Archive for the ‘The DC’ Category

Pidgey & Chris

Remember Chris from the Boys Briefs blog? Here he is trying to attract a Pidgey Pokémon with a cocktail. Nothing has changed.

Back in 1998 I was playing Pokémon Red/BlueYellow on the Gameboy. In the game you could travel to different places and catch critters, which would evolve into more powerful forms. Sort of like Dungeons & Dragons but with critters instead of swords & sorcery. You could trade your critters with other friends who had the same game. It was fun and a little addicting.

Later on Pokémon Stadium came out and you could bring your critters that you found on the Gameboy and export them to the Nintendo 64 game console, then fight them against your friends and in-game opponents. It made all your collecting efforts even more fun. Then Pokémon Snap came out on the N64, where you would travel on a golf cart safari-style and take pictures of the things you saw. Better pictures with more Pokémon in your frame got you more points. Being a birdwatcher, I loved that one too. In fact the whole Pokémon concept is merely a virtual version of birdwatching as far as I’m concerned. If you haven’t seen “The Big Year” yet, it’s a fun movie about birdwatching that will also help you understand all this Pokémon business.

When I heard a location-based app version of this game franchise was coming out for play on your handheld device I knew it was going to be big. The company producing the game had enjoyed success with the similar Ingress app. I never played Ingress but had a few friends who did. It encourages real travel to locations to check-in and compete against other factions. It’s clear Pokémon GO borrows a lot of concepts from Ingress. But this time you not only check-in but you collect critters along the way, just like in Pokémon Red/Blue back in the day.

Busy locations have been drawing a lot of app users since the game came out. You can even plant lures that attract Pokémon to your location for easy catching. While I was fishing for Pokémon at a lure hotspot at DuPont Circle today there was a dude there cruising like it was 1998. Back in the 80s and 90s that area was a popular cruising spot where you’d also try to find your own critter to take home. But with the advent of cruising apps like Grindr and Scruff, and the shift of the gay ghettoes in the city, few find much success at DuPont Circle anymore. But just like in the 90s, this guy didn’t have a handheld device, but he also didn’t seem to know what was going on with all the people looking into their phones trying to catch Pokémon.

He was trying to look for men to hit on who weren’t there, without the aid of a handheld device. Instead there were people there trying to catch imaginary creatures that weren’t there, using a handheld device. The contrast was fascinating and sad for everyone.

During the meeting I put her name in quotation marks on my notepad after witnessing her hostile response to a simple question from another coworker. It wasn’t the first unusual reaction I’d seen from her since I’d started the new job.

I understand frustration in a fast-paced contracting environment. But with no training, no mentors and an immediate need for a perfect product, it happened a lot. I’m pretty good with picking up new content management systems and email marketing tools. I’ve been doing it for three years now. But some degree of patience is required if you’re not going to train, or don’t have time to manage or answer questions. I’ve managed staff before, and you simply have to accept taking time out to help people. And if your requirements are exacting without a standards document, be prepared for questions.

For those reasons, the first time she yelled at me I let it pass. I know yelling, running, slamming doors and dropping the f-word at work are unacceptable. But I needed to work and swallowed my pride and continued to do the best I could.

I’d gotten good progress on the e-newsletter last week, but a few stories were missing from the news agenda, most of the last bits of information I needed were from her. But running up to the deadline was commonplace so I prepared for patience. There were still questions to be asked, mostly to cover my ass and make sure her needs were met before submitting it to the client.

Although her office was four doors down, she preferred to communicate on Skype. OK, I’ll learn Skype and communicate that way, even though I prefer face-to-face communication. Her responses to my questions were curt and then she used all-caps. At the end of the exchange I replied, “All caps isn’t necessary when I’m reaching out for help and trying to fix things.”

In under a minute I heard a slam, and shouting from next door office where my boss sat: “I’M GONNA FUCKING KILL HIM!!! I CAN’T GET MY WORK DONE!” And another slam, then dead silence throughout the office. I tapped away at my task, intent on getting the newsletter done by deadline. Then my brain started to scramble and all my text and apps made no sense. I got up and went to my manager’s office and said, “I’m sorry that just happened to you, I don’t think this job is working out.” My manager assured me quitting wasn’t necessary at that moment and that we would talk later.

I later learned that the operations lead was also in that room where “Joy” made her case so emotionally to my manager. Bad move for “Joy”. She had been quickly escorted out of the building and hasn’t been seen since. If that action hadn’t been taken I surely would have left that morning too. I would later learn she had a history of outbursts and anger management issues. Her outburst that day was beyond inappropriate, and although I only heard the outburst through the wall, apparently it was downright frightening in person.

It hadn’t really sunk in how bad the outburst was until this morning. I certainly didn’t want to work with her again. Although I was well-liked by most other coworkers, things hadn’t been going well there across the board. It really wasn’t working out, even with Joy’s help.

I started the job right after returning from dealing with my mother’s funeral affairs. I had interviewed for the job the day after my mom died. The immediate pace of the work didn’t leave much time for me to deal with mental stuff I really need to deal with. So there’s gonna be a break from work stress for a while, no immediate hurry to get another job, no immediate hurry for anything for that matter. And I am in no condition to deal with any more “Joy” in the immediate future.

The last job I had (which I liked) didn’t pay very well. I was on a temp hourly salary far lower than what you need to survive in DC. You need to be earning at least $40/hr to pay the bills in this town – especially when you have bills built up for 3 years of un- or underemployment. Anyway, before I lost this job, I had already been exploring ways to earn extra cash on the side. Stripping is out of the question, as I am now old and fat like BrettCajun, who no one wants to see rolling, undulating layers of beef on a stage. Turning tricks is actually hard work, and you have no control of your schedule. Being on call is always a pain in the ass. So catering seemed like a good idea. I had heard the pay was pretty good and the busy DC holiday work party season was fast approaching.

However my only experience in a serving situation was at Dairy Queen in high school and serving beer for rugby team fundraisers. Fortunately I’m cute and made it through the catering interview with Igor. But I needed a tuxedo, which cost money that I don’t have. It was clear that catering wasn’t going to meet my immediate needs to pay the rent since buying a tux would negate any holiday earnings.

So I put out an all-points bulletin out on Facebook which is the only thing Facebook is good for these days. My network did not disappoint, and I was able to put together a passable catering tuxedo for free that ended up being quite comfortable. Thanks y’all!

Tux in hand, the next step would be to wait for a gig. You’re on call and whoever responds to the call first gets to work. Since I’m on the Internets 24/7, I got my first gig offer which was a work party held at a prominent Smithsonian museum on a Saturday.

Now this was the Saturday after my last day at my last job, so I was already pretty much emotionally drained and not ready for greeting guests. But I need the money so I took it.

The first challenge was to find out where the caterers enter the building. Because we are “The Help” we are not to be seen as humans or at all by the party guests. So we must enter through alternate means. But the alternate entry was not shared by the team leader, so it was an issue of walking around the perimeter of said museum in my white polo and black pants – the required setup uniform for caterers before you change into your tux when the guests arrive.

Did you know if you are cute and Caucasian and arrive at a museum or government building at dusk during the holiday season, you can get in anywhere you want? I flexed my White Privilege and got in through the loading dock without an ID and made it to the orientation on time. It was clear when I burst into the room I was pretty much the only speaker of English as a first language.

Sorting took place, much like in Harry Potter where they put the sorting hat on your head to figure out which House you are in. Since I most resembled the hot Bulgarian bartenders, I was put on the bartender crew. I was flattered. They were all hot and probably would get a lot of tips – at least at a gay bar. If I had to fake it, Russian sounds a lot like Bulgarian and I could pretend to be a Bo-Hunk for more tips. In fact when I was in Kazakstan I was mistaken for a crazy person from the Caucasus – my coworkers would later tell me I was basically called a “Wild Caucasian Mountain Brute” by people on the train who I had pissed off trying to disembark.

So anyway my crew leader was Victor, a cute scruffy Bulgarian who clearly had a grip on the situation. The logistics for catering is bewildering and incredibly complex. I was seriously impressed by the pre-party planning involved in throwing a holiday party for a thousand people at a museum. And my respect for those people vilified by current G.O.P. candidates and that party has increased. If you are afraid they are coming to take your job, you should be. Because they bust their ass harder than anyone at a Trump rally could.

One of my initial tasks was to cut lime and lemon wedges for the bar, which I did furiously. I asked the bar lead Atilla if there was anything else I could do for him, and he curtly dismissed me. Atilla was MEAN.

Later I was assigned to serve drinks on a plate. Which was fun the first hour, but after that my bicep started quivering from fatigue. Those glasses are heavy, but I was good at describing the evening’s unique signature drink, the “Jingle All The Way” featuring vodka, lime juice, champagne and a sprig of oregano. Honestly I thought the drink was gross but the guests loved it. Because vodka.

And the guests were quite fabulous for an established internet company. One of the employees had a straight orange silk gown with a cherry blossom sprig and I wanted to tell her she was fucking fabulous but I couldn’t because The Help must not speak to the clients. But she was fucking fabulous let me tell you and she won the evening. Props to that young hipster in the fabulous orange silk gown. You. Won.

Salvadoran women worked the hors d’oeuvre table. The men brought in more food. Bulgarians and other Eastern European laborers served drinks. The racial and gender segregation of tasks was downright blatant. As the evening went on it was time to clear tables, which is like doing laps in an Olympic stadium. Round an ’round you go picking up plates and glasses. I had helped some guests get extra Jingle All The Way drinks earlier on, and they remembered me and kept asking me for more. I tried to help them but we ran out of oregano.

As the evening wore on the laps took a toll on my lower back. I could tell it was wearing on the other caterers too. That shit is hard work and those fucking Mexicans and bohunks are working hard to get your fucking food to you, so you should show some respect in the next election and not vote for Trump, because he’s a fucking racist yo.

Anyway, soon it was Midnight and the guests were leaving. I hadn’t gotten any feedback so I went up to the mean bar leader Atilla and asked him how the lemon and lime wedges worked for him. “They were great,” he said dryly. “I knew there was something special about them when I served the drinks.” Thanks Attila.

According to one of my long time anonymous readers and commenters, I “need to grow up.” That means buying a house, having a boyfriend, and getting a job. And probably do things like go to the HRC gala in a matching tux with my boyfriend so I can get my photo posted in MetroWeekly. Because THEN you’re a real, grown-up gay.

And of course I have total control over all of these things. I just choose not to do them, right?

roselnylundSo in order to please my anonymous commenter, I occasionally try to date. This time it was supposed to be a lunch date with OlafDave on Scruff. Dave is from Coon Rapids, Minnesota, and has lived in DC for about 8 years. He went to St. Olaf, which is a real university.

Many people on the East coast think St. Olaf is fictional because the Golden Girls character Rose attended St. Olaf. I know it’s real because my high school friends went there. That’s where the good Lutheran kids go. Evil Satanist or pagan children go to the state universities like I did. Anyway, the people who went to St. Olaf are usually good midwestern kids, and I extended that presumption to OlafDave. We were to have a casual nonsexual lunch date.

Dave never showed up. Then he disappeared on Scruff. Possibly cancelled his account. He either didn’t have the balls to tell me he couldn’t make it, and/or his partner came back into town. His profile says ‘single’, but you know how it goes with partnered gays in DC.

It’s been a while since I’ve been stood up. It still smarts, and it still colors my opinion of people. People are shitty, deceptive and weak. I think I had learned to filter out the flakes and have gotten better at recognizing good people. OlafDave slipped through the cracks, and I’ll be sure to remember that when making assumptions about Minnesotans.

And if I see OlafDave with his partner at a party or in a bar, I’ll be sure to go up to Dave and have a very forward chat for a long time. I won’t leave and the situation will be very awkward and uncomfortable. So you’d better not go out, OlafDave, unless you’re prepared for a very awkward and uncomfortable conversation for a long time with a very obnoxious person.

Or maybe I just got catfished, and someone used his pic to front a fake profile. I kind of doubt that though, because OlafDave’s details were pretty thorough.

So commenter and long-time reader OldFartDC, that’s how it goes, and that’s one reason how I’m still not as grown up as you’d like me to be.

It happened again. We met at a party. We chatted online via Facebook. I did my due diligence and did a background check. All signs indicated he was single. Again, I should have just asked. I should know better and just ask upfront. But he wanted to hang out, go on a date.

But after all that chatting, texting, and 2 hours into a date, he didn’t mention any of these three useful pronouns:

US, WE or BF.

It’s that simple. Pronouns are easy, and can be helpful. Try these phrases to help drop a hint:

We went grocery shopping the other day.”
“I saw that movie with my boyfriend.”

I’m not slut shaming. I’ve given up being upset about the prevalence of open relationships in the gay community. I think I lean towards monogamy, but I’ve been known to play* with partnered guys. It’s just that partnered guys are not always upfront about their relationship status, to the point of being shady.

It’s just when I don’t know the whole story I get pissed off. I like to have all the cards on the table before proceeding. I think it’s a polite thing to do, to let the other guy know you’re in a relationship. If I don’t know you’re partnered, I assume you’re single and available.

I think it’s some kind of east coast Victorian propriety thing. It was much simpler in Portland. Those boys were very upfront and honest:

“Hi I have a boyfriend wanna fuck?” I am not kidding that’s how it went. It was refreshing, communicative and simple. I knew what was up and could make informed decisions accordingly. And I never got pissed off when they were upfront and honest about their relationship status.

Here in DC there are those ruled by perceptions of propriety, or something. I don’t know what the fuck it is here. I guess they think I won’t find out** or they think they will be perceived as slutty***.

Either way, next time I need to simply ask because I cannot assume they will disclose their relationship status.

*the verb to play – I loathe the term. I think it devalues the act of sex.
**I will find out. I’ve lived here for 15 years and I know everyone. I will find out.
***Do you think you’re the only slutty person in DC?

It has been a lovely fall in DC. Autumn is the best season in this city: summer is too damn hot, winter is grey and bleak, and spring is filled with pollen. Temperatures this week have been in the 70s, great biking weather:
Bridge Steps
I managed to get out on several hikes this fall, but did not go backpacking in West Virginia like I usually do. I did make it to Sugarloaf Mountain and Old Rag again with friends. Old Rag seems to be getting more and more challenging every time I hike it…

JBackpackSpeaking of hiking, I recently retired my old Jansport backpack and Ridgerest inflatable camping pad. Both were about 25 years old, and had been with me for two summers in Alaska, through my college years, Peace Corps in Kazakstan, Oregon, and the Mid-Atlantic Appalacians. It was sad to see them go, but the pad was full of leaks, and the pack was heavy, outdated and took up too much space. I was mainly using it to store things in, but never brought it out. I put them to rest to disappear out on the magical curb of disappearance.

I think another reason I was saving the old pack was…just in case someone else would need it. I think when I came out, and came to DC, I had this vision of having a rugged hiking boyfriend that never panned out. Either the boyfriend did not hike, or most of the time there was no boyfriend. Acquired wisdom later taught me that a hiking bf is not a requirement, but a nice plus. You have to take what you can get, if you can get it at all. I have a newer pack now, and assume if there is a guy who wants to go camping with me, he will have his own equipment.

There was a woofy beardy guy who went with me this year to Old Rag. But he had just broke up from a long relationship and was clearly a mess, and/or simply not interested in me. Numerous attempts at interest were rebuffed with the usual DC excuse, “I’m busy.” Which was too bad because the sex was really good [the first time] but then the second time was awkward. And like my great uncle Orlow might have said as he was raising coonhounds: “If the old dog barks up a tree and a squirrel doesn’t fall out, she moves on.”

Halloween was meh. My brain was occupied by financial issues over the holiday when I discovered the temp job I’ve been working at isn’t enough to pay my bills. It’s likely to go permanent by January, but until then I need to find a way to earn extra dough. That’s going to be the reality of the modern workforce as salaries continue to drop and costs of living go up I’m afraid. It’s how I saw most people get by in Portland, and unless you are a CEO or Director of a nonprofit or agency in DC, multiple jobs will be the reality in larger cities like DC, NYC and SF. You will have to work all the time just to get by.

But I like my temp job. It’s a nice place to work and they keep me busy doing content management and even some writing and research. It’s nowhere near what I could be doing, nor is it in the natural sciences. But after three years of this job instability shit I am ready to settle down and take what I can get. That and I recognize a good workplace when I see it. It’s the places you _don’t_ see jobs advertised on Idealist and the other job sites that are the good places to work. The ones you see posting frequently are the ones you should avoid. In DC it’s EPA, Nature Conservancy, Discovery, AARP, and Pew Charitable Trusts. Always see job postings with them, never hear good things about them. Anyway, I have to make it through the holidays and I should be good by January if things go well. Until then I need to find an evening or weekend gig to keep me afloat.

Tonight I am going on an age-appropriate date! He is 48 – I am 44. I like Daddies but lately I have been dating guys much younger than me, because these days all the kids like Daddies. I find that hilarious. When I was in my 20s nobody would give me the time of day, and lately I’ve been getting a lot more attention than when I was in my 20s. But I want to check out those around my age too, as we may have more to relate to. He has a beard and is woofy too, of course.

BRETT NEEDS MORE SLEEP CUZ HE LOOKS OLD!I know my neighborhood garbage issues are not the most exciting blog topic, but this one gets better. It’s totally gross – even grosser than BrettCajun!

So I contacted my ANC rep about the dumping and trash issues in the alley who got in touch with the people in charge of dealing with garbage issues. One morning I happened to catch them when they were removing the excess cans and cleaned up the alley. I mentioned the stinky can with unknown goo in it, to which she responded: “You know there’s a funeral home on the other side of the block? And they know they shouldn’t be dumping in public bins!”

Me: “You mean that’s actually happened before?”
Linda: “Oh yeah, and we talked to them about it!”
Me: “So that mystery liquid in that bin could be….”
Linda: “Yep!”

So yeah the smelly acrid liquid in the recycle bin could be necrotic human remains.

Happy Halloween.

In further problematic developments, by that afternoon I saw the alley had been completely cleared of everything – including the new modern bins. I assumed the DPW had relocated them back to their proper homes. But last night my upstairs roomate asked about the bins we use for our address, and noted that ours was missing. Did the DPW take away all the bins? I’ve inquired with our ANC rep to find out…

Location of illegal dumping in the alley between 1906 and 1908 6th Street, NW.

Location of illegal dumping in the alley between 1906 and 1908 6th Street, NW.

Illegal dumping in my neighborhood is nothing new. It seemed to be worse in 2002 when people passing by unloaded their junk on the corner of Florida, T and 6th. Then the dumping seemed to subside for many years. Or maybe I just didn’t notice dumping between then and today.

But there’s been an uptick lately and my guess is the increase of home renovations. And an increase of visitors parking in the neighborhood due to more nightlife opportunities near LeDroit Park. People come to party in Shaw and LeDroit now that there are restaurants and bars in the area. I’ve noticed more construction material being dumped in the alley a few doors up from my home. Construction material, and also just garbage as well. People are unloading their cars of fast food bags, and sometimes going to the bathroom in the alley as well. It’s starting to stink, even in the cooler weather.

And some kind of liquid waste. This summer I discovered a paint bucket filled with this smelly goo, which was starting to ferment in the heat. And lately the same substance has been deposited in a recycling bin. Several gallons of it (the bin is half-full of it), mixed with recycling, and it’s starting to smell very bad.

I’ve called bulk collection twice to get the construction materials picked up but it hasn’t been picked up. But don’t know what do do about the foul liquid, aside from asking neighbors to keep an eye on the alley and neighborhood detective work. Nobody wants to empty that bin of whatever is in it. It seems like something that has been used to cook or boil food with, and it really stinks.

So I’ve also reached out to my ANC 1B01 Commissioner to get some help, and possibly some advice on what to do. I think with so many renters in my neighborhood no one wants to take leadership on this, but the problem is only going to get worse. Any advice from readers in the area is welcome!

Trash bins in the alley between 1906 and 1908 6th Street NW DC.

Trash bins in the alley between 1906 and 1908 6th Street NW DC.

Hey there from chaos central. Well it hasn’t been so bad. I’ve been adjusting to the new job and it’s going well. It’s definitely not a suit culture place and my workload is reasonable. In fact I’m only starting to realize how bad the last place was. Sort of like when you were in a bad relationship and you don’t realize how bad it was until you’re out of it.

On Friday I happened to cross paths with a colleague from that job and we chatted a bit. It sounds like for the most part they liked me. But I was pretty miserable and am not sad it’s over.

Other job prospects I was hoping for have not panned out. It’s too bad because I liked both organizations – both having an environmental mission. But after such a long period of job searching and upheaval, I think I’m going to settle for this one, even though it’s not in my field of interest. I’m seeing a lot of value in a sane workplace. It’s telling that this particular organization doesn’t show up on job posting boards – people like working there and they tend to stay there.

I have a new roommate too, and his stuff is just starting to settle in our cramped quarters. Fortunately I don’t have much stuff, and I have given him full reign in terms of design and placement. My post-apocalypse, post-undergrad, vagabond style of decor horrifies most gays. The house will look better soon with his art and stuff in it. The only problem now is where to put my bike where I can grab-n-go with it at will.

It’s that time of year when cold office complaints are trending in your news feeds and on the Facebooks. I’m seeing a lot more responses in line with “it’s all menpigs fault because suits!”

Does anybody really think men want to wear suits? It’s frikkin’ 98 degrees out there with 90% humidity, and I can tell you I REALLY don’t want to wear a goddamn suit in this town in August! Now that I’ve lived in a city with a more relaxed dress code (Portland) I have some insight on the matter. And the fact of the matter is, whether or not you’re in a suit, your productivity is the same.

Suit culture is stupid, but unfortunately prevalent in Washington, DC. I’ve worked in some of the stuffiest (no pun intended) suited workplaces in the city, including one prominent nonprofit that does polling and research named after a very rich family, Homeland Security, and also for an Armed Services contractor. All of whom serve a public that doesn’t give a rat’s ass that you are in a suit. In fact, some of these agencies could really afford to look more approachable to the public, rather than look like “a suit” or one of the Men In Black. But they all wear suits. It’s especially bad around the Pentagon and Crystal City, and of course K Street.

Suit culture is a remnant of old boy bullshit, and/or lawyer culture that has permeated other non-legal workplaces. I don’t like suits, so please don’t tell me I want to wear a suit to make you suffer in the cold. BELIEVE ME, I’d much rather be wearing a string-top bikini and flip-flops or a sarong. My metabolism is over the top from my level of activity, and I can’t cool down.

Men in suits don’t have the option of taking their clothes off if it’s too hot. And in many cases, suited employees don’t have the option of challenging the culture or hierarchy to change suit culture. I don’t want to wear a suit, but sometimes I have to in order to keep my job. You, however, can put more clothes on if you are cold.

I think the core of the issue is gender and dress norms that could really afford to be changed, particularly in Washington, DC. It gets ridiculously hot and humid here and suits are impractical. Plus we all need to look _less_ like business assholes and more like we are serving the public. Polos and kakhis, and then we can turn up the thermostat for the cold ones.