Geek Chic

i easily fit the category of “expert traveler”.  Logging at least 100,000 miles (mostly domestic) and spending at least 90 nights a year in a rent-a-bed, it isn’t often that a travel experience knocks me over with unexpected goodness.

The recent trip to Seattle?  Woo-hoo!  It was a geek fest, held at the Hotel1000 – a fun, boutique hotel.  The amenities at this place had me alternately giggling and snorting – and feeling like a rock star.

decadence... including pics of nekkid people on the wall!

Even had sketches of nekkid people on the wall!

For starters? The room itself was delicious.  The bed/desk/minibar were fairly typical, but it was the bathroom that had me just awash* in silliness!  It took me a full five minutes to locate the toilet – which was hidden behind a clever frosted glass door next to the shower.

party tub

party tub

The bath? Ridiculously decadent!  Gigantic free-standing tub – orgy-sized!  i rooted around upon arrival, thinking that it might be a jacuzzi tub – but alas, it was just a 4-person modern marvel. Best of all?  The faucet was in the fucking ceiling!

spigot. in. the. fucking. ceiling.

spigot. in. the. fucking. ceiling.

This kept me amused for no less than an hour. After cleansing* my toilet-related curiousity, i checked out the rest of the room – and discovered that the HDTV on the wall was playing a serene movie – boats, waterfalls, beaches… Farting around a bit with the remote, i learned that there were about 10 different choices – essentially allowing me to customize the wall art in the room!  Did i say “WOO HOO!”?

Geek chic boutique...

Geek chic boutique...

Scrumptious bathrobe, in-room french press coffee maker, ubiquitous Starbucks fresh ground coffee available in massive quantities.  The bed?  The only thing that could have improved it would have been an in-room cabana boy… A tall, blonde Swedish masseur, named Sven, with no vocal cords, perhaps…

But my favorite moment of the week involved the hotel catering services.  Typically at any workshop or meeting, refreshments are provided – maybe fruit and bagels in the morning, with brownies or cookies for an afternoon snack.  The Hotel1000 set a new standard, in my opinion, with the afternoon break refreshments on the second day of the meeting.

Cupcakes.  Beautifully decorated cupcakes.  Gleaming pink frosting, with raspberries.  Neon green frosting, with shaved chocolate.  Sumptuous ivory cream frosting, with chopped almonds.

i returned from my extended lunch adventure with silverstar to find a beautiful spread of cupcakes outside the meeting room!  As we reconvened following the break, i was delighted to sit in the meeting room, and watch some of the worlds best scientific minds debate the nuances of transformational optics – while enthusiastically licking brightly colored frosting from their cupcakes!

Oh, if we’d only been allowed to pull out mats and have a communal afternoon nap on the floor…

cupcakes-rock

* yes.  I DID just do that….

Special Edition T-Shirt Friday

With a meeting in Seattle this week, i have had an opportunity to hang out with the coolest powerchair-babe on the internet!  Ms. Silverstar has been a fabulous host/tour guide, showing me the sights of the Seattle waterfront for lunch yesterday!

Since the lights in the blogosphere are still dimmed, with nursemyra off the grid due to a house-move, silverstar suggested a T-Shirt swap Friday!  She got me a great Seattle T — carefully selected to be Mr. Pickles Brown!  And with her anti-establishment bent?  i thought “Alcatraz” might be a good fit!

Hangin' with Silverstar

Hangin' with Silverstar

From there?  Lunch at Ivar’s!  Despite a short battle with a misdirected hunk of bread, we had a lovely lunch on the waterfront where i got to indulge my scallop-lust.  No.  Not like that…  Making a quick visit to the waterfront arcade, i also got to indulge a little carousel-lust!

Pretty pony - jewels, amazing mane...

Pretty pony - jewels, amazing mane...

In a race?  My money's on Silverstar and The Scarlet Pimp!

In a race? My money's on Silverstar and The Scarlet Pimp! Heigh-ho, Scarlet Pimp - Awaaaaaay!

And for even more fun, i got to meet Ms. Friday, the wonder pup!  She is the most well-behaved diva ever! 

Adorable working-pup!  Hear that, Mr. P?  This dog has a JOB!

Adorable working-pup! Hear that, Mr. Pickles? This dog has a JOB!

Speaking of Divas?  i was hanging with the traveling nerd herd in the lobby of our hipster-cool boutique hotel for happy hour, and was a bit surprised to see none other than Miss Britney Spears being escorted across the lobby.  Being good Trailer Park Rabble, i whipped it out – the camera, you perverts – and snapped a few pics!  Only random thought?  She’s tiny.  Teeny-tiny…

Loves me some hangover sunglasses...

Loves me some hangover sunglasses...

Despite the unexpected celebrity sighting, the highlight of my week – in fact, the highlight of all my recent roadtrips – was a chance to meet silverstar in person!  She’s delightful!  And i really can’t wait for another day of extended lunch-hour hookey!  Today?  She’s taking me to Pikes Place Market and i’m going to do everything i can to get hit in the head with a fish!

mirrors

Another hotel shuttle bus to another airport.  Crowded, with a chatty Southwest Airlines crew in late afternoon California sunshine.  Vietnamese driver loading bags in the racks.   Performing triage – “What airline?” – to plan the terminal stops.

We pulled  into traffic.  Only five miles to the airport, but traffic was stop-and-go as people headed home.  There was a cadence of chatter around me from the crew “I called your room four times…”, “It broke off, and dropped right on my head…”, “…all OVER the room…”.  Booming laughter from the Captain in the back of the bus…

We were stuck in near gridlock at a busy intersection.  She was standing alone at a bus stop.  Thirty-something, maybe Asian, maybe Hispanic.  That magical California hybrid of indeterminate origins… The sunlight hit her face, and it shone.  Tears.  She covered her face in her hands, shoulders caved, body defeated.  

Jeans, navy blue hoodie.  Long, dark hair gathered in a casual scramble on the back of her head.  Looking up.  Lost.  Face of quiet despair.  Eyes pleading, skyward.  No sign of a bus.  She saw me watching her, and turned her back, perhaps embarrassed.  i looked away.  Respecting her privacy.

The shuttle bus lumbered forward, and i once again heard the chatter of the flight crew – a continuing fugue in many parts.  “How are you going to work the holiday?”, “…guy was such an asshole…”, “…found it at Macy’s at Union Square….”. 

Wondering about her.  Wondering what hurt her.  Wondering how it would turn out.  Wondering if she saw the mirrored sadness on my face, and perhaps turned away to respect my private moment.

Stranger Danger

One of the grand challenges of parenting is letting go.  As your children sprout, it’s important to let them expand their boundaries, working toward that magical day when they are able to get the fuck out of your basement live independently, without fear or insecurity, in an increasingly complex and magical world.

By the time The Boy was around 10 years old, i had gradually increased his exploration range – first letting him ride his bike in our quiet neighborhood, but later allowing him room to roam further afield, scooting up to the strip malls about a quarter mile down the main drag.  This required him to safely traverse a busy four-lane road.

One lazy Saturday afternoon, he had negotiated an expedition to the strip mall, which included a grocery store, comic book store, several fast food restaurants among other things*.  He’d been gone perhaps a half hour, when i got  a call…

The Boy:  Hey, there are some new Magic cards at the comic book store – can I get an advance on my allowance?

daisyfae:  Sure, but you realize that leaves you short next week if anything comes up?

The Boy:  Whatever.  Would you be willing to bring it up to me?  I’m in front of the grocery store.

daisyfae:  OK.  Not doing much else at the moment**.

Hopped in the car – which at the time was my juicy-sweet little sports car – 225 bhp of asphalt-munching sex-on-wheels.   Spotted him, pulled up to the curb, and opened the passenger side door to hand him the cash.  Being chock-full of mother hormones, i also used the opportunity to nag remind him of the need to be careful crossing the streets, negotiating parking lots and the like.

He listened for a minute or two.  The eyes started rolling.  i kept on with the parental nudge.  Having had enough of my yammering, he deployed a rather brilliant tactic…

The Boy:  [loudly] Stranger!  Bad Touch!  I DON’T KNOW YOU!

daisyfae: ….

very funny, you little shitweasel...

very funny, you little shitweasel...

* We have a theory that EVERY strip mall in the state has at least TWO of the following THREE establishments:  Nail Salon, Tanning Salon, “RipOff” Payday Lender.  Have yet to find an exception to this… Most have all three…

** Besides, it gave me a chance to check up on him, follow him to see where he crossed, etc.  To quote Mr. Reagan: “trust, but verify”.

Desked-esque

Manuel, master of the Well Done Fillet, shared his tidy, tea-bag encrusted desk with the world.  He is a fine man – the Miss Manners of the restaurant biz.  Far from benign, however, one must be careful to remain in his good graces, lest he feel compelled to poke you with his rusty “stabbing fork”. 

He asked to see my desk*.  i don’t actually have one.  Well, i have one, but i don’t do anything there, except pile shit into random stacks, keep important papers in theoretically safe places, and lose my daughter’s W-2 tax statement in an annual ritual that pisses off both of us**… 

This is what i submitted to the fine people at “desked“. 

yes.  it's a comfy chair.  deal with it...

yes. it's a comfy chair...

Not technically a desk.  But for me, the “office” is where the laptop resides.  This is where i write.  Pay bills.  Yap on the phone with my mother while surfing the internet.  Stare vacantly into space, scratching my bits, and contemplating important stuff…

Pack of Marlboro’s, glass of Diet Coke and my cell phone on the table.  Guitar strings in the basket below.  Pretty uninspiring.  But it’s comfortable.  My bubble.  It is what it is…

~~~~~~~~~~

* Silverstar has played along, too…  and has a much more interesting collection of ‘stuff’.

** Last year, i lost her annual earnings statements, and she had to move mountains to get a duplicate.  This year?  You guessed it.  But i thought i’d found it – and assured her i had it.  Until i realized that was a different statement – about a month before the tax filing deadline.  So she had to do it again.  When she e-mailed me the electronic copy?  It came with the admonishment – “and don’t lose this one, because if you do I’m going to punch you in the face.  Not really, but don’t lose it”.

Mal Occhio

Growing up in a Boston tenement in the 1930’s, my father was immersed in the immigrant experience.  The old world customs slammed headlong into the harsh realities of life in the industrialized new world.  In early 20th century Sicilian immigrant culture, the church provided communal bedrock.  One of his stories from his childhood demonstrates the process of assimilation.

He spoke of one of his earliest memories – what he called a spiritual pinning point – that involved the neighborhood witch.  He was a boy of perhaps four or five years old.  His mother became convinced that he had fallen under “Mal Occhio” – the evil eye.  She dragged him through the streets in a panic – seeking The Strega. 

He remembered the old woman.  Herbs, incantations, incense… His mother presenting him to the woman, with no explanation – she knew why the child was before her.  He remembered being a little frightened, but knowing that it was for his own good.

They left the house of The Strega, they stopped at the church on the way home.  His mother had him light a candle.  Kneeling in prayer, he told me that he felt protected and safe.  No need to understand the mysteries of the moment.  He was loved.  He was cared for.  There were things beyond him that maintained order.

Much like the Catholic imperialism in South America, the willingness of the church to allow integration of pagan cultural customs was both a kindness and a strategy for expansion.  Where has this tolerance gone?

bewitch-me

Little Pitchers…

Without a doubt, the introduction i received for yesterday’s Junior Workforce  “Career Talk” event was perfect!  AU* is a bright 30-something, with an MIT pedigree, wild science-boy hair, trendy nerd glasses – and even sideburns.  We’ve worked together on one large program, but until he introduced me to the assembled, theoretically impressionable, young nerd herd?  i had no idea that he’d been paying much attention.

AU:  I’d like to introduce our “Career Talk” guest.  daisyfae… ummm…. this may not come out quite right, so bear with me…  When I first arrived in the organization,  I had a few interactions with daisyfae.  I had to ask myself “How the hell did someone like that rise to a position of authority in this organization?” 

i was, by then, laughing my ass off!  As were many folks in the audience!  He went on to explain that he’d seen me demonstrate fearlessness, commitment to the organizational mission, and an absolute contempt for all things bureaucratic.  And that it later became obvious to him that i must be pretty damn good at my job to operate in such a manner… and not get fired.

It was fun.  They asked questions – such as “what was your first impression of the organization and how has it changed?” and “when you came here, did you plan to stay forever?”  i answered honestly – and they seemed amused.  But then there was this, later in the afternoon from my friend, RJak, who had been unable to attend.  Jabbing a perfectly barbed fork, right up the ol’ ego…

RJak:  Sorry I couldn’t make it, I had a conflicting meeting.  Besides, I might have blurted out “She sits around in her underwear, drinking gin like juniper berries were going extinct, begs her son to ‘Go get mama some smokes <belch>’, and when she takes the dog out, she forgets the underwear altogether.”

Damn.  So much for my plan to start my own religion**.  i could get used to the worshipful masses…

These are not the 'droids you're looking for... Well... maybe they are...

These are not the 'droids you're looking for... Well... maybe they are...

* His real initials… for those of you with at least a passing acquaintance with the periodic table, he’s definitely a “Golden Boy” .

** Good enough for uncle keith?  Good enough for daisyfae…