Thursday, September 30, 2004

Angry Asian

I have to give a shout-out to my man Minsoo. Okay, so I've never met him. But he runs this fantastic blog called, appropriately enough, Angry Asian Man. It rocks! This guy is on the pulse of all things Asian and Asian-American, and isn't afraid to call things as he sees them with respect to the pervasive racism against Asian-Americans, and other minority groups, in this country. Check him out. He's got a great writing style too.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

¡Goooooool! -- or not

Okay, so here's a non-exhaustive list of medium-term goals I'd like to achieve. Just for fun, let's say I'd like achieve them before I hit 35.

1. Learn to play the guitar. The regular, wooden kind, not something that's plugged in. I think it's sexy, and besides, it's easier to practice a regular guitar than something that has amps out the wazoo without bugging your neighbors.

2. Become competent in one more foreign language. I'm thinking of either Italian, Japanese, or Korean.

3. Find that ideal job.

4. Have enough to buy a new house without selling my condo.

5. Travel abroad at least three more times.

6. Go snowboarding.

7. Get in shape.

8. Clean the damn apartment up.

9. Finish those books that have been on my dresser for months now.

10. Find poker buddies for regular hold 'em games.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Blog crushes

Is it wrong to have a crush on someone just because you read their blog and find it funny, witty, relevant, etc.? (Doesn't hurt that they also have their picture posted.)

I have this strange fantasy that one day I'm going to walk down the street, either here or in some city I'm visiting, then suddenly do a double-take and say, "Hey! You're [insert blogger's name here]!" only to have them turn around, look at me, and morph their face into some mixture of abject horror and strange fear, and say "... and who the hell are you?"

It'll be worse if I'm actually able to rattle off a bunch of stats about him, like what television shows he watches, the names of some of his siblings, the cruise he took in 2002, a rally he attended, and even the names of his pets.

I need to get out more.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Voters are Stupid

Okay, so that statement isn't necessarily true on a blanket level. But Ward 8 D.C. residents leave a lot to be desired.

Marion Barry as been pretty much been reelected to the D.C. Council after a break from politics. Mr. Barry won the Ward 8 democratic primaries, ousting incumbent Sandy Allen from the post. (Seeing as Ward 8 is heavily democratic, it's unlikely he won't win the general election now.) Ms. Allen has been gracious about her defeat, stating that she will continue to represent the city, but then just lost an election to Marion Barry. That must be quite humiliating.

Backing up a bit: Mr. Barry was elected to the very post (Ward 8 Councilmember) in 1992 after having done prison time stemming from his arrest (based on videotape evidence) that he was doing crack in a hotel. Yes, the voters decided a crackhead would make a good person for political office.

As if this weren't enough, Mr. Barry eventually ascended to the position of Mayor of the nation's capital. Although I was already living in DC at the time, I was still in school, and still wasn't voting in the District: I disclaimed any affiliation with my neighbors for their idiocy.

Mr. Barry's tenure as mayor was a rocky one. Even though he served three terms (why did the voters keep re-electing him???), he never could quite dog the federal drug charges and perjury issues. Moreover, internet sites and other common lore started chronicling a history of Dan Quayle-like verbal mis-steps. (To be fair, many of these quotes appear to lack documented sources, although the lack of on-the-record quotes isn't really dispositive on the issue.)

This kind of voting pattern makes me wonder about our wonderful voting system. We've given power to everyone, including the most misinformed, misguided people in the country. If voters can't critically analyze a candidate, we truly do deserve exactly what we get.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Whither friendship?

I read this in someone else's blog recently and it got me thinking:

I'm lucky to have my friends there too. My real friends, the ones that know me, the ones that let me cry at 3am when they'd rather be sleeping. The ones who would be there through thick and thin. LK, JN, CJ, TB, LT, no particular order of importance, you make my life possible. I only hope that I've brought to your life what you've brought to mine.

(Source: JPK: You can never have enough water. I stumbled across this blog using the random blog search function from blogspot. I don't know the guy (though he's quite amusing -- when he's not depressed). Heck, you too can go to another randomly-selected blog now by clicking on the "Next Blog >>" icon in the upper right-hand corner. But finish reading this first!)

So as I was saying, Jason's comment kinda struck me, because I suddenly came to realize that my friendships aren't like what Jason describes. I've never cried to someone at 3 a.m. when they'd rather be sleeping -- and trust me, there have been times I've wanted to. (I end up crying at home alone instead.) I've always felt strange imposing upon my friends for almost anything. Even when I was recovering from surgery I felt really bad for having to ask my friends to come stay the night with me. I've promised each of them a dinner in return for putting them out so much.

But there are those who would argue (and I wouldn't disagree) that stuff like crying at 3 a.m., or incredibly inconvenient favors, are the stuff of which friendships are made. If your friendship can't survive late-night "I'm-depressed-and-just-wanted-to-talk" phone calls, then what do you really have?

Of course, there's a flip side to that argument, which I again can't disagree with. The flip side argues that if you can't respect your friendships enough to realize that your friends have lives too -- lives that don't revolve around you -- and reliving your drama isn't their purpose in life, then you're abusing the friendship. Late-night phone calls are the stuff of sappy movies, this theory claims, and friendships suffering from that in real life don't last long. Besides, it should be pointed out, even in the movies, those late-night calls either don't result in anything helpful, or in fact lead to bad decisions on the part of the comfortee.

I wish I could say I have a theory on this, but I don't. I can only take note of the friendships I have. Although I know I could rely on most of my friends for all kinds of things, they tend to small things -- like dragging my carless ass to parties, or even for a Target run. One once offered that if I needed help with a down payment for a real estate purchase, I should ask her. (Thankfully, I didn't take her up on that -- I don't think substantial debt between friends is ever a good idea.) Although I generally feel like I could crash at friends' houses out of town if I had to, I would feel like I'm at an age and success level by now that it just seems stupid not to find a decent and affordable hotel.

But at the same time that my friends are good for that kind of small stuff, I don't know, really, who I would have to rely on if, say, a member of my family were to die tomorrow, or if some other devastating personal catastrophe hit me. Knowing me -- and the relationships I have with my friends -- I'd probably put on a brave face, say that I was okay and everything will be okay... and mourn alone. In the movies, we see this all the time, but those people usually seem to have a spouse into whose arms they eventually collapse in a mess of tears. I think I'd have a teddy bear. It's the same thing that makes me unlikely to engage in the aforementioned 3 a.m. phone calls.

So is there a clear line to be drawn between leaning on your friends and respecting their right not to be burdened by you? I'm sure there must be. I just haven't found it yet.

Saturday, September 11, 2004


Three years ago today, our nation was attacked in brutal fashion.

I still remember vividly how my day unfolded. It started with my typical tardy self, trying to get my butt out of bed to make it to the office at a reasonable hour. For some strange reason, I went against my usual routine and didn't bother to turn on NPR that morning. Had I done so, I probably would have heard news just a bit earlier.

I went downstairs and saw the people at the front desk watching some morning show. I asked what was going on -- after all, I had yet to hear -- and was just told "They're showing the Pentagon now. They're gonna switch back to New York soon." I didn't know what that meant. I just thought it was a typical Today show thing. I didn't realize that we were under attack.

I began to walk to work, where I saw some police officers standing by their car. There was smoke in the distance. I asked a cop what was going on. I was told something about a bomb at the Pentagon. (Serious misinformation going around.) I started to get the sense that this was serious.

I got to work. Everyone was there. There was a television set up in the kitchen, but with only a pair of rabbit ears and no cable, the picture was awful. Soon I retreated to my office to surf major web sites -- anything for a hint about what was going on. Finally the truth emerged, in all its awfulness. By then I saw the still photos of the collapsing towers on every major news source. By then the television in the kitchen had rebroadcast the impact ad nauseum, as if we really needed to see, over and over and over, the planes hitting the World Trade Center.

Slowly but surely, my colleagues started making their way home. Which was difficult, of course, since Metro had shut down most of its lines, leaving those people who had commuted into work that morning without a terribly effective way of returning home. I live way too close to the office, so I really had the choice to either walk home or stay at the office, either one being the substantial equivalent of the other: Being so near Ground Zero Washington, it wasn't like my two home bases made any different in terms of effect on impact. So my colleague Bert and I (Bert being stranded by lack of Metro service) wandered the ghost-town streets of downtown Wahington. We kept a vigil as close to the 16th Street view of the White House as we could. Upon hearing that the Washington Post was publishing an EXTRA edition, we went to the Post headquarters and got one. We went back to my place and kept watching the news from there. There was nothing to do but watch the reports and just keep seeing, "Holy fucking crap."

I could go on and on about how 9/11 has become a major political lynchpin in today's race, and unfairly so. I could opine about how it's a crutch for the Republican party used to mask absolutely no substantive platform otherwise. And I could draw parallels between the religious extremism that led to 9/11 and the religious extremism on American soil that leads to First Amendment violations as well as ideological issues like opposition to gay rights.

But for today, I should probably just let this be a day of remembrance.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Still gagging

Some people just can't take a hint. Either that or I'm just too subtle.

Him: after tomorrow I'll not see work for a WHILE
Me: i'm surprised you've seen work at all.....
Me: lol
Him: and God I'm so looking to spending a lot of time in someones arms :)
Him: he gets here in 12 hours and 45 minutes
Me: blah blah blah
Him: dude Ive been missing him so damn much
Me: uh huh.
Him: seriously
Him: the sex will be nice
Him: but I just want him here

To his credit, the first line of the above is actually line number 15 of our conversation. At least he lasted longer than he did last time.

Seriously now, "blah blah blah" is probably as rude as I can get on IM as a way of saying, "I don't really care at all about this conversation." I don't know about you, but when someone "blah blah blah"s me (and believe me, it's happened more times that I care to remember -- particularly with that little invisible-puppet hand motion), I take it as a cue to shut the fuck up. Does he just not get it?

Or am I just being a mean ol' bitter ass Grinch? Again, I have nothing against anyone being happy in a "relationship"... but I don't need to hear about it every time an IM window pops up with your name in it. And I'm by no means required to be enthusiastic about everything in your life. That just gets tiring.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Schmoopiness makes me want to puke

So I had the following IM conversation with a friend of mine recently. Background: my friend ("Him") is in Germany now, stationed there for a few years. Just before he left, he met a guy and fell head over heels or whatever. (Always seems to happen that way, I guess.)

I have nothing against someone being happy in a relationship, but when you can't talk about anything else, I rapidly lose interest.

Him: hey
Me: hey
Him: whasup
Me: not much.... how are you?
Him: chilling out
Him: missing my baby

[N.B.: This was line number six in our conversation.]

Him: talked to him this morning and woke him up
Me: lol
Him: just surfing around looking for a site I can't find
Him: what about you
Me: nada... just getting up. chilling.
Him: late night
Me: fell asleep earlier in the night.... woke up... went back to sleep late ...
Me: so i'm blog-surfing right now....
Me: some of these blogs are so incoherent
Me: it's annoying
Him: well someone called me at 3 am my time
Him: and then put me to sleep
Him: happily
Him: and then worked called me at 8am
Him: and then I slept until noon
Me: good to see they're working you hard.

[See how the conversation could have turned to a neutral topic. But instead it veered back again to the boyfriend.]

Him: well when I come back to DC I might let you read Gerry and mine blogs LOL
Him: right now they are private corespondence
Me: i'm pretty sure that's the last thing i want to do is read your blog.
Me: no offense.
Him: well Gerry is very coherent

[And yet again, we take a neutral topic and re-direct it to the boyfriend.]

Him: damn I can't find this site
Me: sowwy
Him: I think I might have found it
Him: yeah I did find it
Me: yay
Me: one word: bookmark
Him: yeah yeah

[By this point I'm deliberately not asking what site he's looking for, because I'm certain that his search is centered around one thing, which I really don't need to be privy to. And sure enough....]

Him: I want to buy gerry a gift
Him: cool got it ordered :)
Me: cool. what'd you get?

[A slight moment of weakness on my part. Or just forced politeness. I can't tell which.]

Him: a pair of short (board shorts)
Me: ah.
Him: they are really cool looking
Me: good
Him: yeah they'll match a shirt he had
Him: oops has

[And here's where we get into obsessive idiocy.]

Him: hey got a question to ask
Me: yah
Him: what would you have waiting for your boyfriend when he came home from the airport ???

[He knows I haven't had a boyfriend in years.]

Me: are you on crack?
Him: what are you talking about
Me: why would you think i would have any kind of answer at all to that question?
Him: you are creative
Him: would what you do
Him: or what would you like
Me: yeah, there is no way i'm qualified to answer this question.
Him: oh help me out
Him: what you you think would be really cool
Him: what would leave you breathless when you walked in
Him: come on help me here
Him: flowers aren't enough

You can't tell from the above, but the last few lines were spread out over time. I had by that point refused to answer, and allowed the IM window to just lapse.

There comes a point when your obsessive talking about your boyfriend becomes insanely annoying. It's worse when you're slathering your blissful existence upon someone who can't score a date to save his life. After a while, it just becomes rubbing it in.


On a shockingly related note, I received an email from my friend Henry. I hadn't heard from him in years. It started off as one of those emails where you just cut and paste certain questions (and their answers) and forward them to all your friends and stuff... you know, mundane stuff like "What's your fave color?" or "What time do you get up in the morning?" I'm putting excerpts from this email below. I think it's just the world telling me I'm going to die alone.

1. What time do you get up? get up at 830am to get my baby to school by 930am. :)
6. What do you have for breakfast? sharing cereal with my baby.
15. Favorite sandwich? pastrami or any kind that my baby makes for me. :) yummy!
19. What color is your bathroom? yeah, we have the ugly lime green/yellowish tile with faded white walls. ick.
22. Favorite day of the week? monday - date nite with my baby! meow.
23. What did you do for your last birthday? a wonderful thai dinner with my baby, then spent the night working on a project :( thanks baby, for being so supportive!
28. What fabric detergent do you use? whatever is on sale. but that stuff my baby got at costco smells really good! mmmmm

Okay, upon further reflection, either this is a sign that I'm just going to die alone... or I'm just being way oversensitive to this shit.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Temporary Impotence

So I have (had?) this condition called strabismus for, like, ever now. It's commonly known as "walleye" or "cross eyes," and it's when both of the eyes don't focus on the same thing at the same time. This can cause some confusion for the brain, as two different sensory inputs are being received at the same time. In my case, it seems like it involves two muscles in my left eye, which worked too hard and keep yanking my eye up and out when my dominant right eye found an image to look at.

I've noticed that I had this condition for over a decade now. When I graduated from high school, I noticed that my eyes in my graduation photo weren't both looking at the same place. The condition apparently also manifests itself in the subconscious tendency to tilt the head to compensate for the eye maladjustment. I notice that I'm doing that now as I type this.

I've consulted with one or two eye doctors about this before, and was basically told that there's nothing really one can do about it. Although an inconvenience, I certainly wasn't blind. But the truth was, it also could give me headaches, and it gave me some substantial problems with depth perception, such as when I looked at a pair of telephone wires overhead -- I couldn't tell how far away they were, or even if there really were two of them or just one. It also made renewing my driver's license a bitch, since the eye test involves looking at a screen which wasn't ideal to a guy whose eyes were at odds with each other. (The examiner literally looked at me like, "you can't see that at all? The letters are there.")

In a most astonishing coincidence, my colleague Cynthia turns out to have also had this same condition. And to my utter surprise, she managed to find a doctor who actually could fix the problem. I let her be the guinea pig, then went to see him myself.

The surgery involves the doctor going into the eyes (I'm not exactly sure how) and weakening the hyperactive muscles behind the left eye. There was also the possibility of some overcompensation in the right eye, so another muscle would have to be adjusted in the right eye as well. As you can imagine, this occurs under general anesthesia.

Sure enough, after Cynthia's surgery, she could still see, and her eyes were definitely more pointed in the same direction. That's what we're looking for. She told me there was nothing to be worried about, that there's some distress or discomfort on the first few days, but then afterwards everything would be okay.

I went in for the surgery yesterday.

Cynthia understated the discomfort.

For some really stupid reason, I thought that I'd be able to walk out of the hospital that afternoon, sleep for a little bit, deal with a bit of discomfort, and deal with my day. Unfortunately, this was not the case. My eyes were effectively welded shut with the pain of micro-stitches in the eye, and a thin layer of ointment. This meant that every time I tried to open my eye, all I could see was a dull haze. There would be no hobbling around on my own in my cramped, messy apartment. Someone would really have to sit with me.

Thankfully, Tracy was able to spend some time with me, helping me feed myself and placing things in good positions so I could find them again. But for a few hours there, I really felt completely impotent. There was nothing I could do on my own. I couldn't see. Walking around involved substantial use of the hands. Even using the bathroom became an endeavor, as I not only had to find the toilet but then try my damnedest not to miss. (Eventually, someone smarter than I advised me to just sit down already.)

But the panic attack really started to hit me when I realized that I would be completely unable to feed myself if I got hungry and Tracy wasn't around. How would I be able to find something in the fridge? How would I prepare it? Suddenly, even something as mundane as a peanut butter sandwich, or a frozen pizza, or even a friggin' frozen tv dinner, would become a tremendous effort, involving lots of navigation that I would have taken for granted on any other occasion.

I think not being able to care for myself has quickly become my greatest phobia in life.

Tracy had to leave (she was tired and needed to get home), and I begged my other friend Elizabeth to come by and spend the night, just so I wouldn't be alone if I broke out in another panic attack. Thankfully, Elizabeth did, and thankfully, I did not have another attack. I slept through the night. When I awoke, at 6.47 a.m., I thought to myself, "What time is it?" and, somewhat reflexively, looked at the alarm clock lying next to me (which is how I found out it was 6.47 a.m.). It was then that I suddenly realized... I could see. There was minimal pain. There was no nausea. And though slightly uncomfortable, my eyes could open. There was nothing more than little pain one might get if there was a little too much gunk in it from the night before.

Today, I am, surprisingly, doing very well. I have my glasses on to see, but otherwise, it's okay. I'm not sure the strabismus is completely fixed, but my doctor tells me it takes a little while to get used to it, and it might realign itself gradually. But at least I can see. And function. And take care of myself. And for this, I am very, very thankful.