Just say ‘No’ to YES

Unless you really do like space music

look - gnats!
What’s happening?
or ants
Who? No, YES.
Concerts. Why do people go to music concerts? I’ve never figured this out, as to me I find them so damn boring. First off the music is painfully loud, and only rarely better than what a decent home stereo can produce. Then you have to just sit there, or worse, stand, with nothing much to do.

The singers are always far away, little figurines moving around on stage, or just Jumbotron images flickering overhead. Neither can compete with even the lamest music video.

I’d much rather have them music in the background, as a soundtrack to life while I’m living in the moment, than front and center, overwhelming it. Or I could just be getting old. Either way, last week found me at the strangest place I’ve been in a while: a YES concert at the Nissan Pavilion with a sense of adventure, free tickets and very attractive date.

All three couldn’t help though. As we walked in and I heard their music for the first time, I cocked my head in puzzlement. Apparently, YES plays funky space music in between mainstream hits like ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’. That and seemingly intense fans I read about on their website made me wonder if I this was going to be a Grateful Dead show.

Now the parking lot didn’t look anything like a Dead show, and once inside, neither did the fans. Mainly Baby Boomers trying to relive youth, they were defiantly not the unwashed and scraggly youth I remember from my Dead days.

No, these big kids sat attentively in their chairs, calmly singing along with only rare and random screams of joy and happiness at favorite songs. Such was the order and calm in the crowd, I soon had to flee the boringness of it all. Flee to the concession stand where $8 Miller Lites, (Yes, $8 for a small cup of crap beer!) kept me sober and sad.

After an hour watching the fans come and go, listening to them recount concerts and songs of yore, my date came looking for me. With a scowl she agreed to go and I now know: Just say ‘No’ to YES


Getting Gold in the ABA Olympics

I didn’t even break a sweat

hot, eh?
I’m ready!
Go Jessica!
Jessica & Crew
Go CEELI!
My Crew
I’ve only been at CEELI a week now, just long enough to be on the website, and already my trash-talking is getting me in trouble. Not bad trouble, but I had to work to hard keep my cool.

See, once I wandered down to the massive gym in our basement, I started chatting with the folks there, bragging about my triathlon training, and they shut me up with an ABA Olympics of sorts. First off, there was a one mile run speed test, which I did in a respectable seven minutes.

That got the attention of the numerous other runners here who took up my challenge and tried to max out the treadmill we were tested on. One matched my trash-talking ways, Jessica in the International Law Section of the ABA, and she even dared to race me in a run off.

Not one to shrink from a challenge, especially given by such an attractive challenger, I took her up and we set a time and place for the run. Apparently, she started to get scared and called in backup; the rest of her office. They were to support her and heckle me during our race.

I called in my own heavies, the rest of CEELI Finance, and on the appointed day, down in the gym, the race was on. Starting at the max treadmill pace, a grueling 6:30 pace, we both sprinted for a mile, sweat dripping and friend cheering all the way.

Just six minutes and 39 seconds later, with both treadmills maxed out for the entire mile; we finished at a dead tie. Shaking hands, we both came out winners in this first contest. Well, by the clock anyway, as I definitely had a much easier six minutes than her huffing and puffing revealed.

Next up there was the bike test, where we had to do a five-mile bike sprint on ancient stationary bikes. This time, there was no competition, as I breezed through the electronic course in 4:23, leaving my challengers behind by at least a minute.

With my dominance of the run and the bike, both my key strengths in a triathlon, the gym management stopped the Olympics and gave me the Gold, knowing that I am the fleetest foot in the building.


I Love My New Job

Cuz there, they know I’m cool

where's wayan?
The Fashionistas
where's wayan?
Thanks Yana!
The Revolution keeps the step
My poster
Hail Moskva!
The Moscow flag
Back in June, decked out in high summer fashion, my friend Yana and I were headed to a barbeque. Her man of the week, the Great Black Hope (GBH), was grilling up a storm and we were hungry for good eats. After a half-hour drive to the ‘burbs and minutes before we arrived, Yana took a call from her producer friend, David.

David was filming an episode of the Lifetime Channel’s cable TV show ‘What Not to Wear‘ in Washington, DC, and in the last segment, where the friends are to see the couple’s new post-makeover look, only one friend showed up.

In a panic to fill in the room so the couple would look to be popular, he called Yana and over my vocal objections, we skipped the barbeque for the filming.

It was the best over-rule Yana ever made.

At the filming, the lone friend turned out to be the senior grant manager for a downtown Washington international nonprofit; the American Bar Association’s Central European and Eurasian Law Institute (ABA CEELI). When she emailed me last month to tell me when the program was to air, I noticed her email address and realizing where she worked, turned on the ‘Wayan Wants a Job’ charm.

Today it all paid off, as it’s my first day in my dream job: I’m a grant manager in an international nonprofit in downtown Washington, DC. And as I already have a desk, a pass, and most importantly, am on the office phone list, I’m smiling from ear to ear.

One Month Update

CEELI is turning out to be the long lost organization I’ve always wanted!

First off, it has an amazingly large gym that comes free with the job. And since we’re right next to the White House, I can take my hour lunch to Run Against Bush past his house, around the Washington Monument, and down the Mall to the Capitol Building and back. A nice four-mile mid-day jog.

Then I am working with a United Nations of coworkers, hailing from China, Colombia, Turkey, and Germany in my Finance group alone. Coworkers that understand my fascination with foreign lands and can appreciate my extensive travels across the globe.

Next I had the best compliment I could ever ask for. Two senior managers, guys who command respect and are leaders in their fields, stopped dead in their tracks when I decorated my office. Yes, I have a real office, with a door and everything. No window, but I make up for it with the many plants, posters, and flags. One poster, celebrating the six decades of Soviet achievements, and a Moscow city flag that the two senior managers, real Russophiles, offered to buy on the spot.
Yeah, it’s a month later and I’m still smiling from ear to ear!


Bye Bye Wingman

We were the mac-daddy mojo duo

hot, no?
Street Matt P
nice, eh?
Club Matt P
why did ya go?
Bye Matt P
I had a friend, Matt P we’ll call him, who was a treasure for me to find right after Jingmei and I separated. Fresh from his own divorce, we quickly bonded with all the heartbreak and freedom that such a tragedy presents a guy.

We bonded over kickball, beers, and guys’ nights out. I bonded with Matt P like very few other guys in my life. Hell, maybe like no other, for while we were very similar in situations, we were very divergent in tastes.

In the same bar, looking at the same women, we had completely different tastes. Luckier still, women who liked him, passed me by, and those that talked to me, gave him a passing glance.

Then we would throw down for each other. I can’t count the number of time I pulled a hottie out of a cab, with a line and a smile, for Matt P to chat up. Or the times Matt P entertained the annoying friends of the beauties I worked my mojo on. All in all, we were an unstoppable duo.

Well that was until June. That’s when my calls and emails started to go unanswered. It was gradual at first, but then I realized a month had passed and he only wrote thrice, and only then when I went Jewish Mom on him with ‘So, you don’t love me no more?’ voicemails.

By mid-July, I was fed up. The silence was so deafening that I wrote the ‘What the f#@k?!’ email. The one where I poured my heart out about how he was hurting me with his indifference to our friendship, how I wondered if I’d done something wrong, in essence, why he didn’t wanna talk with me anymore.

Do you know what I got back? It was so classic! I got the ‘Problem? What problem? You’re being way too needy!’ email. Yes, guys give it to other guys just like they give it to girls, and he gave it to me like I was some random Betty.

So I was adult about it. I took Matt P off my email list, and outta my cell phone, erasing him from my life. If he wants back in, he knows how to reach me. And one day I wish he still would.

Until then, here’s to the wingman, and may I find another.


Its Moving Time Again

Ya know, I’ve grown to hate moving day

my new place
Look familiar?
my old place
Better than this!
After three years in Dupont Circle, I’m headed back north again. Not to far, mind you, only a mile or so, but a world away from where I am now. I am leaving the expensive flatlands of Dupont Circle, where the White House is three blocks away and my favorite bars are around the corner.

My landlord, Louay, is going with the gentrification of the neighborhood, remodeling the apartment and doubling the rent. Funny thing is, I can’t complain, really. I’ve had three years of good living on the cheap, with a glorious place in the heart of it all, and off street parking to boot.

Now, with Whole Foods and new loft condos popping up, I can’t afford the neighborhood anymore. The yuppies, guppies, and buppies are making me retreat, sort of, to hilltop Mt Pleasant where I lived before

Its not all bad, as my new roommate, Francis, seems cool, and the apartment sure is. Overlooking DC from the 7th floor of a swank art-deco building, the view out of my curved living room windows is amazing.

I just have to get used to the changes it will bring into my life. Or out of it as I’m gonna give my car to my mom. She needs one to replace her ancient Toyota, and my Honda, affectionately known as ‘Wayan’s Lounge’ for its dark tinted windows and XM Satellite Radio system, would be a sweet upgrade for her.

It will also be a financial relief for me. More hassle, as I’m now back to metro, taxi, bus, bike, and walk, where before I was all drive all the time. But without car payments, insurance, gas, and DC parking tickets, so much cheaper in the long run.

Mt Pleasant helps too. It used to be a transitional neighborhood, back when I lived here in 1996, but these days it’s cleaned up nicely. Still with a solid Central American flair, there are fewer drunks and no broken 40oz’s like before. Only new restaurants serving good food and better beer on the cheap.

Its gonna be odd moving back into the old hood. A move I hope helps change my luck for the better.