When Anna Marie Clifton moved from New York City to San Francisco to start over, she wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. What she knew was that she was ready for a major change. In the second part of this series, Anna Marie immerses herself in San Francisco’s tech-centric culture and shares her findings.


I want to stare at a wall and do absolutely nothing for at least an hour.

Today was a whirlwind. It was the first day I’ve used an alarm since I moved to San Francisco, which went off at 8:00 a.m. so I could meet up with a new friend for “brunch” at the most delicious place on earth: plow. (Sidebar: “Brunch” in New York is usually a meal you eat at 2-4 p.m. with your 3 closest friends. In SF, people eat brunch between Breakfast and Lunch. Crazy.)

After that fantastic meal, I walked as briskly as post-brunch legs could carry me down to the Mission for the first day of the HTML/CSS workshop—six straight hours of it.

It was a brilliant workshop, exclusively for women who want to become developers, which made it a very comfortable learning environment. The two Instructors, five TAs and 40 students made for a full house indeed!

We started the day with the typical “What is the internet?” lecture, and moved through pretty quickly to the basics of HTML as a markup language and what that means you can and can’t do with it. I’ve given this lecture a few times myself, so I found it difficult to stay focused on learning. There are, however, always things you can learn if you pay attention, so I minimized all my windows, put my phone away and just listened—at the very least, I was practicing an almost Zen state of alertness, which I want to cultivate as I move toward being a developer.

Turns out, I still learned quite a bit in that first lecture and by the time we moved to our first set of exercises, I had already gotten that jazz of “new learning” energy!

We went back and forth between lecture and exercises for the next several hours. I managed to keep from checking my phone or email for the first two-thirds of the day, but by 4 p.m. I started getting some restless leg syndrome and began feeling anxious about what I might be missing on the interwebs as I let my phone lie dormant in my bag. And by 5 p.m., I was checking texts, emails and WhatsApps every 45 seconds even though I wasn’t really getting any to check.

Note to self: work on your Zen.

I stayed a little late to keep asking questions (I never run out of those!) and to finish up all the exercises, and then walked home to check out my roommate’s baking party! As I turned onto my street I noticed a building I had never seen before: The San Francisco Zen Center, with classes, workshops and meditation sessions open to the public. Whodathunkit?!

I was feeling elated by that discovery, but I think that was one too many emotions for me that day—after so many peaks of discovery and so much mental fatigue, the last thing I wanted to do was hang out with a large group of people in my apartment. I really just wanted to walk in, sit on the couch and stare at that wall for a while.

But people were there, so I chatted as amiably as I could till they started sorting out dinner plans. They finally left and now my roommate is trying to convince me to go out with another group of friends for drinks in the neighborhood, or possibly a house party in the Marina.

I really just can’t handle any more new people right now.

Oh, boy … looks like I’m getting the “It’s Saturday night, you can’t stay in by yourself!” guilt trip. Guess I’m going to hit the town. But I am not going to freshen up my makeup from this morning and I am NOT going to put on heels.

Read also: Anna Marie’s Great Tech Adventure: Part 1