It's a birthday/Xmas miracle

It was a high-degree of difficulty, but after a tough 2.5-month search I managed to land a job in another city. A company with a branch in Seattle extended me an offer Monday night. And that means...


[If I had a picture of me doing that "west coast" finger-sign thingy, I would have put it here. You'll just have to visualize it.]

I can't believe I finally, really did it. I've been wearing my lucky two-logo-changes-ago Seattle SuperSonics jacket to celebrate. (As if on cue, they beat the Wizards right after I got the job offer.)

Now, there are a couple things you should know. First of all, they want me to work here for a few weeks before I move, so you're not completely rid of me yet. However, I'm likely to be super-busy, with work, moving chores, and also teaching myself the dope programming skillz my new job requires. So you won't hear too much from me, but I'll try to check in periodically.

Second of all... I'm sorry. I apologize. To everyone. I started blogging here in March 2003, right after the U.S. invaded Iraq, as a way to get out my frustrations. I figured it would just be me venting into empty cyberspace, but it wound up catching on, and eventually I became quasi-famous-for-D.C. (which, in the real world, thankfully translates to "not famous"). There are obviously a lot of people who live in the Washington area who really like it, and some of them even liked the blog despite that, but others were really pissed off, and that's perfectly understandishable. I basically sat at my computer and criticized, without really offering any solutions to the problems I had (in fact, that was the mission statement from post #1), and that's not an especially fair thing to do. Partially, I did it because I didn't feel like there was any way I could fix the problems I have seen, and I still don't. But I also was so focused on getting out that I didn't bother spending time on solutions.

If you're a like-minded individual, and you're in D.C. or thereabouts, and you don't like what you see... don't stop observing and criticizing where needed, but try to be more active than I was in changing things. We have a lot of smart and thoughtful people who live here, but I think that too often they let their ideas and their individuality get subsumed by the great gray mass that is Washington. One of the city's biggest problem is inertia; it's difficult, but we need more people be willing to speak up and rock the boat a little, rather than settling for the status quo.

(And don't expect me to start a "Why I Hate Seattle," because they've got that covered. The number one complaint appears to be traffic; after living here, that just sounds completely adorable.)

Today, in the spirit of Xmas, and at the request of a good lawyer friend whose club name is "Staci", I'm going to tell you about the things I will actually... really... well, maybe a little... miss about D.C., and thereabouts. The things I even.. dare I say... love about D.C. In the traditional James F/Nick Hornby-standard Top 5 List format.

5) George Washington basketball. A lot of my good memories are sports memories, which isn't unusual for me. I thought about putting baseball here, and all the fun times I had watching the Nats: the home opener, the time the game ended because the grounds crew couldn't pull the tarp out during a rain delay, the upper-deck bomb Barry Bonds hit in September. But who knows if the Nationals will even stick around? They probably will, but it's up in the air right now.

GW provided the absolute best sports memories, and also the best atmosphere for watching a game. It just feels like college basketball should. Unlike Maryland and Georgetown, who play in huge arenas, GW plays in a smallish, 4000-person on-campus gym. You're pretty much right on top of the action, no matter where you sit. The band is loud, the students are loud, and you even sometimes have GW alum Red Auerbach on hand as a spectator. How does it get more basketbally than that? Even better: the team is good, and better than those other local schools with the huge arenas, but it's still pretty easy to get tickets.

And luckily, the students didn't mind the slightly older fan sitting in their section, thanks to guest passes. This really paid off last December, when I was sitting in the student section wearing a goofy three-corner colonial hat (I like novelty headgear) at the MCI Center's BB&T Classic. I was selected to shoot some baskets for free plane tickets, and I did it, in front of 15,000 fans. I used the tickets for my San Francisco vacation last May. That's definitely going to be my best D.C. memory.

So, even though I did my graduate work at Georgia Tech, when Tech was playing GW in the tournament last year, I found myself rooting for GW. It's been fun watching them mature into a great team, and they've given me some great basketball memories.

4) I rediscovered my love for writing while living here. I loved working on the newspaper in college, and I did some freelance sports writing after that, but I just didn't wind up going into writing for a living. And I don't think I realized how much I missed it until I started blogging.

I promise that I didn't think that many people were going to read my stuff. I never had that much confidence in my writing, but having complete editorial freedom to write about any crazy thing I wanted wound up being more fun than I expected. Plus, I got a lot of great e-mail support letters. I didn't reply to all of them, but I did read them all, and they helped keep my confidence up and kept me writing.

I'm working on an article right now; in the end, I don't know if anyone will publish it, but all the support I've gotten gave me the confidence to get started and at least give it a shot. You never know... it could be the beginning of a great writing career for me. Who says nothing good comes out of hate?

(BTW, I owe a lot to the writing style of Seanbaby. If you liked my writing, you'll probably like his even better.)

3) My bike trail. Out the back of my apartment complex to the Custis trail; down the hill to Giant Statue of Teddy Roosevelt Island; follow the river, across from the monuments; around the airport to Four Mile Run trail; on the street briefly, for a tough uphill climb to the I-395 pedestrian ramp (I had a good Rocky moment the first time I made it up without stopping); through Shirlington; up the W&OD Trail, back to the Custis Trail. Seventeen miles, and I got my time down to 1:10 at one point. It was also where I did my best thinking.

2) My friends. They had to put up with all my complaining and general crankiness. It's always hard to move on and leave your friends behind, but I hope they'll keep in touch.

1) E Street Cinema. Sorry, friends, I'm not cheesy enough to put you at #1. E Street theater is definitely the best thing that happened to Washington while I was here. I'm a huge film buff, and one of my favorite big-city-dwelling activities has always been being able to see independent movies that aren't available in smaller cities.

But I found Washington to be sorely lacking in this regard, at first. We had some theaters that would show unusual things, but they simply weren't good places for watching movies. Visions near Dupont Circle was the worst offender; they would show some interesting things, but the screens were tiny and the theaters were narrow, making it like watching a movie being projected at the end of a long hallway. The sound was terrible, and sometimes obscured by construction outside. They had food, but it was bad. Often, they would show things on DVD, and there would inevitably be some disc skipping.

And then... E Street opened. And It Was Good. This wasn't some crappy theater with a tiny screen that just happened to show indie films; this was an underground movie palace. Literally underground, because there was not a whole lot of room for new construction where they put it, so they went subterranean. This creates some quirky Tetris-like theater configurations... but it gives the place personality, like Fenway Park. The screens are big, the sound is good, and they show some great films... more than once I wished Twinkie the Kid might sneak out of the White House and sidle down to E Street for some life lessons.

Plus, the neighborhood has picked up... all of a sudden Chinatown has become a hot spot. Granted, it's a little too corporate, but still, it's hard to think of any better place to do dinner and a movie.

So there you go. Now if you'll excuse me, it's been a long, hard slog finding a job, and I have some lazing around and football watching to do. Have a good Xmas, and remember to be good to each other.

(Jesus might be watching.)

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