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(shick) Quatro

April 16, 2012

 Back to reality.

(comment about gravity).

 Today was great. Also a little bittersweet. We (Chris, Oskar and I) woke up early(ish) so that we could go to the Golden Gate Bridge, but due to cumulative exhaustion we were walking a little slower than we expected. We ended up getting to the Presidio (that park I was talking about earlier) and walking along the water there. We watched dogs play in the surf and avoided runners for an ‘Around the Bay’ race. We headed back to the Palace of Fine Arts and collapsed, exhausted, onto benches, where we watched the one swan and several ducks in the pond.

 Then it was time for the Fellow Exhibition, which ended up being the Fellows each giving a two minute summary of their work so far, with time for questions from mentors and Finalists. They were interesting. A trend seemed to be that ideas are great but execution is hard. The Fellowship isn’t a reason not to do work – it isn’t like you’re replacing school with nothing. You’re going to be working harder than you ever have before, and dealing with more uncertainty. We heard again and again the importance of using your mentors, networking and listening.

 After the official Q&A there was lunch – some pretty sweet food carts. The group of us ended up pushing tables together so that everyone could sit in a somewhat unified mass. It was neat to see the Fellows interact – they seem to get along pretty well. It was also a little sad to realize that this was the last time everyone would be together like this – tomorrow I wouldn’t have the chance to go up to Jimmy and ask him about computer science, or to ask Saku about her fire simulation.

 Anyways, there was supposed to be another, less formal Q&A session between the Fellows and Finalists after lunch, but Oskar, Yoonseo (another Torontoian, though he is trying to go to Missouri to work with Open Source Ecology – literally trying to save the world, look it up), Saku (aforementioner game programmer from London – she’s lovely) and I decided to go see Upper Haight.

 One of the mentors told us about it (he’s part of a project that is trying to get Sci Fi writers to be more visionary) – apparently it’s an interesting mix of hippiedom and yuppiedom. Going there, we realized he was right – the closest thing I can compare it to was Kensington Market in Toronto, but larger, more colourful and a little less scummy. I loved it. Many more dreadlocks per capita and interesting hair colours than you would get anywhere else, I’m sure. We even passed by the classic grimy band playing on  a street corner. On the corner kitty corner to that, there was a woman singing a meditation song, offering pieces of oranges. Peace and love, man J Peace and love and anarchist bookstores.

 We walked around for quite a while, but in the shuffle of ducking in and out of stores we lost Saku. She had an earlier flight than us, so I hope she got home safe…!

 Then we ended up walking to the Mission District, which is where we began the entire trip. Yoonseo had his compass out and made sure we passed all the relevant waypoints. Oskar and I got to talk to him a lot more and he is quite honestly one of the best human beings I have ever met – someone who truly believes he can help make the world better and is actually doing it.

 We all had Mexican food together and then headed back to the 16th and Mission Street train stop where we had originally first entered San Fran. No one cursed at me in Spanish this time. There were no camera crews either. Slowly, things were turning back to normal.

 Going down the escalator, my last look at the city was a mural of all the different characters of San Fran. Fitting, I think, for a weekend that showed me how much more there is – how much more I can be.

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