rickps: (Cafe Rick - 11/08)
I grew up in a wealthy town on the north shore of Long Island.  Great Neck is located a comfortable 30 minute train ride from downtown New York City.  It was so named because it was the larger of two peninsulas jutting into Long Island Sound (no surprise, the smaller peninsula is aptly named Little Neck).  It was, and is, classic suburbia - with a twist.  The bagel in the borscht so to speak was that Great Neck in my childhood was some 85% Jewish.  And then there was the money.  Oh, there was lots and lots of money.  Cars lining most streets looked like they’d just rolled off showroom floors.  Kings Point, the crown on Great Neck’s northern tip, was at the time one of the five wealthiest communities in the US.  Every home in the Point was a mansion artfully positioned on luxuriant manicured grounds with prime properties having water views.  For the most part, my childhood friends had want for nothing.  If they wished it, more often than not, they got it.  It seemed odd to me, as the son of a mixed religion, middle class family that drove around in a rusting 10 year old Ford with the passenger’s door strapped shut, that I’d been plunked down in this odd wonderland.  I learned a valuable lesson from my peers – money did not buy happiness (but it often made suffering rather wonderful).  Great Neck’s schools were among the best around which is why we’d moved into town.  My mother would accept nothing less.  One never argued with my mother.  Never.

They weren’t very creative when it came to naming things in Great Neck.  There were two high schools… Great Neck North and Great Neck South.  I went to South which had been constructed on land given to the town by the (drum roll) wealthy Phipps family.  The estate manor house was used as the school’s administration building while conjoined junior and senior high schools snaked over the grassy slopes.  From the outside, the schools had an idyllic appearance.  Buses lined long loading areas as the Phipps family estate was several miles from town.  Gleaming cars shown in the parking lot.  If one looked closer you’d realize that the gleaming cars were all student owned (Junior did NOT drive to school in last year’s Corvette!  What would the Schwartz’s down the block think!!) while the teacher’s vehicles in the back of the school were much more modest.  The school’s buildings themselves were indeed architecturally grand, except that they’d forgotten about ventilation.  On warm fall and spring days it was not uncommon for classroom temperatures to top 90 degrees and the occasional student passing out from heat exhaustion was not unknown.

Still, going to school was hardly a chore for me.  Comparatively speaking, the teachers were paid well, the kids knew they were there to learn, and parents were liberal Democrats who embraced the power of education.  The grimy side of school life seemed to have been left behind at the bus stop.  Looking back, it all seemed normal then.  From today’s perspective, it was a trip through the looking glass.

In 10th grade, my last class was Geometry with Mr. Sokol.  Mr. Sokol was one of those gruff, slow talking old teachers that seemed to roam school hallways like dinosaurs in those days.  He knew his craft, he got a kick out of passing his knowledge onto his students, and he made us work for it.  But he knew how to make us love it too.  Mr. Sokol was retiring that year and seemed determined to go out on a high note.  I’ve always had a knack for things mathematic and was fortunate that year to be in a class where the majority of the kids were like minded.  Fast forward to the end of that school year when Mr. Sokol shared the results of the annual Regents exam.  Nearly the entire class (myself included) received a 100% grade.  Mr. Sokol was near tears as he announced our grades, we were too.  We did it for him.

On a chilly November Friday afternoon, as Mr. Sokol was churning away with his theorems the school’s PA system crackled to life… Our president was dead.  Killed by a bullet as he waved to the citizens of Dallas.  Our king, his wife at his side, was no more.  I recall the silence.  I remember Mr. Sokol’s face, blank, staring out the window.  The school day ended and most of us boarded the buses for the ride back home.  It was a long, long ride that Friday.  Some were in tears, no laughter, no happiness, only silence.  We lived a page of history that day.

It’s been 50 years since that November 22nd.  Looking back, I think the US left its teen years on that November day.  I’m amazed at how vivid the memories are after all this time.


Oct. 4th, 2013 10:23 am
rickps: (Cafe Rick - 11/08)
After my last relationship crashed and burned some seven years ago, I, like many people, convinced myself that I wasn’t wired to be partnered.  Being more than a little introspective, I attempted to objectively analyze what went right and what went wrong in my relationship.  It goes without saying that a convincing argument could be mounted (punsters insert comments here) suggesting that one can never be truly objective about oneself.  That premise notwithstanding, I launched my emotional ocean liner into the rough seas of personal appraisal.

Unlike Titanic, I failed to strike any psychological icebergs.  And unlike the Costa Concordia, I didn’t tip over and sink from venturing too close to an emotional coastline.  But I did draw some interesting conclusions…  As strong willed and independent as I am, I don’t want to be in control of every moment of a relationship.  Something about me appears to attract (and be attracted to) passive personalities, the “go alongers” as they were described in a movie (name the movie and get 5 points!).  My previous partners, both very nice men, were of that ilk.

Me:  Where do you want to eat dinner tonight?  It’s our special night out together, remember?
Them:  I don’t know
Me:  Do you want to go out?
Them:  I don’t know
Me:  How about going out for dinner tonight?  Italian?  Chinese?  Latvian?  There’s this wonderful little Venusian place on the Moon all the Martians are talking about…
Them:  I don’t know
Me:  ARGH!
Them:  OK, you decide
Me:  OK, Italian
Them:  I don’t like Italian
Me:  (Rummaging through a drawer)…How do you feel about a kitchen knife in the heart?

I’m sure we’ve all had these conversations.  I just seemed to have them much more often.  It got old… quickly.

As I sit here in my little self-erected confessional (punsters, this is your wakeup call), I’ll admit too that I’m a driven soul.  If I decide to do something, I do it.  If I crash and burn, you can see it from space.  I realized that I need someone like me, someone who can push back, someone who can stand his ground, someone who also has his eye on the prize.  Surprisingly, that’s a difficult order to fill but I’m not sure quite why.

So, OK, seven years have passed.  Dated a bit, learned a bit more.  Hasn’t been all that bad a time, really.  I’ll never be one of those guys who needs to be partnered by 5:15PM or face personal ruin.  Still, it’s kinda sad that my longest relationship is with Miss Thing, my twelve year old cat (no, that’s not really her name but whatever, it fits her personality).

So about seven months ago as I was trolling one of the chat sites, a youngish gentleman sent a greeting.  Decent looking chap, didn’t instantly want to (a) see pictures of selected anatomical features; (b) engage in sexual banter which evidently would excite him much more than me; or (c) meet for some nefarious purpose involving a lack of clothing.  In fact, the guy was rather charming and old fashioned for a man in his mid 30s.  Kind of young for me but maturity and rings on the tree aren’t always related.  His primary language was Spanish and although his English was decent, conversation involved a number of repetitions for understanding.  Turned out that he was a rather accomplished fitness instructor and in annoyingly good physical condition.  Gotta hate men like that.  When the revolution comes…  And then the shoe dropped, he lives in Honduras.  OK, nice chatting with you, would be great if we could meet some day but that’s never going to happen.  You’re sweet, darn cute, have a bangin’ body but that’s like thousands of miles!  Next!

Well, not so fast there.  He’s been previously partnered and knows what he’s looking for.  The man has traveled more than you’d imagine.  Already had firm plans in the works to escape from his highly gay-unfriendly environs for the US of A to commence a new life.  Fully recognizes that staying in the US full time isn’t a finger snap proposition.  Isn’t looking for handouts or a marriage of convenience.  Independent as heck and intends to stay that way.  The guy had substance and depth and that rarest of commodities, common sense.  I was intrigued, and then some.  So, it seemed, was he.

His planned trip to the east coast was altered to be a west coast destination.  And so we met.  And met.  And met.  To say it went well would be an understatement.  Yep, we’re different people.  I’m 5’11” and shall we say, zaftig.  David is 5’5”, 180 pounds of fitness (sigh, gotta introduce him to pizza).  I’m Mr. Spock to his Butterfly McQueen.  His music makes me want to jump off a tall building.  My music will likely make him want to push me off that same building.  But we love to talk to one another on just about any subject.  Well, we talk when we’re not doing other things.  A lot.  I feel a positive dynamic that I’ve never felt in the past.  That’s a good thing.

And so my friends, light a candle, chant a prayer, sacrifice a farm animal if it is your practice to do so.  Rick is taking the plunge for a third time.  Fingers crossed that it is the last and best time of all.


Sep. 11th, 2013 09:59 am
rickps: (Cafe Rick - 11/08)
I’m a born and bred (hatched and brewed?) New Yorker.  Grew up close enough to the Big Apple so that the skyline was a familiar sight.  I can recall it pre-Trade Center and then as the more modern day twin shining monoliths marking Manhattan’s southern tip.

In the mid 1970s I worked in lower Manhattan and had many occasions to take business meetings in the towers.  On one memorable occasion, friends and I went to the roof observation deck at sunset to watch the lights of the city come on below us.  It was dazzling.

As with most of us, I vividly recall the morning of September 11, 2001 and the days that followed.  I remember watching the lunchroom television at work broadcast one tower fall and then the next.  It was impossible.  Things like this didn’t happen in the USs biggest city.  The thousands of people…

Each year that passes I expect that the memories will fade a bit as “now” becomes history.  It hasn’t.  I was watching a documentary of those heroic folk who ran into the rubble (“the Pile” as it was called) to save what lives they could and it all came back fresh.  During this morning’s staff meeting, I momentarily choked as I reminded my crew of how important it is to remember.

We must remember those who were lost, those who were saved, and those who were heroes.
rickps: (Cafe Rick - 11/08)
You know, when I first joined LJ a bunch of years ago I was thrilled with the concept of having a place where I could do a bit of creative writing which would hopefully offer a bit of entertainment to those few friends who were foolish enough to read my posts.  In those early years, posting became a high point of my week (yes, my life is deadly dull).

As the years passed I became more and more critical of what was “post-worthy”.  I’ve never been one of those who felt that I’d burn in hell (Ha!  There is no such place!!) if I didn’t tell the interwebs how often I burped today or posted a picture of my cat asleep.  It  would have even more strongly confirmed  how dull my life indeed is.

Fast forward to the last few months.  Things have been happening.  Interesting things in fact.  And yet I still haven’t found the time and urge to clog my journal with babble.  Do I really think that this post will be a reversal of my cone of silence?  Um, no.

Sooo, OK, what are these interesting things?  It’d be a hoot if I didn’t share them with you, wouldn’t it?  As my few friends would quickly observe, yes, I AM that kind of a smartass.  So just to prove them wrong, here goes…

Not quite two years ago I purchased a small home in Palm Springs.  It’s become my Fortress of Solitude.  Amazing how having very little to do can be so pleasing.  I’ve been thrilled to host friends from time to time but it’s the quiet times that are so energizing.  The Springs is such an informal place.  I’ve discovered that making advance plans seems almost bad form unless it’s a big fete of some sort.  You don’t need to be bored, that’s for sure.

About a month ago I was reminded of one of the joys of home ownership.  Things break.  Expensive things that you didn’t plan for.  Like air conditioning.  In a city where temps can climb to over 120F, A/C is not a frill, it’s survival.  I now have wonderful freshly cooled air.  And my wallet is bleeding.

At almost the same time as the A/C-pocalypse, I contracted a viral infection which threw me into the arms of Vicodin which excelled in placing the pain in fuzzy pink bunny slippers.  In my drugged haze, believe me, those slippers were real.

And then there’s the biggest news…  There’s about to be a new man in my life.  After nearly seven years of singleocity (which weren’t bad years by any means), a gent named David (yes, same name as my ex) pole vaulted into my life.  We’re two very different people with divergent histories yet we fit together like the proverbial hand in glove (foot in mouth?).  And yes, it seems that when you least expect it, love really does find you.  Not wishing to turn this post into a novella, I’ll say no more about the guy.  But don’t be surprised if he becomes a featured topic in possible future posts.
rickps: (Buck Cluck)
(Yeah, OK, another post in less than a decade. Live with it)

Have you ever watched paint dry? Of course you haven’t. That’s why, when we all touch a freshly painted wall our hands come away with a lovely personalized paint sample. Of course that requires that the wall needs to be touched up. Which means more drying paint. Which means more individualized handprint paint sampling when we’re too impatient to wait. The cycle goes on and on until we walk away disgusted and bored. Such is one of life’s lessons.

Which brings me to today’s mind-numbing topic – moving. I have relocated so many times over the years (including a massive coast-to-coast move in 1994) that I’ve lost count. So often, in fact, that the whole process of moving is as comfortable as wearing an old pair of loafers. You just know how they’re going to feel. Switch the utilities, move cash around to make the new landlord happy, file change of address notices with most of the Western World… You know the drill.

This brings us to that joy of joys in the moving ritual, packing. I’ve been fortunate to have had many moves paid for by my employer and this included the packing process. When you do your own move though, it commences a voyage of discovery as you dig through dust covered bookshelves and closets to find life’s effluvia. In my case, as an obsessed technogeek, I’ll toss last year’s cutting edge tech-toy into a box just in case I want to use it again some day. Packing becomes akin to an archeological dig when these boxes are opened. Where does our brain go when we store away such things?

All of which brings me to my current latest move. In the last year or so I’ve been spending more and more time away from my apartment in San Diego, preferring to enjoy the small home I purchased in Palm Springs. Downsizing was in order, packing and moving the result. While I’m using a moving company to shift my possessions between locations, the packing has fallen to me. Cue music, agonizingly slow tempo, lots of strings.

So what have I discovered in the last few days? A stack of cassettes (yeah, remember those?!) recorded who knows when holding music I don’t recall. I haven’t owned a functioning cassette player in years! Then there was the radio laying in wait in my bedroom closet. Lovely radio, amazing sound, still looks stylish. Except that it doesn’t work correctly and didn’t do so when I socked it away. Not entirely surprising given that it’s over 20 years old. Last night’s discovery was one of those step-by-step manuals on how to use web page design software that hasn’t been sold for years. Need I mention that the program was PC based and that I’ve been a Mac-ista for half a decade? Or that I never seriously entertained the idea of building a vanity page on the web?

Why do we keep all this stuff rather than trashing it? And what does this say about us as people? Is it just the stuff we possess or does it have a deeper meaning? What about our relationships? Do we let aspects of these emotionally filled cartons languish in the closets of our mind? And on the day we choose to move on, do we drag them out, dust them off, and wonder why we kept them?

We have so many closets in our lives…
rickps: (Default)
So, OK, I’ve been lousy at posting. I throw myself on my pen in abject humiliation.

What’s been doing? Not a lot really. My philosophy has always been “don’t write if you’ve nothing interesting to write about”. One of my acquaintances on Facebook seems to post daily, if not hourly, on where he’s eating, where he and his husband are going for drinks. And this includes photographs of the beverage-du-jour. I don’t get it, really.

Hmm, one could possibly imagine that I’ve actually got something of significance to chat about. Well, um, maybe…

As some know, I purchased a home in Palm Springs a little more than a year ago. It’s become my Fortress of Solitude, my place to entertain in those rare times when I’m in a party mood, and a place that I can call my own little corner of the universe. I love it there. There’s an odd thing about Palm Springs (although San Francisco seems much the same way) – You arrive with no weekend plans and in short order without discernible effort, your weekend fills with social engagements, catching a meal or a movie, and so on. Then there’s home ownership which brings with it endless chores, another black hole for free time. Does this explain what I’ve been doing lately? I’ll get back to you on that.

In things automotive for those few who vaguely care, after several overheating incidents from split hoses and an ongoing mysterious disappearance of coolant, I decided to trade in my beloved Mercedes. It got to the point that AAA was ready to assign me my own personal tow truck which would follow me waiting for the next breakdown. I can now confidently assure you that breaking down on a 100 degree day in a black car with no shade whatsoever while the engine is cooling slowly from a temperature just below that of the sun is not, repeat not, fun. The new wheels are a 2010 Lexus IS-F which came with a warranty covering the vehicle until the end of time. The IS-F is an oddity. Luxury skillfully blended with white knuckle power. Imagine Frankenstein’s monster dressed in Armani and you’ve got the concept.

Work is well, work. Long hours, endless critiques, whatever joy might have been there is long gone. For those who have extremely long memories, She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, my project’s administrative assistant, went out on disability at the end of November without prior notice and may never return. We’re hoping she never returns. We’re lighting candles in the hope that she never returns. We’d sell ourselves to the devil if needed if it guaranteed that she’d not return. Got the picture? Yeah, thought so.

Back in Bland Diego, er, San Diego, I’ve decided to relocate myself to a less costly but still nice set of digs. Packing is hell, clearly my most hated of activities. Still, there is a degree of adventure digging into closets holding boxes of stuff which have remained untouched for over six years. Last night I found a lovely clock radio which has incredible sound quality and had been buried in a plastic tub of ancient electronics items. Problem is that the radio doesn’t work properly any longer. Why did I keep it? Damned if I know! Perhaps I need an intervention.

This weekend just past involved a birthday party for a good friend. About a dozen guests in all, it involved a casual dinner at a rather nice Mexican restaurant I’d never eaten at. The strange part was when two of the guests departed before dinner orders were placed. No farewells that I saw, they may have waved at the birthday boy before leaving. Kreskin would have been impressed. This would have not been notable were it not for a second couple who departed in much the same fashion after gobbling down dinner. Did I mention that I was seated next to this second couple? Did I mention that we knew one another and have many mutual friends? They merely stood up, handed the party organizer some money, and were gone. Is there some new 21st century social practice that sanctions such actions? Or am I, in addition to suffering increasing senility, living in an antediluvian world of courtesy?

And speaking of feeling out of touch, in the past two weeks I’ve had two good friends announce that they have found men who are their true loves and this after dating for a matter of a few weeks. We’re talking rings and picket fences here folks. It makes me wonder if partnering is now as simple as microwave popcorn. And about as satisfying. Yes, I believe that love at first sight is possible but still...

So, what is the moral of this missive? I don’t know that there is one. I’ve posted. I feel fulfilled.
rickps: (Cafe Rick - 11/08)
Note to the one or two who still foolishly look for LJ posts from me – After an extended hiatus, the urge to fill bandwidth with my ramblings has come upon me once again. My master plan is to post something each week. But no promises!

As a kid, I was darn picky when it came to food. My mother was, shall we say, not the greatest cook. On steak night, Mom would insist on broiling the steak we’d eat at the highest shelf of the broiler. Of course, the steak would curl from the heat, a fact that she never seemed to realize. When she’d yank the broiler drawer open, the steak would be shoved off the back of the broiler pan into the innards of the oven. She’d scream for my father, Alfred, and he’d rescue the now dust covered meat. And so it became a ritual, I’d know our steak dinner was ready whenever I heard “Al!” yelled at the top of my mother’s lungs.

But I diverge… Picky foodage. I loved hamburgers but getting one with cheese on top was an affront to society. But when it came to grilled cheese sandwiches, which I loved beyond measure, the more cheese, the better! Bread, bread, and more bread! Living down the street from a real Jewish bakery, the smell of fresh rye to this day makes me drool. And then there were vegetables… Peas, carrots and corn were just fine. I recall thinking that you could tell how good they were because of their bright merry colors. Beans on the other hand were devil’s spawn. It didn’t matter if they were green, lima, pinto, they were all horrendous and guaranteed to make me gag. Given a plate of mixed vegetables, I’d pick out the ones I liked and leave a sizable mound of rejects. My frugal father would sigh heavily and make reference to his depression era childhood when “we were happy to have food on our table”.

And so it was into my teen and college years. Bean free and damn proud of it. I gave in and allowed cheese on my burger but that was the limit of my willingness to compromise. So there! Then, my second job after getting out of college was in lower Manhattan, a short stroll from Chinatown. I’d never been big on Chinese food either (it looked weird and had odd tastes) but then my co-workers dragged me into one of the many Chinese eateries and I found heaven on a plate. I still wasn’t about to eat anything I couldn’t clearly identify but present something yummy on a bed of rice and I was happy beyond words. I was thunderstruck one day to discover that I was relishing the taste of green beans! Yes, my wall of purity had been breached. I’d order entrees because they featured green beans as a key component. My profligate lifestyle had its limits though. A lima bean still had the look of alien origin. And don’t, DON’T get me onto brussel sprouts, ever.

Once the floodgates were opened, other vegetables snuck down my gullet. Broccoli, squash, and more were coveted. Where would it stop??

It stopped here in San Diego. For reasons I have yet to comprehend, you cannot find a green bean. Go to your local supermarket and there may be a lonely package or two in the freezer section but that’s about it. Choose a mixed veggie side order at the diner and every veggie you can name arrives except green beans. Is there a bean ban in SoCal, gotta wonder.

And so, here I am, living in the bottom left hand corner of the US, green bean challenged. Sad, so sad.


Feb. 13th, 2011 08:47 am
rickps: (Travel)
Baltimore, what can I say? Not the place I’d choose for a company meeting in February but then I wasn’t given options. I was to attend, that’s it. Having lived about a half hour south of downtown for about 3 years back in the 1990’s before moving to San Diego, I hold a fair memory of the place.

Now the first thing you need to know about Baltimore is how to pronounce the city’s name. Imagine for a moment that you’ve got 3 marbles in your mouth (no, not the big jawbreaker sized dealies but the smaller bag of marbles sized that kids used to play with in the day). And now try to say “Baltimore” without choking on a marble. Yep, ‘Bal’mer’, that’s it, you’re a native. I hope you’ve not just swallowed a marble.

There’s a funny thing about cities in the US. The big ones, like New York, LA, and Chicago are ones nearly everyone knows something about. But then there’s the lower tiered hamlets that tend to lack memorability. These cities have their allure, certainly, and people generally know where they are. But if you ask, for example, “what’s the biggest attraction in Baltimore (pronounced not like a native)?” most folks will give you a blank stare. Such is the case of me and Bal’mer. Yes, I lived near the place for 3 years. I’ve driven through a zillion times. Yet I know nearly nothing about it. I’d heard about the Inner Harbor but never spent any significant time there. Until this week.

You can see that the Inner Harbor is Bal’mer’s attempt at drawing the tourist dollar before they fall into the morass of Foggy Bottom or venture further north to Philly or New Yawk. All the major chain restaurants, a relatively impressive aquarium, it would have been nice to wander around.

Oh, did I mention it was cold? Winter, what a concept. Being the Inner Harbor (“a direct waterway to the ocean!” I was told), the winds whip off the water. 19 degrees and windy. Bought gloves the first day. My one remaining cold weather coat, which is rapidly approaching voting age, did next to nothing to keep the chill out. My blood has indeed turned to iced tea. Did I mention that it was cold?

My employer, a large French owned conglomerate that you’ve never heard of, decided to have our ‘fun’ night at the National Aquarium. Unique place in that unlike more of its fellow fish houses, it’s relatively vertical. Up an escalator, look at the fish, up another escalator, more fish, and on and on. My fellow corporateistas speculated that we’d be catching our dinner from one of the tanks. I was doubtful. Bal’mer’s cuisine involves crab. Like the old Monty Python skit about Spam (“Spam, spam, eggs, sausage, and spam”), everything includes crab including, I think the beverages. With my seafood allergy, it looked for a while that I’d be on an enforced starvation diet for several days. However, the gods of filet mignon smiled and I got fed. The crab cakes that languished on my dinner place were not amused.

And so, on Friday, when the meetings ground to an end, I boarded a train for New York, I bid a farewell to Bal’mer. I doubt if I’ll be back any time soon. And yes, thanks for asking, it was cold.


Nov. 23rd, 2010 07:47 pm
rickps: (Default)

For reasons that don’t really matter, I’ve made very few good friends here in San Diego. Ronnie is an exception. What started out as a simple masseur/client relationship slowly built into one of those special friendships you find now and then if you’re very, very fortunate. Despite backgrounds that were about as different as night and day, Ronnie and I connected. There has been no subject that we couldn’t talk about. Since we met about three years ago, it’s been a rare day when we haven’t traded messages up and back usually with some little joke attached.

This afternoon I received a call from Ronnie’s ex. Ronnie suffered an embolism on Sunday which took his life today.

Ronnie leaves behind children and grandchildren, all of whom I believe loved their big gay dad. They were special lights in his life with whom he shared the bright, bright light in his soul.

Ronnie had another passion in his life, and that was music. He was a remarkably talented guitarist, had a decent singing voice, and wrote most of his own songs. Ronnie wrote from his heart. If Ronnie felt something, it went into his music. The funny thing is that Ronnie was partially deaf and could barely hear without his aid. He was never going to be a great singer. His compositions were never going to top the charts. But he loved making music and sharing it with those in his life. And that’s all that matters.

I saw Ronnie this past Thursday. He had been asked to perform a 30 minute set at a local club and had invited me to come along. The rather poor picture at the top of this post with my phone was taken at that show. One of his daughters, her new boyfriend, and I formed Ronnie’s cheering section. He barely needed it. As he seemed to do wherever he performed, he charmed his audience with his humor and his warmth. After the show, he gave away a few copies of his latest CD to those who showed a particular interest. Ronnie did such things without thought for remuneration. It was just something he did.

We went out for a quick snack afterwards, toasted his performance, and shared his joy at having been scheduled for a return engagement in a couple of weeks. Ronnie was floating on air and I knew it. He walked me back to my car and we hugged and I repeated the farewell I always used with Ronnie, “I love ya, big guy”. As he walked away, he waved and smiled. It was a very special evening for us both.

And now Ronnie’s gone. In 50 some odd years, the man did a lot and has left a very special legacy. I feel honored to have known him and to have called him friend. My heart is aching tonight.

I love ya, big guy.
rickps: (Default)
Over the last year or so I’ve been struggling to focus on the subject of retirement. There’s a part of me that has never accepted the concept of a non-working life. Perhaps it’s a ghostly reminder of my father’s depression era mantra that “you should be happy that you have a job”. Retirement (and apologies to my friends happily in retirement now) is for old people, dammit! There’s also the conundrum of being retired and having the time to do all those things you can’t do now BUT, not having an income, being unable to afford such things.

Could I really survive with tons of free time? You have to understand that when I’m on vacation, I tend to go stir crazy after two weeks. I need to be productive, even if it’s pushing papers from one side of my desk to the other. What about part time? Well, my field doesn’t lend itself to such things, certainly not in my current assignment.

On the other side of the coin, I’m tired of the work grind. There’s a painful sameness about each day and a remarkable lack of ‘new’ in what I do. Am I going, one day, to keel over at my desk and alert the world that I’m gone from the stack of “you’re late submitting….” Emails? It’s an answer, that’s for sure.

We’ll also push aside considerations of whether or not I can afford to retire. Other than the observation that it sounds amazingly silly that retirement should have such a profound economic impact.

So, the circle of thoughts goes round and round with seemingly no end in sight. There’s got to be something funny in all of this...
rickps: (Default)
And so my day in the San Diego court system has come to an end. More with a whimper than a scream.

I was called to jury selection in a group of 40 for a criminal trial. A woman was being taken to court by the City with four counts against her, all related to use of PCP. We were told that there was a huge potential of witnesses including many police officers.

The court had elected to draw names for the jury. I was selected a juror #4 and survived the judge's qualification questions. We broke for lunch and were told to return at 2PM. To my surprise, we were not allowed back in the courtroom at 2PM. As the minutes ticked by, curiosity mounted, at least in my mind. Around 3 we were finally escorted back to our seats. "Good news/bad news" the judge announced. Bad news was that there would not be a trial. The opposing sides had come to a deal at the eleventh hour. We never learned what that deal was. But the good news was that we were done for the day and for this round of jury service.

Frankly, I was disappointed. I wanted to serve on a jury. I enjoy the trial process. Funny how I came away feeling cheated.
rickps: (Default)
One of my all time favorite movies is 1957's 12 Angry Men (not to be confused with the horrible 1997 remake). Starring (among others) Henry Fonda, it's a taut telling of a jury's deliberations while onsidering the guilt or innocence of a young man accused of murdering his abusive father.  In classic dramatic style, Fonda, as the only juror voting innocent (at first), forces his fellow jurors to examine each bit of evidence.  The entire movie takes place in a single room.  It's an amazing example of a thrilling story that doesn't need CGI and gore to draw you fully in.

This movie always comes to mind whenever I'm called for jury duty as I am today.  I'm always impressed by the mix of folks that arrive in the Jury Lounge.  San Diego is a relatively diverse community with a broad spectrum of cultures and backgrounds.  Yet some of us will end up on a jury together.  Based on the introductory comments, the crowd today is small enough and the court load sufficiently heavy that we'll all be called for jury selection at least once.

I've served on two juries over the years, once on a criminal case, the other a civil trial.  Both were fascinating experiences.  That 12 people can come to agreement on anything staggers the imagination.  Yet in both of those cases, we did, except for one of the criminal charges.  I suppose this says that the jury trial system does work.

I've just been called for jury selection.  Wish me luck!
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My second weekend in the new Palm Springs house, I'm excited.  The plans for the weekend run the gamut...


Install new phone and wireless router (fingers crossed that Verizon has set up systems as promised)

Tour friends around the new place, dinner at their lovely home, and back to my place for some time in the pool and spa


Await arrival of DirecTV installer (sigh, they're never cute) to hook up TV service

Drop into Hunters weekly 'social'.  As someone who rarely drinks and doesn't like noisy bar settings, I'll be curious to see how long I survive.  Not sure if, post dinner, I'll drop in at Spurline (AKA Flatline) for showtunes


If I drank, it'd be sitting around the pool all day drinking.  Instead, I'll probably go furniture shopping.  Not a good substitute but it's classically me.


Brunch with friends.

Likely a last spash in the pool.


rickps: (Twilight Zone)

In 1964, the original Twilight Zone TV series came to an end.  Although there have been attempts at reviving this legendary show (including a so-so movie), none have ever truly caught on.  Rod Serling's vision is one of memory... and DVD.

Today, my own personal Twilight Zone came to an end. 

For those who might have read my post of a couple of weeks ago, you'll know that two friends and I had made an offer on a house in Palm Springs.  The seller, a strange middle aged woman, who we nicknamed Barbie, decided half way through escrow to arbitrarily (and quite in breech of the sale agreement) attempt to stop escrow and retain the house.  Now understand that Barbie owned the house for only nine months, having purchased it out of foreclosure, and had rented it out as a vacation property while she lived elsewhere.  Her explanation for her capritious act "my situation has changed".  We were faced with finding legal representation to force Barbie to honor the sale agreement.

Here's what's happened since...

Friday, July 10 - Barbie, through her realtor, files a cancellation of escrow, stopping the escrow process

Monday, July 12 - After a weekend of Emails and phone calls, the three of us secure legal services

Tuesday, July 13 - Barbie receives a sternly worded letter from our lawyer promising some very ugly repercussions if she does not permit the escrow to continue.

Wednesday, July 14 - Barbie, again through her realtor, removes her request to cancel escrow

Thursday, July 15 to Monday, July 19 - Escrow company computers fail, Emails are lost, documentation in disarray, frustration level mounts

Tuesday, July 20, 2:00PM - We receive a note from the escrow company that Barbie has Emailed them a note (entirely, and I think deliberately, ignoring her realtor) once again stopping escrow.  Mushroom clouds of anger rise from us, our realtor, the seller's realtor, and the mortgage company

Tuesday, July 20, 4:00PM - Under what we believe to be the threat of several lawsuits, Barbie removes her request, allowing escrow to continue.  Radiation damage is extensive

Wednesday, July 21 - The mortgage funds

Thursday, July 22 - A miracle happens, the purchase is recorded, we own a house

So, if you're looking for me this weekend, look here...

rickps: (Relay the Deucey)
Although I no longer square dance, I still follow developments in the Bay Area square dance community. And, as a past President of Foggy City Dancers, one of the first gay clubs to form in the US a whole bunch of years ago, I will always hold the club in a special place in my heart.

Just now I received an announcement from Foggy City's current president indicating that with limited Board membership, low attendance at club events, and a whole host of issues (many of which are common all across the gay square dance community), the club must have a General Meeting to consider dissolution.

I cannot say how saddened I am by this news.
rickps: (Relay the Deucey)
The IAGSDC (International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs) Annual Convention kicks off tomorrow.  Chicago this year.  And I can honestly say I'm feeling numb about it.  I'd completely forgotten about the annual convention hoopla and the gathering of the faithful.

Which is something of a surprise to me.  For 11 years I was a devoted (can we say obsessive?) square dancer.  For five (I think) of those years, I was Prez of one of San Francisco's gay square dance clubs and carried the message time and again of the purity and wonder that is square dancing out into the community.  Our square dance family celebrated the good times and grieved over the misfortunes of our family members.  I made some great friendships, and lost a few too.

And so today, when I would normally be winging my way to Chicago, a suitcase packed with monogrammed Tshirts, club badges, and trinkets dragging behind me, I find I don't care.  I'm relieved that I don't have to stress over those Advanced square dance calls that were never quite securely glued to my brain.  I can see so many other uses for the vacation time and dollars.  Yes, I miss some of my square dance friends.  But we still find ways of getting together without the need to 'square up'.

Maybe being numb is a good thing.  Wow.
rickps: (Travel)
Hello, hello? Is this thing on?

Yeah, OK, I've not posted in so long that some must suspect me dead or having returned to my home planet. Well, sorry to say, neither is the case. Mark it down to an even greater lack of creativity than is my norm, OK?

So, after a hellish several weeks of 12-14 hour work days, I treated myself to a week in the Big Apple, the city of my birth (or where the aliens dropped me off if you prefer), the city so great they had to name it twice... New York, New York (anyone who is channeling Sinatra singing right now gets bonus points - or On the Town for that matter).

What can I say about New York? It has always intimidated me. It's a city of too much. Too much action, too much food, too much to do even if you live there the rest of your life. My annual visits have developed a pattern - I come with a list of 'to do' interests. I get to about half of them. Then, while there, I always seem to add to the list making it longer than when I arrived. And when I leave, it's with a vow to return.

I'll save those who have actually read my journal over the years the pain and suffering of my endless ravings about Broadway shows I've just seen and do a separate post on that subject. It's not that interesting, not to worry.

New York is a city of experience. Not necessarily unique but unexpected more often than not. Take this trip...

Riding the crosstown shuttle, our crowded car was entertained by a gal (battery powered sound system and all) singing a wonderfully melodic rendition of a Donna Summer classic. She was good, really good.

Two blocks in one direction from the B&B I was residing at (in the Upper West 70s for those curious) was a 24/7 bagel outlet that made 'em fresh in boiling water at the back of the store. You have not lived until you've had a real bagel. And two blocks in the other direction were two independent markets that offered a dizzying array of homemade food products. You'll never go hungry in NYC, as long as you can afford to pay.

I think they need a new slogan "See Times Square and Die" (or Get Crushed to Death by the Crowds, or Blinded by the Billboards at Night).

The NYC subway system is something of a modern miracle. A confusing convoluted miracle.

Some things never change... When I was working in lower Manhattan, our group would make regular pilgrimages to Chinatown to Wo Hop, a very plain eatery with about a dozen tables and prices low enough to scare you. It's still there, still as good as I recall, and still has a crowd of folks waiting for a table most times of day. No, it's not gourmet but to quote an old saying, you can't eat atmosphere.

You know, there's a vibe about NYC that excites some folks and scares/irritates others. I consider myself fortunate to be in the former group.
rickps: (Default)

Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone, knowing instinctively that you'd be friends?  On rare occasions, I've had just that experience.  I'd met Stephen (LJ's own [livejournal.com profile] dakoopst) some four years ago when we were both attending a mutual friends commitment ceremony (Stephen insists that we also met at a Tucson bear run some years earlier but I honestly have no recollection of doing so, such is my failing memory).  Nearly instant rapport though we chatted only briefly, a feeling that I'd known him for years.  Nice, nice.

Fast forward to this past Thursday when Stephen came into town for a conference.  Over dinner, we talked of our lives, loves, aspirations.  We talked of people we knew in common, shared childhood experiences, our favorite TV shows.  At some point, I'm not certain why, we discovered an irresistable need to imitate porn legend Steve Hurley's "YeaUH Boy!".  Lots of laughter ensued, Stephen insisting that mine was the more authentic rendition.  YeaUH Boy!

Such a great evening.  Gotta love it when your instincts prove correct.

Oh yeah, he's cute as the dickens too, despite his denials.

Add a new friend to the list!

rickps: (Default)

7.2 Quake in Baja

Around 3:40PM today.  Several aftershocks.  No damage that I know of.  Commercials still on TV.  All is well.

Hmm, it's Easter Sunday.  I wonder what Pat Robertson will say about this one.

rickps: (Default)
Bridgekeeper: Stop. Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see.

Sir Lancelot: Ask me the questions, bridgekeeper. I am not afraid.

Bridgekeeper: What... is your name?

Sir Lancelot: My name is Sir Lancelot of Camelot.

Bridgekeeper: What... is your quest?

Sir Lancelot: To seek the Holy Grail.

Bridgekeeper: What... is your favourite colour?

Sir Lancelot: Blue.

Bridgekeeper: Go on. Off you go.

Sir Lancelot: Oh, thank you. Thank you very much.

Sir Robin: That's easy.

Bridgekeeper: Stop. Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see.

Sir Robin: Ask me the questions, bridgekeeper. I'm not afraid.

Bridgekeeper: What... is your name?

Sir Robin: Sir Robin of Camelot.

Bridgekeeper: What... is your quest?

Sir Robin: To seek the Holy Grail.

Bridgekeeper: What... is the capital of Assyria?


Sir Robin: I don't know that.

[he is thrown over the edge into the volcano]

Sir Robin: Auuuuuuuugh.

Bridgekeeper: Stop. What... is your name?

Galahad: Sir Galahad of Camelot.

Bridgekeeper: What... is your quest?

Galahad: I seek the Grail.

Bridgekeeper: What... is your favourite colour?

Galahad: Blue. No, yel...

[he is also thrown over the edge]

Galahad: auuuuuuuugh.

Bridgekeeper: Hee hee heh. Stop. What... is your name?

King Arthur: It is 'Arthur', King of the Britons.

Bridgekeeper: What... is your quest?

King Arthur: To seek the Holy Grail.

Bridgekeeper: What... is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

King Arthur: What do you mean? An African or European swallow?

Bridgekeeper: Huh? I... I don't know that.

[he is thrown over]

Bridgekeeper: Auuuuuuuugh.

So, as it's question month, if you've got questions you've always wanted to ask me, go for it.  You may get clever quips (well, as clever as I can be anyway) or serious answers.

And if you already know more than you ever wished to know about me, my sincere apologies.
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