moving

20 Awesome Quotes About San Francisco

Last Time We Were Us_REV SNAPMy two years in San Francisco has a special place in my writing career. After all, it's where I wrote almost all of THE LAST TIME WE WERE US. SF is truly a magical place, and while I doubt I'll be setting any books here in the near future (North Carolina is for the time being, my setting of choice), the energy of the city was awesome to soak up, only for a little bit. It definitely inspired me, and it was a wonderful place to compose my novel.

Here are a few quotes from writers--and non-writers--about the city by the bay.

“One day if I go to heaven … I’ll look around and say, ‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.’”~Herb Cain

“The Bay Area is so beautiful, I hesitate to preach about heaven while I’m here.”~Billy Graham

“My San Francisco on her seven hills is smiling, beside an opalescent sunset sea.” ~George Caldwell

“I have always been rather better treated in San Francisco than I actually deserved.”~Mark Twain

“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

“Perpetual spring, the flare of adventure in the blood, the impulse of men who packed Virgil with their bean-bags on the overland journey, conspired to make San Francisco a city of artists.”~William Henry Irwin

“I don’t know of any other city where you can walk through so many culturally diverse neighborhoods, and you’re never out of sight of the wild hills. Nature is very close here.”~Gary Snyder

“You know what it is? It’s a golden handcuff with the key thrown away.”~John Steinbeck

“San Francisco has only one drawback—‘tis hard to leave.”~Rudyard Kipling

“San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality.”~Paul Kantner

“God took the beauty of the Bay of Naples, the Valley of the Nile, the Swiss Alps, the Hudson River Valley, rolled them into one and made San Francisco Bay.”~Fiorello La Guardia

“I’m just mad for San Francisco. It is like London and Paris stacked on top of each other.”~Twiggy

“San Francisco is poetry. Even the hills rhyme.”~Pat Montandon

“To a traveler paying his first visit, it has the interest of a new planet. It ignores the meteorological laws which govern the rest of the world.”~Fitz Hugh Ludlow

“San Francisco is a city where people are never more abroad than when they are at home.”~Benjamin F. Taylor

“It's an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco. It must be a delightful city and possess all the attractions of the next world.”~Oscar Wilde

“If you’re alive, you can’t be bored in San Francisco. If you’re not alive, San Francisco will bring you to life.”~William Saroyan

“Los Angeles? That’s just a big parking lot where you buy a hamburger for the trip to San Francisco.”~John Lennon

“Money lives in New York. Power sits in Washington. Freedom sips Cappuccino in a sidewalk cafe in San Francisco.”~Joe Flower

"I'm proud to have been a Yankee. But I have found more happiness and contentment since I came back home to San Francisco than any man has a right to deserve. This is the friendliest city in the world."~Joe DiMaggio

My Last Weekend in New York: Karaoke, Gossip Girl, and 4 out of 5 Boroughs

I'm sitting here, it's nearing one a.m., and I'm trying to finish a revision before I move to San Francisco in just three days. I'm surrounded by packed boxes, bubble wrap, blank-looking walls, odds and ends, and what looks like too much work to do in the time alloted. It will get done, though--it always does. I'm not worried about that. I not even worried about moving somewhere new with no definite job--or driving 10 hours a day for six days--or fitting two people's lives into a Budget moving truck.

I'm not worried--but I will miss New York. And my last weekend here didn't help with that. My wonderful friends--the same ones who've always supported my writing, who've helped me find jobs and finish bottles of wine, who've danced and picnicked and been generally far too silly with me for the last five years--threw me a surprise karaoke party. It began with a sake-soaked sushi dinner that led to a private karaoke room in midtown. We started with Mariah Carey and ended--I kid you not--with a group rendition of "Don't Stop Believing." My boyfriend jumped up with my best friend from high school's older brother to belt out "Lady in Red." My fellow North Carolina friends stood with me to indulge our country roots with "Friends in Low Places." It was a dream of a night and one I'll never forget.

Saturday was spent recovering and packing, eating pizza, and then heading to the Palace Hotel in Manhattan for the Gossip Girl series finale wrap party. It's the show my boyfriend has worked on for six years, the same one that serendipitously stopped shooting for good the week we'd planned over a year ago to move. The Palace Hotel is a beautiful place (that's one of the rooms in the photo above), the champagne was flowing, there was a PHOTO BOOTH, and my boyfriend had the chance to say goodbye to the crew he's worked with day in and day out. Everyone wished us well, many expressed hints of jealousy, and most had one story or another of a winery or must-see locale in Northern California. When we'd had enough glitz for one evening, we took a taxi over the 59th street bridge into Queens and down into Brooklyn--the driver, who'd at first given us a hard time about going into Williamsburg, shared his strategies for getting the most customers in any given night (he likes to go against the crowd).

Sunday--in all its mild, sunny fall beauty--was spent taking the train over the Manhattan Bridge into Bay Ridge, having lunch with my boyfriend's grandmother, and then heading to Staten Island to see the rest of his family. It was a day of amazing food and company, and we topped it off by driving by the new Brooklyn Nets stadium on the way home.

There's a lot to love about this place--and it's not just the glamour of New York (which is never as glamorous as it seems on TV, though the GG party did come close)--more than anything, it's the people who somehow manage to make you feel at home in a city of 8 million. It's them I'll miss the most.

The Ten Things I'll Miss Most About New York

I'll be leaving this great city in exactly a week, and I've been thinking about the parts of it that are truly irreplaceable. Here are a few:

The Craziness: I’ve seen a Spiderman impersonator using the leverage of a cart to bounce off walls like a scene from The Matrix. Celebrities walking down the street unnoticed and unbothered. Elmo suiting up in the subway station to get money from tourists in Times Square, only to be arrested a few weeks later … only in New York.

The Contradictions: There are dozens of amazing restaurants within a few blocks and yet I’d have to take a 30-minute train to buy good socks. There are film crews—big and small—everywhere, but no one here ever goes to the movies. 500 square-feet is considered HUGE. You get the idea.

Free/Cheap Stuff: New York is super expensive in a lot of ways, but some amazing things are surprisingly inexpensive. $30 to see Kevin Spacey as Richard III. $5 to get into the Met and see Van Goghs, Monets, the works. I saw Florence and the Machine for free—just had to put my name on a list. My boyfriend and I went bowling once and were treated to a performance by the original singers of The Lion Sleeps Tonight—while bowling. Jazz music is everywhere. At restaurants, coffee shops. Most recently in the bar below my apartment, drifting through the window on Sunday nights.

Everything About Williamsburg: Widely known for its droves of hipsters, tattooed or not, Williamsburg is a great neighborhood. There’s a park, a waterfront, amazing food, great bars, good music. TWO GREAT BOWLING ALLEYS. The list goes on. There are people rocking fashions popularized anywhere from 10 to 80 years ago. There are lots and lots of puppies. And of course, there are enough ridiculous characters for my former roommate and I to regularly play Hipster Bingo. Fluorescent overload, FTW!

Central Park: Sheep Meadow in the summer, where a man will make a mojito with a portable blender for $5. Bethesda fountain, which pops up in countless TV shows once you start to notice it. Strawberry Fields and a guy singing “Imagine” while strumming a guitar. Motorized sailboats. The sweeping reservoir. People getting married. More people getting married. A zoo, which seemed to come out of nowhere the first time I came across it. It’s one of the best parts of NYC.

Street and Subway Performers: My boyfriend and I once saw two guys do the entire “Who’s on First” skit in the time it took to ride the L train beneath the East River. Then there’s the guy who plays Nirvana on his stand-up bass, or the one who carries a HUGE piano all over the city. There are acrobats, Julliard musicians, dancers, soul singers, accordion players, garbage can drummers--everything you could ever imagine--all you have to do is pay attention.

The Pace: Everyone is always moving here, and I’ve grown used to it. It’s what makes people think New Yorkers are rude. They’re kind, generous citizens who love this city and the people in it. They also have a places to be, and if you’re in the way and just standing around, expect an earful or a slight nudge.

Picnics: Wine, cheese, salami--enough said. I’m lucky to have lived in a place for five years where everyone loves to picnic.

The Pizza: Seriously, how is it so much better here than anywhere else? I’ve heard it’s something to do with the water. Anyway, as much as I’m thrilled for tacos in SF, I’m going to miss having access to the best pizza ever. Fresh mozzarella. Chicken and broccoli. Spinach pinwheels. Everything oversized and perfectly foldable. I will also miss knowing the pizza guys well enough to engage them in gun-control debates while ordering a slice.

The People: I think E.B. White put it best: “The city is like poetry: it compresses all life, all races and breeds, into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines. The island of Manhattan is without any doubt the greatest human concentrate on earth, the poem whose magic is comprehensible to millions of permanent residents but whose full meaning will always remain elusive.”

“A sensitive look at the wake of a friend’s suicide, infused with genuine emotion, hope, and just enough well-placed romance.”~Booklist

“The Writing King of Difficult Subjects has to be John Green. After reading The After Girls, I would definitely put Ms. Konen in his court.”~Ink and Page

“A striking debut and an eerily good book… THE AFTER GIRLS is a vivid portrayal of interrupted lives and enduring friendships. It is as much about the known as the unknown and as much about healing as loss.”~Michael Northrop, author of ROTTEN, TRAPPED and GENTLEMEN

Ella, Astrid, and Sydney were planning the perfect summer after high school graduation. But when Astrid commits suicide in a lonely cabin, the other girls' worlds are shattered. How could their best friend have done this--to herself and to them? They knew everything about Astrid. Shouldn't they have seen this coming? Couldn't they have saved her?

As Ella hunts for the truth, and Sydney tries to dull the pain, a chilling message from Astrid leaves them wondering whether their beloved friend is communicating from the after life. The girls embark on a journey to uncover Astrid's dark secrets. The answers to those questions--questions they never dreamed of asking--will change their lives forever.

Get a copy of my debut young adult novel, THE AFTER GIRLS, here. 

The Right and Left Coasts and Writing About Where You Live

Me in San Francisco

I can't believe that after five years in New York City, I will be leaving in less than two weeks. There's truly no turning back at this point--the moving truck is booked, the first-month apartment is all set up, and we just called to cancel our internet! Haven't started packing yet, but that's only because my boyfriend and I are MAJOR procrastinators.

We'll be driving out in 6 days, which is a little crazy, with the only real stops being in Denver and Reno (I suggested we just throw our life savings on Black in Reno and see what happens...). And then, come November 1, we'll be San Franciscans! Living in the photo above!

I've never lived in California, but growing up in Washington state, I think that going back to the West Coast will feel like going home (it will also mark the fourth corner of the U.S. I'll have lived in). I was nervous for awhile, but now I just feel excited. I love this crazy, frenetic, dirty, beautiful, incredible city, but I'm also ready for the next adventure--and to trade a bitter NYC winter for the land of permanent fall in SF.

I keep thinking about how it will affect my writing--I've always been one to write a lot about places, but I've never been able to write about New York. Maybe once I'll leave I'll finally figure out how. Maybe, instead of setting things in the suburbs or the small towns of North Carolina (where I went to high school and college), I'll be able to actually throw a character into the hustle and bustle of Brooklyn--we'll see.

Fellow writers--are you able to write things set in places that you currently live in?