Last Monday I get an email from Ozgur; our NSF subcontract has, after 9 months, finally come through from Stanford. Could I fly out that weekend?
Four days later, I step out of the airport and am momentarily stunned by the brilliantly flaming sunset of San Jose. There are mountains. And trees. I'm not used to this, having only lived in the flat industrial plains of Illinois and the . It's the same visceral gut reaction I had to the thick fall leaves of Boston when I first went to visit Olin - something about the dynamic of the place, as Ozgur takes me through Palo Alto and around Stanford's campus, just feels right.
Spent Saturday afternoon in the lab working on Informedia with Malte; we finish in 8 hours what Ozgur was afraid would take more than two days. So I spend Saturday evening at a wine-tasting restaurant with Ozgur and his old friends and colleagues (they have wine, I have lemonade and astoud everyone by having a full dinner and then tackling a huge banana-chocolate calzone; an almost-teenage metabolism has its benefits). I read all night at the W hotel, where Ozgur has somehow managed to get amazingly cheap rates. It's the first time I've ever had my own hotel room. Designer sheets, funky soaps in the bathroom, a bathrobe - never worn one of those before - and $4 bottled water which I didn't dare drink. I wonder what percentage of the markup goes towards design.
While I'm still able to have extreme irregularity in my food habits - I can absentmindedly forget to eat for 48 hours and still not be hungry, or down two lunches and three dinners in the same day without blinking - I can no longer do so for sleep. No more double allnighters followed by a 10-hour crash; I'm no longer 14, and need at least 3 hours a night, preferably 4-5. So I do that, wake up, read some more (a mix of investment books, tracts on higher education, and one on the dilemna of being a "renaissance soul" who likes doing everything) until Ozgur's awake.
I had absolutely no responsibilities for Sunday; Ozgur was going around town with some friends. So I end up tearing across Stanford on Malte's bike as fast as a slightly-too-large cruiser with broken brakes will take me. It's a gloriously sunny day, and when it gets too hot I stop periodically to duck into air-conditioned buildings and ask people questions about Stanford culture while the sweat dries off my back and shirt and hair; repeat. This is punctuated by a quick trip to the Stanford bookstore (during which I read a book about the wartime experience of modern infantry and another on the mental process of learning to play jazz piano), a Stanford tour (where the tour guide? finishes every statement? as a question?), a longing peer into the Product Development master's program studios ("we teach engineering to artists and art to engineers" - words to win the heart of this engineering student who really wanted to be an art major), and a sticker-shocking detour into Palo Alto where I attempted to obtain dinner for under $10 and failed.
An hour before Ozgur is supposed to pick me up at Stanford, my phone dies. I run to the library and desperately email helpme, then run to the CDR (Center for Design Research) lab in search of someone with Ozgur's phone number. Fortunately, Chris Carrick back on the east coast gets the email and calls Ozgur, so I make my flight. Chris, I owe you a lavish dinner or cookies or something.
The 5:30AM flight back to Boston was totally worth it.