I was on this great streak where I programmed front page articles a week in advance, then sat around and pretended to be surprised when they appeared as scheduled.  Gosh, that Nacho!  What a prolific and amazing writer!

Well, that’s all over now.  I’ve temporarily (and voluntarily) entered into a “compressed” schedule at my day job.  Which basically means that I have two extra hours each day to watch TV and screw around.  Though it also means I’m always exhausted.  And writing while exhausted means that I have lost all grasp on the English language.

In exchange for a holiday every other Friday (which is a victory mixed with ashes since I also work on the weekends), I have to work 8am-6pm just about every day.  Of course, I also have an hour commute… So when all is said and done, from shower to walking back through my door in the evening, I’m in the mix from 6:30am to 7pm.  Throw in 10 to 12 hour shifts at the second job on the weekends and the ongoing demands of running a publishing company and, well, I’m starting to wonder if I should just go join a commune or something.  Preferably one with attractive women.  If there still are attractive women out there… From down in the pits of wage slave land, all the women are too fat to move.  I see at least 15 such creatures every day during my ritualistic mile walk from the Metro station.  That’s also voluntary, and factored into my schedule.  I get off one stop early (on occasion, I make it two stops early) and then walk in, soaking up the cheery atmosphere of Northeast DC.

In my youth, I would have found it impossible to suspend my disbelief if the Terminator wandered into Northeast.  I’d probably have to walk out of the theater and ask for my money back.  But, thanks to the glorious power of the immortal white man, Northeast is being gentrified with all the grace of an anal rape.  The blacks are being priced out (though they do get to keep a tiny enclave of hideous projects), and office buildings are rising up like great sleeping krakens.  The vast parking lot for the former Woodward & Lothrop has been torn up and will be the future home (in 2010) of a Harris Teeter store, which should really put the extent of the gentrification in focus.  Harris Teeter is the sort of place that excites blue haired ladies who walk poodles and still wear fur.

So office buildings and luxury supermarkets to serve an area that’s been brutally depopulated.  I’m sure the high class condos will come along soon.  The rowhouses on the other side of Union Station, along Second Street and onwards, have already become a nest of up and coming neo-yuppies.  The last to fall will be the old projects, the homeless shelter, and maybe the Greyhound station.  In ten years, Northeast DC will make you want to stick the silver spoon all the way down your throat until vicious black bile comes pouring out of your nose.

Yes, I’m against gentrification.  The human cost is greater than leaving the neighborhood to the gangs and the drugs.  Mainly because it doesn’t really clean up the gangs and the drugs, it just moves them to Prince George’s County in Maryland and effectively walls them off Escape from New York style.  Out of sight out of mind, so all the dogwalkers who bought fixer upper townhomes robber baron style can talk cheerfully about how “revitalizing” the neighborhood has put an end to crime and saved the souls of all the little black savages.

(On the other hand, I’m excited about Harris Teeter because I have blue hair and wear fox fur.)

I’ve had the same day job for seven years now, which is about eight years too long.  During that time, travelling the Red Line Metro through Northeast, I’ve seen the area change dramatically.  At Takoma, there will always be the queer divide between Maryland and DC.  This has been clearly marked by the Stop & Save (or, as the locals call it, the Stop & Shoot).  Stop & Save is a liquor store with a twist – I believe it’s run by Muslims, since they always preach to me about the evils of alcohol.  Though I’m usually only buying booze there when I have one of my friend’s young children in tow, so that’s probably why.  Walk in with a little boy on your shoulders and buy plastic bottle vodka, grumbling to yourself the whole time, and that probably inspires some wariness on the part of any shopkeeper.

From the Metro, a much more dominant demarcation is the old Takoma Theater, which has been abandoned just about forever and is owned by a nutso who lives nearby.  I met him once to watch my friend buy several possibly stolen cars, which the theater’s owner parked in the gravel lot next door.  That was one of those times where I was along for the ride because I was promised beer, but ended up being an accomplice to multiple felonies.  Sometimes I really hate my friends.

The horrible little brick hothouses that marked the low-rent stretch between Takoma and Fort Totten are all currently for sale, which means the cruel hand of gentrification is about to sweep through those old DC neighborhoods.  Fort Totten is already an unrecognizable sea of condos.  Long gone is the seedy strip club and prime body-dumping open fields along the tracks.  After Fort Totten, old DC returns.  From there to Rhode Island Avenue, the old train town feel returns – abandoned warehouses (though most are still active) with the boarded up bays where the freight trains used to stop.

The notable abandoned warehouses outside of the Rhode Island Avenue stop are all on the market now.  Soon enough, they’ll be snatched up for condos or office blocks.  After Rhode Island, the long stretch of unused land owned by CSX (the tracks are long gone) was recently sold for development.  A new sub-station went in, and multiple projects are underway.  Tearing down the scrub and cleaning up decades of trash to raise office buildings in every possible space.  We’re losing our city in favor of poorly designed office buildings, shoddy and overpriced condos, and luxury stores that cater to the type of idiot who pays half a million for a condo that’s falling apart before he’s done moving in.  Takoma has the worst of those type of stores – do you all really need three gimcrack Pier One-type stores all within walking distance?

Well, that’s my rant today, because my life is all about commuting and working.  I was going to write about how I became addicted to and am now repulsed by espresso ice cubes.  I blame those for derailing my productivity.  They’ve seriously left me feeling like I just spent the last two weeks on heroin.

I’ve passed the drug on to my office mate now.  Yesterday, she made her own espresso ice cubes, then followed my formula:  Espresso-flavored vodka and Baileys over a glass filled with espresso ice cubes.  Today, she’s wearing dirty clothes and talking a mile a minute and acting like she’s on crack.  Which is exactly what that cocktail does to you.  Do not try it at home.