Notes from the Assistant: Jane's Whirlwind Birthday Recap Followed By A Little SFO

After Jane's action packed Birthday weekend, I had a quickie in San Fran.
Publish date:
November 20, 2011
san francisco, Birthday, Jane, bryan stendahl, 11.11.11

I begin this week's post with 11.11.11, last Friday and Jane's Birthday. The momentous day came in like a lamb, roared like a beast in the middle and left the same way it came in, harmless. I began the day with a little work in the morning (hello, Lamby) but the afternoon morphed into full on strategic birthday planning/executing mode for me (the beast!). I had prepared as best I could for this (considering the lack of notice due to scheduling) and knew once I got started I wouldn't stop for the rest of the day and night.

First up, an Editor's lunch for Jane's big day including our most recent contest winner who had successfully determined THE best place to spend Jane's big 11.11.11 day. Only issue was the actual winner, Holly Raibel Blades, lives in Portugal. Even I would not have been able to pull off getting Holly to NYC in time for the event considering we had about 15 hours from the time we determined who the winner was and when we actually had the ressie the next afternoon. We picked a 1st runner-up, Janine (AKA Brooklynbee), who was so awesome, sweet and seemingly overwhelmed to be there sitting with us, let alone eating with us. (Although I get it, I am still overwhelmed a lot hanging with this crew.) We had a 2pm reservation at Locanda Verde ( LOVE!) which, Madeline and I thought, would be plenty of time to enjoy lunch and get back to the office for a meeting with Matt Sanchez, the company CEO, at 4pm. Um, no, didn't quite work out that way.

By the time we had finished lunch it was 4:15pm (we had not yet paid the bill) and we would be lucky to get there for 4:30pm at best. Before the signature on the credit slip could dry and we could be out the door I received an email from the office letting me know that a package was being delivered for Jane to my attention and only I could sign for it. We weren't at the office, the messenger was not willing to wait longer than 5 minutes, he didn't have an ID on him so he was not allowed to come up and we were fighting with a little parade up 5th Avenue for the Veterans, (lot's of brave, strong, cute, sexy, uniformed Veterans. by the way).

As it turned out we walked into the lobby as the delivery guy was on his way out, I intercepted Jane's gift, relief. The relief lasted until we got upstairs and realized that we were 45 minutes late for Matt's Q&A. We walked in as inconspicuously as we could manage (staggering our entrance times) and hoped things would just keep moving forward, yeah right. We were the pink elephants stampeding into the room. Thankfully, Matt has a good sense of humor, is too busy himself to want to take the time to call us out, likes Jane and is thrilled with the website performance, we were fine. Sweet, brief relief again.

The meeting was suppose to go until 5pm but lasted until 5:20pm. Not a big deal in normal circumstances, but I had my pre-party tasks timed down to the minute, these were not normal circumstances. I had to get from the office to my house (had to freshen up), get to the bakery (Lower East Side) to pick up the cake, get to the restaurant for the food (West Side-Carmine Street) I had ordered for dinner and get to Jane's friends Michael and Thomas's place and help set up before Jane was to arrive at 7pm. And now, due to the meeting running over, I had no time to spare. It was Friday, traffic was going to be a mess and I was going from West to East back West, my plan was reliant on timing of which I had none left! I was in the throws of a birthday planning induced panick attack (someone slap me, this is ridiculous)! Finally, I managed my escape; AKA: went to the bathroom and never came back. I had no choice it was now 5:45pm, I had a car waiting, food waiting and Michael, Thomas and David waiting for me to get my birthday fevered butt to their house to get this stuff set up.

Finally in the car (it's now 6:15pm) I am on my way to Rivington Street to pick up Jane's angel food birthday cake. My "driver" doesn't know Manhattan, let alone the Lower East Side. I was on my Google Map app on my phone directing him. We get there at 6:45pm (30 minutes and we traveled 1.8 miles, sheesh!). When I get inside, I am waiting behind an inebriated couple having an impromptu tasting of the buttercream frosting, they needed to stop (or get a room). I bought them a pastry to shove in each other's faces to get them off the counter for a least a few minutes so I could buy the cake and hit the road.

Finally back in the car on the way to the restaurant on Carmine Street, it was now closing in on 7pm. Was Jane going to beat me there? Oy! (I was getting hives!) Those of you familiar with Manhattan will know that crossing from the East Side to the West Side is never very easy (unless its after 2am, but even then...). We were on Houston, it's torn up for construction. We were crawling across Manhattan at about -5 MPH. I wanted to jump out of the car and run. But instead, I surrendered. I was not going to be on time. In fact, I was going to miss Jane's entrance and the surprise setup waiting for her there. But what could I do? I released my angst to the God's of delays and traffic, shut off Google Maps and let the driver just get me there whenever he was able to figure out where there was. After all, Jane was not asking for any of this. She knew the gathering was happening, so there was no surprise to ruin. And she would be happy just sitting around laughing with her friends, the laughing and celebrating with friends and family was the most, if not only, important element.

Why all the pressure on myself? It was going to be great no matter what, but knowing me as well as I do, I wanted it to be spectacular, timed perfect and flawlessly executed. I also know that doesn't exist. Thankfully for my nerves, the lamb (in the form of a cocktail) was taming the beast once again. I relaxed and wouldn't you know it, everything fell into perfect balance. The planning that went into the evening was enough, even if all did not go according to the correct timing. The stress and worry of making sure it happened "just so" was a colossal waste of energy on my part, lesson learned (again).

Two minutes later I got a text from Jane. She was going to be late by at least half an hour. I had PLENTY of time now. (See what happens when you just let go!?) I arrrive to Michael and Thomas's to find this amazing display:

And this:

We got the table set and the delicious Korean BBQ out with these awesome plates:

At this point, all I could focus on was this:

In the end, an awesome time was had by all. I hope Jane liked it. She said she did (she didn't leave until Saturday!), but I do hope it's true.

With the big 11.11.11 behind me what better time to escape for a minute to San Fran for a SAY conference? It was truly a blip. Out on Tuesday, back late Thursday/Early Friday and I remember very little (no, not due to some crazy SAY party--just the pace).

I did get to see the SAY offices in San Fran, talk with some really amazing leaders in our company as well as other creators of other sites within SAY. I do hope those of you reading this are as fortunate as I am (and as all of us are at SAY) to work in such a dramatically creative, supportive, exciting, forward thinking company. Yes, being part of a new company can be tough, growing pains suck, right? But truly, the vision and the culture at SAY are to be experienced and enjoyed (don't hate on me for being a suck up to the company that pays my bills and gives me opportunity, please!). Beside getting to know what or who SAY is, we also got a sneak peak on future plans in technology for in terms of the mechanics of the site (so cool!). We also got to know memebers from SAY's other O & O's (don't I sound smart!) and web partners. The best part of the week was when had it's most successful traffic day to date this past Wednesday. It was a BIG day.

I did manage to have some fun, too. Cat (our computer specialist--not beauty Cat) Eric, Madeline and I had some fun one night in the hotel drinking vodka and watching Annie (Eric LOVES his musicals--he and Madeline like to sing along, cute!). We had two really great meals out and managed to make it out to one bar in the Castro so I could get my gay on. I will admit my rainbow was a bit muted that night as I was tired. Not even a medley of Brit, Xtina, Madge and Kylie remixed by David Guetta could have pumped up my groove thang. It was a business trip, after all. My brain and body were tired from all the recent travel, planning and learing. I also only managed to take 2 pictures the entire time. Normally, I do ok in the photog department, but these suck. Here they are anyway (if you look close you might spot Eric on the outside of the bar talking to a bunch of foreign travelers, or you might not):

Right now I am on the plane flying home from SFO. Although not a socially exciting trip (I did love my time with Eric, Madeline and IT Cat singing along to "Easy Street" from Annie) I am excited and happy to be headed back to NYC. I MUST tell you that I am sitting next to an H-O-T-T-I-E. He is passed out presently from one too many gin and tonics, his head lying on his tray, half on his empty Chex Mix bag, half on a wet cocktail napkin. SO CUTE! Google maps is telling me we are going to land soon. Perhaps it's time to wake my handsome seat-mate up? I'll let you know how that goes.

Another exciting week in the world of xoJane! Hope you had good weekends everyone! XoB