San Francisco and The Zen of South Park

Writing while moving is a particularly difficult feat and one that I have neither mastered nor even really attempted. There is a nagging sensation in my brain all the time telling me to get back to work – to sit down and do anything productive – to please please please write this book and at least try not to let the blog fall apart. But alas, I have just moved in to my new apartment and the chaos of finding and putting an apartment together, getting internet from Comcast and waiting for the arrival of my shipped belongings and the acquisition of furniture, I have hardly found the time or proper motivation to sit down at the computer and begin working in even a disjointed fashion. Thus, my work suffers. Oh, me miserable, can I have some cheese with my whine.

But fear not! The apartment we found is great (high ceilings, hardwood floors, sunny big windows, new kitchen, roomy, huge closets, etc.), and our setup is going well. We’ve been excellent shoppers and gotten most of what we need for less than the price of our new television (32″ LCD Samsung HDTV 720 – also Circuit City sucks ass).

Some tips on bargain shopping:

– always bring someone from former a former communist country

– always look at all of the items on sale and see if they can work for your needs (this on top of a holiday weekend sale shopping extravaganza like July 4th or Memorial Day makes a huge difference)

– always ask about what’s negotiable – you’ll be surprised what is

– for furniture, go to nice local hotels and ask if they are getting rid of anything or remodeling soon; generally they won’t even charge you for hauling away what they consider trash (don’t forget to bring the manager a small gift [wine, perhaps] to thank him for remembering you the day of the remodeling and calling you about furniture pickup)

So by combining these elements we’ve gotten ourselves quite near setting up and are just awaiting Fedex and some furniture before our place is complete and I can continue working on The Zen of South Park.

Signs Homeless People Have that Make Me Give Them Money

There are a couple of homeless person signs I’ve seen in my day (only one in San Francisco) that have made me turn my head twice and give somebody money. No, these aren’t the only times that I give homeless people money (impressive signs), but it certainly does help. Most of the time, it’s hard to tell who’s really homeless and who just has a good schtick going (my car broke down with my baby and my baby’s mama in it and a sandworm is about to swallow it if I don’t go back with 5 dollars – please missa can’t ya help me) so, per some sage advice, I’ve chosen a few charities to which I regularly donate and forgo giving money to people on the street.

But like I said, a few signs are great.

Yesterday, in front of Circuit City in San Francisco I saw a girl with a sign that said, “I have no excuse – I just need some help.” Good work on that one, but it doesn’t top my favorite homeless person sign, which I saw in Philadelphia a few years ago was a group of punk looking kids whose sign said, “I bet you a dollar you read this sign.” I gave them a dollar.

Honestly, though, if I was homeless I would never stay in Philadelphia or even San Francisco where it can be chilly and windy. I’d go south, probably to Florida. No, not to Miami – too big of a city. Probably to the middle of Florida where the weather never makes you suffer (well, freeze-to-death suffer because that humidity can be brutal) and there are always big suburban grocery stores with free samples. I’d also try to offer a service, like continually opening the door for everyone at a supermarket (this works better in a big city) and hoping that people appreciated the service enough to toss me their change. Just asking doesn’t work as well as earning it like that – at least in my book.

Somehow I doubt any homeless people have access to my blog, but just in case they are spending their change in an overpriced internet cafe reading, I would like to ask, What’s the best sign you ever made?

What’s the best sign you ever saw? What’s your policy on distributing money to the homeless? Do you ever feel like they’re not really homeless? Have you ever been homeless?