A Journal of My Mid-Life Crisis
12 October 1997 - On the Road Again
As you might guess from the title of this week's installment, I had only one week without traveling. This week's trip was off to Washington, D.C., which was, at least, a change of pace. I'm still amused by people who think that they'd like to travel a lot on business. I guess it's something you have to do in order to realize how tedious it gets.
The trip started off badly as we had some hotel troubles. I was sharing a car with Barbara and we had reservations at the Doubletree Guest Suites Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia. When we arrived, we were told that there was a family that was supposed to check out but their child was sick and so they didn't have two rooms and would we mind sharing a two bedroom suite? I was dubious but they insisted that it was huge, the rooms each had their own bath and were on opposite sides of a living room, and Barbara said OK so I swallowed my skepticisim and agreed. So we got up to the suite and the two rooms are right next to each other and the bathrooms are tiny and I realized the thing I had been most dubious about was that there was only one phone line, which was indeed the case, and we looked at each other and decided this was insane. There were a few other problems, too. Only one soap in each bathroom despite their being both sink and tub, so we called for more soap. Also, Barbara uses a hair dryer and there didn't appear to be any outlets in the bathroom. So they sent a guy up to show us where the outlet was, which turned out to be sort of inside the fluorescent light fixture, with one outlet per bathroom. He said someone else would bring the soap, but two minutes later he was back with it. We decided the whole thing was tooo weird, especially since, right after we had started going up to the room, a guy came up to the front desk and checked in. So they had his room... why didn't they have what we had reserved? And then I noticed the posted rate for double occupancy on the suite was $185 and they were charging each of us the full price of what we'd reserved ($118 each) so I got more suspicious. We asked what else they could do and they had this other one bedroom suite for one of us, but it turned out to be a smoking room and was decidedly smokey. We saw more people checking in. We asked why they had rooms for them and not us. "Oh, but their companies have contracts with us, their rooms are blocked." We pointed out our company had a contract with them, and they argued there were different types of contracts. They also dropped the whole "sick child" bit and just said they were overbooked. They showed us a larger two bedroom suite that did have more privacy but it was also a smoking room and smelled, besides having just one phone. We finally just said "screw it, let's go elsewhere" and they tried to send us to a Comfort Inn, which is hardly the same class of hotel. While I waited downstairs to see what they'd come up with, Barbara called Sato and had them look for rooms also. Finally, we ended up with rooms at the Georgetown University Conference Center. I entertained myself for some time composing complaint letters. I'm unlikely to ever send a complaint letter though, since it's hard for me to come up with something I actually want from them that would make this okay. I was pretty relieved when Barbara made a comment that this would never have happened to two men wearing suits. (Since we had spent all day flying, we were dressed in jeans and t-shirts.) I had been thinking the same thing, but was hesitant to say it.
The Georgetown Campus is interesting - some old buildings with a generally churchy look. It's the only university I have ever seen with a cemetary on campus. I immediately joked that they used it to bury students who had committed suicide. (We never did find out the story behind it.) There were a couple of cute punnish acronyms we encountered. The Georgetown University Transportation System, which runs shuttles to the Rosslyn metro and Dupont Circle, is called G.U.T.S. and the ambulances of the Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Services are G.E.R.M.S..
As for the Washington, D.C. restaurant report: We had dinner the first night at an Ethiopian restaurant in Georgetown named Zed's. It had been quite a long time since I'd had Ethiopian food, so maybe I'm not qualified to make comparisons, but I thought their vegetarian combo plate quite good. I especially liked a fiery red lentil dish and a green bean and cauliflower dish. There was also a very tasty African beer, Ngomba dark, from Togo. Tuesday night we got a large group together and went to a place called Raku at Dupont Circle. This was a pan-Asian place, where everyone had some sort of noodle dish and we shared a bunch of appetizer things. I was particularly impressed with the tofu skewers in a peanut dipping sauce. I was in this mood to eat a lot of stuff with ginger and they satisfied that. Finally, on Wednesday night we walked around Georgetown and settled on a Vietnamese place called Miss Saigon. It was adequate, but I've had better Vietnamese food at lower prices out here.
On Tuesday, before dinner, we walked around Dupont Circle a bunch, mostly looking at architecture. I particularly liked walking down Embassy row, trying to guess which embassy was which from the flags before looking at the signs. It's a game that I'm actually rather hopeless at, though I did better than Barbara did at it. Anyway, it was neat to be somewhere walkable, as opposed to Los Angeles. But I still don't particularly want to move to D.C., even though it would be easy to find a job there. This isn't the right time to think about moving anyway, as it would effectively keep me from taking a sabbatical.
We managed to catch an earlier flight back on Thursday than we'd been booked on originally so I was able to get to roughly the second half of Community Storytellers. There were a lot of people there who don't come often but who wanted to offer their support to Katy. I didn't tell anything since I hadn't expected to be able to make it and hadn't prepared anything. And things were being taped for Peter's brother, so I particularly didn't want to just ramble. I don't like to get up there feeling unprepared though I have. The group feels to me like what I'd call a tolerant audience but that isn't quite enough for the truly raw. And there were plenty of people there who were prepared to tell.
I decided to reschedule my jury duty, moving it by two weeks, so I won't miss a meeting that I think it's important for me to be at. The other plus is that I don't have to reschedule my dentist appointment this way. And I'll still get jury duty over with before the rest of our design reviews.
Yom Kippur was Saturday (starting Friday night, actually). Fasting was easy and I felt restful but introspective again. I just finished reading W. Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage and, when he talks of how certain books just seemed to speak directly to Philip Carey, I found myself feeling the same way about this book. I've not been quite so unfortunate to get forced into several avenues that weren't where my abilities lay, but I've had that same feeling of disillusionment with pat answers about the meaning of life.
I spent Saturday night hanging out on the Foundation. Emma has now come up with a truly evil idea - punday quests. You get a quest point for every pun on a particular subject. And you get the group of us together and we come up with really horrible ones. We ran through several themes - religion, alcohol, nautical, fish - in maybe 2 1/2 hours. In the future, she's going to limit it to one hour.
I spent Sunday napping and reading and doing a very little bit of housework. I should have probably done laundry and some mending but I was way too tired. Oh, well, things will get done as they have to.
Copyright 1997 Miriam H. Nadel
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