Saturday, April 30, 2005

I Hardly Knew Ye.

[Please feel free to ignore this post. I just need to write. We will return to our regularly scheduled program, probably by Monday.]

My grandmother passed away on Friday.

I usually avoid answering my cell phone while I'm at work. And I usually ignore calls from my parents (I'm a bad son that way), figuring they'll leave a message if it's important. But after my recent trip home, I knew that calls from home would have to be pretty important, and were not to be ignored.

My mother, her voice slightly breaking, told me that my mother had passed away at approximately 11:10 AM HST. That was about half an hour before I got the call.

I was never that close to my grandmother. Unlike my parents, she couldn't speak English at all, and was possibly way too late in life to learn it by the time she arrived on American soil. I arrived in the States at age 2, so my Chinese skills were poor to begin with, but rapidly deteriorated with growing up in an English-speaking world. Thus, communication with her was always difficult, and it was thus difficult to create a true intimate bond with her.

But she leaves behind so much that I can't help totally respecting her despite the lack of a close bond.

My grandmother is survived by 11 children (the twelfth, her third child, died about seven or eight years ago of lung cancer). She gave birth twelve times. In a third world country, no less. I can't imagine childbirth to be a pleasant process in the old country... and she went through it twelve times.

When you have that many kids, generations end up blurring. My oldest cousin -- Terri, daughter of my Uncle Fred -- is pushing 40. My youngest uncle -- Randy -- is about 42. Currently, my "generation" of cousins ranges from Terri, pushing 40, to Howard, approximately 6. Randy hasn't reproduced yet, but when he does, this generation gap will continue to grow. (My cousin Colin, 11, only recently came to realize that I'm 31 years old. "You're thirty-one?" he asked in an all-too-incredulous "My God you're old!" tone. I would have playfully hit him, but his brother, 22, and sister, 16, were in the way. Damn, I felt old.)

My grandmother is clearly a strong, strong woman. You need to be if you're going to live a third world country torn apart by war. With twelve offspring and their extended family. And especially if you need to work on removing twelve children -- and their families -- from said war-ravaged country. Somehow we did it, as did she, and made a new life in a whole new place, with most of her family around her. (My grandmother long survived her husband, who passed away when I was very very young. I visited his grave when I was back home the other week.)

My grandmother endured a lot in her lifetime.

My grandmother suffered from diabetes. For as long as I can remember, she had to inject herself periodically. I never understood what she was doing; I just knew that I hated needles so I gave her considerable credit for sticking herself. We used to play with her used syringes (needles extracted), filling them with water and shooting lame squirts of water at each other. Eventually she lost a few fights to diabetes, including losing her right leg below the knee.

The last ten years of her life were spent in a nursing home, probably another big adjustment she didn't want to have to make. The apartment she lived in for most of my memory was on the second floor of a house with no elevator; it started becoming next to impossible for her to nagivate either of two sets of steps required to get to her house. In said nursing home, she had a semi-private room which she shared with one to two other women. She had meals and mealtimes set by the staff, as well as entertainment/playtime. When I visited her a few years back, the place honestly reminded me of kindergarten -- food (complete with applesauce) at a set time, and activity time, which included guest dancers to clap along to, or a mini-bowling game consisting of tossing a pillow toward a set of plastic pins). Oh, and because of her advanced age, and lack of a right leg, she had to be escorted (read: carried) to the restroom. I can't imagine what kind of loss of dignity this represents, but I suppose it needs to be done.

My grandmother also suffered at least one stroke.

When my brother and I were kids, my family lived very close to my grandmother. We attended an elementary school literally across the street from our house, and after school we would walk over to grandma's house to hang out while waiting for the parents to get off of work. I don't remember that Grandma actually did anything specifically with us to keep us entertained or anything; I think she was just there to be an adult presence for us while we had free run of the place, mostly just watching television (later graduating to popping in one of my uncle Randy's many many many MANY pirated videotapes). We stopped going there when we were old enough; daily trips to Grandma's house were replaced with weekly dinners with the extended family, and afterschools found us visiting friends' houses or hanging out at the library.

When I was with her the other week, I'm pretty sure she knew her time was coming. And I think she was honestly scared by the prospect. Her eyes were still alive, but I'm not sure what was behind them. She tried to speak, but no one could understand what she eventually articulated. She showed some sparks of recognition, but they were few and far between. Truth be told, I think she started getting somewhat annoyed by the stream of visitors, including her own children, who kept treating her like a child by asking her things like "Can you hear me? Tell me what you need. Do you recognize me? Hmm? Do you? Do you recognize me? Who am I? Hmm? Who am I?"

I will not go back for the funeral. Although my boss has indicated that I should do what I need to so as to avoid regretting anything later, including take still more time off to go back home yet again, I will probably decline his offer. (I feel like taking a week off, coming back for a week, then taking off yet again is a little extreme). I saw my grandmother when she was still alive, and I think that's more important than attending the service after her death.

I keep telling myself it's all a part of the cycle: Death is the one thing we all have in common. From the moment we're born, we all march steadily toward our deaths. (Some just get there faster than others). Death makes us aware of our own mortality.

But I still haven't been able to stop crying during the waking hours of the past day.

[We will return to our regular hilarity and obnoxiousness soon. In fact, I've already got a slew of posts saved up in "Draft" form, ready for final edits and publication. In some strange and rather dirty symbolic way, this post, like my grandmother's body, will end up "buried" beneath newer, fresher things. But she won't be forgotten.]

Friday, April 29, 2005

Nice Try

A woman in DC obviously has not read this post of mine from not too long ago. Which is not surprising, given my audience. But still.

Tonight while walking home from work, I dutifully waited for my light to turn green before I stepped into the crosswalk. As I did so, Idiot Woman Driver* did the speed-up-and-make-the-left-turn-before-oncoming-traffic-moves bonehead move. Of course, this not only (slightly) slows down the opposing flow of traffic, it also clearly (and rudely) cuts me (a pedestrian!) off.

I glared at her.

Through her window, partly rolled down anyway, she yelled a nonfacetious "Thank you!"

And I thought to myself: Does this make it even the tinest bit better? Her driving style was rude and dangerous... But she did say "Thank you."

I pondered that for about three steps.

Then I decided, Nope. She's still a mega-beeyotch on wheels.

* By using this term, I do not mean to imply that all female drivers are idiots. Just this particular one. And, well, any other driver who pisses me off who happens to be female. They would all fall into the category of "Idiot Women Drivers."

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Don't Be Putting Too Much Alcohol in Me

By no means am I drunk right now.

But apparently I'm close enough to it to have my normally reserved self open up just a tad.

After work tonight I went over to a bar on Capitol Hill to join some friends for a few drinks. It was a birthday celebration; otherwise I very likely would have just bailed on the evening. The restaurant featured half-price bottles of wine before 7:00 p.m. My friends had arrived by just before 6:00, so by the time I showed up at around 7 (missing the half-price special), there were three bottles polished off on the table. And they ordered a fourth just before cut-off time.

I'm not a fan of white wines in general, but given that it's what they ordered, I drank up. From a water glass, because I couldn't be bothered to wait for them to bring me a proper wine glass. And keep in mind that, of course, I had not eaten dinner before this.

Before I knew it I had downed three glasses of wine before the food that I ordered arrived. Keep in mind that this place advertises "Wine and Tapas," which means that the food portions are rather ridiculously small for $7. Arg.

Still, I'm not drunk, but I most certainly am not totally sober.

The restaurant was literally right next door to my favorite gay cowboy bar (yes, it's a little weird, I know), so I stopped in to watch some line dancing for a little bit where -- don't ask me why -- I bought a beer which I successfully nursed until I finally decided it was time to head home.

At home is where I finally realized that I clearly was not in my right mind.

As I walked over to the elevator, a guy I've seen for years now who lives on the eighth floor was in the lobby retreiving his mail. I've flirted mildly (so mildly, in fact, that I doubt he even realizes that flirting is what I was doing) with him for a long time now, but this time I finally pushed it beyond the normal borders. As I got off on my floor, I found myself asking him: "So, when are you going to invite me over for dinner?"

I still can't believe I actually said that.

He suggested a dish and said he'd let me know when I could come over.

I'm one crazy mofo.

When I've been imbibing.

I give myself credit that I didn't jump him bones and try to make out with him in the elevator.

** 4/29/05: I suddenly realized this morning that it would be terribly embarrassing if this guy is actually reading this blog. Then I realized that this blog isn't so popular that this would be likely. So, in either case, oh well.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Inside Jokes

It's much easier to make inside jokes when the person you're excluding doesn't speak the language.

Cliff's Notes background: The only people I'm not "out" to are my parents. My parents primarily speak Chinese; though they're decent at English, they're a lot slower on the uptake. Oh, and my brother can be a shithead -- which is probably one of the reasons I love him so much.

In the conversations that follow, italicized sentences are in Chinese, the rest in English.

1. At dinner one night:

Mom: [to me] Have some more of this pork. You like it, right? I've noticed you like to eat a lot of meat.
Bro: Heh... more than you know.
Mom: Huh?
Bro and Me: Nothing.

2. Just sitting around at home:

Dad: [to me, handing me what I can only describe as a mini-banana -- it's about 4 inches long] Here, have one. It's good for you.
Bro: Yeah, have one. It's about the right shape.... *snicker*
Me: Sure... but I'm just not used to them being this *small.*
Bro and Me: [giggling like little schoolgirls]
Dad: ?

Yeah, I'm sophomoronic like that.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Business Card Guy

For anyone keeping track: I sent an email to this guy on April 9, about a week after Gonzo's Nose.

I have yet to receive any response.

So much for blog fodder.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Letting Go

If nothing else, I took with me one important lesson from this trip home:

Oftentimes it's good to be able to just let go.

My family is surprisingly in tune with my feelings about end-of-life issues. Where I would have thought my parents were all about heroic lifesaving measures, I came to learn that several family members signed off on a DNR order for my grandmother, ensuring that no extraordinary measures would be taken on her behalf if she, for example, stopped breathing. My family, thankfully, understands that eventually each of our times will come, and it prolongs suffering to fight it. Sometimes letting go is the more humane way to go.


My uncle (I'll call him Tim) happened to also be visiting during the same week as me. Neither I nor almost any of the cousins in my generation really liked Uncle Tim while we were growing up. In fact, we all pretty much uniformly despised him. I particularly disliked him for ages, for a variety of reasons.

Uncle Tim has an unfortunate history relating to decades of cigarette smoking. A bout with lung cancer has caused tremendous weight loss; he now also has a heightened awareness of his health and diet. His sixth-grade son is probably spoiled and smothered to death as a result, because the poor child had to witness the near-death of his father, and then (I'm told) caught his father relapsing with a cigarette, causing him to effectively freak out.

When I first saw Uncle Tim during this trip, he greeted me by giving me a hug.

Our family was never a particularly touchy-feely one while I was growing up. While I understand there's a deep love there, we usually never made any effort to say so, physically or verbally -- we usually proved our love by actions. Lately hugging female family members (my mom and aunts) and younger male family members (my cousins) is more common now, older men generally haven't succumbed to the hug fad. So Uncle Tim's hug caught me off guard.

There probably was a time less than a decade ago when I would have actively retreated from this gesture. There was a time when my disdain for Uncle Tim was so strong that when I heard that he might crash at my parents' house -- where I too was crashing -- I opted instead for a cheap hotel.

This time I just hugged him, and permitted all the sins of the past to wash away. Holding on to the grudge was taking up too much of my mental energy.


My mother doesn't understand this concept. She hasn't spoken to my Uncle Randy for the better part of 20 years. Some small tiff two decades ago has grown so wide that she will not invite him to any family events that she hosts, nor will she speak to him if he appears at a function hosted by someone else.

This saddens me.

But in her obstinance, my mother provides me a wonderful role model: Whenever I find myself acting like her in this respect, I make a conscious effort to do exactly what I know she wouldn't.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The 411 (and the 552)

My mother probably jumped the gun a little -- just a leeeetle -- but I'm glad I made this trip back when I did.

My mom called me on Saturday, April 9 to tell me about my grandmother. I told her I'd make it back as soon as I checked my work schedule and priced some fares. By Thursday, April 14, I was on a flight out.

What my mother didn't tell me during the intervening telephone conversations was that my grandmother was only in the ICU for one night -- April 9 -- and had been moved to a "regular" room at the hospital by April 10. Nonetheless, I did want to go see my grandmother. At 87, she is not a young woman anymore, and various maladies have taken their toll on her life: diabetes, resulting in the loss of a leg, at least one stroke, and general memory loss.

I had imagined that this trip home would consist primarily of me spending long hours in the hospital, watching my grandmother do little but sleep while I tried to remain alert for the slightest change in her condition. This was not the case. Even my family seemed to acknowledge that while she could could slip away at any time, she wasn't in imminent danger of doing so. So I spent much of my time with my folks and brother instead, helping out where they work.

First visit to see Grams: We walk in to find a doctor and resident talking about her. Grandma had just suffered some convulsions. It was unclear whether she had a stroke or was just suffered some effects from a previous one, but Mom and I accompanied her down to get a new CAT scan just to be sure.

Keep in mind, I hate hospitals. I hate the hypersanitized smell, and yet I also hate the smell of urine, feces, and/or vomit that sometimes comes with certain rooms. I hate the blindingly white walls, and floors, and lights. And I generally hate the feeling that death lurks around every corner there. I hate hospitals.

So sitting around waiting for my grandmother to undergo a CAT scan wasn't particularly pleasant. I passed the time with my book (The World According to Garp, by John Irving), watching bad court shows on the television in the waiting room (The People's Court followed by some other one), and checking out a hunky guy who was also in the waiting room (yeah, I'm so going to hell) while my mom closed her eyes for a bit in the corner. I had to tap her when she started snoring.

Having just suffered convulsions, she was placed on anti-seizure medication which undoubtedly made her tired, so it was difficult for her to even open her eyes. She did open her eyes once or twice, but I don't know what level of recognition was behind them. I don't even know if she even knows I was there that day.

The second time I saw her, my grandmother was only a little more alert, but no more coherent. She opened her eyes from time to time when my mother engaged her, but couldn't really respond to any questions. Mom kept asking if she recognized me, and it was always absolutely unclear whether she did or not even though her eyes looked directly at me on numerous occasions. I tried speaking to her, but my Chinese proficiency was so awful that all I could think of to say was "Hi. How are you? Are you comfortable? Is everything okay?" What the fuck? Here was this old woman with a feeding tube in her side and oxygen being pumped into her nose and I was asking her if everything was okay. I guess a part of me kinda hoped she would sit up and scream, "You fucking moron, look at me! Does it look like every-fucking-thing is fucking OKAY to you? Goddamn, what a dumbshit!"

Needless to say, my grandmother did no such thing in response to my random blathering.

Subsequent to my second visit, the hospital decided to release my grandmother back to the nursing home. My mother was adamantly against the idea, seeing as it was pretty clear that the nursing home clearly would no longer be able to provide for with ongoing care of the level she would need. Indeed, my mother was right; after 12 hours my grandmother found herself back in the hospital, in Room 552.

I saw her for the last time in that room (which coincidentally shared the same number as my freshman year dorm room). Her bony hand, protected by skin which bore a striking resemblance to the skin of a white onion, kept alternating between pushing the blanket off her arm and pulling it back up to her chin. Her arm bore all the plum-colored bruises of numerous attempts at dialysis; it seemed like no patch of her skin retained any healthy color anymore, but bore the marks of painful attempts to maintain her life.

My mom and I placed by her head a small tape player which apparently had as its only purpose to play Buddhist chants on auto-repeat, 24/7. I hope hearing such sounds will comfort her. I'm not a religious person, but even when I hear those sounds they tend to relax me.

When I left my grandmother's bedside for the last time, I told her I'd see her again soon. I may have to go back home for a class reunion, I told her, or to see my cousin Nathan get married in August. "I'll see you then, okay?" I told her. "We'll see each other again soon!"

Even if she understood me, I don't think she believed me either.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

At Least It Isn't a Reindeer

I've learned that my grandmother, who has been in a nursing home for a number of years now, is presently in the ICU. I am heading home to see her, because this will probably be my last chance to do so.

I'm not particularly looking forward to going home, especially in circumstances like these, but I guess this is one of those familial duties you can't really avoid.

On the plus side, while searching for available flights, I came to realize that I still had stockpiled a crapload of WorldPerks miles from Northwest Airlines, meaning this flight from DC to Honolulu will cost me $25.00. The full-price fare: $1,530.00. Score. (This is my attempt at an inappropriate non sequitur to lighten the mood.)

Split Stream Woes

[If you're a woman, this post is not meant for your eyes. Please avert your eyes now by either closing this window, or hitting the BACK button on your browser, or clicking the 'NEXT BLOG' link in the upper right corner of this screen, or whatever it takes for you to surf away from this entry. Really, ladies, there is no reason on God's green earth you need to read this.]

Now that we've gotten that out of the way....

Gentlemen -- My one helpful bit of advice to you today after a slight mishap this weekend: Always, always, ALWAYS watch as you do your business standing up at the toilet. When you least expect it, it'll happen.

I'm talking about split streams.

You know what I'm talking about. I'm talking about that annoying situation that happens once in a while, when you just leisurely whip it out to start your whizz, when suddenly you realize that you're going in more than one direction, and it's impossible to aim both streams into the bowl at the same time. If you're not paying attention, things get messy. And wet.

This weekend, at Poker Night Number 2, I excused myself to take a quick leak. Not having yet etablished the hard-and-fast rule I just announced above, I stood there and absent-mindedly looked around the bathroom: Nice wall cabinet above the toilet (with doorless shelf housing a box of tissues); cute shower curtain; dish of potpourri on the sink....

until I noticed that my left thigh was getting... warm. And wet.

Thank goodness for Kegel exercises, because I shut that flow down PDQ. But it was too late: there was a rather prominent patch of dark on my blue jeans. And there would be no discreet way to hide it.

I managed to finish my original job (peeing, not wetting my pants) without causing further damage, but what damage had been done was going to be difficult to explain. Eventually I had to try to subtly make my way back to the living room and hide behind some furniture. Then I made my way over the coat rack and grabbed my pullover for the purpose over loosely holding it in front of my body. (Clever, ain't I?) Thankfully, my subtlety paid off and my strange behavior went unnoticed. (At least I would like to continue to delude myself that this is what went down.)

Those pants hit the washer immediately upon my return home.

Those split streams. They're waiting for you when you least expect it. Always be on the lookout.

** 10:17 a.m.: Only slightly unrelated story: I went to the men's room just now at the office. There's construction going on in a suite across the hall from me, so the lights are messed up, including in the bathroom. By the time the door closed behind me, the room was pitch black. Unable to aim in the dark, I basically had to go to the door with my pants undone, open it to let some light in, hurry back to the urinal and position myself before the last sliver of light escaped, then do my business in the complete darkness. So much for "always being on the lookout." If I had peed my pants again, I think I would have just screamed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I am One Lucky MoFo

[Texas Hold 'Em geekiness follows. Feel free to ignore if this topic bores you....]

Sunday night was Poker Night Number 2. Unlike Poker Night Number 1, this game was amongst established friends, and did not involve money. It was just for fun, so the pressure was a little less. Or so I thought.

Linda, our hostess for the evening, was out to get me from the get-go. In a fun way, but nonetheless, the fact that I had "won" every other poker night with this particular set of friends had particularly riled her. Last time we got together, she and I got down to heads-up action, which she lost because she began playing way too conservatively for heads-up play. This night, she swore she would do better.

I managed to take out Shawn early in the night again when he went all-in not knowing that I was holding a pocket pair. This was a redux of the week before, except that last time I was the one who forced Shawn all in.

I took down Christine when she went all-in after the flop with an ace-high, incorrectly thinking that if I called her bet, we would base our hands on the pocket and flop without showing the turn and the river. I had another pocket pair at the time, so I don't feel as bad that her misunderstanding caused her to go all in, because even if she were right, I would have still had the better hand.

So again, it was down to Linda and me, and Linda was out to get me. I actually started playing rather poorly and aggressively at first, because I thought I could bluff and scare Linda into handing me a slew of chips. Linda, though, had learned from our last game and figured that I bluffed often enough that she would call me more often. She thus took a slew of my chips (it hurts to lose when you've made several $1000 bets in an effort to scare your opponent into folding) and the chip lead after only a few hands.

In the penultimate hand, I had pocket nines. As this was probably the best I was going to do, I went all in before the flop. Linda, again thinking that I didn't have squat, called me on it. (She did, after all, have enough chips that she could afford to do this by now.) She had an A-Q off suit -- decent hand, but one that didn't count for anything over a pocket pair. So long as nothing on the board paired her up, I'd win the hand.

... Which is exactly what happened. Linda was not happy handing me over $4100 in chips. We didn't realize it at the time, but this represents where the chip lead also changed hands. Our stacks were both pretty big, but no one had bothered to count them up to get an accurate assessment.

The last hand was truly the coup de grace and what solidifies my reputation as a lucky-ass mofo. I had a Q-9 suited (clubs) -- not a great hand, but definitely a playable one. Linda obsessed for minutes about what to do with her hand, even consulting with Shawn (this is how driven she was to kick my ass), who also advised her to bet aggressively. She effectively limped in, betting only $2000, but I took the offensive and went all in again. This was partially just to scare her again, but it was also to hasten an end to the game, frankly. (Linda can get a bit obsessive about it, so I was willing to lose to her if only to take the game to a conclusion before midnight.)

Again consulting with Shawn and agonizing for a few minutes, Linda called my bet. She had a pair of 4s. Yes, it wasn't a very high pair, but Shawn reminded her that any pocket pairs during heads-up action was good. I showed my Q-9 and we began the action.

Upon seeing the flop, we all let out a huge cry. The flop was a rainbow K-4-6 or something. Linda and Shawn (Christine had long since retired to the next room to watch "Grey's Anatomy") were excited by the 4; I was dismayed yet strangely turned on just by the excitment of it all. Besides the fact that one of those was a club, this flop did not help me, yet gave Linda trip 4s -- definitely not a good position. I was almost ready to concede defeat, thinking that nothing could help me past a set.

Then came the turn, which was a 10 of clubs. Suddenly, new life came into my hand: I had a gut shot straight draw as well as flush draw. I needed any club, or a jack, to beat the trip 4s. Anything else and I would come up with absolutely nothing.

I held my breath as the river card was lifted from the deck. I didn't know what the odds were, but suddenly my heart was racing. Even though there was no money at all riding on this game, the adrenaline rush was amazing. I don't know how professional players do it -- the tension was killing me, and I didn't even have any real skin in the game.

The river gave us: a jack of spades. My straight was complete.

The scream that went up must have pissed off Linda's neighbors: from me in sheer happiness, from Linda and Shawn at the utter injustice of it all. By all rights, I should not have won that hand. The odds against coming up with a straight with a Q-9 pocket must be ridiculously small, especially on the river.

But win it I did. I love the excitement of an nail-biting game of poker.

And Linda now hates me as much as ever. She'll be gunning for me hard next time.

I think I'll suggest we put some money up.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Cleaning Up

I'm not sure what the etiquette is with respect to taking your friends' money.

On Saturday night, I met up with some people for a friendly game of poker. I had met them through a Craigslist posting which explicitly asked for "normal, sane people." (Contrary to what others may think, I consider myself one of those.) The idea was, apparently, that these people weren't seeking hard-core poker fanatics who expected huge sums of money to change hands or who were big-time hustlers. They were seeking low-key, low-pressure players.

There was a low buy-in of $20. Since that's more than I would have spent if I had spent a night out at the bar, it was a bargain night of entertainment.

All in all, the night is supposed to be for fun more than anything. But there's always that strange element that creeps into it because money is involved.

J. and R. have this elaborate system worked out. It's a little geeky, but it's pretty awesome at the same time, and also a bit ironic seeing as they had explicitly sought "normal" people. Basically, they've set up a system where, at the end of the night, they can tell you how much your $20 gained or lost -- to the penny -- so that you can take a payout (or wallow in how much of your $20 you lost). (The payouts usually round away the last digit or two. And usually no one makes a big deal about the pennies they lose to rounding.)

This Saturday, for a $20 buy-in, I walked away with $57.50. Not too shabby. (One girl at the table walked away with $0.43. She laughed about it a lot. She's a trip.)

There was, of course, the requisite joking that I would not be invited back for the next poker night. And the howls of how I was totally raking it in because I'd bet large amounts on crappy hands just because the other players clearly wouldn't be able to afford such large bets.

That's the strange Catch-22 of poker nights for money. There's always the delicate balancing act between winning because it's fun, winning because you get to take home money, and being careful not to win so much that you piss everyone else off. Including your hosts.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Daylight Deception

What I don't like about Daylight Savings Time:

I'm used to staying at work "late." And by "late," I mean I'm used to it being a little dark when I leave my office. This is because I usually show up at the office at around 9:30, so when it gets dark at around 6:30, it's pretty much time for me to leave. But when Daylight Savings kicks in, it doesn't get dark until around 8:00. And there have been times when I'll lose track of time because I try to judge the time by the amount of daylight left, only to realize it's 7:30 pm and I'm still at the frigging office for no good reason.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Baby Got Back

One last story about Saturday night (the night seems replete with story fodder):

Pulling myself away from Gonzo's Nose, my friends having abandoned me and I not wanting to stay in the club alone, I caught the Metro home at around 2:30 a.m.1/ During the ride I realized that I had basically not eaten much all day and that strange sensation I was feeling in my gut was hunger. I pondered trekking over to a McDonald's on 17th Street (it's open 24 hours on weekends now, effectively just to cater to hungry drunk gay boys spilling out of the gay bars that line the street -- which is strange, considering that many gay boys are so body-type conscious that McDonald's is probably the last thing they want to put into their bodies),2/ but I figured that would be a bit far. I had about resigned myself to making myself a PB&J at home when I remembered the 7-11 around the corner and decided I'd go there. I am, in fact, so lazy that I did not want to have to make my own PB&J.

So I walked up 15th Street, turned right on Rhode Island, and readied my final approach to the 7-11 at the corner, when I saw her. She was emerging from a cab, and she was


and I do mean all


I'm talking two long sets of legs jutting their way out of the cab door, covered by a thin layer of either nude or perhaps chocolate leggings. I immediately knew what this woman did to pay the rent, and it wasn't bake cookies. Avoiding eye contact, I scurried my way into the 7-11 as quickly as possible.

I popped into the 7-11 and scanned the selection real quick before I tried to stand in line to order my selection from the cashier. Unfortunately, Miss Thang apparently didn't realize that I intended to stand in line, because she proceeded to stand in front of me, and behind another group of people. Too lazy to argue, I just let her take her place in front of me in line.

... and it was from this vantage point that I realized that her skirt was




that there was effectively nothing covering up this chick's backside. And rest assured, Miss Thang's backside was ample. I thought, Girlfriend, poodle skirts might -- just might -- work on Paris Hilton, but she's got like a twenty-inch waist and NO ASS. You, on the other hand....

Just as I was thinking this, she turned to face me. Suddenly afraid that I might actually have been inadvertently articulating the uncharitable thoughts which were running through my head, I kinda just kept my head down.

... which is bad, because Miss Thang was also very tall, which means that when I looked down at the usual 45-degrees-or-so south of horizontal, pretty much the first thing I saw was her Baby Got Back sticking out from that tiny little "skirt" again. I sincerely hope that she was wearing the best-fitting thong ever because if not, her hoochie-coochie would very likely be visible from the front, and I did not want or need to see that.

I should make it explicit at this point that though this woman was all leg, I do not mean to leave the reader with the impression that she was attractive. Ooooooh no. Her face left quite a bit to be desired. Somewhat mannish, in fact. Her clothing left nothing to the imagination, and much of it really should have been. She was what we'd charitably refer to as a "Big Girl." With a cap-i-tal "B." Sometimes it amazes me that people will actually pay money to be with women who look like that. Can't straight men get with women for free who look way better than that?

Finally, she spoke. One word: "Chinese?"

"Yeah," I responded. I tried to be nonchalant about it, but I think I pretty much failed. Miss Thang was actually trying to engage in conversation with me. What the fuck is up with that?

"Ni hao," she said. Yes, I know it means "how are you" in Chinese. I think it's possibly the most well-known Chinese phrase ever, though it may be second only to "Gong Xi Fa Cai." But in an effort to avoid any conversation with her, I declined to take her up on it, even though I speak perfectly decent, though certainly not perfect, Chinese.

"I don't speak Chinese," I lied.

"What you mean you don't speak Chinese? You [sic] Chinese!" she retorted.

"Uh, I'm American?" I ventured. I hope I didn't sound too snotty, but I wanted to point out to her the fallacy of presuming that a person of Asian descent necessarily speaks an Asian language. The irony of it, of course, is that she is one of the few who actually accurately identified me as Chinese rather than any other East Asian ethnicity on the first go.3/

"Well, I'm American and I speak Chinese," she tried to tell me. I didn't fight her on it, even though I'm pretty sure that the only "Chinese" she could lay claim to is "Ni hao," and she would never have understood anything had I actually given her some Chinese in response. ("Bu tsuo. Ni ne? Jin tian xia le tai duo yu; wo suei diao yi tian le. Hai you, wo xiang tsao ni da gai shi xiang tsao Grand Canyon yi yang.")4/ I dig people who think that they can lay claim to "I speak Chinese" if they know a grand total of one phrase.5/

She proceeded to purchase a pack of condoms and leave. Me, I got the disgusting food I was craving and made the trip home. Eventually I fell asleep to a DVD of "Finding Forrester."6/

1/ Well, it was actually only 1:30 a.m. technically, but with daylight savings and all, we skipped ahead to 2:30 a.m.

2/ Though at the same time, a disturbing number of gay boys don't seem to mind putting shit like crystal, heroin, and ecstacy into their bodies.

3/ Many times people compound their idiotic assumptions by greeting me with "Konichi wa" despite the fact that I'm not Japanese. So first they assume that I'm Japanese, then they add to it by presuming that all "Japanese" people in America actually speak Japanese. [Rolling eyes.]

4/ Loosely (again, because my Chinese is actually quite bad), "Not bad. How are you? It rained far too much today; I wasted the entire frigging day sleeping. Also, I think fucking you would probably be like fucking the Grand Canyon." (The Grand Canyon allusion actually comes from a Supreme Court case.)

5/ Of course, I will have to significantly eat my words if it turns out this woman does, in fact, speak Chinese well. But I guess we'll never know, because hopefully I will never see this woman or her Ginormous Booty ever again.

6/ Quite by coincidence, "Forrester" contains the following bit of dialog (paraphrased from memory), which is triggered as the two main characters discuss an answer that has arisen on "Jeopardy!", playing in the background:

Forrester: That was written by a person you've never even heard of... [starts quoting poetry]
Jamal: [mouths along to the poem] Dude, that was James Lowell. Where would you get the idea that I've never heard of him? "I'll continue with 'Poor Assumptions' for $800 please, Alex."

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Saturday Night Fever, Part II

[The continuing saga of the events of last Saturday night, involving Gonzo's Nose, beer, dancing, and hot chicks.]

Although it was supposed to be an 80s night, GN fell back on some older classics from time to time during their set. They didn't think anyone would mind some particularly popular non-80s hits. Eventually, they launched into "I Will Survive." Hello, gay anthem much? So of course I went hog wild when this song came on.

Toward the end of the song, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was a definite "Hey, you! Yeah, you" tap, as opposed to the "excuse me while I try to get by you please" tap.1/ Not used to being tapped in such a manner, I turn to find a rather attractive blond woman trying to get my attention. Actually, I couldn't see her terribly well other than that, because she wasn't right behind me, but was reaching her hand past someone else to tap me.

In her hand was a card.

A business card.

Was this woman actually handing me her business card?

See, thing is, strange things like this have happened to me before, and it doesn't get less strange each time. While I don't really consider myself a screaming flaming fag, I still tend to think that there's fairly little question that I'm not straight. Yet on occasion this escapes the attention of some of the fellow patrons in bars, especially when I'm dancing along with live music. In fact, last time I saw GN some woman came dancing up on me. She was in front of me and just slowly backed up into me. It scared me,2/ because I had no frigging clue how to react to this, and eventually she gave up. I'm glad she never turned around. That would have been mortifying, because she probably would have caught me mouthing the words "What is going on here?" in horror to my friend Sue, who in response just laughed at me. In another situation, I was dancing to a different band -- I think it was Burnt Sienna -- at a bar at the beach, when some woman again came dancing up to me. Maybe I just look like I'm having a good time when I'm dancing. (My friends and I surmised, after she danced away, that she had pretty much done enough to collect on whatever bet her friends had put her up to.) But still, it was odd.

I pocketed the card and kept dancing through the set. Eventually I told Linda and Leslie about it. Then I pulled the card out of my pocket to take a quick look at it...

... and sure enough, I was wrong about my initial thought that people can't seem to tell my sexual orientation. Because the card that I received from this random blond woman belonged to a guy named Geoffrey.

Unless I completely misunderstood her intentions in tapping me on the shoulder with a business card in her had, she had clearly just served some wing-woman duty. (It would be terribly embarrassing to find out that she had actually intended for me to pass the card along to some hot chick standing near me or something.) I thought it was brilliant, personally. I'm thinking I need to grab a handful of Elizabeth's business cards and start handing them out to cute guys when she and I are out drinking too.

The good thing about using a business card to introduce yourself is that you get a sense of who the guy is before you initiate contact with him. The card I have indicates that Geoffrey works for a company -- which shall remain nameless -- which strives to increase a conservative presence on college campuses. The website contains information basically demonizing The Left, and gives instructions on how to establish conservative student groups to counter the Massive LeftWing Conspiracy on Most College Campuses.

I don't think I'll be calling or emailing this guy.

PS: I related this story to a co-worker friend of mine, who remarked: "I find it incredible that a gay man in this city -- in this city, which voted 91%/9% for John Kerry -- would think that handing over a conversative business card would be a good way to land a gay date."

1/ For some reason, I have mastered the differentiation between these two taps. Mostly because I seldom ever receive the former. Me, if I'm trying to get past a few people, I usually don't do the "tap," but a gentle hand on the shoulder blade or the small of the back as I subtly shove my way by.

2/ I use the word "scared" only for lack of a better word, because she didn't "scare" me like "made me scream like a little girl" "scare" me, but she did definitely put me in a position I'm not used to. To be fair, of course, it's not like men dance up against me in gay clubs all the time either, so (again) I'm pretty sure I wouldn't know how to react if a guy had done the same thing.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Saturday Night Fever, Part I

Despite significant reservations, I headed out to northern Virginia on Saturday night to see my favorite local band, Gonzo's Nose,1/ play. They seldom make it into D.C. proper, so I really suppose I have no choice but to see them in the commonwealth, much as I hate to venture into a state that seems to loathe my very existence as a gay man.

My girlfriends Linda and Leslie came out too, despite the pouring rain. I had turned them on to GN earlier. Despite the fact that I do love GN's music (this weekend was a "warmup to 80s night," which effectively made it an 80s night of its own, and I am absolute sucker for 80s music), I know I'd rather be there with friends than just listening to them on my own. Or maybe it's just because being a straight bar alone weirds me out. Then again, being in a gay bar alone weirds me out too. But then not as much.

At one point, Linda was talking behind me to some random guy. Actually, they appear to have known each other before that night, but I hadn't ever met him, so I have no idea who he was, so I will continue calling him Random Guy. She was standing to my right and slightly behind me, holding her cup of beer.2/ When GN launched into "Just Like a Dream," (Show me show me show me how you do that trick...), I (as is my wont) started singing along and dancing like a fool. And by "dancing like a fool," I do in fact mean I looked like a frigging idiot. But then I look like a frigging idiot when I'm not dancing too. Oh well. Also, by "dancing like a fool," I mean I decided I would raise my right arm, because that's part of my little dance routine. (Told you I dance like a fool.)

So I lifted my right arm, only to feel the impact of it against Linda's hand. I turned to look at her to make sure everything was okay; she seemed fine. "Oops," she said, "Careful there!"

... and then I turned to Random Guy. Yeah. The guy literally had beer dripping from his forehead. There was a visible trail of beer head spattering the front of his jacket from the lapel down to the pockets. This guy got it bad.

"Oh my god," I tell him. "I am sooooo sorry."

"Uh, yeah," Random Guy says. "You ought to be more careful there, man."

"Uh... yeah. I was, like, dancing. Uh, sorry."

"You ought to buy this lady a beer," he tells me, nodding toward Linda. I presume he's trying to sound nice now by trying to make it sound like I owe Linda something rather than emphasize that he's the one I've just pissed off royally. It was all I could do to refrain from telling him that I was the one who had paid for the last round so that, in fact, I actually had already paid for the now-spilled beverage.

"Well," he says to Linda, "I'm gonna go get a bit cleaned up." He heads off to the bathroom. I had been to the bathroom earlier; it reminded of what I imagine women's rooms to be like. The guys in there spent an inordinate amount of time chatting, mostly about the hot girls on the dance floor or who had been pulled up to the stage with the band. It was odd. I imagine he went to the sink and found himself having to explain why he was washing beer off of his face and jacket. Probably something involving some idiot Asian fuckface (me).

The moment he excused himself, I burst out laughing.

He came back after he was done and stood near us again for a little bit. When he came back, he politely suggested that I keep my right arm in check. I told him I couldn't promise him anything.

1/ If you live in the DC area and you get a chance, you must see Gonzo's Nose. They rock. And I have an amazing crush on one of the guitarists. Too bad he has a girlfriend.

2/ Okay, not to sound like a total snob, but I haven't been to a place that served cups of beer in ages. Well, maybe some of the bars on the beach. Seriously now.

Monday, April 04, 2005


(Wow. This post is quite long. Uh, sorry in advance.)

This weekend included was an exceedingly lazy Saturday. It was raining all day, dampening (HA!) any incentive I may have ever had to get dressed and leave the house. So, I spent a good part of the day sleeping, and wondering whether there was anything to eat in the event I should, you know, actually decide to put some food into my system.

I watched a DVD of "Splendor in the Grass" which, for some reason, kept putting me to sleep. Damn those old movies with no excitement and loud noises designed to cater to the ever-shortening attention span of the American public!

Two strange dreams hit me when I finally gave up and went to the bedroom to nap. I share them with you now. Each of them requires a little background which I haven't yet shared with the readers of this blog.


Even longer-term readers of this blog probably won't remember, but I went to Seattle to visit with some of my best friends over Thanksgiving. I didn't elaborate on it then, but my one friend C.W.T. I later referred to as "wildly tactless." Apparently I still bear some subconscious annoyance of what happened that weekend.

While having coffee with C.W.T. and two other friends from high school, C.W.T. uttered probably the meanest thing I have ever heard anyone say to me in all seriousness: "Dennis!, you are the most superficial person I know."

I could get into a slew of details about how offended I was; how C.W.T. himself would probably be the most superficial person I knew if I bothered to give any amount of thought to it; and how that makes C.W.T. the most hypocritical sonofabitch who ever walked into my sphere of existence, but I'll pass and spare you all the details. But I do think that most annoying of all was the fact that C.W.T. and I met in the eighth grade, yet he clearly knows very very little about me. Also insanely aggravating was the fact that the other two people present for this conversation have also known me for over half my life, and while C.W.T. was hurling this invective at me no one thought to come to my rescue and tell C.W.T. that he was wrong. (Instead, for some reason, everyone thought it would be fun to discuss what, exactly, it is that makes Dennis! so superficial because, well, clearly he is, and there's no point in even arguing the opening premise of this discussion.)

So for some reason this entire scenario popped back into my dream on Saturday afternoon.

In my dream, C.W.T. and I were, for some reason, having lunch or something. How this came to pass, I don't know, because I have promised myself that I will not break bread nor talk with a "friend" who thinks I'm the most superficial person he knows again absent an apology. (Besides, who would want to spend any time or effort keeping up with the most superficial person he knows anyway? I'm sure C.W.T. wouldn't.) But there we were. I know I wasn't in the mood to speak to him, that's for sure, and since it was just him and me at a cafe or something somewhere, this made for a fairly tense and quiet lunch.

C.W.T. kept making random comments about things; I refused to engage him in any conversation. I just sat there, concentrating far too much on whatever food product was in front of me, making sure not to eat it too fast or too slow, but certainly just praying for an expeditious end to the meal.

At some point, C.W.T. decided to be more explicit, and actually uttered the word "superficial" -- this time (probably because this is my dream), with enough tact to divorce it from circumstances accusing me of being that way. I felt my body rankle at the reference, but I maintained my resolve not to speak.

C.W.T. finally spoke up further, and gave me the most heartfelt apology for saying what he did. I don't recall the exact words, but I know it made me feel "good" hearing it. Actually, I recall it wasn't really that I felt good; I think I felt more vindicated by his apology.

I don't think the dream continued through to where I actually responded to his apology.

But it's all in my head anyway, because I sincerely doubt that the apology I apparently seek will ever come to pass before Kristi Yamaguchi does a triple lutz on a skating rink in hell.


Recently, I had dinner with a few people whom I would normally consider friends, except that they managed to piss me off beyond belief that night.

DD and Lana are among my better friend in this city, but sometimes they can work my last nerve. We were having dinner along with Kim, who I'm sure is a nice girl. I say "I'm sure" because people say she is, but every time we're together -- which invariably means that DD has invited her to join us -- she turns into megasarcastic "Mean Girl" bitch. I'm sure she thinks it's fun and cool. I hit tolerance limits for such behavior very quickly.

So we were having dinner and talking like we usually do. And I was getting picked on, like I normally am. I guess it's just my personality that bring out the mean side of other people. Most nights I can take it. For some reason, this night I was not in the mood.

At a standard break in the conversation -- you know, where one train of discussion has pretty clearly ended and the next one hasn't yet begun -- I decided to bring up a new topic. No, it wasn't related to the last conversation that had just ended. Perhaps it was something of a non sequitur. But still.

"So I judged a moot court competition this weekend..." I began...

... whereupon all three girls at the table burst out into hysterical laughter.

I don't understand what was so funny. To this day, I don't get it.

"What?" I asked, bewildered and more than a bit peeved. No answer was forthcoming, despite repeated "What's so funny?"s.

I gave up. Whatever story I was going to tell about my experiences judging this moot court competition evaporated in a puff of smoke, or, more appopropriately, in the smoke the was gushing forth from my ears.

"No, really," Kim piped in, the three of them finally recovering. "Tell us your story."

"That's quite all right," I responded. By this point, I'm just happy that we've already paid the check and are just dawdling here, because if we hadn't received our food yet, the rest of this night would be crazy awkward.

"Aw, tell us," Kim said, probably feeling just a little bad. "You're such an amusing storyteller."

"Apparently," I rejoined, "I'm pretty damn amusing before the story even makes it past my lips!"

I truly hated sounding like such a pissant whiny little bitch, but that outburst of laughter was just so uncalled for I really didn't feel like being Mr. Congeniality. I felt like a recalcitrant child, and I really did hate myself for that. But it is how I felt, and I couldn't help it. It's fun to laugh with people; it's certainly no fun to be laughed at.

So the story never got told, and I basically clammed up until we finally left the restaurant some ten minutes later, save for the occasional "Thank you"s to the waiters who were still refilling our water glasses while we sat there and they talked.

My dream this Saturday apparently picked up on my yet-unresolved (and indeed, undiscussed) animosity stemming from this incident.

In my dream, I come home to my apartment, except that it's not in the state I left it. Currently, in real life, it's a mess. This is because I am a slob of the highest order. In my dream, I came home to find my bedroom and living room completely redecorated and insanely clean.

"I can see my floor!" I exclaim. "What the heck!"

I start walking around my bedroom, marvelling still at the fact that I can see my floor, and yet wondering where all the crap went. Part of me thinks Have I been robbed? but most of me just thinks how cool it is that the place is so clean. I look into my closet (most of the crap in my bedroom right now is clothes that have gone through the laundry but have yet to make it back onto to hangers) to find that all my clothes have been hung up nicely. I even identify some new storage boxes which appear to contain clothing which otherwise would have been scattered all over the floor.

I climb into bed (and "climb" is the right word, for indeed, it has now been elevated, forming something of a loft bed, creating more space beneath it) and look around. Someone has provided an excellent angle to see my television from the bed. The television now sits atop a nice dresser (which now lacks protruding clothes) and I can still see my floor.

I'm still wondering who the heck did this, and how they gained access to my apartment. (Part of me is also just slightly embarassed because of how messy the place was before the elves worked their magic, and because there was some, uh, compromising material in plain view in the living room.)

Then I look over to my right, where a small, inconspicuous sign is posted near the head of the bed. It's from DD, Lana, and Kim, and it says something like "Enjoy the new room! Sorry for the unfortunate rudeness of the other night."

For some reason, I think this scenario is even more unlikely to play itself out in real life than the one involving C.W.T.

I'm starting to think that I'm in desperate need of new friends.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Sloe Gin Death

Via Stephanie, I had to try this.

Go easy on that.
You will drink too much gin. Not the worst way to die, but you won't remember too much of your life. Hey, at least you made some people laugh!

What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?
brought to you by Quizilla

Honestly, I've never actually heard of Edward Gorey or this most macabre book, but it looks fun.

And Stephanie, eat your heart out. Or drink your heart out, as it were.

Friday, April 01, 2005


I've been pondering this for a little bit: Much as I enjoyed having this outlet for a little over a year now, I think it's time for me to say Adieu to this blog.

I originally started this blog as a way to express my thoughts in a candid manner, as well as to try to sharpen my creative writing skills. (One doesn't get much of a chance to write "creatively" when one spends their day reading court opinions and drafting court pleadings.)

But lately it seems like this blog is more of a chore than anything. I find myself wanting to post something, but not Finding Anything, so instead the quality of this blog suffers because I start posting random crap instead of stuff that I've taken any time at all to invest any sweat equity in.

And I want this blog to be a labor of my love rather than just something that's there.

So with that, I am officially calling this blog quits. E.R. docs, you can call it now. It's been real!