Finding Marin with Mike

Mike in front of the fountain

One of my closest friends is Mike O., Esq.

He’s an Orange County, California native (he refers to it as “growing up behind the Orange Curtain”) who now lives in the Bay Area, specifically Marin County, the nifty little enclave just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. He’s also a California original – in the best sense.

He’s started a very cool little blog about his experiences trying to find “old Marin” and get himself acquainted with his new hometown. He’s got 14 posts up there so far (he started it last month) and there’s some neat things he’s seen and observed. I liken his experience to mine when I decided to move to Over-the-Rhine nearly three years ago and my subsequent experience living in this struggling, urban neighborhood. Marin’s a little different from Over-the-Rhine, but both are worth exploring and writing about.

Before moving to Marin, Mike, who has an undergraduate degree from Occidental College (the same school that Barack Obama and former presidential candidate Jack Kemp attended) and a law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles Law School, lived in two San Francisco neighborhoods.

When he moved in 2002, he first lived in the Haight, just blocks from the famous corner of Haight & Ashbury. I then lived in Sacramento and helped him move into his Oak Street apartment – a full $1,000 a month for a postage stamp-sized gem. I loved that place, plus visiting him there.

Then, in 2005 he moved to the Presidio, sharing rent with, uh, like eight other people in a former officer’s home that, I believe, cost around $4,500 a month – in rent. He lived in the basement, just feet from a furnace and two gas water heaters. I personally hated the place and was glad he only stayed a year. Just visiting for 10 days back in 2005 was enough for me – and I was only there about 4 or 5 nights.

I haven’t been to his new place yet – hope to make it out this year – but from the sound of his blog, I think it’s going to be great. Marin, after all, is the home of my most favorite hostel in the whole wide world. And the whole area is like a postcard.

By the way, Mike is a teacher these days at the Presidio Hill School, a private grade school. Though he graduated from one of the most prestigious law schools in the country, passed the bar and stood to have a career as a very wealthy and successful attorney, he chose to teach children. I admire him greatly for that.

We met in 1997 – nearly a full ten years ago now, hard to believe – when we were both camp counselors at Kennolyn Camp in Soquel, Calif. near Santa Cruz. He has a natural gift with children – something he said he learned he had while working at Kennolyn – and chose, despite his family’s behest to do otherwise, to continue sharing that gift once he finsihed law school by becoming a teacher.

This July he will be coming to Cincinnati – his first trip back since nearly missing being home with his family at Christmas after the surprise giant snow storm in 2004, causing him to swear off ever returning here again – and I can’t wait. He’s got a whole list of things he wants to do and people he wants to meet when he gets here. Let’s just hope there’s no snow (just kidding, Mike).

Author: Joe Wessels

Joe Wessels is a freelance journalist and photographer. Wessels covers local news events for Thomson Reuters news service and features for About.com's Cincinnati Guide site, plus is the executive director of hyperlocal news site, iRhine.com. He wrote for The Cincinnati Post, covering Cincinnati City Hall and Hamilton County government and wrote a weekly political column, which continued weekly at Cincinnati CityBeat. Previously, he was a reporter for the Cincinnati Business Courier and writes or has written for several publications in Cincinnati and around the country including The Cincinnati Enquirer, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine and the Sacramento News & Review. He is a native of Colerain Township, one of Cincinnati's western suburbs, and now lives in Over-the-Rhine near downtown Cincinnati. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a journalism writing certificate from the University of Cincinnati. He also graduated from Colerain High School, is an avid photographer, news junkie and was once a roller rink disc jockey, and sometimes rides a scooter around town.

2 thoughts on “Finding Marin with Mike”

  1. Saying that Marin is a little different from OTR has to qualify as the understatement of the decade. Well done! Hope I get to meet Mike when he gets to town!

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