Week in Review: Zero writing but the schedule is coming along

The 4-Hour WorkweekImage via Wikipedia

Oh, it’s the end of the week? Well, it’s the end of the work week for 9-5ers. For me, it’s just my Tuesday. It’s been two months since I decided to really focus on my writing and check out freelancing, but gee, it took me all this time to finally figure out some sort of comfortable schedule.

I had read in a few books and articles about how first-time freelancers/writers going full-time find it hard to really balance out their time for work and play. I knew this was going to happen to me, but I didn’t completely believe it either until I experienced it myself.

Usually I’m pretty disciplined with my time, but a lot of changes were going on around me that it was hard to really set the schedule down. Plus, it’s not like I really need to work on a rigid time schedule these days–I just have to get my hours in somewhere along the week: this many hours for studying GMAT, this many hours for my health/fitness (gym, Wii, etc.), this many hours for spending with loved ones, et. al.

It’s safe to say that my “weekend” now occurs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which normally would be just fine by me. But since my GMAT class just started this week, I found myself steeped in homework problems yesterday morning before my class. That’s what I get for taking those two days off! But I’ve learned my lesson and will budget my time more wisely for these next three weeks before my test.

In other news, another Muni Diaries feature today: Learning West Portal the Hard Way

Editor/friend Jeff said I bookended the blog this week with my stories of getting lost on Muni. Nice way to start/end the regular workweek! Now, I must get back to some online drills.

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Conjuring up SF Muni Memories

Old Muni logoImage via Wikipedia

Well, as I’m counting down the months before I leave San Francisco for the next step in life, I’ve been working hard on remembering some things that have happened over the course of these three years.

One thing that I have liked about living here is just how so many people are technology-forward. This is where most of the magic happens, where Twitter is located, where Facebook is located, etc. etc. Also, where many of my favorite blogs are located.

I’ve been following Muni Diaries for a year or so now and have always been amused by the stories told there. I’ve mentioned Muni Diaries before (last year, when I submitted a few of my old blog entries for their archives), but for awhile now I hadn’t thought much of other Muni incidents worth re-telling.

Well, now is the time. I’ve gotten lost on Muni a few times before, and they’ve always been entertaining…well, at least from the way I saw the incidents. Yesterday, my story about how I got lost on the 9X bus was posted up: Beginner’s Luck on the Bayshore Express. My first time alone on Muni, and this is what happens! At least the panic didn’t last long and I found my way back home.

Later this week, my other story will be posted on the blog; I’ve got to keep picking my brain for more Muni incidents though since I feel there can be many stories written from the multitude of times I’ve boarded Muni.

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Ray of hope on the morning commute–

7:13am, October 13, 2009.

The first big rain of the season; I stepped onto the 5-Fulton bus for my usual commute and felt like I had just battled a true typhoon. I went to my favorite seat immediately and settled down.

There were a couple of men talking about San Francisco; they were both recent transplants to the city, so they were making comparisons of their previous locations to The City. I felt like it was just a simple exchange of a few words, so I drifted off into my own thoughts, and onto a warm slumber during the 40-minute commute.

Rain poured outside while our bus driver perilously navigated the slick streets; meanwhile the two men continued to talk across the aisle with each other, until one, who introduced himself as “James”, decided he would just sit beside his new companion, who said his name was “Jack”.

As the bus continued on towards downtown, more passengers boarded with gloomy expressions over the unexpected rain. However, through the gray faces, Jack and James seemed to melt into their own world, sharing their life stories with one another.

Somehow, that small scene from this morning has stuck with me all day–that, amidst all the recent negative Muni coverage, there are still small beams of hope shining through all the mess.

Homeless man and his luggage.

While on the bus ride home today, a homeless man boarded the bus with several pieces of luggage. He had a band-aid across his nostrils and he kept getting in the way of others since his luggage was quite cumbersome. I was sitting in a window seat and trying to read to distract myself from his presence near me. I feared that the woman beside me would leave and then the man would sit down beside me since I was sitting in one of the “wider” seats, i.e., there was more space between my row and the row in front.

My fear came true as I watched my bus mate stand up and exit through the back door of the bus. The man took that opportunity to stake the claim on the seat (well, he asked others first if they wanted to sit); he proceeded to box me into my window seat with his luggage and then he sat down beside me. I scooted closer to the window and attempted to stay as far away from him as possible. I was feeling slightly paranoid since we had been talking at work about strange characters in the city, so I held my guard up in case the guy would try to swipe my belongings.

Around ten blocks before my stop, I stopped reading so I could focus on where I was; the guy noticed I was finished reading and assumed I was getting off soon. “Getting off?” he asked me. I shook my head “No” and he then said, “Oh okay, well let me know when you’re getting off so I can move my stuff; you don’t want me to fall asleep and leave you trapped!”

My guard was still up, but after a few seconds, I realized the guy was pretty harmless. He began to ask me about what book I was reading (Catch-22) and he mused, “It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book, but I used to love reading so much.” I relaxed and shook my head as he had a monologue (I think he got the hint that I was not overly interested in talking with him, sadly) about his past love for reading, and then talking about painkillers numbing him.

Once it was time for my stop, the man moved his belongings over to another seat so that I would have a clear path to get out of the bus. I had pulled out a small snack from my lunch bag, intending to give it to him, but since he moved to a row further up in the bus, the opportunity already seemed lost. When he settled into his new seat with his bags, he looked exhausted.

I boarded off the bus and felt a twinge of sadness as I watched him go on his way. I wonder where he was headed; towards the beach? Towards the far edge of Golden Gate Park? In many ways, he reminded me of my short story “Riches to Rags” and I wondered about his life story.

Children Growing Up in San Francisco

There were a couple of ABC (American-born Chinese) teens on the bus this afternoon, and I felt more than amused by their conversation:

Girl 1: Did you know that New Zealand is a part of Australia?
Girl 2: Everyone knew that except you.
Boy 1: May I sit here?
Girl 1: *rolls eyes* Sure, maybe…*sets her backpack down in the seat*
Boy 2: I have to go to my tutoring session today.
Girl 2: Tutoring, as in for what? Sylvan Learning Center?!
Boy 1: Hooked on Phonics? *laughs*
Girl 1: Here, sit down!
Boy 1: On your backpack? Okay, but it’s going to have some butt stains on it…*laughs*
Girl 1: Did you know that New Zealand is a part of Australia?
Boy 1: I think you already said that.
Girl 1: I thought it was all the way by Hawaii!

Eavesdropping and observing their behavior, I felt like I was seeing an image of what my life could have been like if I had grown up in San Francisco. These teenagers and their lives here in San Francisco are very different from what I experienced as a teenager. However, will they end up with different perspectives in adulthood as me, or will they end up with the same perspective somehow?