A year in California: Reflection time

So about that regular blogging schedule… Oops! Summer months flew by like they didn’t even happen.

Of course, they did happen. But, you see, what had happened was… Alright, I know, excuses, excuses, excuses. I’m sorry!

The truth is, as my previous post suggested, I fell in love hard with the Bay Area and California. And I spent the summer, well… enjoying every minute of it. (Click here to skip to my July 2016 diary entry from my time covering Chicago violence.)

I drove down to Los Angeles twice in my trusty bright blue Toyota Rav4, named Mochi.

Falling in love, Bay to Breaker-style

We humans have a nasty habit of not being grateful for what we have. We can forget where we are, always looking ahead and thinking about the next thing that we desire.

Hi there, it’s been over a month since I last posted. Sorry about that.

I’ve been focusing a lot of my time on a screenwriting class. Ever since I was in high school, I’ve thought about screenwriting. I didn’t have enough guts to go to film school. So it’s a trip to actually be able to learn and do a thing I’ve spent so much time just thinking about.…

Crawling caterpillars season

Since I can remember, I never really liked insects.

I can’t pinpoint a specific moment that might have triggered my disgust or this borderline phobia-like fear of things like spiders, cockroaches, centipedes and other similar creatures.

But watching “The Mummy” (1999) at the ripe age of 8 might have had an effect. Especially that scene where the black beetle attacks a character, gets under his skin and crawls around… Yeah that might have contributed to this irrational fear. Here is the scene if you really want to watch the moment I’m referencing.

Chronicling adaptation

A large part of why I wanted to start Sasha Scribes is to chronicle the process of how one person adapts to a new environment. It’s a topic that has always intrigued me as someone who had to fly across the ocean and adapt to a new culture and language as a teenager.

When I was 13, I immigrated from Moscow, where I was born, to the United States. My parents divorced when I started grade school, and my dad, who is a software engineer, became in high demand during the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s.…

Reveling in early-adopter culture

Silicon Valley is a known mecca for technology development. This unique bubble of early adopters and entrepreneurs is filled with self-driving cars, security R2-D2-looking bots and virtual reality experiments on every corner.

The area, once filled with not much else but fruit trees, was named originally in honor of its growing computer-chip manufacturing companies in the 1970s.

Fun fact: Silicon is a chemical element used in semiconductors, which make up electronic devices. Although it makes up over a quarter of Earth’s crust, it cannot be found free in nature. Instead, it’s produced by heating silica and carbon.

Hopping through mountains

I was on all fours, taking tiny, careful steps to stabilize my body on top of slippery crushed rocks underneath me. Every time I moved my feet, stones and pebbles rolled downhill.

I looked up the mountain slope to see which way to go next. But the ground was so steep ahead of me, it was hard to clearly see where the trail led.

The blinding afternoon sun stared back at me every time I raised my head, burning my exposed face, chest and arms. I breathed in and out, taking a moment to calm down my racing heart, and continued upward.…

Recreating ‘Pretty Woman’ opera scene

In a previous post I wrote about how unfortunately far San Francisco is from where I live in the Bay Area. On a good day it takes me about an hour to reach the southernmost tip of the city. So I don’t treat myself to many trips.

But when my mom was in town over Thanksgiving a few months ago, I shifted to a different mode — the mode I get into when anyone I love visits me. All of the sudden, I become this delirious tour guide, taking my guests anywhere and everywhere around me.…

Learning, writing at Stanford

For those of you who don’t know me personally, I wanted to take the time to share what led me to the San Francisco Bay Area. This means telling you about my job.

I have the privilege of spending my 9-to-5 hours during the week at Stanford University, where I work as a writer in the Office of University Communications.

Working at any university is enlightening. But working at a university like Stanford is like sitting in the front row of a parade of revolutionary, transformative changes.

And I don’t just get to watch.…

Enjoying abundance of Asian food

The diversity of Asian cuisine in the San Francisco Bay Area has made a big impression on me so far.

I heard from people who’ve lived in the Bay about how awesome the food is here, but, to be honest, I kept my expectations low. I did, after all, have been spoiled by living for five years in Chicago, which is considered to have one of the best foodie scenes in the country.

But once I got to Mountain View, I immediately took notice that I had not one, not two, but three different Pho places to choose from in the 1.5-mile radius of where I live.

Rain brings warmth to Bay Area

The weather in the Bay area is just plain weird. I’ve never lived in a place where microclimates are a thing.

There is San Francisco, the Peninsula, South Bay and East Bay. And each one of these areas has a slightly different climate. It is wild and cool.

When I first visited the Bay last summer, I only brought shorts and sundresses (As a former Chicagoan, I learned to appreciate every potential ray of sunshine). That attire was just dandy for Mountain View. But my ignorance of the local weather patterns backfired when one of the evenings I decided to drive up to the city to meet a friend for dinner and a short hike.