Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Moving on...

If you haven't noticed, I haven't touched this blog in a good while. I've been busy living life, and going through changes, as always.

I am plans to start up a new blog, starting afresh with a new chapter. I will be sure to place the forwarding link here and let you all know when that happens.

Thanks to everyone who read and enjoyed my blog over the years!


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Feeling Pride

Sunday afternoons, especially in the summer, tend to make me nostalgic. In fact any time after a fun weekend or vacation when going "back to reality" looms, or the end of summer, makes me nostalgic. Where I'm going with this is that I had a wonderful Pride weekend and was just thinking about all the Pride weekends past - the people I've had as friends in this city, the formative experiences I've had here as a young (now not-so-young) gay man.

Actually I only have to work Monday, then I'm taking the rest of the week off with Sean to spend at Provincetown for some much-needed rest and relaxation. I'm really, really looking forward to it. We'll be staying with two friends who've gotten a house...I'm hoping the weather is nice!

Thursday night was a friend of Sean's birthday party, so we went to that. Saturday we watched the parade (was it just me or did this year feel like it dragged on for 3 hours?) visited some friends, went to dinner at Logan Tavern, out for drinks after that. Today we met two friends and went to the street festival - got drenched in the brief downpour! And why is Pride always during a hot time of year? It always seems lethally hot down at the street fair, but I guess some boys just like the excuse to go shirtless, is my guess.

Summer is finally here, it would seem. I have been debating keeping this blog active anymore. I can't explain it, but sometimes I think it's served its purpose. Maybe I'll start a new one, or...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May-be I'll Update

I was eating with a friend a week or so ago and they asked me what was up with my blog, and I realized I've been far too busyto update it like I should. Plenty has happened in the last month, and I'll post some photos soon.

Things I've been up to: Work's been crazy, but have been trying to enjoy my weekends and seeing friends when I can. Sean and I have been looking at moving somewhere together. Taking some time off next month to go with him to Provincetown, maybe visit my friend in Halifax, too, at some point. I've been taking a French class at the Alliance Française two nights a week, just for fun. I had jury duty this month (hopefully it'll be a long while before that again). Sean gave me "permission" finally to get a motorcycle, and we still talk about moving in with eachother (not that the two are somehow related...), and I've donw a lot of shopping. I think that about sums it all up.

My family's bugging me to come visit this Memorial Day weekend at some point - not sure what I am going to do yet, beyond spend soem time with Sean. À Bientôt!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

An Interesting Article...

Do Gay Couples Give Up Their U.S. Citizenship?

American expatriates are having a more difficult time living and working abroad, a recent Times article found, causing a small but growing number of them to renounce their United States citizenship.

But there’s another group of Americans who could be adding to that tally: same-sex couples.
Many same-sex couples who decide to leave the United States head for countries that recognize their unions. In fact, when we wrote a story about the extra costs same-sex couples face here in America, we learned that many leave because of immigration obstacles.

Several readers left comments stating that they could not sponsor their same-sex partners for American citizenship — so they decided to migrate to places like Canada, where it’s easier to gain permanent resident status for couples since only one partner has to qualify. Besides, gay marriage is recognized there.

Not all same-sex couples who move abroad will ultimately renounce their citizenship, of course, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

David Cohen, a senior partner at Campbell Cohen, an immigration law firm in Montreal, said he had seen a significant increase in the number of same-sex couples who emigrated from the United States to Canada over the last 10 years.

The couples head north for many reasons, he said, including “what they view as a prejudicial tax system, or they don’t feel they are entitled to the same benefits as heterosexual married couples, or they feel there is more tolerance,” Mr. Cohen said. “And there have been a fair number of Americans who can include their same-sex partner in the application. Only one member of a couple has to qualify for permanent residence status to come to Canada.”

The following readers, who commented on our October story about the costs of being gay, echoed those sentiments:

Rich and Luis, of Vancouver, wrote:
Heterosexuals can sponsor their partners to become U.S. permanent residents; same-sex couples cannot. My now-husband and I had to move to Canada to stay together. We were both professionals in our native countries. Now my husband, a medical technologist, is working at Staples, and I’m making $25,000 less annually with poor benefits at a temporary job with no job security, although at least the job is in my field. It was expensive to become permanent residents, and the move was expensive, as are trips back to see my family.

Megan, of Canada, said:
Try being a bi-national gay couple. We have paid over $70,000 to be together. My partner is Indian and I am American and yet we have to live in Canada if we are to be together.

And Rebecca, of New Jersey:
My wife and I have been together for 5 years and I am in the process of becoming a Canadian permanent resident so that we can live in the same country. It has cost nearly $10,000 so far.

Mr. Cohen said he did not know whether any of his same-sex couple clients ultimately renounced their American citizenship. American transplants may be less likely to do so in Canada because of a tax treaty between the two countries, which lessens the burden of double taxation that many American expats pay in other countries, he added.

Many of the renunciations cited by the Times article were attributed to the issue of double taxation, which has irked many expats for years. Another big reason expats have renounced is because it’s becoming more challenging to keep an American bank account because of new banking regulations aimed at curbing tax evasion and preventing money from flowing to terrorists.

The article says that 502 expatriates gave up their United States citizenship or permanent residency status in the last quarter of 2009, the largest quarterly figure in years, and more than twice the total for all of 2008. There were 743 renunciations last year.

How many of those renunciations do you think might have been same-sex couples? What choices do couples with noncitizen partners have — and what are the costs?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Birthday and everything after...

So I had a great birthday weekend, thanks to all of my friends who made it special : )You can check out the photos here. Flowers, candy, presents, drinks, friends... it was very nice and we had great weather, too. It's strange to think this is the last year of my twenties. I have a feeling I have to make it count somehow.

One friend is thinking of a trip to Europe next month, which I may go on. I've been singing up for new things, like a French class that starts soon, as well as other things like a kayaking course with Sean. Just things to get out, meet people, stay active etc.

Here is the newest from one of my fav singers, Sarah McLachlan (well, before she went through her period of "Adult Contemporary" snoozers). It looks like she might be coming back with good music again!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring Sprang Sprung

It's been a great week since I last posted. Easter/My early birthday went fine with my family. I have a new assistant at work who is a lifesaver. On Wednesday night Sean surprised me by taking me to a chocolate truffle making class at ACKC Cocoa Bar on 14th St (which, by the way, has amazing hot chocolates for cold nights and lavender lemonade for the warmer days). I actually just finished eating the truffles we made. I think I need to go to more cooking classes, I forgot how much fun they are. In fact, I think I need to start doing more events like that; break out of my bubble and meet new people.

Saturday I went to sushi with Sean and we went to Cobalt, which was shockingly busy, and we had a really good time with each other. The next day we checked out a new Korean place (people know how I am about my Korean...) called Hee Been. I was really impressed and definitely would go back! And here I was thinking I had been to every Korean joint in a 50-mile radius. You know, kimchi is a serious health food!

Afterward we went to Brookside Gardens in Wheaton. I love that place, and it's always so nice in the spring when all the tulips and such are in bloom.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


It's that time of yer again. I'm going with Sean over to my parents' house for Easter tomorrow and to celebrate the far more important holiday, my birthday, a little early.

I should add that Sean and I have decided not to move in together. I know, it seems like an emotional roller coaster around this whole moving-in-together thing. And I suppose that's part of the reason I thought maybe it would be a better idea to shelve the idea for now. I think Sean was overwhelmed with work this month, other things going on in his life, and the fact that he's never lived with a partner before. For my part, I have to admit I'm a little sad to leave where I am now, and I'm not sure if Sean and I would be compatible living together or not. I know there's only one way to find out, but the status quo seems to have worked for the last 3 1/2 years. The whole thing came to a head on Thursday when I would have to give 30 days notice to my current apartment building that I planned on moving out by May 1st. Sean suggested moving the moving date back to June. But I feel like we keep pushing dates, so there's clearly some issues that need to be addressed. Hence, I suggested it might be less stressful for both of us if we just took the idea off the table for awhile and revisit it at some point in the future.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Cherry Blossoms 2010

I forgot to blog about last weekend, I realized. It's been a hectic week at work (what;s new there?) but I had a lot of fun last weekend. I went to the Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin with M and Sean (see below). They were really at peak and very pretty. That whole area was also really packed - the Metro was a nightmare (nothing new there consider it is DC's "Underground FAILroad"). And honestly I think it'll be the closest I get to the Mall until after the summer & all the tourists go home.

I got a splitting migraine later that evening, but after some pills I went to dinner with Sean and we met up with P & B at Omega (or as Sean has dubbed it, "The Island of Misfit Toys") and then we went to Apex - which I hadn't been to in ages.The next day was kind of cool and wet, and we didn't really do much of anything except go to an Asian grocery store (I always buy so much there) in Fairfax that I love and have dinner. Weekends always seem to go by way too fast.

We've started getting very serious in our efforts to find jobs in other cities/countries. I don't want to jinx anything, but it feels good to actually do something as opposed to talking (or blogging) about it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Countdown Begins...

I have to admit, as I've posted before, I'm a little aprehensive about moving in with Sean, especially now that today marks a month until we move in together. It's refreshing, in its own weird way, to know that he feels the same way too. It's a scary thing. We considered the need for more time, which I am still open to (of course I need some definitive decision because there is planning that has to be done!). But as of today we are still moving forward.

It will be such an adjustment, I know, for both of us. I got a little sad, in fact, hanging out with some friends last night. I was wondering how living with Sean will affect my social life and other things. He promises me nothing will have to change, but I wonder.

April Showers Bring...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Some February/March Photos

Above: open kitchen at Ping Pong in Chinatown, Sharkey in the DJ booth at Saint-Ex, me at the Asian art museum, P at Town

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Awakening

I've had a nice last couple of weekends. Even work wasn't that painful with my boss being out of the office all week. The weather's gotten warm, and I've been going out a lot the last few weekends. I think I was endanger of becoming a nester, but I've felt like reconnecting with friends I've been drifting from. I feel good.

I'm still moving in with Sean, probably May. We've been discussing parameters of the situation. I know I've written a little about my fears of being tied down in this place, or the fear of finding myself unhappy. I think we've reached an understanding and I don't feel so potentially trapped anymore.

Friday night I went bar hopping with M, which I haven't done in a long time. The next day Sean got off work early and we went to this new place in Chinatown called Ping Pong that does dim sum that we both really enjoyed. Afterwards we went to Town for Lady Gaga night. Today we enjoyed the warm weather and went to Great Falls for a picnic - it's been a very nice weekend. I'm feeling better about a lot of things.

Peaches - Billionaire

I think Peaches is probably the best thing to come out of Toronto...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Ideas of March

My HOroscope this morning:

You have a great deal of power at your disposal today, Aries. You should keep in mind that just about anything you wish for will come true. Don't waste words or actions. Concentrate your energy and focus it on one or two important things instead of dispersing it and thereby diluting your overall power. There isn't anything to fear on a day like this.

Interesting. I woke up this morning from an epically-long dream, one that was chock full of symbolism (it's as if my subconscious is trying to beat me over the head with a message). I won't go into it here- that's what I keep my dream journal by my bed for - but it's been an interesting start to the week. Maybe it's the rainy weather, but do you ever have mornings where it's hard to shake dreams and differentiate between the real and unreal?

I had a wonderful weekend. Last weekend I wasn't feeling so great and haven't been out in while, so it felt good to get out of the house. Saturday night I had dinner at Cava with Sean, we met some friends at Mova (formerly Halo), and then some others at Town. With the daylight savings jumping ahead one hour thing, it wasn't until very late when we got back.

The next morning I made breakfast (which Sean and I joke has happened maybe 3 times in our entire relationship) and then we went to see Shutter Island at Tysons, which was a perfect film noir movie for a dark and rainy weekend. I definitely recommend it - tell me your theories on the twist ending. I won't post any spoilers here.

By the way, what are people doing for St. pAAtrick's Day this year?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Stories to Tell

March is here, and things are getting a little warmer, which gives hope for spring, though honestly I would not be opposed to a little more snow! Having snows days off work is worth it in itself.

I was thinking at some point tonight that when I move I really will miss DC on some level. I was reflecting on some good times I've had over the years. Even some of the crazy things which, while not fun at the time, I can look back on and laugh a little at. The point is, I've lived to tell the tales.

Sometimes I've thought about writing a novel about my time here. I'd have enough raw material to fill up volumes, all the crazy situations, people etc. But I wouldn't even know where to begin! It's nice having that feeling of communion with the city though - I've been privileged to see some of her secrets, and enjoy some very good times through these formative years of my twenties.

Friday, February 26, 2010

That Little Voice...

While I am very excited about the upcoming move, I have to confess I also have a few moments of panic. It has nothing to do with whether or not I think I could be compatible with Sean or not. It's larger than that, really.

I had sort of a "moment of clarity" today when I realized what I think is the root of some of the issues in our relationship I've had in the past, things that went unnamed because I couldn't wrap my mind around what the root problem was. I really do think, now, that it's about commitment. Or rather, being able to do the things I want in life.

Do you ever have that little voice in your head that says "Run!" ?

I get that sometimes. This is nothing against Sean at all. He really is the most amazing man I've ever found. But, I feel like my "window of opportunity" is drawing to a close - my twenties are almost over. The further you go along the harder it is to change any course. I do not want to be in the same place doing the same things two, five, ten years from now. Wondering where those years went, much as I do now having lived in DC for a decade.

I've learned how easy it is to let years pass under the bridge... putting things off, putting dreams on the shelf. I don't want to do that. And sometimes I think it's even easier to fall into that hypnosis of mundane life when you tie yourself with another person.

Some days I want to run, I want to move far away and start fresh. And I think it's perfectly human to feel that way. I think a lot of us have these feelings in our relationships, even if we bury them somewhere dark and secret.

When you ask me tomorrow I may feel completely different. My blog can be silly sometimes, but I also come here to work out issues (albeit in a rather public forum). But I have to be honest with how I feel, and it helps to get it out on words...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Moment for Reflection...

A strange selection for a cold winter day, I realize, but I came across this reading about a colleague who quoted this in an article... at any rate, I really was struck by the last two lines.

The Summer Day
Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Catching Up

Not much major has happened since my past post. Valentine's was nice, the snow is almost melted. I've seen my friends several times (though I've actualyl been more of a homebody than usual lately!)

Sean and I are continuing to plan our moving in with each other. I haven't set a date as of yet, but I imagine it will be soon. Sean has some repairs and remodeling to finish up.

Soon I'll be a Real Housewife of McLean lol

Great Lake Swimmers : Your Rocky Spine

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Year of the Tiger

It's Valentine's Day tomorrow, and also Chinese New Year, year of the tiger. Tonight I'm going to dinner with Sean to Mon Ami Gabi - it was where we celebrated our first Valentine's together (and, if I recall, it was snowy then, too). This makes our fourth Valentine's day, now.

Last night was the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Wish I was there to see it all in person. I did catch the ceremonies on TV last night while I was out. It was beautiful (though a tough act to follow after Beijing's in 2008). I liked the giant polar bear that came out of the floor...

Edward Cullen at My House

I don't know what I love more about this pic - my favorite sparkly vampire from Twilight, or the polar bear rug he's laying on. Actually screw Robert Pattinson, I'll take the rug.

Monday, February 08, 2010


I wished for some snow this winter, and I certainly did get it! It snowed last weekend, and then there was a massive snowstorm this weekend (17 inches roughly). More snow is expected tomorrow night, to boot!

Sean was snowed in with me the last three days. You know, it was really nice. We cooked for each other, watched movies, played in the snow... it was fun.

So before I go any further, I have to mention the events of last weekend. So after the snow, last Sunday, Sean and I went to Lowes to look at tiles and stuff for renovating his condo. All that flood damage from December has been fixed now, and he has some money left over that he's going to put into making the place nicer. Anyway, he was looking at dishwashers and asking me what I thought. I was like, this one's nice, but it's your place, so you make the decision. Then he basically said it's our place, and he would like me to live with him, and I said yes.

That's pretty much how it happened. I'll never forget the dishwasher section of Lowes. Sigh. There's no real timetable yet on when I'll actually move. We both have loose ends to tie up, we're both very busy. But this weekend snowed in together I think proved we really can live with each other without driving the other crazy, so that's a good thing.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Definition of the Day

Yesterday, Groundhog Day, the groundhog Phil saw his shadow, so maybe six more weeks of winter? There was a lot of snow, but unfortunately the streets are clear (for once) so I have to work today!

At any rate, here's something humorous I came across. Lada Gaga fans will appreciate this:

"Bluffin with my Muffin" - the offering of a baked good to distract your enemies so that you can make a quick escape.
'I was cornered my thieves on a dark, deserted street, and only managed to escape by bluffin' with my muffin (blueberry).'

Monday, January 25, 2010

Back, But Wishing I Weren't

I've been back for a few days. While on some level it's good to be back in one's own home and bed, I gotta be honest, I'd much rather be in a beach in the Yucatan.

Sean and I had a wonderful time. On many levels I think it was our best trip yet. After the turbulence and stress of last year we both needed it. The first four or so days, in fact, were spent just lounging by the beach. There's something delightful about swimming in bath-warm water and sun tanning in the dead of January. Margaritas, coronas, relaxing.

We visited Mayan ruins, which have to be seen to be believed. As with other ancient wonders I've had the privilege of seeing, nothing really compares to that first moment of awe when you stand before something amazing, such as a Mayan pyramid.

We went snorkeling and swimming at a protected reef area that was absolutely beautiful, too. I took pictures with a water-proof camera (I'll have those developed shortly). The water was so blue and transparent it makes our trips to cold, murky Rehoboth just seem depressing. Sean and I got lots of good sun, too.

Now, I suppose, it's time to get "serious" about this year!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Vamos a Mexico!

The Poison Pen is off for the next eight days to Mexico to enjoy warmer climes and celebrate a new year! Adios!

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Melting of America The Story of a Can’t-Do Nation

Tomgram: Orville Schell, What Doesn't Work in America TomDispatch

The Melting of America The Story of a Can’t-Do Nation By Orville Schell

Lately, I’ve been studying the climate-change induced melting of glaciers in the Greater Himalaya. Understanding the cascading effects of the slow-motion downsizing of one of the planet’s most magnificent landforms has, to put it politely, left me dispirited. Spending time considering the deleterious downstream effects on the two billion people (from the North China Plain to Afghanistan) who depend on the river systems -- the Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Irrawaddy, Brahmaputra, Ganges, Indus, Amu Darya and Tarim -- that arise in these mountains isn’t much of an antidote to malaise either.

If you focus on those Himalayan highlands, a deep sense of loss creeps over you -- the kind that comes from contemplating the possible end of something once imagined as immovable, immutable, eternal, something that has unexpectedly become vulnerable and perishable as it has slipped into irreversible decline. Those magnificent glaciers, known as the Third Pole because they contain the most ice in the world short of the two polar regions, are now wasting away on an overheated planet and no one knows what to do about it.

To stand next to one of those leviathans of ice, those Moby Dicks of the mountains, is to feel in the most poignant form the magnificence of the creator’s work. It’s also to regain an ancient sense, largely lost to us, of our relative smallness on this planet and to be forcibly reminded that we have passed a tipping point. The days when the natural world was demonstrably ascendant over even the quite modest collective strength of humankind are over. The power -- largely to set an agenda of destruction -- has irrevocably shifted from nature to us.

Another tipping point has also been on my mind lately and it’s left me no less melancholy. In this case, the Moby Dick in question is my own country, the United States of America. We Americans, too, seem to have passed a tipping point. Like the glaciers of the high Himalaya, long familiar aspects of our nation are beginning to feel as if they were, in a sense, melting away.

The eight years of George W. Bush’s wrecking ball undeniably helped set our descent in motion. Then came the dawning realization that President Barack Obama, who strode into office billed as a catalyst of sure-fire change, would no more stop the melting down of the planet’s former “sole superpower” than the Copenhagen summit would stop the melting of those glaciers. After all, a predatory and dysfunctional Washington reminds us constantly that we may be approaching the end of the era of American possibility. For Obama’s beguiling aura of promise to be stripped away so unceremoniously has left me feeling as if we, as a country, might have missed the last flight out.

And speaking of last flights out, I’ve been on a lot of those lately. It’s difficult enough to contemplate the decline of one’s country from within, but from abroad? That -- take my word for it -- is an even more painful prospect. Because out there you can’t escape an awareness that what’s working and being built elsewhere is failing and being torn apart here. To travel is to be forced to make endless comparisons which, when it comes to our country, is like being disturbed by unnerving dreams.

In the past few months, as I’ve roamed the world from San Francisco to Copenhagen to Beijing to Dubai, I’ve taken to keeping a double-entry list of what works and what doesn’t, country by country. Unfortunately, it’s largely a list of what works “there” and doesn’t work here. It’s in places like China, South Korea, Sweden, Holland, Switzerland, and (until recently) the United Arab Emirates -- some not even open societies -- that you find people hard at work on the challenges of education, transport, energy, and the environment. It’s there that one feels the sense of possibility, of hopefulness, of can-do optimism so long associated with the U.S.

China, a country I’ve visited more than 100 times since 1975, elicits an especially complicated set of feelings in me. After all, it’s got a Leninist government which was not supposed to succeed; and yet, despite all predictions, it managed to conjure up an economic miracle that, whatever you may think about political transparency, the rule of law, human rights, or democracy, delivers big time. When you’re there, you can feel an unmistakable sense of energy and optimism in the air (along with the often stinging pollution), which, believe me, is bittersweet for an American pondering the missing-in-action regenerative powers of his own country.

As I’ve been traveling from China’s gleamingly efficient airports to our chaotic and all-too-often broken-down versions of the same, or Europe’s high-speed trains to our clunky railroads, I keep that expanding list of mine on hand, my own little version of what works and what doesn’t. Over time, its entries have fallen into one of three categories that I imagine something like this:

1. Robust, full of energy, growing, replete with promise and strength, the envy of the world.
2. Alive and kicking, but in a delicate balance between growth and decline.
3. Irredeemably broken, with little chance of restored health anytime soon.

And here then, as I imagine it, is the shape of America today in terms of what works and what doesn’t, what’s growing and what’s failing:

1. Bio-technology, developing dynamically and delivering much of the world’s most innovative technological research, thinking, and ideas; Silicon Valley, which still has enormous inventiveness, energy, and capital at its disposal; civil society which, despite the collapse of the economy, still seems to be expanding, still luring the best and brightest young people, and still superbly performing the ever more crucial function of being a goad to government and other established institutions; American philanthropy, which is the most evolved, well-funded, and innovative in the world; the U.S. military, the best led, trained, equipped, and maintained on the planet, despite the way it has been repeatedly thrust into hopeless wars by stupid politicians; the fabric of much of small-town American life with its still extant sense of cohesiveness and community spirit; the arts, both high-culture and pop, boasting a still vibrant film industry that remains the globe’s “sole superpower” of visual entertainment, and the requisite networks of symphony orchestras, ballets, theaters, pop music groups, and world-class museums.

2. Higher and secondary-school education, in which America still boasts some of the globe’s preeminent institutions, though the best are increasingly private as jewel-in-the-crown public systems like California’s are driven into the ground thanks to devastating, repeated budget cuts; a national energy system which still delivers, but is terminally strung out on oil and coal, and depends on a grid badly in need of some new “smartness”; environmental protection, which compares favorably with that in other countries, though always under-funded and so, like our extraordinary national park system, ever teetering above the abyss; the court system, overburdened and under-funded, but struggling to deliver justice.

3. The federal government, essentially busted; Congress, increasingly paralyzed and largely incapable of delivering solutions to the country’s most pressing problems; state government, largely broke; the Interstate highway system and our infrastructure of bridges and tunnels, melting away like a block of ice in the sun because maintenance and upgrading is so poor; dikes, water systems, and many other aspects of the national infrastructure which keeps the country going, similarly old and deteriorating; airlines, some of the sorriest in the world with the oldest, dirtiest, and least up-to-date planes and the requisite run-down airports to go with them; ports that are falling behind world standards; a railroad passenger system which, unlike countries from Spain to China, has not one mile of truly high-speed rail; the country’s financial system whose over-paid executives not only ran us off an economic cliff in 2008, but also managed to compromise the whole system itself in the eyes of the world; a broadcast media which -- public broadcasting and aspects of a vital and growing Internet excepted -- is a grossly overly-commercialized, broken-down mess that has gravely let down the country in terms of keeping us informed; newspapers, in a state of free-fall; book publishing, heading in the same direction; elementary education (that is, our future), especially public K-12 schools in big cities, desperately under-funded and near broke in many communities; a food industry which subsidizes sugar and starch, stuffs people with fast-food, and leaves 60% of the population overweight; basic manufacturing, like the automobile industry, evidently headed for oblivion, or China, whichever comes first; the American city, hollowing out and breaking down; the prison system, one of America’s few growth industries but a pit of hopelessness.

As you may have noted, category one is close to a full list, category two, close enough, while category three is just a gesture in the direction of larger-scale decline. Unfortunately, it seems ever expandable. You’ll undoubtedly be tempted to add to it yourself. (I have the same impulse every time I’m elsewhere and see some shiny new industrial or designer toy we don’t make or even have.) When I told a friend about this tallying obsession of mine, he suggested that it might turn out to be a great website. (See the vigorous world of the Internet in category one above.) And so it might -- a kind of electronic stock market Big Board where the world could weigh in and help track all those things people find encouraging or discouraging about the U.S. and other countries.

The initial impulse for my list, however, was self-protective. I was searching for “things that work” here, the better to banish that dispiriting sense of an American decline into the sort of can’t-do-itive-ness that Congress has come to exemplify. Consider my exercise some kind of incantatory ritual -- a talisman -- meant to hold off the bad spirits just as, when I arrive in Beijing in winter and find the mercury near zero (an increasing rarity these last years) or stumble into a snowstorm in New York City, I’m relieved. For me, such manifestations of real winter are signs that nature may not yet have totally surrendered to us, that global warming is still being challenged, and that things may not be as far gone as I sometimes fear.

And yet that list of can-do’s remains so unbearably short and the cant-do’s grows by the trip. I’d love to be convinced otherwise, but like the ice fields of the Greater Himalaya melting before our eyes, American prowess and promise, once seemingly as much a permanent part of the global landscape as glaciers, mountains, and oceans, seems to be melting away by the day.

Orville Schell is the Director of the Asia Society’s Center on US-China Relations, where he leads a project on climate change and the Tibetan Plateau. He is former Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, the author of many books on China, and a frequent traveler in his various journalistic pursuits.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Poison Pen At The Movies

Maybe it's the cold weather, but I've been catching up on a lot of movies on my want-to-see and friends-recommend lists.

So, here are some movies I've watched/rented from Netflix over the last few weeks... Instead of stars I'll rate them with up to five Poison Pen skull-and-crossbones.

Love Song for Bobby Long - I didn't think I'd like this one (my mother recommended it), but wound up really enjoying it, tearing a little at the end. Five skull-and-crossbones.

Let the Right One In - A very different and atmospheric vampire movie from Sweden. A perfect antidote to the Twilight movies. Four skull-and-crossbones.

RocknRolla - I generally enjoy all of Mr Madonna Guy Ritchie's movies, and this one was great. It's supposed to be the first in a trilogy, so I can't wait for the next installment. Five skull-and-crossbones.

In Bruges - Collin Ferrell oozes Irish sex-appeal in this rather slow-paced but quirky movie. Three skull-and-crossbones.

Waltz With Bashir - A movie that alternated between documentary and animation, it's an import from Israel that's quite interesting. Three skull-and-crossbones.

New Moon - Don't laugh. I saw this Twilight sequel in theaters with Chef Tom (I owe you, Sean) because love is taking your boyfriend to see shitty movies with hot actors. I didn't see this for plot or dialogue, just gratuitous shirtless Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner. Three skull-and-crossbones just for the shirtlessness.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Año Nuevo, Vida Nueva

I had a wonderful New Years Eve (and New Year's Eve Eve), ringing in the new year with friends and Chef Tom.

Wednesday I had lunch with M at Alero, then we spent the day window shopping, and went to a dinner party at Erica's. Thursday I spent the day mostly sleeping in (since I've had the week off) cleaning up a bit (I still haven't gotten rid of my xmas tree yet).

Then, I met Chef in Cleveland Park for NYE dinner at a places I hadn't been to before called Sabores, which has a wonderful South American menu. We then had champagne and our giant fortune cookie (see below) - which promises good things, by the way - and we went to Town to dance and count down to the new year.

Today, after getting together rather late, we met M and S in Chinatown for lunch/dinner at this place (see below) where they make their own noodles. I thought it was rather good, and Chinese on the first is a bit of a New Years Day tradition.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year, New Decade

It occurred to me that the new year, which begins tomorrow, is also the beginning of a new decade, as well. Scary how ten years flow by like a swift river.

I had a wonderful Christmas at my family's with "Chef Tom" (pics below). One of the best Xmas's yet. I've been off work all week, savoring the time-off after an incredibly turbulent year. Indeed, the end of a turbulent decade.

Sean/Chef and myself are off to Mexico after next week, which I am very much looking forward to. Happy New Years to everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Festivus Airing of Grievances!

I think at this point it's getting cliche, me starting each post lately with an apology for not posting in awhile. That seems to happen a lot of late... so all I can say is I'll update this blog when I'm able and feel like it. So check back periodically, you never know what I might post.

We had a beautiful snowstorm over the weekend here in D.C. It effectively shut the region down (though I don't think it was quite as bad as the one back in 2003). I like snow, my knee pains aside, and I think we're due for a snowy winter.

I got my holiday shopping done, my holiday tree is lit and pretty (I finally got a real one this year). Sean and I are preparing to go visit my parents tomorrow...

Most of all I am excited that 2009 is coming to a close. What a BITCH of a year! Let's examine the shiteous things that happened, shall we...

Adam's Festivus Airing of Grievances!
  • I got laid off my last job (though I got a sweet severance package and a new job that started the week after, so I made bank this year)
  • My new job, while paying significantly more $, also comes with more demands and stress.
  • Sean's job stresses him out even more.
  • My friend got arrested for something that wasn't their fault.
  • The national economy continued to fucking tank.
  • Sean and I went through a rough patch around Halloween.
  • Sean's condo was flooded.
Of course it wasn't all that bad. There were bright spots - the inauguration parties, a fabulous birthday party, a trip to Canada with Sean, a trip to Utah, New York City, Rehoboth.

At any rate, 2010 will bring great new things, I am sure, for all of us! Starting with a trip in early January to Mexico - a great start if I may say so.

Be safe this HOliday season (including you, Drunky, don't drink and drive!).

Happy HOlidays from The Poison Pen!