Habits

I can successfully do only two things without fail every day: Put in and take out my contacts and brush my teeth. Suffice to say, I don’t keep habits. Hell, I even struggle with taking my (non-essential) medicine everyday.

I blame my hectic childhood. You’d think with all that I went through, I’d latch onto habits as a sense of normalcy, and yet I’m an adult who can’t stick with a 30-day, or even 7-day plan.

For years, I’ve been this way because it felt too overwhelming to do otherwise. I was busy dealing with my anxiety, stress or some deep-rooted issues that demanded a lot of my time. I had a hard enough time finding the energy and fortitude to leave my house, interact with the world and feed myself, let alone exercise four times per week, floss, do yoga, journal, take vitamins and any other habit of the month.

Now, well, I am five some-odd years into therapy and no longer have the crippling anxiety that made it tough to leave my house. The anxiety and stress no longer occupy huge swaths of my time and I find myself with enough time on my hands to dedicate to a habit.

It’s time I hold myself accountable. I can no longer fall back on any excuses for why I can’t stick with a behavior. I am completely capable of maintaining a routine that makes time for the things I actually want to do, like fitness, flossing, eating well and actually taking care of my body. I’ve spent years taking care of my mind and soul, it’s time to turn my attention.

So this is all just a long-winded explanation of my year’s resolution; to challenge myself to keep habits. I’d say “keep just one habit,” but I know I can do better than that. I’ve been too soft on myself for too long and you can’t grow unless you challenge yourself.

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Colds, Heat, Apollo 13, and the iPhone

It’s 6am on a Saturday and I am awake with a cough that won’t go away. Like most people, I hate being sick, but I think I hate it even more than the average person. I don’t like being cooped up at home, so tired that all I can muster to do is to watch TV and curse whoever or whatever got me sick. I don’t relish being away from work, because my work keeps my mind engaged and happy. But alas, I got sick and all I can do is wait for it to go away.

This is hardly the worse cold I’ve had, but it’s in the top five. To make matters worse, it’s HOT in the Bay Area this week. Really, really hot, by San Francisco standards at least. Having lived in Arizona for seven years, I am used to the soul-crushing dry heat, and I moved to San Francisco to get away from it. That’s why I am always bitter and grumpy when the fog clears away and the temperatures rise above the typical 63°F.

The only upside to the clear skies is that I can see the moon clearly for the first time in months. I’m currently reading Apollo 13, the book written by Jeffrey Kluger and Jim Lovell that later became Ron Howard’s awesome movie, and it’s neat to get to stare up at the moon and feel connected to it. If you’re a space nerd like me, or at all interested in humankind’s efforts to get into space in the 1960s and 70s, I highly recommend you read it.

Last in this stream of consciousness-like post, I bought an iPhone. For the last four years, I’ve been swearing up and down that I’d never buy an iPhone and that I’d stick with Android for life. Well, never say never. I still love Android and still respect the ecosystem very much, and I’m still reviewing Android phones and software at CNET. It’s just that I want to get better acquainted with the iOS ecosystem, which despite owning an iPad, I feel like I don’t know all that much about. I also want to be able to use all the cool new apps that still seem to take months or upwards of a year to get to Android. Sadly, the phone is still on back order and hasn’t shipped yet, but sometime in the near future I’ll have an iPhone 6 of my own, and people can start calling me an iSheep — oh joy!

The Amazing Things That Happened This Year

If I learned anything in 2013 it’s that I live an incredibly charmed life. In my life I’ve been blessed to hold really cool jobs, meet amazing people, and experience things many people will never get to experience. 2013 was full of charm, but also sadness, loss, heartache, and uncertainty. Like most years, there was plenty of good and bad in my life, but 2013 was also unique and special, in that I was faced with so many new adventures that left a lasting impression. Not wanting to forget anything, I’m outlining the highlights of my year here.

  • A simple announcement from my uncle that he was traveling to Israel in February re-ignited a spark I had to pursue my Birthright trip (a free trip to Israel for Jews ages 18-26). That launched me into full-on planning mode, scoping out deadlines, applications, and trip planning.
  • I found out I have minor scoliosis. Oh, so that’s why I get back pain.
  • I lost my job at Wired just one week before the deadline to decide to take my Birthright trip or cancel it.
  • Not letting unemployment get me down, I spent the time freelancing, exploring parts of San Francisco I hadn’t seen, hiking, and planning my trip.
  • I went to Israel!!! It was indescribably amazing. I met awesome people, who are now friends I see as often as I can. My eyes were opened to the conflicts in the Middle East, and I was able to see how close together countries in the region are to each other. The trip was everything that others had told me it would be, and I am so glad I went.
  • I celebrated my 25th birthday at an A’s game with friends and my loving partner.
  • I landed a fantastic job at CNET, on the reviews team, doing the work I’ve always wanted to do.
  • After years and years of living in the city, I finally went to the Stern Grove Festival and got to sit in the VIP area, thanks to a friend who works for the Parks department. We brought tons of food, drank booze, and enjoyed two wonderful shows.
  • Also after many years in the city, I finally went to Jewish Heritage Night at AT&T Park and saw Matisyahu perform.
  • In July, I lost a very special person, my aunt Yvonne. She battled cancer for a few years and is deeply missed.
  • Woke up at 4am to watch the Perseid meteor shower. That was spectacular.
  • I got to cover a lot of new gadget releases, including the iPhone 5S. Though the work is hectic, it’s really fun to get the first look at a new gadget.
  • I saw the Mythbusters stage show. After years of watching Jamie and Adam on TV, it was a treat to see them in person.
  • Put on a Star Trek uniform and ran through the streets of San Francisco for my company’s Amazing Race competition. Got a lot of weird looks, a few catcalls, and had a lot of fun.
  • Finally converted the tapes my parents shot when I was a baby into a DVD and digital files. It’s great to see the family I have lost on tape, to hear their voices, and see their mannerisms.

That list doesn’t include the amazing new friends I’ve made, beautiful sunny days spent on the beach, hikes with friends, delicious dinners, new experiences with my partner, and the countless number of happy and sad times I’ve had this year. 2013 was awesome, and I can’t wait for next year.

Favorite Things of Late

Just a list of stuff I’m loving lately.

XOJane, and beauty sister site XOVain. I’m usually bothered by most content directed at women. It’s either the same rehashed garbage advice about sex, makeup, and fashion that’s filled women’s magazines (and there respective websites) for the last ten years, or it’s too aggressively feminist and/or self-righteous for my tastes.

XOJane strikes a nice balance between superficial advice I actually want, human interest stories (I can’t get enough of those), and people talking about general life issues I always wanted to talk about, but felt were too “rude” to bring up to my friends. And when some writers get a little too feminist for my taste, I just look the other away. I’ve even met a group of gal friends through XOJane, which is awesome.

Continue reading “Favorite Things of Late”

Why A Sunny Day in the Mission is Perfect

A warm, sunny and clear day devoid of fog is a rarity in San Francisco. That means when the fog disappears and the temperature rises above 60 degrees, everyone takes full advantage and gets the heck outside. Faced with a beautiful day in the city and an afternoon free, I did what many San Franciscans do and made my way to the Mission to soak up some sun.

Because I have lived in the west side of San Francisco for the nearly four years I’ve been here, I rarely venture to the Mission. Instead of dining at Pizzeria Delfina, spending my Fridays at Mission Bowling Club, or standing in line for fresh-baked morning pastries at Tartine Bakery, I merely read about those experiences on food and local news blogs and imagine what my life would be if I lived in the hipster capital of, uh, Northern California. (I think that’s right, isn’t Portland the hipster capital of the world? I don’t even know)

Hoping to change that, and because I was craving something sweet, I spent my sunny afternoon finding Tartine Bakery, a San Francisco-famous pastry and sandwich shop and cafe at the corner of 18th and Guerrero. The space was small, but the pastry case was big and full of too many tempting treats for me to pick something. Feeling the pressure of a growing line, I went with the first pastry that caught my eye and that remembered was highly recommended on Foursquare, the chocolate eclair.

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My Tartine eclair, before I scarfed it down.

After stopping at Bi-Rite Market, another San Francisco institution, for a water bottle, I climbed the hills at Dolores Park to take in a view while taking in the eclair, passing a guy peddling pot cookies. Thanks man, but today this French pastry is all I need. After finding my spot in the grass, I promptly took a huge bite and ended up wearing a blob of vanilla cream filling. I didn’t care because Tartine had lived up to its hype; my eclair was really, really good. It also validated in my mind that these Mission establishments are really as good as everyone says they are.

I already knew that Dolores Park was a nice place to spend a warm afternoon. Now I also know that it’s worth getting out of the Outer Sunset to find some great food in the Mission and in other parts of the city to which I never bother to venture — especially on those rare San Francisco sunny days.

Mission Dolores Park April 2013