Thursday, May 27, 2004

Don't Dance When You're Hung

As a way to get out of the house and have some fun, I've lately taken to taking dance lessons at Remington's, a country bar on Capitol Hill. It's a decent way to meet people, seeing as the crowd tends to be ("tends to be," but not "is uniformly") fairly friendly, and I get a few hours of fun out of it. And, sad though it is, it's somewhat aerobic. I take two-stepping lessons on Monday night, and line dancing lessons on Wednesday nights. Line dancing in a poorly-climate-controlled venue can work up quite the nasty sweat.

Some quick background on the line dancing lessons in particular: There are frequent twists and turns in the process of the dance; one ends up facing a different direction from start rather quickly. To keep us on track, we practice segments of the dance facing each wall, usually just by staying at the wall we've just turned toward. So, for example, if after the first 8 beats of the music you're supposed to have completed a 1/4 turn right, we'll stop, and start again, but this time facing the new wall so that the next 1/4 right takes you to yet another wall. (I do so hope that made some sense.)

Last night we did a dance called the "Booty Call." Okay, I should have known just by the name alone that this dance was not for me. But hey, I was gonna give it a shot, because it's all about the fun, right? Well, let me tell ya.

The Booty Call is a remarkably simple dance, requiring very little practice, so I'm not complaining about that. I got it, and I'm not likely to forget it, so next time I hear the song I could dance it if I wanted to. If I wanted to.

My trepidation with actually doing the Booty Call comes from the fact that the dance requires some TEN BEATS worth of butt-wiggling. Or pelvis-thrusting. Or whatever. I suppose it's meant to be a kind of flirty dance that way, but from the moment we got to that point in the lesson, I found myself thinking, "I gotta say, I can't see myself doing that." (As a punctuation to this thought, I burst out laughing when this move was introduced to us. I think some people thought that I thought our instructor looked stupid shaking his thang. In reality, I was laughing because I really just knew that I would be the one looking silly.)

Sure enough, during the practice run where the entire room ended up facing me (I was facing the wall with the entire class behind me), I performed the beats... but did NO wiggling whatsoever. The instructor even called me out on it: "You're supposed to wiggle, not just stand there!" I laughed it off, because, well, I was not about to announce before the entire class, like some southern primadonna, "Sir, Ah do NAWAT 'wiggle'!" (I was saved by a heckler from the bar who pointed out that the instructor himself actually didn't do that much wiggling himself, so I quietly let the subject drop and I found myself off the hook -- though still without a wiggle. Heck, I think a worm on a hook would in fact wiggle better than I.)

The saddest part of this story is what I found myself thinking when the wiggling was supposed to take place and why I felt that I couldn't do it. The fact is, as an Asian man, I couldn't help visualizing how stupid I'd look shaking my booty because I couldn't help thinking of William Hung, the tragic hero of American Idol infamy, the Johnny-come-lately of horrific vocal ability. Watching William Hung shake his hips during "She Bangs" made me cringe. (Or maybe it was the actual singing. I couldn't tell. The entire scene was cringe-inducing.) The thought that I could end up looking like him due to my comparable lack of groove thang paralyzes me. And so I must politely decline to wiggle during the "Booty Call."

Frankly, it's not a fair assessment for me to make. In all honesty, during several of the other practice turns (when I faced the rest of the class, for example), I can't help noticing that a bunch of the white boys on the stage (and yes, they were mostly white boys) also could not shake their booties to save their lives either. One guy, John, while a cute guy, couldn't really shake very well at all. Even Richard, whom I have an on-again-off-again crush on, doesn't do the whole wiggling thing with much aplomb (as much as aplomb is needed in a gay country line dance). But he does it with confidence and without self-consciousness. Which is what I should be striving toward.

And yet William Hung appears to have scarred me for life.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

It's the Cause, Stupid

So lately I've been involved in a surpringly active group of rag-taggers in some grassroots activism. I certainly don't consider myself an activist at all; most of the time I just consider my underpaying, thankless job in employment discrimination to be my part in fighting for civil rights in this country. I honestly think our esteemed President has forced me into a position where I feel like I have to fight the power to get results. I do so detest that man and his policies.

So I'm a member now of two different groups which have grand ideas for the advancement of gay rights in America. They're fun people, excited, energized, passionate. Being with them charges my batteries. It tells me people really do care about what I care about, and are angry enough to do something.

I can't help thinking of the irony of the situation, though. One of the groups I'm with has as its raison d'etre gay marriage rights. Great. I'm all for it. Really. It's one of the big civil rights issues of this time, in my opinion. What's so ironic about it? I'm fighting for a cause I feel like I have no reasonable chance of taking advantage of. I can't get a date to save my life. And I'm fighting for the opportunity to get married. I'm amused.

I was similarly amused when I had a great time at the March for Women's Lives. Abortion? Huh? But yes, a right is a right, and I will be counted in support of it, even if I will never need to make that decision on a personal level in my lifetime.


I while back, I wrote a piece entitled "Activism at Its Cruisiest," about the HRC Gay Marriage Rally. As a quick update: Things don't really change.

As I said, I'm a part of this marriage equality rights group. In general, a fairly collegial group of people. But one of two of them won't even talk to me, it seems. Too busy talking to the "hot" guys in the group? Maybe. I'd rather not think such ill thoughts about people with such noble intentions, but there will be times when I will need to talk to you about the project we're running. And you may have to listen. Without thinking that I'm trying to get into your pants. Which I'm not.

Related link of the day: The Full Page Project

Monday, May 24, 2004

Family Affair

Nothing can possibly please my parents. I have decided that my parents simply hate me. Either that, or something deeply rooted in their collective psyche refuses to allow them to tell me that I am anything but a miserable failure in life. Or at least that I'm terribly socially unacceptable.

First off, I will be the first to be admit that I am no longer the same weight as I was when I was a senior in high school. I have, in fact, put on a few pounds. Does my mother really have to point this out? And in such a mean way?

I last went to see my folks during the week of Labor Day, 2002. During that trip, I resolved never to visit my parents again. My mother could not stop telling me how fat I had become. No, really. The following exchange took place during a dinner at a Chinese restaurant with my parents, my brother, his wife, me, and some other family members:

Other Family Member: You guys should eat more! There's plenty on the table!
Mother: (pointing to brother and sis-in-law) Those two need to eat more. (pointing to me) That one doesn't need to eat more.

That's just one example. It didn't stop for approximately five days. It got to the point I was getting ready to throw up -- from disgust, not from bulimia -- but I was afraid that would make my mother too happy.

Now, anyone who's ever seen my parents knows they are not small people themselves. I don't want to lay full blame on genetics, but I really have been dealt a bad hand here. By no means can my mother be characterized as a waif, nor my father lean. My father always had a belly for as long as I've observed him when I was a child.

And let's not forget that the entire time my parents were busy telling me how fat I am, we were dining out on rather fatty and carby foods.


This weekend my parents tried again to express their displeasure at me, despite not having laid eyes on me for two years. Their noses function from a continent away. Let me explain:

I had to spend a large wad of cash (thank you, Discover card) at the dentist recently, for a filling and a night guard. I apparently exhibit symptoms of tooth grinding, which can wear away at the gum line, exposing the roots of my teeth, causing problems. I made the mistake of telling my brother all about my dental issues, and he was idiotic enough to tell my parents all about my dental issues.

Bear in mind, again, that my parents have not been in my physical presence for over two years now.

Also bear in mind, please, that when I told my friends (many of whom are also law school grads) about my tooth grinding issues, several of them responded, "Yeah, it's common among law students because it's usually stress related."

My parents' response to my dental issues:

(1) You will be happy to know that my tooth grinding is, in fact, all my fault, because of my bad lifestyle decisions. This means, I don't eat the right foods. I'm supposed to eat "cooler" foods, drink more herbal broths, and eat fewer deep fried foods, like french fries. I'm a bad person for eating this bad stuff. Now I'm suffering the consequences.

(2) Now that I've consulted a dentist (and they've heard about it), my parents think it would be a good time to ask said dentist about my HORRIFIC BREATH. Naturally. Because if my mouth is cleaned (the work of a fine dental hygenist) and rinsed, my HORRIFIC BREATH must clearly be the product of -- again -- my terrible lifestyle choices, including what I eat. Yes, folks, my parents have their M.D.s -- from Elbonia University. Of course, the fact that my parents have not seen me in over two years and hence have not actually had me breathe in their face is not an obstacle to their condemnation of my breath; my breath is so HORRIFIC that it can be smelled from an entire continent and half an ocean away.

(3) And speaking of Dennis's horrible eating habits, which have led to both tooth grinding and HORRIFIC BREATH, dare we revisit the issue of how FAT Dennis is? Well of course we should. Yes. What a splendid idea.

I am going to shoot myself. Perhaps having a dead son whose ample body weight has diminished through natural bodily decay and who expels no breath at all is preferable to one who is fat, alive, grinds his teeth, and has HORRIFIC BREATH.

Oh, and my HORRIFIC BREATH as well as immense obesity is probably also a reason I can't land myself a girlfriend. Yes, you read that right. That's totally another story, best left for another day.

Friday, May 07, 2004


Okay, my life has officially hit the realm of the impossibly pathetic. Although I'm reassured that this happens to others frequently, I'm still bemused at my immense reaction to this.

The other day I was having a strange dream. And I do mean strange. Part of it involved my superpowers. Yes, superpowers. I was able to set things on fire with the sheer power of my mind. Wait, it might have been the power to make things explode. Well, something like that. At one point in the dream, like Drew Barrymore in Firestarter, I had to turn my attention to a large tank of fish to make sure I didn't do anything disastrous. (Unlike Drew's, however, my re-channelling of energy caused poor little fish to jump out of their tank, which has suddenly become a teakettle thanks to me.)

Then I came to realize that the strange superpower I had was actually in context: I was somewhere pretty much akin to the Xavier Institute, where everyone basically had some kind of power. I know this because everyone else around me was a student (because, you know, I'm so young as to still be in school), and because no one really batted much of an eye when my superpowers threatened to go awry.

At some point in this dream, I was actually unable to restrain my powers, and entire plates of sheet glass which served as windows to the academy shattered. I laughed and basically just said, "Uh, oops. At least that shit is replaceable." (I know what you are thinking. You are thinking something else happened at the same time that this big explosion occurred in my dream. You are wrong.)

But the point of my patheticness (is that even a word? Well it is now) comes from this: At some point in my dream, a really cute boy starts hitting on me! I mean, he was really cute. Despite the fact that I dream-lived right across the street from the school (now complete with tremendous amounts of shattered glass), he was insisting that I hop into his car and spend the night at his apartment. And the thing is, I was going to go. I was actually kind of excited (again, no pun intended), in a freakishly schoolgirl kinda way, that some really cute boy was so into me.

At that point, my alarm clock started going off. Somehow, Bush's economic recovery theories made their way into my conversations with this boy. Which, I think you'll agree, is just plain wrong, on many levels.

My patheticness derives from the fact that I spent the better part of the waking morning quite sad that, in fact, I was awakened from my delightful slumber before ever getting to see my (literally) dream boy naked. I guess you can say I was a victim of premature awakening.


Earlier in the week, I had my recurring dream again. The one about the algebra test. As usual, no one in the class was remotely sympathetic to me about my dilemma. It's amazing how stressful those dreams are. It's amazing how quickly I revert to the stress of academic life. The strangest thing is, I'm pretty sure I'm capable of controlling my dreams, at least to some degree. I remember once I dreamed I was making out with someone who looked remarkably like an ex of mine. In my dream, I promptly changed his name and even the color of his hair because, Gawd, who wanted to be making out with him? And yet, I remain unable to change anything in my algebra anxiety dreams, and I continue to panic over a non-existent set of LaPlacian transforms.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Random Acts of Violence

This weekend was a particularly strange one for me. Well, stranger for my best gal-pal Debra, but strange definitely for me as well.

May 1 is my other gal-pal friend Lora's birthday. She was having a party that night at her house, so I spent the day doing, well, nothing in particular, just kinda gearing up to go to the party. Perhaps I considered purchasing a six-pack or something to take with me to the festivities. Never did do that, though.

The phone rings. For some reason, I don't answer it. It's Lora. She leaves me a voicemail that says, in its entirety, "When you get this message, call me." Finding that message strange, and just a bit annoying, I decided not to return the call until later.

The phone rings again a few hours later. The caller ID identifies it as Debra. Again, I choose not to pick up the phone. (I was in a mood, I guess.) No message left. Actually, I don't think it even rang for long enough to get to voicemail.

Immediately after Debra hangs up her phone, Joe calls. He leaves a voicemail too: "Hey, call me when you get this message." Again, no substance. Grrr.

So around 8:30 or 9:00, I finally call both Lora and Joe back. (Debra not having left a message, I decided not to return her call.) Lora wasn't in so I left her a voicemail. (She also has no cell phone, a fact which meets with considerable ire from many of us, because she is such a social butterfly that many times she's next to impossible to pin down.) Left a message with Joe too. Both messages: "Hey, returning your call. What's up?"

So at around 9:45, I speak to a human being for possibly the first time that day. Joe returned my call. "Did you hear about Debra?" he says. "No, what about Debra?" I respond. I'm getting slightly concerned now. Joe's next sentence does very very little to alleviate my nervousness: "First off, just to be clear, she's fine."

"Oh my God," I spit back, "What happened that you have to tell me that she's fine?!?"

Debra got stabbed on Saturday night. It was quite the act of randomness and, in fact, was quite hideously violent. Apparently, Debra had just left her apartment, having changed and freshened up after a long day of shopping, and was heading out to meet someone for dinner when, less than a block from her house on Irving Street NW in Mt. Pleasant, she was grabbed by the arm and stabbed in the neck. Yes, that's right, the neck.

Debra began screaming (we find out later that, luckily, the stabber has managed to miss every last important thing in her neck) and running literally into the street to summon assistance. Bear in mind that this is occurring at approximately 7:00 pm -- it's still plenty bright out, and there are still people around. For some reason no one is responding to her entreaties, though, so she literally throws her purse at him and says, "Here, just take it!"

Odd thoughts of a strange man wielding a bloody knife cavorting off with a bright pink purse notwithstanding, the man didn't take the purse. Instead, he followed her into the street and stabbed her again, in the back, before he finally retreated.

Finally, people emerge to help Debra. One woman is sitting with her trying to keep her coherent. A Metro bus driver has stopped his bus and is holding a cloth to Debra's throat to help stem the bleeding. (Unfortunately, someone soon pointed out that she had been stabbed in the back as well. So when that someone lifted up her jacket, the nice woman who was with her promptly passed out at the sight of the second stab wound. Debra found herself sitting there, bleeding from two knife wounds, thinking, "Great. It must be pretty damn bad if this chick is passing out on me. And I'm the one that's bleeding!".)

Well, putting aside all the other details that follow, Debra was taken to the Washington Hospital Center, where she was found to have a collapsed lung. A most hideous tube was inserted into her (somewhere -- I didn't lift up her blanket to try to figure out where exactly the tube was connected to her) to drain her lungs, which, presumably, would help revive the fallen lung. She was treated there for a few days.

So I spent much of my weekend at a hospital. I hate hospitals. The super-sanitary smell alone is enough to make me want to vomit. But I sat there next to Debra, and with my friend Lora, for quite a while just keeping her company.

As an added irony, Lora herself was born in the Washington Hospital Center. So, twenty-nine years to the day, Lora finds her back there. Not the most fun way to celebrate a birthday, but hey.

Debra's a trooper. To the extent that she could talk (she was pretty drugged up, and that drainage tube was pretty painful), she was her usual sarcastic self ("So they gave me these painkillers, but since I hadn't eaten before the stabbing, I got all sick and started throwing up. Not fun when you have a knife wound in your neck."), which I found to be excellent. I give her snaps for still having that kind of spirit when she's been the victim of a violent crime.

Her mom came down from New York to be with her, and Debra was discharged by Monday afternoon. A bunch of us went over to her place last night and had an impromptu "get better/welcome home" party. I brought a bunch of cheesy videos from my personal collection with me, since Debra doesn't have cable and would likely be bored out of her skull.

They caught the guy who did it. He's been arraigned on a charge of Assault With Intent to Kill. Despite the best efforts of my attorney friends and me (none of whom practice criminal law), we can't see the difference between that and Attempted Murder. But we'll take what we can, long as the bastard sees plenty of time behind bars, where he will hopefully be met with the long end of a big, thick penis finding its way to places he doesn't want one to go.