daily preciousness

Sunday, December 31, 2000

journey of man

I'm sitting at Amy's computer, eating Belgian honeywheat bread. I am also taking an incredible risk by eating some yogurt 3 weeks past its expiration date. But I ALWAYS live life on the edge, so that's nothing new to me.

I just got back from a great evening of exotic entertainment in our nation's capitol. Some new friends and I went to a drag show last night. It was very entertaining. The performers were very enthusiastic and funny. My favorite was a wonderwoman impersonator. She also did a great rendition of "Missionary Man" made up to look like that old film star who warns her little girl not to use wire hangers. (I know that film is in the gay canon, but I can't seem to remember the actress. Sorry. Take away my gay card or something.)

I met some friendly folks and got invited back to someone's house for after-clubbing drinks and other refreshments. It was relaxing and pleasant. I got to practice my Spanish, which was great.

Last week around this time, I met Maurizio, a flighty but friendly gymbunny from El Salvador. We went to see the Natural History Museum and the National Sculpture Garden Friday. Maurizio showed me the Hope Diamond and introduced me to a new IMAX movie, "The Journey of Man" featuring the Circ du Soliel. It was amazingly beautiful and dreamlike. The imagery was incredible, as if the cast of characters had just waltzed out of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. Fascinating stuff. It told the tale of Man's quest for knowledge throughout the ages with dance, acrobatics and gorgeous music.

After the museum, I took Maurizio to an ice skating rink on the National Sculpture Garden on the Mall. He'd never skated before, so I taught him. He wasn't bad at all. He didn't fall down once. I was proud of him. After the hour of ice skating, he bought me a wonderful light lunch. The little cafe was so crowded that I had to search for a chair for him throughout the 10 minutes that he stood in line for hot chocolate. I finally got one, then someone else stole it from me without asking. (They must have been very sneaky about it, because I didn't notice it was missing until right before he came back!) Luckily, a table nearby cleared out just in time. It was a better place, though, with a nice view of some of the outdoor works of one of the sculptures called "Cluster of four cubes."

After a leisurely meal, I went home for a brief nap. Then, Maurizio took me and his buffed-up gym friend, Jorge to see the National Christmas tree. What a beautiful specimen! And so was the tree. The wind whipped around us so fiercely that I was afraid for my ears. Thank God I got a new red cap for Chrimbo. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) I put it to good use protecting my sensitive little lobes. The White House glowed beautifully in the twilight. But the real treat was the yule log pit. It seems odd that something so simple would bring so much pleasure, but that little pit of burning wood was exactly what my nearly frostbitten extremities needed.

Cafe Luna is a trendy little eatery that was written up in the Out and About guidebook Gay DC guidebook. We went there for a light supper after the tree-viewing. The veggie chili was completely bland. I had to kick it up a knotch with some Tabasco. (Thank God that most of the food hasn't been bland here. It's really not bad at all!)

I wrote to a friend in New Zealand earlier this afternoon. She was planning a "girl power" New Year's -- sort of a "kiss 'em and leave 'em" deal. I guess that's all good. Maybe I should do the same thing this year and not worry myself with any social baggage. Just a simple "Kiss me, you fool, it's New Years!" should be enough. Nothing more required.

Thank God Maurizio invited me to his friend's New Year's bash. At least I won't spend the evening alone or at a bar. A private gathering is much better, I think, in terms of meeting people and feeling comfortable.

Happy 2001, world.

Thursday, December 28, 2000

southwest airlines sucks

I just got in from my Christmas holiday this morning at 3:30 a.m. It was a long day.

Let's just get it straight right off the bat. Southwest Airlines better have a strong interest in Buddhism. Because I can't think of any reason why I should forgive them for the seemingly endless cycle of suffering I went through yesterday because of them.

Yes, like the pitiful human being that I am, I realized that all life is suffering and pain during the time I spent yesterday under the auspices of Southwest Airlines.

The plane that was to take me from Jackson, Mississippi to Baltimore, Maryland, arrived two hours late. That was *just* late enough to make me miss the last commuter train from the airport to DC, where I am staying.

When the plane finally arrived, there was a so-called "medical emergency" which further delayed my boarding. Now, I'm full of compassion and I've just got gobs of bleeding heart sympathies, but just because somebody is having heart palpatations or is going into labor, I don't think that they should get any special treatment. If they want to become ill and inconvenience everyone, let them do it on their own time. Or let them do it at work. (Maybe the rest of the office will get the day off.) But don't allow a so-called "emergency" mess up my transfer!

Well, it *did* mess me up royally. Because not only was I too late for the last commuter train, I had to wait until the late late late late Amtrak train. (Amtrak is a Yankee word for overpriced trains that smell funny.)

The flight itself wasn't so bad -- the sassy stewardesses -- um, I mean "attendants" -- were funny and full of attitude. The honey-roasted peanuts? I give them a B+. (They would've earned an A, if only the portions would've been larger.)

The ride from Union Station was in a creaky "Senate Taxi" cab that was piloted by Sergei, the balding Russian who kept clearing out his ear with his little finger. I guess the vodka makes for itchy ears.

But I won't dwell on that. Let's try to remain cheerful and optimistic, shall we? Okay. I'll give it a try.

Well, the bright spot during the long, trying day was either (A) spending an extra-long time with the family at the Jackson airport or (B) the wacky Russian cabbie who took me home from Union Station or (C) the wonderful serendipity of meeting a friendly New Orleans girl at the Baltimore Airport who kept me company on the way home.

So what's the lesson to this sorry tale? Well, first of all, don't piss me off with any fake medical trauma. Second, never ever fly Southwest Airlines. Lastly, if you insist on the first two, at least supply me with a comical Russian taxi driver.

Tuesday, December 12, 2000

Wash out

My first week in Washington D.C. went really well. It's a sunny Sunday afternoon and I am thrilled to say that the last seven days have exceeded all expectations I had for my internship experience.

The job is great. I am writing, editing, re-working, wordsmithing and doing all the things I love doing. When I'm not writing stories and preparing press releases, I am getting to know the staff and learning what exactly they do.

It's been the best lesson in civics that I've had in a long time. While I'm writing about House and Senate committees, I am learning about the inner workings and peculiarities of them.

The weather has been milder than I'd expected. That's a relief. Amy, my sweet host and Lester, her other houseguest and also a good friend, bought me a bright tangerine peanut hat to keep my head warm and my ears toasty. What a sweet prezzy. And far ahead of schedule for Chrimbotime.

Learning the busroute and the metro was a pretty fast process -- all the signs are in English and it's about as logical as any Japanese transportation -- so I'm mostly good to go. It only takes me 30 minutes (most days) to get to work, so that makes it the *same* travel time as home. No complaints there.

Entertainment-wise, I haven't indulged that much in all that the city has to offer. Amy, Lester and I went to the Corcoran Museum (next door to the White House) to see a Warhol exhibit. It was pretty good, even though he's not my favorite. We browsed through the modern art gallery, too. Good stuff. Plenty of electronic media and film pieces that kept us guessing. (Gotta love that about modern art.) Saturday, Lester and I went to the Freer Gallery, a Smithsonian Museum, to see some Asian artwork. The Chinese calligraphy was gorgeous. So was the ukiyo-e woodblock printing and Japanese screen prints. Such delightful colors! I'll always have a soft spot for Japanese artwork.

Sunday, December 10, 2000

avacado informant

I was doing some last-minute preparation for my Monday final exam yesterday at the coffeehouse.

Normally, I'm not what you'd call on the outgoing end of the spectrum. I'm a little more middle-of-the-road. Quite often I reside in the Greater Shytown area. But I was in a talkative mood yesterday, after having delved into the deep, dark secrets of abstracting and indexing. I had pored over the books, the readings, the lecture notes for hours. If my skin were severed, I would have bled pure knowledge -- such was my data saturation yesterday.

After many silent hours of reading and studying, I reached a point where I absolutely needed to talk to someone.

So I started a conversation up with a stranger at the next table. Normally, the faces that fill the cafe every day don't interest me at all. But the fellow sitting next to me was full of zest. He had a soft-spoken amiable way about him. Every few minutes, he would meet a friend or acquaintance as they passed by.

So I struck up a conversation and I learned about accounting and audit work. Jacob resembled a character from the new Showtime series, "Queer as Folk." He reminded me of Justin -- the wide-eyed, innocent newcomer to the scene.

Jacob turned out to be helpful when it came to a story I'm writing. It's set on the eve of the Kennedy assassination. He gave me some valuable avacado data that I required for the story. (I can't release that information at this time, I'm afraid.)

I tried vanilla in my cafe au lait today. It was so smooth and creamy. You know what? I've decided that Duane makes the best cafe au lait at that coffeeshop. Everyone else's is just not as good.

I wonder, though, if my preference for his creations somehow stems from the fact that he resembles Gavin? Duane has Gavin's beautiful mane of hair, intelligent grin and energetic spirit. They could be twins.

Okay. Maybe not twins. (Duane's overweight.) But they could be cousins, for certain.

Remember to turn your Christmas lights off when you leave the house, folks.


Friday, December 08, 2000

the journey

Busy week.

Did you ever have one of those got-a-new-job, book-the-plane-tickets, car-is-on-the-fritz, making-new-friends, meeting-old-ones, parting-with-other-friends, reevaluate-your-present-relationships, finish-final-exams sort of weeks?

Well, I have. And it was this one. Thank God it's Friday, because I honestly don't think that I can take any more surprises.

I am printing out one of my favorite pictures. It's http://www.geocities.com/jbrendon/bier.jpg and it always brings back fond memories of a little biergarden across from a church in a little town called Oberzay, Germany. I want to give it to a friend who loves Germany just as much as I do.

Today I want to get my eyes checked again so that I can straighten up my glasses before I leave for Washington D.C. Sunday. I got an internship at the Washington branch of the American Library Association. There, in the public affairs office, they have a desk waiting for me and a whole mountain of work on top of it.

I'm really excited, because I've never taken a month-long vacation anywhere -- let alone for business/professional reasons. This promises to be an entirely new realm of experience for me. I'm thrilled and anxious to get started.

I went to a goodbye party for my friend, Jane. She will leave today for Oregan. There's a long journey ahead of her -- I'd hate to have that drive. But, she's ready to go home, so maybe the excitement will help the hours pass.

My journey begins Sunday. And every second of the day. It's all one big journey, really. That's been a frequent metaphor in my life for years now. There's just no escaping it.