Sunday, January 15, 2012

Don't let the title fool you....

One might see the name of this blog and assume that perhaps I plan to discuss farming or fresh food, but anyone that knows me knows that would be just plain silly.

No, I've chosen the title based on my experience adjusting to life after moving from Fresno to the San Francisco Bay area, and all the misconceptions, lessons and experiences encountered along the way.

I may have only moved 3 hours away......but there have been some instances where it almost feels like I've moved to Siberia (ok that might be an exaggeration, but def. a fish out of water).

Don't get me wrong...I LOVE the Bay Area, but I certainly wish there had been some sort of "guide to being a San Franciscan" or maybe "guide to not acting like a tourist" upon entrance (perhaps they should pass these out at the toll booths?).

Anyways, I figure that since no guide is in existence...I would make my own and help any poor soul out there avoid my own rookie mistakes.

So here goes, I call it "Alex's Guide To Blending In" (hmmmm....that name is still up for debate; I'm open to suggestions):

-BART: Alright people, you may be tempted to put a "the" in front of BART. I mean, it seems logical, like you would say I'm gonna take "the train" or "drive the car" but never (and I mean never) say "I'm gonna take the BART" (SF friends please refrain from laughing). Yes, I was THAT girl, who for the first 6 months up here put a "the" in front of BART. Got a lot of funny looks on that one until someone was just straight with me and explained that that is "just not how people talk here." Nice.

-Teppanyaki: Apparently Benihana IS teppanyaki....that is if you ask anyone up here. Whenever I mention eating at a teppanyaki place back home I get confused looks by people, almost as though I'm speaking another language. It isn't until I fully describe the craft of teppanyaki that the light bulb goes on and people go "oh, you mean Benihana?" actually I meant Sakinaya, or Edo Ya, or Japanese Kitchen, but alas it doesn't matter because up here if you're talking about teppanyaki, you're talking about Benihana, case closed.

-Parking (Part-1): In addition to the State of California not making parallel parking mandatory on a driver's test...I feel the state also does not properly prepare someone for parking on hills in the city (i.e. turning your front wheel). It's like a secret society where people from here just know to do it....but the rest of us, well it takes a ticket or two before we catch on. Literally there are NO signs that actually say to do this, but lets just say that if you don't want your car to roll down the'll want to do this!

-Fisherman's Wharf, Union Square and Clam Chowder at Boudin:  Want to hear a secret? These locations, (which one might call symbols of San Francisco) aren't really frequented by actual locals (well unless you count the ones who work there). Yep, just stamp "tourist trap" across your forehead and keep walking people. The most awesome neighborhoods are the ones NOT seen on postcards and snow globes. And while I too am fond of the clam chowder....the dining scene in this city is so top-notch and vibrant it's doubtful you'll ever want to dine at the same place twice. Next time you're here check out the Filmore area for music, Union Street for shopping, Twin Peaks for hiking. Oh and for all the food I spoke of....first stop on that would be the Mission.

-Referring to San Francisco as "San Fran:" Alright people, if you REALLY want to look like a tourist just use "San Fran" in a sentence. Trust me...this will instantly make you stick out like a sore thumb (again, learned from experience). Up here people typically say "the city" or refer to the actual neighborhood in "the city." But don't take my word for it......I'm still new myself!

-What's a commute?: Ok, so the million dollar question I ask on my daily commute from San Bruno to Palo Alto is what the heck is causing this bad traffic? I mean how can traffic just stop, especially on a nice sunny day with no accidents. Well trust me people, it can, it will and you will never get answers as to why. Just pop in a good Rosetta Stone CD and get comfortable because it's going to be a very long drive.

Those are the just a few things I've learned since I moved up here, and since I'm still fairly new I'm sure there are still more things to learn. But this education isn't just one-sided. There are some misconceptions San Franciscans have about us Fresnans that I'd like to clear up:

-Most of us DON'T live on farms: Hence the tongue in cheek title of my blog, I swear the most frequent assumption of my life prior to moving up here was that I must have grown up on a farm. Yes, the County of Fresno is dubbed the "food basket of the world" but Fresno is the 5th largest city in California! We have a Macy's people, and a Pottery Barn, Banana Republic, Urban Outfitters, Sephora, Anthropologie (no nordstroms-which is a sore subject for most Fresnans) and many others. We have a baseball team, a big state college, Indian gaming casinos and plenty of chain restaurants, (we Fresnans get all excited whenever a new one launches which contributes to a 1 and a half hour wait at places like Cheesecake Factory and Yardhouse). My that not every Fresnan grew up on a farm. That being said, most of us are related to someone or know someone who did (my grandfather was a rancher).

-Parking (Part-2) There's this thing called "free parking:" After only living here one year, I'm already wondering how much I've spent on parking. Probably enough to buy a really nice handbag. Whether it's parking at work, parking at my apartment or parking in the city......having a car up here doesn't come cheap. In Fresno however, people balk at paying to park! We have these things called "parking lots" which are cluttered all over the city with plenty of room for everyone. And that's not all.....the great thing about parking in Fresno is you can park right in front of the business you are frequenting! No your eyes are not deceiving you, I wrote that correctly....right in front.  There are no mile walks to your destination, no being stuck in the rain. You just park....and walk right in. Kinda magical.

-85 Degrees is NOT hot: Alright, so in the year that I've lived in the Bay Area I can count the amount of days we've had over 85 degrees on my 10 fingers. So I always get a good chuckle when I hear a San Franciscan complain over "how hot" it is on an 85 degree day. People this is NOT hot. Hot is 107 degrees in Fresno. And that's not some fluke temperature, that's just about every July and August. On the can wear shorts in Fresno!

-Everything is cheaper and fresher in Fresno: So perhaps I did lead you astray at the beginning of this blog, because I'm throwing you a curve-ball and discussing "fresh food." Let me just say though that if you ever drive through Fresno, or spend some time might want to consider grocery shopping. I had sticker shock last year when I bought 5 apples and 5 oranges at a Foster City Lucky for $11. In Fresno, I could get that under $5 (and in all honesty one of my neighbors or coworkers would've probably brought me the oranges for free from a tree of theirs). And the food is just better because it's fresh. Word.

Anyways, hopefully this blog was able to educate and clear up any misconceptions people might have about San Francisco & Fresno. I plan to continue blogging about my experiences up here.....seen through the eyes of a Fresno transplant.