Meanwhile in Twitterville, vol. 1

Nevada sunset. Photo by Marco.

In case you missed it on my Twitter, here are the top 10 links that people have clicked on this month so far. I excluded all the links to this blog (I figured there’s room for only one narcissistic act of self-linking, and that’s going to be to my tumblr).

As you can see, it’s a pretty random list, which means people who read my tweets are just as random as me. I dig.

1. Always read the terms and conditions
2. Possibly the next engagement-photo craze
3. Who are the 1 percent?
4. I’m not as smart as I thought I was
5. I’d hire him
6. Outliers: The kind of book a Canadian would write, living in America
7. Why I love New York
8. Five resolutions for aspiring leaders
9. Sixth and Mission, illustrated
10. PressPausePlay

What you didn’t click on but should have: The Paris Review’s excellent interview with Maya Angelou (such great nuggets, e.g. “One of the great arts that the writer develops is the art of saying, ‘No. No, I’m finished. Bye.’ And leaving it alone.”) and neat quotes by scifi author Bruce Sterling on following your weird.

Happy Tuesday!

Bagnapper’s delight

Image
5 o’clock shadow. Chicago.

Just in case you were mystified by my lack of updates, let me direct you to my Twitter.

Long story long, I’ve been a tad preoccupied with a major research project at work, on top of being gone for nearly three weeks for Thanksgiving and meetings in Toronto, Chicago, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and San Francisco again – in that order.

I just got back last night and have quite a few pictures to post. Much of them I’ve already tweeted (giving you non-Tweeters the side eye yet again). I’ll try to post the rest, stories attached, over Christmas break (Yes, I’m referring to it like I’m still in college).

For now, here are some highlights:

This experience aside, Torontonians are lovely. I’m told there’s this thing on the CN Tower called the Edge Walk, in which you’re suspended above the cityscape with nothing between you and the hard, hard concrete but a flimsy-looking cord. It’s only open in the warm months, and I’ve been invited to do it should I return in the summer.

I think I’ll pass.

Chicago is an awesome city.  This place is delicious, and the aquarium was fun. Jellies are always my favorite, because ain’t no party like a cnidarian party.

For my first stint in San Francisco, I stayed in the Tenderloin — a result of coming into the research process quite late and having limited time to book and schedule meetings. Upon dropping me off, my cab driver asked why the heck I was staying there. He also answered my questions of “Am I going to die?” with things like: You’ll be fine. Pause. If anyone comes up to you, just walk away. Pause.

Cab peels away the second I close the door and I’m left standing there with my luggage, a lone tumbleweed rolling by.

Silicon Valley is a neat, smart town. Lots of tech companies and charming downtown strips. There, I saw the Apple Store Steve Jobs frequented, Stanford in all its splendor, and the mighty HP shed where it all began.

I was almost the victim of The Great Bagnapping Disaster. Granted, half of it was my fault for not paying close attention to the carousel (My name is Karen, and I’m a Tweetaholic). But that had never happened before, even when I used a very generic black suitcase, so I figured: Why now?

Sure enough, I looked up from my phone long enough to realize I was the last one standing at baggage claim while a sole red suitcase that kind of but not really resembled mine rolled past.

I lifted the noticeably empty suitcase and checked the tag: Blank.

It was time to panic. I debated between running to SFO airport security and fruitlessly filling out paperwork or hunting down the bagnapper.

I decided to go a-hunting.

Potential Bagnapper #1 was a girl in her late teens or early 20s. I could tell she was creeped out by the little Asian girl chasing her down. “Excuse me?” I said. She walked faster. “Excuse me?” She stopped once she realized her ride hadn’t arrived yet. She was cornered.

Me: Hi, I can’t find my suitcase, and I just wanted to check if (looks down to see her identical red suitcase has a big black tag on the handle. Internal monologue: “Crap. That’s not mine. Or is it? She could have just added it really fast. But it looks like it’s kind of hard to add and remove quickly. Or maybe –“) you might have taken my suitcase by mistake.

Her, not amused: It’s mine.

Me: Yeah, I just noticed the tag. Well, thanks anyway; I wonder where mine went.

Her, still not amused: Well, this is mine.

I walk away, muttering expletives.

Potential Bagnapper #2. Mom standing by the curb waiting for pickup. She’s with some kids, possibly hers, and totally not the bagnapping sort. I approach anyway.

Me: Hi, did you just fly in from Chicago? (Looks down at suitcase. No unidentified tag to be found, and it appears as plump as mine).

Her, friendly: Yes.

Me: Well, my suitcase looks just like that, and I was wondering if it might be mine. Can I just see the tag?

Her: …

Me, not waiting for a response, already looking at the tag tucked into the backpocket: It’s mine.

Her: Oh my God! I’m so sorry. Here you go. We just bought a new red suitcase just like this.

Me: It’s on the carousel. I’m just glad you’re still here.

Her: I’m so sorry!

I run to catch a cab, aneurysm averted.

Now, I tend to be discerning of people and their intentions, and she very well could have been a tired mom. Except for one big discrepancy: The suitcase on the carousel was empty. Mine was nearly 50 pounds. There was absolutely no way she could have mistaken mine for hers unless she happened to possess Buffy-like strength with the inability to gauge weight.

Somehow, I doubt that.

Final Score —

Me: 1

Attempted Bagnapper: 0

The Undead: Eternity

The Epilogue

This is the epilogue of a series of posts on San Francisco. Find the others here.

Though brief, my San Francisco adventure reminded me why I love travel. It sharpens the senses and forces you to confront pieces of yourself that surface only in the unfamiliar. It also forces you to look at the you you’ve left behind at home.

This trip made me question some things.

Mainly, my second year in New York couldn’t be more different from the first. The first was full of exploration, curiosity, the new. My second has had a bit of that, but along with it the realization that change is the city’s only constant. This I knew before but hadn’t yet seen.

Time moves quickly here, and so do lives. Things fade into the background as priorities shift. People you’ve grown quite attached to leave as easily as they arrive. Even restaurants are unreliable. I remember eating at my new favorite noodle spot one night and returning the next day to find it had shuttered.

I’ve always thought myself comfortable with change. If life were like the Girl Scouts, I’d wear a badge of mobility on my sash. I can adapt to most things, I’d say, pointing out where I spent chunks and snippets of my life.

But change can also harden you. Perhaps it’s why people here are so tough to get to know. They’re all too familiar with transience, that being here today doesn’t mean you’ll be here tomorrow. Everyone has a guard up, a wall only the worthy can breach.

The only way to cope is to let the city change you, too.

Living here has made me braver, stronger and wiser, but it has also drained me. Now that I can call this home without the term conjuring images of a different place, I’m ready to see what else is out there.

If only for a little while.