More Bars In More Places …

I’m really not liking AT&T at the moment. I’m really hating their “more bars in more places” commercials that keep playing, especially as my cell phone has, within the last few weeks, gone from “great cell phone reception” in my apartment to “no cell phone reception.” Seriously – I’ve had to go out to my car to make sure I can make a call without being dropped. Ridiculous doesn’t quite describe it.

Especially since I don’t have a home phone and rely on my cell phone as my only means of such communication, this is a pretty intolerable situation. Heck, last week, I saw a lady on her phone at the Union Station Metro: underground, buried in concrete, but she was getting a signal! (Okay, maybe she just wanted to look ‘cool’). Me? Even in my basement-level apartment, with like, no concrete over my head, I’m getting a whole zero bars. I jump for joy when I see that the screen is displaying the AT&T logo. I jump up and down and stuff. It’s ridiculous. And then my calls get dropped anyway.

Last thought: I never had this problem when I had my cell phone service with Cingular. “Oh, we’re just changing the name.” Yeah, bullshit.

So. When my contract is up, I guess I’m going to Verizon. Or Sprint. Or …

Arrr. Ruurgh. Hoooah?

I get to sleep in tomorrow! Hurrah!

I bet I wake up no later than 6am. I’m heading off to bed in about twenty minutes as I write this.

So, the first work week is over. I’m actually going to be in a different department than I thought I was, but that’s okay. They’re both closely related, with one group performing the initial report, and the second group going back and verifying and building upon that. In terms of staffing, EAP is under-staffed in the second group (although they’ve been having people in for interviews almost every day this week, so when I was told they’re trying to double in size within a year, it seems they’re trying to double in size in half that).

In terms of work itself … yeah, I’m still getting a handle on it. I’m keeping my cubicle clean and organized … which is more than I can say about my notes. I finished a file today, and while it’ll be brought up and reviewed by one or more bosses on Monday, I’ll also be starting a new file, and I think this past week’s experiences will make me much more effective in this coming project.

Office work trips me up. I mean, one, because I’m still getting used to it. And two, because a coworker asked me, in all seriousness, if I was sensitive, before she red-penned a rewrite (I was dumbing it down, per orders). Hey, I tend to like run-on sentences …

In other news, I received a call yesterday afternoon and was offered — and accepted — a part time position at a bookstore in Washington, D.C. I won’t be driving from my 9-5 POE to my PT POE, rather, I’ll be driving from 9-5 POE to the nearest Metro station, then taking the Metro into the city. The new part time gig is literally a block from the Metro stop. Yeah, I’ll be even more exhausted: but the traffic’ll be a fuck load lighter.

Speaking of which: fuck this commute. Seriously. Fuck the assholes who don’t have their headlights on at 6:30am when it isn’t even light out. Fuck the assholes who speed and weave through traffic and wreck and cause massive traffic jams. I particularly liked the jerk who thought honking repeatedly on 495 was going to make traffic go faster: douche bag fuckwad. Also? Fuck getting up at 5am.

On the bright side … once I’m in DC (and thank goodness that many of my coworkers are also new to the area and have great info about apartments), waking up at 6’ll trick me into thinking that I get to sleep in!

This time last night I was snoozin’.

I’ve had a very long day. It’s been a good day — had some success at EAP, and, pending a reference check, my interviews today at my potential part-time job has landed me that position. To top everything off, I met up with a blog-friend (Candy Sandwich) at Union Station tonight and had a wonderful time. We had dinner and beer at Pizzeria Uno’s … but it’s okay: they sell more than pizza (thank god!) and I wolfed down a delicious cheeseburger.

The upshot of all of this was that my alarm went off at 5am, I was on the road a little before six, and I just walked in the door of my apartment about ten minutes ago (9pm). This time last night I was snoozin’.

I won’t be setting my alarm Saturday morning. I wonder if my adjusted body-time will wake me around six, or if I’ll sleep in until 11.

First Day

Driving into work, off 495, a gas station advertised $3.549! And that wasn’t for the premium: that was for the cheap shit. Granted, I don’t know what the prices are like back around this neck o’ the woods (‘cuz, um, I really didn’t look: filled up yesterday at $3.26), but daaaaamn: I feel totally justified in wanting to sell my car once I move down that-a-way.

I really don’t know what to say about EAP (not Employee Assistance Program: Edgar Alan Poe = POE = Place of Employment, i.e., EAP = Place of Employment), except that it seems like a pretty cool place to work. I went in today in khaki slacks and a gray button-up and I was severely overdressed. Tomorrow: cargo pants and a golf shirt. Met the vast majority of my new coworkers, was treated to lunch at a nearby mall (it was nothing fancy, just a chance to socialize), and filled out vast amounts of paperwork. I have a cubicle! And office supplies! And a trash can, and a recycle bin. I know, I know — I’m excited about this: shoot me now. I also got to write my profile for the company’s website. The company sets newbies (like moi) up with ‘mentors’, and conferences every day to discuss our successes and failures. On a page of notes, here’s what I’ve got in bold letters: ‘if all else fails, try SCOTCH.’ That last presented without clarification, except to note that I don’t care for liquor, or, admittedly, many alcoholic substances beyond the occasional beer.

While I know what it is I’m supposed to be doing … the how of it is still a bit of a mystery (but I’ve been assured that I’ve got a few days to figure everything out, and there’s plenty of help as I try to figure all of this out). I’ve already got an “toe in the water” assignment for tomorrow.

Speaking of which … I plan on being in the office at 7 am tomorrow. You have no idea how cool it is to say “in the office” until you’ve been working a dead-end job in a non-office environment for several years. The commute really isn’t too bad, even leaving at 7:30 am as I did today: okay, 495 was a complete crawl until I got past Silver Spring, but I-83, 695, and 95 were all moving well. I anticipate a straight shot tomorrow morning, and possibly I’ll even set my cruise control*.

In addition, a missed voice mail came from one of my prospective part-time employers in the D.C. area. I didn’t have a chance to call them back before getting home, and by that time the individual had already departed, so I’ll try again tomorrow afternoon.

I’m exhausted. Coming home, I decided to take 95 straight through Baltimore, and jumped 695 west from there. I think that’s how I’ll be going from now on: traffic slowed at parts on 95, but it was still far faster, I think, than if I’d jumped 695 west while still south of the city. I had debated taking 695 east, but opted against it. Once I was north of the city, 695 west provided no-stop travel to Dulaney Valley Road: but I had a couple of stops to make — the Franchise, for one: my last day was last Wednesday, and my second to last paycheck was in today. After that, it was on to the grocery store for some O.J. and an ATM deposit. Aside from those errands, I’d say my commute time was about an hour and ten minutes or so each way.

*The Matrix is my first car in like nine years to have cruise control, so if there’s even a moderate amount of traffic on the road, I’m usually not comfortable using it — I much prefer my foot on the gas. I feel like I’m actually, y’know … in control.

You May Think I’ve Learned How To Relax and Love The Bomb …

I suffer from anxiety. Which is to say, generally, put me in a new place, with a new job and new co-workers, and I should, at this moment, be a nervous wreck in anticipation.

And yet, here I am, totally relaxed about tomorrow.

You might think that I’m learning to relax.

But you’d be wrong!

I’ve torn up my closets. I’ve got boxes of crap that I’ve been going through, dividing into piles: keep, toss, eBay. I’ve got laundry in the machines, and I’ve even been going through the drawers of my dresser. I scour the internet for affordable housing in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, and what I find gets subject to a strict list: Do they allow pets? Does Google maps show it as being close to the Metro? I e-mail friends: Safe neighborhood? Walking distance to shopping? Meanwhile my mind asks annoying questions: what bookshelves am I going to keep? Most importantly: what books am I going to give away or donate to The Book Thing?

I’m too worried about this. I know that. I’ve got three months. But from the moment I sent a certified letter (with a return receipt) to my landlord Saturday morning informing them that I will not renew my lease, I’m committed, even more so than I was when I said “Yes!” to the job offer a week earlier.

I wonder if anyone will buy my Chi-Chi’s uniform shirt on eBay …

My Day In The D.C.

I’m trying to write this while sitting on the end of my couch, while Guy tries to get me to pet him by clawing at my side. Bastard furball! Knock it off! I’m pretty exhausted: I don’t think I’ll have any trouble snoozin’ out tonight.

I met up with my friend Emily for breakfast in Bethesda. I left early and then got completely turned around and lost. Eventually finding a parking space, I met her at the Original Pancake House on Wisconsin for delicious buttermilk pancakes and sausages.

I was rockin’ in my urban explorer get-up: khaki cargo pants, black MARYLAND hooded sweatshirt, a messenger pack slung over my shoulder. It’s overstuffed now with various brochures. Speaking of which …

Emily (L), Danielle (R)

… So, I got some apartment hunting done today: a lot of places in D.C. only require thirty-days notice, so I kept hearing the same story: talk to us in May, or June. I bet my parents hope I find a place and don’t have to move in with them for a few days. There’d be kitties galore! I’m not discouraged, though: I’ve got a regular cornucopia of business cards and pamphlets. I think it’d be frickin’ (by which I mean “fucking” or “fraking”) awesome to live in Cleveland Park (which is the area in which I concentrated my search): the Uptown Theater, the Zoo, Metro stops, neat little bookshop … what a great neighborhood (even if the studio apartments are 280 square feet … eh, I can be creative in furniture layout).

Fun Metro ride to a lovely little lunch in downtown D.C.: 19th L Street. Somewhere between Farragut North and Farragut West Metro stops. Met up with Emily’s roommate Danielle (Danny, for short) at the Corner Bakery: they give you a number, you stick it up at your table, they bring you your food. I ordered a grilled ham & swiss sandwich and it was, really, heavenly. The place was just jam packed, we grabbed a booth before it had even been bussed and, ‘lo and behold, our food came out on trays.

Swung past the Borders for a D.C. Metro street map (in retrospect, shoulda just gone to the ADC store in the area, but, whatever). Shortly after that, it was back on the Metro for Bethesda. Left at 2:45, hit rush hour traffic. Loverly. I’m going to be looking in the area for a part-time job. I’d rather leave the day job and go work a few hours at night and avoid the rush hour hassle.

The Motor Vehicle Administration – A Tale of Woe

So, back in November, my pretty little car did a bang-boom-biff into a deer. Technically speaking, the deer did a biff-boom-bang into my car. A few weeks later, my insurance company totaled the car, I returned the tags to a tag-and-title place on York Road, bought a new car, and thought everything was over.

Month or so later, got a letter from the MVA. I needed to submit proof of insurance on my wrecked car or have my registration suspended. I needed to submit a form from my insurance company. In case my vehicle had a certain fate — like, being totaled — there were other steps I needed to take. In this case, a letter from my insurance company stating that my car had been totaled on such and such a date. That letter needed to include certain information: the year, make and VIN, referencing the case number.

My insurance company sent me a letter, and I certified it out to the MVA. I got another letter from the MVA: as the letter did not include my car’s VIN, it would not suffice. No big: contacted the insurance company, they sent me another letter: this time, with the VIN. Mailed that out to the MVA.

Few weeks later, tonight, there’s another letter in my mailbox: this time, the MVA claims I’ve ignored all attempts at contact (I have your response to my insurance company’s first letter pinned on my bulletin board, but I’m going to chalk this up to “bureaucracy that doesn’t talk to itself” and not “fucking liars”) and has informed me that they’ve suspended the registration on my Toyota Celica.

As in, my totaled Toyota Celica. That I haven’t seen in four months. That is probably rusting out in a lot somewhere waiting to be chopped to pieces for resale.

I’m going to blame this on that fucking deer, too.

The District


All this week, I’ve been waking up earlier and earlier: I started with my alarm at 8:30am Monday and I’ve been setting my alarm progressively earlier (6:30 today). Even though I don’t have to be in to EAP (as in ‘Edgar Alan Poe’, as POE stands for ‘Place of Employment’) until a bit later on my first day, I still want to get my internal chronometer set: I can be in as early as 7am, and I like the thought of beating my commute. And the bright side is that, in three months, when I’ve got an apartment in Silver Spring or Washington, D.C. (or Arlington or Takoma Park or Rockville or wherever) and I don’t have a hellacious commute staring me in the face, it’ll feel like I can sleep in.

In any case, tomorrow, I’m making a test-drive of my commute, primarily so I know how much to give myself and what time I should be leaving. Eventually, I’m going to be driving to the nearest Metro station and taking the train or bus in to EAP.

I’ll also be meeting up with my friend Emily for breakfast. She lives in D.C. and we’re going to take a look at some apartments in D.C. and the surrounding neighborhoods in Maryland (I’m not picky: I’d just like a studio apartment). We’re going to meet up with Emily’s roommate for lunch, and there might be a side-trip out to the National Zoo, too (well, we’ll be in the area: there are several apartment buildings in the area I’d like to get info on, and a bookstore a few blocks up that I’d like to try to get a part time job at). Other things on my to-do list: get a Metro bus schedule, a Metro SmarTrip card, maps of the area, and, oh yeah, have fun.

(And take photos!)

Got Box?

No, really, got any boxes you don’t need? I’m going to need a ton of ’em. (Not literally). And thank goodness I kept my boxes from the last time I moved.

Also: I’ve got like three crates of stuff I need to shred — anybody know of any companies offering inexpensive shredding solutions for the newly hired?

St. Patty’s Day! (Unless You’re Catholic)

The big desk calendar I have has St. Patrick’s Day listed as Monday, March 17th.

Here’s a shock: a day celebrating an Irish Saint, primarily by drinking, and the calendar has it listed on the wrong day.

Wait, what, you say? Saint Patty’s Day is always March 17th!

Unless you’re Catholic and March 17th happens to be within Holy Week (the week leading up to the holiest of days: Easter). In that situation, St. Patty’s Day gets moved. So, if you were planning on going out to celebrate tonight … you’re three days too late. Catholics celebrated Friday.

So, when someone asks you how you’re celebrating St. Patty’s Day, remember to tell them, “Celebrating? Present tense? ‘Cuz, um, it was last Friday, dude.”

Another Sign

When I got back to Baltimore County Friday night, I was exhausted … and hungry. I stopped at Bruce Lee’s for an order of General Tso’s chicken, and bulldozed through it before collapsing in bed around 10:30pm. Today, I found the fortune from the cookie abandoned on the carpet.

I know that fortune cookie fortunes are generic enough so that anyone can read into them what they like, still, it seemed somewhat fitting: “Friends long absent are coming back to you.” Kinda fitting since part of the reason I wanted to move back to the DC area was to connect with friends I’ve lost touch with. (Plus, the whole awesome public transportation thing).

Brief Update on My Now Ended Job Search

Having been told that I would hear from them early next week, my phone started ringing about ten minutes after I left the interview.

So: Employed. Commuting and will be relocating to the DC Metro area when my lease is up. Was told that I could, if I was so inclined, wear a tie to the office … but that I would be made fun of mercilessly if I chose to do so.

Let That Be Your Last Battlefield


On a bulletin-board I frequent, someone wrote that they were hoping to introduce their wife to STAR TREK in the near future and was soliciting his fellow posters for a list of ten episodes that could serve as an introduction to the show.

Some responders focused on episodes that had great impact through the show’s run, and into its spin-offs. But while Khan was a great villain in “Space Seed” — and the show’s sequel, “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” the best Trek flick — was “Space Seed” really representative of what STAR TREK is about? I mean, sure, from a slug-fest in Engineering standpoint between our hero Kirk and his nemesis, the genetically modified man from the 1990s, sure. But what’s the moral point of the episode? Leave your enemy alive after you’ve defeated him so he can come back and kill you?

This got me thinking. At its best, STAR TREK was a show which allowed its writers to address contemporary issues in a science-fiction setting. At its worst, it was all about how many hot alien chicks Captain Kirk could get nekkid with. If someone who’d never seen a single episode of STAR TREK asked me what episodes to watch to get an idea for the ideology of the universe Gene Roddenberry created, this would be that list. Continue reading