Friday, March 25, 2016

Please Step Back and Allow the Doors to Close (A Year in the City)

Well this one was interesting to say the least!

I'd like to preface this story by saying I TRIED to be early to work all week and fate was not having it...

Wednesday  morning and I was riding high! I got my coffee on point, got the puppy situated and got ready in record time. Out the door to the Reston metro! It was like the seas parted and all traffic on 28 just disappeared. I ended up getting to the station 30 minutes early and got a prime parking spot. Little miracles, right?

So I get downtown to Metro Center and switch to the Red Line for the last two stops of my commute. I could practically smell the Panera bagels from here! We pile into the car and set off into the tunnel. Not too long in, the train came to a screeching halt, knocking us about.

For quite a while no one popped onto the loudspeaker. Finally, the female train operator in a calm but shaky tone said, "one of the doors on the train is not fully closed. If this is a door by you please help  me close it so the train can move forward." Naturally, we all started looking around. I was a the far end of the second to last car. Behind me at the other end I can see a door partially open on the left side. And everyone was just staring at it like it was a roach on the wall. Silent horror. Yet, no one around it attempted to close it. Once again the operator came on asking for help closing the door. She didn't know which one it was. "This train cannot and will not move until all the doors are closed!"

Nothing happened. I debate pushing through the packed car to the door, but chicken out. I'd be the ONE person who tries to help and falls out onto the third rail, turning themselves into a human piece of bacon.

So after a few minutes of silence, I catch sight of the train operator. The poor woman was having to walk through the pile of people in each car, checking every. single. door on her way through. She finally gets into our car and heads for the failed door. It only took a minute or two for the small, robust woman to yank the door closed. I could hear passengers snicker about how ridiculous this was. Which of course made me want to haul back and slap them. It wasn't her fault that the cars are as old as the Concord's first flight (40 years, for those wondering). I now regret not trying to get to the door.

She sighed and moved back through each car. After a few more minutes we started moving again. The whole event took about 30 minutes. We crawl our way to Farragut North and as expected, the train was placed out of service and we all had to disembark.

Begrudgingly, we filed out and stood on the already crowded platform, waiting for the disabled train to limp away and the next one (full of people) to arrive, so we could fight for a spot.

It's at this point that I notice a younger guy who was in the car next to me sort of staring at me.
Internally: Oh great, he's fat gawking. Oh shit, are my boobs falling out? Nope. Do I have food on my face? I haven't eaten yet today. Oooh, bagels. WHY IS HE STARING?!
Externally: "What a mess."  I look away in hopes that he saw he was being a little creepy. Nope. Didn't work.

"Sooo... you going far?" he asked with a smile.
"Nope. Just to the next station. Dupont."
"Oh, well you look important. Do you work for a law firm?"
"HA! Nope. Research organization," I snorted and looked back into the disabled car.

It's at this point that I see a guy shout "This is bullshit!" and run back into the disabled train car. Like he was actually going to go somewhere. I rolled my eyes. About two seconds later, Metro PD came and pulled the guy out. It's about this time, some older lady standing near them on the platform slumps down to the ground. She probably panicked with the stuff that happened in Brussels, and now some douchebag is making a scene while we are all trapped.

A few minutes later, a group of EMTs shows up, even though she is back on her feet and reassuring all that she was fine. During this time, Rico Suave' is still chatting me up. It's now that it dawns on me... "Holy shit, he's hitting on me. NOW!?" 

"I'm Javier by the way." He reaches for a handshake.

"Hi. Meg." I wave awkwardly and politely turn to the guy on my other side and say, "Does the metro board have any ETAs on it?" Internally: SAVE ME DUDE! COME ON!

(This guy is cracking up over Javier's advances, by the way). "Not right now." He looks back down at his phone.

Failure. I sigh and turn back to the broken car, considering running in myself and getting escorted away by Metro PD. At least that's a simple way out of this.

He whips out his business card and in an attempted charismatic gesture, holds it up to me. With a grin, "Here's my card. You are very interesting to talk to. I'd love to keep in touch. Do you  have a card?"

Again, snorting, "Nope. I have 5,000 at work but never any on me." I look away again.

"How about your  number then?"

I crack up laughing. "HA! You are NOT getting my number dude. I don't know you like that." (a bold response coming from me).

It's at this point he whips out his phone and thrusts it into my hands. Add me on Facebook. You can search yourself." (Thanks homie, I know how social media works). "Oh, that's flattering but I have a boyfriend soo..."

"Oh, no worries, I just want to be your friend!"

Internal eye roll*

I see that he's pulled up all the "Megs" on FB and I point to some random girl (sorry random Meg) and say, "There I am! Welp I'm going to walk, this is taking forever. Good luck getting to work!"

As I slink away he calls out "Do you want company?"

"Naw bud, I'm good."

I waddle my fat ass upstairs and outside ASAP.

So much for Panera. I frown. I wander into a CVS and get some food. When I leave to walk to work (now 45 minutes late), I see a wall of tourists just stopped in place on the sidewalk, staring at the road with phones and cameras in hand.

Internally: Great, someone blew up the city. This is how we died. 

I peer over the crowd and spot the Joe Biden parade. By this I mean it's a police motorcade of at least 12 cars/cycles, 4 black sedans, 3 black SUVs and a few straggling police cars. They were hauling ass back to the White House from Dupont. VP Joe probably wanted a donut from Krispy Kreme and took out the whole crew. Must be a fascinating sight for those not used to it. But I was late and needed people to move the FUCK OVER.

Happy Meg disappeared somewhere between Metro Center and Farragut, in the depths of DC Hell.

I finally sneak through the crowd of cherry blossom tourists and get to work. So now I can get the day started...


Thursday, January 7, 2016

2015: The Year of Change

As one who is wildly averse to change, I found 2015 to be refreshing and positive overall... and it was chock full of change!

So as I sit here, I wanted to take a moment to review what's happened and what is ahead.

The winter of 2015 saw a very stressed Meg. It was the final stretch of my dissertation before defending on April 2nd. At the same time I started house hunting and  job hunting. There were many sleepless nights of writing, looking on Zillow and Higher Ed and crying over the uncertainty. I did over 30 interviews and filled out over 100 applications.

But it paid off. I successfully defended before the deadline for Spring.
The girls in the office at GMU had a surprise celebration for me after the defense. I didn't want ANYONE to come to the defense itself, for fear of looking foolish. But I welcomed the well wishes (and chocolate cake) after. :) And then there was the job hunting still looming over me...

May 16th, I officially became Dr. Megan Tucker. BOOM! I got hooded by my advisor, Dr. Todd Rose, in front of my Dad, Mom, Rob and Val, and my best friend, Kristen. I cried. It was a whole thing. But I made it to my goal, which was to have my PhD before my 30th birthday. There was no other motivation behind that date, then to push me to not wait or take too long to finish. It worked.

June 1st, I started my new job at the National Communication Association in Washington, D.C. I am the project manager for the Learning Outcomes in Communication research until September, 2016. It's a bummer that it's only a temporary position, but my God, what an opportunity!!! Plus I get to work with LaKesha. We share an office, so the hilarity ensues. ;) I couldn't say no to it. I still teach part-time at GMU and NVCC, because Lord knows I can't go a semester without teaching! That would be ridiculous.

And I got to see my two favorite bands on tour again: Breaking Benjamin and Shinedown. And it was magical :)

August 2nd, Joe moved!! It happened my friends. It took 5 years, but the stars finally aligned and Joe moved in with us. Being crammed in the apartment with three grown people was a rough way to start it all off, but he took it well and the growing pains subsided pretty quickly. Plus we were about to upgrade...

August 24th, I turned 30. Yup. It happened. I'm old now. All my joints ache all the time. But, it was a wonderful day and SO many friends came to celebrate!!!


August 28th, I closed on a house. I KNOW, RIGHT!? I bought a house! Well... dad helped me a LOT. In fact, most of the down payment was early inheritance from him, so without him I'd still be in an apartment. But nonetheless, I am now a homeowner of a 2,000sq/ft townhouse in Centreville. It's not perfect, but it is wonderful, and a good project for me as a first time homeowner. I am quickly learning all of the intricacies of owning over renting, and what responsibilities come with it. But every evening after work, when I pull into my parking spot, I am still shocked that it's mine. I want to keep it looking nice, so I've also started throwing things away (a big deal for a pack rat), and trying to "adultify" my furnishings. It's a slow process, but I'm getting there.

September 1st, was my last day as an advisor at GMU. This was one of the bleak spots of the year. I truly miss advising. Hell, I miss spending all day at Mason with the girls. -_- Don't get me wrong, I love my new job and the pay that comes with it, but it definitely was a big change. If I could be an advisor again I would jump at the chance. It was so fulfilling! I miss you Cathy, Maria, Lisa, Britt and work studies!!!!

November was a big travel month because of the convention for NCA in Vegas. So I got to finally spend some time there and see Sin City from more than just an airplane window. But better than that was that LaKesha, Kris and I rented a car and drove to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam! Two bucket list items checked off! And it was breathtaking... and breathtakingly cold. But super worth it. Also, I got to host my first Thanksgiving at my house a week later! Mom flew up from Florida, and Care, Jamey and Vicki drove down from Pennsylvania. :)

December 2015, I not only saw Kristen get hooded for her PhD, but I also got to spend a lot of time with family. I was lucky enough to see Mom, Dad, Joe and Care over the holiday, where usually I'd have to choose who to see and who to apologize to.

To cap off the year I got to spend New Year's Eve with Joe, Mom, Cathy and John. We  played games until the ball dropped and set off firecrackers after midnight. And I FINALLY got a New Year's kiss. <3 nbsp="" p="">

So what's next? I want to spend this year improving myself. Specifically my financial  health and my physical health. I need to save more and pay off debts. I want to be strict with my budget and keep improving the house. Also with any resolution, I want to lose some of this weight and start living healthier. I've always had the PhD as a crutch for not taking care of myself, and now there is no excuse. I need to get back to being energetic and proud of the way I look. Not perfect, but enough that I don't scoff at myself in the mirror every day. And of course, since my contract at NCA ends in September, I'm already back on the job market. So the hunt is on again... but this time I feel more confident.

Cheers to 2016 my loves. And thank you for all the help along the way!


Thursday, October 15, 2015

The "Pildo" Incident (A Year in the City)

Like a hotdog down a hallway? 

Fair warning... this post gets a bit inappropriate. Not by anything I've done, but by what I've witnessed. So if you do not want to read something hilarious and immature, turn away now.


Oh you're still here? Good!

So this happened over the summer, but my writing habits are still slack, so I'm just getting to this now.

LaKesha and I wandered back to the metro after a particularly exhausting day of work in DC. We chatted about my upcoming birthday (it was August) and the looming Fall term. I began talking to her about my teaching schedule when the following exchange occurred...

Me: "I don't know if it'll work, but I don't want to lose this class"

I look up the car a few rows and see a group of three young African American guys (probably late teens or early 20s MAX) laughing loudly and pulling some object out of what looked like a shoe box.

Ignoring it, I went on...

"301 is definitely my favorite class to teach so, OH MY GOD!"

LaKesha raised her eyebrows. "Yes?"

I squinted at the object in one of the boys hands. No. It can't be. There's no way.

"L, do you see that? What that kid  is holding and waving in the air? Hoooollly shit."

"What ki... oh NO!" she snorted.

It was... A. Male. Dildo.

So let's stop right here for an education in the male dildo. For those of you unaware, a male dildo is often called a "fleshlight" due to its shape, or a "pildo" (I'll let you deduce that one on your own). These items look a bit like a male phallus, but the big difference is on the end is the model of female genitalia. And if you insert... something into it, it is "supposed" to feel ... similar. Aaannnnnnyyyyway.

These three guys were waving this fleshlight around the metro car. One of them stuck his finger in the end and twirled it around in the air like a helicopter. Another kissed it. Yup. There. The other one just kept grabbing it and staring at the end as though he'd never seen the likeness of a vagina before (I'm guessing he hadn't).

Then it got better. I noticed that in the seat behind the guys, was an elderly lady with a confused look on her face. The 80-something year old kept staring at the pile of beat meat. trying to figure out why they kept swinging it around and laughing. Then, L and I saw it dawn on her. The look of horror and confusion sweeping over her face was both sad and hilarious. The guys didn't care. They were oblivious to the rest of the car. Which made me crack up. Which made L crack up. Which made the guys briefly look up at  us and then continue poking the piece of rubbery latex lady-meat.

There we were. 3pm. On the metro. Staring at these boys holding a big, flesh-toned female-styled sex toy and waiting for the elderly passenger to have a heart attack and pass out.

Must be Thursday.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

What's your Pleasure? (A Year in the City)

Food Trucks as far as the eye can see. Or at least for a block.

During my morning commute on the metro, I'll pass a food truck heading for the DC line. I often wonder if they will end up at Farragut  Square which is right by my usual metro stop.

Even as early as 9:40a.m. they start to file in. The food trucks. All of us in a zombie-like trance riding the escalators up to the square can smell them before they come into view. A strange mixture of aromas assault the senses as we cross over I Street and begin down the walk of multicultural food-stuffs. Every day they are slightly different, but the schedule is the same.

"If only you were open. I would happily give you my money..."

But alas, before 10:00a.m., none of the windows are open. Vendors are hanging signs and unpacking freezers of meat and condiments. They await the masses.

Yet, something amazing always happens. They are their own little community within a community. I've seen on multiple occasions, a food truck owner get out of their truck and help guide another truck to parallel park in a spot. They will also help other trucks unpack and set up. Being that I still stereotype DC sometimes... I would have thought that they would feel the competition to sell their wares and not try to help one another. But I am happily mistaken!

On rare occasion I will leave work early enough to witness the feeding frenzy that becomes Farragut Square during lunch. Seriously, have you seen a bunch of ducks being fed bread at a park pond? It's sort of like that. But the ducks have high heels and briefcases, and the bread is more like a taco-dumpling-empanada-fish sandwich type thing.

The temptation to stay and get in line is great. But then someone undoubtedly will jolt me back to reality with a push or stepping right in my path. Yup. I want to go home. Maybe next time.

But this DC cultural phenomenon is a fleeting thing. If I leave after 3:00p.m. there is no longer a sign of life at the Square aside from those walking to the metro, and the regulars in the park. The food trucks and their delirious aromas of international cuisine have long since gone. And I'm left to trudge back towards Virginia with an empty stomach.

Someday I will stop. Someday the timing will be right and I'll take part in the frenzy. But perhaps it is not today.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Situation Metro... All F***ed Up (A Year in the City)

Poor, poor WMTA. The Metro has been having quite a rough couple of  years. Crashes, power outages, fires, smoke inhalation death, poor management, broken 40 year old trains, snakes (WTF) and the ever present elevator outages.

And then there's the random derailments that can happen. Yup. Derailments.

So here's the gist of what happened last Wednesday:
A non-passenger train derailed at the Smithsonian Metro station Thursday caused major disruptions and delays for riders.
At 5:20 a.m., three cars of the 6-car train derailed at a switch point inside the station's tunnel. The train was being readied for service, so no passengers were on-board at the time of the derailment. There were no injuries, however, some damage was reported along the track.
Crowds of passengers spilled out onto the streets as a result as they had to navigate a patchwork of shuttle buses to get to their destination.
The derailment caused the Smithsonian and Federal Triangle stations to close and rail service on the Blue and Orange lines was suspended between the Federal Center SW and McPherson Square stations.
By late afternoon, two of the derailed railcars were re-railed and allowed Metro to restore partial service on the Blue and Orange lines.
At 8 p.m., the Federal Triangle and Smithsonian stations reopened for service. Single tracking was occurring on the Blue and Orange lines. (Courtesy of
So that was a little treat for everyone. I ended up being lucky. I got on my normal Silver line train with the expectation of changing trains at East Falls Church (to the Orange line) as they were requiring. 
We filed out silently to an already large crowd on the platform, waiting for the next Orange line train to help shuttle our super late asses to the city. 
Then something amazing happened. A Metro worker yelled out, Get back on folks. This is the ONLY Silver line train with approval to continue to McPherson Square (in the city). I glanced up at the Silver line sign on the train which flickered once and then listed "Special." Hell yeah we were! We got the golden (or in this case, silver) ticket to the city. We shuffled back onto the train car and turned it into a clown car... DC edition. There were people crowding into the cars, causing the train to tip slightly to the left from the excess of weight. We were low-riding it into the city. It still took well over two hours to get to work when it was all said and done, but the confusion was brought to a minimum. 
I exhaled when the train trudged up to Farragut. I made it with one stop to go before they shut down access for the derailment. All the same, the city was scurrying like a chicken with its head cut off. People were piling into buses that were stacked outside of the metro. Other commuters like myself, filled the streets and sidewalks in hopes of hailing a cab or walking to their final destinations. 
Leaving work was no better. We were still single-tracked out of the city, so LaKesha and I smushed in with others attempting to head back to Virginia and waited 20 minutes to switch back to the Silver Line. It took almost 3 hours to get home and I had to change my final exam in Woodbridge to virtual... there would have been no way for me to make it in time. 
So instead of everything going back to normal by Thursday... there was a power outage. Single tracking again. Yay for the Silver-liners! Of course there are growing pains and I think WMTA knows it. They're being kind enough to refund our fares for that day. And thankfully the cars are now out of the tunnels and things are back to "normal." Even more thankfully, the metro conductor of that train is unharmed, and it was a non-passenger train, so no one else was on board to be injured. But it's just one more event in a series of unfortunate incidents for DC Metro as of late.

Also, why does it take that long to fix an elevator? 

Also, also, why don't we have THESE cars (the 8000 series) on the NEW Silver Line? What makes Blue and Orange so dang special that we can't have nice things? 


Friday, July 31, 2015

Welcome to D.C. and an Ode to the Bodega

"Welcome to D.C..." (in the tune of Taylor Swift)

So I'm late on my catalog of my year in the city. I've already worked at my new job for a month and SO much has happened. But I wanted to do snippets of stories instead of "this is what I did today" type things. So bare with me. Here is the first one

Ode to the Bodega 

LaKesha is my guide in this new place. When we metro in together I follow her lead like a good baby duck. She has a year on me with the commute so I imagined that she had an idea of where to go and what to do.

Day two of the new job, we were slowly meandering down Connecticut Ave towards work. "You hungry?"

"Holy God, yes. I didn't have coffee or anything yet. Getting up at 6:45a.m. is disagreeing with me" I said. So we walked into this hole in the wall bodega/cafe called The Daily Market. LaKesha would get a sandwich there pretty regularly.

"Watch, the woman that makes our sandwiches. She HATES me. Or women. Or both." she said.

And sure enough, this small 40-something Asian woman who made the deli sandwiches had an air of indifference towards L and I, but was sweet as molasses pie to all the male customers. It became a fascination over the rest of the month. So my usual was either a bacon, egg and cheese toasted on sourdough, or a good ole BLT. Pair that with an iced coffee, a container of mangoes and an Inkos Honeydew tea, and I was set for the day.

I digress.

Day after day was the same. Walk in around 9:45a.m. and greet the friendly Asian gentleman who I am guessing was the owner.

 "Good morning you!" he'd shout over the smoothie machine he was operating. I'd smile and wave, then make a beeline to the back. No time to chat my friend. Bacon is calling to me. "Hi. What you want?" grumpy-lady would ask.  Some days I'd buy for me and some I'd get L's usual for her (Turkey, Egg, Cheese and Tomato on Sourdough in case you are curious). When I'd only buy myself a sandwich she would look up from her order pad and say "No friend today? Okay, I make for you." This became our dance each day.

Then something changed in grumpy-sandwich-lady. I had made it a goal that 1) I'd make her smile, and 2) I'd make her have a real conversation with me.

After grabbing my sandwich for the day I looked up at her and said, "Thank you. You know these are the one thing I look forward to each morning before work." The corner of her mouth crept upward and her eyes softened.

Boom. There it was. A smile.

The next day she was a bit more pleasant, and by Thursday of that week we finally had a conversation. Surprisingly we ended up chatting about L being overseas, and how superstitious some people in Thailand are. And then we talked about my job and my love of bacon. It's a thing. Things were looking up for grumpy-gal and I!

Then Friday came. I got to the bodega a little late and had to wait in line behind a few regulars. I casually overheard part of their conversation...

"I can't believe it's closing. Where will I get my sammies now?" a sandy-haired businessman complained.

"You find somewhere. D.C. is full of food." she joked "Try food truck."

I internally started screaming... No. NO! I don't like change. What was this talk of closing?! They're closing the market!? I just got here!

When it was my turn, I questioned her. "So, when are you all closing for good?"

Without looking up from assembling my sandwich, she laughed "5:00p.m. today. That's it. We're done."

I had no warning! No time to mourn the loss. It was happening today. This would be my last sandwich. "Wow. I'm going to need more bacon to deal with this."

She smiled and handed me the sandwich. "You tell your friend hello for me. And have a good weekend to you."

"Take care of yourself." I murmured and wandered down the aisle to pay. Smoothie-man was standing at the ready with a sad smile. "You enjoy your job in the city. We appreciate your business. Enjoy the sunshine."

I walked out in a sad daze and trudged to work. How very dramatic right? It's a sandwich shop. The city is full of them. I get it. But the idea was that it had become part of the routine. There's even an angry little homeless man who never says thank you when you give him something who would park right outside the market.

He'd beg outside, or go in when someone bought him a sandwich (I did twice). The sandwich-woman would scold him when he'd get cranky about extra meat on his meal. "You shush. Pushy man. You get what I make and you say thank you to the lady." That shut him up and made me crack up laughing. Girl wasn't havin any of his shit. I, on the other hand, am a pushover. Now that the market was closing, the man was gone. Off to find another eatery to troll. I say troll because he wouldn't quietly sit with a cup or a sign. He wouldn't stand to the side or find a place in the shade to set up shop. He'd walk straight up to you and request a quarter, a dollar, a drink, and sandwich and/or a bowl of spaghetti (I'm not joking). I finally broke down and bought him the spaghetti once. He actually said thank you. But now that's over.

So now my walk is lonelier and hungrier. The windows have been covered and the padlock is set on the door. Rest in peace Daily Market. I hardly knew thee.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

It's Been A While...

Wow. I haven't posted since last year!!! What am I doing with my life!? I guess that's where I'll start... what I'm doing with my life.

I am now officially Dr. Megan Tucker. BOOM! It happened. :)
I got back from Italy last summer and dove headlong into my dissertation and work. And it's been quite a journey! However, I must say that I am a little proud of myself for sticking with it and pushing for my goal of finishing the paper in a year and by having a  PhD before I turn 30. Well it's July 16th... one month and one week until my 30th. But it did really take up a ton of time.

This past Spring kind of flew by but at the same time it took forever! I defended in early April and spent the rest of the month editing and re-editing. In the meantime I was up to my ears in job applications. I think I became the master of the interview this year. I ended up doing upwards of 16 interviews or follow-ups. But of course, as fate would have it, a job I didn't apply for was the one I got. My dear friend LaKesha works for the National Communication Association in DC. They were looking for someone with a background in Comm, but with a degree or experience in Higher Ed. Ummm.. Hi. My name is Meg. Let me be your girl.

So on the way to another interview... on I-95, I get a call from her about setting up an interview for this job. One week later I was reading my offer letter and squealing. It's a temporary position, so I'll be back to the grind  next year, looking for another job. But for now it's where I am testing out this new, fancy degree. I even have a name plaque on my desk. Super grown up. ;)

The only drawback to the job is that I have a tremendous commute into DC every day, and I'm still balancing working part-time at GMU and NVCC Woodbridge. And I live in Centreville. So every week I get to do this:

It's about an hour and a half into the city and about two hours to get home. I drive to the Metro, take the train in, and then get off near the White House and walk almost a mile north to Dupont. It's exhausting. But so far I love the work I'm doing, I get to share an office with LaKesha, and I have some good co-workers who have taken well to me (I think).

And now, I am house-hunting. You'd think I'd look closer to the city... but you'd be wrong. I still like Centreville. I'm looking elsewhere as well, but I'm not straying too far from what I know. You guys know I hate change. It's a dreadful thing.

Oh yeah. And Joe is finally moving out here. Like, it's officially official. He had a job interview today and his last day of work is tomorrow. By early August, he will be a Virginia resident. So cheers to starting a new adventure!

My point of this update is also to introduce a new part of this blog. I'm going to document my year working in the city. I feel like this is one of those experiences that I'll want to look back on since it's not something I ever intended on doing. So if you are interested in looking at my year in DC, check back soon.

To new beginnings,