all weepy). I saw a bunch of teenagers get graphically killed in the movie “Final Destination.” I watched FOX News. I watched four back-to-back episodes of a reality series that takes place in a Los Vegas auto dealership. I basically just stuffed my mind full of garbage. By the end of it, I’d started slipping into a depressive funk. I got out to the restaurants I wanted to visit, and I walked quite a bit (Valencia and Polk are two of my favorite streets to wonder around on), but I didn’t really make use of the time in San Francisco. I know that I was being a bit overly ambitious when I thought that I’d be able to crank out some decent writing in the hours that I had off, and perhaps swim a few laps in the indoor pool, but I just felt like complete crap. I missed my family more than I ever thought possible, and substituting bad television (,i>even if it was a huge, flat screen HDTV set) in their absence wasn’t a very good solution.

I don’t know if there’s a moral to this story. Maybe it’s just that when you’re sent somewhere for your job, you shouldn’t count on getting too much done outside of that. And maybe unplugging the TV in the room wouldn’t be a half bad idea either.

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7 Comments

  1. Dirtgrain
    Posted March 11, 2007 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    “I don’t know if there’s a moral to this story. Maybe it’s just that when you’re sent somewhere for your job, you shouldn’t count on getting too much done outside of that. And maybe unplugging the TV in the room wouldn’t be a half bad idea either.”

    There’s a song in there somewhere.

  2. dorothy
    Posted March 12, 2007 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    way to go mark!! you reminded me of the time last year when we moved out of the house we lived in for 38 years and had to stay in a motel because our new house wasn’t finished. it was january and horribly cold. the people who bought our old house let us store a bunch of stuff while they did some remodeling. my husband was still working full time at his practice, but i was torn loose from every thing familiar. all of my plants died because the new owners shut off the heat, my cat of 18 years had to stay in a cage at the office and all my books were in boxes. i tried to cope by getting up everyday and swimming laps for an hour and then going to the mall, but i still felt ripped apart from all that was familiar. it’s no fun. my ordeal lasted a month and felt like forever. i’m glad you’re home.

  3. ypsidweller
    Posted March 12, 2007 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    Just admit that you spent the entire time in the Tenderloin.

  4. ypsidweller
    Posted March 12, 2007 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    http://www.tenderloin.net/

  5. ol' e cross
    Posted March 13, 2007 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    It would have been most depressing if being on your own in SanFran was a breath of fresh air.

    Welcome home.

  6. cleo love-paste
    Posted March 14, 2007 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    More shaved sacks per capita than anywhere in the US. I find it hard to believe you didn’t have a blast.

  7. paulg
    Posted March 16, 2007 at 2:36 am | Permalink

    Funny. I was just in Memphis, Tennessee for three days. I had some windows of free time during the trip, and thought I’d use them to visit Graceland and/or Beale street, or just take in the local color… but I never made it out of the hotel. I was fried by jet lag and 9am (really 7am) meeting start times. All I did was watch two hockey games and read “Moneyball” and “Fast Food Nation”- something I could’ve done at home.

    I guess the moral is we’re creatures of habit and shun new experiences, especially when we’re tired.

    At least stop at the airport bookstore next time, Mark. Pick up anything that seems remotely interesting. All this crap TV you’re watching is seriously unhealthy…

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