If you know me, then it’s not news that I have temporarily relocated to Stanford for the academic year. I wrote about my being selected for the Knight Journalism Fellowship here, but that was way back in April when the thought of moving across country and leaving my beloved Austin was new and distant. Now, I have arrived in California, after a four-day drive, and reside in a lovely cottage in the Stanford Hills. It doesn’t seem quite real yet, being in this new place, living in a new space. But I have been having a great time exploring the new area and loving the mild weather.
I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. While I love what I do and absolutely adore Austin, it’s not often that you get a chance to stir things up like this, take a risk, get outside your comfort zone, for something that has the potential to be so enriching. I was comfortable and complacent with my existence. Now, I get to experience newness everywhere. Everyone who I have talked to that has done a Knight Fellowship in the past has described it as a transformative experience.
The trip across country was interesting, mostly because I was traveling with my cat, Kiley. She’s not one for the car, so the first day was touch and go. With a little extra anxiety medication, she got used to being in her crate (a quite roomy, comfy crate, mind you) and seemed to enjoy exploring new hotel rooms every day. But it was a little stressful. I didn’t like leaving her alone in the hotel rooms, and I am very glad we both made it to our new home.
We stopped in Marfa, my first time there. It’s a funky little town, and I’m still not sure what is actually going on there. And I was happy to be able to get together with old friend Stewart Ramser, who is spending about half his time in west Texas. Stewart’s the publisher of Texas Music magazine, and I have known him about as long as anyone in Austin. We also stopped in Tucson and Monrovia, before heading to Cupertino for two nights, until the cottage was ready on the 1st. The west Texas and New Mexico terrain was stark and desolate and things didn’t change much in Arizona. But once I got to California, I started seeing palm trees. Plus around Palm Springs and Coachella, I encountered all these windmills on I-10 that were completely unexpected.
Since I have been here in Palo Alto, I have settled into the cottage, unpacked and completed several errands that brought me out to the area shopping centers: IKEA, Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Macy’s. There is no shortage of shopping and lots of great restaurants that I need to explore. I have also done the pilgrimage to Apple, since it was so close to my hotel in Cupertino, and I couldn’t resist driving by the Los Altos home of Steve Jobs, where he and Woz assembled the first Apple computers in the garage. It’s a regular house, non-descript, except for a small “no trespassing” sign. It’s hard to comprehend that it all got started there.
I have also tried to get moving in this glorious weather. I walked down to Stanford and around the campus on my first day, then hiked the Stanford Dish trail yesterday. The Dish is a paved hiking trail that leads up to a large radiotelescope. There are lots of steep hills, so it’s a pretty challenging hike, about 3 miles or so. I definitely need to get a bike for the campus commute.
I plan to chronicle my experiences on this blog, so tune in frequently to see my impressions of, yet once again, becoming a student. My goal at Stanford is to take computer science courses to increase my skill set and apply to a platform that will help journalists and students learn to code. Being at Stanford is a bit intimidating. It’s one of the top universities in the world. It is where Google and Yahoo were originated. It’s where the new innovators are working that will no doubt create the next thing that will change how we live and interact. It’s in the heart of Silicon Valley. Steve Jobs resided in this area for the majority of his life. The magnitude of all of this is slowly sinking in.
My cottage is just off of Sand Hill Road. Anyone who has taken a class with me has learned about the storied legacy of the area, where all the major venture capital firms are located. I’ve shown videos in my classes for years that talk about the history of the tech industry emanating from Stanford, and it’s a little surreal to walk through the arched breezeways on campus that I have seen so often on film.
I am extremely grateful for the support of Texas State University in this endeavor. I had planned to take a development leave during the fall semester anyway, so this was perfect timing and the best possible development experience. My director, Judy Oskam, has been particularly supportive, and our great digital media team that includes Jacie Yang, Jon Zmikly, Dale Blasingame and Cary-Anne Olsen have things expertly covered with our digital media courses.
Tonight we begin the Fellowship with an orientation reception. I am looking forward to meeting my fellow Fellows, the people with whom I will share this next year. There will certainly be adventures and challenges ahead, but I am ready to get started.
Oh, and I’m still updating this blog format. Needed a refresh, will continue to add features and elements. I still have cindyroyal.com as my regular website and onthatnote.com (also could use an update) as my music blog. Hopefully I can take in some good music soon!
Tune in again soon. I’m sure I’ll have lots to share once classes get started.