Elevate Summit at Saguaro: A Trip to Palm Springs

My team and I were given the opportunity to attend Elevate Summit in Palm Springs over the weekend. Although I grew up in Southern California, I have not been back in 6 years. I also have never flown in to Palm Springs airport. It is small but surreal: open canopies, lawn chairs, grass and palm trees alongside shops and restaurants. There are even umbrellas you can borrow once you pass security to get to your gate. It felt like a Hollywood set. I kept expecting to see a movie camera peeking out somewhere. A truly bizarre experience.

We arrived late Thursday evening, the last flight to arrive at the airport really, and landed around 11pm. There was a man effectively directing and coordinating taxis for everyone. It was warm. I don’t miss the desert heat and hot air.

We stayed at the Saguaro hotel, a hotel that manages to look appealing in website photos, and under certain diminished capacities such as it is late at night and you are too tired to care. The place is a maze. The room numbers do not seem to make sense. In the morning, I realized the weird slanted windows give it a Fred Flintstone vibe along with the bright colors.

We had four rooms total. One colleague had a room that reeked of cigarettes despite being non-smoking. Two rooms had their own bluetooth speaker while the other two didn’t. The room I shared with a colleague had a weird odor that others said was the smell of cocaine (I wouldn’t have recognized that smell). A co-worker started sniffing the walls and said we should flip the mattresses because it smelled like the room was somebody’s stash house.

The inner courtyard is also a maze of construction, metal decorative mesh wall-barriers (as shown in the right of the photo), a large pool, two hot tubs, and flowers where dozens of hummingbirds zoom by your head and do battle. You will feel like Pocahontas about to sing “Colors of the Wind” if you stand close to the flowers in the morning.

It became even more fun when, in the morning, I asked the front desk where Elevate Summit was being held. The guy instructed me to board a shuttle outside. We texted the rest of our group that information and boarded. We were driven to the Palm Springs Convention Center where a science teacher’s convention was going on and the shuttle nearly left me there in error.

When we got back to Saguaro, we realized the front desk failed to mention that Elevate Summit was upstairs and did not require a shuttle ride. I guess the guy just assumed I liked like a science teacher. Is that a compliment…?

Dads and Daughters

Even though R and Dina are gone, the parents are still in town until Monday morning. Last night, we ate at Dad’s favorite place in Berkeley (Sliver) before–well, let me not get ahead of myself here. We went to IKEA. I wanted a bench, a simple bench for the window of my apartment (still a shortage of eating there, which my father complained about constantly while in it).However, Dad insisted on a loveseat Bygyll or Mygyll or some other Swedish name, you know how it is. I was extremely doubtful we could fit furniture of that size and the three if us in his car. 

He asked the IKEA staff for measurements of what the boxes are that it comes in. They printed it out for him and he determined (in 100% confidence of Dad-is-always-right mode) that it would fit.

Then we got separated as he had to keep running to the bathroom but only came back as he said he couldn’t find it despite all the signage and arrows. So my mom had to escort him, but her phone was dead from (what else?) playing Pokémon Go. I waited a bit to see if they would find me before checking out as I wanted confirmation the sofa WOULD fit before buying it (if I didn’t, I knew I would be hearing him complain for the next two years every time they visited about having nowhere to sit.)

After browsing the rest of the store, I waited in Self-Service. I waited 30minutes before I went ahead and moved to check out, paying for the couch. It wasn’t a purchase I could pick out myself in the self-service section, but one the staff had to pick out from the back once I paid for it. I met the parents as I’m paying for everything.They move the car to the loading zome while I wait for the 2 boxes that are being picked out from their backstock.

The IKEA guy brings out the boxes, and as soon as I saw them, I knew we were in trouble. Sure was a hell of a lot bigger than I was expecting. Well, this will be…fun. Dad damn near threw a tantrum as we played Tetris with the poor IKEA guy in the middle. I grew worried Dad was having a sugar low and/or about to have a PTSD/dementia episode and hurt someone. He got the crazy eyes when he shouted, “Goddammit!” and I thought we were minutes away from a 5150 call.

The good news:

The boxes and three people CAN fit in a KIA Sorento.

Buuuuuuut in order to accomplish this, both middle and rear seats have to be fully flat. Thus, Dad was forced to curl up into a snail position, wedged between the side and the largest box. He did it in the trip from IKEA in Emeryville to Sliver in Berkeley, and then from Berkeley to San Francisco.

We managed to avoid any tickets and made it to my apartment in one piece. I then had had to go up three flights of stairs five times. I carried the stuff up myself. Dad attempted to help with the largest box, but really it was all me pushing.

Family–never a dull moment.

I shared this story with Seabiscuit and found his reaction (from a dad’s perspective) a perfect ending:

OMG. Dad in moving car, no seat belt, stuffed in a small corner of his own making. The epic metaphor of fatherly wisdom.

Laughing on the outside, crying on the inside.

Mr. Fix-It: Part Two

Prepare yourself, gentle readers of Northern California, for a life-changing experience. I hope you are seated, but not too closely together to another chair.

On Monday the five of us (me, my mother and father, my brother R and his girlfriend) had traveled up north to go on a cheese tour. On our way back from goat cheese and wine pairings, we stopped at a Peet’s Coffee in north Santa Rosa. I hadn’t had coffee all day and felt deprived; it isn’t their coffee I love so much as their espresso.
I ask everyone their order except my father because what he says he wants is not what he wants; he says hot coffee with steamed milk, but at the ratio he considers perfection (i.e. when he won’t complain and ask the barista for hot water or to microwave it), what he really wants is a latte. I order everyone’s drinks while everyone’s taking turns at the restrooms. I put together two round tables and bring together five chairs for us.

For whatever reason, when my father sits down, he grabs another chair and pulls it close to his own even though we already have enough. I go up and grab our drinks as they come out.

Everyone is enjoying their drinks, even my father. I help my brother with his phone because he couldn’t figure out how to get Pokémon Go working. (I still don’t play it, but I knew what the issue was.)

My father decides his drink needs one more Splenda, so he moves to get up but immediately sits back down. There is a look of pained horror on his face that I find baffling.

“What’s that face for?” I ask. “The Splenda is right over there.”

He hangs his head down and shakes it.

“What?” Now all of us are turned and looking at him, giving our full attention.

After a long pause and more head shaking, he says:

“These chairs were too close together, and when I moved,” here he lowers his voice, “I pinched my scrotum.”

If any of us had anything in our mouths at that moment, I am certain we would have either choked or spit it out. Instead, we all began laughing, me especially because if he hadn’t pulled in the unneeded sixth chair to begin with, there wouldn’t have been a problem.

When he finally got his Splenda, he stayed standing a while, hovering over us.

“Why aren’t you sitting down?” My brother asks.

“He’s still in recovery from his chair incident,” I say. More laughter.

I shall never be able to visit that Peet’s ever again without remembering this story. And if you, gentle readers, should find yourself at that Peet’s in North Santa Rosa, be careful where you sit, knowing that two chairs there once pinched an older man’s scrotum.

Movie Review: Max Steel – Some Teenage Wet Dream

With all the rain, we let Dina and R decide what to do as it was their last day visiting. They decided on a movie. Dina picked Max Steel. How do I feel about that movie?

I knew I was in trouble when I saw Mattel was involved with the production in the opening credits. How do I describe it? Power Rangers on steroids? Soft gay porn for straight, vanilla, middle-aged women? A Barbie’s world superhero movie? I am sure that early in production, a group of people (they can’t be called writers!) were in the room and asked themselves: “What does this movie need?” And another person answered, “Max should rip off his shirt and stand for a few seconds before sitting down to use his computer. Because doesn’t every teenager do that to get ready to do a Google search?” (Shouldn’t it have been his pants as he reached for a tube sock and Vaseline?)

And in the scene, in that moment just before he sits down, it’s as if he himself were questioning his acting career (or existence) before resuming his intelligence of Barbie’s faithful companion, Ken.

I’m sure someone patted themselves on the back when they struck upon the idea of this shot:

[Max dramatically types, “what am i????????” The final question mark coming only after a long pause, striking the hearts of every member of the audience. All five of them.]

Clearly this movie needs to be nominated for a few awards. Catwoman might not have won the Razzies if this movie had come out the same year. Sorry, Halle Berry, you have met your match.

The kid shoots out of his hands what looked like feminine spunk with fluorescent blue semen highlights. Every time it happened, I pictured how it was written in the script:

Max: Aaaaaaaahhhhhh!

[As Max continues screaming, another close up of vagina hands. This time the semen forms hexagons instead of splattering on the camera lens.]

The writing was on par with the first X-Men movie. I arched an eyebrow when Max says (trying to sound threatening but failing): “When I have too much energy, I explode.” Uh huh. I’m sure you do, kid. Sure you do.

Mr. Fix-It

My family came to visit, seeing my new apartment in San Francisco for the first time.

My dad, in typical fatherly fashion, had to make himself useful by playing Mr. Fix-It.

“What’s wrong with your sink?” He asks, as if he doesn’t already know.

“It runs slow,” I answer.

“Did your friend not live here for a long time?”

“He has been gone a while.”

“The pipes are probably clogged with silt. I can fix this. Do you have something I can use to clean the pipes, like a hanger?”

I find an old dry cleaner’s hanger with the cardboard bottom and hand it to him. He pulls the cardboard stick part off and starts messing with the sink.

The rest of us continue doing normal family visiting things, like talking. I hear him continue to tinker away with the sink, flushing water, and seeing how slow it drains.

Finally he moves on to the metal part of the coat hanger and bends it like a fishing line and hook. He starts trying to clear whatever gunk buildup he can reach with it. Then it gets stuck.

He calls my younger brother for help, figuring a younger, stronger person could get the coat hanger unstuck. My brother fails, and it starts looking like we’ll need to take apart the pipes.

My father likes to tell people how he once visited a fortune teller who read his palm and told him that in a past life he was a great Chinese philosopher. Confucius, he decided.

As I relay the news to the rest of the family that we now need to make a trip to the local hardware store to fix the sink, I joke, “In a past life, he was an abortionist.”

“But not a very good one,” my brother adds.

Wanting More

After Othello on Thursday night, Seabiscuit and I drove back to San Francisco. I kept one hand on his lap the entire drive back. When he was able, he would rub my head or back. It was very soothing and sexy.

We found parking relatively easily. Then it was up the stairs to my apartment. Once that door closed, we could hardly keep our hands off each other or unlock our lips. Clothes came off, and no matter how cold it was, that night was certainly heating up.

City lights illuminated my room in the dark. 

“God, you’re fucking sexy,” he said.

It was the first time anyone has ever told me that. Why have nine of my other boyfriends ever said anything like that?

And later, as he looked into my face, he moved his hand to my face and said, “You are so beautiful. You have three smiles. Here,” he said touching my face by one eye, “and here” by my other eye, “and here” as he brushed my lips.

It was very sweet, and I don’t think I’ve ever been told anything sweeter in person.

How lovely it was just to lie in bed while holding each other. And how terrible it was that his work rescheduled a conference call to 7am Friday morning, so he would have to leave by 5am. We made the most of our few hours of bliss together, but in the morning, all I could think of was wanting more.

Dad Stories

So my family is in town, and we hung out at my older brother’s place in the Castro for a while. It was me, S and his boyfriend Oscar, my mom and dad, our younger brother R and his girlfriend Dina.

We started talking about broken bones–whose broken them and what. R has broken both arms (both due to rollerblading) and had crutches for a while, but nobody could remember what he did that he was in crutches twice. Dina broke both her wrists in high school while trying to protect herself after falling backwards; one broke right after the other healed and had the cast removed. My mother has also broken a wrist and had pins in her arm for a while because of how badly splintered the bone was in her case (she slipped by a pool). I’ve only broken a big toe; it was two years ago.

Jacob and I were on our way to the gym, walking there, and a man and his kids were on one side. The kids were running, so we moved to the other side to let them pass. However, the side we were then on had one of those large plants with long leaves that flow over the sidewalk, and it partly masked the unevenness of the concrete. My feet got tangled, and I tripped. In trying to stop myself from falling, I kicked my right leg out–slamming my right toe directly into the back of Jacob’s heel. I had to wear an orthopedic shoe for a few months; it wasn’t something they could cast.

Then S asks my father, “But you’ve never broken anything, right?”

He hesitates to respond, and my mother, myself, and R begin to laugh.

“Well, I have,” he says slowly.

“It’s the stupidest way to break anything,” I say.

S, puzzled by the rest of us laughing, asks, “What did you break?”

“I broke my toe,” my dad says. “In a movie theater.”

“How did you do that?”

“I felt an itch on my big toe, and it wouldn’t go away. So I bent my toe and pressed down really, really hard.”

“So you’re either really weak or really strong–which is it?” R laughs.

“Wait, so you broke your own toe? What did the doctor say when he found out?”

“I lied. I said it started after I’d been exercising in the pool.”

“He wanted his doctor to have an impression he gets more exercise than he really does and not admit he broke it himself while sitting down,” I say, still laughing.

“And then they took forever to tell me that I broke it because they thought I might have gout and they made me do blood tests before doing an X-ray.”

“Because you never told the truth!” I exclaim, “They had no idea you broke it yourself!”

“I told the truth eventually,” my dad says.

“Really?” I ask. “When?”

“When I saw a different doctor.”

Othello

I was brimming with excitement all of Thursday. I couldn’t stop thinking about my date with Seabiscuit. I was very excited about his joining me at the theater plus the night adventures that would follow.

I hurried home after work, took a quick shower, and headed out. It had been a warm day, and I was doubtful that I needed my jacket; however, then I remembered being cold at a previous performance in the evening. Even though I had checked the weather and saw Orinda was only predicted to be in the low 60s in the evening, I knew that up in the hills, where the theater is actually located, it can get much colder. I felt foolish carrying such a large jacket on BART and felt too warm to need it, but better safe than sorry.

It was good I did. By the time I arrived at the theater, it was significantly cooler. I was happy without a jacket but realized that once the sun finished setting, I would need to put it on. I waited for Seabiscuit to arrive, and was excited to see him clean-shaven–as I had ordered as his Mistress. How good that he should obey so well! And he finally looked like one of his own photographs.

I told him previously that he appeared to be a servant of the Many-Faced God because his face never seemed to match from one photograph to another. The angles were off or something seemed so strange about it. He didn’t look like his photographs. I knew it was him, but how strange and different they all seemed.

There was a crowd, and I could tell he felt a bit shy. We hugged and kissed each other’s cheeks, then held hands as we walked up the hill from Will Call to the theater.

He bought dinner for us at the café, and we continued holding hands. The line was long, and we really only had 10 minutes to eat before needing to be seated. He was impressed by my tickets and how close we were to the stage. The temperature had dropped significantly, so I put on my jacket when we were seated but he was astounded that I didn’t close it until after intermission. I held his hand in his lap during the first half.

During intermission, he rented a blanket while I used the restroom and got my free bag of Peet’s coffee for renewing my subscription for the theater. We shared the blanket, and for the second half, he held my hand on my lap.

The performance was amazing, as all the shows I have seen there have been. CalShakes has done very well at selecting and directing plays that resonate with race issues going on currently, and this play was exceptionally well done in that regard. Seabiscuit enjoyed it greatly, and I told him he should return with me for all of next season. He said he would love to. It was his first time going to the theater in a very long time, and he said the final scenes with the bed on stage would linger in his memory for a long time.

The Craigslist Well

The Craigslist well of correspondents has dried up a bit. My folks across the pond have faced bad circumstances; Lord Byron will be out of contact for a full month. DJ MF has gotten so caught up in a nasty custody battle with his ex that I don’t hear much from him not. Prufrock is MIA, and I suspect something awful has happened as he used to write me multiple times a day. Lancelot hasn’t written in about a week (has something terrible happened or just busy with work?), so this leaves only Richard the Lionheart as an active correspondent. 

Richard and I have exchanged letters now. He finally received mine yesterday, and I await to see what he shall think of his nickname, for in my letter I told him what I shall nickname him. He dreaded whatever mythological nickname he suspected I had come up for him, but it’s a good nickname. I should hope he would be pleased, and I look forward to his next letter.

I recorded myself reading the poem I wrote most recently for Seabiscuit; the title is “Departures”, though it was previously untitled. I have sent it to Richard as we wrote about being curious about each other’s accents. He also has shared poetry, not his own, but some of his favorite poems by poets previously unknown to me. I have enjoyed the two he has shared so far.

I would say that perhaps it is time for me to post again on Craigslist, but I will be busy for the coming months and don’t feel I will be able to respond to people as quickly as I would like. Where shall I post next when I do have more time? Germany? Greece? Japan?

Our Next Adventure

Because of our adventure, I had to change the date of my theater tickets for Othello at the CalShakes theater. On a whim, I picked this Thursday. I have never tried to go midweek, but why not?

In the emails that followed our last adventure between me and Seabiscuit, I mentioned having the tickets and how I’d like to take him to the theater, but I thought he likely already had plans, and my family would be in town (and I don’t think they are ready to hear about Seabiscuit.)

To my delight, he actually is able to make it tomorrow. He shall meet me there, and we will get to see Othello together. Then he will take me back to SF and spend the night. He will have to take off midmorning on Friday.

So my parents will have to wait to see me until Friday, but I do have work as an excuse. I am very excited about Seabiscuit staying with me and being able to see him again. Even though the time will be short and far less than 24 hours together, I am very much looking forward to being able to hold him close and lie side by side.