It is true that the distance from Cincinnati to DC is closer to five hundred miles than a thousand miles. Nevertheless, the journey my family undertook to relocate from the Cincinnati metropolitan area to an edge city of The District was closer to a thousand miles than five hundred.
For those that don't know, this past August I started the Ph.D. program in the school of philosophy at the Catholic University of America. As CUA is located in the District of Columbia, this required the relocation of me and my family to the DC area. The plan was simple. The new apartment in Silver Spring, and edge city just over the DC border with Maryland, was contracted for beginning Sunday, August 23. A box of chocolate was offered to the leasing agent should she put a rush on the turnover crew so that we could move in a few days early. Consequently, the moving truck was reserved for Wednesday with plans of driving to DCia on Thursday and moving in on Friday or Saturday before the start of the semester on Monday.
Wednesday was hard work. Fortunately my wife, many friends and myself had done a good deal of preparatory labor. Most of what was slated to be loaded into the sixteen foot box truck was in boxes in the garage. I picked up the truck about 10am and commenced loading early in the day. By noon, a couple of friends had come by to help. By afternoon, the project had moved into clean the house mode. By evening, more friends had arrived and the project had moved into the cure serious defects mode. The days prior to Wednesday involved renting a floor sander, treating the wood floors in the main areas in both units of our duplex with polyurethane and ripping out the carpet in the remainder of the rooms. The moving party danced around contractors busy with carpet installation and painting. But by midnight, the truck was packed, the last minute cleaning and construction jobs were done thanks to all the good friends who showed up to help and I fell onto a mattress on the floor, exhausted. Night turned into day and the grind started all over.
Thursday morning was relative easy, just a few stray things to be taken care of and we were off in a caravan: Miss E driving our VW Eurovan with my wife and children inside and myself driving the sixteen foot box truck with all of our worldly possessions. The drive was mostly uneventful until we stopped in Hagerstown, Maryland for dinner and an impromptu stay in a hotel. Dinner was very nice. Driving through old town Hagerstown, we found a nice little mom and pop Salvadorian place. My eldest daughter complained. ``It's a grocery store, not a restaurant.'' ``Why would we want to eat there, they're probably starving to death in Salvadoria.'' But once we were there and she had her fill of the fare of El Salvador, she very much changed her mind.
Friday, the journey continued and we wound up in the leasing office sometime around noon. There we were greeted by bad news, the apartment we had signed a lease for wouldn't be ready early. In fact, it wouldn't be ready by the date we had contracted for. It would be ready by Monday morning at the very earliest. A quick call to my aunt who lives in northern Virginia secured lodging for us for the weekend and we trucked over to Woodbridge to abide the time. Saturday, we went out to the National Mall and explored a bit with our good friends the former Mr. and Mrs. Upstairs. Sunday, we visited a very nice little Carpatho-Russian orthodox parish in Manasses before visiting the National Museum of the US Marines.
Monday, I rose at five to drive my daughter from one end of the DC metro area to the other to drop my daughter off for the first day of school. After returning to my aunt's house to get my wife out of bed, we drove out to the leasing office to be told that the apartment still wasn't ready but that it should be ready on the morrow. I went to the university to attend my first day of classes while Miss E piloted the womenfolk of my family around and then we retired once again to Woodbridge.
Tuesday morning brought a trip of both Eurovan and moving van back up north to Silver Spring. En route, the leasing office called to say that the apartment was finally ready. Me, Miss E and my two daughters unloaded the moving van. We finished sometime around seven in the evening so that I had missed the first day of both of my classes that met on Tuesday. Sometime around eight or so, the former Mr. and Mrs. Upstairs arrived to help move boxes around and we all feasted on an impromptu dinner packed by my aunt and her second husband. Evening came and morning thereafter. Miss E slept once again on our couch. My wife and I and our daughters slept on mattresses on the floor.
Wednesday involved the discovery of the casualties of the trip. The glass in several picture frames had broken. The bed frame that I had built the hard way for my wife and I had broken. Two of the four legs to our entertainment center had broken off. My electric drill had gone missing. But for the most part, everything looked to be in good order. A trip to the hardware store for two sets of brackets and some wood glue fixed the bed frame and the entertainment center. The glass would have to, and still must, wait. Miss E was extraordinarily helpful in unpacking and organizing. The day was rounded out with my late afternoon class on Aristotle's /Politics/ and a late dinner from Chipotle.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday came and went with more unpacking, organizing, a trip to Ikea and the putting together of furniture. Miss E spent much of the time at the abode of the former Mr. and Mrs. Upstairs. The trip to Ikea cost far too much but the furniture was needed and I must admit, Ikea designed furniture is so much more pleasant to put together than Sauder or the other names in the same price range.
Sunday brought a visit to a very nice Orthodox parish just outside of Bethesda followed by a visit to the Maryland Renaissance festival with Miss E and the former Upstairses. Elephant rides, battle axe throwings, jousting watching, and waiting in lines later, we returned to our humble high rise apartment and made a Mexicanish casserole from the leftovers of the meal provided to us by my aunt in uncle earlier in the week. The Upstairses kindly lent me their drill for the repairing of our bed frame.
Monday, Labor day in the US, was filled with labor, the completion of the building of the Ikea furniture and more unpacking. Tuesday was filled with me going to class and Miss E helping my wife unpack some more and go shopping. It was also my eldest daughter's first day of school which she began by getting on the wrong bus and and ending up at the wrong high school necessitating a walk of several miles to get to the right one. Wednesday started with me saying goodbye to Miss E as she got on the train to return to Cincinnati and then delving hard into the grind of grad school. For all of the past week, my schedule had consisted of waking up sixish or six-thirtyish, drinking coffee while seeing my girls off to school, running a mile, doing 5bxish exercises, studying, getting my wife out of bed, studying some more, heading off to class, studying a bit more, fixing dinner and then trying to relax but more often running errands and doing chores before staying up too late watching tv and collapsing into bed.
In health news, my lowest weight for the week was 180 pounds, my highest was 181. This makes about six more pounds to lose until I'm off of the `fat' bit on the chart and ten more until I'm content with my weight. If I could shed fifteen more, I'd be ecstatic, but I'm not certain I have enough fat to lose to remain in good health if I lose that much. Also, I expect the easy weight has been lost as the fluctuations in my weight are smaller and I've been at about 180 for almost two weeks. (Although not munching down on cookies and ice cream after everyone goes to be might help more than a bit.) Last Friday, I was excited to have just barely done a ten minute mile, which I think was a personal best. This morning, I clocked in ten seconds over an eight minute mile. If I can get down to seven, or even six, I'll start adding distance.
Along the way I've noticed a few things. First, it's far easier to breathe here than in Cincinnati. Despite living on a major traffic artery (state route 410), when I go running in the morning, the air is easier to breathe than anywhere in the Cincinnati area. I suspect that most of the difference is do to the lay of the land, Cincinnati is close to the bottom of the Ohio river valley and the pollution from the city just sort of settles in and hangs there while the DC area is close enough to the ocean to have the winds blow the crap away. But that's just a guess.
Another surprise is how much friendlier people in general are than in Ohio. There may be quite a bit of incompetence (e.g. the leasing office at our new apartment) but there are smiles and what appears to be a genuine attempt to be helpful. Not that tempers don't flare and by the end of the day the people riding home on the metro aren't tired and grumpy. And, human nature being what it is, there are still plenty of asshats around. But it certainly isn't Cincinnati. But then, in the ten or so years I lived in Cincinnati, I don't think I ever really got used to it. While there are certainly exceptions, people in Cincinnati tend to be uptight and insular. It's a peculiar sort of asshattishness. I'm not certain that it is a coincidence that my closest friends in Cincinnati were all from somewhere else like myself. That said, I have to admit that I did know some solid folks that were born and raised there.
Since we chose where to live in DCia based in part on the quality of the public schools, it isn't really a surprise that the schools are head over heels better than the ones we came from in Ohio. Yet I cannot but be astonished that the schools DKMFA.
Cable service seems just as bad here as in Ohio. Comcast was scheduled to do an install at the beginning of the week. Their wires to the apartment are faulty and they have to fix them. So we're presently without cable and without Internet. The broadcast television is odd compared to the midwest. We've got a metric bzillion PBS stations, a couple of Spanish language stations, CW and the four big networks. Since out television has a digital tuner, all of these stations have 2nd and 3rd channels with sports, weather, etc.
One nice change is that the local grocery store, instead of having 500 different brands of crushed tomatoes only has 100 different brands to make room for ethnic staples on the shelves like naan and adobo. On the other hand, the local store's produce section kind of sucks compared to the average produce section in Ohio. Perhaps I'm just spoiled because the Cincinnati chain I usually shopped at (Kroger) made a point out of having quality produce sections in all its stores. I have to learn to be pickier when picking out fruit. Thus far I've been burned by garlic, apples and lettuce that had already gone bad by the time they were purchased in subtle but not readily apparent ways.
The sheer volume of people here is quite a difference. On a lazy Sunday afternoon, I ventured out to a local strip mall. The number of people out and about was insane compared to Ohio where usually the only places filled up on Sunday's are the parks, swimming pools, and (prior to the start of any football games) the grocery store. Here the slowest I've ever seen the grocery store compares the busiest I've seen the grocery outside of pre-event shopping (preparation for labor day, the Superbowl, etc.) in Ohio.
And what's up with every third person I meet being /from/ Ohio and every second person having family in Ohio?
And what's up with every third person I meet being /from/ Ohio and every second person having family in Ohio?
|< Science! | Danger: RUSSIANS IN THE COFFEESHOP! >|