Tales From a Commuting Newbie

I've have been making careful observations about how to commute into DC from the suburbs. I want to make sure that I follow proper procedures and ettiquette so that no one can tell how absolutely lost and confused I am. So now that I've been doing this for about a month, I am going to share some of the important things I've learned...

Driving: Pick a lane, and stay in it. Drive as fast as the rest of the cars in that lane. We're all going to the same place, so working together is probably more effective than constantly cutting each other off. For the most part driving isn't much of a problem, so long as I'm clear of the toll road by about 7:10. After that it turns in to a parking lot (especially around Reston). And in all honesty, driving on the Beltway now feels much safer than driving down Route 7 and some of the local roads.

Metro: Here's where I had the most to learn...
-Morning Commutes: Monday - Thursday are pretty predictable. I get on the metro at about 7:45 and can get a seat pretty easily, which is important because I have to travel 14 stops (then I make a change for one stop), standing up for 45 minutes on the metro before I even get to work makes the day seem endlessly long. Etiquette Rule #1: Sit on the closest to the window so someone else can sit next to you without having to climb over all your crap. If for some reason a seat is not available there are prime standing spots located at the front and back of the train, where you can lean against the wall without being in other peoples ways, which keep you from having to maintain your balance simply by holding on to a pole with one hand. If these spots are taken, well... it's gonna be an uncomfortable trip.
-Evening Commutes: Again, since I get on at about the halfway point for the Orange line, I can usually get a seat pretty easily. But sometimes, if the Metro is broken anywhere (which it seems to do pretty regularly in the evening), things get crowded... FAST. But no matter how many people are trying to cram into a train, when the metro comes to a stop, the people on the platform stand to the side of the doors, rather than in front, and actually do let people get off before they push their way on and fit themselves into the random cracks of valuable standing space (that's Etiquette Rule #2). One day there was some kind of problem at Rosslyn so the trains weren't really coming as often as they should... somehow I managed to force myself on to the first train that finally did come, but I had to stand under and armpit teepee nearly the whole way home in order to do so.
-Friday commutes: I can't figure Fridays out... when I get to the metro parking lot in the morning, there are plenty of spaces (in comparison to other days), but when I get on the metro, it's packed and I usually have to stand. The nice thing is that the return trip is usually pretty smooth, I think it's because most people go home early on Friday, but I still have to work all the way up until 5:30.
-One more rule... when going up and down escalators... Lazy people stay to the right, people in a rush go to the left. On the way to work I'm a lazy person, on the way home I'm in a rush. It's like a race to see how quickly I can get home. But really it all just depends on whether or not things run smoothly on the metro, which is completely out of my control. Any amount of effort exerted by myself only improves my commute home by about 5 minutes, which I'm starting to realize isn't worth the beating my feet take (dressy work shoes arent exactly geared for speed walking).

After All These Years

On Thursday I was at the College Park Starbucks, meeting my friend Melissa for a cup of coffee before classes resumed. I got there a little early (thanks to the absolute lack of cars on the road) and went into the store to get my cup of tea. There was an older woman in line in front of me who ordered a tall coffee. Unfortunately, just as she did so, the timer on the coffee went off, meaning it was expired and had to be dumped out so they could brew a new pot. Well when the barista explained this to the woman (instead of just serving the old gross coffee... how nice of them), she went into an absolute tirade... on and on about how they should have been brewing a new pot already if they knew the old coffee was going to expire, and how ridiculous it was that she was going to have to wait a whole 3-4 minutes for her cup of coffee.

The baristas did exactly what I've done in that same situation, they explained the reasons for what was going on, apologized for the inconvenience, and offered to make an Americano if she was unable to wait. To which the woman replied with more condescending remarks and overall bitterness, muttering something about how her brother has worked for Starbucks for years, and "I'm sure he'd find this outrageous if here were here, it's just not right." Two things-- first, we are still talking about a cup of coffee right? I mean no one has threatened her safety, or violated her civil rights or anything right? Okay, just wanted to make sure. Second, if your brother has worked for Starbucks for any amount of time, I'm sure he's been in this situation, and I'm sure he's done exactly what these baristas and myself have done many, many times... not because we're bad at our jobs, just because sometimes these things happen. It's not the end of the world, why do people act like it is?

I kept hoping that she would do what I had also seen many customers do, and turn around and make some kind of plea for camaraderie from me, "can you believe this?" Because I SO SO SO badly wanted to utter the words I could never speak while I was employed... I had it all worked out in my head, I would have simply shrugged my shoulders and calmly and slowly replied with "It's only coffee." But instead she turned and looked at me and said "do you know where the nearest Target is?" To which I replied "no, I'm not really familiar with the area." Which was true, but I wish that I had known and still said no, just so I could have finally had the opportunity to stick it to a bitchy Starbucks customer. Oh well.


This is Amazing

You have to watch this. It's incredible. (thanks to matt for sharing it with me).


Yay for Snow

It's snowing!! First time all winter (if you can call it that). I heard there was a chance for snow today, but usually those kind of predictions don't come true. Or if they do it only flurries for like 5 minutes and that's it. But it's been snowing for a good 5 hours at least, there's not a whole lot on the ground, but that's okay... it's snowing :)

Other firsts... I got the flu last week for the first time since elementary school. That was awful. I spent most of the week sleeping and eating apple sauce (which was one of the few things I could keep down). The worst part was that the previous week at work I had made the comment to my boss's boss that I never get sick... and of course Tuesday rolls around (because we were off monday... did I mention how much I love my job?) and I had to call in sick... and then again on Wednesday... and again on Thursday... but I did force myself to go on Friday. I just couldn't miss an entire week. I felt SO guilty, I hate missing work or school (especially since I haven't been working long enough to earn much sick leave). And I certainly dont want them to think that I am the kind of person that calls in sick whenever they have a headache. But they seemed to be pretty understanding when I went in on Friday. It's no fun being sick.

I signed Matt and I up for a waltz class at the Leesburg rec center. It's a 6 week course for beginners. We started last week. I'm not the most coordinated person in the world, I regularly walk into walls and trip over my feet, but I thought it'd be a fun thing to do together, and it has been so far. Our teacher is a really nice guy and he knows his stuff. We're doing really well in the class, mostly that's because matt knows what he's doing (he's a fast learner) and I can just follow him. So in exchange for making him take a dance class, matt wants to sign us up for "learn how to shoot a gun" class. I'm trying to tell him that will cost another dance class though... maybe tango...

Other exciting news? Not too much going on. Life is getting back to routine, which is what I prefer. My classes start this week, and I go to my normal work schedule. I've been thinking about rejoining a gym (because I was a little too liberal with food over the holidays). I'd like to take another yoga class, and I'll have time to work out on mondays and thursdays before school. But I hate that most gyms make you commit to a year once you sign up. Not that I don't want to commit to going to the gym for a year, I just dont know if I want to commit to one particular gym for a year. But anyway.

I've also been debating the idea of becoming vegetarian. I think I could give up most meat with little problem. With the exception of beef. I'm not a huge fan of pork or chicken, but I love steak. I might give it a try though and just see if I can do it. I may have to make one last stop at Moby Dicks for steak kabobs before that happens though.

Oh and my vacuum is broken. I haven't been able to use it since before Christmas. This has bothered me so much that I had to finally turn off the part of my brain that makes me want to live in a clean environment, otherwise I would be literally on my hands and knees picking up each dog hair and individual grain of dirt. The house is a mess though, and the clean part of my brain is starting to have a hard time ignoring it. Fortunately my father in law is going to fix my vacuum for me. I have no idea what I'd do if Matt and I didn't live close to both our fathers. We'd have a lot more bills to pay, that's for sure. I can't believe I haven't vacuumed in more than three weeks!!!! Uh oh, I think the cleaning part of my brain is completely on now.


Amy Lin

Here's a new local artist I came across at work. Her images really stuck out. They're all done with colored pencil.


I recently realized that I've never really lived any where long enough for a radio station to change. In fact, until recently, I didnt even know that they did change. I just thought once a station established itself as an Oldies station, it played oldies music forever. I know that 99.1 had a big change a few years ago (though I just recently took it off my presets), but I thought that was controversial and rare. I guess not. Hmm... I wonder what other things change over long periods of time.

The other day I made the comment that I had seen or done something about 10 years ago. Then I realized that 10 years ago I was in high school, and that made me feel old, because it doesn't seem like 10 years have passed since then.

I nearly went into work on Tuesday. I know that Bush declared it a national day of mourning for Ford and therefore it was a federal holiday, but I couldn't get any information to confirm the fact that I didn't have to work. So early Tuesday morning I got up, showered, left for work, went to starbucks, and then while driving to the metro I had this sudden urge to check the messages on my piano studio phone line... and there to my surprise was a call from my boss telling me that we had the day off. Turns out that she figured I would be confused so she googled me and found my studio website (which had my studio phone number) and called that. (she does have my other phone number, but it was in the office, which she was obviously not at). So instead of going to work, I got my hair done. Yay for my new job!

This afternoon I had a farewell party for my piano studio. Not a lot of people came, I think the fact that is was 70 something degrees caused most people to want to do outdoorsy things instead. But it's official, I'm now no longer a piano teacher. It feels weird.