Here’s a recent video about my former rugby team in DC:
I miss the Cardozo practice field!
Archive for the ‘The DC’ Category
Here’s a recent video about my former rugby team in DC:
Getting off my butt and posting as ordered by Dr. Brett Cajun. Of course he also asked for a prostate exam with the consultation but I refused. I’d rather be probed by an alien. Same thing actually.
Anyway, it’s National Peace Corps Week and I posted an old pic of me on Facebook from when I served in Kazakstan. Seeing my fellow volunteers’ posts this week reminded me that I lived in Portland before I went to serve overseas.
The economic situation at that time was very similar to today. Clinton was making cutbacks in the government and federal job openings were hard to come by. I was set in my mind to be a park ranger at that time and was having difficulty finding full-time, permanent work in that field. I was working at Kinko’s Copies and an athletic club trying to make ends meet and it wasn’t working. Peace Corps service offered a degree of preferential hiring status with the federal government, although I don’t recommend you try Peace Corps for just that reason alone. Several of my friends from college had joined Peace Corps at the time and I thought it would be fun. The other part in the decision was job panic.
Looking back had I not done Peace Corps I may have set on a different career path, similar to the one I ended up with anyway. I was doing graphic design at Kinko’s and could have moved into that position had I not fled Portland so fast the first time. But hindsight is 20/20 as they say. The path that took me indirectly to DC was a good one, and I developed some good skills and a Master’s degree along the way.
Back then no one told me it might take dozens, if not hundreds of job applications to get a better job. I think I had sent out less than a dozen when I was in Portland the first time and was freaking out that I wasn’t getting any bites.
Fast forward to today, my job search is a little more focused. While I’ve widened my search to non-federal jobs in the area, I’m still trying to stay in my field of public affairs and social media. I’ve worked too hard to develop my career to drop it and take a job in another field. Plus it took me a long time to realize that’s what I like to do, and know what kinds of jobs I wouldn’t like to do. From past work experiences I know I can’t just go to work and fake it – I need to be interested in what I’m doing and then I enjoy doing what I do more.
Now with this sequester bullshit, there are few federal job openings, and I’ve noticed a dip in openings elsewhere too just like back in ‘95. Everyone is holding their purses tight and not hiring. There aren’t even job openings back in DC in what I did with my previous federal job.
The urge to freak out and flee again is strong. Security is a warm and welcoming thing, and I don’t have much of that these days. But I try to remind myself on a daily (if not hourly) basis to hold out and keep looking. 15 years later I hope I’ve learned some wisdom along the way, and that this wisdom pays back for a change.
The other day the lovely Dingo asked me to dig up a post I wrote when I was previously unemployed so he could send it to his newly unemployed friend. It was good to go back and read what I wrote in 2009:
It’s not the end of the world. You will survive. You will work again one day and you will regret it.
I’m such a ray of sunshine.
We can assume my initial euphoria with being in a new place has ended by now. I have my ups and downs on a weekly basis but having lived here in Portland in 1995 has probably lessened the extremes somewhat. The cultural training also helped me observe differences between coastal cultures as well, which sometimes helps when I find myself frustrated with people here. I’m not saying I’m angry all the time, but little interactions come up on occasion where I find myself confused about how people work here. But I’m learning.
I went on a date (yes I go on dates now!) a month ago with a guy who used to live in Boston, which is a bit more extreme east coast culture than DC. But we both agreed to having some struggle with the way things go in Portland. I tried to frame how we see things here this way in a conversation with him: people from the larger cities on the east coast consciously or unconsciously learn to mind other people’s space, because there is less space for people in the densely populated cities of the east coast. If nobody in New York City minded other peoples’ space, there would be even more cranky people in New York. New York works because people learn to mind each others’ space.
Take for example a crowded locker room in a city gym. On the east coast people will keep their stuff in a smaller pile on the bench, so other people can put their stuff down too. They don’t think about it, they just do it. At my new gym in an even smaller locker room, one guy will spread all his stuff on the bench, and I’m pretty sure he’s completely unaware that nobody else can put their stuff on the bench and not on the nasty floor. And even with three other people in the locker room who need the bench to change clothes, the one guy doesn’t move his stuff to accomodate other people. It happens on a regular basis.
This applies to all sorts of things, like training your dog not to bark all the time or cleaning after the dog on the sidewalk. And resolving conflicts. People here don’t communicate well when they perceive a conflict, so they avoid conflict altogether. On the east coast they are better at voicing something that bothers them, which can be perceived on the west coast as “rude.” In more compact living environments, people learn to resolve conflicts by communicating. They haven’t learned that here in Portland. And I’ve probably been perceived as “rude” already.
There may be a politeness factor involved this close to Canada. Maybe people are too polite to voice conflicts. I think it’s from differences in population density. Just a theory.
I perceive drivers here as too polite, often to the point of endangering themselves in order to drive politely. If I’m at an intersection on foot where a driver has no stop sign and he has the right of way, they’ll often stop for the pedestrian even if the pedestrian does not have a crosswalk. I perceive this as potentially dangerous for the driver. But I will learn to expect this and just cross to be polite to the driver I guess.
When I’m out and chatting with people I’ve heard some interesting west coast perceptions of people from DC. The conversations went like this:
Me: I just moved here in September from DC.
Him: Oh, did you work for the government?
Him: Oh but you can’t talk about it. (smirks)
Well I can talk about it, but I won’t bore you about how I did public outreach on an equine STD eradication team. Or that I wrote Q&A documents on invasive fruit flies. It leads to too many awkward conversations about equine STD treatments or the science of how ripening fruit rots. You don’t really want to hear that, do you?
For the record, anyone from DC who tells you they can’t talk about what they do probably spend their time photocopying or filing and don’t want to talk about it. Those who truly can’t talk about what they do have a short pitch like “I do policy work.”
The other strange perception is of gays in DC. When I mention I moved from DC people here have said, “Oh, are all the gays closeted conservative Republicans?” No. Most of them are flaming liberal Democrats, but there are some Republicans, but not all of them are closeted. There are a few flaming gay conservatives who are out, but most of the people I knew were out all over the place. Of course there are a few deeply closeted cases, or semi-closeted gays who work for deeply conservative politicians, but I knew some guys who were out and still worked for these people. I guess there are all kinds of gays in DC, but they’re not all closeted Republicans for the record.
I think I did pick up a few east coast cultural habits without knowing it and brought them here to Portland with me. One strange one I see that makes me stick out a bit is public singing. In the neighborhoods I lived in, or in the deeply African-American Prince George’s County where I commuted and worked in for many years, people were unafraid of singing or humming aloud on the street or in the Metro. Mostly hip-hop but other styles of music too while they were listening to their headphones or iPods. It rarely bothered me, and at some point I guess I started doing it myself. I get strange looks here when I break out a verse in the gym or on the street, and notice that no one else here seems to sing publicly. This is one habit I think I will try to maintain despite cultural differences.
Umm…nothin’ much else to say here. I’m survivin’ the winter. It’s actually been sunny here the last few days, with spooky ice fog at night. On the winter depression front, I seem to be doing OK so far, but ask me again in late February or March. DC wasn’t that much less gloomy than Portland in the winter, it’s just that Portland has more rain. So my previous winter mood management techniques like working out regularly and getting outside seem to be working. I also have the luxury of being able to go outside in the day to catch whatever rays I can, which I’m sure helps a lot.
Here’s another pic from my Seattle trip, me and Hester after a long night of dancing at the club:
Still no full-time job, but I may be doing some part-time contract work doing media pitches. I don’t necessarily need the cash, but it gives me something to do, keeps me in practice in my skills, and is interesting work.
I’m sure you all got out and voted. I hope your polling place was this fierce:
I voted several weeks ago by mail. No lines! Not that the lines were that bad where I voted in DC, but voting by mail was very convenient. I happened to apply for a drivers’ license right when I got here, which allowed me to register to vote in Portland. Here is my new scary Amish bomber drivers’ license:
There are many other things that are different in this city and I wanted to write about it:
The first thing that struck me about Portland was a somewhat higher awareness of bicyclists. Portland is a biking city, and while DC was well on its way to accomodating bikers, they put in bike lanes and a nice bike share system without any kind of awareness campaign to educate bikers and motorists on how to get along with each other. So biking in DC was like a Mad Max film where motorists would run you over and bikers didn’t know how or where to ride. Portland has very explicit biking guidance and the Oregon drivers’ license test has questions for motorists to answer on the test about what to do around bikers. Portland drivers are somewhat more respectful of bicyclists and I was shocked when drivers actually slowed down when I crossed major intersections. There is also far less handheld device using by drivers and cyclists while driving or riding, which helps a lot. DC needs to enforce that behavior.
One thing about DC with all it’s political jobs and people representing varying views and political affiliations was that you could discuss things or sit down at the dinner table and people were fairly civil about their views and positions. Or they didn’t discuss their personal convictions at the dinner table and/or most people were diplomatic enough to keep it civil. Not so much in Portland, where people have their opinion and will subject you to it, particularly at the dinner table. Keep it to yourself, I’m trying to eat.
Conversely, the guys will not communicate well when they are not interested in you or aren’t able to arrange a date. At least the guys in DC were savvy enough to respond to you with some kind of excuse – often that they were “too busy.” In Portland you simply get no response, which I’ve learned means “not interested.” This doesn’t imply that I have not gotten dates. It’s just that the non-responders were confusing at first.
Everyone in Portland seems to have a food allergy, and they will let you know and it is the subject of great discussion and consternation when trying to select a dish or place to eat. It makes me want to eat mounds of gluten-rich food and raw meat.
Going out to bars seems very different than it was in DC. In DC I was accustomed to early happy hours where I could hang out and be home by 9. Things start later in Portland, and it’s hard to know where the place to hang out is on any given weekend. Either that or I’m just not plugged into the scene very well here. Plus the bars are all spread out rather than in a nice convenient concentrated ghetto. I think people also tend to stage at homes before going out, if at all.
And of course it is far easier to get out on the hiking trails around here. Some very out of the way places are less than an hour away. And some spectacular and remote places within two hours’ drive. I’ve been hiking every week now and have put a lot of mileage on my boots and it’s been lovely:
This was a view of the Columbia Gorge from Hamilton Mountain trail in Washington.
I had hoped to experience one last hurricane before I left DC, but it seems the Atlantic was saving one up for my former city:
Looks like a doozy too, with a Nor’easter coming down to meet Sandy for a duet. I’m sure y’all will be fine though. But I was struck by the similarity between the above pic found on Facebook and the one I created in August warning everyone of the dangers of Hurricane BrettCajun:
Hopefully Sandy will cool off by the time she gets to DC and be just as exciting as a long series of blog posts about tennis. Zzzz…
After the awful bile of the Republican National Committee (RNC) convention last week, expected gasps of fresh air are already incoming from Michelle Obmama’s Convention speech:
“…and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love…then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.”
Everyone. From the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson et al:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
I strongly believe in this virtue of our country, and it is a foundation upon which our country was built.
While I made the decision to move out of DC in June, I wanted to stay at my job until September to complete a solid four years at my job. I also stayed in DC until this week to be part of a marriage recognition ceremony of a friend’s union with his partner. Tonight he responded to Michelle Obama’s speech:
“I’m proud of my country and my president. And I’m extremely proud that marriage equality is something worth mentioning in a major party platform and on the stage at a national convention, over and over again, especially on my 18th anniversary with the best partner I could have ever asked for.”
This is what our country is about. The other party, the other candidate, are not part of this ideal. I hope you support 18 years, 2 years, or 40 years of these unions in the Pursuit of Happiness for everyone.
Oh no! Darth Sugarbakker is headed this way to suck up all the attention at my going away party in a week! You know it’s gonna be a mess – hide your kids, hide your boyfriend, and most of all hide your Just For Men! SHELTER IN PLACE – DO NOT GO TO BEAR HAPPY HOUR! SHE WILL BE THERE TOO!
Seriously though, our hearts and prayers go out to those affected along the Gulf Coast (except for Brett). I only hope she has prepared her rugrats and horses for the incoming hurricane.
Everyone should have a disaster preparedness plan in advance of an emergency. It makes me wonder what Brett’s preparedness checklist might look like:
- Copies of all current STD vaccination records
- 3-day supply of Cipro, Viagra and Wheat Thins
- 1 case of Just For Men
- 22 gallons of vodka
- 1 lemon
- Internet access and 52G of storage space for gratuitous pics of herself
- 1 liter of botox
We are going into the home stretch on the move to the West Coast. I have put in my official notice at work and am going about doing administrative things like cancelling my gym membership and stuff like that.
When I bike around town I think I am seeing things with different eyes – but just a little different. I look at things like the monuments and wonder if it’s the last time I’ll see them again. I reflect on that thought and ask myself “Am I OK with that?” and the answer is always “Yeah I’m cool with that.”
Every page of this article was hilarious, even though I haven’t been to many of these places as they’re all straight bars: 25 Douchiest Bars in Washington D.C. I can’t confirm the veracity of any of the claims, but the City Paper already has a response regarding the douchiness of the Black Cat’s Red Room.
I can confirm that DC is getting douchier. Living within the borders of DC is no cheaper than it used to be, but it’s certainly become more popular. There’s so many places that “foodies” can explore after all! All of them riding their “fixies.” Wait, I’m confusing hipsters with douchebags. Or are hipsters now douchebags? I’m so confused…
Like I said no gay bars were mentioned in the above article. But can gay bar patrons be douchey? They certainly can. Check out Nellie’s on a Saturday night – scores of “masc bros” with low-hanging ballcaps there to reaffirm their masculinity at a “sports bar” but only before all the “queens” show up at around 10pm. Then they have to go because it’s become “too gay” and they gotta get back home to update their Grindr profile (“Discrete only, face pic upon request.”).
J.R.s isn’t so much douchey as it is simply a sad crowded watering hole for alcoholics. The drink specials there are legednary. OK maybe MOVA is douchey – it certainly attracts the nouveau riche willing to pay ridiculous prices for rail drinks. Secrets/Ziegfeld’s is too far away to be douchey – it’s simply distant. Town: another sweaty watering hole – douche levels depend on how many bridal shower parties are in the building at any given time. Oh wait…DUPLEX DINER IS DOUCHEY. As I once called it “a nest of vipers.” A wicked place indeed but their meatloaf plate is tasty.