Thursday, January 1, 2015

Welcome to 2015: A Recap of My New Year's Eve and Ruminations on What the Year Might Bring

The Sun over the nearly silhouetted Wakefield Hall and 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C., 1:31PM January 1, 2015.

The tiny dark pencil-like thing poking up is the Washington Monument about 1.5 miles away.

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This is a recap of my New Year's Eve and subsequent New Year's Day 2015.

Highlights ...

*Dinner with DD and his daughter at a Greek restaurant in Rockville.

*An hour at the bar at La Tasca at Rockville Town Square and a nice chat about astronomy with the bartender.


*Metro ride back half asleep to Dupont Circle.

*Being depressed over not being invited to TWO different New Year's Eve parties and concluding that nobody likes me.

*Pondering what a shitty New Year's Eve it was turning out to be and very nearly staying home for the midnight hour but then going out anyway to No. 9, where I watched the ball drop at Times Square minus any audio (just the regular bar music playing).

*Getting a text from Jamie inviting me to Fox & Hound where he was with Jenny.

Jamie's text and my vist to Fox & Hound changed the tenor of my entire New Year's Eve.

*Going to Fox & Hound and having a wonderful time with a minor exception involving Mr. Good Valley, a.k.a., Donny Osmond (who was, oddly, there). Based on this, I officially give up trying to be cordial to him, which is all I was trying to do.

*Finding out today that the Anthony Bowen YMCA was in fact open until 4PM and managing to get in almost a full, complete gym workout and feeling good about that.

*Still worried that this is going to be a shitty year, if only because of this possibility.

Sunset on the last day of 2014 as seen from my apartment window looking out across my part of Washington, D.C., 4:47PM December 31, 2014.

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Details ...

I left my dusty-shanty fifth floor apartment around quarter to five PM in the chilly but busy dusk of New Year's Eve in this part of "midtown" Washington, D.C. (the western edge of Shaw and the U Street Corridor). I walked over to Larry's Lounge in order to apologize to bartender Scott.

Scott had cut me off the previous night -- and was right to do so even though that pretty much never happens at Larry's Lounge -- but I got mad at that, not directly at him but just in general, barked at Gary, and stormed out. I already apologized to Gary in the morning. Scott wasn't there so I talked to Ron for a bit; he was his usual gregarious self). Scott showed up and I made my amends and headed over to the Dupont Metro.

I rode the Metro to Rockville (having to make a train change at Grosvenor) and met DD. He is a friend and now-former co-worker. The idea was to meet him, his wife, and their two children for a New Year's Eve dinner at a restaurant in Rockville Town Square. This has been a custom we've done for three of the past four New Year's Eves.

The entrance to Trapezaria from the restaurant's website.

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However, his son was sick and so mom had to stay home. Thus, it was only DD, his 3-1/2 year old daughter, and myself. We went to this Greek restaurant called Trapezaria: Mediterranean Kuzina. Now to be clear, I have never really been a fan of Greek food but this family-run establishment certainly does Greek food in an authentic Greek way.

Our waitress reminded me personality-wise a bit of "Aunt Zora" Crane in that Frasier episode "Beware of Greeks," except her hair was pulled back tightly.

Aunt Zora Crane -- played by Patti LuPone -- and Frasier Crane in the "Beware of Greeks" episode of Frasier.

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Dinner wrapped up quickly and I wandered over to the center of Rockville Town Square where the ice skating rink was crowded and in full family values swing. Despite the total lack of snow this year, the night was cold with temps. already around freezing.

The seasonal ice skating rink and ice skaters at Rockville Town Square, Rockville, Md., 7:49PM December 31, 2014.

This whole Rockville Town Square complex is a real winner -- and light years better than the 1960s-era "modernization" effort. It recreates the spirit of what was once there -- albeit it in far, far (unaffordably wealthier context.

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I stopped in at La Tasca, which is right at Rockville Town Square itself. I had a glass of Sangria but couldn't finish it -- too sugary and instead had my usual flavored Absolut vodka and soda drink. I stayed there about an hour, having a text exchange and then phone call with LP, who had decided to stay in for the night.

I was getting depressed because -- as I realized earlier -- I was expressly not invited to two different parties (more on that later).

Gold balloons in the shape of "2015" behind the bar at La Tasca, Rockville, Md., 7:57PM December 31, 2014.

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Anyway, at one point, I noticed that the bartender -- Andres -- used a small laptop that had as its background image a picture of the Andromeda Galaxy and some of its small satellite galaxies. It was sort of like this Hubble Space Telescope image (though not the exact same one):

The Andromeda Galaxy in a Hubble Space Telescope image (or possibly set of images).

It and our Milky Way Galaxy are on a course for a "ghost collision" in 4 to 5 billion years and eventual coalescence into a single, giant elliptical galaxy. The Sun probably will be a white dwarf by then, cooling throughout eternity, while the Earth is a dead, airless lump of carbon and oxygen, if it still exists at all.

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I explained to him how all the individual stars you see in that image are actually in the Milky Way Galaxy "foreground" because the stars of Andromeda are much, much too far away to be resolved individually with the exception of a rare supernova. The only individual regular stars outside the Milky Way Galaxy that you can see are in its satellite galaxies such as the Large and Small Clouds of Magellan (Magellanic Clouds).

He found that quite interesting.

UPDATED 7:38PM 1/10/2015: Well, it turns out I spoke too quickly on the question of whether you can see individual "regular" (non-supernova) stars in the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). For an explanation of the (extreme) reason why it isn't the case for M31, see this blog posting (at the bottom of the entry) or, more directly, this Phil Plait article on his "Bad Astronomy" blog on Slate.com.

End of Update.

The large pedestrian walkway to the night-time sketchy Rockville Metro station, Rockville, Md., 9:30PM December 31, 2014.

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I then walked to the Metro station on that familiar route, over that giant enclosed pedestrian walkway and just caught a Glenmont-bound train heading into D.C. The train quickly filled up with New Year's Eve revelers, mostly young people. I'm not sure how some of those young ladies can wear such high skirts with their legs all exposed in the cold winter air. I just don't get that. Add in the high heels, and all just looks so damn uncomfortable.

As for me, I was tired (read: semi-drunk) and if you saw me on the train, I would have looked up all bundled up in hat, gloves (one of which I had as hand over my face), sweater, and hoodie with hood over my wool hat, not to mention asleep. In short, not that different from a homeless person.

I got off at Dupont Circle and walked home by about 1040PM. I was depressed and tired, and I thought of just staying home -- except I have no cable TV anymore and get NO stations. (I've yet to figure out how to work the digital antenna that Andrea got me as a present months ago.)

The NWS icon-based forecast for Buffalo, N.Y., valid January 1 - 3, 2015 on the Buffalo NWS website.

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I went online and saw that Buffalo -- and I still need to post the second batch of pictures to compliment the first batch I already posted -- was under a lake effect snow warning. The snow machine appears to have turned on pretty much the moment Gary and I left. Indeed, it was flurrying while we were on the jet on the tarmac leaving.

In terms of party non-invitations, there was Miss Chicana annual New Year's Eve dinner party and soiree at her Logan Circle / Rhode Island Avenue condo where Kristof, Dilshan, and Gary were all invited. I've been banned from her place ever since this disaster.


In my defense about that night -- which, I realize, nobody cares to hear -- is that Kristof specifically wanted my advice and for me to talk to Dilshan about this other person, except the whole thing blew up badly. I was an idiot for getting involved.

The second non-invite involves a young, recently married couple in Capitol Hill who invite my other group of friends. For the second New Year's Eve running, they had a dinner party and then went out along the H Street NE corridor. I was also not invited to that.

The interior of No. 9 looking at the flat-screen television a few seconds after midnight, Washington, D.C., 12:00AM January 1, 2015.

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It was about 11:20PM when I finally left my apartment, although I wasn't sure whether to go to Larry's Lounge or No. 9. I opted for the latter and made it there by 11:45PM. The place was crowded but not mobbed. I found a spot at the bar next to bartender Aaron's well. The single flat screen TV was tuned to CNN's New Year's Eve coverage of the ball drop at Times Square co-hosted by Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper. Those two are wonderful together and they are quickly becoming a New Year's Eve tradition.

Video still of Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper in Times Square, New York City, 11:30PM December 31, 2014.

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The ball dropping occurred right on schedule -- except in No. 9, the music was not turned down and no one really did a countdown until it was within 10 seconds of midnight, and it was out of kilter rather than in sync. And you couldn't hear the throngs sing Auld Lang Syne, so it was more like a lip-reading thing.

I drank three of the little plastic flutes of cheap, sweet champagne among the dozens that were set out on the bar.

Left: Ralph Lauren Foster lead crystal champagne flutes. That's not what was on the bar counter.

I unexpectedly got a text from Chris H., who has once again gone totally radio silent with me in the past two weeks. All it said was "Merry New Year."

Earlier, I had texted Jamie lamenting my New Year's Eve. He responded around 1230AM saying he was at Fox & Hound and to stop by.

I got to Fox & Hound on 17th Street around 1AM. Jamie was there in Jenny and it was quite a festive time. Jamie was there with his staff from Floriana and the regular bartender was working. I can never remember his name but I think he's Turkish.

Jamie was in a good mood and he quickly put me in a good mood -- he has that charismatic ability to do that. Jenny and I also had a really nice chat, and all in all, it was a great time that totally and unexpectedly made my New Year's Eve a good one.

The only slight wrinkle in this time involved Mr. Good Valley, a.k.a., Donny Osmond. It was quite unexpected seeing him in that place. I'm not going to get into how or why I know it -- except to say it involves the whole history of me vis-à-vis vapid and depressing little D.C. 17th Street gay mafia centered on JR's and Cobalt, specifically, "M. Wade" Tipamillyun and the cawing Crow Creature.

I have tried to be cordial to Donny on a few occasions -- ever since he talked to me a few months ago. To be clear, I was only trying to be cordial, nothing else.

However, it was quite obvious he wants nothing to do with me, and didn't like that I tried to talk to him and his friend. That's fine. I guess in the end, only Brett of that whole group is the sole person ever to treat me decently and give me a chance with no preconceived notions or prejudices.

I suppose saying to them that I thought 2015 was going to be a bad year wasn't the best line on New Year's Eve. However, I was talking about how I think the year will go for me, not them. For Donny, as ever, it's all just rainbows and happy unicorns.

Oh, and Donny and his friend left the instant after that, which further confirms what I thought, though it seems an odd reaction to me.

So, I hereby give up trying to be cordial to him and just won't even bother. There's really no point in it.

Anyway, I stayed until Fox & Hound until it closed and walked home, quickly falling asleep.

As for today, I got up around noon and cleaned / straightened up the apartment a little bit. I checked the Anthony Bowen YMCA website and it turned out the place was in fact opened until 4PM today (and the pool, which always closes a half hour early, to 3:30PM). It was already quarter to one, which would make it impossible to have a full three-part workout.

Two of the buildings framed by the late afternoon blue sky, 1400 block of W Street NW, Washington, D.C., 3:52PM January 1, 2015. I was walking home from the gym when I took this picture.

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Nevertheless, I quickly got ready and got there by 1:30PM and got in a 6-mile / 62-minute jog on the treadmill and a half hour of weightlifting (rather than my usual attempted hour), along with a roughly 15 minute swim. Thus, it was almost a full workout and I felt much better.

This also means I made it through the entire Christmas / New Year's holiday season more or less maintaining my gym visit frequency including on my Buffalo trip.

OK, that's all for now. I think I am going to go to No. 9 for a couple drinks. Tomorrow is a regular work day. I am still concerned that it is going to be a bad year, if only because of the potential layoff prospect I face. Even if temporary (as in a few weeks), it would still be disastrous for me financially given that I pretty much live check to check. I do not want to get a new job since I like the one I have for a variety of reasons, but it might be the only option.

St. Augustine Catholic Church, Washington, D.C., 3:55PM January 1, 2015.

Again, I was walking home from the gym but detouring to that Best DC Supermarket along U Street where I frequently shop.

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My next planned update will be over the weekend including a jukebox Saturday night one and, yes, the second half of those Buffalo pictures.

--Regulus

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