THE Z2 METROBUS is huffing and puffing along Colesville Road today, suffering from acute transmission problems. The bus driver manages to stop the bus in front of waiting passengers, and the bus wheezes to life after each stop. By the time the bus builds up anything close to normal speed, we have to stop again to pick up more people. I am constantly amazed at the equaminity of commuters when the Metro system acts up.
When we chug into the Silver Spring Metro station, the driver demands a new bus.
At the office, we are readying another issue of Ladycom, an international magazine for American military wives of which I am the editor. Closing for advertising is Friday. At that time I'll know how many editorial pages I have to fill in our overseas and domestic editions. hI am hoping for a big book so that I won't have overset to squeeze into summer issues.
Only one article is not yet finished: an investigative piece on military day care centers. We are still trying to find out why the day care center at a naval station in Alaska burned to the ground one night last November (no injuries or fatalities). No report has been released yet, and everyone in the 49th state is pleading ignorance.
My call to the naval station's commanding officer gets clearance for Ladycom to talk to fire investigators. I call the author in California and give her new names and phone numbers to try.
That evening my younger brother, who lives with me, comes home from a four-week vacation with relatives and informs me that he will not be returning to Towson State to finish his freshman year of college. John has decided to live with an aunt and uncle in Buffalo, our hometown. He will pay them room and board from his job in a grocery store and give school another shot in the fall. I am not pleased to hear this, but he is determined.
He is not pleased when I tell him he will probably have to pay for his own health insurance. But I am secretly proud of his independence and willingness to be responsible for himself.
My thoughts drift to my freshman year, just 10 years ago. My male friends were all worrying about the draft; my boyfriend was in the lottery. We considered ourselves lucky when he got a high number -- 231. Now he considers himself lucky because he's 28. Tuesday
Brother John drops me at the subway and shuffles off to Buffalo in his overpacked Camaro, my old car.
Ladycom's readership surveys, published in the February issue, begin pouring in. It's hard not to spend the morning reading each one, looking for clues into the minds of military wives and women in uniform. One military wife commented that she thinks women in the military should be paid for the job they do, not the rank or rate they hold. In many cases, she says, a male captain deserves more than a female captain. Harder jobs should be worth more money, and she doesn't think the women in the military have the more difficult jobs. From the spot checking I've done, the woman who returned this questionnaire holds a minority view. Finally, I tear myself away from the surveys and go back to the manuscripts on my desk.
In the evening I go to the yoga class I have been attending for two years.
My instructor, Dottie, in her 60s, is an inspiration. Her body is lithe and graceful; her mind reflects her physical well-being. She gives us a thorough workout and then puts us through a deep relaxation period. Afterward, my friend, Pam, and I have to make a serious effort to spring ourselves from this mellow state for the drive home. Wednesday
I decide to drive to work today. I take the route that used to represent "life in the fast lane" for Maryland commuters -- 13th Street. I am sympathizing with the 13th Street residents for wanting to live on a street with normal traffic patterns until I get stuck behind a Metrobus in the right-hand lane.
Pat, the author of the military day care article, calls me. She is getting nowhere with the Navy. The head of the fire investigation team has told her that it's against policy to discuss the cause of the fire when no official report has been filed yet. We are getting frustrated. The commanding officer at the Alaska station told Pat that the last time he was involved in a fire investigation on a military base, it took three years for the report to come out. If this situation is similar, then we certainly are not going to get the information into our April issue.
He also told Pat that he didn't think I believed him when he told me he didn't know what caused the fire. She reminded him that editors aren't supposed to believe everything they hear.
Communication is frustrating, too: Pat is in Escondido, Calif., the fire was in Alaska, the investigators are in Washington State and I'm in Washington, D.C. I consider asking for help from the office of the chief of naval operations, but I can't help but feel the CNO's staff is more concerned about moving the fleet into position in the Persian Gulf than about the burning of a quonset hut nursery in Alaska. After all, no one was hurt, right?
I have dinner that night with friends in Kensington and their 3-year-old daughter, my godchild. She is recovering from a chest burn she received when she overturned a cup of hot tea on herself. We are all terribly thankful that she will be okay. Thursday
Lunch with a writer -- a delightful man leaving public relations at age 55 to free lance. He is scared, excited and talented. The combination is terrific, and I sign him up to do an article for Ladycom's August issue.
At home, I consult my abacus and pay some bills. The condo association has announced that our monthly fees are going up 25 percent. Groan. I read my itemized Pepco bill and decide I'm grateful for the "averaged bill" concept which permits customers to pay for electricity through a type of installment plan. I look through the rest of the mail: a major clothing store announces a half-price sale. Big deal! Friday
I stop on the way to work to pick up nine casseroles from Judy Ireland, a cooking instructor and Coast Guard wife who tests recipes for Ladycom. She is full of ideas for Ladycom's summer food and entertaining issue. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and I feel good as I drive down Connecticut Avenue in the sunshine.
I leave my car in the underground lot in our building. Once again, a parking attendant offers to buy it. It's a 1973 Olds with 33,000 original miles on it, a Detroit antique. I tell him, only half-jokingly, that it had better be there when I leave that night, and I trundle up to the sixth floor with the casseroles.
At 3 p.m. I go into Ladycom's kitchen and heat up Judy's top four choices, all made from recipes submitted by readers. The staff digs in. Everyone has a favorite, but a few people qualify their choices. "This one needs more pizzazz," someone says. Pizzazz become 1/2 teaspoon of marjoram.
The production manager tells me Ladycom will be 72 pages in April -- a big book. That's great.
In the evening, against the advice of loca newspaper critics, I walk up to Dupont Circle with a writer friend to see "The Marriage of Maria Braun." It's fascinating. Suzan and I jump the median driver on Connecticut Avenue to get across to a restaurant, where we finish the evening discussing the movie, journalism and the CIA. Saturday
I spend several hours helping move a girlfriend who is leaving her husband. She will rent a room until she finds a permanent place to live. Having been through a divorce, I want to be helpful. I pack her Volvo while she takes last-minute phone call from friends. Everything she needs, for now, fits into her car. I look at the boxes and the not-very-big pile of clothes lying on top of them, and I have to laugh. When we were teenagers, we woudln't have thought we could make do with that amount of clothing for one week. These days, both of us feel good about traveling light. Sunday
Crisis: no newspaper on the doorstep. A phone call to the dealer brings an apology and The Post in time for lunch. I spend most of the day reading and clipping newspapers and writing letters.
I bundle up and go for a walk by the creek. It's still country where I live, but it won't be for long. I keep telling myself to enjoy while it lasts.