It's been a whirlwind of a trip, in almost every way. Yesterday I walked briefly on Sproul Plaza, remembering what it was like when I visited the campus, when I was sure that's where I had to get an education, wondering if, with my giant bag and dress and fishnets and sneakers, I looked like a college student. I went to Walnut Creek and Emeryville.
I bought a MacBook Pro (13-inch) and learned how to Skype. I found out I'm going to be on The Gayle King Show today, calling in at 10 am EST via Skype to talk about sex and social media. I also met with the folks at Cleis Press, had a fabulous reading at Good Vibrations in Berkeley, sampled mini cupcakes in sea salt caramel, peppermint patty and French toast/maple bacon,and ate dinner at T-Rex, which I highly recommend if you're in Berkeley. This time I didn't want to throw up on BART, though my stomach was a bit off yesterday as well. I blame the travel and stress. I learned how to use Skype and had a lovely time luring someone else into downloading Skype. I luxuriated in my hotel room at Hotel Durant (thanks Quikbook, who I know it must seem like I'm being sponsored by, but no, I'm really just a giant fan of the site, and that's how I am when I'm a fan).
So now I have two laptops. I got the new one because I've been wanting/needing to, but it was a rush because of Skype. I got it right after seeing The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, a show about the use of underage labor and horrific working conditions at Foxconn, a factory with 430,000 workers in Shenzen, China. I'm not going to summarize that show here, but you should see it. It's funny (the monologue as a whole, not the reality of workers leaping to their deaths from atop a factory) and brutal and the dichotomy between the almost movie set-esque quantness of Emeryville and the sleekness of the Apple Store, and my new computer, crossed with the conditions I heard about was discomforting. Of course it was. I had read a lot about the topic beforehand, but hearing about it firsthand, and hearing what we didn't hear (there was a line that chilled me, perhaps the most out of all of it, about if he told us the worst of the stories, "you'd close your fucking ears" - I put that in quotes even though it may not be exactly what was said, but I think it was). Coming on the heels of a story about a worker whose hand was fused together building an iPad, yeah, that's pretty chilling. It made me want to know and, I will fully admit, not want to know. I'm still pretty awed by the fact that there were no photos shown, nothing but words, but the images I was left with were frightening and sad and again, that dichotomy, that reality that even the LED screens lighting up the stage were likely made in the places being talked about. Yes, that stayed with me, and will stay with me, even as I try to make sure I can justify this laptop's purchase for something more vain than a TV appearance, for the kind of writing I want to get back to.
I felt spoiled walking into that store after hearing those stories, spoiled handing over my credit card and walking out with this sleek new box, and now I'm a girl with two laptops, except, trust me, I'm not that girl. I've never in my life had two computers open next to me at the same time.Still trying to figure out what to say when I call Apple.
This trip feels surreal in more ways than I can say, and the fact that my body hasn't been so cooperative, that I'm a little groggy even when I'm wide awake, even when I'm basking in the sun while noticing my friends checking in to Snowpocalypse, maybe softens some of the surreality, some of the sense of what have I done with myself since I left this town in 1996. I know I've done a lot, I know I'm almost completely unrecognizable to the girl I was then, but still, it's a strange feeling, and yet I love the community of friends who came out to the reading, that one of my readers drove in from Davis, that I can afford the luxury of my hotel, that I'm going to meet with my virtual assistant today for breakfast. I'm grateful, I guess, humbled, learning. Sometimes I need to be forced to take a step back and appreciate what I have, what my life is, and also, perhaps, what it isn't. I get so used to seeing the glass half full, but I'm starting to reevaluate that.
With Gotta Have It contributors Donna George Storey (left, "Anal-yzed) and Denise Hoffner (right, "Concensus") at Good Vibrations, Berkeley
peppermint patty cupcake
deviled eggs at T-Rex Barbecue
Brussels sprouts (with squash and bacon bits) at T-Rex Barbecue