Walking to work, I marvel at how quickly I've resumed life in Washington, having returned less than a week and a half ago.
It's been a chaotic 10 days, attempting to launch a book, work at MCI, the long distance phone company, and still catch up with friends and family. Small matter that I live out of a suitcase in an empty apartment and that most of my shoes, for instance, are still scattered around the trunk of my car.
I just started to work on a cellular radio project, a new kind of mobile and portable telephone that will be better and cheaper than anything now available. Next week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is accepting applications for franchises for the top 30 markets, and the competition will be fierce. Writing an application involves a massive amount of work -- describing the technical, financial and marketing plans for the system.
The office scene has been much like a political campaign just before election day. Or, more recently for me, much like final exams week, from which I emerged several weeks ago. I'm getting a master of business administration degree at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
The part of the application I'm working on is intriguing, although I can't talk about it until after the filing. We're devising plans to introduce cellular radio and attempting to forecast demand in a dozen cities. Basically, it involves assessing who the likely subscribers are and how best to serve them.
I push aside my calculator and the accompanying stack of drafts and sneak off to one of my favorite lunch places, the Bread Oven. A friend is lending me his camera to play with before I buy one. He gives me a lesson between the gazpacho and the salad, ordering me to take lots of pictures. Zoom lenses are fun.
I receive my author's copies of "Washington, D.C.: The Complete Guide," a book I conceived and wrote with Bill Kramer (of Kramer Books) and Judy Duffield. The book is the newest guide to the area.
I work until after 11 and walk home, grateful that I live just a few blocks from the office. After several chapters of "Brideshead Revisited" I'm more than ready for sleep.
No need for an alarm clock with this much stress. At 5:30ish, I wake, go up to the apartment building's stark rooftop and watch the city stir as I make lists of things to do.
Another long day at work. More rain, too, although I'm oblivious to most weather, thanks to my interior office.
In the evening, a few of us working on the applications run over to the Sign of the Whale to bring back dinner. They're nice enough to agree to this extraordinarily large takeout order, even though the place is packed with singles waiting out the violent storm. We rush back to the office with gray plastic bins piled high with food -- it and us, soggy by now.
I've been awaiting The Washington Post review of the "Guide" since it was announced in last Sunday's book review section. About to leave the office at 11, it occurs to me to check the early Friday edition just rolling off the press, so I telephone rather than waste a trip. A sympathetic security guard is kind enough to peruse the newspaper at his station, find the review and read me a few paragraphs. He exclaims, "Hey, this is a nice review . . . very nice . . . he says you achieved your purpose." I call my partners Judy and Bill, wake them up with the good news and then dash over to buy some copies.
Still a few last-minute revisions at work. At MCI, it is clear that this project has sparked an involvement and commitment my professors only talk about wistfully. Colleen, a close friend from school, calls to say goodbye before leaving for two months in Europe. We exchange gossip and try to figure out a way to meet in France next month.
I stop in at the office to check a few things. Rick, a Wharton friend who's just moving to Washington to start work, and I drive up to New Hope, Pa., for a wedding.
With the blinding rain, we arrive at the remote farm barely in time for the wedding. Janice, a Wharton friend, soon to become a banker, and Kim, an artist, marry at the picturesque farm where they'd spent many weekends. Several of their antique quilts are hanging on the walls and rustic flowers are throughout the house. The air is intoxicatingly fresh.
Great escape, sailing in Rehoboth in my friend Bernard's new sailboat. We made a truce not to talk about work, much to my relief. More fresh air, even a good bit of wind, until a storm sends us back to shore, where he confesses that there had been small craft warnings all day.
We drive to Philadelphia to meet my brother who is doing a Wharton summer program for PhDs.
I see my brother Bud off to his first day of school. I race around town tending to details.
After recovering lost keys and letting my overheated car cool down, I speed back to Washington in time to see the FCC filing.
As I approach, a long procession of MCI staff is walking the multiple copies of 36 hefty volumes around the corner to the FCC. Company representatives, lawyers and hangers-on crowd into the commission hallway. We all gawk at each other and comment on the hard work and millions of dollars spent by at least 60 companies, trying for a piece of what promises to be a very big pie.
The MCI people stagger back to the office and already the war stories begin.
I go off to meet my sister Audrey and her friend Lee and a bunch of political types for dinner. Most of the talk centers on Bill Curry, who's here from Connecticut where he's running for Tony Moffett's old House seat.
Afterward, in a bookstore, I see a perfect stranger -- an older, quite respectable-looking woman who is not my mother -- actually buying the "Guide." I regret not thanking her.
Mid-morning the office is like a ghost town, in contrast to its recent round-the-clock hustle. I chat with whoever is around, the first re laxed conversations since I started here.
I call Washington friends I haven't talked to in months and otherwise prepare for tonight's party for the "Guide." We joke that it's a coming-out party, as I worry about little details.
No need to fret, though, as the party is a great success in terms of attendance (more than 200 people) and books sold (more than 100 copies). It's a good launch and a fun evening.
Cynthia Sheppard, 26, is working temporarily for MCI, a long-distance telephone company. A native of Boston, she is a graduate of Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., and is a resident of the District.