Chaos Attraction

Washington, D.C.

2012-09-15, 2:11 p.m.


(Washington pictures start here.)

Despite (all too briefly, I suspect) having my own bedroom for a change to sleep in-and a nice bed-- I didn't sleep for shit because I knew I had to get up at 6 a.m. Bleah. Anyway, it took a loooong time to get to DC from where we were in Maryland. It probably takes at least an hour to drive to the farthest end of of the metro-and we were lost on top of that because Marianne got lost-I don't think she goes there much. Anyway, we were supposed to be at the Capital a half hour before the tour started at 9:40, we got on the metro and left at oh, 8:48....we were supposed to be meeting my cousin Kristen (who moved to Virginia for grad school 3 weeks ago) at 9 at the yeah, not going well. It took 45 minutes to get there, so we arrived at 9:30 and ran. We got there at 9:40...and Kristen was still parking by then.

We went through the metal detectors a whole lot quicker than you do at the airport any more. (“We let you keep your shoes...and your sanity...” one guard said.) It gave me a sentimental feeling at first about only having to worry about having metal in your pockets and not the “possible cancer from radiation that didn't disperse, or a very personal groping” crap. Then when I found out that you had to go through a metal detector to go into EVERY building, I was less charmed. (In museums?!) Especially when my freaking makeup compact set off metal detector #4 and I got yelled at for it. (“Then why didn't it go off on the other 3?” I asked. “I don't know, but mine sets off EVERYTHING.”) Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention that knitting needles are expressly forbidden-okay, any pointy object not used for writing is, but they definitely said no knitting-at the Capital. VERY ANNOYING TO ME.

Okay, back to the story: Kristen arrived, we're late for the tour, but apparently no one cares too much about what time your reservation is supposedly for. They gave us stickers for 10 minutes later and say, “go stand in the movie line.” They make you watch a generic movie first (eh) and then you get headphones so you can hear your tour guide only in the big rooms. You go through...well, not a whole lot of rooms. There's the “crypt" area where they wanted to stash George Washington's body (except that it took 25 years to build it and then the family was all, “not now!”), the big ol' rotunda hall with statues and paintings, the old Senate vestibule (not normally on tour-only on small demand days), the Hall of Statues... I think that was it, really. It's all very majestic and beautiful and whatnot, but you don't see much. And then Kristen told us (after we were out of the building) that a big controversy going on in DC now is that the capital is cracking all over the place and money in the budget was supposed to go to fixing it...but the Republicans snuck it out of the budget. We got out of there around noon and then had about 4.5 hours to see stuff.

I'm gonna break off for a bit here to rant: I really wish we had more time to see DC than one day. There's a lot of FREE museums, all huge, and I had to pick one to reasonably attempt to see, and that's it? That may be all I ever see of DC in my life, probably. I find it really frustrating that we're going to spend a week doing nothing, when there's all this other cool stuff I could be seeing here instead. GRRRRRR.

If I had one museum to see all day...I picked Natural History. I figured there's something for everyone and science is cool and it was near the sculpture garden if we made it over there (which we later did, spoiler). In retrospect, I kinda wish I'd said to go to Air and Space first, since I had been I had gone to another natural history museum oh, two days ago. Especially since A&S was deemed “too far away” to go to later.

As for Natural History...well, I would have liked to have covered everything, but everyone else didn't so much. Feh. Went through mammals, human evolution, ocean life (briefly), then everyone needed to eat so there went an hour, I of course insisted on hitting the gift shop (where I got a T-shirt with a sequinned Hope Diamond on it), then we went through rocks/gems/the Hope Diamond section, then everyone else wanted to leave. Probably the gems and rocks area was my favorite, but I'll admit that I didn't pay all that much attention, what with four people and talking at all.

I ended up talking with Kristen for probably the longest conversation we've ever had, I suspect. I think she was homesick and weirded out by moving to Virginia, so she was happy to talk to even the likes of us. Something like that, anyway.

We discussed moving:
“Southern California seems easier than this.”
“I didn't realize how hard this was to do until I did it.”
“When I saw the “Leaving California” sign, I started crying for 10 minutes.”
She is generally weirded out here so far-- never knows what to wear, weather is weird, freeways have 45-55 mph speed limits! People can't drive in the rain either. She wants to leave ASAP so she plans on cramming in as much work as she can to get out faster. I asked why she's doing grad school before law school when she's always wanted to go to law school (economy be damned). And for that matter, why the East Coast?

(a) academia requires you to get degrees on both coasts (erm...she's going into academia? Explains L's career though, which went the other way)
(b) she wants to bring her anthropology degrees into law (“I'll figure something out”).
(c) she can get more money for law school if she has a master's, and get into a better law school.
She did say it kind of sucked that her friends are out of law school by now and she hasn't even started yet, like she hasn't even started on her goal yet. I said that at least she has one. I wish I had one.

We talked about family drama. She went to a wedding in CA over Labor Day weekend and got bridezilla'd on and the bride bailed on the honeymoon trip Kristen paid the fees for (she was going to let them use the family timeshare). Cassie caused some academic drama, the likes of which are suddenly more relevant to my life. We talked about how Mom tends to break into talking about death when she's around any relative-which she was totally doing to Marianne on the way over here. Seriously, she was going into the detailed rundown of everyone's decline, with dates, since her sister died in the 70's. She remembers every bad thing happening. Kristen was all, “Why doesn't she get therapy when she's still messed up about all of them? The rest of us are in therapy...” Heh, I agree. But she doesn't wanna, nothing I can do.
We hardly paid attention to the exhibits, and we halfway walked through the Chilean miners rescue exhibit section before even noticing it.

After that, everyone but me wanted to do something else. I wanted to hit the outdoor sculpture park. I liked that one, of course. Smaller than the de Cordova, but still weird, and had a nice pool.

* Silver tree.
* Cartoon house.
* Orange thing.
* Black thing.
* Green chairway to heaven.
* Pyramid.
* Jackrabbit.
* Pointy thing.
* Very exciting.
* More chairs.
* Camera...thing....
* I don't even know.

Then we somehow ended up at the National Archives, looking at the Magna Carta, Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence. Since most of these were too faded to read (except the Magna Carta, which isn't in English), it somehow wasn't as exciting as it should have been. I did get a kick out of reading a display case talking about the guy who did the Founding Fathers paintings in the Rotunda. I gather there was a lot of nitpicking about how to do it. One bigwig had written a letter to someone else complaining at great length about the artist's work so far. He felt Very Strongly about how the capes were done in particular and nitpicked that for most of the letter. He grumbled that the capes needed giant safety pins to stay on, and made some reference to improving Jefferson's anatomy....heh heh heh. One guard also pointed out to us that Lincoln's silhouette had been put in the clouds.

And... that was the end of seeing DC, sigh. Went back on the metro, had dinner at their country club, went to bed relatively early for a change.

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