Ok I’m back, sorry about the delay in the last few posts, I also apologise for the exceptionally long entry you must now endure because of it, I would skip over details but unfortunately its details that make the last few days so incredibly cool!!
Ok. I shall try my best to remember, hang in there and here we go
A date with DESTINY!
I woke up to the sound of my muffled alarm clock crying for attention under my pillow, I got up easily having slept ok the night before, despite the creakiness of the bed and questionable cleanliness of the doona. The sheets were handed to me washed though and those had been the ones wrapped around my face all night - phew – very slowly I made my way of the bed and around the dark room, feeling for clothes and toiletries, then careful not to the wake the gaggle of Italian girls sharing the room I slipped outside and changed in the bathroom, fully awake as my bare feet touched the freezing tiles of the toilet.
Once dressed I made my way down the purple stairs following the signs to “free pancakes” and the sounds of clinking plates. It was here I found portable stoves, jugs of pancake mix and other cooking utensils, it was fend for yourself. Chowing down on a second attempt, disguising the partially uncooked batter with two packets of berry jam I grabbed my bag and sketchbook, and walked into the cold, my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t rain!
I walked the familiar route to Market street and after finding out were the bus stopped, I enjoyed a tub of yoghurt whilst listening to the Sweeny Tod Soundtrack in Virgin (only store open). The bus arrived right in time, and eager to get out of the cold I quickly jumped on finding a seat in the front with a great view. The bus was more a coach and we travelled around the wharf picking up a few extra passengers, finding out the history behind some monuments then it was of to Emeryville.
Once there I bought a ticket for that afternoon and with my heart beating faster I began the walk to PIXAR. It was a little longer than I thought and wasn’t were I thought it would be, as I continued nervously up the street I finally asked a guy on his way home from shopping who told me I was looking at it – “the entrance is on the other side” it was then that I say the bold brass letters of pixar peeking out over the hedges and I half skipped half ran around the block (stopping for chocolates for Paul on the way).
As I came round the corner I saw it, the entrance, it seemed to glow despite the sombre clouds stretching in over the horizon making it seem like 4:30 in the afternoon. My heart feeling like it would explode out of my chest and get there before I would I cautiously approached the security gates.
“H..Hello, um, my names Lesley, I’m here to see Paul Topolos”
Guard: (his pixar name bag shining) Allrighty Lesley, let me just see if your on the list
I waited nervously holding onto the window as if I would keel over at any moment
Guard: (talking on the phone) yep, a Lesley, to see – sorry who was it again?
Um, Paul Topolos, he’s a mat painter (as if that matters)
Guard: Paul Topolos, oh ok, yep will do
I started shaking, assuming Paul had forgotten, and they’d escort me of the premises, I began looking around for security guards
Guard: Allrighty Lesley, heres your visitors badge, just put that on your top, go through the doors on the left and sign in at reception
I couldn’t believe it, I was in! I don’t think I even said thankyou I was so shocked, dazed I walked over to the gate and heard the buzz as he let me through. My senses suddenly skyrocketed as though I had been hit with toxic waste and I was strangely aware of the new shining visitors badge crinkle slightly as my jumper creased with my shifting weight. My legs felt like jelly and with eyes literally bugging out of my head trying to take it all in I took as many photos as I could.
I arrived at the giant glass doors and caught my reflection, I was so delirious I think I sawt it smile at me nodding encouragingly for me to go through, taking a deep breath I pushed the doors open immediately getting a view of the entire atrium, like the opening to Monsters Incorporated, I saw people bustling about with sketches, ideas and purpose. The entire hall was buzzing, to the left was Mike and Sully pushing me forward and to the right a nice sitting area surrounded with Ratatouille merchandise.
I walked over to the reception desk and was greeted by a smiling employee, hello there, who are you here to see today? “Paul Topolos” I gushed, unable to keep my enthusiasm from spilling out. Just as she was about to page him she saw him walk down the stairs and beckoned him over. I turned to see him saying goodbye to a friend and shyly made my way towards him.
All of a sudden I was being embraced in a warm hug “Hi Lesley, wow you’re so courageous for making it here by yourself, can I get you anything? Tea, coffee, snacks?” I almost choked on my saliva, and mouth open simply handed him the chocolates “these are for you” I managed to pipe up “Wow thanks, ooh these are nice ones, are you sure you don’t want anything, I’m getting a coffee” I managed to agree that a water would be great and followed him to the canteen (more like a really nice café) After grabbing water and slowly finding my voice again I searched desperately for my personality. Fortunately with Paul it wasn’t hard to do.
Soon later we were merrily chatting away as he showed me around the atrium and upstairs galleries, (all Ratatouille themed), warning me he had to slip away for half an hour or so at 11:30 for a meeting. After finishing with the Bud Lucky gallery and few more rat machetes he apologised for having to go and said I was welcome to keep looking (as long as I stayed on the wood) or chill in the atrium till he came back. I did both, peeking in all the offices along the hallways and smiling like an idiot as I watched everyone zip by on scooters.
Having some more time to kill after my second sweep of the galleries I found a nice spot near the games area to draw, complimented by a few people as they walked past. “Wow Lesley are these yours” Paul had come back early and brought some friends, after shouting me lunch I sat down with all the guys as they flipped through my art book, eating and discussing the business, thankfully I had a bit to contribute!
I couldn’t believe it I was sitting with some of the most important people in the company discussing my opinion on the industry! Making them laugh at a few of my crazy stories while I’ve been here.
All too soon it was time for them to get going (although they waited for me to finish eating!) and telling Paul I had met Andrew Gordon (an animator I was instructed under in Sydney) who had told me to stick around and wait I thanked him again for everything and continued drawing while I waited. After a little while (and an introduction with a few more important people as well as a sneak into a small room with famous signatures all over the wall) I was escorted into the animation department to see Andrew. It was CRAZY the place was beyond what I ever imagined, I went from rainforest to Indian temples, Outhouses, boards of drawings and caricatures, then it was in to Andrews office.
He still had a fair bit of work to do, so assuring him I could wait I escorted myself out (taking the long way) and continued drawing outside. What seemed like 2 minutes later (actually 2 hours or so) I heard “Wow, what are you up to” he had come out to meet me and was taking a look at some of my drawings, “what year are you in?” he asked surprised, after telling him his interest seemed to increase and he took me back into his office.
His mind was obviously somewhere else as he vaguely went over what he’d been up to (mind, he could have described the toilet and I would have been happy). Then regrettably having to get back to work (He’s head of animation on the new short so he’s crazy busy) he showed me his secret casino (lift the head of a statue and press the button in its neck – the bookcase opens up to show a casino, complete with bar, crabs table and photos lining the wall of famous visitors) then showed me out.
With one last look around the Atrium a good luck and goodbye from Andrew (“see you again I hope” “you sure will”) and a huge contented sigh I hitched up my bag and sketchbook and walked away…knowing I would be back!
After a long walk back to the station ( I think I flew) I bought a yoghurt/sorbet ice block and waited for the bus to arrive. The bus driver was really nice and after engaging me in conversation the whole way he dropped me of at the destination of my choice were after a spot of shopping and a giant hot pretzel and Chai tea I made my way back to the hostel.
Waiting for it to hit midnight so I could call Al for her birthday I joined in a pool competition, were I won a t-shirt for best shot of the night (I heart SF) and saying goodnight to a host of new friends and high fives from the girls I made the call then headed to bed (jumping in the shower for another hairy (literally) experience).
The Day after
The next day I woke up late enjoying the sleep in, until I finally forced my self to go downstairs for what was left of pancake batter. After signing out and eating my lowly pancake on toilet paper (clean) – smearing jam on with my finger as I was too lazy to wash up – I checked my bag into reception and finding out that I didn’t have to meet Joselyn (one of the guys let me use their phone) I walked down post st with a map to Mission were I had been told a plethora of graffiti and murals awaited me. Taking on the walk after a huge serving of frozen yoghurt (the expensive one from the first day) I battled the wind down Mission street. It was a little hairy as I stepped deeper and deeper into downtown SF, looking around, I began swinging my umbrella with force, looking angry and occasionally muttering to myself to appear crazy, (cursing myself for wearing my stripped socks, “Luv your socks pretty girl” (just keep your head down and keep walking)). Finally I made it to mission, were I cautiously made my way up littered alleyways to look at the graffiti. I wasn’t the only one, and after finally getting used to the company I enjoyed the drawings littering the walls and streets.
My favourite was the women’s centre, a huge two storey building covered with a kaleidoscope of all sorts of women from different professions and backgrounds smiling and embracing each other. After getting through everything I headed back to Market st, stopping in on of the biggest art Supply stores I had ever seen! (There was a whole room dedicated to paper!)
Getting hungry I noticed a buffet sign as I rounded the corner to 12th street and hearing my tummy grumble in agreeance I walked in. It was a bargain, 11.50 for an all you could eat Chinese, Japanese, seafood buffet. After four plates of sushi, stir fries, noodles, miso soup, seafood, pork buns and loads more I rolled out and looked through Town Hall. A beautiful Mosta dome type building complete with a giant Christmas tree decorated with paper cranes and stars.
Walking down the rest of market st and arriving at familiar shops I headed into Westfield to watch Juno at 2:30 (really funny!) then continued shopping for a few hours (grabbing another pretzel – sooo good!).
As the afternoon drew on and I had tried on enough cloths – I was pretending I was on a fashion shoot (don’t judge I had three hours to kill) I decided it was time to get my bag and make my way to the airport. Luckily I decided to go early as I caught the wrong train (went the wrong way) then found out I had read to wrong time on the ticket, instead of 10:10 I was actually flying out at 8:47.
Freaking out I willed the train on distracted partially by the disturbance at the front of the carriage. The minutes ticked mockingly away as my window grew less and less, every stop and light took forever as I closed my eyes willing the bus to go faster!! Finally we were at the airport and I ran to the front desk to grab my ticket (so frazzled I almost left without it – “wait you might need this”) luckily I was just in time and after finding out I would have to find my own way home, I boarded the plane for an hour trip back home chatting away to a 9 year old travelling by himself.
We arrived in the OC early and after taxying into the terminal I grabbed my things and headed to the cab rank for a ride to the dorm. That night I went straight to sleep exhausted but content. Until later today – thanks for reading!