“You’re older than you’ve ever been, and now you’re even older.”

Oh look, what time of year is it? Why, it’s the time of year when Greg’s birthday is rapidly approaching. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to fear the actual moment of being a year older, or someone finding himself looking in the mirror every morning to see if liver spots have started to materialize. But it is the time of year when I try to figure out what the heck I’m doing for my birthday, and wonder if I should really even bother.

Part of the problem is that when you have a lot of friends, you might want to invite them all. This is a great thing when you’ve got a huge house with which to entertain. Not so much in a 580 square-foot apartment. A couple of months ago two friends offered up their home for a birthday party and I ended up turning them down. I’m not entirely sure why, to be honest. It was an extremely generous offer (and their rowhouse in DC is fantastic, I’m very appreciative of it) but it just didn’t feel right for some reason. So instead I keep running through the different options (small group of friends over at my place, medium group of friends out for dinner, large group of friends out for dinner at somewhere that could accomodate them) and none of them are jumping out at me.

I think part of the problem is that (my own) birthday parties actually stress me out. Not just the planning, but the actual having them. Is everyone having a good time? Have I spent time with everyone? What’s going on over there that I need to take care of? Are the people at the other end of the table feeling slighted? (This is usually the point where it’s pointed out that I really spend too much time worrying about other people.) Meanwhile, it’s now less than four weeks from the actual day in question so I need to get my act together if I’m to plan anything.

That said, I’m half-contemplating doing absolutely nothing for my birthday this year. Or at best, something really, really low key. (Picking a bar for Saturday night, telling people to show up if they feel like it, and calling it a day. At least DC is smoke-free these days.) Turning 34 is hardly a big exciting event, and not doing anything for it relieves a lot of the pressure and stress and trying to draw lines on who to invite when potential guest lists are three times as long as could be accomodated no matter where I would want to go. Except, of course, for the potential, “What was I thinking?” moment when my birthday rolls around and nothing is planned for it.

There are certainly more important things to get stressed out over than one’s own birthday party, but I think I spent a good half-hour in bed last night flipping around under the covers and trying to think of what to do. (It’s a pity the weather in late March is so unpredictable because every year for a split second the idea of a picnic tied into the kite festival is always raised. Then I’m reminded that the reason why the kite festival is that weekend has to do with high velocity winds. Yeah, not so good.) My life in a nutshell, really.

At least I’m not actually freaked out by the idea of being older. Can you imagine a combination of the two issues? Yikes. I’d have to be sedated for the month of March!

The Other Time I Passed Out And Hit My Head

When I had my series of mortifying moments at the gym at the end of January (calf muscle problems leading to nausea leading to passing out leading to cracking my head on a wall leading to blood on the gym floor, for those who came in late), one thing I didn’t mention was that this was actually a faint echo of something that happened before. The same superficial moments were there, but a lot of the other parts are quite different.

It was February 1988, about halfway through my freshman year of high school. A bunch of good friends that I’d had from 4th through 8th grade had also gone to the same magnet school as I, and up until that day I still thought of them as being just that—good friends. Then I got sick and to coin a phrase, that’s when I really learned who my friends were and were not.

Because our school had people from all across the county attending, morning transportation involved everyone taking a bus or walking to their “base school” (the location that you’d normally attend if you weren’t accepted to Jefferson Tech) and then waiting for a shuttle bus that transported all of us Jefferson students to our actual school. When the weather was good, we’d wait out in front of the school, but winter meant that we’d wait in the main foyer. People would play cards, or talk, or catch up on homework. I remember that two of my best friends from earlier years, Will M. and Steve S., were both there. And that was when I went to school with a nasty cough that turned out to really be bronchitis.

Continue reading The Other Time I Passed Out And Hit My Head

Vault of Night

I don’t often pimp photos that I’ve taken, but for some reason I really love how this one turned out. It’s actually (briefly!) on Flickr’s “Interestingness” page which takes views and comments into account, among other things, and I’m happy it’s getting a bit of attention. (Ironically the first comment I got complained that it was too dark, which was sort of the point. Brightly lit pictures at National Airport are pretty run-of-the-mill.)

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled programming after this, a different side to DC’s National Airport.

Vault of Night

Full stomach, warm heart.

What’s that? There’s a holiday today?

I kid, of course. And for someone who has never, ever, ever been dating/seeing/partnered with someone on Valentine’s Day (it’s a gift!), I actually kind of like the holiday.

V-Day DaisysDon’t get me wrong, it’s hideously over-marketed by all sorts of companies using it for personal gain and there’s far too much pressure on people for it to be an absolutely fantastic, overly extravagant day. I know all that, and just like every single holiday there are negatives to go with the positives.

But here’s what I do like about Valentine’s Day. I like the idea of a holiday where the stated purpose has become over the years to tell someone else how much you love them. You know, that sounds like a great reason to have a holiday. Hell, we should have Valentine’s Day every month. (Yes, I know that’s missing the point.) It’s sort of like Christmas where a lot of people I know talk about the over-commercialization of it, and I agree. But there are other aspects of the holiday for me (getting together with my family) that make me happy.

Anyway, as someone who is single every year when mid-February hits, I wasn’t celebrating it with a boyfriend (although I suppose now that I think about it I did have it with a loved one of a different sort). I continued last year’s tradition of cooking a good dinner. This time my friend Dave K. came over and I made white chili, plus cinnamon bread pudding with vanilla ice cream on top. Dave was super-sweet and brought over flowers and a box of chocolates. He says he never did that for anyone ever before. I dunno, I think he’s a pro at that sort of thing. He’s one of the friends that more and more I’m realizing how fortunate I am to have in my life.

It was a really nice evening; just hanging out with a good and important friend, talking about all sorts of things, and relaxing. And tomorrow I fly off to Los Angeles and don’t come back until next Tuesday to boot. (Warm weather, you better be waiting for me.)

So, that was Valentine’s Day for me. I hope everyone feels loved today by someone.

Things I’ve Never Done Before

Here’s one to add to the proverbial list: Walked out on a lecture.

A new friend had suggested going to see the Jasper Johns exhibit at the National Gallery of Art; the curator of the exhibit had a lecture that afternoon on the exhibit itself and it would certainly be fun to see the art and then hear him talk about it, right? Right?

Well, I met Del at the museum and we saw the art itself, which I enjoyed a great deal. I think I liked the exhibit in part because you saw the evolution of the different forms on display, and even how one bled into the next that then became its own new distinct entity, which begat a third type. That sort of thing. Afterwards we made it up to the Matisse “Cut-Outs” display in the Tower Gallery (considering how small a room it is, why it’s only open select hours of the day is beyond me—and I think poor Del was pretty disappointed after all the build up of several times trying to see it only to have the area closed, and then actually getting there and it was over in seconds), and then headed down to the lecture.

In the first five minutes, I learned three things. First, that the curator had deliberately left out some works by Johns from the time period of the exhibit in order to focus on those four specific art styles. (New to me.) Second, that one idea had begat the next. (Which I’d already figured out, but it was nice to get confirmation.) And third, the curator was a horrible public speaker who was reading word-for-word off of what appeared to be an essay he’d written for something else.

There’s a real difference in writing an essay that’s meant to be read on paper versus writing a speech. You use different terminology, different sentence structure, and a different voice all around. There’s a real art to being a great public speaker, although most people can settle for hitting the mark of good. This guy? Not even close. Run-on sentences and pretentious vocabulary words were the items of the day, it seemed, and my eyes began to glaze over even as I tried to pay attention. It was frustrating because I wanted to hear him talk about the individual works, give us some sort of insight. Instead my big insights were that the woman to my right had fallen asleep two times so far, and the woman next to her had been saying, “Ooh!” and “Wow!” a lot early on but had shut up, perhaps because even she was bored.

Finally I couldn’t take it any more and I looked at my watch. Only 30 minutes? Oh boy. Who knew how much longer this would go. However, Del had seen me look at my watch. “We can go if you want,” he whispered.

“Oh no, if you’re enjoying this we’ll stay,” I whispered back.

I want to go now,” he replied.

Done. We left and it was such a relief to do so; it turned out Del had the same problems with the curator’s lack of lecturing ability that I had, but was trying to hang in there because he thought I might still be interested. Oh well. I actually had a really good time; it was fun to hang out with Del and shared misery somehow makes it all ok. So definitely a plus. But I’ve never walked out of a lecture in the middle before.

And you know something? I’ll bet some of the people around us wish they had done the same thing.

365pictures: Days 61-90

Somehow it’s already a month later. I’m not sure how that happened.

A bunch of self-portraits in this batch. We’ll see if this is because of picture-talking doldrums, or if they were really justified. (I think some were, some were not.)

There were definitely a few pictures that I’m really pleased with, though, and one that I still owe a longer write-up for Butch about once I realised that it was going to take more than a paragraph.

And, as always, the full set is available at this link if you so wish.

Alyssa's tired of giving kisses goodnight.Balloon ArchHeading into the lightRush Hour...at the end of the tunnel.
New exercise shirtNOW.Gazebo at nightCalifornia Ave NWThe Words that Bind Us
ParkingThe View From Where I SitReverse MoradoAll Hail Wii.Eights Over Aces
Sea of CupcakesFirst Snow of 2007 (evening)It's a rough life, being a dog.Conference Room CageLots of gray hair
Shaving, Phase 1: Down to a GoateeShaving, Phase 2: Attack of the Fu ManchuDave enjoys a pintMimosas for everyone!Eat
The PlungeHole in my headSeaweed Salad in ChopsticksSappiness at Marvelous MarketMartini Coaster