Friday, January 11, 2008

AM Open House Was A Blast

Today was a very humanizing day for me. I know that probably sounds really strange out of context, but if you're anything like me, you spend a great deal of time behind a computer, and you would understand how much today meant to me.

I spent much of the first part of the day talking with Dorothy. I know she's super busy right now, but it was so wonderful to just be able to sit and talk with her in person rather than over the phone. I miss the company of such great friends - so it's wonderful when I can visit them and enjoy some time with them.

I mentioned at some point how it is a wonder I even got to San Francisco the other day - I think with all things spinning around in my head, I was just going through the motions getting on the plane (I fly a lot), and I could have made a mistake and missed my flight. I almost didn't notice a last-minute gate change, as I was sitting with my computer wondering where everyone had gone. I managed to cross over to the new gate just in time to board, and then when I got on, I sat in the wrong seat (worse, the window seat, so I made two people stand up who didn't need to, twice - once for me to get in, and once for me to leave, most embarrassed, when someone came by and claimed the seat as their own). I felt like a total space cadet. I really think my mind is just on graduation and jobs and marriage and about everything else, aside from where I'm sitting on a plane.

Today was no better, though. I was enjoying talking to Dorothy so much that I trusted I knew where the AM open house was without double checking. It's strange, I always double and triple-check myself, but in this case, I had just remembered the street address (918 Parker Street) and assumed it was just a few blocks down from her condo on Geary. As it turns out, the headquarters is on Parker Street in Berkeley, which I noticed just at 2pm (when I was about to leave for a 3pm arrival at the San Francisco Parker Street). I scrambled to get my shoes and some last minute things, and Dorothy ran me down to the Market Street BART station where she dropped me off and I grabbed the BART to the Ashby exit and hailed a cab to go the rest of the way. It was 4pm by the time I arrived at HQ, and although I had been a little bummed about being there late (open house was 3-5 pm only), I got over it really quickly once I started seeing all the familiar faces.

What an amazingly fun time it was, seeing everyone again. I met many people at the past two SIGGRAPH conferences, so a good number of people I already knew by face, but many people I only knew by name. It was just so terrific though, and I definitely feel that lasting natural high, even now, as it's midnight and I'm ready to crash. It's an amazing community of genuine people that I am so proud and honored to be a part of. I consider myself extremely lucky.

Our final films and also graduation were the topics of most conversations. Apparently Suzanne wants to do an alumni interview of me before graduation - I'm not sure if they are talking to all the graduates like an exit interview, or if it's an on-cam interview (which I've seen clips of before in some of the lectures). Either way, I'm always impressed by how much this school reaches out to its students for input and striving to help us all achieve our goals. Of course many of us have a ways to go before getting our dream jobs, but it's all about finding those stepping stones.

Anyway, it was a great time at the ol' HQ. By summer I think they'll be in the new building in San Francisco, which is totally exciting. I got to talk to Bobby Beck about it for a minute. He's so extremely positive, it's impossible to be anything but upbeat while talking to him, and he definitely talks to you as if you're the only person in the room, which just shows how devoted he is to each and every student that comes through this program.

It was a huge thrill to see the staff and students though - and we all were having such a great time that most of us hung around afterward and decided to have dinner at the Never Fails Cafe in Emeryville - which happens to be the cafe that Oren took me to a couple years back. Fun stuff. I had a half chicken salad that was pretty great. Odd combination though, it was like a Waldorf salad with grapes and walnuts in it, but they threw it on top of iceberg lettuce and drizzled hot mustard over the whole thing. Not my favorite flavor combo but it definitely was good eats. I spent a lot of time with Derek Gladen, who was nice enough to drive me there (he's the one with the awesome short about the kid who's nervous about his artwork, but grows up to have his own gallery - a really good piece).

Actually I saw lots of good folks, like Alexiss Memmott, who is pretty much an awesome AM poster child at this point, as well as her friend Adam who is just starting AM, and Todd (Draeger). Also bumped into Suzanne who told me about the interviews, and a handful of other great staff members like Taylor Mahony who just got engaged. And I saw Hector Artunez and Kyle Detweiler (who we're supposed to call Evan but no one ever remembers that), and Jim Wooten, Jeff Weidner, Alex Lehmann and his beautiful wife (I think her name was Sara, and she was so sweet!), and of course Jay and Bobby and Becky and Molly and a lot of the gang (although I didn't see Shawn or Carlos). Who else.. so many faces, and such a good time. At the dinner I met Espon Nordow (from Norway) who sat across from me, and an ILM security guard named Harold, who isn't an AMer yet, but wants to be soon, and meanwhile seemed to know a lot of people there. Oh, and a Justin Rice who was kind enough to take a handful of us to the BART station at the end of the evening. I know I'm forgetting to mention a few people at the moment, but it's getting on 12:30 and I am about to fall asleep at the keyboard. I just wanted to convey what a nice time it was and what a positive effect it had on me tonight. I'm just excited to know that if I ever have the pleasure of working with any of these people, that they are all so talented and so full of heart. Again, how lucky am I!

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