Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sunday History

On Sunday Joey and I went to the National History Museum. Joey hasn't been since he was a kid, and thus obviously hasn't been since it was renovated last year. I'm still really disappointed in certain aspects of the new museum - such as the First Ladies exhibit, pop culture exhibit, and what just seems like too much wasted space. However, there is still a lot of good stuff to be seen and trust me, I know, because we saw EVERY SINGLE EXHIBIT on Sunday.

Sample conversation:
Me: There's Julia Child's kitchen
Joey: Who's that.
[I explain that she's a famous chef, wrote a book, just had a movie about her, etc.]
Joey: Ok.
[I start to walk away from it.]
Joey: Wait, we have to see it!
Me: You said you didn't know who she was!
Joey: So, I still want to see it!

And see it, we did. I believe our favorite exhibits were on the American Presidency, transportation, war, and the Star Spangled Banner.

Just a few favorites...

Desk Jefferson used to write the Declaration of Independence

Clinton's sax

Press passes from Helen Thomas (I'm currently reading one of her books. Love her.)

Furniture from Appomattox

Joey and a Ninja Turtle! I made him pose for a lot of different photos, but this one he jumped in front of without any prodding.

Mr. Hawaii
I get a kick of out seeing modern things in museums, things I have actually used or seen in my lifetime. Like this gas pump. Except, since I don't drive, I've never actually used a gas pump, which makes this picture sort of historical

Tree stump from Spotsylvania. (This one gave me chills. We're talking a 150 year old tree stump from an historic battle site!)

Seeing everything with Joey was a lot of fun and made everything seem new again. One of my favorite things about my family is their interest, knowledge, and excitement for history. I may be the one with the history degree, but I only have that interest because of the love and respect for the past that my family has nurtured for as long as I can remember.

My junior year of college I was writing an article on a Civil War battle site about a half hour from our house. Despite us having visited it numerous times, I was having trouble finishing the article. So Daddy, Mom, Joey, and I piled in the truck and went to visit again. We toured the site, walked in the surrounding woods, and drove throughout the town looking for things for me to write about. I don't know, I'm going home soon, I'm feeling a bit mushy.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

National Book Festival 2009

Saturday in D.C. dawned gray and dreary. Ordinarily this would make it the perfect day to put on a hoodie and fuzzy socks and nestle in my bed with a cup of tea, a good book, and a guilty pleasure movie. But when the little brother is visiting for the weekend, and there's a National Book Festival going on just a mile from your home, the day demands action.

Joey has never been a huge reader, but he has recently developed an addiction to the works of David Baldacci. When he learned he was going to be here for the festival, and that I of course had plans to attend, he made plans to come up from NC. It takes a brave soul to agree to accompany me to a book store, where I can browse for hours, and an even braver soul to attend an all-day event chock-full of authors, the equivalent of rock stars/heroes/idols in my world.

But he had a great time and enjoyed hearing Baldacci and others talk. And of course witnessing the shear number of people converge on the Mall, all willing to wait in line for hours just to spend less than a minute in the presence of a wordsmith they worship.

In our case we waited, and received, the autographs of Nicholas Sparks, Baldacci, and Azar Nafisi. No time to get other favorites John Grisham, John Irving, or Judy Blume this time around, sadly.

Baldacci was very gracious as he signed and later gave a funny talk where he just seemed genuinenly honored and excited to be at the event. And even though Joey claimed he didn't have to have anything signed, or didn't have to hear him talk, he sure was nearly first in line at the signing and at his talk a half hour early. Joe Cool, always.

Sparks also gave a nice and funny talk. His signing line was outrageous, though, and due to demand he was only able to sign one book and couldn't pose for pictures. I've read every one of his books over the years and I know they aren't great literature, but I love them and find them very inspiring. And most importantly, they nearly all take place in my beloved Eastern North Carolina, which doesn't get nearly as much love as it should. (And yes, I was so nervous but did manage to blurt out that I'm from near where he currently lives.)

I don't have a picture of Azar Nafisi. I was so nervous I don't even think I said "hi." What could I possibly say to someone who risked death during the Iranian Revolution by standing up for her beliefs and teaching young women? Nothing, that's right.

We arrived at the festival at 10:30 and didn't head home until 5. By the end we were wet, exhausted, and in pain from being on our feet all day.

But it was a really good day.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Soapbox

I was going to rant about politicians and the press, but instead, I read this article and decided it was a much better and happy soapbox to jump on.

Arkansas player ends game with noble gesture

In a high school football game in Arkansas between Cave City and Yelleville-Summit, Cave City was up 34-18 against the small school whose heart just wasn't in the game. Yelleville lost one player in a car crash the week before and had four more players seriously injured. Cave City's Thamail Morgan, about to score again, stopped at the 2 yard line, backed up to the five, and took the knee.

"Before the game, we as a team, talked about being classy," he said. "We did not want to come out in a game like this and not show any class."

The article also mentions how Morgan is new to Cave City after trasnferring from his prior school because of an unnamed disciplinary action. CC's coach said he could play if he agreed to certain terms -- extra workouts, good performance in school, meeting with a church counselor -- and so far he's been practically perfect.

This story just made my day. I will stop watching games where teams are embarrasingly ahead of their opponents. The class that this kid -- and his entire team -- showed is inspiring and I hope he ends up with a scholarship he rightly deserves.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"I think I need a sunrise; I'm tired of the sunset." (Boston, Augustana)

I have had nothing to say for the past few weeks. Absolutely nothing. I couldn't even muster up enough indignation for a soapbox post on Friday. If that doesn't prove how dull I've been lately, nothing will. (Don't get me wrong, plenty to get worked up about, just not enough to justify putting into the written word.) I am in desperate need of sleep but so far still quite alert so thus I present what I'll call Tuesday Three, since I like alliteration.

  1. Vegas pictures finally posted to my Flickr.
    If you care for me at all, you'll select the Vegas collection in the right sidebar, and then go through the neatly-organized sets. Yes, this makes me "rigid and unbending," in the words of my mother, but it also makes for a far more enjoyable picture-viewing experience for you.
  2. Today is the official first day of Fall! For some reason, I am really excited about it this year. It's odd because most years in North Carolina if you blink you'll miss it, since we tend to go from hot hot hot to cold cold cold with barely a glance at anything in between. And while I feel this Summer was far more mild than what I'm used to, I'm still ready for the change. Sweaters, boots, and fuzzy socks; new TV season; college and pro football; leaves changing and should be good!
  3. I think I need to add creepy to my over-used word list. Random, yes, but having to do with what I was going to make my soapbox post but decided against. Just something on the mind lately. Already on the list are words that happen to put me in the running to be a Valley Girl: so, totally, and dude.
With the brother coming up this weekend and U2 next weekend I should have far more exciting things to write about, relatively speaking, in the future.

Gourds, Portobello Road, London, October 2006

Monday, September 14, 2009

Friday Soapbox (on Monday)

In my journey to get to the movies* downtown on Saturday I happened across many of the people protesting on the Mall. I hate large crowds of any kind but my need for movie munchies led me to the CVS on Pennsylvania. Big mistake.

I'm not commenting on some of the protesters -- I've ranted enough to multiple people that it's out of my system. (Plus I'm cranky and don't feel like being eloquent, fair, or dignified.) And sometimes all you need is one word anyway so I'll leave that to George S.:

"Bury Obamacare with Kennedy"??? - George's Bottom Line

Classy, indeed.

*For the curious, I saw the documentary The September Issue, about Anna Wintour and Vogue. It was really well done and quite funny. When I grow up, I want Wintour's wardrobe and style and Grace Coddington's talent and attitude.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

What happens in Vegas...gets posted on my blog

And I'm back! (As of Monday night, it has just been a long week.) Vegas was
wonderful - big, loud, exhausting, hot, and shiny - but wonderful.

My first impression of the city, seen from the van of my airport shuttle, was simply, "Too much!" Lights, buildings, trees, people, cars, random monuments, etc. Too much, too much. But as the days went on it became more like, "Too much? Not enough!" I never saw myself as a Vegas-type girl, whatever that is, and I'm not saying it's even cracking my top five cities list, but it was a good time and I'd certainly go back. All in all, I return a little more tired, a little more poor, a little more worldly, a little more happy, and a little more sad than when I left.

A little more tired
because I don't do well with time changes. And also because, for the most part, our days started early and ended late. (The early part largely due to mine and Brandie's inability to stop thinking like East Coasters. And also a desire to get a spot by the pool.)

A little more poor
because I lost a teensy bit of money on the slot machines. (Seriously, only about $20, I'm just not a gambler.) My favorite machine was definitely Star Wars - both the one featuring R2-D2 and the one with the Death Star. I'm a geek, what can I say, and I like looking at Harrison Ford as my winnings are depleted. I also had an amazingly good, amazingly expensive (for me) meal that I'll remember for awhile.

A little more worldly because I was in a new city in a new state. It's the furthest west I have been, and I went from flying over the manicured lawns of suburban Virginia, to the vast green of the Midwest, to the red earth of the West, to the neon lights of Vegas. While in one city I managed to swing by Venice, Paris, Athens, Rome, and saw Egypt and New York in the distance. I finally saw Phantom of the Opera - which I only mildly enjoyed, but at least I've seen it now.

A little more happy because I got to experience all this with two of my closest friends. There were hours of laughing, talking, joking, and walking. Oh, the walking. I'm happy because I drank a bellini in the Venetian, gazed at umbrellas suspended from the ceiling in the Palazzo, and lost my breath at the sight of the Bellagio fountains -- which as of right now this fountain freak is ranking #1.

A little more sad because at the end it meant leaving my friend, Jan, and it meant missing my other friend, Karey, a bit more. I love them all individually for various reasons but I also really appreciate our group dynamic. We all bring something different to the table and while it still works when one or two aren't there, there's always a noticeable gap.

(Yes, I really did take this picture, of myself, with my friends standing right there. This is why I shouldn't drink, be out in the sun all day, and then ride a freaky uphill escalator. It messes with the mind.)

And that's Vegas, in a nutshell. I have 350ish pictures to upload to my Flickr, plus whatever ones I steal from my friends, so they'll be up eventually.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Friday Soapbox

I really enjoy following politics and current events. I am a complete and utter news addict and check CNN, Politico, DCist, HuffPo, Slate, etc. constantly throughout the day. Therefore I probably start a dozen different posts or emails in my drafts every week ranting about something; they very rarely get any further than drafts. Thus I present a new feature...Friday Soapbox! (And because it's my blog and if no one wants to read it I'm just self-involved enough to keep writing anyway.)

From an article on Politico:

The White House says Obama’s address is a sort of pep talk for the nation’s
schoolchildren. But conservative commentators have criticized Obama for
trying to “indoctrinate” students to his liberal beliefs, and some parents call it an improper mix of politics and education.

If it hasn't already been made clear by some of my statements here, or some of the read books in my list at left, I am someone who holds those dreaded "liberal beliefs" that apparently has parents and school districts quaking in their boots. However, I find this offensive on a level beyond mere political divisions. I was taught in social studies classes as far back as I can remember about being a good citizen. This meant obeying the law, understanding the way government works, and respecting those in power. Even if you don’t respect the person, you still respect the office and the job they are doing.

And the key point here, to me, is that these are children. His message is about staying in school and being a good citizen. What is so harmful about that? There are a thousand worse things we could “indoctrinate” our children on than the importance of education and citizenship.

I can readily admit that I’ve said and thought some less than civil things about our last president. I’m fairly sure I even uttered the phrase “not my president” a time or two, and that wasn’t the most constructive way to go. But I would never begrudge him the chance to engage the next generation in this manner. Voter turnout and political interest amongst my generation is abysmal. Why not let this next one know now that they have a voice?

There is so much bitter partisanship nowadays -- and I implicate myself in that as well -- I just don't see why people are trying to put that on their kids as well. Let them at least have a shot at thinking we all can get along. Or at the very least have a civil debate before falling back on the standby accusations of a leftist government controlling kids and killing grandparents while making everyone be vegetarian and live in a Socialist commune.

And also, Reagan did it too.

(And now I'm off to Vegas! So if this isn't as eloquent or as rational as it should have been, I'll fix it Tuesday. Vegas on the mind!)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Open Letter of the Week

Dear Columbia Heights Target,

I stood in your snack bar line for 10 minutes on Saturday so I could buy a drink and a pretzel. Everytime I stand in your line you never have what I want to order by the time I get to the register. This time, however, you had a case full of soft pretzels, so I thought I was safe.

HOWEVER, when I finally made it to the register, I was told you didn't have any. "What about those?" I politely asked, pointing to the large, glass holding cell full of deliciously twisted goodness, all the while suppressing my rage and desire to throttle everyone in my path. "Those aren't for sale," was the mind-boggling reply.

Not for sale? A dozen perfectly-fine looking food items on display for all to see, and they aren't for sale? Please, please explain the "logic" of this to me. Or, if that's too much to ask, please consider putting up a sign -- it can be handwritten in eyeliner for all I care -- that says:
Even though these tasty morsels appear to be edible -- looking at you girl who forgot to eat before she left home and is now feeling faint -- they are not in fact for sale.

A little too wordy for you? How about:
Don't eat me
Haha not for you
Can't have

Or simply:

Anything will do, really, just to prevent me and other people from getting their hopes up and wasting their time.

I love you, Target, I do. And even though people keep getting shot outside of this particular one, I love the location and convenience. But stand between a girl and her pretzel, and it's on.

Hungry in DC

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

"The work begins anew, the hope rises again, and the dream lives on." (Sen. Ted Kennedy)

I hope this isn't tacky to blog about, but I blog about my experiences, especially those happening in DC, and this fits both. Saturday I followed through on a promise to my Aunt Traci and went downtown to see Senator Kennedy's funeral procession.

Like most people, I too am intrigued by the allure of the Kennedy family. And having just finished The Last Campaign about Bobby Kennedy -- in which the beautifully written description of his own procession caused me to openly cry on the metro -- the lasting imprint of their legacy was fresh on my mind.

But I can't say that I fully grasped the role Kennedy played and the impact he had on both politics and his own family until I read all the articles and watched the coverage this week. (I read some of the criticisms as well, nothing I didn't already know and nothing that hasn't already played a role in shaping my view of him.)

So on Saturday I waited on the steps of the National Archives, surrounded by more Boston Red Sox gear than I've ever seen, as everyone stood and politely applauded, waving at his family and friends in the procession as they waved at us, until he passed. It was very moving, more so than I was expecting. There's something about a large crowd of chattering people suddenly growing silent, of traffic on one of DC's busiest streets giving way to cops on motorcycles and sleek black cars, of one car in particular signaling the end of an era and hopefully ushering in a new.

(Sen. Kerry)


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