“I have a boot!”

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This entire week and last weekend DC has been getting pummeled with rain.  So much so that many people who typically walk to work are now taking the bus.  This makes it much more difficult to find a seat.

The other morning I made my walk to the bus stop through a slight rain, one of those storms that’s not really that bad but it’s just misting enough to piss you off.  I arrived at the bus stop and waited in line behind a few people who were already there. Once the bus drove up we made our way, single file,  onto the bus.

I stepped up, scanned my card, and turned and saw, to my horror, that only one seat was open.  It was in the front of the bus in the handicapped section. A bit of bus etiquette, these six seats  are usually held open for the elderly or people who are handicapped. If you sit there and you are not either of those, you are expected to get up and give your seat up for that person should they get on the bus.

With my boot on my foot I felt I was qualified to take that last open seat so I made a dash for it and sat down.  While I sat down, I made sure to flash my boot at everyone around me for validation.

Things were off to an okay start.  Everyone seemed to be in a silent agreement that it was acceptable for me to be sitting there.  The tide started to turn though, as the bus began to get full. 

An old lady hobbled her way onto the bus at one stop and I could feel her stare at me through her cataract sunglasses.   I knew she wanted my sweet, comfy seat.  But I wasn’t having it.  I was injured!  And, after the bus dropped me off I still had a 20 minute walk before I got to work so I needed my rest!

Several newcomers who had not been a part of the initial silent agreement, and who also didn’t see my boot began to give me some looks.  I looked to my compatriots who had been with me since the beginning, hoping they’d share with the new passengers the silent agreement we had all made. But it was to no avail.  I was all alone.

I felt very similar to Billy Zane’s character in “Titanic.”  When the ship starts to sink and everyone is running for the life boats but they are only letting women and children on.  Zane grabs a random child and starts shouting “I have a child! Let me on! I have a child!” That was me. Except my plea was “I have a boot!  Let me sit! I have a boot!”

It seemed the closer we got to my stop  more old ladies got on the bus. “Is there a new rest home that just opened up on my route?”  I began to wonder.  “Is there a great sale at JCPenney this morning? Is Barry Manilow in town?”

I had no idea.  But the bus was filling up with old ladies faster than J&S on a Sunday after church.  Each time they shot me a look, I silently pled “I have a boot!” “I have a boot!”

We finally arrived at our destination.  We all slowly made our way off the bus. I looked back at the bus the way all the rich people who had made their way onto a lifeboat and were staring at the Titanic from a distance.  I made an a vow to never sit in those seats again.

 

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“You can drive a stick right?”

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All of the events in this blog post are painstakingly accurate.  We are currently in the process of pitching this to Larry David as a new episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Yesterday Hayden and I set out on a journey to buy a car.  Hayden has been wanting one for a while and after looking online at several options, he found one he really liked.  There aren’t any used car dealerships in DC so we set out on a voyage to Virginia. Thankfully, Hayden was plant-sitting for his old roommate Arian who said we could use her car while she was gone.

Fun fact about Virginia.  There are a lot of tolls. And by a lot, I mean that our drive was only about 50 minutes we probably passed through at least four tolls with varying prices.   The highest price for a single toll was almost $6!

Being from North Carolina, tolls are a foreign concept to me.  It feels like I’m in the Wild West and bandits have taken over the highway and I have to hand over all of my valuables if I want to continue going down the road.

I want toll roads to employ a barter system.  Like if you didn’t have any cash you could give them a starbucks gift card with $2.37 left on it and could go 20 miles. Or your air freshener is worth 10 miles.  A couple fast food bags and old receipts would get you a solid 15 miles. 

After offering the apartment as collateral for the millionth tolls we went through, we made it to the first dealership. This was a stereotypical used car dealership.  Lots of cars packed into a small corner lot on a relatively busy street.

It was also defielty a higher-end dealership than what we were looking for.  He had a lots of BMWs and a couple Maseratis, and oddly enough, one Subaru.

We took the Subaru for a test drive and it was a solid car.  The inside was nice, pretty standard features. It was also also on the large size.  And when we began thinking about all the parallel parking we would be doing in DC we began to worry it might be too big.  So we took it back to the dealership. We told the salesman that we had another dealership we wanted to look at but we’d probably be back in around an hour.

As we left the dealership we both decided we should grab something to eat so we drove and found a really cool-looking dinner.  The inside had a great ambience. Once seated, we ordered our coffee some got some amazing biscuits and gravy and eggs.

With our bellies full, we continued onto the next dealership.  It was about 30 minutes from where we were. We passed through two more tolls, and with each toll it felt as it a bit of our soul was being ripped from us.  

We turned town the road of the dealership and found that this was apparently “Used Car Alley” because there were at least ten different places to buy cars on this one row.   It took us a bit but we finally found the right spot. We walked into a very nice lobby area and told them the car we were looking for and they brought it right to the door. It was another Subaru but this one was more compact.

As Hayden was talking to the salesman William, I looked in the car and noticed it was a stick shift.  This was a surprise to me because I thought it was an automatic. When I brought this up he said “Oh yeah, I can drive stick.  I mean it’s been a while but it’s like riding a bike right? You never really forget.”

As it turns out, it’s not.

We took our seats in the car and Hayden started the engine.  He put it into gear and we lurched forward almost hitting another car on the lot.  Hayden assured me that he was “just a little rusty.” And after some jolts in the parking lot we made our way out onto the open road and things got much smoother.

There was a small development with cookie-cutter houses close to dealership that seemed like a good place to do some light test-driving.  As we slowed down Hayden shifted between gears with less ease. Going between 1st and 2nd gear became much less seamless.

Then we made a fateful turn onto a dead end.  The Subaru slowed to a stop and the engine cut off.  That was when we found out that he couldn’t get the stick to go from neutral to reverse.  We were in tight spot. We were out of road and there was no way to turn around without reversing.  Hayden tried several times to get it into reverse but, alas, it was all in vain.

We now had two choices.  One, we call William and tell him that we are stranded in suburban Hell, have him come pick us up and then definitely not be able to buy a car from him or one of us was going to have to push the car.  The choice was simple. We simply wouldn’t jeopardize our newfound friendship with William. And since my foot is still in a boot, Hayden was going to have to be the one to push the car around 75 feet by himself while I steered.

I moved to the driver’s seat as Hayden went to the front of the car.  Not since my bout with The Blue Couch have I seen such an impressive display of sheer strength.  It was very much like the woman who lifted her car off off her kid. It was a beautiful display of the human will.

We rounded the corner and got the car facing back onto the road.  Hayden took back the driver’s seat and we set off, with several more lurches, back to the dealership.  Hayden parked the car on the other side of the building so William wouldn’t see him trying to park. So we stopped it somewhat in the middle of the road and went back inside.

Once inside, William asked “How was it?”  “Well, it was alright, but the clutch was a little sticky.” And that was that.

He then told us about some other cars he had and Hayden found a 2014 Ford Focus with 56,000 miles on it that he really liked. So we took it for a test drive and it was much smoother.  After the test drive Hayden decided to get the car.

So we began the process of buying the car.  We had to talk to Hayden’s mom, Elyse several times because she was co-signing with Hayden.  But this proved to be difficult because she was at a drum circle and it was hard to hear. But despite that, we got the information we needed and moved on to another office to do the final paperwork.

With the last piece of paper signed, Hayden was officially the owner of a car! But because of my foot, I couldn’t drive the new car back so we left it there and planned on going back the next day with another friend to pick it up.

I wish I could tell you this is where the journey ended.  But unfortunately, there were a few more woes to be had.

We woke up the next morning and had some coffee and watch a little CBS Sunday morning before heading back to the dealership.  Hayden’s friend Emily joined us for the return trip. It was smooth sailing for the whole trip there. We actually didn’t hit any tolls or any traffic.  We got to the dealership shortly after it had opened and got the car and made set out for home.

We decided before we left to meet at a nice diner in Virginia to get some breakfast.  On the way back we hit several tolls but this didn’t dampen our spirits. We had a car now!  Just think of all the groceries we could now get! Up until this point, each time I went to the store I had to decide whether I was going to get milk or beer because getting both would be too heavy to carry back to our apartment so I had to choose only one.  (9 times out of 10, the beer won out.)

When we arrived at the diner there were no parking spaces open in the parking lot so Hayden drove out and found an adjacent lot where the were several open spots.  We checked around and didn’t see any “No Parking” signs so we parked and left the car and made our way into the diner.

Once we had finished eating we headed back to the car, only the car wasn’t there.  We looked around and saw a small sign that said “No Parking. Car will be towed at ower’s expense.”  This was the only sign in the huge parking lot. It was clearly a trap.

Hayden ran back to catch Emily, who was driving his new car, before she left.  She drove back and picked me up while Hayden called the tow company. It was only about five minutes away from us.  We drove to the tow lot and Hayden went inside and paid the fee and got the car back. It was the most expensive breakfast he’d ever eaten.  

After all that, both cars are safely parked in our neighborhood and neither of us will ever have to choose between beer and milk again.

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Two Weeks of Camp

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I just finished week 2 of summer camp at Sitar and I just wanted to do a little reflecting.  

My job break down is in the mornings I am the teacher assistant for the Pre-K and Kindergarten classes.  There are two lead teachers whose classrooms I switch back and forth from. Then, in the afternoon, I’m the sole lead teacher for the Kindergarten class.  In my class, we combine STEAM (science, technology, art, math) and theatre. The first two weeks we focused on the solar system.

My first day of camp was overwhelming to say the least.  The day started off ok. We all met together in the theatre and had a “welcome to camp” meeting.  Then we divided up and went to our separate classrooms. Things were a little chaotic but it was still fairly controlled.  I just figured it was because it was the first day of camp and everyone was just getting used to camp.

Then, it was my turn.  The students came back in to the classroom and I introduced myself again and went over some classroom expectations.  We then sat in a circle and I tried to do a name game with them but several students kept shouting out and talking while I was talking.  I kept my cool and we pushed through and finished the game.

After that, it was time to go outside.  So we went to recess and nothing crazy happened.  I hoped that when we got back inside we would have all our “wiggles” out and be ready to continue with the lesson.  Suffice it to say, I was incorrect.

It was like a switch had flipped.  Now everyone was talking. They would talk over each other and myself.  No one was in their spots. It was chaos. As I write this I honestly can’t remember what we did for the rest of the afternoon because I blocked it out of my memory.  I do remember standing there, looking at the chaos and thinking “I can’t do this. I’m going to have to quit.” And I was very close to doing so.

Thankfully, my wonderful supervisor talked to me after class and I settled down.  I left feeling much better. Each day since then has gotten better. We’ve changed our routine several times in order to find the best fit and I think we’ve finally found it.  In class, we’ve done different art projects and went on a field trip to The Air and Space Museum.

Last week was a little rough because I was out for two days because of my foot.  So when I went back on Thursday, we had to do a little review on classroom expectations, but all in all, it was still much better then that first day.  ( I even put together a telescope on Friday!)

Just like with any jobs, there are good days and bad days but I am feeling more comfortable with the flow of camp.  I am very optimistic about it and I think when it’s all said and done, it will be a great experience. For the next two weeks we will be discussing Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax” and the environment.   We will also incorporate other Seuss stories. The older students in the camp are putting on “Seussical” the musical at the end of the camp so I want to try and tie in some of our curriculum.

I’ll keep you posted on how the next few weeks go!

Fractured Plans

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Exercise they said.  It’s good for you they said.  Well, thanks to exercising I now have a fracture in my foot!

I wish I could tell you I fractured it by fighting bad guys or practicing my hardcore parkour skills but no, alas I was walking, just straight up walking.  In my defence, it’s easy to hurt yourself doing something difficult, however, it takes skill to hurt yourself doing something easy.

There are some really nice walking trails in the park very close to my apartment.  It’s a nice way to escape the city and just be in nature. Or so I thought.

My ill-fated walk on Sunday started out quite nice.  I had my Ipod cranked up, the weather was hot but not humid, and there was a cool breeze.  The first 10 minutes were great!

Then things took a turn.  Or a twist in my case.  As I was walking down a slight hill, my foot slipped out from under me and went sideways.  All of my weight then went down onto it.  I heard a pop and then shouted out several choice words.  Thankfully no people were around but some very offended birds flew away in disgust.

At first, I didn’t think it was that bad.  I thought if I kept walking I would feel better.  In retrospect, I now question my logic of “My foot hurts.  I think I’ll walk some more on it to make it feel better!”  To quote Iron Man “Not a great plan.”

I continued my walk of pain.  With each step I took the music on my Ipod was less enjoyable.  The weather turned from nice to Death Valley hot. The breeze ceased and a giant wave of humidity blew in from Florida.  I felt like I had been dropped into a new Bear Grylls reality show. It was now me against the elements.

I began to contemplate turning around but I had now made it to the point where I was pretty much half way through the trail so I decided to press on.  The heat was now in full swing.  I starting seeing mirages.  I saw a beautiful oasis with clean, cool water.  I saw an all you can eat steak buffet.  I saw Meryl Streep sitting on a bench with an outstretched hand holding a screenplay she wanted me to co-star in with her.  

The pain in my foot brought me back to reality.   By the grace of the Lord I had reached the bottom of the entrance to the trail!  I slowly worked my way up to the top, out of the deadly nature.  As I got closer, I could hear the sweet sounds of cars driving by. Civilization at last! I found a bench at the opening of the trail and took a well-deserved rest.

After a few minutes of sitting I summoned up my strength and walked the rest of the way home.  It took me a while but I made it.  I ascended the stairs, opened the door, and fell onto my beloved blue couch.  

I still didn’t fully realize what was wrong with my foot.  I thought I just needed to rest and ice it and I’d be good to go for work the next day.  I thought wrong. When I woke up the next morning I took a cautious first step and was immediately meet with agonizing pain.  I knew then that something was really wrong with my foot. I called out of work and began to scramble to find a doctor. The first urgent care I found was pretty close to me but when I tried to make an appointment, I found out their X-Ray machine was down.  So I looked again and found an urgent care in Chevy Chase, MD and booked an appointment online.  I Ubered up to the office and the rest is history.

I’m planning on going back into work Thursday.  My doctor told me I should be able to move easier by then.  Next Monday I’ll go back in for another X-Ray and we’ll take it from there.  Unfortunately, either way, I’ll be wearing my boot for the next couple of weeks.  But like my grandmother said when I was on the phone with her “At least you didn’t fall and hit your head on a rock and bleed out!”

The Tale of The Blue Couch

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Well, to say it has been a while would be an understatement.   I started this site back in December and posted a bunch in the beginning, but the last few months I’ve done a terrible job of updating my blog.  But never fear! I’m back and I fully intend to do a much better job!

I’ve been in Washington DC for almost a month now so over the next few days I’ll be posting a few tales from my first couple of adventures.  

Today’s story is “The Tale of The Blue Couch.”  A story about a mythic piece of furniture. Wars have been fought over this couch, kingdoms have crumbled just to sit on this marvelous sofa. It is a tale of new beginnings, of loss, and ultimately, a unique commentary on the human condition.  

My journey to DC was actually quite simple, aside from taking a wrong turn and ending up at the Pentagon.  The Uhaul I rented surprisingly drove quite well. The trip took just over six hours.

Moving in all my stuff was another story.  The Uhaul had been packed to maximum capacity.  And deep underneath all of my boxes was the dreaded blue couch.  The couch itself is an amazing couch. It was just made with, what feels like some combination of solid steel and adamantium.  Just getting it from my grandmother’s house and into the Uhaul almost killed me and my mom. So, as we began unpacking, I knew that the couch laid at the bottom, just waiting for someone to try and lift it.  

Finally, almost all of the boxes and furniture were unloaded.  And there sat the blue couch. We moved it onto the street so we could get the last few boxes and to delay our battle a bit longer. Each time we walked past the couch, I could feel it’s contempt for us.  I could almost hear it saying, “Foolish mortals. Many have fallen trying to move me, you will fair no better.”

Maybe he was right, but there was only one way to find out.  

Also, this is a good time to mention that our apartment is on the 2nd floor and to get up to it you have to take the world’s narrowest staircase with the world’s lowest ceiling. My bed frame barely made it up.  

With the final boxes moved in the time had come. Hayden and I looked at each other the same way Frodo and Sam looked at each other as they started their journey to Mount Doom.  No words were said. We just picked it up and began our quest. Getting through the front door was our first test. The couch was too big to bring right through the door frame so we had to begin a full scale game of Tetris.

We twisted left and right, up and down, backwards and forwards, but we couldn’t get it through.  I feared that the couch may be a lost cause, doomed to sit on the side of the road.  But, by some miracle, the final configuration we moved the couch in worked! With the first level of our quest complete we moved onto the stairs.

This was a much trickery scenario than the door frame.  The doorframe tested our mental prowess only. The stairs however, combined mental and physical stamina. We couldn’t lift the couch too high, otherwise it would hit the ceiling, too low and we wouldn’t be able to get a solid grip to lift it.  We were able to get it halfway up but then paused and lost most of our momentum. We began to lose hope too.

That’s when something snapped in me.  This couch was going to be in our apartment.  I dug deep and summed strength I didn’t know I possessed.  It was raw power. Hayden later told me that I had a look on my face similar to a wild animal.  I was in the primal state of my ancestors. All the Underwoods before me were looking down on me at that moment.  This was my test. I couldn’t disappoint them. I looked down at Hayden, the Frodo to my Sam. “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!”  And in one final bout of strength, I pulled it to the landing.

I’m pretty sure I blacked out for the rest of the quest.  Witnesses say that once we got it to the landing it was an easy spin around and we carried the couch upside down over the second flight of stairs and into our apartment.

I regained consciousness a short time later and there, in front of me, sat the blue couch in all its glory.  

I aquate the feeling of getting the couch into the apartment much to that of how Arthur felt when he pulled the sword from the stone.  And just like Arthur, we were now the kings of our apartment.