Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Whirlwind Weekend

In addition to the USNA Out meeting, I did get to spend some time just bumming around in San Fran. I flew in on Thursday night and Jeff picked me up. On the way to his place, he took me to the top of Twin Peak, which has just an amazing view of the city. At night, San Fran has just a great skyline and Jeff was pointing out the different areas of the city. It was cool, and a bit cold. We had great plans to go out that night, but there was a small problem (a lost wallet, well, really mis-placed but we thought lost at the time). So Jeff took me to my hotel and then went back to the airport to see if any turned in his wallet. So the upside is that I got to sleep early (2AM DC time).

The next day I got up, worked out the mini-gym at the hotel, and then did work. Seriously. Have laptop, will slave away. I did meet Jeff and Zoe (another USNA alumni) for lunch to talk about our upcoming meeting. Then when Jeff want back to work, I wandered around Union Square and checked out the great shopping. It was great, but some of the prices were just shocking. I mean, $225 for a tie. Something I'm going to drip on? I think not. But I did hit the sales rack at Kennth Cole and found a great black (natch) windbreaker. After Jeff got off work, we wandered around a bit more and then we took a quick tour of the city. We took a cable car over to the Maritime Museum and the Fisherman's Wharf area. Then we hit the downtown area and the ferry terminal building. Then we bolted back to his place in time to change for cocktails. Jeff had planned a no-host social at Mecca, a hip trendy bar/restaurant in the Castro. Zoe and another grad, Paul, were there, so we had some drinks and then the four of us had dinner. Since Jeff was exhausted, he headed home and Paul gave me a quick tour of a couple of places in the Castro. But between the jet lag and no disco nap, a late night was not in the cards. I think I was back at the hotel by midnight.

On Staturday, after another quick trip to the mini-gym at the hotel, I met Jeff and Barb (another alumni) at the Starbucks in the Castro. Jeff referred to it as the bear starbucks. And I will say that the scenery was interesting. There were a couple of guys there that I wouldn't have minded getting to know better. After that, Jeff and I went on another driving tour of San Fran. We went to the Palace of Fine Arts. We went to the foot of the Golden Gate bridge. We drove through the Presidio. And then finally we made it to the Legion of Honor for our meeting.
After the meeting, Jeff and I went back to his place and just relaxed a bit before meeting up with more alumni for dinner that night. Jeff and I did go out that night and hit some of the bars south of Market. Jeff was killing me. There was no one there and he felt bad about that. But I wasn't going to be able to stay out late anyways. We did hit the Eagle and the Powerhouse. Interesting and probably worth a repeat visit.

Sunday AM I worked again (does it ever stop!!!!), then went out to the museum where Jeff works to take a tour and just hang. During his "break" we drove across the Golden Gate bridge over to the Marin Headlands and Point Bonito Lighthouse. The weather was perfect and crossing the bridge and then heading into this natural area was just amazing. We hiked out to the lighthouse and the rugged coastline was just amazing. Then it was a mad dash back to the museum. After Jeff finished work, we headed back to the Castro for some drinks and then dinner and then it was time for the hell flight back to DC. The red eye is never fun. And there should be a law forbidding infants from red eye flights. I think I got around 2 hours of sleep so work on Monday was a joy.

Oh well, the trip was SO worth it. And I'll be back. Maybe for Folsom?

Saturday, January 22, 2005

A Meeting of Friends

That’s what Jeff called it. And it was. We met at the California Palace of the Legion Honor. Originally built to honor the California soldiers who died during World War I, it is now an amazing museum. A smaller replica of the18th-century Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris, it has the words “Honor and Country” engraved above the entrance (in French of course), and it is famous for its Rodin sculpture, The Thinker. This past Saturday, it hosted the first national meeting of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and straight supporting US Naval Academy alumni.

After our rejection as an official alumni chapter in December, this was our first meeting to determine what our path forward should be, how should we support the Naval Academy, other GLBT alumni, and even GLBT midshipman. We had GLBT Naval Academy graduates from 1967 to 1997 (an officer who is still on active duty). There were 17 of us sitting around the conference table trying to figure out how we could make a difference despite the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, and the homophobic alumni association.

I often say that I didn’t go to college. I went to an institution. And it’s true. I don’t think a college can affect you like a service academy. While our discussions were friendly, there was a bit of intensity that encompassed out meeting. One of our members talked about getting kicked out during youngster year. How it impacted her life. It was amazing. But more importantly, she really did epitomize what a Naval Academy alumni is all about. After that potentially life shattering event, she picked herself up, finished college, and is now an optometrist with her own practice in North Carolina. And even after all of that, she still feels ties to the Naval Academy and wants to support it. Everyone had a story to tell. One of the older alumni’s voiced started to waver as he talked about getting kicked out of the Navy after 14 plus years. How would you feel if your career, your life, was over because of who you are or who you loved? And it’s still a problem.

Last year our group helped a midshipman who was kicked out for being gay. He didn’t want to go home because his parents didn’t approve of him being gay. So he stayed with some of our members in the local DC/Annapolis area. He finally did go back home, but now has to work two job, pay rent to his parents, and is trying to get back into college. And this is 2004. I can’t imagine getting kicked out of the Naval Academy or the Navy in the 1950s, 1960s, or even the 1990s?

Our group wants to support those Navy officers, and midshipman, who are still in the closet because of DADT. We hope that by being visible, by being out, by showing that others have walked down the same path, by leading by example, that we can work to make the Navy, the Naval Academy, the Naval Academy Alumni Association open to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. It was really empowering to sit in that room with these other GLBT alumni and know that despite all of the challenges and discriminations we may have faced, that we still want to support our school by making it free of discrimination.

The meeting was a huge success. We came up with a good plan to move forward, to engage the alumni association, and how to build and strengthen our organization.

All of this wouldn’t have been possible without Jeff. As the leader of this group, Jeff has taken the fight to the alumni association, he’s talked with the press to gain recognition, and he’s gather over 70 GLBT and straight supporting alumni to help support our cause. Jeff is an amazing person. He has taken this cause to heart and has done a great job forming this group. His dedication, determination, and spirit are inspiring and impossible to measure. And I am so glad that he’s my friend.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Religion, Sex, and Politics

Three things you shouldn't talk about at a dinner party as you are sure to ruffle some feathers. Alteast that's what Emily Post says. But this isn't a dinner party, it's my blog so damn the rules!!!

Let's do politics first. My academy class has a mailing list. Actually we have two. One is for general information (hey we've gotten married, had kids, I'm looking for a job, etc) and one is for political discussions. At one point the first mailing list got bogged down with politics and alot of people got turned off by it, so they created a separate mailing list. But then no one was using it to talk about anything relevant. Enter Trey, the instigator. Wait, strike that. That sounds like I was doing this for fun or part of some larger plot. It wasn't like that. As Academy graduates, we are now moving into positions of authority in both the civilian and military world. We should be having discussions about the various topics that impact us as Academy graduates and US citizens. So I offered up Andrew Sullivan's review of some books on the torture at Abu Ghraib as a starting point. There has been some "discussion", and by "discussion" I mean dismissing of the accusations, calling the sources I used liberal or my favorite "whackjobs." I expected my classmates to be a bit right of center. But this raises the question, at what point does your own internal prejudices blind you to facts that go against your arguement or support an opposing position? In the latest salvo, one of my classmates didn't even address the FBI memo that I had attached to the email. In it, it states that there were techniques authorized by Bush that were beyond what the FBI allows. If that isn't the most PC cover for torture, I don't know what is. Anyways, it will be interesting to see if the discussion changes anyone's minds. Mine included.

Sex. It was MAL this weekend. And usually a good time had by all. But not for me. I didn't really partake of the fun. I did go to the leather mart and was looking for a pair of leather chaps. I did find some really cool leather jackets (at like $800!!!) and then of course, I had to run into someone who works for me. Can you say "embarrasing"? And then to make matters worse, we ended up talking about what color striping I wanted on the chaps. Blue, definitely blue. That's the only option!! I'm sure I'll get grief for it later. I did go to the dance. I saw quite a few people I recognized, including Andrew Sullivan and Jimbo. I think leather dances are better than regular circuit parties. Less attitude. Atleast from I can tell. Of course, I left around 3AM.

Religion? I think I'll pass tonight.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Sights and Smells of Charleston

Down in Charleston for a work conference. I come down here every other month or so. It's nice. I stay in the downtown area and I've been told it's like a cleaner, smaller New Orleans. Still need to go there.

Anyways, it smells here. Bad. Really bad. Even inside. It's that close to a paper mill or industrial plant type smell. Some people say it's the swamp near by. I'm not sure sure. I just know if smells awful. And you can't hide from it. It's everywhere.

Heading back to DC tonight. My plans for this weekend? A little bit of MAL fun. My "Lord of the Rings" movie marathon. Some quality gym time. Work on updating my resume. And get some quality nap time in. NO WORK!!!

Oh well, a better blog entry soon. I promise.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Starting Over

Okay, let's try this again.

It's only the sixth day of the year. I really can do better. Yes work has sucked my will to live, but I need to break the cycle of chaos. Now that the proposal is over, hopefully I can get back to having some sort of work/life balance.

On the plus side, I did go for a run tonight, and it felt good. A little bit cold, but I love the grey, misty weather we are having. It was really foggy when I left work and I really loved it. The grey, foggy weather, with mist hanging in the air really seems to take the edges off everything. Nothing seems so black and white, so stark, so clear cut. Even the gas lamps and street lights seems to have a peaceful glow about them. I need to enjoy it now, I'm sure an artic cold blast is just days away.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Is bitchslapping a form of exercise?

So the fourth day of this great year and I'm exhausted. If you can't tell the positive outlook on life has been crushed by the realities of my banal existence, then let me clue you in. Just as I suspected, work is proceeding to suck my will to live. And completely sabotage my new years resolution. I didn't work out today, but I hope to get to the gym tomorrow.

The cause of my recent work suckage? A fairly major 2 year, $16M proposal for my project. Not a bad chunk of change, but it's alot of work getting ready for the oral presentation to the government on Thursday. I haven't been sleeping or exercising much, but certainly food and caffienne are my friends. Anyways, I worked late tonight. Working at home is proving a bit challenging with a lot of different distractions. So I stayed in the office. I got home around 10ish and realized that I needed something. So I hiked over to Whole Foods (it was closed), then to the CVS next to it (it was closed), and then just before heading home I thougth I would check out the CVS on 17th St. Sure enough it was open. I picked up my stuff and then headed home. As I walked back along P St, tired, a bit disheveled, and just a little bit cold, I see two young twinks approaching. Here they come sashaying down the sidewalk, wearing their low rise jeans which accentuate their 30 in waist (if even), their little too tight t-shirts streched across thier early 20's chest, and the perfect coiffed hair-dos. The one closest to me was wearing a t-shirt that said, "Hot Stuff."

It took ALL of my strength not to bitchslap them. And I mean All.

And as I type this, and as I shortly head to bed so I can repeat this wonderful day, I know they'll be drinking and dancing at some club on 17th St. Damn it, I should have bitchslapped them. It probably does count as exercise!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy 2005

Amazingly enough, I'm looking forward to 2005. 2004 didn't work out the way I thought it might, professionally or personally, but I've got a strange, dare I say positive attitude toward 2005. This could be my year. When all of my dreams come true. I'm hoping this positive feeling lasts while.

I did wake up with a small hangover. Three margaritas and some champagne will do that to you. I did get a kiss last night. From the guy I wanted to kiss. But I'm not sure it's the kiss I wanted. It's weird and confusing and one of my resolutions this year is to be more open and honest in . . . . . wait for it . . . . communicating my feelings (gasp!). Yeah, never my strong suit, but I'm going to try. Despite the hangover, I did go to the gym. It was amazingly empty. I suspect that most people's new year resolutions don't start till Monday. Then the gym will be an absolute zoo. Oh well.

Speaking of resolutions, I've made a couple:

1) Go to the gym 5 days a week, even if it's just for cardio.
2) Do something cultural in DC atleast once a month. My first mission is to go to the new Smithsonsian for the American Indian.
3) Do something every day that is good for me.

Which bring me to my quote for the year! It's from a song by Heather Smalls. Love her. Have been listening to her CD and it's just amazing. There are so many great songs, but "Proud" is my favorite. So even though it's kind of old, it's my theme song for 2005:

"I look into the window of my mind,
Reflections of the fears I know I've left behind
I step out of the ordinary
I can feel my soul ascending
I am on my way
Can't stop me know
And you can do the same.

"What have you done today to make you feel proud?
It's never too late to try
What have you done today to make you feel proud?
You could be so many people
If you make that break for freedom,
What have you done today to make you feel proud?"