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I'm in Washington D.C. this week for a conference, though not one of those fun ones where "convention" is shortened to "con" and prefixed with "Comi" or "Manimal."

I took the laid-back approach to travel, this go-round. Sometimes before a trip I will agonize for days before my departure, making lists of everything I need to bring, packing three days in advance, and spending the hour before my departure doublechecking to ensure I haven't forgotten anything. Other times I drag out my suitcase the morning of my flight and just leave it on the dinning room table in the hopes that it will, epiphyticly, absorb clothes and toiletries from the atmosphere. Whenever I happen to walk by the luggage carrying a clean pair of socks or whatever, in it goes. Several hours later the taxi arrives, and I close the luggage without a review of its contents and hope for the best. Remarkably, this system tends to work for me more often than not, although I always run the risk of suddenly realizing -- halfway through my flight, at an altitude of 30,000 feet -- that I have not only neglected to pack any pants, but that I'm not even wearing any at the moment.

When I arrived at the Sea-Tac I marvelled, as I always do in the airport, that such an enormous building can eb entirely populated by people who don't want to be there. People waiting for their flight to depart so they can get out of there, people waiting for a loved one to arrive so they can get out of there, people waiting for their shift at The Six-Dollar Cheese Sandwich Emporium to end so they can get out of there, etc. I think airports are the closest earthly approximation of purgatory, a huge holding cell for the unhappy. And why are people always dressed so nice? I don't even bother to comb my hair before travel, but the airport is always packed full of men in suits and women enveloped by make up and Wonderbras. Is everyone flying to some prom that I was not invited to? Or perhaps the airport is just one of the few places in Seattle where you can see large groups of people who are not from Seattle, i.e., people not perpetually dressed like they are an extra in a 90's-era Mudhoney video.

My flight was uneventful. As as was boarding I could see, hovering over the space next to my assigned seat, a black leather cap festooned with shiny steel buttons. I expected it to be atop a stereotypical gay man straight out of the Village People, but when I arrived at my seat I discovered it actually contained an ancient woman, ninety years if she was a day, sitting by the window and clutching a copy of "The Christian Traveller's Journal." We exchanged some pleasantries before the twenty-something girl who got stuck with the middle seat arrived and filled the space between us. At several points during the trip the old woman, in a quavering stage whisper, told the girl that I was delightful young man and she was lucky to be married to me, while I stared at my book and pretended not to hear. The third time this happened the girl stopped correcting the woman and instead said, yes, married life is grand.

After we arrived at Dulles and had taxied to our gate, everyone leapt to their feet and began wrestling bison-sized carry-on items out of the overhead bins. Suddenly the entire vessel lost power and we were plunged into complete darkness. "Better now than ten minutes ago," someone observed. After a minute or so the captain came on the intercom, assured us that the problem would be solved momentarily, and suggested that we "not go anywhere." As they hadn't yet opened the doors to the plane "going anywhere" wasn't really an option in the first place, unless someone was planning to crawl into their luggage for a quite jaunt to Narnia. When the lights came back on I was nearly overcome by an urge to give out the piercing, womanly scream and shout "My pearls! Someone has stolen my pearls!!"

The shuttle from the airport to my hotel was entirely too crowded, though this seemingly worked to my advantage. All the back benches in the shuttle were full when I arrived, so I took the shotgun seat up front. That was pretty sweet, until I later realized that being next to the driver allowed me to watch in horror as he simultaneously exceeded the speed limit, tailgated, and devoted both his thumb and his attention to punching text messages into his cell phone for the duration of the trip. For most of the journey I felt the way was I did during the final 20 minuets of The Blair Witch Project.

Anyway, that's how I wound up in D.C. Technically speaking, I'm actually in a small town called "Church Falls," although, judging from what I saw on the ride out here, I'd estimate that for every church that fell at least four rose to take its place. (Aw shit -- I just looked at the hotel stationary and discovered that I'm actually in "Falls Church." Joke = ruined!)

Anyhow, if my posting is sporatic this week, that's why. Although, to be honest, for my posting to become any more desultory than it has been in recent weeks I think I'd have to post on Leap Days only. So if you don't notice any difference, I'll understand.

Posted on November 14, 2005 to On The Road


Church Falls differs from Church Falls.... how?

Posted by: Joe on November 15, 2005 6:54 PM

I hope you're telling all those D.C. people that you're from a much bigger (and therefore more deserving of the name) Washington, and all those datelines in all the stories about the federal government really need to add "D.C." so I stop thinking that it's about Washington state.

Posted by: Eric on November 15, 2005 7:32 PM

I want to take this absolutely inopportune time to introduce myself as a huge fan of yours. Hi!
I hope you have a chance to take in some free museums, or to meet that 20-something in Adam's Morgan, or to spit on someone directly involved with the 'administration.' :o)

Posted by: yb on November 15, 2005 7:49 PM

Fall Church, huh? East or West?

Posted by: DC Resident on November 15, 2005 8:01 PM

If you have time you should go to a place called the Brickskeller on 23rd(?) and P Streets, kind of near Dupont Circle. They serve beers from around the world and my old high school history teacher brews one of them (Tupper's Hop Pocket Ale).

Posted by: Larisa on November 15, 2005 8:35 PM

30 minuets total? All that dancing must be tiring.

Aww... I got ketchup all over my cummerbund.

Posted by: Mike on November 15, 2005 9:42 PM

Mr. Defective, sir, I live in Washington, DC, and I would be honored to treat you to a fine lunch of beer and rice or something while you're here.

Posted by: Paulo on November 15, 2005 10:36 PM

I've made it a practice to firmly speak to anyone who is driving for me and speaking on a phone or using a phone at the same time. I get dirty looks but I'm paying them to drive me, not to risk my life with their distractions.

Posted by: Gen Kanai on November 16, 2005 1:28 AM

Sprayed my Fresca right out my nose when I got to, "that I'm not even wearing any at the moment." Thanks.

Posted by: Norwood Matt on November 16, 2005 1:46 AM

My father (now retired) used to work for an airline and I flew around a lot when I was a kid. It used to be that you could tell the non-revs (non-revenue) from the paying customers because the non-revs were dressed up. It was an airline rule, because the employee and family were "representing the airline". Since flying non-rev used to mean guaranteed first class, we didn't object, although the food in coach seemed to be better in my opinion. They used to have this nasty chicken cordon-bleu thing in first class that spewed milk whenever you cut it open.

I also never bring a carry-on onto the plane that I can't stow under the seat in front of me. It keeps me from having to wander the aisle in search of overhead bin space before the flight.

Posted by: C. on November 16, 2005 5:19 AM

And how does the new wife feel about the accommodations?


Posted by: jon on November 16, 2005 5:46 AM

Second the Brickskeller recommendation. If you do visit it, I would recommend a good Delawarian beer like Dog Fish Head's Chicory Stout.


Posted by: Christian on November 16, 2005 6:18 AM

Third the Brickskeller rec, and also want to throw in a mention of Tara Thai (several convenient locations, including Falls Church) for terrific cuisine and really fun decor too:


Posted by: Stella on November 16, 2005 7:36 AM

Tara Thai is excellent. Argia's, at 124 N. Washington St., Falls Church, is also supposed to be very good - moderate priced Italian food.

Posted by: Genevieve on November 16, 2005 8:07 AM

Why do they keep playing minuets wherever you go?

Posted by: apostropher on November 16, 2005 8:32 AM

You are in Falls Church? I AM in Falls Church! Working! Or at least pretending to, while instead I read blogs! Like I do! Every day!

Welcome to NoVa.

Posted by: the g. on November 16, 2005 8:56 AM

This past Sunday I flew from SeaTac to Dulles. I live in Falls Church. I'd never been to Seattle. I loooooooooved it, Mudhoney extras and all. The people, the attitudes, the city itself, I got nothing but love. If it weren't for the fact that, over the course of the week, it was drizzling ice cold water at least 70% of the time, I'd have already started packing for my move west.

Panjiir is an Afghan restaurant in Falls Church on the main drag, uh, near a Wachovia and diagonally from a carpet store. It doesn't sound like much, but they've got the best beef kabobs and various appetizer dumpling things in town.

Posted by: Sanya on November 16, 2005 11:16 AM

Falls Church exists only for the purpose of intercepting people who drive to DC from Virginia and get lost. If you don't make it into DC, you'll be in Falls Church. Maybe forever. You can check ou any time you like, but you can never leave!

Posted by: Chai-rista on November 16, 2005 1:13 PM

Thirds on the recommendation of the brickskellar.

And the funniest part of that whole thing was "My pearls! Someone has stolen my pearls!!" It's so hard for me to not yell things like that whenever power resumes. I'm also fond of "Hey, don't touch me there" just as the lights go out.

Posted by: Charlie Gordon on November 16, 2005 1:26 PM

Hillarious post DY, I really liked the description of your second packing method... I'll have to try it sometime, but with pants. Also, like Charlie Gordon, I really liked the "My pearls!" bit.

I wanted to add something though: I think that my all time favorite moment of lights on fun was at a rave I was at almost a decade ago. At 7 in the morning, when it was time for everyone to leave, they flicked the lights on and someone yelled, "Oh my god, you're all ugly!"

Posted by: Blake Richards on November 16, 2005 4:54 PM

They all dress up on the off-chance that there will be a vacancy in first-class, and that they will be asked if they would like to take it.

Steering wheel souffle for supper again.

Posted by: Keith on November 16, 2005 5:44 PM

It's "epiphytically," actually, but I only know that because I had to go look it up on Dictionary.com.

So... you pack like a staghorn fern? Wicked.

Posted by: holley on November 16, 2005 8:22 PM

The 'my pearls' bit... brilliant! How funny it must be to actually BE you!

Have missed your posts lately but I'll still keep coming back. I'm still laughing over the 'Only Jesus Saves' picture from ages ago.

Keep it up!

Posted by: Mags on November 17, 2005 2:24 AM

literally spewed cereal on my monitor when i read the pearls part. ah well, it was due for a cleaning.

Posted by: dana on November 17, 2005 9:30 AM

I had to hold back my mouthful of coffee at that Narnia line. ha haha! Awesome!

Posted by: rob cockerham on November 17, 2005 11:00 AM

Was that a Muppets Take Manhattan reference? Hooray.

Posted by: srah on November 17, 2005 11:57 AM

Actually, that would be "The Great Muppet Caper". (I was compelled to read the comments b/c I too live in Falls Church and often think fondly of my visits to Seattle when I read this blog.)

Posted by: T on November 18, 2005 12:28 PM

Highly recommend the fresh ingredients and great flavors of Pilin Thai restaurant ( just across from the State Theater --once a great movie house now a music venue) in Falls Church. The whole family was there a few days ago and it was terrific.
... oh, and Hole In the Wall Books...
Hope you are able to enjoy your sojourn to our neck of the woods!

Posted by: smac40 on November 18, 2005 6:32 PM

Am I the only one who thinks that Seatac is an atrocious airport? I've gotten lost there without fail every time I've gone. I go there just infrequently enough that I've completely forgotten how to get to where I'd like to go when I go back. The last time was the worst and I ended up walking about two miles total. One of the ladies at the check-in desk tells me she's been working there for a year and still gets lost (now, that seems a bit much to me; she was probably just trying to make me feel better anyway I guess).

Posted by: paul on November 18, 2005 10:35 PM

The worst experience of my life (a heartbreak that happened 15 years ago and still has me unable to commit to a relationship) all went down in Falls Church. If you see someone named Daphne Maloy, could you suicide bomb the entire area? I'm sure she's married and changed her name, so you'd be blowing up the wrong person, but it would still make me feel better.
-Down with Falls Church!
P.S. She often wore this t-shirt that read, "We're not dead, we're just Reston."

Posted by: johnbai on November 21, 2005 9:32 AM

Is the pearls thing a reference to the Richard Scarry book about the thief on the cruise ship?

I can still remember the book-on-tape of that I used to get from the library when I was little. "My pearls! My pearls! They have been STO-len!"

Posted by: Emily on November 23, 2005 9:45 AM

Your paragraph on airports rang sooooo true for me - I've always hated them and always described them as purgatories full of stressed-out people, but your way was so much more eloquent. I don't know you but I came across your blog and I like it now, based on that one paragraph :) Fellow airport haters, unite! We should start a frappuccino-free, messy-hair, no-prom book club at the airport or something. Next time I fly, it's on.

Posted by: ginnie on November 29, 2005 11:20 AM