Last night our friend Mary Schaefer brought us along to a benefit dinner for 826 Valencia:
From their website:
Simply put, 826 Valencia is dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their writing skills, and to helping teachers get their students excited about the writing. Our work is based on the understanding that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success and that great leaps in learning can be made when skilled tutors work one-on-one with students.
So, last night we had three hours of sushi, wine, and an unexpected “field trip” experience in which all 70 of us collectively composed a short story. The short story was typed up on-screen as we went, as well as illustrated on the fly courtesy of Lisa Brown, author of Baby Mix Me a Drink and wife of Lemony Snicket (Dan Handler). We all left with a bound book, a decent wine buzz, and feeling like we had contributed to an important, nay.. VITAL .. community organization.
I, however, left with a serious jones to be a Volunteer Leader within this organization, joining the ranks of Jory John (website, which is funny but not about him) as a Field Trip leader. Jory & his leaders basically do the highly-improvisational work of leading a classroom full of kids through the highly-improvisational process of highly-improvisational story creation. The work is improv because he can’t possibly plan how things will end up, the process is improv because each class will go about it differently, and the story is improv because, well, they’re making it up. You can tell that he really loves what he does and that it’s highly rewarding for him. I’d love to take some of the burden off his shoulders. 826 has like 1,600 volunteers on its rosters in the Bay Area, but only six.. SIX… of them share the Field Trip leader responsibilities with Jory. I’m hoping to be lucky number seven.
Now, most of you don’t live where 826 Valencia makes a difference… but you probably do live damn close to one of the other 826s.
If you’re at ALL intrigued by the concept of empowering our future through the thoughtful donation of time & resources to help children/students write sentences better than this one, I urge you to investigate this organization. It was founded by Deggers, one of my favorite authors, and has been helping students around the country based solely on support of donors (of both money AND time). It’s an AWESOME endeavor, and I really can’t wait to play a bigger role in it.
Now it’s just the issue of figuring out how to sell the boss (& her boss) on me taking 3 hours every other week to lead a Field Trip. If anyone is an expert at getting a small-to-medium corporation to release you from business needs for volunteering opportunities that aren’t organized by same corporation, please let me know. Jory has offered to write a very nice letter to those who need to approve my departure, but I’m still nervous – any tips/tricks would be helpful. (I would’ve been happy just participating in the company’s Junior Achievement program, but they totally dissed me – I signed up to volunteer and haven’t heard diddly-squat back – so now I’ve got 826 as my avenue to give something back.)
Anyway, back to work. The pressure’s eased a bit, hence the blogging over an actual lunch period, but I still have crap to do.
Made some layout changes, hopefully valuable additions to ol’ Wyltie. Other than that – well, I actually had a LOT of energy and things to write about this morning before I left for work, but because I wanted to get here early & make sure I have time to get stuff done, I didn’t blog at home. So now I’m just gonna blog until my 9am meeting, which gives me 12 minutes to lay it out.
… … …
Nothin’. I got nothin’. I waited a whole 10 seconds for inspiration to come, or for my schadenfreude to take over, as it has been active lately.
Oo, I know. So one of the new sections I added was links to places I eat (see Sustenance (Solids)). I was inspired to create that little nugget because of Sunday’s brunch experience at Levende Lounge on Mission. I had been telling R about being conflicted when faced with a Sunday for which we had no real plans, had GORGEOUS weather, but also faced the real risk of turning into any other Sunday (that we could replicate ANYWHERE, not one that was unique to the fact that we live in the most beautiful city in the country). So my fascinating wife-to-be pulls out coupons (that’s right, coupons) for restaurants, and starts pulling out ideas that would cause us to leave our Nob Hill/Polk Street comfort zone and try something new.
It frikkin’ worked. I got us a 12:30 ressy for brunch, we got down there early after running some other errands (including donating clothes to charity & returning books to the library – a very non-consuming set of to-dos). It’s a GREAT space that they’re in down there, lots of creative stuff going on, including a live DJ – at noon on Sunday. Ordered a BYO Bloody Mary – as in Build Your Own. They brought me a glass of vodka and ice, and I went up to the BM Bar and loaded it up with my choice of tomato juice base, horseradish, worcestershire, tabasco, olives, onions, lemons, celery, celery salt… probably the best experience I’ve had with tomato juice. Definitely wanted to replicate that at home.
Short on time, so without doing the food any injustice, I’ll just say R built her own eggs benedict, and I ordered a cheese & rasberry stuffed french toast that rivaled the IHOP’s Rooty Tooty Fresh n’ Frooty. It was all GREAT. If you’re in the hood, check it out.
Maybe more later, maybe not. Leaving for Dirty Jersey in ~13 hours.