This time last week I was sitting in my hotel room with a burrito from Chipotle and an ever-wonderful gigantic Jamba Juice, vegging out on the bed with CSI on the TV. It was 9 PM. I had arrived in Seattle only a few hours earlier and was ready for a good night’s sleep.
“Seattle?” you say. Yes. Seattle. You see, two weeks ago I got a call from the Cornell recruiter at Microsoft. It seems my resume had made it through the black hole and had piqued the interest of some people there. They wanted to fly me out for interviews. “Please choose 4 possible dates. No Wednesdays.” 4 dates? Have you SEEN my schedule? Luckily, I managed to get my first choice, which meant I needed to be on a plane to the other coast 4 days later.
Awesome. A mid-semester trip to the coast I’ve come to love so much. I excitedly and exhaustedly boarded my plane to Newark, NJ (read: 10 minutes from where I grew up and visible from my high school) where I would meet my mom with the dress pants I had left at home. (You can imagine the TSA guard’s amusement at sending my pants through the x-ray machine for me to pick up on the other side). 6-3 hours later, thanks to the time change, I was settled into my hotel room with two queen sized beds, wifi, and a rental car to explore the area. It’s too bad I ended up falling asleep and not getting to the exploration part.
Fast forward to the next morning, I hopped in my car bright and early and made my way into Seattle (or “downtown” as they seem to call it in those parts). I was going to the Space Needle and Pikes Place without a doubt. I was also going to meet up with Shannon, Margot’s roommate from last year who happens to be going to Chiropractor school in Oregon. After getting lost in the more residential part of north-east Seattle, I finally found the Space Needle (just look up…it can’t be that hard, right?). I parked my car in some daily lot and set out with my camera. There’s nothing better for a photographer than going somewhere new. The photo opportunities seem endless! I walked around the Space Needle area for a bit to get my bearings and figure out where Shannon and I would meet and then made my way onto the monorail to head to Pikes Place. I’d heard the best time to go was in the early morning because you can see all of the vendors bringing in their wares and things.
Welcome to Pikes Place Market. Please don’t inhale unless you intend to suffocate from eau de smelly fish . Despite my extreme dislike of anything seafood-related, I wanted to go see them throw the fish around (who doesn’t!?). Turns out they only do that in this one tiny booth area, but I managed to get a few shots in. If they were selling MacBooks or something, I would have ordered one to watch them throw it around, but a fish? What would I do with a fish? I walked around and took in my surroundings. It reminded me a bit of Downtown Ithaca combined with a bit of Haight Street.
After I’d had my fill of Pikes Place and I’d stopped in a Starbucks to re-caffeinate and check my travel guide to make sure I hadn’t missed anything important, I headed back to the monorail and the Space Needle. The monorail runs through the Electronic Music Project which, until I was standing in front of it, was not a place I was interested in going into. The cool-factor of the building itself just pulls you right in! It’s definitely an interesting juxtaposition against the supposedly “futuristic” Space Needle.
I managed to kill a few hours in the EMP. It turns out that it’s not just a museum! You can go and bang on drums and play guitars and things. The geek in me was so overstimulated by the “social design” aspects of the place. It’s pretty awesome! I would have probably spent the entire day in there if Shannon hadn’t shown up. But Shannon’s arrival also meant I could FINALLY go into the Space Needle.
After a quick elevator ride to the top we walked in circles around the top of the Needle for a good 45 minutes just talking and catching up on life. Since I hadn’t eaten yet, we decided we would splurge and try out the rotating restaurant. I’d read about it in my travel guide and thought it might be fun. Despite the prices and the seemingly inevitable motion sickness, we got a window seat and took in the view. It was awesome. It was the first time either of us had eaten in a revolving restaurant and it did take a bit to get used to, but it was definitely unforgettable! Our food was spectacular. We both managed to clean our plates (something I rarely do because I’m so picky).
THEN! THEN came dessert. Our waiter was really nice and friendly. Shannon had mentioned that her drink was kind of gross and he felt bad because he recommended it. He felt so bad, in fact, that he gave us one of the best gifts ever: FREE DESSERT. Not just free dessert, but a LUNAR ORBITER. The coolest dessert I’ve ever had. Ever. So cool, I made a video tribute to it:
Soon after, Shannon had to be back on the road and I headed back to the hotel. It was only about 5PM, but I was dead tired. True to form, the first thing I did was download all of my photos from the day (there were over 400) and start to upload to Flickr. CSI, once again, served as my companion.
Sometime around 8PM hunger set in, but not so much that it beat out my exhaustion. Room service to the rescue. Delicious chicken over pasta and cheesecake, please! The food coma soon combined with the pre-existing exhaustion and I was sound asleep.
In comes Thursday. Interview day. The reason I was out there, after all. I was also flying out on Thursday night on the redeye. I got up at 6AM, packed up my things and hopped in my car: Microsoft-bound. I certainly wasn’t expecting there to be as much commuter traffic as there was, but I still managed to get in on time.
This is where the second coolest part of the trip comes in: The Microsoft Surface. It was convenient that we had just talked about them in my Tech in Collaboration class on Monday. Not to mention, they’re a UX person’s delight to poke around on. I took every single feature for a spin. I’ll save those reactions for another post (as they’ve already been documented in a paper I had to write for Tech in Collaboration, convenience again ;)).
Following my interviews, I had time to kill again, so I drove around Seattle for a bit and then decided to park myself with my laptop in the airport with a lovely bowl of nachos and a “Washington Apple”. Redeyes are not fun. Especially when the person behind you is in a miserable mood and keeps pushing your seat forward every time you try to recline. But hey, at least I got to sleep for once!
The interviews went well and I’ve already heard back with an offer. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do yet… That’s a post for another day.