Category Archives: Update

2011 in Review

Despite some frustrations and some ups and downs here and there, 2011 was overall an exciting year. I’m pretty sure I’ll look back at this one when I’m older and go “aww yeah, 2011 was the year of awesome.” I have a feeling 2012 is going to be pretty challenging, but I’m looking forward to it and am ready to face it head on.

January started off right with the Crunchies after party at the Exploratorium; there’s nothing quite like unleashing a bunch of 20 and 30 somethings, hopped up on vodka red bull, into a building filled with gadgets, sounds, and all sorts of hands-on exhibits. The other C and I also made it to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for the first time and hung out with some grad school friends who visited from TX and Denmark.

February kept things moving with a three week visit from my Northern Irish cousin and one of her good friends. We played tourist, danced the night away at DNA Lounge, gambled our way through Reno, and sat in awe for a three hour long Elton John concert. A friend from high school who I hadn’t seen in forever also visited, which made February the official month for catching up.

In March I ventured over to the UK to visit parents and friends. I also made it to Northern Ireland for my Grandmother’s surprise 80th birthday. Although I was convinced that she had figured us all out, she was completely shocked to see everyone who had driven down or flown over for her birthday.

April was dedicated to wine tasting and Disneyland. I didn’t think it was possible, but the group I went with managed to ride almost every single ride in both Disneyland and California Great Adventure (or whatever it’s called).  Needless to say, I was exhausted and extremely cranky by the end of the day (but it was magical and well worth it).

May was one of the most fun months ever (like omg for srs!). First I went to New Orleans for Jazz Fest, which consisted of a pub crawl from one end of town to the banks of the Mississippi, fried alligator, beignets, and flippin’ sweet music. I later made it to Houston to visit my good friend Sara who was working there as a teacher. I also made it a bit further south to visit some family I hadn’t seen in a while. AND! I met the other C’s parents in Kingwood. Once the great NOLA/TX journey was done, it was time for more wine tasting with the other C’s siblings and a whirlwind apartment search. Somehow the other C and I managed to snag a wonderful apartment right next to Alamo Square.

In June I went to Nova Scotia with my grandmother (the one who just turned 80) to visit her older sister who lived in a nursing home up there. It was a strenuous, but rewarding trip.

July was the month for learning how to become a “hacker.” I took a beginner Java course at UC Berkeley and learned all about loopy things and some other quirky stuff from a professor who showed up with Doc from Back to the Future’s hair and a repertoire of puns related to coffee and Indonesia. The other C and I also celebrated our first anniversary by spending some time on the road and hiking.

August was for relaxing in Colorado and then launching into my first semester of law school at UC Hastings.

In September I thought I’d figured it all out and didn’t find law school all that difficult. Well, it was a lot of work but I didn’t quite understand what all the fuss. Then…

October hit and I understood.

November was for taking take home exams, doing most things at home, and being incredibly grateful for having a caring boyfriend who always knows how to make the anxiety go away. Thanksgiving was the highlight of the month. We hosted it at our place and C’s parents, brother and boyf came over for Apples to Apples, good food, and a whole lot of silliness.

December, or at least the first half, can be defined as ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Exams are terrifying. It doesn’t really matter if you’ve studied for days on end and have read every case and most of the supplement if you get test anxiety. I managed to come out only moderately scathed, partied hard, and was happy to have made some awesome and smart new friends. After collapsing in a heap for several days and playing the new Zelda game, I flew to Cleveland for Christmas, then to Colorado, which is where I am now!

I didn’t make it to any new states or countries in 2011 – in fact, I barely left SF – which is a let down from my yearly goal. However, I got to know my city better and fell even more in love with California than I was before. Will I make it to any new places in 2012? Not too likely. But with some weddings coming up, it looks like 2012 will be even more of a reunion year than 2011 was. And perhaps I can make it somewhere sweet over spring break, like Vancouver or Arizona.

Busy Busy Bee

I’m bringin’ blogging baaack.
It has been approximately 8,000 days since my last blog post – apparently WordPress has opted to use the world’s most hideous font in its editor since last I was here. Ick.

A whole lot has happened since June 24th, which was the date of my last entry, I believe. In that time, the other C and I celebrated our first anniversary by venturing off to Pinnacles for some hiking, I wound up getting accepted to UC Hastings, I started tutoring a couple of ESL students once a week, ventured off to Colorado for two weeks to spend time with my parents, and spent the last weekend at Outside Lands, a flippin’ sweet music festival.

I don’t think I ever mentioned on here that the other C and I moved in together. Well, we did. At the very end of May. We have yet to host a proper housewarming party, but when we do, it will probably be some sort of all day Cocktails (for me) n’ Kart (for him) extravaganza. It’s been a lot of fun so far, although I’ve been out of town a lot and he’s been working like crazy.

Hastings’ 1st year orientation begins tomorrow morning so I have been scrambling to complete last minute tasks. Of course many things have been put off because I have decided that writing this post and finishing the Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell to be higher priorities than labeling a bunch of folders. This will either be much appreciated or regretted within the next few days. I can’t believe it’s all starting tomorrow! Eeppp!

Tutoring my students is one of my favorite parts of the week, which actually surprises me quite a bit. I tutored ESL for a couple semesters when I was studying at Trinity and found it could be really challenging. Teaching wasn’t necessarily the hardest thing, but establishing a regular routine was. Sessions were cancelled at the first sign of a snowflake, students refused to speak English outside of our sessions and somehow expected to get better, and other tutors would cancel, meaning that I would wind up with multiple students at different levels. Oftentimes my students would prefer to ask me questions about my life – whether I had my own children (which to me at the age of 19 was a terrifying thought), was Catholic or some other sort of Christian, and where I was from. Don’t get me wrong, I highly enjoyed tutoring and wound up meeting some wonderful people, but I never knew what to expect or how to prepare going into a lesson. This time around, I have a husband and wife team who are 100% dedicated to learning English. They do their homework, show up on time and call me if they have to cancel, ask me pertinent questions, and use English in their every day lives, which means they are getting better all the time. I know it’ll be hard to create full lesson plans for them once school starts, but I’m hoping my time with them every week will be a time when I can forget law school exists and focus on something else.

Spending time in Colorado was probably the best way I could have spent my last two weeks before law school. I went hiking, biking, horse-back riding, and attended several concerts as part of the Aspen Music Festival. Unfortunately, my mom had to go to Cleveland to sort a few family matters out last minute so I didn’t get to spend much time with her, but I did get in lots of quality time with my dad, which is something we haven’t done a lot of since I left London. We went on a tour of a mine and even climbed Mount Elbert, which is the highest peak in Colorado and the second highest in the US outside of Alaska. Hiking up to over 14,000 feet is no joke!

I fear that this blog will be neglected yet again, but I hope that I will use it for little updates and perhaps useful tips about law school and San Francisco I come across in the next months.

Here are some photos I’ve taken over the last month and a half. Many are from the trip the other C and I took and the others are from hikes near Snowmass, Colorado. None are from Mount Elbert because I didn’t feel like lugging my big ol’ camera all the way up the mountain!

Marching On

I’ll try to withhold the puns from now on…

March was somewhat of a busy month for me. First I recovered from a whirlwind of Northern Irishness after my cousin and her friend came to stay for a few weeks. Then I went to London and Northern Ireland for two weeks to visit family and friends, as well as surprise my grandmother for her 80th birthday party (she was shocked, if you must know). I came back to San Francisco, collapsed in a heap, then ventured off to wine country for a weekend of silly pillow fights, hot tubs, and – you guessed it! – wine.

Below I’ve included quite a few photos from the last few weeks. Some of my favorites come from Londonderry/Derry, a part of Northern Ireland long troubled by pro/anti union troubles for years and years. It also contains old walls surrounding the city, which are interesting to walk around. Although my father had walked the walls before (he was born and raised in NI), he didn’t think he’d ever actually walk the city streets (wait a minute…this sounds like the start of a U2 song). Many signs in the area, whether pro or anti union, are still covered with paint (probably from paint guns) and intimidating murals featuring schoolgirls accompanied by AK47s face busy streets.

A lot of the other photos are just silly.

That sure is a lot of photos!

Affirmations of Life

Boring blog post about nothing in particular because I’ve been a bad blogger

Some days words come without me barely having to put forth an effort and others the mere thought of coming up with a decent blog topic is a challenge. As I enjoy posting to my blog somewhat regularly, I’ve got to push through and allow myself to have a few horrible blog posts.*

I just looked through some older posts, hoping to find a bit of inspiration, and stumbled across my *not* resolution post from the very beginning of this year. I must say, without trying too hard, I’ve done a pretty good job of doing the things I’d hoped to do:

-To get into an awesome law school and to not have that kill me.
So far I’ve only heard from one school and it was good news. It may not be at the very top of my list of where I’d like to go, but it’s decent and they’ve offered me quite a bit of money. Even if I wind up getting rejected from everywhere else I’ve applied, I know that someone wants me. After a year of rejections, it’s nice to finally feel gratified after months of studying, writing, and wondering. Hopefully I’ll hear back from some other schools soon!

-To find an internship and some more contract work.
Sigh. Still have to get cracking on this one. But I’ve been keeping myself busy with Twilio stuff and lots, I mean lots, of guests!

-To design my own website.
This is another thing that’s going to take some time. But thanks to my friend Brendan and a CSS book filled with lots of tutorials, I now have an idea of what this CSS stuff is all about. I still get easily confused but I think I’m just about ready to jump in and try my own thing.

-To visit another new state and country (or international city)-this is pretty much my goal every year.
This one’s going to be tough. Not sure if the country is going to happen as it looks like the rest of 2011 is almost entirely planned out, but a new state could possibly happen. Perhaps I’ll plan an adventure to Seattle before the end of the year!

-To get back into martial arts.
Success! I have joined the Okinawan Karate Club of San Francisco and I absolutely love it. My only gripe is that the only two class times are on Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons. I’d love a third class on Mondays or Tuesdays! The other people in the club are really nice, they keep things traditional, which means they focus on self-defense and history rather than competition. I have to start as a white belt again though, which is a bit weird since I have a brown belt in my old style, but I suppose it’s good to brush up on my basics.

-To reconnect with other old friends who I have been horrible about keeping in touch with.
I’ve definitely been slightly better about this, but there’s still more I should do. But hey, as I mentioned before, I’ve had a million guests here!

-To properly visit the East Coast.
Still hasn’t happened.

-To keep being happy.
Still doing pretty good on this front!

That’s it for now. I’ve just discovered that there’s an Android app for Words with Friends (gasp! A Zynga product, noo!) so I’m going to challenge a stranger. If you’re on there, you should totes be my friend (username cedickie).

*I admit, there haven’t really been any good blog posts for a while, whatevs!

Sometimes I feel like a boat in the ocean, then I realize there are much bigger things, like giant boats, out there (hey, don’t get mad at me for not making sense, you’re the one that made it this far down the post!).

Two Thousand Eleven

A brief return to technology.

Why yes, my little blog, I have missed you. However, it has been incredibly freeing to barely check my e-mail or go online over the last week or so. I almost regret beginning this blog entry but it is simply too late to abandon it now!

I don’t do resolutions but I do like to reflect a bit on what happened over the last year and think about what may be different by this time next year. So now, a quick recap of 2010- an overall awesome year.

-I totally failed my goal of reading 50 books. I think the count came to a pathetic 20, unless I allow myself to count a book I mostly read and a couple others I’m halfway through. Haven’t decided if I’m going to keep up a count this year.

-Applied for many jobs and got many rejections- it was, in many ways, a very tough year.

-Ran my first 5k race, realized I could easily run 10k, then wound up in physical therapy for months because of shin splints.

-Reconnected with many friends from middle school, high school, college, grad school, and beyond.

-Visited the Netherlands and Oregon for the first time.

-Went to Nevada five times.

-Decided to move to San Francisco and apply to law school.

-Made it to Cleveland three times to visit family.

-Went to two weddings- one in Pittsburgh, the other in Texas.

-Finally made it back East, if only for a couple days and with barely any time to see anyone.

-Tried learning a little html and CSS.

-Picked up more contracting work, which makes life a bit more exciting.

-My favorite thing: started dating the other C.

-Had the best New Year’s Eve ever (fireworks, ski shots, laughs and smiles)

Overall I’d say this year has been filled with much uncertainty. The stress that comes with not being able to find a full time job, despite trying pretty much everything, is incredibly frustrating. When I return to San Francisco in a few days, a lot of that uncertainty will remain, which scares me. But I don’t regret anything that’s happened over the last year. I’m happier now than I have been in a long time. Not only am I always happy to go back to San Francisco, but it also feels like home to me now. I’ve taken the time I wouldn’t have had otherwise to get closer to people, learn new things, and repair my legs.

My hopes (not resolutions) for 2011:
-To get into an awesome law school and to not have that kill me.
-To find an internship and some more contract work.
-To design my own website.
-To visit another new state and country (or international city)-this is pretty much my goal every year.
-To get back into martial arts.
-To reconnect with other old friends who I have been horrible about keeping in touch with.
-To properly visit the East Coast.
-To keep being happy.

Woop woop

Keepin' Busy

First things first, congrats to the SF Giants for winning the World Series! I’m pretty sure someone set off a fire cracker a couple feet away from me last night on Mission Street…but I’d had a few beers at that point so my perception was a bit off.

When not running through the streets celebrating a major sports victory, I tend to keep myself fairly busy considering that I don’t have a job. It can be challenging explaining to people what exactly it is that I do. Do people who ask really want to know that I spend a fair amount of time writing cover letters, personal statements, and trying to improve my LSAT score? No, that doesn’t make for good cocktail conversation. And, to be honest, it’s depressing for me to discuss. So let’s not chat about that here. Instead, let’s talk about the other little things that I do to occupy my time.

A while back I mentioned that from time to time I do a bit of social media stuff for my friend Brendan’s company, BlinkTag. Although I’m not doing too much for him at the moment, it’s neat learning about some of the projects he and his employee/our friend Trucy work on every week.

It’s also nice being around other productive people who have a fairly flexible schedule, which gives us the opportunity to sometimes go on little adventures. A couple weeks ago, for instance, we got a car and drove out to Cupertino to visit a friend who works at Apple. During our stay at One Infinite Loop, we stopped for lunch and I actually saw Steve Jobs in the cafeteria line! I did a double take and he smiled at my confusion. Pretty sweet. After that we drove over to the Yahoo! Great America campus, not to be confused with the main Sunnyvale campus, to visit Conner (aka the bf) who works there. Yahoo! was a lot more purple than Apple, but I’d say both were a lot more officy feeling than I would have expected. At some point Brendan, Trucy, and I hope to make it to some of the other big name offices around the Bay Area.

Last week B and T let me tag along with them to Oakland, where we met up with the people responsible for BART‘s social media. Almost all social media work I’ve done, whether for BlinkTag or Londonist, has been based on knowledge I’ve gained by personal use and a little bit of shared info, so it was interesting to hear what people who do it more officially had to say on the subject.

One of the coolest things I think Brendan and his crew have done is create Bikesy, a bike mapping service for the Bay Area, which incorporates safety and elevation into its routes. He altered the service a bit for one of his clients, which you can read about here (guess who wrote the blog post and did the screencast, nudge nudge wink wink). And! Just to show how ridiculous I can be and what other types of things Brendan’s had me do, check out his blog for a whole bunch of WordPress tutorial screencasts I made.

Now back to business as usual, and to vote!

There and Back Again

Recently I’ve managed to catch up with some friends and family I haven’t seen or spoken with in a long time. The usual first statement seems to be along the lines of, “I can never figure out where you are. You’re always in different places!” And, true to form, I suppose I always sort of am. No, I’m not visiting different countries or taking road trips to each corner of the continent. But I have kept myself busy and I’m certain that I’m only going to get busier over the next couple of months.

The highlights:

Drinking whiskey with a few of my male cousins in Pittsburgh after my cousin’s wedding.

Making it to Oregon for the first time to reunite with some Trinity friends. In addition to seeing waterfalls, vineyards, and hazel farms, I saw a real life Delorean.

A journey down Highway 1 with my parents to Carmel. They reminisced over their honeymoon, which followed the same route, and I enjoyed discovering the Carmel Mission.

Watching my friends drive their 60 foot MUNI bus, freshly transformed into the Playapillar, around Burning Man for over a week.

Showing my Dutch friend, who had never been to the US before, the joys of pick-up trucks, Mexican food, skyscrapers, casinos, and Lake Tahoe.

Other things I shall not mention here. 🙂

The lower lights:

Deadly week long sinus infection.

Never ending physical therapy for my shin splints- I suppose this is a good thing but I am ready for it to be done.

Intense study sessions and near panic attacks thanks to the all mighty LSAT.

That is all I’ll say tonight. Hopefully I’ll get this thing back up and running shortly!

Do You Buzz and Me [Blatant Self-Promotion]

For being unemployed I happen to be a pretty busy person, hence the recent silence on here. In the last couple of weeks I’ve written cover letters, done some freelance social media stuff for Blinktag Inc., headed to the beach, visited Virginia City for the 4th of July, cried for Argentina (ouch) after the Germans destroyed them, and done my best to avoid studying for my upcoming Accounting exam (yuck).

I also stopped by Parisoma, a very cool “innovation loft”/co-working space, to meet with Evy and Sylvia from Doyoubuzz. Doyoubuzz, which was started in France a few years ago, is a free online resume builder site. If you’d like to see an example of a super awesome one, visit mine (hehe)!

My friend Lisa recommended I try it a couple of months ago, I did, and am now a definite fan. It’s easy to use, especially if you’re like me and have no graphic design skills. Doyoubuzz is hoping to move away from paper resumes and CVs, which is definitely an idea I can get behind. They’ve done pretty well in Europe and are hoping to gain more ground in the States- I have no doubts that they’ll succeed.

They’ve started a new project for their blog, which involves interviewing some of the site’s users, such as extremely cool people myself. You can read my interview here. It was great meeting Evy and Sylvia, learning more about the company, and hearing their job hunting tips.

Having the opportunity to visit interesting spaces and learn about how young startups have grown and what their strategies for further development are is yet another reason why I’m happy to have moved to San Francisco. Even if I don’t yet have a job I’m happy to know I’m surrounded by creative and incredibly helpful people!

I believe it’s now time to return to the land of T Accounts and Double Entries…someone save me from my accounting class!

Eureka! (The Sentiment, not the Californian City)

First things first, mandatory self-imposed guilt trip: I FAIL at reading. I will do better soon! At least I’ve started reading the Economist again, which should count for something.

Now on to the real blog post.

Back in high school I was the type of kid who enjoyed her surroundings and didn’t worry too much about the future. Some of the other students at my school attended college fairs their freshman year, others spent their weekends at debate tournaments, and I did my best to cope with the fact that I was in freakin’ high school. I played between two to three sports a year, took extra classes and invented tutorials for fun, dabbled in drawing, painting, photography, and improv acting, and- perhaps the most time consuming activity of them all, pined over many a boy, as demonstrated by semi-emo, post-midnight poetry scribbled into my diary.

How anyone at the age of 15 or 16 could possibly know what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives was beyond me. I barely knew what I was going to do at the weekend (some things never change). Occasionally my more ambitious friends would pester me with questions about where I wanted to go to college, which would result in my having a minor freakout sesh.

Why hadn’t I cared more about improving my GPA, or joined more clubs, or taken AP lit instead of taking extra electives in Chaucer, Shakespeare, and creative writing (which led to me winning an award senior year in English BTDUBS, bam!), or? Why did other people want to move away from home? Was I really so strange for liking my parents and for knowing that I could obsess over a band and get away with it because I was still a teenager?

The freakouts never lasted long. I’d moved enough times by that point to understand that life’s little bits and pieces pull together eventually, some more easily and quickly than others.

Instead of drawn out plans I tend to have moments. Either I’ll reach a place, read a sentence in a book, or meet someone new and think to myself, “Yes! This is me.” In other words, “Eureka!” There will be much debating prior to the moment, many dilly dallyings and doubts. Perhaps my life could be summarized as the moments and periods of waiting in between.

An example of a moment would be my first experience with Trinity College (Connecticut) where I went for undergrad. During the summer of 2002, My mom and I embarked upon a tour of liberal arts colleges on the East Coast. I still had no idea who I supposedly was (did it matter?) or where I belonged. After one information session after another I quickly determined what I most certainly did not want from a school- a heavy core curriculum? No thanks (isn’t the beauty of liberal arts the ability to choose?). I didn’t want anything to do with Pennsylvania and thought Maine seemed a bit far away from everything. Then we got to Trinity and I had that moment. I fell in love with the campus, imagined myself eating at one of the cafeterias, and wanted to be one of those students lounging on the quad. I figured I could deal with the salmon-colored pants and the pearls as long as I could have an old chapel and a strong history department within a five minute walk from my dorm. As we left I told my mom, “I’m coming back here.” Apparently Trinity felt the same way because I matriculated into the class of 2007.

Do I think I could have been happy at another school? Of course. Did I ever regret the fact that I didn’t do more research about other schools after visiting Trinity or try harder to get in somewhere else? Nope. I never, not even for a second, considered the possibility of transferring. Whenever anyone asks me how I enjoyed it, I always answer that I loved it. These moments of mine are pretty damn incredible.

It had been a while since my last one, but I finally had one tonight. It may involve going back to school again (crap)…and taking the LSATs in October. It’s an idea I’d previously considered but could never commit to. I’d prevented myself from thinking about it since graduating from the LSE because the idea of studying more, and for a long time, is exhausting. But now it’s all I can think about and I plan to hunt it down.

I went to a Trinity careers networking reception this evening and wound up chatting with one of the panel members, who happens to be a partner at a fancy pants law firm in SF. He’d also studied history at Trinity- we’d even had one of the same advisors! Imagine, he experienced one professor at the start of his career and I experienced him on the verge of retirement. He urged me, while insisting that he wasn’t, to think about law and I laughed the thought off instantly. “It’s not for me,” I muttered. Then I went home and realized how wrong that statement was. Maybe it wasn’t for me, once upon a time. There certainly wasn’t anyway I could have handled it after graduating from Trinity. But I’ve since made my way to the (freakin’) LSE and survived. I know I can handle the workloads because I’ve already faced them.

Here are a few reasons this makes sense:

-I get excited about cyber laws and digital copyright.
-I think doing research and writing about it is fun.
-My friends don’t call me “Sassoline” for nothin’- I like to argue.
-Having a background in History of International Relations, Law, and social media, would make me an official badass (international and/or technology law here I come!!).
-I have a pretty sweet memory, which has caused my friends much frustration on numerous occasions.
-I don’t like it when rules aren’t followed properly (i.e. the car MUST be sighted before “shotgun” can be properly claimed).

You may think this is a pretty big decision to have made within a few hours, but remember, once I have a moment I have to give in to its power. The moment never (or rarely) fails. And really, there wasn’t ever so much a question of me not wanting to pursue this but of me not being ready. Now I am.

You Can Take the Girl out of Britain but…

You certainly can’t squeeze those last drops of Britishness out of her all at once. No Writing Adventure Group post from me this week, nor book review. Forgive me, I’ve just moved continents. If you’re confused, this should catch you up to speed. There’s not too much point to this entry other than to keep the blogging up since I have a tendency to drift after a while. I’ll have to be especially persistent because I’ll no longer be writing for Londonist, not that I wrote all that much for them over the last few months.

I’ve been back in the States for a whopping 4 or 5 days and my brain is still incredibly confused. It would be hard to find two places more different than London and San Francisco. London is the place of kings and queens, tea, history, finance, double decker buses, twisty streets, queues, and nicely trimmed hedges. San Francisco is the place of America’s rebels and outcasts, hipsters, coffee, grids, burritos, start-ups, eucalyptus, and wild agave. Both cities attract me to them but abandoning one for the other is not the easiest task.

Having primarily grown up in the States, I supposed that adjusting back to American life wouldn’t be too difficult. For the most part it’s not but I’ve gradually realized just how much living in the UK over the last couple of years has affected me. It’s not the big things that get me (is it ever?) but the smaller stuff. Here everyone expects a tip but you’re expected to clear your table at a cafe- in London tips are reserved for certain situations and coffee cups can be left behind for staff to clear up. I was driving through the city yesterday, signaled to switch lanes, and someone actually let me in. That never happened to me in London, although I suppose it didn’t happen much on the East Coast either. The majority of the people I follow on Twitter are UK based so my feed goes almost dead by about 4pm. People in London actually know what the London School of Economics is. No one here is afraid to ask anyone a question and strangers are generally more considerate. Granted I haven’t gone downtown yet this trip, but I haven’t laid eyes on a single tourist (YES!). The roughest thing is hoping people aren’t offended by my fairly dry sense of humor.

It may take a little while, but I think San Francisco will one day feel like home (or at least a part time home. Dolores Park may not hold the same charm as Kensington Gardens but I’ve got the Pacific Ocean a short bike ride away. Being in a laid back city should be good for me. But please, if I ever start writing about saving the earth or not eating meat, send a virtual slap in my direction.