Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve

I don't quite remember how old I was when I stayed up all night at a slumber party with girlfriends to celebrate the New Year, but at the time I was pretty sure it was the best New Year's Eve ever.

Other New Year's Eve celebrations sort of blend together in my head until one when I was in college when I went out to dinner in San Francisco with a guy I had a huge crush on, and then met up with a group of his friends for one of the big hotel parties. I was pretty sure that was the best New Year's Eve ever.

After college, Brian and I were living together, and we invited friends over for New Year's Eve. We had a spaghetti dinner at our house, walked along West Cliff, then went down to First Night Santa Cruz to count down to midnight at the clock tower. In the morning, eating breakfast with Brian and our friends, I felt content, pretty sure it was the best New Year's eve ever.

In 2001, Brian and I decided to get married on New Year's Eve. We planned a small wedding at his parents' house, with just family and a few close friends. The ceremony began just after midnight. In the morning when I woke up beside him at a hotel in Marina del Rey, I knew I'd just had the best New Year's Eve ever.

When we told people our wedding plans, many warned us that we would never be able to celebrate our anniversary properly because of the New Year's celebrations. I informed them that our anniversary was actually going to be on January 1, so it wasn't really an issue. But for the most part we have spent New Year's Eve celebrating our anniversary. Neither one of us is a big partier, so we generally just fix a nice dinner at home and drink a bottle of champagne. Sometimes we don't even make it until midnight. Then, sometime in the days just after New Year's Eve, we go out to a fancy restaurant to celebrate again. It's exactly the way I enjoy spending New Year's Eve and my anniversary.

Today is my due date. The baby seems uninclined to make an appearance any time soon. I've done even less to plan out a nice dinner for tonight than usual. (We did go to Rasika last weekend to celebrate in advance, in case the baby did deign to grace us with her presence in a timely manner.) We don't have gifts to exchange--no wood, nor silverware, or anything else--because it didn't even really occur to us. The odds of me staying awake until midnight are slimmer than usual. All we care about is spending all the time we can together while we eagerly wait for our new family member.

I'm pretty sure this is going to be the best New Year's Eve ever. And an even better year lies ahead.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I'm a cranky commuter, but a happy walker

This morning I walked to the Luna Grill and Diner to meet a friend for brunch. My walk took me along a route frequented by many cyclists, and when I was halfway there, I heard a bicycle bell ring loudly, close behind me. I was already pretty far to the right, but I moved over a bit more. The ringing was so insistent that I started to wonder if it was someone I knew. I looked over my shoulder and saw two men in windbreakers and bike helmets, neither of whom I'd ever seen before.

"On your left," the first man called out, ringing his bell again. He glanced back as he passed me and then braked quickly. "Why, you're pregnant with expectation!" he exclaimed, as his companion coasted slowly past both of us.

"Yes, I am," I grinned back, as I approached him.

"You know what's the busiest day of the year in the maternity ward?" he asked. I stopped and asked him which day that would be. "Labor Day!"

He laughed at his own joke, informed me that he worked for Planned Parenthood, and pedaled away.

Cranky commuter: Hormonal edition

I could have walked to the Metro from my office last night. I probably should have. But even though that's under two miles, I decided to save my energy (I don't have much left these days), so that I could fix enchiladas for dinner when I got home and then could go walking with Brian.

I should have started walking when I waited for the bus for 20 minutes and none came. But by then I'd waited 20 minutes, so one had to be coming soon. Right? Well, only if you count 25 minutes after that as soon.

I should have waited for the next bus when I saw how crowded the first one is. They usually come in packs when they're that far apart, so there was probably another not too far behind. But I couldn't see one coming, so I boarded the crowded one. I wasn't too offended when no one offered me a seat. I wish they would, especially on the bus where I feel less stable than on the train, but it's not the end of the world to have to stand. I'm just confused because people were offering me a seat when I was 5 months pregnant and I thought one might just think I had a bit of belly pudge. Now I'm quickly approaching my due date, and it's rare that I'm offered a seat. A seat on the bus did finally open up near me part way down Wisconsin Avenue and I grabbed it.

I started wishing I had walked (I would have been there so much faster!) as traffic crept along and the bus remained jammed full. A man who I would judge to be about in his 40s ended up standing near me as the bus made its way down M Street. He was casually dressed and carrying a heavy leather bag, sort of a cross between a brief case and a duffel bag, if that makes any sense, slung over his shoulder. I moved my head out of his way as he came by so it wouldn't hit me, just as I had avoided a college student's backpack earlier in the ride. But this man stopped right by me, and I had to keep my head out of the way. Not that that helped. As the man swayed with the turns of the bus, his bag kept hitting me in the shoulder. I tried to move out of the way, but unless I wanted to sit on the lap of the man beside me, I didn't have many options.

"Excuse me!" I finally exclaimed when the man turned for some reason and his bag hit me sharply in the ear. "Could you please be careful with your bag?"

"It's a crowded bus, lady. What do you want me to do?"

"I don't know. When I'm on a crowded bus with a big bag I usually hold it it's handle so it's down towards the floor, not whacking other passengers in the head."

"You wouldn't be having the problem if you would be respectful and give up your seat to someone older than you," he told me.

I thought about ignoring him, but I was cranky and annoyed. Plus, traffic was moving slowly enough with the lights approaching Washington Circle that I knew I could make it to the Metro faster than the bus by walking. So I stood up.

The man with the bag promptly sat down as a woman across the aisle protested that I was pregnant and shouldn't give up my seat.

"Ain't my problem," the man said. "Ain't my fault." The woman protested again and began to offer me her seat, but I shook my head and told her I was getting off soon, as the man muttered something about "Bitches always gettin' pregnant, wantin' special attention for it."

I got off the bus and walked toward the Metro feeling angry and overwhelmed, and wondering how much of it was just hormones. It was 7 pm and I had left work at 5:45, which was ridiculous, and I was exhausted. Nine minutes until the next train, I saw, once I was down on the platform. I sat down on a empty bench to wait, thinking that at least it was late enough that the train wouldn't be too crowded.

There were a few open seats on the car that I boarded. I was at the front of the car, and turned toward the very front of it, where I saw two open seats. A woman ahead of me took one. When I got to the other, I saw that the man sitting next to it had his bag there.

"Excuse me," I said, quietly, the way you do when you need someone to move their bag a little so you can sit down.

He just looked at me. "There are open seats over there," he said after a moment, nodding toward the center of the car. He was right, and as the train pulled out of the station, I turned and went to take one of them.


I don't know why people are suddenly so rude. Perhaps it's the stress of the holiday season? I am used to a certain amount of indifference among commuters here, but yesterday seemed exceptional. It was a relief to get on my last bus home, with the driver that a classmate and I nicknamed "Speedy" four years ago, because we knew if we didn't make it onto his bus at Braddock Road by 8:40 PM, we weren't going to make that bus at all because he is always so prompt and will drive faster than seems smart in order to stay on schedule. The bus driver smiled when he greeted me. When I sat down, a neighbor whose name I don't know asked me how I was feeling these days. Another man got on the bus, handing over his transfer and then putting two dollars in the fare box. When Speedy stopped him to ask him what he was doing, the man explained that in the past couple of weeks drivers had let him ride a few times when he didn't have the 35 cents with him to pay the transfer fare, so he was just trying to make up for that. It only took a few little things to improve my mood and make me start thinking that the Metrobus and Metro parts of my commute had been almost funny.
I'm not feeling creative enough to write much these days, so I just stole this from Mary.

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate, especially if it has peppermint or cinnamon in it. And it should definitely have whipped cream on top.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? He wraps them unless they are too big.

3. Colored lights or white lights on tree/house? Colored on the tree. But they can't blink or be those big bubble lights.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No. I'm certain the cat would find some way to get a hold of it and poison herself.

5. When do you put up your decorations? First or second weekend in December.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Probably mashed sweet potatoes...which are suspiciously like dessert.

7. Favorite childhood holiday memory. Being up early with my brother and sister to check out the presents when it was still to early to get our parents out of bed.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I was probably around 8, and I think I figured it out at Easter. The Easter Bunny seemed less realistic than Santa.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? We did the lights first starting at the bottom, then the ornaments.

11. Snow: love it or dread it? Love it. If it's going to be that cold, it damn well better be snowing.

12. Can you ice skate? Sort of. I don't fall over, but I don't think I look particularly graceful doing it.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Not one in particular.

14. What's the most important thing to you about the holidays? Getting to see family and friends.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Anything with apples.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Baking goodies while listening to Christmas music. I'd also like to start a tradition of doing a Christmas walk like last year . I'll have to work on Brian to go with me next weekend.

17. What tops your tree? Right now, a stuffed monkey named Weed.

18. Which do you prefer: giving or receiving gifts? Giving. I love picking out presents for people. Not that I have any complaints about receiving gifts.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song? I love "Silent Night." I think that's because just hearing it makes me think of the end of the Christmas Eve service with everyone singing by candlelight. Although I've also been enjoying the tunes on the Brian Setzer Orchestra's Christmas albums this year, especially their version of The Nutcracker.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

If I saw me coming down the street, I'd probably be tempted to make a comment, too

According to all my pregnancy books and the websites I read, I should be tired by now of having people make comments about my body. I've actually been pretty impressed with how well these authors can describe exactly how I'm feeling throughout the pregnancy, but on this one they're wrong. I have yet to received a comment that has bothered me. Well, there was the time, back when I was five months pregnant, when a woman at work asked me if I was sure I was only having one baby, given how much I was showing for that point in the pregnancy. That had me more worried than offended, though, and my ultrasound a week later cleared up the concern.

Maybe it's because most of the comments haven't seemed offensive at all. Some even make me smile:

"Lookin' good," my bus driver on my evening commute greeted me one day.

"Not much longer now, sister," said the Post Express man outside the Foggy Bottom metro as he handed me a paper.

"Looks like you're getting close," said my bus driver on my morning commute said, after lowering the bus to make it easier for me to get on.

"If I'm facing my door, I can tell it's you coming, because I see your belly first," a coworker teased me.

And my favorite, from a hobo on M Street last Friday night: "Jingle belly, jingle belly, baby's on the way!" (I actually laughed at that one, and then I gave him the change I had in my coat pocket.)

35 weeks

Monday, December 04, 2006

Now I can worry about people googling to find out how to get tickets and emailing me for information

Since I started my current job a couple of years ago, I have on occasion received phone calls from people who want to buy Georgetown basketball tickets. When I get these phone calls, I explain that they've called the wrong number and give them the correct one. That number doesn't resemble my extension in the slightest, nor do any of the other athletic department numbers, so I began asking people where they got my number, thinking that perhaps the university had run an advertisement with the wrong number in it. Every single person I've asked has told me they got my number from 411. The university seems to think there is nothing they can do to help me with the problem.

It's been an ongoing issue, but one that hasn't bothered me particularly. Until a couple of weeks ago when I came in on a Monday morning to 14 messages on my voice mail requesting basketball tickets. I returned calls from people who had left messages that I could understand to give them the correct number.

I am amazed at how rude people are. I don't have to return calls when someone dials the wrong number, but I do it to be helpful (and because I'm afraid they'll call again). I explain who I am and why I'm calling and give them the correct number. Then they hang up on me. Either that or they just don't get it and can't figure out why I'm calling them back if I can't sell them basketball tickets.

The calls continue to come, and the callers always ask me "Is this Georgetown?" When I confirm that they've reached someone at Georgetown, they ask about basketball tickets. I give them the correct number, and then many of them hang up on me immediately without thanks. If I do catch them in time to ask where they got my number in the first place, they sound impatient as they tell me that they got it from Information. I'm not sure if they're bothered that Information gave them the wrong number, if they're annoyed that they have to take the time to answer my question, or if they think I ought to know where they got my number.

Others just seem amazingly dense. If they get my voice mail, which now explains that if they are trying to get basketball tickets they need to dial this other number, they leave a message anyhow. And if they reach me (or if I'm a sucker and call them back), they don't understand why I can't sell them basketball tickets. After all, I am at Georgetown, right? There must be something too complicated about dialing this other number I am trying to give them and something too complex about the idea that there are academic offices at a university that have absolutely nothing to do with the athletic teams. "I'm sorry, but I can't help you with getting tickets. You need to call this other number," I explain.

"But aren't you at Georgetown?"

"Yes, but I'm at a research institute. I have nothing to do with the athletic department."

"Well, who do I need to talk to?" I give them the number again.

I just had a new experience, which was more on the rude side of things than the dense side. I gave the correct number to someone who called. She hung up on me, and I guess called the correct number. I'm thinking she was told she had to mail something in, because she called me back a few minutes later. "Is this Georgetown?" she asked again. I confirmed that it was and started to explain again, but she interrupted me: "What's your zip code?" I gave it to her and she hung up on me again.

It would be wrong of me to try to sell tickets to the next caller, wouldn't it? I imagine taking their credit card info, telling them where their seats are, and giving them an imaginary confirmation number to take to the will-call office. I would only do it to the people who keep insisting that I help them after I give them the right number. I wish I could think of a way to do it to the people who hang up without saying thank you.