Thursday, June 28, 2007

tonight i went to see one of the creators of the Black Panthers speak at BAM. it was pretty cool to see someone who played such an interesting role in activist history, especially since i just finished this book i've been reading, the gay metropolis. well mostly the book wasn't about activitism, but when it got to the 1980's obviously it was all about AIDS activism. that was, of course, very tragic and gripping and sad, and really inspired me to get involved in some kind of a gay cause. id never really thought much about being active, but maybe that's because before i came out, i'd been pretty much part of the majority (except being jewish i guess, but that doesn't feel like it counts in new york). that's a kind of unique thing about gays, is its like you havent' been a minority your whole life. its like you've seen american culture from the one side, when you're fitting in and have every advantage, and then all of a sudden you can see how much more difficult it is for a minority group. all of a sudden, if i'm in the wrong place, i could get killed by people who don't respect my lifestyle. and its scary feeling so vulnerable, and it makes me want to take action and get involved with something, to kind of feel like i'm working to make the world safer or to help people who's lives are unfairly disadvantaged in american society, a group in which i am suddenly included. sorry if this sounds cheesy, but there's something about hearing those 70's activists speak that makes you feel really earnest and excited, like affecting change is really possible. its not a feeling that you get from most young people these days, though i guess there aren't even many 70's activists left anyway, as most became disillusioned in the 80's by the onset of disco. but still, i think i'll give it a shot and start volunteering somewhere when i come back from china for good. anyway, its a great way to meet chicks.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

today, as my subway pulled into the clark street stop, i noticed that the recorded voice on the 2/3 train has a new york accent. "The next stop is Borough Hawwl." aw, i love this city.
on that note, i've only got a little over a week left here, but i'm excited that i'll be in town for the fourth of july! woohoo! okay this is a failed attempt to update, because i'm watching this Noggin show South of Nowhere, that is awesome.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

it's hard to update the blog while i'm home and not living a very scheduled life, and especially when i don't have 8 hours of doing nothing every day which are so nicely filled by blogging (yup, i spend 8 hours on every post. that's how much i care about my readers). well actually, it depends what you define as "nothing," because i have spent many days in the US enjoying my digital cable, especially once i learned how to record programs. but what do you want from me? my friends, being enterprising youths seeking to work their way up the ladders of their respective industries, spend their days toiling for the old buck. this conveniently leaves my days open for my pastime of choice, learning all the celebrity trivia that E! and VH1 can cram into my brain.
but actually, recent days have been spent much more entertainingly, as i had a visit from mariel and am now returning the favor by visiting the location of her summer residence, beantown. i was, i must say, prejudiced against the fair city for reasons that i am loathe to disclose, but i am rapidly reevaluating my initial dislike with at least an attitude of mild toleration. actually, the daytime here has been spent similarly to my time in new york, as mariel must fulfill the obligations of her summer internship by toiling in the laboratory until five o'clock. this has left me with little to occupy my time, as i have been too lazy to endeavor to understand the large number and variety of locks that stand between her dorm room and the great outdoors. i am reading a great book, however, which has taken up the majority of my time, and also, you may have noticed, colored the tone of this blog entry. it's called "My Lucky Star," by Joe Keenan, and is the third in a series of books that follow the adventures of a young playwright and his friends, in the style of PG Wodehouse. it is soooo good. but i grow weary of attempting to write like an old gay british man, so i'll stop.
what else? oh, i threw a party last saturday, which was amazingly fun and, if i do say so myself, hugely successful. it was great to see everyone i know all at once in one room, and to be lightly soused while it was occurring (okay maybe not so lightly). i also so company on friday night, and if you haven't seen it yet, run over to tkts and grab a ticket, because it is closing in july! and raul esparza was literally robbed on that tony. he gave an unbelievable performance. okay, that's all i have to say for now, sorry for being so scattered, and for failing to update you on ever meal i've eaten since i've been back in the US.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ah, home. it's been really great to be back. i can't believe that's its already been a week, meaning that my visit is almost a third over. well actually i don't have a ticket back yet, so i guess it could be less than a third over. i just got an email from my travel agent saying that of course i could get a refund on my original ticket- i just have to go to the police station to get a certification that i lost my ticket, collect the receipts for all my tickets, pay a bunch of fees i didn't understand, and then wait a year for the money to come rolling in. i know that i should do this, because a thousand dollars is worth it, but it really seems like a lot of trouble. i mean, what police station am i supposed to go to? chinese? american? and how will they certify that i lost my ticket? i hate air china.
my time back has been spent doing all my favorite activities.
eating- i've already gotten hot dogs from both papaya dog and nathans, pizza from my fave restaurant Fascati's (hell yeah carla of course i keep it real) and L&B spumoni gardens where the square never goes out of style, sushi, bagel with cream cheese, diner grilled cheese, and some other stuff.
seeing old friends- i believe it was my third night back, went to the beach with my high school buddies and found that our relationship is exactly the same as its always been. also, spotted a dolorian. then this weekend, my college friends visited, and we had an awesome time at coney island, and hitting up my fave lesbian bar for the night of the pride parade. also had a visit from mariel, which was great; although she does not truthfully belong in the "old friends" category, i thought it would look tasteless to make a separate "getting laid" category. oh also, went to see knocked up with liz and jenna, marking the first time i got drunk in a movie theater with my sister.
tv- my parents finally got digital cable, and so all my spare time has been spent in appreciation of this glorious development. yesterday i caught the entire Everest marathon, which is the most incredible documentary ever, and made me appreciate even more the fact that i've actually been to base camp! and all these people lose their fingers at the end, its craazy. Also, watched a degrassi marathon last night. i know some people might argue that i'm a bit old for a show about high schoolers, but that show is wisdom.
well, now that i've written about my three favorite things- food, friends, and tv, i have nothing more to say. oh, i'm having a party at my house saturday night if anybody wants to come. ohhh, i remember why i did this entry, i was going to include a few pics.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

home in NY! it is, i must say, very weird to be back in america after nine months away. the last few days of my travels were kind of a blur as i was trying to get back on new york time ahead of time (something that only succeeded in making me extremely tired and so out of it that i was unable to successfully handle the fact that i lost my tickets home and so had a complete breakdown at the airport). despite these minor setbacks, and minus an additional 750 dollars, i made it to america after a grueling 14 hour flight. i call it grueling because we did not have the personal tvs that seem to have become requisite on every airline besides air china. i would not have been surprised by this lack, except that i had met a woman on the flight to tibet who erroneously but enthusiastically informed me that air china flights do now have these tvs. now i dunno what godforsakenly long flights they reserve these personal tvs for, but if you're listening, airchina, Beijing-New York needs them!
anyway, i did not expect how weird it would feel to be back in the first world, if you don't mind the use of the term. i would, but after the six weeks of travels i gotta say, there's a lot of damn poverty-stricken parts of china. and it is so nice to have everyone here speak my language. i was devastated to notice on the cab ride home that my favorite pizza place seems to be on vacation, which i had actually been counting on as the very first thing i would eat when i got back here. so i'm going to have to find a pizza substitution. right now i'm headed out to a diner for some breakfast, even though my body is telling me i want some dinner. mm, what to eat? pancakes? french toast? pierogies? (its an eastern-european diner). i think i'll keep it simple and have a grilled cheese and some home fries. yum.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

okay, and my big trip is over. the last part was probably the best, i'd say, though every section of the trip was awesome in its own way. so after spending a few days chilling in chengdu, hanging out with my new danish friends, i flew to lhasa and met up with my friend phil, who i studied abroad with, and 3 of his friends. we spent a few days in lhasa, seeing the sights, shopping, and getting used to the altitude, before heading off in a toyota landcruiser on a five-day trip to everest base camp. the trip didn't start off so well- on the first day, when we reached the travel agency at 830 in the morning, ready to head off, we were told that instead of the 11-person bus we'd paid for, we would be in a 7-person car. the agency guy told us that the 11-seater was too big for the roads around everest, so we'd been downgraded. this we agreed was fair (although actually it turns out that it was a lie as we saw many large buses heading to base camp), but we thought we deserved some money back as we had been told we were paying for the bigger bus. the agency did not agree, and a fight ensued. actually, mostly i was the one fighting. everyone agreed that we'd been ripped off, but since we'd already paid the money they didn't think there was anything we could do. having travelled for 16 days with a chinese person, however, i had learned that nothing in china is fixed if you just shout about it enough. so after about 45 minutes of fighting, the agency guy agreed that they would pay our vehicle entrance fee to base camp, saving us 400 kuai. sweet! we then headed off in our vehicle, along with our driver, who spoke no english, and our tibetan guide Ishi (or Ishmi or something like that, we were never exactly sure). the first day they took us to Yamdrok Lake, an amazingly beautiful sparkling blue lake, and then on an off-road ride through the desert. the second day we went to a monastery in the town of Gyantse, which was probably my favorite of the whole trip, which is saying a lot as i probably saw like a million monasteries in the course of my trip. the third day we went to another monastery in the city of shigatse, which was the home to the panchen lama (second to the dalai lama, and currently held by the chinese government at an undisclosed location in china), and at night reached base camp, where we spent a cold night sleeping in a tent with an amazing view of everest. i was worried about the altitude, as we had jumped over 1000 meters in a single day, but we were all fine. we were woken at about four in the morning when two random tibetan guys came into our tent to joke around with the owner. annoying, and kind of scary at first, but this gave us the opportunity to check out the night sky, which was unquestionably the most beautiful i have ever seen. the next day we walked from "new base camp," which is the name given the row of tents utilized by day visitors like us, to "old base camp," where the people who are actually planning on climbing everest stay. it was crazy exciting to see such hardcore people, and we even talked to a sherpa who had just summited. before we left, the boys gave him a frisbee from their school, and in exchange he gave us a bunch of crackers that were left over from the last trip. meaning, those babies have been up on everest. yeah, i'm saving them. on the last day, although ishi and the driver seemed extremely eager to get back, we wanted to get our money's worth so we had them stop along the road so spinks, the new zealander in our group, could get his chance to go swimming. the river was beautiful and clear, although so cold that the rest of us just dipped a foot in, and the sand beside it was equally inviting. getting back to lhasa at around five, we stumbled on what turned out to be an incredibly lucky find, a hostel not listed in lonely planet but way better than any of the lonely planet accomodations. this hostel did not have mouse droppings on the bed like the first place we stayed, was reasonably priced, and had a courtyard with several dive bars which had just what we were looking for. after two days, i headed on the 48-hour train back to bj, which i took by myself. the scenery was amazing, and the two chinese women i shared the berth with were very nice, although they did force me to eat a lot of food i had no interest in and kept telling me i had a cold. and now i have just gotten back, and after finishing this post i am going to take a long nap. hallelujah!