Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Ideal Day - WEbring Assignment #5

This week's assignment comes from Ms. Maryment:

"If you could spend tomorrow doing anything (the "ideal day"), what would it be?
Compare/contrast this day with what your ideal day might have been 10 years ago."

All right, no bullshit about a won trial, a high powered meeting with the political elite, or winning big at off-track betting. This one's easy...

I go to bed in the next 30 (early with so many ready distractions), and get a full night rest. I awake up to the gurgling of Mr. Coffee, slats of light falling upon my down entwined slumber, NPR crackling through with stories of human fortitude, and Tuesday’s print ready to tile the dining room table. A warm shower, clean shave, and nuzzling from an unexpected guest. In short order, we hop in the car, turn up Royksopp, Damien Rice, DJ Kicks, or maybe Mama Cass, and forge a new commute that charts the congestion as it sails past it. We forge our morning drive across empty two lane roads, as far east as the roads lead (because I'm a closet beach person, something my mind hides from me for no particular reason). There we check in to a bungalow abutting the water, and rush out to be embraced by the warmth of the sun and scents of the ocean. As I lay on my back, a breeze swells, and it numbs my ability to hear what's around me. So instead I close my eyes, and I feel the sun, the wind, and his hand as he sleeps next to me. The afternoon brings a book, a block of cheese, a nap under a gentle ceiling fan. Dinner (beef, medium rare) is on a deck looking over the waves, candle lit, shorts and shirtsleeves, one bottle of wine. I am just sated following a shared desert. By 10 pm, the scene fades to black with enough time left in the day for big boy games.

10 years ago: I had just learned of such exciting things as the beach, friendships, and companionship. I would hope that I would have wished for the same thing. 10 years from now, I hope it would be the typical August Tuesday.

For more, read Friends at right:
Write Again Soon
Wish To See
A Little Meryment
Post No Bills
A Prize in Every Box

Monday, August 29, 2005

My Definition of Success - WEbring Assignment #4

This week's post comes thanks to Ms. Wish to See. [Hyperlinking is apparently not an option here at home so I'll have to do it from my computer at work tomorrow... which technically is in a very large baggie right now, so don't hold your breath.] If you’re just tuning in, each week someone posts a topic and we each blog on it. Everyone is getting anxious as they run out of responsible people to generate ideas and we narrow in on my inevitable turn (#6, no doubt).

I've thought about this one for a bit. Despite the diversity of approaches taken by the others, I simply can't divorce this question from thoughts on my career. I suppose this says something about my own priorities and prioritization of career "success." I agree with Ms. Write Again Soon that financial security is important. Not sheer wealth, of course. I always bristle when people say "Oh, she's a very successful taxidermist," in which they don't mean she stuffs a lot of animals per hour, or that they are objectively very well stuffed, or even that she creatively puts them in hilarious everyday positions. Rather, they mean she makes bank.

I do rate financial security as an imperative. Some financial autonomy would be nice too -- the chance to live in the neighborhood of my choice, and to have enough experiences to enrich my exposure in this lifetime. Other than that, I'm not counting my ducks as the measure of my success.

So upon reflection, I've determined that my definition of success is autonomy. Not complete autonomy, as I appreciate working within structured institutions, especially because I do believe that ones efforts have exponential effect when acting in unison with others to a common goal. When your efforts are in conflict with those around you, of course, the result is the depletion of anyone's effectiveness. Regardless, I enjoy my exposure to colleagues and the opportunities both to persuade and to learn.

Within these institutions, we come in at junior levels, where much of what we do is at the behest of others. Success to me would come when I've impressed these “others” with the quality of my work and have been given additional responsibility and trust. With that comes the potential for advancement to higher positions, more responsibility, and more autonomy. Eventually, one who is successful would reach a level of partnership with the others guiding the direction of the institution, and would have a say in its mission, goals, and resulting product.

For more, read:
Write Again Soon
Wish To See
A Little Meryment
Post No Bills

A Prize in Every Box

Friday, August 26, 2005

Goals: Summer & Beyond

It's been over a month since I went to St. Thomas, and damn near time I got my goals up here for the world to see. After all, what's a goal without accountability? These were the product of a drunken night (okay afternoon) with Blue Like Mine. But what do you expect when you put two hyper, over-achieving, urban YoungPros on an island with nothing to do but drink rum and muse on their existence? Soon the back of an envelope turns into short- and long-range goals for self-improvement.

Because TCR decided recently to demand that my IDP (Individual Development Plan) include "target dates," these goals do too. Some dates have passed, but TCR is all about "extensions," so I figure its fitting.

1. Establish a comfortable & organized living space. Date: 8/15
Status: Okay, we're about half way there. I moved rooms, painted the walls (the red killed me), got a real, actual BIG BOY bed, and bought bedding from my favorite hotel at The W Hotel Store. The bedding is great, but the pillows aren't big enough. Last week I was the Hyatt, the pillows were amazing, and I pulled out the tag to find the Pacific Coast Feather Co. I'll get right on that. As for the piles-o-crap, they're next. New date: 9/15 (lets be reasonable)
2. Continue & fortify my volunteering. Date 7/31
Status: Soooooo not my fault. I got approved from the ethics officer to take pro bono cases, and found a place that has a legal clinic for HIV-related employment discrimination. My forte! [that's pronounced as one syllable, not two.] But they REFUSE to call me back, so I spend my days hounding them on v-mail.
3. Incorporate artistry into my life (painting, photography, etc). Date: 8/31
Status: I had a brief painting fit a while back, but nothing lately. I need to find a photo lab NOW.
4. Weight 165. Date: 10/15
Status: Natural weight is 155. The flu last fall dropped me to 150. I'm proud to say that with 3000 to 4000 calories a day (all I do is eat), I weighed in at 156 today! That's six pounds in maybe 2 weeks! This one we might actually do by the target date.
5. Resolve Buffalo. Date: 8/31
Status: Buffalo is a sordid tale. Sadly, it looks to be resolved no sooner than September 3. Inquire within for details.
6. Restart academic research & writing. Date: Collect - 8/15; Organize - 9/15; write draft - 10/15
Status: Research collected. Check. Organizing will ensue shortly.

There we have it. Simple and straight forward. Stay posted!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

UPDATE: F*%# You, You F*%#ing F*%#!!!

The third police district has finally posted their list of incidents from August 4, 2005. I found my little police report. Please relish in the glory with me:

PSA 306
8/4/2005 10:45:00 AM Hours
1600 Block U ST NW
CCN #05103828

There were many other thefts that day, including thefts from cars, and several thefts OF cars. Nothing too bad, but at least I wasn't robbed at gun or knife point like others. I love me neighborhood!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Guilty Pleasures - WEbring Assignment #3

This weeks assignment, from NYC Rouge, is: Please confess a particular guilty pleasure that brings you some bit of shame.

Recoring Britney Spears videos and then learning the dance moves in my living room. 'Nuff said.

For more, read these entries:
Write Again Soon
Wish To See

A Little Meryment
Post No Bills

A Prize in Every Box

Monday, August 15, 2005

Body Modification - WEbring Assignment #2

Yes, I am very behind on this one (a whole week). I'm racing to get it up in time for this week's assignment. That said, what does someone say about Body Modification?

Well, I can start by stating that I have three piercing, two of which are actively adorned. I have no real plans of removing them. Maybe when I turn 30? I have to say, it brings me quite a bit of joy to be an attorney working in a job with people twice my age and going in to meetings where I know there will be occasional glints of silver emanating from my mouth. It usually takes co-workers a month or more to finally ask. In my previous job, I went and audited organizations who could do nothing about the young kid in a suit with tongue ring across the conference table from them.

I wish I could get more, but there's nothing that I would want -- except maybe a surface piercing on the back of my neck. That's a bar that would go at the base of the neck, but would be insanely painful since it goes through so much skin. Honestly, it might not even look good on me, but I saw a guy in a business suit with two a year ago and it was very hot. I guess I'm a sucker for a well-dressed body modifier.

I have no tattoos, but mostly because I'm too fickle for anything to matter to me for that long a period of time. Again, I was at an art studio yesterday, and a very attractive man in a preppie outfit had tattoos coming out of his shirt sleeves and collar, and it was strangely attractive.

I am an avid fan of more extreme body modification, though I could never do it myself. Georgetown's piercing parlor used to have a website that linked to some very extreme body modification efforts. We used to explore it during late nights in college. Freakiest thing on there: men who pump their ball sacs full of saline for the pleasure/pain sensation.

I'll leave you with that. For more from this Webring:
A Prize In Every Box * Write Again Soon * Wish to See * Post No Bills * A Little Maryment

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Where do we belong?

I've finally gotten around to checking out FindYourSpot.com, at the recommendation of Write Again Soon. It seems my top 5 of the exact same as Red, although in a different order. [Red, refusing to blog herself, has posted her thoughts on Write Again Soon.]

So here's my top 5:
1. New Haven, CT
2. Providence, RI
3. Boston, MA
4. Worcester, MA
5. Hartford, CT

There were many MA and CT cities, as well as a healthy peppering of the rest of the Mid-Atlantic, with occasional representation from the South and the West Coast.

But what's a bit disturbing about the website is that it seems to believe that at least a small fraction of those who take the survey will then start apartment/house/job hunting in one of these destinations they have identified for them. As I already elluded to in my comments to W.A.S., what this survey ignores is the relationships one has developed in our current cities, friends and familial, that can not be replaced easily were I to uproot and head to New Haven.

This is, in short, one thing that I think is wrong with America. We think we're so very independent, and that we'll be fine, so we discount the importance of these relationships as we go off chasing some other priority. I'm not saying I didn't do it as well, heading to NYC for school, but the assumption was that I would return. On the contrary, I get so mad at people who decide to retire and then move to the Southwest, only to bemoan their distance from grandchildren, depleated water table, excessive forest fires, etc. WELL WHAT THE HELL DID YOU THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN?!

On a smaller scale, I even get annoyed when people move across the region. Is the size of your house really more important than proximity to friends, family, work, and community? I know its not that simple, and I know I left the town my parents raised me in. But then again, we were relocated there when I was younger anyway, and EVERY SINGLE FRIEND has left that town since I left for undergrad (albeit not far). But my relationship with my family does suffer as a result -- I see my parents and brother perhaps monthly. The rest of my family, having been left across the country as we moved when I was younger, I see no more than once annually. On a day-to-day basis, I act as a sole individual, with no family.

I see this in the cities all of the time. The Lower East Side of Manhattan used to be the vibrant center of the immigrant Jewish community. Its still Jewish, but its mostly the grandparents, while the following generation moved to Long Island and the generation after that has moved beyond. Did running to L.I. find better schools and bigger houses, at the expense of the community lost by not being in a place entirely surrounded by the people you live and work and worship with? Did that second generation get fat with consumption and the other ills of suburbia? And all along, they probably applaud their choice every day, except maybe when cursing the traffic on the Long Island Expressway when heading back in to see grandma or go to a Broadway show.

I see it in DC too. My neighborhood is littered with old churches, almost one per city block, which largely sit dormant all week long, as voids in the neighborhood's fabric, only to be under-attended each Sunday morning by a congregation that drives in from PG County and chokes our streets with their double parking. The churches provide no sense of community to the residents who live here (since they are not ours) and the traffic just gets in our way. Meanwhile, these weekly visitors imply to me that they have not found a replacement community in the suburbs they ran to. So what was the point?

So no, I will not be going to New Haven. DC is my home, and my relationships are here. I am invested in its past and future. I hope to travel for work, and can't say I won't have stints in other cities, but I'm not going to seek it out as a panacea. I'll strive for employment here, I'll look for love here, and I'll hope to raise a family here. And if I don't like the schools, or the crime, or something else, I'll do what I always do -- write a letter, get involved, inform myself and my neighbors; not run.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Every day people amaze me

Each day, living in the microcosm that is DC, and especially the Dupont/Logan neighborhood, I'm amazed by the actions of others. The quite beautiful photo above, credited to a C.J. Julian, is from last Friday, when a local resident, age 27, realized he was falling into a Crystal Meth addiction (something whose current grip on the gay community in DC is hard to overstate), and decided to speak out about it on 17th Street (ground zero of gay DC). He's also chronicling his story (only 12 days old) on his website here: Crystal Meth. Its an enlightening read. Especially check out the other pictures of him on 17th Street.

What amazes me, and thus I want to share, is how open and notorious he has made his current situation. He hides nothing. You can watch his message change, from "I use Crystal Meth" to "I don't need Crystal Meth" to "I choose not to use Crystal Meth." When he first decided to start this public dialogue, he e-mailed everyone: friends, co-workers, even his parents. Their responses are included. His banners are shockingly blunt and direct, discussing his experiences this summer without apologizing for them.

It fascinates me.

F*%# You, You F*%#ing F*%#!!!

Yesterday I was at the gym for my weekly training session (weight gained: 0; time to ramp up the calorie intake), and upon returning to the locker room, I found my locker open.

Now, I'm not going to draw conclusions about fault. I bought a knock-off lock because I was in a hurry. I remember checking it. But what can I say?

Inside, my backpack and pants were missing. I alerted the front desk, and while I started canceling credit cards, they searched empty lockers and trash cans. The bag and pants were recovered (too bad, since the security cameras in the common areas would have identified the culprit), and this meant I got my keys and work security credentials back -- a relief.

Lost: iPod, cash, credit cards, driver's license, health insurance card.

On the upside, I've already rectified most of this. Filed a police report. Cards are cancelled, and new ones are being overnighted to me. Borrowed cash from a friend. Filed a renter's insurance claim for the items and hopefully will get some cash. Put a 90-day fraud alert on all my credit watches (thinking about paying for a 7-year one, what with the Boogie Man... ahem, I mean Identify Theft... out there lurking).

I'm very sad about my iPod, because it was wonderful, and the new ones suck. But the new ones are bigger and in color, so I guess I'll live. I can't afford a new one, but that new credit card will be here soon enough. :) Now I need more space on my hard drive to hold more songs to put on the new bigger iPod.

I'm also going to do some research and draft a letter to the gym. First, I'll thank the very helpful people, who did everything to assist me. Then I'll say that in such a high-end gym, this is unacceptable. There should be surveillance cameras in the locker room. First, its different from a dressing room at a store, because there isn't an expectation of privacy. If I walk around naked in front of a dozen people, I certainly don't care if you have it on tape. Anyone you gave the tape to could just come to the locker room. Second, they could put up a sign, and then keep the system secured so no one has access to it unless something happens, like somebody's stuff is ganked. Someone trolling around the swanky locker room grabbing stuff, going through it, then stashing it in another locker shouldn't be happening.

Put that down for my goal of the day, right after I go to MD to convince them I'm still a resident, so I can get a DL and then take it to DC, just to trade it in.

F*%# You, You F*%#ing F*%#!!!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Tourism in [the District of] Columbia - WEbring Assignment #1

In working downtown and walking to and from work each day, I once again have the opportunity to be exposed to a large number of tourists in our nation's capital. As I'm not encountering them on the subway, and thus they are not gawking on the wrong side of the elevator and impeding my commute, I can observe them from a place of neutrality.

First, the are easy to spot: T-shirts, sneakers, shorts, fanny pack, Caucasian, and usually in a pack that includes two parental figures and several children in various stages of disrepair, staring at a map on the back of a bus kiosk. Some of these elements are always going to be present, and I don't begrudge them these, such as their familial status. Others, for the love of Christ, could be helped if not for their general ignorance of how fashion need not be sacrificed for utility. In case your reading, dear traveler, I can assure you: many of us here in Washington find a way to walk about this city EVERY DAY without need for a little pouch of Kleenex in a fanny pack. Yes, this is possible the least fashionable way of carrying extra items with you. May I suggest a backpack, purse, or even use of a pocket or two. Please understand that this is not some Amazon rainforest -- you don't need to take it all with you. If you need a BandAid, we have a helpful CVS or RiteAid on every corner. More importantly, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO NEED A FREAKIN BANDAID. I would advise on the clothing choices, but something tells me that you wear oversized t-shirts that say "East Yaphank Cherry Pickin Festival, Summer 1992" everyday, so I really can't help you out on that one. When you discover polos, we'll talk. I remember with fondness the week I spent in Italy in college where we packed all our black dress clothes, and bought leather jackets there, and were mistaken by several of your East Yaphank neighbors time and time again as Italians. "You're English is so good!" they'd say. Granted, they were chowing down on a Family Pack from McDonald's, so clearly assimilation was not their forte, but still, it made me smile.

Despite all these opinions of our tourists, mostly I just feel bad for them (and not in a patronizing way). I watch them walking up L Street from their hotel, and I think: Wow, this must suck for you. To begin with, its L Street. Downtown, business-district DC does suck. Its utilitarian in that it employs us, but its not interesting. Most of these hotels they are staying in are right on the line between this business-district and the slowly-gentrifying-but-still-rundown Logan Circle area (Massachusetts Ave. being the line of demarcation). While gentrification and urban grit can make living here interesting, again its not interesting for a tourist. Leaving your hotel for BandAids at CVS and passing a hooker on Scott Circle certainly isn't what I would want for my family vacation. That's on the order of a family vacation to Baltimore, or Buffalo, or Cincinnati. I'd pass on those too.

I'm sure the artificial Mall and museum area is nice enough (and free), but I wouldn't travel far to visit it. And to be honest, a lot of the museums and cultural events sponsored by the Federal government suck too. Some of the most innovative things the Smithsonian does aren't in their dated museums, but are the programs they put on for, guess who -- locals. And most of what makes DC unique (the politics, the power) are things that it takes a local to learn how to explore, and they're going to miss out on it.

So, dear tourist, I will smile and look approachable so you can ask me directions. I just can't promise not to look disappointed for you when you tell me your destination...

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