Random Reader Rant and/or Revel

dc_neighborhood_news
Photo by PoPville flickr user Clif Burns

You can talk about whatever is on your mind – quality of life issues, a beautiful tree you spotted, scuttlebutt, or any random questions/thoughts you may have. But please no personal attacks and no need to correct people’s grammar. This is a place to vent and/or celebrate things about daily life in DC.

Follow PoPville on facebook here on twitter here, join the PoPville flickr pool here and sign up for daily email summaries here. Email tips and questions to [email protected]

224 Comment

  • justinbc

    Rant: Trying to help a friend find affordable housing in DC and there’s just search a dearth compared to years ago, even when searching for shared places. Maybe it’s always been that way and I’ve never noticed because he’s in such a different bracket. I knew it had gotten bad in DC, but damn, there wasn’t a single listing in the entire city under $700 that wasn’t an obvious scam.
    Related: One of my best friends is moving here to DC after just finishing his grad school time in Florida and so far we’ve hit a wall in finding a place that he can actually afford to rent. He’s a military vet discharged after suffering combat injuries in Afghanistan, non-smoker, no pets, married (his wife still getting her PhD in Florida), with virtually no drama. He pretty much just has a computer and clothes, so he doesn’t need a big space, it can be a single unit or shared with housemates, no preference. He really can’t swing much more than $700, but there’s basically nothing that meets that on Craigslist and the few we’ve found just aren’t responding to emails. Any leads folks in the community might have would be great, he’s tentatively set to start his job with a three letter agency next week…

    • Re: your rant. I can completely relate to this, it is totally out of control (and of course in houses, existing tenants take the cheap rooms and try to rent out the overpriced master bedroom for a small fortune). What concerns me even more is that prices even out in the suburbs have crept up quite a bit, as well. Even in middle-of-nowhere New England a family member can’t find a place without a years-long waitlist for under $900. I think this is a much larger problem than just DC. It infuriates me.

      • I think it depends where you look in DC. People typically get upset that they can’t live in the hippest areas in DC for what they want to pay. DC is tricky for a few reasons – lack of density, the amount of single family homes, the demand, etc. But just because you go outside of DC doesn’t mean it should be cheaper. Bethesda is outside of DC but it’s still a nice area and again, it’s relatively limited in terms of housing. I think the problem with DC is basically you’re either in a nice area or a pretty bad area – there isn’t a whole lot of inbetween. There is inbetween (Shirlington, north of downtown Silver Spring, outside of Old Town Alexandria, etc. are perfectly fine, but not terribly exciting for under 40/non-family crowd).
        .
        The amount of cheap housing in DC has decreased primarily because of the development of DC. But you were still faced with living in a not-so-safe area before that (not like Bloomingdale was nice for decades and then became trendy and expensive…it’s almost the opposite). You can still go live for cheap in bad areas.
        .
        There’s still plenty of cheap cities to live in on the east coast. But to expect housing prices to just drop consistently – it’s not gonna happen. Think back to when our parents bought a house – you hear about them buying a house for $20,000. Things will continue to get more expensive, not cheaper.

    • With that budget, it seems more reasonable to look for a group house or studio in a metro accessible suburb. I know a few people that moved to Greenbelt because it’s pretty cheap with a decent selection of housing.

    • skj84

      Agree on rent. I lucked into the house I currently live in, but searching for a place last year was the struggle. And I live with 2 other people. I don’t know how my friends who live alone swing it. Anyway if I see anything I’ll pass along. How long is your friend looking to stay in DC? Will the wife join at some point? I agree his best bet is group house at this point. Would he be open to subletting short term until he finds a long term solution?

      • justinbc

        He’s contractually obligated to be here at least 3 years, so ideally a year long lease. She won’t be coming until her PhD is done, probably another 2 or 3 years. He’s probably just going to AirBnB until he can find a place, which sucks but there aren’t a lot of options.

      • I got super lucky with the affordable housing waitlist but it takes a ton of legwork and usually 1+ year to get a place. Perhaps this is something your friend could start looking into in the next few months for next year, JustinBC.
        .
        Also, re: skj’s friends living alone, I just realized this past weekend that some of my friends who used to be unpaid interns where I work in the past year or two are now making double my salary as contractors. So I guess that’s how. If my salary was double I’d be able to afford a $1600+ apartment with little thought.

        • justinbc

          Yeah, he’s never lived in a major urban city before, and his hiring agency kinda #$&@’ed him around with start dates and what not, so his planning for the move is pretty much last minute. I would have just held one of our units for him, but I obviously can’t kick someone out, so we’re scrambling to get him placed somewhere that’s hopefully not too stabby.

          • If he has minimal stuff, perhaps on a short-term basis he could consider an AirBnB? That would give him some time to not have to rush into anything and feel out the area.

    • I agree re looking in the close in suburbs – Silver Spring, Hyattsville, Mt. Rainer.
      .
      There are somewhat frequent posts on the Takoma list serve for rooms for rent in this price range (there probably are on other ones as well). There was one yesterday for $600 near St John’s College HS (so not really close to a Metro). I can send it to you if you’d like.

      • justinbc

        Thanks for the tip. He’s driving to work in Anacostia, so Metro access isn’t even really necessary (but certainly nice for personal use).

        • I would have him looking VA or PG County… less expensive and easy if he’s driving to Anacostia anyway.

          • I agree with DCbyDay. PG County or Alexandria/Springfield could be the best bets from a commute and price perspective. Unless he wants to live in the city. .

          • One of my friends who works at possibly the same place lives in Bowie – they made the trade-off for house/space at affordable price since both of them work at non-metro-accessible places anyway. He swears his commute isn’t terrible.

            You may have a wider radius to work from depending on tolerance for the time tradeoff. I feel like the Virginia side has come up enough in price that PG is your best bet. Also, the suburbs will make keeping the car easier/cheaper – many garden apartments have ample parking included in the lease.

            (this is why I live with two roommates in an old building in the suburbs – I like affording fancy city life benefits like theatre and restaurants rather than looking longingly at those things from my overpriced apartment. So I have the cheap shared apartment.)

          • justinbc

            I know almost nothing about MD suburbs, where are some of the more reputable cities in PG county to search?

          • Prince Of Petworth

            I have friends who live in Hyattsville and love it! I’ve also heard good things about Mount Rainier which is nearby.

          • The “downtown” area of Hyattsville has turned out nicely and has a lot of very mainstream places to eat, etc. (there’s also a Whole Foods going in just over the border in CP). However, it’s definitely a driving situation if you want affordable places to live (the apartments that came with the development are not cheap).

          • The part of College Park right behind the greenbelt metro station is great as well–I lived in a group house there for 4 years as a grad student and paid approx $500/month ten years ago. We used craigslist to advertise open spots as they came up.

          • I would not recommend Springfield. It’s really congested, and very ugly, and not particularly cheap. Bowie is a good suggestion.

        • sounds like your friend will work at DIA. many (most?) employees there drive in from Virginia (Wilson bridge – 295). Cheap rents to be had in south alexandria, kingstowne, etc.

    • If he is a fed or a permanent contractor employee he might be able to get housing on Meade or Andrews. I don’t know the pricing.

    • Andie302

      Have him place a housing wanted add on CL in case a group house is scouting for someone just like him without advertising.

    • Hoping that these links make it through the filter, quick search on the NVa section:
      .
      http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/apa/5777492248.html
      .
      http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/apa/5770439308.html
      .
      http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/apa/5775846689.html (not open til Oct 1, but if he’s already AirBnB’ing it for a few weeks…)
      .
      http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/apa/5773307054.html

      • justinbc

        Thanks, those are all definitely in his price range!

        • No problem! I’ve been living in Arlington for years now (and feel very much like an interloper on this site but I enjoy it so…oh well) and I’ve helped tons of friends find places to live in NoVA. It’s definitely doable at his price range, especially if he doesn’t need to be near a metro and will have a car. Good luck!!

    • HaileUnlikely

      Haven’t searched in a long time, but last time I did, I found the ratio of legit places to scams much more favorable in DC City Paper. Lower total volume, but most of what was there looked legit.

  • Rave: Had a semi-relaxing weekend and am really, really looking forward to Snallygaster this upcoming weekend.
    .
    Rant: Have been feeling like a main character in a Murakami book lately and I wish I could shake it. Like I keep reaching for things I can’t quite touch, and even though my immediate life is fine, people around me are crumbling, and I’m feeling helpless. It’s a mix of boredom, worry about some thing, and indifference about others.

  • Revel: Lovely, relaxing weekend with friends and boyfriend. So relaxed that I didn’t bring up the topic we were slated to discuss, the ‘future’ talk. Didn’t want to do that because…
    Rave: I’m slated for 3-4 interviews this week (possibly 5) and didn’t want to upset myself with it going not the way I wanted. This is a week to kick ass, not cry (although I don’t think I’ll automatically cry, but still).
    Rave: I’ve given myself permission to focus on myself for a while, and it’s lovely.

  • Rant: DC does not pave roads… There are so many speed cameras out now on roads that almost qualify as an off road experience… What the heck is going on at DDot? Is accountability dead? I haven’t seen roads this bad since the Barry administration…

    Rant: Crack houses in petworth… They really need to be stopped. They contribute to decline and blight and they’re patronized by some of the most shifty people you can find of all races… They are so obvious, people in & out 24/7, busted many times, yet they still persist. Is this Juarez or Home of the nation’s Government operations? I wouldn’t even be mad if they dressed the business up a bit and operated during normal business hours only, but they don’t.

    Rant: Tired of being generous with people only to find out they disappear when I need help. I rarely need help, and if anything, it’s just good company. I guess I’m a repugnant person who is just too old and grumpy to tolerate unless I’m offering up something to others. 😛

    • RE: Rant DC Roads – if you think they are bad for driving, try biking in DC. I did the 50 states ride on Saturday and it was an exercise in trying not to blow out a tire. You basically need a mountain bike with snow tires to cycle in this city.

    • Have you considered transitioning away from Tito Jackson to a Tito Puente? I hear he was immensely popular.

    • Speed cameras and poor road surfaces are of very little concern if you’re actually driving the speed limit.

  • Rant: MD driver in front of me this morning kept nudging to the right, every time traffic moved forward. Into the bike lane, of course. When we came to a spot with a left turn lane, he swerved into it, raced ahead about four cars, and swerved back into his original lane, to sit at the same red light the rest of us were sitting at. Why, Maryland driver? Why??
    Rant: Woman caught the tip of her stiletto in a crevice in the road and fell full-length into the crosswalk. Thankfully pedestrians had the green. It could have been a real tragedy if she had been jaywalking, or someone had been running the light.
    Wrap-up rant: Where the hell is our traffic enforcement?? Cell phones, speeding on narrow residential streets, running red lights and crosswalks, the above-mentioned MD asshat… I honestly believe I’m more likely to be a victim of bad driving than of violent crime. I haven’t seen someone pulled over for a moving violation in a long time. Have you?

    • There is literally ZERO traffic enforcement in DC. I have never seen anyone pulled over in this city.

      • I saw someone get pulled over for making a right turn on red and almost hitting a pedestrian!!! But that was just once. The policeman sounded super peeved though. I feel like they’d love to do that more often if they could.

      • My favorite thing ever was a Secret Service agent taking two diplomats to task for failure to yield to pedestrians and coming very close to hitting them. He acknowledged he couldn’t do anything about it, but he sure did ream them out and I appreciated it.

      • Ironically, the problems I have with traffic in this city is how slow it is. I don’t think I’ve ever reached the speed limit driving up 12th Street even though the lights are timed for the northbound traffic. This is mostly the fault of people not having a clue where they are going and taxis though. And quite frankly, these slow drivers are often the problems – yesterday a car going about 10 mph just decided to cut across 2 lanes of traffic on a whim cause they were going to miss their turn. It’s just amazing that with direction apps on phones these days that even tell you what lane to be in, people still don’t have a clue.

    • DC opened up their traffic enforcement data and some people are doing some cool analysis on it to see what enforcement there is, etc. WABA did a great review on things that impact cyclists primarily, along with other vulnerable road users (parking in bike lanes, speeding). One terrifying statistic is: “MPD issued 331k speeding tickets from January-May. Guess how many were for 10mph or less above limit.NINE.” 10 mph above the speed limit (25 mph to 35 mph) equals 2x risk of death/serious injury. Crazy and scary.

    • justinbc

      I will never understand the mentality of someone who speeds up to pass someone in a city full of endless red lights. Congrats on those 15 seconds?

      • I wonder if people knew how little time they actually save by driving like that, would they still do it? They could probably save more time in a day by spending less time in the can or just not watching the commercials in their favorite TV show.

      • This made me laugh, so true! You see them zoom by you really fast in anger, and you catch up to them at a red laugh literally 5 seconds later. What…

    • I’m shocked when I see a driver who is NOT either texting or talking on a hand-held.

  • rant: the next six week are going to be INSANE for my husband and me because of work stuff (for each of us, timed as unhelpfully as possible) and family stuff (for both of us on both sides). the stress has been building for weeks as we prepare for it all.
    rave: we’re treating ourselves to a Columbus Day getaway in North Carolina in the middle of it all. it would probably be more responsible to stay home to do all the things we won’t get done – laundry! cleaning the house! actually cooking healthy meals! – but I think we’ll need to not be around things we *should* do for a few days.

  • skj84

    Rant: Hit a major snag in my relationship. Not only hit it, but it came out of left field. Like everything was fine Friday morning, and Saturday night we had to have a Come to Jesus conversation in the middle of the night because he freaked out. We are still talking, but I don’t know what our status is now. It sucks so much. I really like this guy.
    Rave: NYC this weekend and LA next week. Then no more travel until next year. I’ve enjoyed my travel adventures, but I’m looking forward to taking it easy this fall.

    • I’m sorry, skj. That sounds really rough…

    • Im sorry to hear it! random freakouts are the worst.

    • Oh, I remember those middle of the night conversations in my 20’s relationship. The good thing about getting older is that no one has the energy to be awake to discuss stuff that late anymore. The most productive conversations don’t happen in the middle of the night – they shouldn’t happen when you are tired.

      • “The good thing about getting older is that no one has the energy to be awake to discuss stuff that late anymore.”
        .
        Ha, I love this. That’s a relief to hear.

  • Raves –

    Weather
    NFL Football!!!! (Rant Jets, lose, Pats Win)
    College Football – Mediocre matchups (nice upset by NC A&T MEAC standup) after great opening weekend

    National attention for Atlanta Beltline. I love the Highline and the proposed 11th Street Bridge but I think the Beltline is the best idea of them all. It is essentially and in-town beltway for walkers, cyclists it connects neighborhoods, parks with restaurants and new housing now popping up along the way. If development goes as planned there will be light rail too.

    See NY Times Article

    “The Atlanta Beltline project, which would circle the city’s urban core with a biking and pedestrian loop, aims to rejuvenate an area known for suburban sprawl.”

    • Bear

      I’m from Atlanta, and the Beltline is pretty cool. I was there earlier this year and what struck me the most was that people were out walking places! In Atlanta! It’s also pretty cool that the original idea came from a Master’s student who did their thesis on how to use out of service railroad lines for revitalization of a lot of neglected areas. My only rant about it is that property values in those neighborhoods are rising quickly – if my husband and I ever decide to relocate back there we will be hard pressed to find something affordable in any of the neighborhoods we’d likely want to live in.

      • I know what you mean I would love a place right off the Beltline near Piedmont Park . My wife and I are seriously considering relocating but at that time we expect to be more flexible with neighborhood choice as we will no longer have school concerns. I live in Brookland now where there are regularly listing over a million dollars with that as my point of reference even 6 – 10 years from now I expect Atlanta will still look like a relative bargain.

        • Bear

          We’re in PG county, so some of the neighborhoods we would like to live in are already more expensive than where we are right now. The more likely scenario would be that we’d buy my parents place, which isn’t on the beltline but is relatively close to some of our preferred neighborhoods.

    • One time I was in Atlanta just walking by part of the Beltline and there was a sideshow going on. It was bizarre, irreverent, and amazing.

    • I took a bus tour of the Atlanta Beltline a year and a half ago. It was pretty long (3-4 hours) but I thought it was really interesting. They also offer bike and walking tours. Highly recommend!

    • CFB schedule was terrible this past (so much for tough non-conf schedules). However, there were still some good games. Have zero skin in the game, but BYU/Utah was pretty intense. Gutsy call at the end to go for 2. Couple upsets. But if you didn’t know where to look, the games on the ESPNs of the world were pretty lame.

    • Love the MEAC not here for A&T. LOL I just had to write that. You damn aggies are everywhere and Im over it. lol (My BFF is an aggie by the way so its merely a friendly rant) 🙂

    • What part(s) of Atlanta is the Beltline in?

  • emvee

    Rave: This weather! Here’s to runs where I’m not drenched in sweat 1/4 mile in.
    Rant: I feel as though a lot of people who are close to me have been asking a lot of me these past few months. Weddings, break ups, school, did I mention weddings? It’s draining going from friend to friend, sibling to partner, and feeling like no one once asks how I’m doing. I just want to escape to the mountains with my dog for a weekend and leave everyone else’s stress behind for a few days.

  • Rant: was hit on by one of the most arrogant SOBs I’ve ever met, who I think was employing a form of “negging” on me. I really didn’t play into his hand, but I’m annoyed that some of the mean things he said have continued to bother me
    Rant: started texting a guy I met through a tinder social group. Finally realized last night it was not the guy I thought he was and am kinda disappointed in how shallow I am being about it. Although, in my defense, it has more to do with his age in comparison to mine (-12 years) and less to do with the fact that I don’t find him as attractive as his (more age-appropriate) friend
    Rant: horrible football weekend for my teams
    Rant: busy work week
    Rant: so many rants

  • Rave: White House Tour on Wednesday! Being from a small town down South, that’s a big deal to me.
    Rant: I ate too much yesterday. I think I still have issues with emotional eating. I hate that. I feel so bad especially since I am working on losing weight and I lost 10 pounds so far. I feel like I am definitely going to gain it back. So depressing.
    Rant: The anniversary of my father’s death last week. It’s been 22 years since we lost him to cancer. I know that’s a long time ago and I don’t have any tears anymore but it still bothers me that he’s not here for me to talk to.
    Rant: I went to bed really late last night and I felt like crap when I got up this morning. I hate feeling this way.
    Rave: Got some great deals at Potomac Mills mall on Saturday.
    Rave: Got rid of a bunch of old textbooks so they are no longer living on the floor in front of my bookcase. Next up are 5 bags of clothes that are headed to Good will.

    • On your first rant, today is a new day. Don’t let yesterday’s struggles get you down.
      On your second rant, there’s no deadline or timeline for grief. It pops up periodically. I hope your memories of him can also bring you comfort.
      {Sending hugs}

    • In January it’ll be 20 years since my mom died. That’s still mind blowing to me, how much has happened and how much she has missed in my life. I’m pregnant at the moment, the tears might be gone, but it still gives me lots and lots of feels. Don’t down play the time, it’s allowed to still bother you. I find I’m jealous of people who have never suffered a loss in their life and a lot of times they expect you to just be over things so we expect it of ourselves.

  • Rave: Saturday was amazing. Both kids slept in, we made strawberry pancakes, and mtpbaby had two solid naps!
    Rave: Mtpkiddo was so excited about the strawberry pancakes that she repeatedly made gleeful statements about them and then gave me hugs.
    Rant: She’s going to be so disappointed when there aren’t any left for tomorrow morning’s breakfast.
    Rant: struggling to decipher mtpbaby’s crankiness–teething? discomfort from re-introducing dairy? (the timing seems off for that one, though) babies being babies? A call to the pediatrician might be in order.
    Rave: looking forward to lovely weather this week 🙂

  • Rant: Feeling extremely depressed and anxious – got hit with a $2300+ bill (after insurance) for my little trip to the emergency room and hospital at the end of July. And that’s just the hospital bills. I don’t know what the multiple doctors who consulted on me are going to cost me! So just trying to wrap my head around that, and paying the IRS for a 2013 oversight, and figuring out how to pay for one of my cat’s dental surgeries, and now freaking out reading about people’s terrible experiences with large management companies and wondering how many ways my roommate and I are going to get screwed when we move out of our (evil!) Pollinger building, and then wondering how much my insurance company is going to make me pay when I have to undergo a minor surgery next year….I am so overwhelmed with this stuff, and then factoring in all the sh!t I’m trying to do at work, it just makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry.
    Rave: I know I have them, I just can’t think of any at the moment. Sorry guys.

    • Emmaleigh504

      I’m sorry you are so stressed, that’s a lot of stuff to worry about. hugs

      • That One Guy

        +1. *shakes fist furiously at medical costs*
        .
        Does that get you anywhere near your out of pocket max for the year? If so could you move up your surgery for this year to maybe help defer costs of that?

        • I highly doubt it. My out-of-pocket max for the year is $3000, assuming all of it is in network (and I’m not entirely sure) and my max deductible is $1500. So I just don’t know. And I doubt my surgery could be moved up so quickly. I don’t know. I just want to cry.

        • HaileUnlikely

          This is a very good tip. If you are closing in on your annual out-of-pocket-max and have something expensive looming on the horizon, look into doing it this year if medically appropriate. Unless you hit your out-of-pocket max every year anyway, it will probably save you a bundle.

          • I can try, but considering my appointment with the specialist isn’t until mid-November, I don’t think it’s at all likely that this is going to end up happening in the same year.

    • Deep breath. What is your deductible? There’s a very real possibility that you will not owe the entire amount, double check with the insurance first. Second, if you do owe the entire amount, apply for charity care at the hospital (guessing it was WHC?). There is a very good chance that you will qualify for some sort of reduction in the costs. For next year’s surgery, call the insurance and you can can get an idea now as to what it will cost (they may even have a cost estimator on the website) and perhaps you can adjust your FSA contribution to cover; remember, your entire FSA fund is available for your use January 1; it does not have to be fully funded. Also, although it may be overwhelming, at least you will know and can begin preparing for that cost versus having it sprung on you.
      Regarding the cat’s surgery, there’s low-cost clinic somewhere in the hinterlands of VA that does surgeries like that for very reduced rates. Perhaps look into them? I believe it was suggested on here previously and I’m sure someone could help with the name of the clinic.
      Above all else, just breathe. You’re going to get through this. It is stressful, it is overwhelming, but your got this.

      • Thanks anonamom – First step I have planned is to call the insurance company to make sure I actually owe this amount. I was actually not at WHC, but the place next door. I don’t currently have an FSA, so I don’t know if that’s an option. And as far as getting the cat out to the hinterlands of VA, I don’t know if the cost savings would be enough to offset taking a day off work (since I doubt they do surgery on weekends), renting a car and driving who knows how far….I don’t know, I’m just feeling really scared and paralyzed by all this stuff. But thanks for your vote of confidence, hopefully it’ll rub off on me eventually.

        • That One Guy

          If you need a chauffeur for the hinterlands of VA, I’ll volunteer. Let me know.

          • Thanks, That One Guy! First I need to find out the names of respectable low-cost clinics, first, though!

          • That One Guy

            Washington Consumer Checkbooks had a listing of veterinarians. Check your local library to see if they carry the magazine. That may be a good starting point.

          • That One Guy, do you have a gmail or something I can reach you at?

          • That One Guy

            You can send email to ray dot lee at live dot com and I’ll respond back.

          • A few people here have recommended a vet practice in Richmond for lower cost surgery

          • The vet in Richmond is called Helping Hands. The savings for surgeries and the like is usually half or better. Unfortunately, it is weekday only. If surgery can wait a bit, and you’re off/they’re open on holidays, maybe Columbus Day would work out for you.

        • Going to try to be as vague as possible… but if it’s the neighbor I think it is, then you have even more lee-way than you would have with WHC. Because of your situation, they will not go after you for anything so long as you set up a payment plan, and that can be as little as $10 a month (hint to the world, MOST medical bills will not go after you as long as you are paying something). You may also qualify for reduction in co-payment. I know that was the case for other co-pays at the neighbor I think you are talking about when I was in the same ‘situation’

          • Thanks! I’m hoping that, as a semi-integral part of this neighbor’s daily operations, I may qualify for some sort of reduction in rate! But yeah, according to my insurance company, I’ve already hit the deductible (whoa!) and this is what I have to pay towards my max out-of-pocket allowance. So giddyup, I’ve gotta figure out if I can somehow get my little surgery done before the New Year! :-/

      • All of this. I ranted about it on here in the past, but WHC hit us with a 5k hospital bill. It was so stressful, involved many phone calls and emails, so much run around, but in the end we only owed ~$275. WHC billing is incredibly incompetent and I cannot tell you how many lies that hospital told me. Also, back when I was in my early twenties I got hit with some large medical bills. The hospital one was around $2200 and I paid $100 on it until it was paid off. They never sent it to collections or anything.

        • I didn’t go to WHC…Though I suspect, from the few interactions I’ve had, that this billing department is just as incompetent. But I do anticipate doing a payment plan of some sort. It just sucks that even when you have “good” healthcare, you’re never far away from teetering into poverty. Or at least that’s my case.

          • Yeah, I don’t really trust any hospital or medical billing department these days. It’s definitely worth calling your insurance company and the hospital. Good luck!

      • I’ve heard good things about that vet clinic in Richmond. Helping Hands, I want to say? Healing Hands?

    • I’m so sorry this is stressing you out so badly (it would stress me out too!)
      .
      Outside of the suggestion to look at Helping Hands (seriously, check them out) for the cat’s dental, I also wanted to mention something I learned recently regarding billing/insurance. I was told by someone who used to work as a billing specialist that they’re required to get through a certain number of bills per hour, so they don’t often check over them very carefully and often make many, many mistakes. You can almost always get your bill lowered by calling (and calling, and calling) to get answers on why certain things were billed the way they were and why insurance isn’t covering it. It’s worth talking to your insurance company and the hospital both. Good luck!

      • Thanks eggs! I’m going to do that at lunch time, and I just gave Helping Hands a call and that sounds super-promising!!!! Like, i want to cry with happiness at the possibility promising! Thanks for your (and everyone’s) encouragement, I need it right now!

  • Rave: Dove into the Quiet American last night. Put aside Elena Ferrante for it – trying to get into the first of her series but had to take a break for something more captivating.
    Rant: At the end of my rope for work.
    Rave: An out is potentially there for me. I have to work hard, and present myself well. This is a big week. Fingers crossed!
    Rant: Husband abroad 🙁 Skype/Whatsapp/WeChat/Gmail are all fabulous but with 13 hours and a crazy schedule, it’ll be a tough couple of weeks.
    Rave: Using his departure to commit to workout every day, get the adequate amount of sleep, visit with friends, and read (not that we don’t do those things when he’s with me, just easier to control one schedule!).

    • Trying to get into Elena Ferrante and it is just not interesting me. There is no plot!

      • The bride of a wedding I was in over the summer suggested we all (the bridesmaids) read book 1 as a group activity. Loved the idea, didn’t love the book. (Also only 3/5 actually read the whole thing and I admittedly did not finish until after the wedding.) I don’t get why everyone loves this series so much – there were a few interesting scenes but overall, boring. Also I couldn’t keep all of the characters straight – maybe because the Italian names weren’t as familiar to me and in my American brain all sounded kind of similar?

        • That’s a fun idea! My bridesmaids are all big readers and spread out all over the country – maybe this would be a fun group activity to connect…

        • I made it through the first book and a bit of the second before I had burnout, but it was easier for me because I was listening to the audiobook and it reminded me of my Italian-American grandmother telling me stories of her childhood. I don’t see how or why it would appeal to someone who didn’t have that cultural background.

          • Quotia Zelda

            It took me a while to get into the first one, but I ended up really enjoying it. It’s definitely not plot-driven, but it’s richly detailed and a fascinating examination of a neighborhood and an often-difficult friendship.

      • Yeah – no plot – marginally interesting characters – but not enough to keep me reading.

  • Query: Has anyone attended discussion/social group Meetups in Arlington or Alexandria that could recommend venues? I’m trying to find a good space in NoVa that is near the metro without renting out space in a restaurant or bar. Thanks!!

    • That One Guy

      There’s Northside Social, which is near Clarendon.

    • skj84

      I like Highline RXR in Crystal City. It is a bar/coworking space hybrid, but they are good about holding space without rental fees. Its right by the Crystal City metro.

    • how large of space do you need? there’s some good options in crystal city!

    • Thanks so much for the recs!! It’s hard to tell how much space I need. There are 70 people signed up but I estimate only 20 or so would show up per meeting depending on schedules

    • I believe that Ragtime and Ireland’s Four Courts (both in Courthouse) have private/semi-private spaces that don’t require money down. The back section at World of Beer in Ballston can also be reserved before a certain time at night, that could hold 20 (but definitely not the 70 you said are signed up in the group haha).

  • That One Guy

    Rant: I really need to learn how to cook. I even managed to mess up the rice. How?
    Rave: Ate more healthfully because I was trying to get rid of all evidence of failed cooking. Lots of mushrooms, bok choy and broccoli, which bacon only mildly help improve the taste of.
    Rave: I really like the space at Grace Street Coffee/South Block Juice. I feel like that’s going to be my new go to place for weekend coffee.

    • skj84

      I can cook rice in the microwave. I can’t cook it on the stove.

    • I am a pretty decent cook, but I can’t cook rice to save my life. I really do need to just buy a rice cooker.

    • emvee

      I’m also going to recommend a rice cooker. I eat rice or quinoa at least three days a week, and I would struggle without the rice cooker!

    • You could do a meal subscription thing like Blue Apron. I’ve become more confident in my cooking abilities after a few weeks of Blue Apron. I also love the blog Budget Bytes because she has step by step photos for all her recipes!

    • Brown rice in the oven is super easy.
      Oils are like friends– have many, hang with them selectively.
      Dried herbs are way more potent than fresh, ounce-per-ounce.
      Meat never needs to be cooked as long as you think it does. Ditto vegetables. Carryover cooking (when the heat inside the item continues to cook it after you’ve removed it from the stove/ oven) is a real thing.

      • That One Guy

        Thanks you for these tips.

        • Oh, and despite having many years experience, including a little pro experience, I use my digital probe thermometer several times a week. Every cut of meat is going to have a slightly different water content. And every recipe has some variation that will affect cooking. Ditch the guesswork.
          Temperature is so crucial. Very few things are at their best cooked on low temp. Cream sauces, tough roasts. That’s about it.
          You mentioned mushrooms and bok choi so I’m thinking stir fry… that needs to be done fast in a blazing hot pan with minimal oil. I use a combination of veg oil and sesame oil. Definitely not an occasion for olive! The broccoli I would steam for two minutes before adding it to the wok. Throw some fresh grated ginger in there (microplane is the perfect tool for ginger), and maybe some dried red pepper flakes, then a little soy or tamari just as you turn of the heat. Season to taste, voila.
          Oh, and you know what makes a perfectly acceptable starch base for stir-fried veggies, when the rice lets you down, or you forgot to start the rice in time, which I what I routinely do? 4-for-$1 ramen noodles. Just don’t use the little seasoning pack. A little salt in the water will do fine, and you’ll get your flavor from the stir fry sauce.

    • Brown rice trick: boil it like pasta! Seriously. Lots and lots of water (just like you’d fill a pot for pasta), then boil it for 30 mins, strain it, and then put it back in the pot (no heat!) for about 10 minutes (this helps it steam). Perfect brown rice I swear.

      • Rice cooker ($20.00) is great. But any rice, brown or white is simple. Although you don’t want to eat it every day because of arsenic.

  • Rant: Fitbit that survived a swim in the creek and at least one spin through the washer did not survive being run over. But (rave) the price when down $10 when I took a replacement out of my Amazon cart, so back into the cart it went.
    Rave: Good food for now (coleslaw with lime and cilantro) and later (corncob stock).
    Rave: The hummingbird who frequents my feeder and flowers hasn’t migrated yet.

    • I saw that Bed, Bath, and Beyond has FitBits now, but I’m not sure if you can use a coupon on them.

    • If you do purchase on Amazon, go for the extra protection plan. It’s super cheap when compared to the cost of replacing the FitBit, and it couldn’t be easier to redeem. Bonus is that it works by giving you Amazon credits, not by shipping you a replacement. If you need to use the warranty, once you ship back the broken FitBit, you will get a credit in your Amazon account of the amount you paid originally. That way if they’ve come out with a newer model, you want to move to another fitness tracker, etc., you are free to choose. (Or spend $149 on toilet paper and other Amazon purchases. Either or.)

    • Thanks for recommendations jeslett and anoNE!

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Rant: Is anyone else getting destroyed by pollen allergies?

  • Emmaleigh504

    Rant: woke up a bazillion times last night. do not feel rested this morning.
    Rave: went to a HH Friday with people who aren’t my favorite and actually had a really good time. Will continue to say yes to things even if I think it won’t be a good time.

  • Does anyone know anything about the assault on U street (between 13th and 14th) early Saturday morning? Across the street from the Hawthorne. Saw a man laid out with a terrible head injury. I’ve only heard from the police that this is still under investigation. Is he ok?

  • Seeking some advice/direction. My sister (mid-30s) recently moved here from the west coast. She left a job and boyfriend and is in the process of starting over. I’m confident that she’s somewhat depressed as she doesn’t know anyone here, is living with her older sibling and doesn’t have her own place. What are some organizations she could get involved in to meet people and network? She went to a small school for undergrad so there isn’t an alumni group presence here. She would like to break into the advertising field (she was doing that on the west coast, but in an administrative capacity). Other interests include food, animals and slightly outdoorsy things. She’s in a funk (understandably) and I’m in a different place/stage in life and just don’t know what to suggest to help her out. Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

    • emvee

      MeetUp groups for anything she’s interested in (animals, food, outdoorsy things). I’ve met some amazing people through WIT DC, and also through the climbing gyms here. She could volunteer at a local shelter, there’s a volunteer list for people who want to help maintain RCP which I’ve found to be wonderful and pretty active. Once you find yourself a social support system, the networking kind of falls into place. At least, that’s largely been my experience. People are more likely to want to help a friend then someone they just met for ten minutes at a networking event. Hell, bring her to a Popville HH! I feel like 95% of the people on here are into at least one, if not all, of the things you listed. 🙂 Good luck to her! Moving can be emotionally draining.

    • She’s probably going to have to do the uncomfortable thing and get herself out there a whole bunch until she finds people/opportunities that work for her. A few thoughts:
      – She’s looking for work, right? Can she find a job temping? She might be able to network and/or make some friends that way.
      – Eventbrite always lists a bunch of networky happy hours, but I can’t vouch for them.
      – I follow Active Life DC on twitter and they sometimes tweet about social events around running, etc., as well as other fitness opportunities.
      – She could probably google around and find some social sports team to play with. We had friends that played bocce a few years back and had fun.
      – Find somewhere to volunteer where she’ll mingle with other volunteers – maybe the Humane Society/WARAL, Food and Friends, etc.
      – If she likes booze and literature, the literary cocktails program at Petworth Citizen might be fun. Maple has wine tasting events too. Maybe this says something about how much time we spend in bars, but we’ve actually met some nice people chit chatting in bars in Petworth/Park View/Columbia Heights on a weekend afternoon.
      – Are you able to be her wingperson for meeting new friends and attend some events with her?

    • What about volunteering at one of the museums? Either a Smithsonian or the National Gallery of Art? She would meet people and definitely get to know the city as many of the questions I get as a volunteer is “where is a good place to eat” “what metro should I take to get to x” “where else would you suggest we visit.”

    • I second meetup. I find DC to be an easy city to join groups to do social stuff with because of the transience here. She may need to force herself to be more outgoing if she hasn’t had the need to break into a city where she doesn’t know people. I knew absolutely no one here when I moved here for a job, and became even more outgoing as a result – it was the only way I was going to meet anyone to talk to here, outside of work.
      .
      It is also easy to volunteer, though I’ve oddly found doing that not useful for making friends here. Networking for jobs I find difficult – people (in my field, at least) are far less helpful than those in my last city. But there are jobs for people with advertising skills here, so she’ll find them if she looks.

  • Quotia Zelda

    Rave: Decluttered and got rid of a bunch of stuff yesterday.
    Rant: It’s hard to see much of a difference. It’s amazing how much stuff a house can hold.
    Rant: Still need to declutter/organize the bookcases and the linen and coat closets.
    Rave: Eldest Zelda finally cleared all her hair dyeing paraphernalia (she could stock a Sally’s on her own) out of the downstairs bathroom, so now I have a bathroom to use that I don’t have to share with either Mr. Zelda or messy teenagers. Heaven.

  • query: I live in Capitol Hill, and there have been about 7-8 times in the last 6 months that I’ve been woken up in the middle of the night (or early morning) by a man walking around the neighborhood yelling at the top of his lungs, somewhat angrily, to no one in particular. Perhaps I’m in such a sleep-haze that I can’t even really understand what he’s saying, but it’s truly not clear what’s going on. He is so loud and it sounds like he just wanders around all around the neighborhood. I’ve never gotten up to look out the window because I don’t want to completely wake up, but it sounds like he really needs some help.

    I’ve also witnessed a man during the daytime doing the same thing in the Eastern Market neighborhood- not sure if it’s the same one. He was yelling at people, and at no one. Has anyone else experienced this? What can I do?

    • justinbc

      I live by Lincoln Park and there’s a young’ish (mid20s-30s) black guy who regularly walks by shouting to himself, usually incoherently. Sometimes he’s wearing an old suit, but most days somewhat disheveled. I see him frequently enough that I assume he must be living nearby, presumably with a relative. Unless people are actively causing trouble I try to leave the police out of things. No reason to escalate an incident that might turn ugly.

      • There used to be a guy like this (but perhaps a different guy?) around Foggy Bottom/West End a couple years back, as well. It was very apparent he wasn’t even seeing people/cars in front of him when he was in his yelling state.

    • YES I was woken up by this guy a few nights ago! It wasn’t just the yelling but the tone that was so incredibly disturbing. The guy sounds really unhinged and violent (although I couldn’t understand what he was saying either) and I thought about calling 911. My girlfriend managed to sleep through it which made me wonder if I’d dreamt it!

      • Sounds violent? How does a person sound violent if you can’t understand what he was saying? Do you mean he sounded angry, or upset?

        • Alternatively this could be the guy I’ve seen near U Street once or twice that walks around screaming that he’s going to “kill you” over and over but not seeing anyone in particular. Is this the guy? He really freaked me out when I saw him.

        • Like when I first heard it I thought for sure someone was about to get shot. It sounded like pure uncontrollable rage. I don’t know how else to describe it.

        • This sounds like something that might merit a call to the one of D.C.’s numbers for psychiatric-crisis situations:
          .
          According to a post from Rayul in October 2012, the Mobile Crisis Team (MCS) is “part of the Dept of Mental Health’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program which operates 3 mental health programs:
          .
          Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES): 202-673-9319 (24hrs, 7 days per week)
          Mobile Crisis Services (MCS): 202-673-9300 (9am -1am, 7 days per week)
          Homeless Outreach Program (HOP): 202-673-9124 (9am -8pm , M-F)
          .
          Also you can call 311, 911 or 1(888)7WE-HELP (1-888-793-4357).”
          .
          http://www.popville.com/2012/10/props-to-dc-mental-health-mobile-response-team/

  • Rave: Had an awesome weekend. Kids’ sosccer season kicked off on Saturday, and Sunday we went to sunflower festival. Middle Anonachild got to meet a donkey and was thrilled. Donkeys are her spirit animals (for real, they are, that girl is as stubborn as her mama). Great time was had by all.
    Revel: My SO’s ex’s family – I really can’t say enough good things about them. They are so very warm and open and it has made this whole blended family situation so much better.
    Rant: I feel like I haven’t slept in weeks. I have this bone tiredness that just won’t go away no matter how much I sleep. I am usually a morning person, but I am finding mornings unbearable. My commute definitely is not helping.

  • Rant-ish: Crossed paths with someone on Tinder last month while I was on vacation in New England and we ended up having several weeks of great messaging and subsequent phone convos, and even discussed plans to have him bump up a trip to DC to next month so we could finally meet up and grab a couple beers and do some sightseeing (like a normal real date). Come to find out over the weekend, the age difference which I thought was just 11 years is actually 21 years. I knew the whole situation was really one heck of a long shot, but it seemed more promising than many of the dates that I’ve been on with local folks. Now I’m realizing that I’ve been building a connection with a stranger who is just a few years younger than my parents. Womp……

    • I’m not going to laugh about this because that sucks, but somehow I’m not really surprised. I am wary of anyone who seems to really want to keep in touch and meet even when they live quite far away. I also like to google people to see if they’re actually who they say they are, which sounds creepy but is pretty easy this day and age. The number of people who have messaged me on Tinder/OkCupid that a quick image-search reveals are fakes is astounding…

      • While I haven’t nor need a use for Tinder, the things that I have heard about the site are not glowing for those looking for a serious relationship.

      • I’m totally with you there…and I’ve seen recent photos of him taken in the last couple of weeks, and it would seem that he just doesn’t really look his age. I have no reason to believe he’s been dishonest about anything else (could be wrong, of course!), and he finally came clean when he realized that we were discussing potential plans to get together and he wanted me to know the truth. Basically, I think it took us both by surprise that we’ve kept in contact this long since I’ve been back home, and while I’m frustrated that he didn’t mention it in the first couple exchanges, I don’t think either of us expected things to start escalating like they did. Alas.

    • Obviously it’s not for everyone, but I’m in the healthiest relationship of my life with a man 20 years my senior. I vote you at least meet him! Never know 🙂

      • I wish I could be a bit more open-minded about it, but something about his parents being roughly 10 years older than my grandparents, and realizing that he’s likely to retire a few years before either of my parents would be in a financial position to be able to retire just boggles my mind. Before even talking to him, though, I had heard success stories similar to yours.

    • justinbc

      Well that’s a bummer. But if you really felt a connection maybe at least give it a shot anyway? It certainly works out for some people. I already read your post the first time as a few weeks of massaging, which sounded awesome.

      • Depends on if he lied in his profile or not. “Begin how you intend to go on” if he has been less than truthful with something as basic as his age, it makes me wary on other more important factors.

  • Bear

    Rave: Good weekend chilling with the family. Got some housework done, finally finished unpacking from vacation, did a ton of laundry, and did some garden maintenance.
    Rave: Garden is kind of bouncing back from what seemed like the ten plagues this summer – squirrels, groundhog, tomato fruitworms, japanese beetles, cucumber bacterial wilt, and some as-yet unidentified grayish/white beetle attacking the zucchini and cantaloupe vines. Some things are lost, but the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and green beans seem to be rebounding nicely. And I stayed mostly natural in my pest control methods.
    Rant: Fitful sleep last night – I do not feel rested today.

  • Rant : Public TV has a new series, A place to call home, an Australian series, did not see one Indigenous person on the show. This also go for the Dr. Blake mysteries. What is going on?

    • Australia is pretty well-known for very deeply entrenched racism against its’ indigenous people.

    • What’s going on is sort of the same thing that’s going on when you watch American TV and realize you didn’t see one native American (or maybe you did!). Is there any particular reason you *would* expect to see indigenous people in an Australian TV series?

    • justinbc

      Australia is 90%+ white, and less than 1% aboriginal. What you’re seeing is not an anomaly, it’s reality.

    • Well, here in the US, the reason we don’t see a lot of Native Americans on TV is that most of our TV is based in NY and LA. And those aren’t places where indigenous people display their heritage.
      But Northern Exposure (loved that show) had a LOT of native Alaskans and the everyday expressions of that culture.

    • justinbc

      Similarly, here in America, I believe the Screen Actors Guild of Hollywood is roughly 90% white. So while people may not feel like Hollywood portrays an accurate depiction of reality, they’re working with what they’ve got. Every year there are complaints that roughly 10% of the nominees for “best actor / actress” are black, despite that being a pretty equal corollary to the US population, but surprisingly you don’t hear any complaints from Hispanic / Latino (which can be multiple races) despite making up an even larger percentage.

    • There’s an entire episode in Season 3 of “The Doctor Blake Mysteries” focusing on Aboriginal characters (kids at an Aboriginal school, IIRC):
      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3998346/?ref_=ttep_ep3

  • Rant: a cold I got over labor day in the rocky mountains is still with me a week later. I have a dry cough that will not go away! At what point should I consult a doctor, I wonder?
    Rave: Had a busy weekend at a Clinton fundraiser, making lasagna for friends, running, haircutting, etc. Its these kinds of weekends that make me so happy to have moved to DC…

  • I Dont Get It

    Rant: I received a credit alert Friday that negative information had been added to my Credit Report. After some poking around, I discovered that it is a 2 year old bill for $230 from MedStar Georgetown that I don’t recall. I immediately challenged it but I know this will not be fun!
    Rant: Website passwords that don’t allow symbols. These companies seem to all be located in Florida, and perhaps, 2006. Hmm…

    • IDGI, your first rant is my worst nightmare. I have been waiting for an eye doctor bill from this past spring (they said they were really backlogged because of some IT glitch last winter) and I’m waiting for my credit report to be like “surprise, you never paid!” and for me to be like “but I never got the bill!”
      .
      That sucks, and I hope you are able to resolve it relatively painlessly… :[

    • justinbc

      My wife has been fighting with the Army for almost 2 years now about equipment she returned after he deployment that didn’t get inventoried properly and has been showing as a negative collection on her credit report. It’s so obscenely hard to get false items removed, and of course everyone passes the responsibility off to someone else (a bit ironic, I think).

  • Rave – In an effort to get my sh*t together, I wrote myself a to-do list for the weekend and had everything crossed off by Sunday evening.
    .
    Rant – So many work-related rants.
    .
    Rave – The weather!! I love not sweating through my work clothes at 7:30 in the morning.

  • Rave: I might have stumbled my way into a cool out of my department project at work. Oddly enough, the relationship that created this opportunity was started at my boss’ urging many months ago.
    Rant: my nieces love my dog and every time I go to their house they chastise me for not bringing him. So I brought him this weekend. Then they were scared of him! The little one was better and while it’s funny to hear her say things like “I petted him and he didn’t bite me!!” it’s also disheartening. The older one petted him once when we were leaving.
    Rant/rave: I just keeping looking online at houses in different cities. So many cute houses for so much less. I’m really thinking about just applying for jobs in lots of different places and seeing what happens.

    • We went to Detroit back in May and I decided to look at houses just for fun. It was utterly depressing! What’s even more frustrating is the Toronto real estate market is more insane than DC! Except there are a ton of condos here so that’s an option.

    • Glad to hear about the cool work project! and here’s hoping your nieces get over whatever dog-related weirdness they’re trying to sort through – I think kids are just so weird most of the time!

  • Rant: Had to drop the marathon due to a knee injury. This was supposed to be my first full and a bad fall set me back a month.
    Rave: Probably for the best since I have no time for long runs with school, journal, TAing, and heading a student org. Hopefully next spring I will remember to be less ambitious in committing to things…
    Rave: Employed for next summer.
    Rave: Tiny Dog is the cutest and is enjoying the cooler weather.

  • Rave: While he stil has a cough, Baby Artie seems much better and was his usual happy self this morning.
    Rant: I feel terrible. I woke up so sweaty this morning, pretty sure I ran a low grade fever last night.
    Rave: I was finally cleared as a donor and dropped off 170 ounces for the milk bank this morning. Feeling NICU babies counts as community servce when you are a busy parent.

  • Yes, $700 for a share is so a few years ago – the city is increasingly for the well-paid. But if he’s driving to work in Anacostia, he’s got lots of cheaper options out in the burbs. May even find something in the city east of the river if he likes a short commute.