I am participating in one of the most important duties an American like me can perform. I was invited to appear at the DC Superior Court as a potential petit juror. Much to my surprise (and a welcome one to be honest), I was selected to sit on a criminal case. Because I take oaths and such seriously, I will talk about the case once it is over. In the meantime, all I will say is that so far it is quite interesting, and it’s a nice change of pace from my usual tedious and boring days at NASA.
This post, however, is not about jury duty, but rather about a rather odd experience I had today. As I walked from the Metro station to the courthouse, I saw an older gentleman who was carrying a cup of coffee. This man approached another man, and gently, playfully punched him on the shoulder. The two chatted for a moment, and I assumed that they must have known each other. After I thought about it for a moment, I wasn’t really sure if they knew each other or were just participating in that instantaneous camaraderie and faux brotherly love that a certain demographic in our society engage in on the streets and in the Metro system.
Without much more thought, I continued on my way. All of the sudden, it occurred to me that this same dude was walking up behind me. But not only was he walking behind me, he was also walking at an angle towards me that would cause him to walk INTO me. As I looked up to make sure that he was aware that he was treading dangerously close to my personal space—and that he wasn’t intending to nick my wallet—he smiled at me and playfully and gently punched me in the arm. At this point, I was too stunned to say anything, and he had already accelerated and moved on ahead of me.
To say that I had an eerie feeling would be an understatement. I felt like what I expect everyone who George Lass touches might feel. A little sense of connection to the person who just touched me. A little ominous feeling that something dreadful was going to happen to me. A little frightened that a total stranger touched me, but yet, safe and secure as it was not a threatening touch in any way; but, rather, it was a gentle and soothing touch. I looked around to see if any Gravelings were in the vicinity, but I couldn’t find any.
Without going into too much detail, I had a little “bout” yesterday that caused me to run out of the courtroom rather quickly and return rather embarrassedly. I still wasn’t 100% last night, and after overmedicating myself with Imodium this morning to ensure there would be no repeat of yesterday, I set out for court. I kid you not that after that weird guy touched me, and I reassured myself he was no Reaper, an odd sense of calm overcame me, and I knew that not only would my stomach hold out on me, but that it was going to be a good day. While most of my posts here are a bit cynical or tongue-in-cheek, I have to be honest, that I’m not kidding around. I really did get that clouds parting and angels singing moment.
Sure enough, the Imodium worked (a little too well, if you know what I mean), it was a good day, and the Sailor called me that his new job is hiring and his boss was interested in talking to me about another opening they have.
Do I believe in guardian angels? I’m not sure. Do I believe that scary, odd homeless men can bring joy and happiness to a complete stranger? I’m sure.
Tomorrow I’m flying off to Boston with the Little Sabra. It’s our first trip together, and wouldn’t you know it, I’ve gone and gotten sick….Montezuma’s Revenge…well actually, I think it’s better to say Mohammad’s Revenge. We went for schawarma on Monday at Max’s Kosher Cafe and Marketplace. Every time I’ve been there, I’ve had the schawarma, and every time, my stomach has killed me. I really should have known better, and now all I can do is pray that I will be better before tomorrow.
Anyway, the trip should be interesting. She has some event on Sunday. Apparently, someone from her old work is retiring, and there is going to be a big gala. As my birthday is Saturday, we thought it would be fun to go out there together…sort of a long weekend vacation thing. The downside is (besides what was discussed above), we are going to be hanging out with her brother and sister-in-law. I will be meeting them for the first time, and since her parents live in Israel, it’s like de facto meeting the family. I’m sure it will be fine, but it’s still a little weird. She met my family on Memorial Day, but that was only for a few hours and it was over; I’m thinking that we will be spending most of the time with her family while we’re up there.
She still hasn’t told me if I’m going to be going with her to this event. I told her I was content either way, but I’d like to know. I’ve never been to Boston, and I’d be happy to walk around town with my camera and take pics. She said that if I hit it off with her brother, I could hang out with him. We’ll see how it goes.
At the very least, I will have a lot to write about when I get back.
We flew out of BWI Sunday (June 5) morning on Southwest Airlines and landed at Manchester Airport in New Hampshire around noon. We went to the Enterprise counter and picked up our rental, a Mazda 3. It’s not the most expensive car they make, but it was really nice, and I got to drive most of the time (OK, so the one time I navigated, I missed a step and we passed the turn. RC decided that we should more properly use our skills and I got to drive). Anyway, we picked up the car and drove about 5 hours north to Bar Harbor, ME (although it’s pronounced “Bah Ha-bah,” we never actually heard anyone say it that way). We stopped along the way so we could see the ocean. The tide must have been about to come in because it seemed like we could walk a mile out before we touched the water…not that we did since the water temp was in the high 50s. We ate lunch at McDonald’s. As we drove to Bar Harbor, ME, we got hit by torrential rains; it was not fun. Fortunately, we made it to the hotel without any problems.
We stayed at the Acadia Inn, which wasn’t too bad. The folks were somewhat friendly, the room was a pretty good size, and the bathroom was huge. We had a free continental breakfast both mornings, so that was very nice—I had blueberry muffins and Froot Loops both mornings. Unfortunately, things turned ugly the second morning: no hot water … but, I’m getting ahead of myself. We went out to dinner the first night at a lovely little place downtown called Galyn’s Restaurant. A little, hunch-backed man who definitely blipped my radar as being a member of the Tribe seated us in the back, away from the door and windows as it was rainy, damp, and cold. As RC has lived a very deprived life and never had lobster before (OK, so she is from a landlocked state, but still…), we ordered the Lobster Cocktail for an appetizer. It was quite yummy, but a little over-priced (but she enjoyed it, so it was worth it). I got the Tarragon Chicken, and RC got Garlic Shrimp Linguini. We skipped dessert.
The next morning (June 6), we were up bright and early. She went to read the paper and drink feculent coffee while I showered and watched TV. Then we were off to Acadia National Park. I am not normally an outdoorsy person, but it was very pretty. We went to Thunder Hole, but it wasn’t very thunderie (we were going to go back the next day, but we didn’t). We drove through the park, over mountains and ponds and to the ocean. We also did a little hiking. We walked all the way round Jordan Pond, and then we went to Jordan Pond House where RC had blueberry tea, I had chai, and we both had popovers. They were friggin’ awesome! Then we drove all round the island (well, our part of the island anyway). That night we dined at the West Street Café. They had specials like clam chowder or mussels for appetizer, whole lobster with 2 sides, and blueberry pie for dessert…mmm blueberry pie. I got the mussels and RC got the clam chowder. She also had a blueberry beer (it just tasted like beer to me).
Tuesday (June 7) began with the aforementioned anecdote of no hot water. The cold water wasn’t just cold, if was friggin’ frigid. I washed my hair and the important bits (arm pits and crotch). It wasn’t the cleanest day, but what can you do? RC did pretty much the same. We originally planned to go to Isle au Haut but instead decided just to eat at a small cafe on Main Street in Stonington. RC had grilled cheese and soup, and I had a burger. Both our meals cost less than the lobster cocktail two days before. Then we went to Rockland where we checked in at the LimeRock Inn (LimeRock is correct, BTW, it’s not Lime Rock). We stayed in the Petit Manan, which was a nice enough room, but rather odd. The toliet was in a little vestibule between the door to our room and a pocket door that didn’t actually work. The oddest part was that the shower was in the closet (I guess that is what the Brits mean by Water Closet). Other than that, it was fine. After checking in, RC took a shower and I sat out on the porch swing reading a Bed & Breakfast trade magazine. I found what I thought were good deals on buying a B&B, but RC overruled it. Next, we walked into downtown, and before I knew it, something came over me like a fast moving dark cloud on a sunny day. I think I was just dehydrated, but I really have no idea. We went to a Mediterranean restaurant called Amalfi, and once I had some food in me, I began to feel much better. We had mussels for appetizers, then RC got a spinach manicotti like dish, and I got the House Paella (chorizo, chicken, shrimp and mussels). We rounded dinner off with a very enjoyable crème brulée. We walked around town a little more and went back to the LimeRock Inn and sat on the porch swing before going to bed.
Wednessday (June 8) found us eating waffles for breakfast. It was sort of weird eating breakfast with the other guests, but RC assured me that that is all part of the B&B experience. I guess…
We drove back to Camden to go to the Camden Hills State Park. The view was truly spectacular! We saw the ocean on one side (Camden was far, far below us). You could also see the harbor and Penobscot Bay. On the opposite side was Cadillac Mountain. I wanted to have our picture taken with the Bay in the background. A random woman was kind enough to offer, but sadly, a photographer she was not. She managed to get a lovely picture of her thumb rather than of RC and me. Also, frighteningly, I somehow got a big ole tick on me. He was on my head and I picked him off. I tried to throw him out the window, but the bugger managed to get back in the car. On our way out of town, we stopped at some random hobby shop on the side of the road. I was hoping that they would have a cool ship model, but they were more geared to radio-controlled airplanes. Oh, well. We pointed Camden to our stern and headed down the sea of concrete to our next destination: Bath, ME. In Bath we went to the Maine Maritime Museum. It was pretty cool. We had a nice demonstration of how a ship is launched off the ways by some old geezer who seemed very excited to have someone to talk to—but, he was very monotone, and I had a hard time paying attention…and there was a big ole spider crawling around. We had a snack out of the candy machine, and I bought a CD of sea shanties at the Museum’s shop (it wasn’t very good).
After the Maine Maritime Museum, we headed out to lunch. We went downtown, and after giving up on a restaurant RC wanted to find, we settled on a BBQ joint that smelled a whole lot better than it tasted. It wasn’t bad, though, and we had a nice lunch.
We ended the day by driving into Portland, ME. We thought we were lost, but as we turned the corner, there was The Inn at St. John where we stayed. After checking in, we walked around downtown and had dinner at Soffritto Creative Italian. We started the dining experience outside, but as the sun went down, it got very cold. By the time our food came, RC and I were freezing, and we asked the waitress if we could move inside. After that, the rest of the dinner was fine.
Thursday (June 9) we woke up and headed downtown again. We found a great parking space in a parking garage that was about an hour’s walk from the water. But it was a great location for when we finally came back. On our walk downtown we stopped at a coffee shop and I got mad because it appeared that no one was working on my order. Fortunately, our next adventure was good and that made up for the lousy service at the coffee shop.
We went on a boat cruise around the harbor and got up close to many of the lighthouses that dot the harbor. After taking almost an entire roll of film on lighthouses and islands, we retired to a great little restaurant called Duck Fat. Everything that they deep fry, they deep fry in, obviously, duck fat. I had the Wolfe's Neck Farm Maine Meatloaf Panini. RC had the Ham & Cheese Panini. We also got some fries and for dessert, we had Beignet, which was, of course, fried in duck fat. It was so very yummy.
After lunch we walked over to the Portland Art Museum. It was a pretty neat museum; they had all kinds of exhibits: paintings, sculptures, statues, and a house museum. RC particularly liked the impressionist paintings. After the museum, we went back to the hotel to freshen up a bit before going to dinner. We rounded out the great eating day with dinner at Street and Company. After dinner we walked around town and browsed a bookstore around the corner from the restaurant.
On Friday (June 10), we went to the famous Becky’s Diner for obvious reasons. We bought the tee shirt. We took the ferry over to Peaks Island and walked around the island, but it was very hot and after a short time and an ice cone, we headed back to Portland and once again got on the road…this time heading to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We checked into the hotel, the Anchorage Inn, and then headed down to Hampton Beach. We walked along the boardwalk (well it wasn’t a true boardwalk in that it was cement and not wood, but you get the idea) and we ate great beachy junk food like saltwater taffy. I also had the privilege of ogling hot underage girls in skimpy bathing suits. We ate at some not very good restaurant on the beach. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great either. After dinner we headed back to the hotel and went swimming is the very small swimming pool. After swimming a bit and freezing, we headed back to the room and watched the Food Network.
On Saturday (June 11), we woke up and headed into Portsmouth, where we discovered that there was a really cool street festival going on. Almost the entire downtown was blocked off and there were booths lining the streets. RC thought the festival was put on just for us! We walked all around and got free hats from the Portsmouth Regional Hospital, looked at cool paintings with maritime themes painted (supposedly) by local artists, and ate some Indian food from a street vendor (although the food stalls were run by restaurateurs). RC had a virgin piña colada, which made her very happy. Sadly, she also got sunburnt. After walking around the town and watching a really cool lift bridge in action, we decided it was time to move on to our next destination. We got back in the car, got back on the road, and drove to Manchester, NH. we got severely lost trying to find the hotel, and then all of a sudden, it was right there in front of us…it was most amazing. After we checked into the Comfort Inn, I wanted to head back up the road a piece to the porn shop we passed, but RC nixed it. Instead, we went out for pizza (it was sit-down pizza, not carry-out). We had a calamari appetizer first. It wasn’t too bad. Then we went back to the hotel and went to sleep.
Sunday (June 12) was the worst day of our trip by far. We woke up and headed back to Manchester Airport to return the Mazda 3 to Enterprise. RC was worried that we would be charged for the big dent in the license plate that we noticed back at the LimeRock Inn. I was, of course, right, and they didn’t even notice it. After returning the car, we headed into the terminal and waited for our flight back to BWI.
We are already planning the next trip; probably for New Year’s. When I say “we,” I really mean “me”—RC did all the planning for this trip, so I get to plan the next one. I can only wonder at this point where we will go next…
Today felt like those days so long ago when I first started working at NASA. I was so bored today. I almost fell asleep twice at my computer. Fortunately, for better or worse, I have this bronchitis that seems to wake me up every time I cough.
It’s amazing how you can sit and stare at a computer screen and just not be able to think of anything to do. The irony, I suppose, is that when I’m really friggin’ busy, I look at the computer and think of the things I could be doing instead of whatever it is I’m doing at work. Yet, when I have 8 hours to kill, I can’t think of anything to occupy my time.
I worked on my applications for grad school. I worked on my essay for the application. I went to lunch. I tried to read an article on line, but my eyes kept going all out of focus and began to close, so I stopped that. I checked my email about 100 times (alas, no new emails). I played on eBay for a little while. I did a crossword puzzle online.
Fortunately, it’s 4:20 and I’m outta here at 4:30.
I have some dry hacking cough this morning (I think I got it from my dad), and so I decided to get a drink to see if that would help. The beverage of choice? Dr Pepper.
It’s funny. Every time I drink a Dr Pepper, I am instantly transported back to the swim club we belonged to when I was very little. It was actually a quarry that was filled with water. I don’t have very strong memories since I was so young, but with every sip, I can feel my wet skin baking in the golden sunshine. I can feel the sandy water that I made my mother carry me over because I didn’t like it (I guess I was fastidious even back then). I remember the concession pavilion at the top of the hill where we used to get gummy worms and, of course, Dr Pepper.
My favorite memory from then was my dad holding me and swimming out to the wall that separated the swimming area from the rest of the quarry. My oldest sister used to go on the sliding board that dropped into the deepest end because she was older and could swim. I wasn’t allowed, but it didn’t matter when me and my daddy swam out to the wall. He was the greatest daddy then, and he still is now.
So, I thank you, Dr Pepper, for reminding me of such happy thoughts.
We had a big event at the National Air and Space Museum that was sponsored by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I worked the tables that held people’s nametags. Although I didn’t get to meet him, I saw James Cameron walk past my table, and had the guy working the table with me not said, “oh, look, there goes James Cameron,” I doubt seriously that I would have known who the heck he was. But it was still cool. There were some other Senators and Congressmen, but no one I recognized.
As is always true with these events, the food was de-lish, the wine wasn’t bad, and the beer was drinkable. They had pierogies, steak, corn, rice, salad, salmon, crab cakes, marinated chicken on a stick, veggies and fruit, and an open bar. They had really cool glasses, and I really wanted service for four, but it didn’t work out that way. I do live in a 1-bedroom apartment, and it’s usually only me drinking wine, so it’s all good.
The evening’s presentation began at 8 pm, so I left shortly after 8, as my job working the table was over. I was told to put in 3.5 hours of overtime. Now I know that I’m going to get reprimanded for this from the office I officially work for, but what can I do when my immediate supervisor tells me to do it? The last event I worked I got yelled at for doing overtime, but in the end I still got my money. So, if they want to yell at me, I figure it’s fine as long as they pay me my OT.
I got about halfway to the L’Enfant Plaza station when I decided that I really just didn’t want to go home. So, I called the SugarDaddy, as I haven’t seen him in ages, and because of the holidays, I won’t see him until next week. He was out at the DIK Bar supposedly reading the paper and having a drink. So, I decided to join him for a drink before I headed home.
I got down to the L’Enfant Plaza station, and I knew that something was wrong with me…I just chalked it up to the 2 glasses of wine, 1 glass of beer, and 1 glass of sprite. By the time I got to Metro Center, I was sweating profusely, and my stomach started churning. Somehow, I have no idea how, I made it to 17th Street. About a block before the bar, my stomach lurched and the situation went all pear shaped. I knew that there was no time to get back to the Metro and head home, so I needed to face my fears, and hope for the best (for a better understanding of what was going through my mind at this moment, see Desecration). Fortunately, the Dupont Italian Kitchen has a private bathroom downstairs, right when you walk in. I bolted straight for it. Even in my pain and fear of the repercussions if I was too slow, I was able to appreciate the relative cleanliness of this public facility. The biggest problem was the puddle around the base of the commode.
I will not venture into too gory of details, so let’s just say that I did make it in time. There were some lingering effects, however. My ass felt dirty from sitting on a public toilet, and thanks to the aforementioned puddle, I decided to put my pants right into the dry clean pile. I have no idea if they touched the puddle or not, but I’m not taking any chances. So, even though I had just clipped the tag off them that morning, right back into the dry cleaning pile they went.
Once I had washed my hands, tucked in my shirt, and straightened my tie, I headed upstairs to find the SugarDaddy. I found him at the bar, drunk and flirting (good for him—I would have been right there with him, but alas, I was still having some residual effects from the trauma). I drank copious amounts of water that evening, and in the end had a great time. It turned out to be Karaoke night, and we had a great time singing: Jo Cose off-key, SugarDaddy hoarse, and the one being flirted to off beat. It was great.
On the way back to the Metro, SugarDaddy and I argued whether or not it was acceptable to Google someone to find out more info about them. He is adamantly opposed to this practice. He believes in face-to-face communication and feels that if you want to know something about a person, you should just ask them. I told him that I had done it, and used a blind date that I went on as an example. His rebuttal was to ask the point of the date if I was going to learn things from the internet instead of asking the girl. Then I asked him what he thought about my Googling the two profs I’m looking at in the UK? He said that was different since I was looking for their ranking in academia: publications, conferences, etc. I think he made a strong and valid argument. And, I figure if his reaction to be freaked out, offended, and angry over it is normal, then I don’t think I will ever do it again. Fortunately, I really only do it for one reason: to try to find an email address or phone number of friends I have lost track of…not to pry into other people’s lives or to try to “get to know them” without having to do the work of being their friend.
Unfortunately, due to single tracking on the Red Line (and the fact that we didn’t leave until 11:15), I didn’t get home until after midnight, and I am completely knackered!
I have the next two days off of work so that is good, but I don’t think I will be getting any sleep.
I went out Tuesday night with a friend. We went to Tortilla Coast, which is right behind the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill. It was pretty good until I got home. I was pretty drunk (even though I only had two beers and tanq and tonic), so I went to bed around 9:30. I was up at 11:30 convinced I was going to puke for hours. I took some Tums. Didn't help. I got up and drank some water. Didn't help. I went out to the living room and flipped channels. I landed on the Food Channel. Bad idea; really didn't help. I finally fell asleep on the couch, naked and cuddling my wastebasket. I awoke around 5:30 am and crawled into bed. I woke up again around 8:30 and sent an email to my office’s listserv saying I would be out sick. I actually got out of bed around 9, and had a rather productive day. I washed all my dishes. I tinkered with my computer. I cleaned the living room. I picked up my medicine. All in all, it was a pretty good day away from the office.
Well, as I didn’t want to be awoken unnecessarily, I turned the ringer off on my cell. Not a good idea. I checked it around 1 pm and discovered that I had missed a call from the office. They wanted me to call. Apparently I really am indispensable. I tried to call, but no one answered. I tried again about a half hour later. Again, no one answered. I sent an email to the lead secretary. I never received an answer. In the meantime, I got a second voicemail from my program’s supervisor asking me to call. Before I could respond to this, my sister calls me. Apparently, they looked into my personnel file and found her number as an emergency contact number. So, I finally called in and got through to people.
It seems that our office’s listserv has a filter on it that prevents non-NASA email addresses to post to it (or it could just be that my personal account is not a member of the listserv). So, instead of sending the email to the listserv and informing everyone that I was not going to be in, it just deleted the email without even telling me that it was going to deny me access. So, I went about my day blissfully ignorant that no one in the office received my email.
I am back in the office today, and I am faced with a conundrum. Uncle Cliffy always tells me that it’s my sick leave and if I want to use it, then I should. I don’t need to apologize or explain. Simply saying, “I was ill” should be good enough. He also suggests that if this doesn’t work, throw up on someone at work. So, I really stayed home because I just didn’t feel like going to work yesterday because I was up so late the night before. My stomach problems were pretty much over by 10. As people walk by me, they ask “How are you feeling?” or “Are you feeling better?” The latter is easier to answer with a simple “yes.” The former gets me into some problems. If I answer “fine” then it implies that I wasn’t too terribly sick yesterday. If I answer “terrible” then they tell me I should stay at home.
So, I have settled on the not complete lie of “getting better.”