Saturday, October 18, 2003

San Francisco!!

I'm typing this from the heart of The Mission in San Francisco. The windows are open, it's a beautifully cool night. I can hear Latino voices from the street below, yowling kids, horns honking. Ghetto, Hottie, and the fluffy wonder are sprawled on the floor surrounding me. I just returned home from my first adventure alone in SF! But first the entire history...

Julie and Gracie flew into RDU on Sunday and we spent about 2 hours together before I had to leave. I think it was a pretty stressful day for mom - get the house ready for guests, drive to pick me up, then to the airport to pick up Julie, then out to their house in fearrington, then drive me back to the airport 2 hours later. Mom, thanks and I love you as always!

The flight was totally uneventful. My biggest thrill (ahem) was the old indian guy in the next row over. He shuffled up to the bathroom, unaware that he was dragging his blanket with him. The blanket tastelessly blocked the bathroom door from latching all the way shut, the dude didn't notice, and he stood there and did his business right in front of god and everybody. Well, me, anyways. What a thrill... About 3 hours away from SF, I started chatting with the other guy in my row, he was really fun. Installs sola-tubes in the East Bay area, ex-marine, favorite bar is Molly O'Malleys, from Florida. Nathan is his name. We spent the last 2 hours of the flight playing poker, speed, blackjack, and rummy. He kicked my ass in speed, I kicked his in rummy.

The conference was great from many perspectives. 1. I got to meet a bunch of people who are in similar positions to me. Moral support, yeah! 2. Got to hear great speakers reinforce a lot of my opinions about "the situation" that I'm in. Need management support, need the authority to back up what I already do, need to plan more strategically, need to align closer to business goals. 3. Got to meet famous people in the industry! Lou Rosenfeld, Bob Boiko, Martin White, Howard McQueen, all of 'em!

I met great people, with whom I intend to stay in touch - other Blues people (Michigan, Minnesota, NASCO, Highmark) and Lisa from March of Dimes (husband is a game developer - how cool is that!?) and Joe from Nat Renewable Energy Lab (great story teller - developed lab from a box of papers, lived in a cabin in Colorado, lives in Nederland now, etc). Went to dinner with Lisa on Tuesday - took a taxi to Banana Leaf Thai/Malaysian restaurant. Went to dinner with Mary and Joe Wednesday - took the train to Mountain View, ate at a yummy italian restaurant.

Shared a Lincoln Towncar with Dawn from NASCO from Santa Clara to San Francisco, lots of fun but very expensive - $70!! Jessie came to pick me up and we headed back to her place. That first night, she had class. I chilled out in her apartment, then we went out for drinks with her friend Jackie from school. A real biology lover - wants to study paleo-anthro-evolutionary something to do with apes. We went to some bar, then to Treat Street, got home about 12:30. Lots and lots of walking! My feet already hurt, the left heel is still sore from Ultimate Frisbee. I hope it holds up for the next 2 days ok!

Got up around 10, showered, walked to Boogaloo's for breakfast! I had the Boogaloo Breakfast, in honor of Sammy. It was tasty and satisfying, just like him. Then we walked around a bit - to Jackie's store, then to Jessie's car up by the school and went touring around. It was wicked fun, she has a VW cabriolet convertible - loads of fun for sightseeing. I need to remember that, it'd probably be worth the extra money to rent a convertible in cities that I visit - it's a whole different, freer experience. We drove to the Mission St Francis (is that right?) and walked around the mission and the cemetary - famous for being in Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo". I'll have to rent it. Then through Haight-Ashbury to Golden Gate Park, where we saw the creepy, tragic buffalo's, along the BEAUTIFUL shoreline going toward GG bridge, and then down along Lizzy Park. It's just stunningly beautiful along the coast, the way the desolate hills break right down to the water. I'm really looking forward to seeing more of it. Got to see "The Painted Ladies", the famous row of victorian houses. Then back home.

Jessie took off for work, I stuffed my dirty laundry into a bag and wandered off to have it cleaned. Struck out. Will try again tomorrow.

Instead, hopped on BART to the SFMOMA, for the Chagall exhibit which is going on. Stayed there for way too long - that's where my feet got so sore. 2.5 hours of Chagall, Lichtenstein, Ansel Adams, Picasso, Dali, Pollack, etc, etc, etc. I love that stuff. There was a great history of photography exhibit going on, and a "sex workers in asia" exhibit. Once exhausted from that, I ate in the cafe there and walked over to this bizarre, over-stimulated Sony mega-complex. I still don't know what it really was, but it included everything Sony. Most surreal moment - little kid (maybe 2 years old?) walking on a screen embedded in the floor that was flashing videos. His parents were taking photos of him standing there looking...well, overstimulated. This is good, somehow?

Then on the trolley to Fisherman's Wharf. Highlight - the harbor seals! Very surreal, again. I left Lance a voice message with the honking of the seals, I hope he saves it for me. Then the trolley to first street, a little confusion, a helpful bus driver who put me on the correct track and gave me a ticket, and back to The Mission. Tired, but happy.

Until next time!

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