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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ordinary Day in the City by the Bay



From time to time I get email from young people in France, asking me general information about "what it's like to live in the States."

Some of the emails range from the very vague and impossible to respond to "Tell me all about your life in the States" to the highly specific "I will be in San Francisco shortly and need driving directions from my hotel on X street to the Coit Tower" (not making it up).

As far as I can tell from these emails, the expectations for a better life here are always very high, and somewhat unrealistic.

I hate to disappoint you, people, but most of us around here lead hurried, pretty stressed, ordinary lives, just like most working class people in cities all over the world.

You get up in the morning, go to work, and come back tired at the end of the day, too tired, usually, to do anything else, and the next day you do it all over again.

Don't let the romanticsm associated with San Francisco, or the extraordinary landscape, or all the fun pictures you see posted on expat blogs fool you. In reality, most of us lead pretty ordinary, uneventful lives.

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12 Comments:

Anonymous from cali said...

True, true. That is why I read blogs in the first place. Makes my ordinary, uneventful life a bit more fun.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Patty said...

No truer words were ever spoken. Only the rich and famous might live lives like they show on TV.

Most ordinary people live ordinary lives, going to work every week day, coming home every week evening, worn out and tired. Waiting for the week-end to do so many things, that by the time the week-end arrives, you're not sure which to do first or you have so many things to do, the week-end is over before you know it and back to going to work every week day again.

But it's the same no matter where you live. I guess that's what people from other countries need to realize, it's no different here then it is there.

5:00 PM  
Blogger AphotoAday said...

Quote:
"I will be in San Francisco shortly and need driving directions from my hotel on X street to the Coit Tower"
EndQuote.

Now, that IS funny...

Just tell them they just need to rent one of those three wheeled go-cars and push the pedal-to-the-metal...   They automatically stop at Coit Tower!

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Brad said...

Very cool photo!

7:22 PM  
Blogger claude said...

Tu es en train de briser notre rêve américain.
Je me doute bien qu'aux Etats-Unis et peut-être plus spécialement à SF on bosse fort.
Notre nouveau président nous a dit qu'il fallait bosser plus pour gagner plus. Mais ici pas de rêve français, on bosse plus pour toujours gagner moins, surtout dans l'artisanat, et ça c'est fatiguant !

12:09 AM  
Anonymous Vivi said...

Amen, sister! C'est à dire, that works both ways!! Wanna see my glamorous life in France, in a town of 5000 people where no one speaks English (which I have to say because "everybody in Europe speaks English") and the only entertainment are the three bars that close at 9pm? Come on over!

I'm glad you're blogging again, by the way. :)

1:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." Henry David Thoreau.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

Don't believe a word of it folks, TF is just trying to keep you away so she can have The City all to herself. ;^)
I have to say, I if I had carried a camera with me every day of the seven years I lived there and the 8 more I commuted in by Bart and Muni every work day, I think I might have seen my daily life and work there in a little less mundane way. Maybe being present to the city every day, paying more attention. But TF is right, your daily life is your work, your thoughts, your tasks, your people. . .all in a setting with history and setting. Still when I go back, it's dear and familiar, but nothing extraordinary. I can find parking in any neighborhood, I know the side streets and alleys, the storefronts and restaurants and bakeries may change, but there is another in its place, houses change paint colors and remodel, but the geography stays the same, the angle of light stays the same, the bay and the fog and the vistas to Marin remain the same, the demographic of 20 & 30 somethings populates the apartments and businesses, the Mission remains the sunniest neighborhood. It is a wonderful place, a dirty, dreary place, a place where most residents literally can't get a knife blade between their house or apartment building and the one next door. I do not long to live there again, but it will always be a dear old friend. It is a setting like any other city might be, a background for your life. Great post Tomate!
-Kim

11:39 AM  
Blogger tonton_flaneur said...

Great photo TF!! Now..where have you been lately?? ;-)

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

COMBIEN D ARGENT PUBLIC SARKOZY A T IL DETOURNE DEPUIS LE DEBUT DE SON MANDAT POUR SERVIR SON INTERET PERSONNEL ? En ce qui me concerne, lynchage, plagiat...etc En période de crise, voilà une question politique intéressante à débattre, avec du courage et de l'indépendance ?

9:02 AM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

Claude a dit "Tu es en train de briser notre rêve américain.
Je me doute bien qu'aux Etats-Unis et peut-être plus spécialement à SF on bosse fort.
Notre nouveau président nous a dit qu'il fallait bosser plus pour gagner plus. Mais ici pas de rêve français, on bosse plus pour toujours gagner moins, surtout dans l'artisanat, et ça c'est fatiguant !"


Claude said "You are going to shatter our American dream. I'm sure that in the States and more specifically in San Francisco, people work hard. Our new President [Sarkozy] hast told us to work harder to earn more. But here, no French dream, we work harder to always earn less, especially in the trades, and it gets old."

Claude I'm sorry if I shatter your American dream. Maybe I shouldn't talk about single life, then, uh? ;) Seriously, A little reality check now and then doesn't hurt anybody, especially young people who are ready to leave certain advantages (health care is the first one that comes to mind) most will never find here even if they spend their entire life looking for them. People in France like to complain about the state of the country, yet they don't realize how good they have it compared to a lot of other nations in the world, and yes, in some respect, including the States. I understand what you're saying about the trades, though. Unfortunately, The little guy, or the small business, is really having a hard time everywhere. You should see the number of small shops and boutiques that closed their doors in the last few months. It really breaks my heart.


Claude, je suis desolee de briser votre reve american. Peut-etre il vaut mieux que je ne parle pas de la vie de celibataire alors? ;) Serieusement, un petit rappel sur terre ne fait de mal à personne, surtout pas aux jeunes qui ont envie de laisser tout derriere, meme des avantages sociaux qu'ils ne retrouveront sans doute jamais ici, meme en cherchant toute leur vie. Les gens en France aiment bien se plaindre et ne realisent pas a quel point ils sont avantages par rapport à bien d'autres nations, y compris les USA. Ceci dit, je comprends tres bien que ce soit difficile pour l'artisanat, ou pour les petits commerces. Malheureusement, c'est pareil partout. Faut voir le nombre de petis magasins ou petits commerces qui ont fermé leurs portes depuis quelques mois, ça fait vraiment mal au coeur.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Tomate Farcie said...

Thank you all for your visit and comments! :)

9:46 AM  

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