• Vallejo’s Story: Roshanda’s Hometown

    January 23, 2014, Washington, DC: “The stigma hangs.” That’s how Roshanda Cummings described her hometown of Vallejo, California when she first wrote me about contributing to Neighborhood Nomads. She described a city that struggles to project a positive image despite having a lot going for it, despite triumphantly exiting bankruptcy in 2011. She shared links

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  • In My Element

    November 1, San Francisco: I wake early, just as daylight is beginning to spread east to west over Angel Island, Fort Point and out through the Golden Gate. The Presidio is growing louder by the minute, coming alive with the beeps and squeaks of delivery and construction trucks beginning Friday morning’s work. I’m still on East

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  • Happy 75th, Golden Gate

    May 28, 2012, Washington, DC: As commutes go, this one ain’t bad. Any pessimism you may have about the day ahead is easy to shake off as you cross the Golden Gate through the microclimates between San Francisco and Marin. On the morning drive, the bridge’s paint color of international orange will give you a jolt

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  • The Ballpark as The Catalyst

    April 4, 2012, Washington, DC: I love this photo my friend Marjorie took at what was then Pac Bell Park during a San Francisco Giants game back in 2003. I love how the light hits the grass, casting long shadows onto the field. I love how just out of frame, kayakers paddled behind our seats in

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  • Documenting Hometown History

    “As we write, so we build: to keep a record of what matters to us.” -Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness March 3, 2012, Washington, DC: We dined two weeks ago Nob Hill Cafe, my favorite neighborhood restaurant in San Francisco. From our little table on Taylor Street, we sifted through old photos that

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  • A Tribute to the Local Movie Theater

    February 25, 2012, Washington, DC: As celebrities prepare to pile into the Kodak Theater for tomorrow night’s Oscars, it seems like a good time to pay tribute to our tiny old neighborhood movie theaters — local joints that kept us close to home, burrowed into a cramped seat surrounded by fantastic ornamental decor, for a Sunday

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  • Finding Balance in San Francisco

    “The sea and pine scented air fills me with hope and the belief that all men and women are made better by a visit to this place. The dream of San Francisco is that humanity might live in harmony with nature but at the same time enjoy the benefits of civilization. Call yourself down through

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  • Coastal Grays: Pacific Edition

    February 21, 2012, San Francisco: I wake up early this morning in a land of grayscale. Cold fog lingers here on the hill on this south slope of Broderick. The severity of San Francisco’s colors have all but disappeared. This place can change on a dime. It won’t last, I know that by now. But I recall too that

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  • Map of Mornings: Polk Street

    “San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal. That is the whole truth.” -William Saroyan February 20, 2012, San Francisco: I have the strangest feeling here this morning. I have a feeling I’ve written this post

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  • On The Slopes of Mt. Tam

    February 20, 2012, San Francisco, CA: We take the high road, the Sun Trail, at its intersection with the Dipsea, winding our way to the wide wooden porch of the Tourist Club along the slopes of Mt. Tam. I gravitate towards the narrow dirt paths that weave through the landscape north of San Francisco, especially this

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  • My Happy Place

    February 18, 2012, San Francisco: This place is not normal. Did we know that when we lived here? I think so. I hope so. I can’t remember. When we lived here back then, did we ever get used to those vistas like the one today atop the Baker Street steps? Did we know how strikingly beautiful our

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  • These Places in Winter

    January 5, 2012, Washington, DC: Our relationships with the places we love change in winter. The light shifts, and so does how we see them. In the cold of early January, these places we love settle down, grow quiet and more isolated. After the holiday high of full houses and delighted residents, we see our

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  • Sunday Football & The Third Place

    “The character of a third place is determined most of all by its regular clientele and is marked by a playful mood, which contrasts with people’s more serious involvement in other spheres. Though a radically different kind of setting from the home, the third place is remarkably similar to a good home in the psychological

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  • Racing Daylight

    November 3, 2011, Washington, DC: There is a trail in the Marin Headlands, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, that always reminds me of racing daylight. It dead ends at Tennessee Beach facing west-southwest at the Pacific Ocean. If you squint hard enough, you think you just might see the Farrallon Islands. The Tennessee

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  • If I Had a Houseboat

    August 14, 2011, Washington, DC: In the early summer of 2001, I arrived in Marin County, California, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, to begin my summer job. The company was based on a narrow stretch of land on the border of Mill Valley and Sausalito, wedged between the freeway and the water’s edge.

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  • It’s Never This Humid at Nob Hill Cafe

    Photo Credit: Marjorie Childress July 21, 2011, Washington, DC: In today’s heat (real feel 110), it’s a valid question: How much does climate play a role in where you choose to live? I can say with certainty that climate lured me to San Francisco, Brisbane, Australia, and a mountain summer spent in Jackson, Wyoming. On this

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  • The Trouble With Travel Writing

    July 10, 2011, Washington, DC: This origins of this project are at least partially rooted in San Francisco, circa 2003. At that time, I was an aspiring writer living on San Francisco’s Russian Hill. Caffeinated to the hilt at Royal Ground coffee shop on Polk Street, I would submit query letters to the editors of

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