Thursday, June 25, 2009


inside the San Francisco Motorcycle Club
Folsom Street
Wednesday noon


I first moved to the bay area in 1997. I was burned out at college, so I took a semester off and moved in with some friends in a house in Oakland. Before I went back east to spend my last year in college, I swore I would move back here when I was done. One year, one month, and one day later, I was back.

I decided to come to San Francisco originally because I have family here, and it was about as far away from college as I could get without needing a passport. When I came back in 1998, I lived with my aunt while I looked for an apartment, no small task during the dot com boom. I finally landed a place in Hayes Valley and got a job in South Park that gave me a front row seat to the rise and fall of the startups. It was a spectacular time to be young in San Francisco.

In 2003, I left San Francisco. I was feeling a bit stuck, so I sold most of my belongings, shipped the rest to my parents, and rode my motorcycle across the country to settle in New York. I quickly remembered why I had moved to San Francisco in the first place, and moved back within a year.

In 2006, I found the SFMC. It was a great place. A room full of friends once a week, and fun rides to boot. During a particularly tough time in my life, the club was an incredibly important support. It gave me stability when everything else felt very unstable.

This year I'm the club's Road Captain. It is a great deal of work, and no small amount of hassle, but it is my way of giving back to the club. I look at it as paying my dues. The club is more than pine walls and trophies. The people here are family, and the organization is a living piece of history that I am proud to be a part of.

There is no better place to be a motorcyclist than the bay area. The weather is just about perfect most of the year, and the quality and variety of roads is unbeatable. I really can't see myself living anywhere else.

ps.: This summer I'll be going on a motorcycle ride in New Hampshire to benefit the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, where my sister's cancer was treated two years ago. They were a great help in a difficult time, and this is my own small way of giving back. If you can afford it, any donations are greatly appreciated.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Nob Hill
Thursday afternoon


I first visited San Francisco when I was 16. I was very unhappy growing up in New York City, and San Francisco seemed so clean, colorful, and magical. I knew I would live here someday.

That "someday" came in 1996, at a time in my life when there was nowhere I needed to be. I drove from South Carolina to California, and after a short detour in Los Angeles, sold the car that kept breaking down and moved to San Francisco. I thought it would be for good, but things in my life never fell into place. When I was laid off from my job in the spring of 2001, I felt it was time to make a change, and moved back to New York. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, I came down with chronic fatigue and body pain. Thinking that I had a case of the flu that wouldn't go away, and that my immune system was no longer able to tolerate New York winters, I moved back to warm and sunny L.A.

After about two years in L.A. I had had enough, and I missed San Francisco. When I was suddenly laid off from my latest job in L.A., it seemed like I was meant to move back here. It was 2004.

Two years later I was finally diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and eventually Fibromyalgia Syndrome as well. I spend a lot of time in bed due to these conditions. Some people think it must be wonderful to be in bed so much. Actually, it's not. Lying awake, unable to sleep, exhausted and in pain, thinking about all the life, that other people are actively participating in, going on outside my window, is not fun at all. But it has given me a lot of time to think about life and how I had been living it.

I realized that I had been afraid of having the very things I wanted: a relationship, intimacy, a successful career... even a pet. I was afraid of having something, or someone, important, and then losing it. I knew I couldn't change myself and fix everything all at once, but I had to start somewhere. I started volunteering at Pets Unlimited, a wonderful no-kill shelter/veterinary hospital, located on Fillmore and Washington, socializing cats and dogs. It was there that I met Ginny.

Ginny had come to the shelter with her brother Clyde after their owner had passed away. Clyde suddenly got very sick and had to be put to sleep. Everyone at the shelter felt bad for Ginny. Every week during my shift, I would first visit with Ginny for a long while before seeing any of the other animals. After some time I was asked if I wanted to long term foster Ginny. I said yes. I planned to foster her until I was financially stable, and then adopt her. She was about 11 years old, so I figured we would have at least 5 years together. I was going to let this little cat into my life, knowing I would grieve someday when she was gone.

I soon found out that "someday" would be a lot sooner than I had planned on, when I was told Ginny had cancer. It was estimated that she had about 3-12 more months to live. My mother and friends cautioned me not to take her, saying it would be hard on me when it was time for her to go. I decided it would be harder to leave her there in her little room at the shelter, and let her die there feeling unwanted and unloved.

So Ginny came home with me and has been making me love her more and more each day. And when it's time for her to go, I'll know that I made the time she had left happy.

I still go to the shelter every week. I stare out the windows of the # 1 bus, just like a tourist. But I'm not a tourist, I'm a resident. A resident who just can't get over how beautiful this city is, and how lucky I am to be living here. I hope this time I'm here to stay.

If you'd like to learn more about Pets Unlimited and how you can help, their website is:

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Nob Hill
Thursday afternoon


My brother Clyde and I were happy living with our human companion. My stomach would hurt sometimes, and so did Clyde's, but hey, we were no longer spring chickens. Some wear and tear was to be expected. Then one day our human was gone, and other humans came and put us in little cardboard boxes and brought us somewhere. I peeked out of one of the holes in the box and saw a sign that read "Pets Unlimited."

Our new life was very different. The first few days were a blur. I remember being poked a lot. Then we were put in a little room with some furniture and toys and blankets. It was a lot smaller than where we used to live. Humans would come in every day and make me and Clyde swallow these little round things that tasted awful, and whenever I would complain, they would say, "I know, I know...". If they knew those things tasted awful, why did they keep making us swallow them every day? But otherwise they were very nice. Different humans would come in to visit us each day, and some of them would come every week.

After a while my brother started feeling worse. One morning, the humans came in and took him away. I kept waiting for them to bring him back, but they didn't. The humans who would come visit me were extra nice to me after that. There was one human, this girl with yellow hair, that would lie down in my room and stay with me a long time, reaching up to rub my chin and my head while I was lying down in my bed. I like having my chin and head rubbed. But then she would leave and visit with the other cats in the rooms around me. I would glare at her through the glass walls, to let her know I disapproved.

Then one day the nice girl came in with two other humans, one of whom held me while the other cut my claws shorter. I didn't like that. The other two humans left but the nice girl stayed, and she told me she was taking me home with her. I thought, "It's about time!" She was lying down, so I stood on her stomach to make sure she couldn't change her mind and get up and go take another cat instead of me.

I like living with this girl. She is always nice to me and feeds me food whenever I want. Sometimes she takes quite a long time to get up in the morning to feed me, but I usually let her sleep as long as she needs to. Unfortunately, she makes me take those little round things too, and I let her know I don't like that, but afterward she brushes me with a great rubber brush, so I forgive her. We live in a place that must be a zillion times bigger than my little room at Pets Unlimited, and we have a big window that looks out over San Francisco. She tells me that someday we'll move to a bigger place that has a better view of the city, but I'm happy where we are.

I like looking out the window. San Francisco sure is pretty. And there are a lot of birds flying around out there. Sometimes when I look out the window, I wonder where Clyde is... I hope he has it as good as me. And then I think about the other cats, and even those noisy dogs, back at Pets Unlimited. I hope that some nice humans come by soon and bring them home, too.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Calhoun Terrace Stairs
Telegraph Hill
Friday afternoon


My motto: “Dance, like no one is watching.”

I recently figured out the exact moment when I knew I would be a creative adult. It was when I was ten. I got to freestyle in my ballet classes. The piano player would cue music that I hadn’t heard before and I danced my little heart out. This freedom and creativity has always stayed with me. The feeling that ‘I should dance outside of the box’ helped push me to move to San Francisco from Los Angeles (and away from my family and friends) seven years ago.

It took a lot of faith and courage for me to move away from L.A. I stored all of my belongings and thought I would give it six months in San Francisco before deciding whether to stay or move back to L.A. I didn’t expect and wasn’t ready to fall in love with our city and the freedom of the people as quickly as I did. To live in San Francisco you have to be accepting and open. People might not start that way, but they change. I knew I had to stay.

When I came to San Francisco, I did not have any contacts or had a job arranged. In fact, I had always lived near my family. I was in search of my passion. I was in search of my identity and my home. I quickly realized that San Francisco was my playground and I felt alive and free. In fact every time I traveled to other cities, I continued to feel a pull back.

San Francisco is a magical city where you always seem to find new nooks and crannies. When I meet other San Franciscan locals, they have their own special places to show me. Our versions of the city can be completely different based on our own experiences. Some of my favorite places and things to do in San Francisco are the Palace of Fine Arts, the art murals at Coit Tower, the Embarcadero famer’s market on Saturday mornings, window shopping in maiden lane, sipping lattes at Caffe Roma in North Beach, indulging on Nutella crepes at The Crepe House on Polk Street. Where are your favorite places to go and things to do in San Francisco?


Laura is the North Beach blogger for the Examiner.
Her lifestyle blog is Under the Sheets--shhh.

You can see the rest of her photo shoot here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Tuesday afternoon
On Fillmore Street
Hayes Valley


Often times you don’t choose San Francisco, she chooses you. For some it happens the first time they come to The City, while for others it’s the 51st time. Regardless, there’s always a point when suddenly you realize, “I’m going to live here”, and then you go about making that a reality. I’ve spent the past seven years (with a lot of on and a lot of off) in this fine, fine city that I’m lucky enough to say chose me.

Growing up in San Diego, I visited SF a few times as a kid, but it wasn’t until I was in college, in Santa Cruz, that I first felt seduced. I had come up in the summer of 2002 to do an internship at Bill Graham Presents. It was the summer between my junior and senior year, and my friend Mani and I were sharing a room (a converted living room with no actual door) in a building at the corner of Haight and Central. We were both freshly 21, with very little money, a whole lotta heart, and a willingness to give ourselves to the City so she could do with us what she wanted. And she certainly did.

A lot happened that summer. I saw scores of great shows and I read a lot of books. I explored thoroughfares and alleyways, learning the difference between avenues and streets. I made a few true friends and a hell of a lot of acquaintances. I fell in love for the first time and I saw a dead body up close and personal for the first time too. I thought I found a career path and later learned I was wrong. I also thought I’d forever stay the person I was then. I was wrong about that as well. But more than anything else, the most significant thing that happened to me that summer was that San Francisco chose me.

By the end of that summer I knew I’d end up living here again. It also helped that the girl who I’d fallen for was here, so I’d have ample reason to come up and visit my future home. Not that I really needed any reason.

Sometimes it feels like a lifetime has passed since I first felt San Francisco’s pull. Various women and friends have come in and out of my life and I’ve spent much of my time over the past few years living out of a bag, sometimes half way around the world. Plus I’ve fallen in love once again; San Francisco is a wonderful city in which to be in love. But of all the things that have within me and without me, one thing has remained constant; my affection and admiration for this city. No matter where I am in the world, I’m always proudest when I say San Francisco is my home and I see someone’s eyes light up. It’s then that I know The City has chosen that person too.


Stuart is the author of Broke-Ass Stuart's Guide to Living in San Francisco. He has also written a NYC version. If you enjoy shit talking and cheap stuff, make sure to visit him at

The rest of Stuart's photo shoot can be seen here.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Friday afternoon
Somewhere in Bayview


Native Style

"Fashion fades. Style is eternal.”

-Yves Saint Laurent

San Francisco is unlike any other city in the world. It’s not the epicenter of culture, architecture or fashion. It doesn’t try to be. It doesn’t pretend to be something that it isn’t, something superficial. Fashion is superficial. It changes constantly depending on the season, the economic times or whims of the designer in the house. Fashion struggles to reinvent itself. Many cities in the world use architecture for instance, to gain notoriety in the public forum. We don’t put billboards up for self promotion or attention. We would never fool with the International Orange paint color of the Golden Gate Bridge or string it up with lights to make it look like a dancing Christmas tree like the Eiffel Tower.

San Francisco is a constant; some might argue boring. Our pace is relaxed. We as a city are conservative in our actions regarding decisions that may change the look and feel of the city. It took us more than 12 years to replace an earthquake damaged freeway because its integration back into the city was critical. Moving cars wasn’t as important as the look and feel of the surrounding neighborhood and our underlying self-regard. Simple practicality is not always in the best interest of the behavior and characteristics of my city. This isn’t the mentality of Los Angeles, for instance.

Style is something deeper and more personal than fashion. It is like common sense, you are either born with it or you aren’t. You breathe style; it radiates and it is ever present in your personality. Style is beyond clothes and handbags. It’s about essence, individuality, and self expression. San Francisco expresses itself with peaks, valleys, hill and wet lands. This landscape creates discrete and intricate neighborhoods, microclimates and lifestyles. If you have ever seen the fog rolling over Twin Peaks or pushing through the Golden Gate Bridge you know what the city’s self expression looks like.

I’m a native San Franciscan and that’s my style. Where other cities fade, San Francisco remains eternal.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Shakespeare's Garden
Golden Gate Park
Saturday afternoon


I first moved out west in 2005 to dance for the now-defunct Oakland Ballet. I had only been to California once before, for four days, so it was quite a leap for me to move here. I remember looking out the airplane window thinking we were landing on the moon. Cue dream sequence: "Sorry for the interruption, passengers. We've had to make a slight detour on our way to our end-destination of San Francisco..."

The landscape was different from anything I'd seen on the East Coast growing up. The hills were so brown and big and the sky was so blue. Living in Oakland was exciting, but limiting. I moved to the "Tender-Nob" once the ballet's short, 10-week contract was over. An excellent choice in hindsight - the Oakland Ballet went bankrupt shortly thereafter. Having missed all auditions for the following year due to injury, I started working as a legal assistant for an attorney in Noe Valley. Mr. Attorney introduced me to some of the finer culinary offerings in San Francisco. We had special lunches at Zuni Café, The Rotunda at Neiman Marcus, A16, and were regulars at Savor and Chloe's. Who am I kidding - we were regulars at Zuni, too. And yes, you should have the chicken.

While working my day-job, I kept taking ballet class and Pilates in hopes of finding a job. I know it's cliché, but I didn't seem to be in the right place at the right time. Worried about emotionally burdening The Boyfriend; he had followed me out here from DC in 2006. Getting really tired of acquaintances asking my why I didn't dance for San Francisco Ballet. So I took a nine-day trip to Germany, tossing around the possibility of relocating. Rumor was that Deutschland was the Shangri-la of dance opportunity for a taller, older dancer. On my trip I learned lots about Germany I liked - beer, culture, food, old buildings, trains - but I missed San Francisco.

I had a few auditions scheduled after I returned, one with Ballet San Jose. After the audition a trio of participants stayed to speak with the director. I felt good about my performance in the audition, and felt fortunate to speak to the Director afterward, but I'd had that feeling before. That feeling, the fluttery, suppressed nervousness, had been rewarded in the past with nothing. I waited, trying to convince myself I was waiting for nothing, or if not nothing, then at least more rejection. I was formulating plan-B's right and left. I was going to "get on with my life." The boyfriend kept talking me down.

The Director, Dennis, called me in August while I was shopping on Polk Street with a friend. I picked up the phone, nerves going haywire - no contract, but he was trying to find some money to hire me for the season; he'd call me back next week. I'd been around the proverbial block. I knew what that meant: we like you, but we're waiting to hear back from our first choice. But now there was a small part of me that was even more excited; my hope had rekindled itself. The week passed. Another week, and still nothing. Hope was doused. Then, on a quiet day at the office, a quick call from Dennis: I'd like to offer you a company contract. Me: wait - when do we start? Dennis: October first. Click. I had a dance job.

Decisions. Should I move to San Jose? Should I commute from SF? How do I commute if I don't have a car? Do I buy a car? The season (weeks of work) didn't seem long enough to merit moving to San Jose, and more importantly I didn't want to give up the gifts San Francisco has to offer. San Francisco was worth the commute and still is.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Somewhere on O'Farrell Street
The Tenderloin
Sunday morning


I have only lived in the Tenderloin for the past eight months. Before I came to the Tenderloin, I was homeless. I can’t think of anything worse in the world than being left behind in a vacant house by a family whom I thought loved me. One day they were feeding me. The next day, they were gone. Word on the street though was that there was this lady who lived on the block who would leave out food for all the stray cats in the neighborhood. I’m not one to beg, but times were rough. I was hungry. I was lonely.

I started coming by the nice lady’s house to eat. She would be nice enough to leave her garage open so I could use the litter box and have a warm place to sleep. I have never been much of an outdoor cat so spending time in her garage was very inviting. The more time I spent in this lady’s garage, the friendlier the lady got. She would sneak me in the house from time to time and cuddle me. I really like that. I love human attention and interaction and missed having it on a regular basis dearly.

One day, the friendly lady wrapped me up in a blanket and put me in a car. I have to admit, I was terrified. I had no idea where this lady was taking me. I enjoy being inside a warm house, but I don’t like being in cars. I meowed the whole way and it seemed like an eternity to get to our destination. Our destination was San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. This is the day I met my human mom, Kathleen, and would no longer be homeless.

Here in the Tenderloin, I was introduced to my very own apartment. I had really good food that never seemed to run out. I had three big windows that faced a big backyard where I got to watch birds fly and rats run. I had a big, fluffy couch to sleep in the sun all day. I had a bunch of toys and a huge cardboard scratcher to lie on and scratch. I even had my own litter box. Most importantly, I now had a human mom to cuddle with anytime I wanted to and a home to call my own.

I know that a lot of people who live here in the Tenderloin are either lost or come to die. I know. I can hear them screaming at each other all day long as I look out my window. But I came to the Tenderloin to live. Living the good life here in the Tenderloin has made all those scary nights of living on the streets without food, water or human loving attention all seem worth it now. I am proud to call the Tenderloin my home.


Monday, June 8, 2009


Embarcadero Station
Friday morning


On any given day in San Francisco: I might be on a Muni bus, elbow to elbow with a little old lady carrying too many grocery bags, right behind a man in a suit checking his iPhone, trying not to bump into the punk rock kids who are late for school. When I get off the bus, I walk past a small alley where a couple of homeless men have set up camp, and I tip toe gingerly past them because it somehow feels like I’m trampling over their living room.

On any given night in San Francisco: I might be at a concert at the Palace of Fine Arts where fifty musicians have put together a hip hop symphonic orchestra. Hip hop kids wearing their hoodies and high top sneakers are throwing their hands up in the front, and an older couple next to me is clapping enthusiastically to the beat. The age range at the concert appears to be from 16 to 65, and that absolutely tickles me.

And this is why I love living in San Francisco. The city is so small and our neighborhoods are packed together so closely that you are constantly face to face with people who are very different from you. And no one blinks an eye at the amazing diversity we see every day.

I find this particularly refreshing because I grew up in Taiwan and moved to the deserts of Arizona when I was a teenager. I remember landing at the airport in Tucson and feeling the eyes of half of the terminal staring at me and my family. Eventually I got used to being the only person in my school who didn’t speak English (yet), the only Asian kid in my class, and just generally sticking out like a sore thumb. A few years later when I arrived in San Francisco to go to college, standing at the luggage terminal, I felt an odd comfort. For the first time in a long time, absolutely nobody was staring at me.

I’ve lived in many different parts of the city, from the foggy Sunset and Richmond to Lower Pac Heights, where church bells accompany my Sunday mornings. In my work as a writer, editor, and blogger, I am still constantly delighted by the interaction between people who could not be more different from one another. I’ve come to know the city as a place where anyone can feel comfortable, and there is no need to “fit in” because being different here is the raison d’etre.


Eugenia is the co-founder of the blog Muni Diaries, a place to share and read rider tales.

You can join fellow bus riders and hear their stories at Muni Diaries’ Riders with Drinks spoken word party at the Make-Out Room on Friday, June 12, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The rest of Eugenia's photo shoot is here.