The culmination of experiences — to meet a moment of opportunity
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a storyteller — wordsmith, writer, scribbler of thoughts onto the page. I filled notebooks with nonsensical jargon at five years old. While my vertical height grew unfortunately slow, my pen grew mightier. Stronger. Steadier. Far quicker and more intentional.
By the time I had left third grade, I knew I wanted to, somehow, create a life that had its axiom around the written word. However, there was no present blueprint in my immediate family to build that lifestyle from. My neurodivergence (read: severe dyslexia) didn’t help, either. Time and maturation and work ethic, thankfully, can serve as a trifecta to complete objectives that seem too far out of reach, so long as you heed the process.
As with most people who cut their teeth with copy, I proved to be merely sufficient at a myriad of jobs — freelance academic, restaurant manager, financial auditor, dog groomer, etc. — but writing was the vocational pursuit I was the least shitty at. It came the most naturally; I could enter into a flow state inside the busiest of airport terminals or college campus cafes.
A decade of fastidious slogging, hundreds of all-nighters, and, quite literally, thousands of published articles later, I’ve now reached the zenith of my writing career: Publication owner.
It’s an achievement, too, that wouldn’t exist had it not been for my editorial adaptations in San Francisco. It’s the city where I evolved from a contributor; to columnist; to associate editor; to managing editor; to editor-in-chief; to, as of today, brand proprietor.
I can’t remember exactly when I first set foot in San Francisco. I wish I had that definitive my lease started in an X-shared two-bedroom apartment on Y-date time samp, but I don’t. I came here by way of a 2008 Prius that I lived out of for a few months in 2016 after landing a temporary copywriting gig at F*aceb**k. The car, itself, had 253,000 miles on it. I could sense its nickel-metal hydride battery was on its waning cell count — a $1,500 fix I could hardly stomach, let alone actually afford.
That car would prove my anxiety wrong and last another 22,000 miles. I had found a less mobile domicile before that Prius’s electrons drained, but the fact remains I wrote dozens of articles for pubs like 7×7, Bayarea.com, and Hipcamp from my driver’s seat after my demoralizing, mundane keyboard pecking inside a Menlo Park office space.
As time progressed and my disdain for Zuckerberg’s dystopian social media company grew, I fled the proverbial nest to freelance full-time… unclear if my editorial wings had fully developed.
They hadn’t. I fumbled. I fell.
My figurative down feathers had proven incapable of producing flight. Eventually (read: months spent in free fall), I caught my initial gusts of financial success. Since then, what I can only describe as a gale-force wind of opportunities — some serendipitous, many that were rabid lessons cloaked in soft sheep’s skin, but all welcomed now in hindsight — has afforded me the wherewithal to branch out on my own.
To start my own thing. To, in fact, own that thing.
If there’s any one lesson I’ve learned writing in San Francisco, it’s that all reliable streams of income are ephemeral. At best. The same goes for conduits for your creative expression, as well.
They all come trailed with nervousness around when the next shoe will drop. Because it inevitably will; you always have to make sure you’ve got a spare pair of flats round. It’s all a bit anxiety-inducing, to put it mildly.
Alas, through many acts of mental gymnastics, the only conclusion I’ve come to quell that perturbation is actually owning those shoes. Like, the whole rack. Just in case the metaphor is getting lost in translation: These “shoes” are stand-ins for “publications.” (So… I guess that would make “socks” articles and essays, by relationship? Why not.)
Underscore_SF is the culmination of all the socks I’ve worn and shoes I’ve walked in by way of bylines. It’s just that this time around, I’ll have legally-binding ownership of both pieces of apparel. And I’ve got each firmly gripped.