Monday, July 17, 2006

Washington Random

First, I didn’t like Washington, DC. To be fair, I am a homebody and this was my fourth trip away in 6 weeks. I was homesick before I left, and that’s probably not the best way to visit a city. And it was a work trip. Not a work trip like Baltimore, where I was pretty much on my own once I’d seen a few sessions any given day. Nope, this was waking up to go to sessions or work breakfasts by 7 or 8.30 am, and finishing the day around 10 or 11 pm with co-worker/tobacco control compatriot dinners. At some good restaurants, but man, am I glad to be home with my own stingy hand on the salt, butter and oil. I feel kind of greasy, bloated and awful.

Second. First session, first panic attack. The first session was a joint plenary with attendees from two conferences. Nearly 7000 people. In one room. Then they let us out. Lunch was set up on tables in the hallway, which was already only about 15 feet wide. 7000 people pouring out of one room into a bottleneck hallway, vulturing around disgusting institutional food. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a panic attack. And I almost kept this one under control, until one of the women – a near stranger – with whom I was shuffling along looked around and said “Wow, I’ve had nightmares about this phobia.” That did me in. I started hyperventilating, and cut rudely through the crowd to the nearest exit. I did manage not to burst into tears until I got to the nearly empty stairwell, where I sat shaking and crying and trying to breathe normally. Not one of the 10 or so people who passed me stopped to ask if I was okay. Luckily, I was.

Third. Ugh, fucking hot. The air was crying. Like it just couldn’t hold the water in anymore. Ambient rain. Hotter than Ottawa yesterday and today.

Fourth. The worst café I have ever been to. I will forgive a café for being grungy if it’s got charm, but dirty and charmless? With bad service? And tables all squished together? Awful. Especially on the heels of finding two very nice cafés in Batimore. And there were lots of people at this wretched Washington spot, so I can only imagine there was no place better to go. It was certainly better than the café up the street.

Fifth. $8 USD for a half hour of internet time? You’ve got to be kidding me. Are the keyboards made of gold?

I could go on, but no more complaining. One observation and one slightly amusing story.

Apparently, I read quite easily as dyke in the states. Or in the DC/Baltimore area, at any rate. I do not in Ottawa. I had more random women – on the street, and not in the queer part of town - giving me the recognition nod & smile in my four days in DC than in an average month here. Christ, probably closer to an average season. Maybe I act differently in the states? Maybe there’s some weird crossover between Canadian and femme?

The first things I packed were my running gear and yoga pants. Everything else got rolled in around that stuff, though I never did find a yoga studio, much to my disappointment. Got the suitcase packed, double-checked, locked and ready to go. Took a last look around my room. It was only then that I thought "Oh, condoms. Dams. Lube."* Used to be those were the first things I’d pack. I definitely felt some chagrin that I’d barely remembered to take safer sex stuff at all this trip. Oh, how priorities change.

*And yes, I am still on my celibacy kick, but better to have lube and not need it than need lube and not have it.

And from today.

What's more embarrassing than going to the bathroom at 2:30 and discovering that your skirt is quite see-through? Having put on underwear that clashes with said skirt.


Amanda said...

ooops...i didn't notice that. was fun cafe-ing, we should do it again, when you have time!

Asteroidea Press said...

yes, coffee was fun. for sure we should do that again.

the underwear incident was the next day, and i think i just stayed at work that day, so was only embarassed (so to speak) in front of my co-workers.