terrible, horrible, no good, very bad commute today

Monday. 8:11 a.m. I left the house as usual, planning on my approximately forty-five minute commute to the office. I had gone back and forth about which book to bring and settled on the useful, less interesting one.

When I got to the station, I heard something over the PA about delays due to fire department activity. That didn’t give me pause, as once a week there is fire department activity somewhere within the metro system. On a whim, I checked online and discovered that yes, there were issues somewhere and yes, it would probably lengthen my commute by a few minutes. No worries. I waited two minutes for a metro train and ambled on with my fellow commuters. We sped along as usual. I enjoyed my book. Then, the train came to a sudden stop, right on the elevated track. Now, I don’t have fear of heights or anything, but I also don’t love stopping on elevated tracks, especially when I am standing sideways staring into the abyss, especially when the abyss is a freeway.

Fortunately the train starting moving again. Then stopped. I was in one of the cars with a half-decent intercom, and the train conductor said something about a problem at Foggy Bottom and a switch problem somewhere else. He also alluded to “several trains” ahead of us waiting to hit the next stop. Truly, there must have been several trains, because it ended up taking FIFTY minutes to travel one stop away from my home.

The doors opened and more commuters boarded the train. We waited. I read. After more than ten minutes, the driver made the announcement that strikes fear into the hear of every regular metro rider: “This train is being off-loaded.”

With many a groan, we disembarked. At this point, I wondered presciently if it would be faster for me to walk to work.

As is always the case with a rush hour offload, the next train to approach the platform was full to bursting. Some of my platform-mates tried to get on, but I knew the game and waited until the next train, which took its sweet time. I finally got onto another train by 9:25, and was once again on my way to work. I had long ago alerted my colleagues that I would probably be late, but was beginning to wonder if I would make it in time for my 10:00 a.m. meeting.

The train jolted along underground, finally hitting the next two stops. Then, at stop three (remember, only four stops away from my house, a journey that usually takes 10 minutes): “Attention passengers. This train is being off-loaded.”

Yes, my second train of the day had been off-loaded. I would definitely be late to my meeting. This is when I started to wonder if I would ever actually make it to work.

Apparently a spate of stations were closed down due to the alleged fire department activity, so our driver announced that shuttle bus service would be available into the city. I’ve taken shuttles before (most notably on the Veteran’s Day Commuting Disaster of 2012) and it’s not terrible. I joined the hoard of disenchanted commuters emerging into the (still swampy) fresh air and crossed the street to where the shuttles would pick up. The folks at the front of the line assured us that the line formed behind them and that they had been waiting an hour and a half. I assumed this might be no more than DC exaggeration. Then, I realized the line stretched down the block…and around the corner. In fact, the shuttle line stretched all the way around the block.

No way, I decided. I texted my colleagues and let them know I was giving up on metro and walking to work. (At this point, I should say I did consider a cab for about two seconds. Then I realized there were none to be found. Shockingly, everyone else had thought of that idea first. When I discovered later that Uber had been charging an almost-5x surge fare, I was glad the temptation to find alternate vehicular transportation didn’t linger.)

Fortunately I’ve run through Arlington a bunch of times. I headed through the city, then walked across the Key Bridge into Georgetown, talking to my mom on the phone the whole way. After waiting for the correct circulator bus for a while, I gave up, took the wrong one, and rode up to Dupont Circle, where I once again descended into the metro. I emerged at my station at 11:20 and walked the last five minutes to work, arriving only 3 hours and 14 minutes after I left the house that morning.

I used to plan for two bad commutes per year. This experience more than makes up for the relatively smooth sailing for the past eighteen months or so. I think the most frustrating part, though, is that I really could have walked (not even run. WALKED.) to work in as long as the metro-walking-bus-metro situation took. Next time: I’m heading right back home.

(To be fair, 99% of my commutes are just fine and this in no way changes my feelings about living in this here great metropolitan area.)

(One more thing: how can I complain when tonight my great husband brought me a big bag of pistachios to soothe my metro PTSD? He is a keeper.)

in which my parents come see us

I am lucky that every so often my dad has a work-related reason to come to Virginia. This time, he brought along my mom. We had a great time (as we always do).

Wednesday
I met my mom at the metro and we commuted home together. We picked up Jason and the three of us went to Lebanese Taverna–by way of Paul, of course, for pastries. Also, we discovered that Wednesday is bellydancing night at Lebanese Taverna, so there’s that.

Thursday
Jason and I went to work. My mom met up with my aunts and a cousin and Alex for lunch. Work was uneventful, except for when Emily and I found what appeared to be branded fanny packs. Turns out they are lunch boxes.

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Thursday night we ate pizza and watched the Kentucky-WVU game. My mom and I picked up my dad from the airport sometime around midnight.

Friday
Jason and Dad went to work. Mom and I slept in, worked out, lounged, and decided to go to Cava for lunch. Then we went to Old Town Alexandra ostensibly in search of a bookstore. We got ice cream instead.

I love being with my mom. She’s great.

We spent the evening with Sara, who very kindly fed us dinner and let us hang out talking until way too late.

Saturday
As I’ve mentioned, my parents are tougher visitors than most because they have already done everything here. We decided to go to Annapolis, which they hadn’t visited since the late 1980s. Like the last time Jason and I went to Annapolis two years ago, it was cold and a little breezy, but we had a good time.

Seriously, Annapolis is so pretty.

We had seafood for lunch (as one must do when visiting a waterfront town) then headed home. My parents and I started a game of Scrabble and Jason napped (since, as the driver, he had been unable to sleep on the way home). Eventually Mom and I went to the women’ broadcast; the men stayed home and made guacamole and watched basketball. When we got home Kentucky was in a dead heat with Notre Dame. We were relieved (though Jason never lost his faith) when UK pulled out the win.

Sunday
Jason had some meetings early. We went to church together and my parents got to meet my Sunday school class. I only had seven of thirteen kids in attendance thanks to spring break, but they still made short work of the two bags of candy and fifteen peeps I brought them. After church we made chilaquiles and finished off the Scrabble game. My mom killed us all, though both she and my dad had 48-point turns.

Monday
Dad, Jason and I went to work. My mom went to the Building Museum with Aunt Amy and my cousins and their kids. She met up with me at the end of the day and we commuted home together (as much as I love reading, I far prefer having someone I love to talk to). We had dinner at Founding Farmers, which was excellent. Jason got the weirdest meal out of all of us: fried chicken and a Jefferson donut (which is kind of like a cronut, I think?). It looked so good that the rest of us had to try our own Jefferson donut too.

Tuesday
Mom and I went to Paul for lunch before her flight. I hated saying goodbye. That is all I will say about that. Dad had some things to do in the evening, so Jason and I spent a quiet night at home.

Wednesday
Because this is my second of three four-day weeks, I had a really hard time keeping my days straight. Those of us who remained in DC went to work and we had north African meatballs and couscous with golden raisins for dinner. I think this was the day I brought contacts to work, intending to run outside. When I got into the office and had cell reception again, I had several texts from Jason: “You took my contacts.” “Don’t put those on.” “Yours are still at home.”

Thursday
Once again, we all worked. I got out a little early in anticipation of the long Easter weekend, so I came home and did the dishes and read. When Jason got home, I headed to the library to pick up a raft of holds, then picked up my dad from the metro. We went to Silver Diner for supper, which is so good. I had roasted vegetable huevos rancheros with roasted brussels sprouts, butternut squash, black beans, avocado, goat cheese, guacamole (and beets, which I promptly removed) and I keep really wanting to eat it again. We also had chocolate chip cookies when we got home.

(Good) Friday
Jason went to work. I ran a couples miles outside, my first outdoor run of 2015, I think. (It has been very cold.)  y dad and I went to the mall and picked up some fun things for the fam. He also bought me the Barnes and Noble-published Hamlet, which is my preferred Shakespeare layout (the notes are really easy to read without breaking up the action). We had lunch at La Sandia and then hung out at Rosslyn talking until it was time for my dad to leave for the airport. See my Tuesday note about goodbyes. I really wish my family lived closer to Virginia.

I’m so glad we were able to spend the week with my parents. They’re as busy as anyone I know, so it’s good of them to make time for a visit. Now that Adam’s mission papers are in (!!!) we’ll have to start planning our next trip west.

in which dave comes to visit, part III

Here’s how the rest of Dave’s DC sojourn went:

Monday
Went for a run around the neighborhood and then to work with Jason. Came home by way of the mall. Made fruity pebbles krispies treats. The three of us ate pulled pork sandwiches for supper, then went to Nielsen’s for dessert and watched (or in my case, slept through) a movie.
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Tuesday
Came to work with me. Had a good chat with one of my colleagues/friends who is from the Philippines. Went to the Newseum, Archives, National Gallery of Art, and Shake Shack. Dave met me at Union Station at the end of what turned out to be a long work day and we rode home together. Dinner = leftover pulled pork and jalapeno slaw for the guys and pesto pasta for me in preparation for the next day’s run. Jason went to bishopric meeting. Dave and I stayed home and watched the U.S. Open.

Wednesday
Accompanied me on the last six miles of my eighteen mile run (even though I had only told him to plan for five miles). The three of us went to Silver Diner, then headed up to Connecticut for the rest of the week.

shenanigans

Here’s how our Saturday went:

8 a.m. Jason arrives home from work (hooray!). I am still in bed reading, but have been awake since 6:45 a.m.

We proceed to purchase groceries, make pancakes (which I mess up by adding twice the buttermilk because I’m trying to halve the recipe in my head and can’t figure out why the pancakes are so runny and flat) and get the laundry started.

11 a.m. Jason naps on the couch. I clean the kitchen.

Noon Jason still naps. I fold the laundry.

2 p.m. Jason wakes up. We have homemade pizza for lunch.

5 p.m. Jason goes to sleep for the night. I think, “Oh, I’ll just lay my little head down for a short nap. Then I’ll (fill in productive activity here, including building lasagna for Sunday dinner).”

Midnight I wake with a start, fumble around for my phone, and realize I’ve gotten seven hours of sleep. Oops. The good news: I’m wide awake. The better news: Jason will be too in one hour. I build the aforementioned lasagna and get some reading done (All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting).

1 a.m. Jason wakes up and is surprised to see me awake and alert. I still feel pretty good, so I just decide to stay up with him until I crash.

2 a.m. We play Yahtzee!

3 a.m. We watch Netflix!

4 a.m. We make pancakes for the second time in eighteen hours! We eat said pancakes while watching another of our photography DVDs from the Teaching Company.

5 a.m. I start to get a little drowsy.

5:30 a.m. I head to bed for 1.5 hours until it is time to get up for church.

While staying up until it was time to go to sleep again on Sunday night was not easy, I loved spending time with Jason when we were both reasonably awake. Same time next weekend?

On Monday Jason came into the city to try on suits for Mariel’s wedding (and because we haven’t gotten the man a new suit in five years), so I met him up in Georgetown for the fitting. Afterward, we went to Good Stuff Eatery for hamburgers and a raspberry-blueberry shake. We walked down M Street, then headed to Charles Tyrwhitt for Jason to try on another suit (which turned out to be not nearly as great as the first one).

When we had concluded our errands Jason went home to sleep and I returned to work (after which I headed to an overnight retreat and thus missed seeing Jason again until Tuesday night after Young Womens).

snochi

On Monday everyone in the greater DC metro area started obsessively checking the weather. Now, back home in Utah you realize it is snowing because you go outside and see snow. Then you continue your daily activities because 1. You have seen snow before and 2. It isn’t a big deal. Life goes on.

How do you know it will snow here? Don’t worry: someone (or everyone) will tell you.

We have had a couple of much-hyped and ultimately disappointing storms this year, but this one seemed different. My forecast app (which does not lie) made me suspect this might be the real deal.
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The only problem was that my parents were flying in for a quick long-weekend trip on Thursday, right at the tail end of what I am affectionately calling “Snochi.”

Jason and I both knew on Wednesday night that we wouldn’t have work the next morning, so we slept in Thursday. I made breakfast and we watched some Olympics. By midmorning we had 10 inches of snow. Jason did the laundry (all of it, even the sheets and towels) and I cleaned the kitchen in preparation for my parents’ arrival. Meanwhile, my dad’s flight from Denver was delayed and my mom’s straight-through flight was diverted to Detroit. The snow started up again around 2:00 PM and I was pretty sure they would not make it in that night. I was wrong, though, and my dad’s plane touched down around 6 PM. He waited for my mom’s flight, which would supposedly be in an hour later, and then the two of them kindly agreed to take the Metro out to our place.

Jason inspected the car situation and discovered that our accumulation had increased to a good foot. The car was stuck behind a bunch of snow and in spite of Jason’s best efforts the Jetta just wouldn’t move.
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I called my good friend Lara to see if we could borrow a snow shovel and she offered their crossover. Her husband (our home teacher) confirmed that the roads were terrible and that it would be unwise to venture out sans four-wheel-drive. He very kindly picked Jason up and drove to the station to pick up my parents when they arrived, then dropped everyone back at our apartment.

We had supper and stayed up talking until almost midnight. I’m so glad Mom and Dad made it, especially right in time for my mom’s birthday!

super fun flood day

Thursday was not a great day. Jason’s had this sinus thing going on, so he didn’t feel well. I had a work event in the evening, which I was supposed to leave early so Jason could take care of some church stuff. We are not often busy in the evenings (one of my favorite things about being a pair of 9-5 childless adults), so a full slate like Thursday night is bothersome.

While I was at the event, Jason called several times. Unfortunately the happy hour was in a basement sports bar, so my phone reception was terrible. I sent some eloquent texts (“what’s up?” and “??”) but never heard back. When I left and was above ground again, I called him and learned that 1. Our apartment was flooded and 2. He had been sending illuminating iMessages in response to my questions, but I hadn’t been getting them because my data was turned off (something I do to keep my phone from draining on the metro). Great.

I metro-ed home with a pit in my stomach. Indoor floods are the worst, as I discovered in my parents’ old house in Utah when we experienced two minor indoor floods in one day. I missed the last shuttle of the night by one minute, but my very wonderful visiting teacher came to pick me up (the church is true), as Jason was waiting for the maintenance workers to show up with a vacuum.

The damage wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. Yes, water had been running down the out and inside of the dividing wall between our kitchen and living room. Yes, there was more than an inch of water still on the kitchen floor. Yes, the carpet around our (brand new!) expedit TV stand was soaked. If we had to have a flood, though, it couldn’t have gone better: our precious books were spared, the art on that wall was undamaged, and all our furniture (even the expedit, thanks to its heft) stayed dry.

Jason headed out and I waited patiently for the maintenance workers, who promptly cut open our carpet (what?!) and yanked out the sodden padding. They promised (I think) to bring fans the next day, but that never actually happened. (Discussions with the complex are ongoing.) I ordered a pizza and waited up for Jason until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore and fell asleep.

christmas-y things and a reunion

Last week my office celebrated nondenominational wintertime holiday party three of four by visiting the capitol Christmas tree and the botanical garden.20131216-092804.jpg

The botanical garden, as it turns out, is pretty awesome at Christmas time. There’s a pretty big model of the mall, with the buildings made of plant-based materials (bark, I guess?). To be honest, I initially thought the capitol was made of chocolate. 20131216-104928.jpg

The party went long and I ended up meeting my dad at the metro around 7 PM. There was insane traffic (more to come on Friday), so we didn’t get home until after 7:30. By then I didn’t really feel like cooking, so we went to Nielsen’s. Now, I love Nielsen’s, but their customer service that night was not great. The sandwich station had apparently been put away, so we had frozen custard for dinner. Jason also had a soup and my dad ordered a soup, but let’s just say Nielsen’s does custard better than soup.

Friday was Christmas party four of four and the day my dad left for Utah. I woke up at 5 AM to bake pistachio cookies for Jason’s work Christmas party. I grossly overestimated the time it would take to bake them, so I had time to also make a big breakfast, unload and reload the dishwasher, and finish a book.
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On Friday night, Jason and I had plans to meet up with the Oswalds and Grant, some of our favorite Bluegrass Ward friends. Traffic, it turns out, was once again horrible, so Grant and I waited at the metro for an hour while Jason battled to drive four miles in that time. We did all make it to Cafe Rio (of course) in one piece and actually ended up right behind el auto de Oswald in the last turning lane. There was much catching up and eating of nostalgic salads and cooing over adorable children, which by and large made for a wonderful evening, traffic notwithstanding. The thing I hate about moving so much is missing people that we like, which is definitely true of the Laytons.
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We took Grant to Trader Joe’s for some stocking up, then dropped him off at the metro.

Saturday morning I went for a bold earlyish morning run with a friend from our ward. I haven’t had a running buddy in some months and it felt good to run outdoors. It was pretty cold out and even started snowing the tiniest little bit at the beginning. Worth it to feel hard core.

The rest of Saturday: naps on the couch, reading, watching of basketball, ward Christmas party with excellent food, Trader Joe’s, listening to the BYU-Utah basketball game until I couldn’t take it anymore and fell asleep. Jason stayed up because he is a true fan (or a masochist).