#whatinnaeworld?! SF 3rd Edition, or “Why Innae is Not Yet an SFer”

You’re never too old to be new.

DANGER! DANGER! This is a warning for all Google Maps public transit route users!

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Yes. That red highlighted route? The one that says it will be so much shorter than the other serpentine routes you usually take? Obviously the right answer. Obviously the one you take on the first day of training for a new job. And being a seasoned rider of MUNI (SF’s public transportation route), I felt confident about all the complex going-ons, such as signaling when to get off, and how to touch the yellow tape or kick the handrails to open the back doors.

Transit world gods, you win.

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You’re looking at the back of a bus that got me to my workplace in a speedy fashion as advertised…

… at the cost of $10 for 3 miles.

Still a noob. Still learning my way around. By the way, what is the neighborhood to the west of NoPa called?

P.S. Googling “Google Maps red bus route San Francisco” doesn’t work. Yes, I tried that.

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Beautiful Feet

I wanted to share a letter I wrote to the staff at Kiva on my last day of my internship (today!). It took me some time to get the thoughts out, but it felt necessary to make them public too. Now that I’m entering the world of unemployment again, it’s a reminder of why I gave up what I did to try to do what I want to do.

I’m definitely at a loss for words with this email.

As I mentioned in All Hands this morning, the last 5 months have been extremely influential. It has been a privilege to be part of a team that is filled with joy, passion, vision and… lots and lots of delicious sweets from the TOW (I kid you not, when I say I’ve gained so much, I also mean in the form of physical weight).

Yet the powerful impact each of you has on an individual – the individual mother who has been told she can’t financially back her own family, the individual immigrant who refuses to let limited English capability hold him back, the individual intern who’s trying to figure out her next professional footing – is widespread.

Isaiah 52:7 says in part, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news…”

I realize that Kiva will see many interns come and go, and it’s easy to get lost in that shuffle, but I wanted you to know this: You are bringing such good news to our neighborhoods and the world. Thank you for climbing the mountains with me.

Stay in touch,

Innae

slippers

The Heels Have Clicked

Back in another airport. Are you sick of reading those words yet?

As I wait to board a plane to the coast where I spent the last dozen years, it is no triumphant return.

For better or for worse, I have made a vow to California. This visit East is to say farewell – at least, for now. There is reluctance, trust me. I am fearful of what it means to make a decision to stay in a place with no definitive reason to do so. There is no job offer enticing me to stay in the Golden State. I still find myself impatient with some of the slower-paced San Franciscans. When fall hits, I am going to be longing for the rock-your-world foliage of the Adirondacks and wishing deeply for the plentiful apple cider of upstate New York.

Yet thanks to some pretty fabulous weather, a grandmother who brings me bananas after I fall asleep (ask me about it) and a church community that has given me roots and growth at the same time, I can’t deny the longing to stay here. Blame it on the drudgery of wanderlust, or the allure of start-ups and playground-like offices. It’s not quite ‘home’ yet, but the potential. Oh, the potential.

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Sonoma

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San Francisco

Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay

 

And if I were holding Toto and wearing shiny ruby slippers, I have a feeling I would open my eyes after three heel clicks and find myself facing the Pacific.

#nolongerinnaefarawayplace

Not in Kansas Yet

A few confessions:

  1. I avoid Home Goods like the plague.
  2. The photo of my family in my living room dated back to my high school graduation until I changed it out just two years ago.
  3. I refuse to buy a salad spinner even though I desperately covet it.

 

Stay away.

Stay away.

 

Let’s unpack these, shall we?

 

Since college, I discovered that I inadvertently chose a nomadic life when I chose to enter broadcast journalism. From contract to contract, I found myself in places I had never even heard of. Moving became commonplace. Minimizing my possessions seemed necessary.

Then I’d enter a friend’s beautifully decorated house and feel envy.

 

I dream of a home. Home means a space I can decorate, with the creature comforts of ottomans filled with board games, a wine cabinet and a memory foam bathmat. I know, my fantasies are extravagant.

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Source of fun. Takes up too much space.

 

There are so many physical items I have refused to purchase until I can guarantee the next and possibly final destination of my life. I am waiting for the freedom to call a place home without an end date in place.

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas... yet.

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas… yet.

 

There seems to be potential in the area of San Francisco. If only I could click my heels twice and know. However, I will be lugging a percentage of my belongings across the country in a meager few suitcases. The rest will remain in a generous and clever friend‘s basement and wait to be unpacked… one day.

 

Did I tell you how much I enjoy unpacking? Ask my friends Annie and Steve: I unpacked their entire kitchen in an afternoon and managed to send a few boxes to the dumpster while I was at it. The enjoyment comes from knowing each item has its place. It will return to the space in which it dwells.

 

Unlike their kitchenware, I’m still #innaefarawayplace. Sure, I lived in NYC for two months but I tacked that hashtag all over my Instagram feed. I know New York isn’t an exotic place. In fact, I remained in the same state as my last job. Not so far away.

Also, even though the opposite coast awaits me for the first half of 2015, it’s very likely that I will continue to use that phrase. This journeying isn’t over yet. I have yet to find my Kansas.

 

And when I do, I’ll buy my first salad spinner.

One More Airport

I haven’t been in New York City long, but I will admit the Big Apple has become quite satisfying. Sure, I’m still the person who takes candy from strangers on the subway and then spins like a ballerina to orient herself once on the surface. At the same time, there is a coffee shop I can call mine and I have successfully completed multiple loads of laundry at my local laundromat in my six weeks here.

 

 

In the middle of all this comfort, though… there’s another airport waiting to greet me.

Hint: It is one of the two that feels like home to me. Who remembers? Prizes if you know! And by prizes, I mean a shout-out and an enthusiastic high-five if you’re anywhere near San Francisco or NYC.

 

Oops, there it is.

 

It’s an unconventional decision, but I am going to take my next very large step over to the other side of the country as an intern with the non-profit Kiva.org. If you don’t know what they do, well, that’s why there’s a hyperlink for you to learn! So click and get to it!

 

All kidding aside, I have been intrigued and inspired by what this organization and what many other microfinance groups are doing to encourage entrepreneurism, and more importantly, empowerment. My interest in small business development grew throughout my reporting career as I witnessed and contributed to the growth of the downtown areas of Salisbury, Md. and Troy, N.Y.

We dressed like this every Friday night.

We dressed like this every Friday night. [Main St, Salisbury]

I am pretty sure all – and yes, all - my hard-earned dollars went to wine and cheese at the Confectionery.

I am pretty sure all – and yes, all – my hard-earned dollars went to wine and cheese at the Confectionery. [Troy]

 

 

As someone who often lacks courage, I admire the bold spirit of these visionaries and I only hope that I can help foster that among men and women in countries where aid can’t be found in the form of loans.

That’s where you and I come in.*

 

 

I am leaving for California in January for five months. That’s the charted territory for now. You’ll be learning more of the life that’s unmapped alongside me as we go. Well wishes are welcome. So are food, hugs and prayer.

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*Check Kiva.org again, please, if you don’t understand.

#whatinnaeworld?! New York Edition

I’d like to think after six weeks, I’m a bona fide New Yorker.

This weekend, however, I realized I am far from it.

 

It’s not just because I ended up in a different part of Queens because I forgot the hyphen in the street address (yes, 40-17 Broadway is quite different from 4017. Is that not obvious to you?). It’s not because I still manage to come out of the wrong exit at the 34th Street stop which is always, always, always closed on weekends.

 

Well, maybe it is. However, the realization came when a man offered me candy on the L train.

 

It was a wrapped Starburst. Red. Still in the original row, though the outer packaging was torn open.

... And possibly laced with coke?

so inviting

 

My companion stared at me once he realized it was already in my mouth. “Did you really eat that?” he asked.

“Yup,” I mustered with teeth half-clamped together.

“I would’ve never eaten that.”

 

Still a newb, my friends. Still green. And apparently still in need of reviewing my stranger danger kindergarten education. Oops.

 

P.S. It wasn’t laced with coke.

How I Know I’m Still A New York City Newbie

It’s been awhile since I’ve packed a lunch. The last time was when I went on a road trip with my friend Molly to the mountains and rivers of Colorado this summer.

 

It was glorious. So were the turkey and veggie wraps we made.

 

This weekend, however, I scrambled to grab whatever I could from my fridge (think yogurt, fruit and the oh-so-basic peanut butter sandwich) so that I could eat a cheap meal and avoid purchasing something on the way to Philadelphia. As you know – or should have heard – New York City meals are not so friendly on the wallet.

 

In my haste to be frugal, I let some precious minutes slip away. Having then missed the express 2 train by seconds, I found myself at Penn Station with 4+ avenues to walk and only fifteen minutes (for the record, avenues are very, very long). I walk at a fairly fast clip normally, but armed with two heavy bags, I doubted my feet. Begrudgingly I raised my arm…

 

 

And hailed a cab.

 

So much for saving money. New York, I know you’re chuckling.