“And I can spend a lifetime searching for someone to blame, but don’t look back, don’t feel ashamed. Oh cause now is exactly the time, to be out on your own again” ~ Noah & The Whale: Life in DC, the Socratic Method, 9:30 Club, Online Dating, and more!

Apologies for no September post; I was very busy. Moving to DC, landing some work and creating a place for myself here as well as meeting a lot of new people and some old ones too-well it takes time to adjust to this sort of thing. However, there have been a series of thoughts that have crossed my mind, and here are some:

  • The problem with truly dedicating yourself to the Socratic Method is that you eventually end up drinking hemlock alone to prove a point. I firmly believe in the approach and have no problem claiming that I know nothing. It’s fun to confront irrational confidence with a range of questions at any opportunity (a hobby that one can find plenty of chances to do in DC…or actually anywhere). But, it seems sometimes that such an approach, at times, diminishes more than maximizes conversations. Why break everything down for the sake of reason when at times its fun to engage in building things up, however unreasonable?
    A motif that has seemed to emerge in my blog is enjoy life at all opportunities because moments are so often fleeting. In essence, I think a few times the past few months I’ve tried to avoid getting caught up in what are, I suppose, trivial things. After all, however important it is to assess the principles of an argument, for some discussions I know I’d rather not poison myself to prove a point.
  • Not as much as I’d like, but I do still run around in DC (or more accurately, Northern Virginia). One small thing I’ve noticed is that the nod to other runners as you pass them is definitely not as popular here as in Wisconsin, or even Texas. No real scientific study to prove this, but people must think I have a bobble-head. In any case, I still try…and may soon take drastic actions e.g. stopping and shaking hands, hugs, or resorting to a really, really awkward wink.
  • Music (1)/Pixburgh: I owe a debt to my friend Max for introducing me to a great album I likely wouldn’t have stumbled across. On one of my recent drives between Chicago and DC, I was able to meet up with this bicho from Bandza and he made me listen to Sam Cooke’s One Night Stand in Harlem. I spend a lot of time on music on this blog (see the Noah & the Whale point), but for a great listen to an old soulful album that captures the desired intensity of a live venue, check out this song and album. It’s so perfectly 1963 soul, and yet so timeless.

    Max & I in Pittsburgh & a retro shot from Georgia

    Max & I in Pittsburgh & a retro shot from Georgia

  • I should also mention that Max hooked us up with tickets to a Pittsburgh Pirates (aka Pixburgh Buccos) game. What made this even more interesting than standard beisbol was that 1) the Pirates had just recently clinched a winning season for the first time since Honus Wagner was on the team I believe (in jest) and 2) we sat in an “all you can eat” section. What that translated into was a handful of cheeseburgers, some hot dogs, a couple of nacho dishes, a heart attack in 10-15 years, and some peanuts and popcorn…each…I think ice cream servings were also in the mix. Mmmm beisbol food.

    Shot from the all-you-can-eat-in-baseball-food section at PNC Park

    Shot from the all-you-can-eat-in-baseball-food section at PNC Park

  • So DC definitely has some quirks. I mean, even 8 years ago, this city was a bit funny to me during my summer here. It’s a transient place full of people from around the US and the world, so it kind of lacks its own truly unique culture. Yet, it is so strong culturally with such a range of activities to do and places to see (e.g. the Smithsonian, great restaurants, and last night I even went to a really interesting ‘drag race’ [that is, a bunch of presumably gay men running heels]). Quirky DC. Speaking of restaurants, I cannot help but notice that I pass more pun-named restaurants (Thai-phoon, Thai-tanic, just to do the Thai food examples) than witness people who use the Arlington Cemetery Metro stop on any given day.

    Quirky DC: Sometimes you meet the owner of your favorite football club. Up the Pool! Go Tangerines!

    Quirky DC: Sometimes you meet the owner of your favorite football club. Up the Pool! Go Tangerines!

  • Sometimes I miss Poland, as well as Georgia & Ukraine. By that, I really miss the people I haven’t had a good opportunity keep up with these last two months as much as I’d like. Again, no need to list you but I’m already hoping to have the chance to chat/skype/etc. more in the next few months. Who knows and likewise I have no idea what I’m doing in January at the moment and more and more I’m thinking that area of the world, well there’s something about it. Then again, it’s nothing special:
  • So I really do enjoy my work, but a general observation that crossed my mind is a daily commute + 9 hours in an office a day + occasionally long Tuesdays…well living by Walden Pond has crossed my mind once or twice (that’s it though).
  • Music #2: The 9:30 club is amazing. I saw Noah & the Whale there in early October. Full discretion, I was very excited because Noah and the Whale were among my top 5 bands I’d never seen live. I love their albums for both their poppy hooks but also morose sentimentality. A lot of their songs have strong ties to great and bitter memories and I appreciate them both. I also believe that Noah and the Whale capture true sentiment as good as any other band with their lyrics and accompanying rhythms. And they don’t twerk.
    But, I went to their show with a few friends from Aggieland and a few reservations: would they live up to the hype in my mind? Would it be a slow boring show with a laconic stage presence? Would they play the songs I wanted (selfish, sorry)? The fact that their tour bus was delayed and the doors had to be delayed by 90 minutes was an inauspicious beginning.

    Noah & The Whale Show

    Noah & The Whale Show

    Well, guess what, this was one of the best concerts in recent memory (No fooling). Noah and the Whale’s lead singer was charismatic, engaging and funny (they were responsible for ending the government shutdown it turns out). More than that, they put together unique renditions of their songs that made even the melancholy seem catchy and uplifting (as much as they could). The guitarist-who looked like a character from Alice in Wonderland (far right in the blurry photo above)-was one of the loudest fans as he sung along in the songs. Perhaps my favorite thing however was that they saved their encore from a really superior setlist for the song, “The First Days of Spring.” A really, slow, again somewhat melancholy song. Yet, while the majority of bands would have likely hid this in the middle of a setlist, or not played it at all, they took a different approach. After constantly gaining momentum throughout their show, they came back on for the one song encore which felt like a strong, deliciously stiff drink to put fans over the edge after a wonderful buzz all night. It was a dramatic, building effort that epitomized efforts of dashed romantic hopes, and fruitful efforts to rebuild. Well done, Noah.

  • OK, Cupid, time for a quick vent and my thoughts on Online Dating. Now I’ve long been skeptical, even after I learned it’s not just for people dating HAL from 2001 a Space Odyssey.  Okay…maybe I had that wrong…but let me clarify: a few months ago (maybe a year), my friend Dan & I were both strongly against this ever more popular trend. Yes, this idea is full of common sense. You can instantaneously identify similar interests, associations and connections. Skip through a lot of ‘pointless’ stuff by using metadata and whatever else to see if you and X’s stars are aligned. Technologically speaking, it’s the future and therefore it’s good; I get it.
    XKCD's take

    XKCD’s take

    The reasons I don’t get it though…well; first: why should things be organized and sorted? It seems to me, sleuthing your way through someone else’s life, interests and history (and if they are a pathological liar) is a pretty important (and fun) part of getting to know someone. Maybe it seems shallow, but asking someone ‘about them’ and hear them respond is the mystery/challenge/game/intrigue that’s so important. It is also, I guess, generally part of the whole point-isn’t it? I mean, I don’t want to meet someone the same way I would if I was hiring them for a job: reading a prepared writing sample or their sample of work (see: photos). Life is far too real for that and I’d rather meet a real person.

    Second, and this is more personal, but there is a definite lack of story coming from online dating. I mean, sure, I’m glad you may be one of the world’s first couples to have married after meeting on tinder, but…so what? Give me a chance encounter in a coffee shop or on a train you know why? Because the randomness of that conversation, and the excitement of that unknown is not only more memorable but its so much more indelible to everyone around. Sorry, it’s true. Maybe that’s very Hollywood-esque…but I’ll prefer to think of it as very romantic-esque.

    Yet….Dan & I, both having recently moved, ran a bit of a social experiment. We both kind of pulled the trigger and checked out OkCupid. Now, I must damper some of the above skeptcism without getting into details that aren’t mine to share by just saying Dan was quite happy with this e-romantic-xperience.

    Me? Well I shut down my profile (which, by the way, had this man’s introductory paragraph as my about me) after 36 hours. I still simply believe most of the reasons above, but also I saw that this film was on TV: 

    So, it’s probably cliche, overplayed and quixotic-but the whole idea of a hopeless romantic is fine by me. I just love the idea of chance and spontaneity too much to do these types of things.

  • I owe a final shout out to another old acquaintance from my Georgia days, Tom. I believe Tom is now living the life in China (China: he’s the British one drinking vodka through his eyes); but recently in my somewhat uncertain move and transition to DC, I remember a specific conversation he and I once had and him saying how he, “always lands on his feet.” Now, I don’t think Tom was secretly telling me he was a cat, but instead hinting at his luck and also the right outlook to adopt. After all, Tom had gotten a great gig in the town of Zugdidi– the Paris of Samegrelo as it is commonly referred to. But, I’m guessing any situation would have worked out-things kind of just do. And, for some reason, that expression always stuck with me and I guess so has the luck in the more uncertain times. I needn’t go into too many details, but it does seem like everything is attitude = luck. I guess, even if you crash and burn the important thing is that you land on your feet…And not New Castle.

    Old School from Sakartvelo: Tom & I, (metaphorically) on our feet.

    Old School from Sakartvelo: Tom & I, (metaphorically) on our feet.

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