It’s so easy to get stuck in a routine. The days blend together because they’re just variations on the same theme. My typical day starts with an hour to myself for reading or Netflix, then I trudge to my desk or go to a café to answer emails, write stuff and publish other people’s content on BrokeAssStuart.com. A lunch meeting happens at some point, then there’s some kind of art or literary event or happy hour, then dinner, then more work, then Netflix, then sleep.
So very glamorous isn’t it?
I mean, of course, there are variations, like when I bartend happy hour each Friday. But really, it’s so easy to find yourself doing the same damn things in the same damn places everyday. The problem with routines is that you forget there are other options and other things happening — especially in a place like San Francisco.
On Monday, Ashley and I decided to work from a cafe in a different part of town than our normal SoMa/Mission border haunts. We ended up in Russian Hill, but after dealing with crappy WiFi — please spare me your #FirstWorldProblems comments — we decided it was too nice a day to be indoors anyway.
Spending so much of my time in the flat and dingy area around the SoMa/Mission border, it’s easy to overlook the loveliness of our city. When walking around my neighborhood, I have to keep my eyes focused on avoiding poop and needles. Meandering north through Russian Hill, I was once again exploring streets I hadn’t been in probably years. We were in the majestic San Francisco, where postcards come from and old rich ladies have tiny dogs and big apartments.
I recently read Gary Kamiya’s excellent book, “Cool Gray City of Love,” so I couldn’t stop thinking about the history of nearly every street we crossed. To be honest, I couldn’t quite remember the history of them either, but it made me want to go out and explore using his book as a guide.
We continued on further to Aquatic Park and watched as the families played in the sand and the 25-year-old European tourists whisked by on rented bicycles. And then we walked out onto Aquatic Park Pier, a place I’d never actually been before and looked back at The City.
Seeing your city from a new vantage point is an incredible thing. It’s like opening a medical book and checking out a diagram of the human body’s muscular system. You could spend hours gazing at the things you always knew were there but never paid attention to. It was nothing short of wonderful.
Leaving Aquatic Park, we got jumbled into the madness of Fisherman’s Wharf and then ambled up to North Beach. The sun was warm, and beautiful people were eating sandwiches and drinking champagne while basking in Washington Square Park.
“What the hell am I doing with my life?” I wondered. All I really wanted to do was exactly what I was doing at that moment: Wandering and exploring, not crouched in front of a computer typing and spitting sunflower seeds into a cup (not nearly as cool-looking as smoking, but far healthier).
For a second, I thought about throwing it all away and moving to some small Mediterranean island to write poetry. Then, I remembered how quickly I’d get bored of that and miss the little routine of writing and art shows and bartending that I call my life. Plus, I had to get to a cafe and finish an article anyways.
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com. Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in the San Francisco Examiner.