Last Wednesday, Husband and I dropped Cora off at daycare and hit the road for Baltimore. I attended the MLP conference, and Husband tagged along for a bit of R&R and sight-seeing in DC.
The conference was pretty good. It would appear we have it together a lot more than I thought we did, because a lot of the sessions were very basic in nature, and I was a bit surprised that some of the programs out there that have existed longer than ours was not more advanced. However, ours was set up by members of existing programs, so that's certainly been a benefit to us. I did get the news during the conference that (it would appear) we will be receiving grant money next year that will fund my position full time. We were not awarded the grant money for this year, but the organization says they want to fund us and expect they will do so next year. Which rocks. Of course, it isn't for certain yet, and we won't know for sure until this fall. But it would be totally awesome, and would make me a real employee of the university, with real benefits and stuff. Also, I would get tuition benefits! (Yay for a free PhD in underwater basket weaving!) The grant money would last for five years. And the best part is I could stay the hell out of family court! Woo hoo!
So, that is definitely awesome. Baltimore was fun, I ate a lot of crab. Crab balls, crab cakes, crab legs, crab chowder. Crab everywhere. Husband took the train into DC and did some sight-seeing during the day. I insisted he go on without me, because I knew I was not going to be up for extensive activity over the weekend. My pelvis/back is KILLING ME. Stupid, stupid pregnancy crap. This didn't happen until later in my last pregnancy, and I thought the pain was so bad because I was on bed rest and couldn't exercise/do any prenatal yoga and such. Wrong! Nothing helps the pain, except laying down with a pillow between my legs and moaning. What a load of bullshit. Seriously, who decided primates should breed like this? Marsupials have it going on. In the next life, I want to be a koala. Or a man. Either one.
Anyway, I hobbled my way through DC, but in general just couldn't do a whole lot of walking. About two miles a day was my max. We stayed at the Phoenix Park Hotel on North Capitol, which is right across from Union Station. It was very nice. An especially nice perk was that the hotel staff let us know that the parking lot across the street (for some federal agency) is not patrolled on the weekends, so we got to park for free. (The hotel charges $40 a day for parking.) Awesome. The hotel was nice, European-style (i.e. small rooms), but a nice view and nice bathroom.
Our first evening there, Friday, we walked to the Hoover building so I could stare at it longingly (since it is currently closed for tours). I successfully refrained from going all fan girl on the agents leaving the building. Visiting the building renewed my resolve to get my fat ass to the gym after I'm finished incubating, so I can be a rock star and work there too. And solve mysteries like this one.
We then had dinner at an upscale sushi restaurant called Sei. It was awesome. I had this cucumber soda that was amazing (since I can't have sake), and, in honor of the Cherry Blossom festival, tried a piece of nigiri that was red snapper and had this cherry blossom infused foam on top of it. It was beautiful, elegant and delicious. Amazing sushi and the service was great (I figure the waiter probably has a law degree, which is why he was so well-spoken and knowledgeable). After dinner, we got gelato from a gelateria across the street. Yum! (We are in short supply of available gelato here in the bluegrass.)
Later, we drove to a sports bar to meet up with a friend from grad school/law school. Sadly couldn't get up with all of my grad school peeps, but it was pretty short notice (we honestly planned to just sight-see, not meet up with people, but then felt guilty as we're broadcasting our activities on Facebook and people are like WTF?! Let's get together!). Oh well. But, we got to watch the UK/OSU game at this place called Grevey's where each table has its own TV, so you can watch whatever game you like. There was a sea of blue, but there was also a group of VCU fans. We, of course, knocked out the Buckeyes in the Sweet Sixteen game, which was exciting and really awesome being out of town but surrounded by UK alumni. Then we stuck around and watched the end of the VCU game, since the VCU group was nice enough to watch the last two minutes of our game and cheer for us. Exciting stuff!
On Saturday, we slept in (ahhhhhh!) and had lunch at a french place across from Ford's Theatre called Bistro D'Oc. Pricy. We ate a lot of cheese. It was good. I really wanted some escargot, but I had not eaten anything yet that day, and figured buttery snail is probably not the first thing I should put into my stomach. Oh well. Then we went to the International Spy Museum (to compensate for not being able to tour the FBI). That was fun. (I don't want to be a spy though, I want to be a rock star federal agent who investigates stuff.) When we finished, we got more gelato!
We later went to dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant called Ethiopic. It was very tasty, although I have no clue what I actually ate other than "beef" and "lamb." And some spongy bread substance that didn't have much taste, but was more just an edible delivery vehicle for said meat. The serving of the food was also very interesting. I will have to do my research on Ethiopian food. We don't have a restaurant here, although I think we did briefly at one time, but it disappeared before I could try it. The closest thing we have is a West African restaurant (much different... same continent, wrong side). We're total foodies, so we like to try new things and generally when we vacation/sight-see, we focus a lot on the food.
We finished our trip with a "moonlight" trolley tour of DC, with stops at the Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial/Vietnam Memorial, and Marine Corp Memorials. The tour was very good, I suspect our tour bus driver Bob has a few useless degrees of his own, as he was extremely knowledgeable about US military history. The only downside to the tour was the obnoxious kid sitting behind us. He was probably about 11, and an obnoxious twat who wouldn't shut the hell up. I probably wouldn't have been so annoyed if his father would have, at least once, told him to shut up. But he never did. And it made me want to slap both of them. Ugh.
On Sunday, we got an early start heading home. The UK/UNC game would start at 5, and we (meaning: I) wanted to get home in time for it. Unfortunately, this is the part where Failcation starts. About 20 miles east of Charleston, West Virginia, my fucking car explodes. Piece of shit, I hate that car. It only has 95,000 miles on it, which is low for a 2002 Toyota, and was supposedly mechanically sound, although the interior is falling apart and the paint job looks like shit. It makes me bitter, because my beloved 1999 Corolla (which was murdered last year by a deer) would never have done such a thing. The oil light came on and then suddenly the car sounds like it's going to explode. So we get off the interstate as quickly as possible, even though we're in the middle of Fucking Nowhere, West Virginia, in a hollow (pronounced "holler"). Check the oil, and there's plenty of it, which is bad bad news: dead oil pump. And from the sounds the car was making, dead engine too.
I call AAA, and they cannot figure out where the hell we are. We can't figure out where the hell we are. We're just lucky we have cell service (I will never complain about AT&T ever again, seriously.) With the help of a nice good ol' boy in a hunting jacket, and some chick who I scared half to death who was getting into her car, we figured out (sorta) where we were. Finally, an hour later, we manage to get a tow. The tow truck driver was very helpful, although weird as shit. He told us a long sordid story about how he used to be a truck driver and came home to find his wife shacking up with his dad. Anyway. He dropped my car off at a mechanic shop and gave us a lift to a Days Inn (all this is significantly closer to Charleston, fortunately). On the bright side, we got to watch UK beat UNC (and make it to the Final Four!!!) On the sucky side, we really wanted to be home and Cora was very upset to find out we wouldn't be home. She apparently had a rough time being away from us for so long. on the really sucky side, the next morning I talked to the mechanic who confirmed (after "tinkering" for two fucking hours) that it was the oil pump (no shit; the chick lawyer already google-diagnosed that one), and "figures" that the noise the car is making that the engine is shot. Figured that one too. He quoted me $2K to put in a "new" engine (used engine). He'd pay me $300 to take the piece of shit off my hands. (I thought about it, seriously. I fucking hate that car.) But after calling my regular mechanic and getting his opinion (I totally owe him some legal services, or a beer or something), who said that was a really good deal for putting in another engine, I decided to do it. If I can get another year out of the piece of shit, then maybe next summer, provided I am employed full time, I can buy a new car. One that isn't falling apart. One that smells pretty. One that's a hybrid. Oh, hybrid, how I covet thee...
We got a rental car and finally got the hell out of bumble fuck West Virginia. Tomorrow, I have to return to bumble fuck to drop off the rental and pick up my piece of shit with its working engine. If it explodes again on the way home, I'm setting it on fire, then pushing it off a cliff, and reporting it to my insurance company as "hooligans stole my car and wrecked it." Piece of shit, I hate it.
Anyway, long day tomorrow and I'm so behind on work, it isn't even funny. I have court on Thursday morning and some interrogatories to draft before a client meeting the same day. And I'm going to waste all of my time tomorrow driving back and forth to West Virginia. Blah. At least I got our tax refund today... which is going, at least in part, towards my piece of shit car.