The GGA Project -- Day #88 "Darwin, Drawings, Drinks"

A few weeks ago my friend Bryan from college suggested that we get together with a mutual friend, Ramon, a.k.a Cafe Lawyer, for dinner in The City.  Tonight we were able to make that happen, resulting in one of the more full-of-random-fun nights I've had in some time.

Since we were to be joined by Ramon's lovely girlfriend Danielle (it was my first time meeting her tonight, and the survey finds her to be very cool--I think I might start seeing her behind Ramon's back :P), he suggested we meet at Darwin Cafe, a literal hole in the wall spot across the street from the firm where Danielle works as a landscape architect (I told her I'd always thought hers sounded like a sexy and glamorous career, which she promptly denied, then followed with a story of visiting the grounds of the well-known philantropic Annenberg family when she worked on the project of redesigning their sprawling grounds, and, while there, learning some insider's dirt about how the the family adored their friend President Ronald Reagan, but weren't so hot on his wife Nancy.  Yeah, I'd say there's at least a bit of glamor in that career choice).

Since I was slow making my way up the peninsula after dropping the baby off with his dad for an overnight, they'd all been long-seated when I got there and had made the executive decision to order for me.  I'm almost positive this is the first time this has ever happened to me...to walk into a restaurant and find food just waiting in a spot for me at the table.  How awesome.  There wasn't any danger of my being disappointed with the choice they made, seeing as they'd ordered the only vegetarian option at the cafe--a really nice salad with almonds, razor-thin slices of watermelon radishes (new to me) and chunks of bleu cheese.  I had a tiny taste of what it must have been like for working dads of the 1950's, coming home after a long day at work to dinner, ready and waiting for them on the table (well, the t.v. and movie version of life back then anyway), and I gotta say it was a real nice little surprise, to not have to think about it and be able to just sit down and start eating :)

I'd put it out there when we were planning this dinner that--in the spirit of my project and life in general--I was game to make a night of it (little shout out to It's a Wonderful Life there).  So when I talked to Ramon earlier today, he mentioned he'd been invited by a client to some kind of gallery event and gotten the rest of us on the list as well.  When he told me this, the idea of the evening took on a whole extra layer of promise....have I mentioned how much I love the unknown, the unplanned-for mini-adventure, the spontaneous turn down a tiny alleyway that (who knew?) leads to somewhere cool?  I find this sort of thing particularly appealing when it's somebody else's idea and even more of a surprise to me.  Thinking about it, it's a wonder I was able to live the past 6 years without a hint of this element of openness to all things new-to-me...one of the principle reasons I started the project in the first place.

So anyway, after dinner the four of us made our way up to Market Street and stopped in for phase 2 of

Today's New Activity: A Visit to The Cartoon Museum

I didn't mention the details of what the gallery event was earlier because, to be honest, nobody had a clue about it.  All we knew was that there was some kind of event happening, and we were going.  So we got there and were greeted by a super friendly guy who implored us to fill out name tags which had spaces to complete the phrases "I want ________ " and "I have ________ " with any words we saw fit.  Nice icebreaker potential there.  Then another guy offered us cotton candy (don't mind if I do), and we were ushered into a room room where somebody else offered us mini-red velvet cupcakes (hell yes!) and yet a third gift bearer gave out ice cold cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon (gotta wash those sweets down with something).  That was a whirlwind entrance and junk food bestowal (fit for an event at a cartoon museum, I'd say).  I said to the PBR guy--because they were offering us these treats like they really, really wanted us to take and enjoy them--"Man, everybody here is so fun...why can't *life* be like this?" to which he responded, "It is!"  Amen.

The event turned out to be a kind of second-round launch for the website Wix.com, which offers free build-your-own website design that is ridiculously easy to use.

When we got there, one of the software designers was giving a presentation on website building through their site, demonstrating the ease with which all the bells and whistles could be added.  He was also very excited to talk about the new applications soon-to-come, including web pages for mobile devices, Facebook fan pages, and e-commerce sites.  Though I’d never heard of the website or service before, it was fun to be in the presence of a bunch of start-up employees who were excited about their product (turns out Betty, Ramon’s client, is a friend of one of Wix.com’s employees, so that’s how he (we) ended up getting invited).  I don’t really have any need for a website right now, but I think the design application looks pretty cool, so it’s worth checking out just to know the option is there for one day.

After the presentation, I walked around the museum and took in their current exhibits, which included a lot of old cartoons from Kevin "Kal" Kallaugher, an artist whose work you would probably recognize if you’ve had any exposure to The Economist magazine.  Also featured was the work of Berkeley Breathed, well known for the Bloom County comic strip that was so popular in the 1980’s.

And in mingling afterward I met a woman who works for a company that links adventure tours with NPOs to send people on the do-gooding rides of their lives.  This is why I love going to San Francisco: I feel like there are so many interesting and friendly people there doing interesting things.  And it could just be my imagination, but it seems the women I meet in San Francisco tend to give off less of a competitive, catty girl vibe than can otherwise be present, and more of a collective attitude of potential friendship and mutual appreciation.  But again, that could have something to do with the fact that every time I end up in The City it’s like I’m there for the first time, as full of wonder and gratitude for the experience as I was the first time I’d ever been.  It could be my rose-colored glasses, the side-effects of which--now that I’m thinking about it--make a good case for keeping them on at all times.

As a final stop for the night, Betty, who was a real fun gal, took us all out for a drink (she happily declared it a business write-off, since her lawyer was among those present, after all, and we certainly did discuss the work he is doing on her business’s behalf!) in the fancy shmancy lounge of The St. Regis Hotel, where real live business travelers (whose companies know how to treat employees) were winding down their days.

It’s not a place I would have ever ventured into on my own, which is another reason why this project is so fun.  New people will always lead you down new, interesting paths, if you’re open.  And visiting the beautiful lobby restroom alone would have made the stop worth it. 

What was so uplifting and fun about tonight (a night which I was seriously considering skipping out on when the afternoon sleepies set in) was how it brought me back to the days when I first met Bryan and Ramon, when I was a very curious, very poor student who was down to sit in on any kind of happening (most especially if there was the promise of free food or beverage, haha...it's true though).  I joined in on many an interesting event that way, and tonight--riding the tide wherever it led, proved to be a nice reminder of those more carefree and memory-making days.

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