Monthly Archives: October 2012

Story Corps

I am so happy that something like StoryCorps exists. It took a really windy, cold, wet, no good Monday and transformed it into a life-affirming love fest. Why don’t we stop and tell stories more often? I miss the concept of the front porch; I want a piece of the day-to-day to be sanctified in the re-telling, and that is what StoryCorps does. Their mission “is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.” I started with one story and then just kept on.

In “Q and A” I heard point-blank the questions that we all wish we had the courage to ask of those that love us the most. He was twelve, an age where the average pre-teen does whatever possible to cover up the desperation to be needed and liked, and because of his Asberger’s syndrome this boy isn’t able to dissemble his emotions; they are bare and reckless. It is humbling to hear without the veil of pretense and, because of his disability, even the possibility of a buffet of social rules.

Many of the stories are love stories; most of us have them, but we live with them so long without really thinking of them that they can become rather pedestrian. When called upon by new acquaintances to answer how we met or what we though of each other at first glance, I often hedge in my memories- say the right thing- rein in emotions that might sound too strong or unrealistic, but in a room with just two people and a tape player there comes a sweetness and honesty that makes even the most common of these love stories inspirational.

I also loved “Miss Devine” a portrait of a “wiry lady” the “only woman who had more power than our grandmother.” Some people just demand to be immortalized, and that is what stories can do. They memorialize a place or a moment or a feeling. The simplest words and simplest stories somehow become profound when someone speaks and we listen.

Definitely worth a visit:

Story Corp Animated Shorts

 

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DC Anniversary: Part 2

I left you at a bit of a cliff hanger- right on the cusp of the Natural History Museum. I know you were excited; we were too– I have evidence…

We were seriously stoked to be in the hall of mammals: here is a video to show you just how stoked:

So we can poke fun at how excited we got, but the place makes you feel like a kid again. We wanted to do all of our Christmas shopping in the museum store. Also, I learned from a young boy in the wing of mummies that the mummies were put in sarcophagi because they were zombies and that kept them from escaping ….

There was a bull mummy.

After close of business, we had all good intentions to hit up another cheap eats restaurant on my radar in Georgetown and to get a cupcake from Baked and Wired, but after a bit too much aimless walking and a few misguided  metro stops, we hit the I’m tired and hungry and don’t want to walk anymore wall, and lucky for us, District Commons happened to be a stone’s throw away from the travel meltdown (I assure you it’s all part of the fun). It completely fell outside the realm of $ restaurants on urbanspoon, but man was it good; so good that next time it will be part of the plan. We sat in the bar in a perfect moody corner and had two of the best old fashioneds. I highly recommend a stop in; we didn’t regret it.

Revived and happy we took the long walk and ride back to Alexandria and tucked in for the night. We had another half a day planned for the morrow. After a good night’s sleep and a leisurely check-out we kept our car parked in Alexandria and took the trusty King Street metro toward Dupont Circle to catch brunch at the storied Ted’s Bulletin. The place was adorable and really good- worth the wait, though yours will probably be shorter if you don’t miss your name the first time. It is set up with a great old school lunch counter, they play old black and white movies on a big screen, and they leave the coffee carafe on your table, lots to love. Also, the bakery makes from scratch pop-tarts. We snagged a few to enjoy on the way out- pumpkin chai was especially good.

Eastern Market has an antique market on Sunday afternoons besides the usual food market, so we took a quick stroll over from Ted’s to check it out.

I wish we had more time to peruse the wares, and the dining counter at the market  looked enticing for another time, but we had one more museum to get in before heading back to Durham.

Our last stop was the National Gallery, and  I was, in a word, impressed. It is huge, spanning two buildings, and the broad swath of artists and styles is truly impressive. We loved wandering from room to room and stumbling on famous things we recognized or works we had never seen before but loved. The last art museum I was in was the Uffuzi Gallery in Florence, and it still holds the place as my favorite, but I can’t wait to get back to the National Gallery again with more time. These were a few of our favorites.

 

An exciting light tunnel takes you to the Modern wing.

We had just enough time to stroll by the Library of Congress. In the past it has been one of my favorite places to visit; the interior is truly beautiful, but alas it was Sunday and even this library wasn’t open. We were satisfied with a picture of us instead of it and then hopped back on the train to return to our car and then home.

It was only a four hour trip, and we were home in time to wind down for a new week, so I have a feeling it won’t be long before we return.

DC Anniversary: Part 1

Last weekend we took advantage of our new proximity to the fine state of Virginia and took an anniversary trip to Washington DC. I hope we get to explore Virginia a good deal during our time here; it was the state that always seemed so close and yet so far away from Kentucky.

I know some people don’t particularly love D.C., and I can understand that sentiment to a point, but as far as larger cities go, I could picture myself there more than any of the others. The politics (and political talk) can get heavy handed, but there are so many things of real import going on and it is beautiful in the fall and then there are the museums. Working in a museum has always been a dream of mine. I think it was afternoons wandering the halls of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford that did it. Not having spent much time in them behind the scenes, I am not even exactly sure what sort of work I would do, and like any job I am sure it would be full of less glamour than imagined, but I just find it so exciting that these cultural vaults exist and that we are invited to explore them. And in D.C. we are invited for free, and so we fondly termed this our Nerds who Like to Eat Anniversary.

Mission: To visit as many museums and sample as many of the best cheap eats possible in two days…

Let’s get the must do D.C. out of the way: we made it to our hotel just as the sun and temperatures started to go down. Somehow my throw as many things as possible in an overnight bag and wing-it tactic failed this time, and I made it there without a real coat- we also realized around this time that John did not really own a fall coat- so we layered on as many things as possible and headed to the metro. I love the metro. I understand that I would probably hate the metro if I had to use it all the time, but as a tourist it is part of what makes the whole thing work. (Though remind me to tell you later of how I once  nearly had a panic attack in the metro when faced with  egregious crowding and a man dressed in a full gorilla suit.)

We strolled the mall and checked in on the White House.

…and then we strolled over to the Foggy Bottom ( I know) Metro Stop and checked in on Burger Tap and Shake. This place was pretty busy and full of patrons from the nearby George Washington U., and they have a good burger. We were really hungry, and I might have overdone it in ordering the Southern Comfort: A burger replete with a fried green tomato, pimento cheese, and vidalia onions. It was good and we will most likely return, but John and I thought that Durham’s own Bull City Burgers edged them out, if only on the considerable merit of their sweet potato fries.

      

 

 

 

 

 

As many meals of this kind, afterward John and I decided that it had been a big mistake: you know, burger, fries, and a milkshake is a bit much.  – A few 24 hours later John pleaded that we return. I don’t think we will ever really learn.

We stayed in Alexandria, so a 20-30 minute metro trip was in order to get us back to the hotel. I had heard good things about Old Town Alexandria’s Farmers Market, so we decided that Saturday’s breakfast would be a great excuse to check it out. I was not particularly impressed with the market, but just walking around Old Town ended up being one of my favorite parts of the weekend.

It reminded me of another southern favorite, Charleston, S.C. We made sure to get a rounded breakfast of savory and sweet- though both options centered around buttery pastry dough- and enjoyed them on the way to our first museum on the metro.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Note: We later saw signs that threatened fines for eating on the metro; you probably shouldn’t follow our example…

We narrowed our museum choices down to three for the sake of quality over quantity, and our first trip was to the Holocaust museum. Now there were a few jokes here and there about the implication of going to this particular museum on our anniversary trip, but later we both agreed that it was a completely worthy experience. The museum itself deserves and will get its own post, but needless to say, it was moving and difficult and at the end we were really glad to have gone.

After a two-hour route through the museum we emerged onto the mall and took in the clear blue skies. We had both visited the monuments several times before, so we didn’t make a specific trip to any one. But of course they were never far away…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now we were ready for lunch, and I had done my homework. We are frequent users of sites like yelp and urbanspoon to make restaurant decisions, and when I found Panas, I knew we had to make the trip. It was a little out of the way but so worth the trip.

Panas serves empanadas stuffed with about 15 different flavor combinations, omnivores and vegetarians alike will come away happy and I wanted to buy a bottle of each of their four dipping sauces to take home; they were each wonderful in entirely different ways. I don’t think this is a chain, though it would work well as one for the concept; everything was so well thought out from the combinations, to the accompaniments, and finally to the codes that were baked into each crust so you knew which flavor you happened to be enjoying. We took the plunge and ordered the Canoa- 8 enchiladas and plaintain chips. For the record our favorites were The Popeye and the CubaNovo. All the food was excellent, and the food is a great price for the experience and quality.

 

 

 

 

 

Fully stuffed by the canoe of food, we were ready for the wonderland of every 10 year old in a 27 year old’s body: the Natural History Museum.

To be continued…

Three Years!

I like that we are pretty much not newlyweds anymore, I like that we are better because of hard things that have happened, I like that we moved to a brand new place and it is our brand new life together, I like that our inside jokes can only get more complicated from here on, I like that you write me letters on special days instead of cards, I like that a friend once told me that we have the best stories because I like thinking we are main characters together, I like that we laugh a lot, that we are just simpatico if you know what I mean, and I particularly like that I was able to find multiple pictures of me being dipped by you on dance floors.

  

Cheers to year four and on and on; I am oh so looking forward to them all.

 

The Awesome List: Episode 1

—There are small things in life that just make it good but might not warrant a whole post: hence the awesome list- five little things that made life better this week.—

Just to begin, you can listen to this song while you read. You can also watch the pretty amazing trick biking footage, but I found that only mildly appealing (though impressive) and the song particularly enjoyable.

1. Roasted Fall Vegetables: Hello butternut squash, we have missed you. What is it about roasting vegetables that makes them so very good? John and I put roasted brussel sprouts on the same level as candy, they are chewy, salty, and slightly sweet, but the particular mix we have been enjoying this week is cubed butternut squash, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, and carrots tossed in garlic, olive oil, and dried rosemary. It is awesome on its own but also a superior pizza topping.

Also pretty great on top of polenta!

 

2. Kid History Videos: We laughed such that I did that silent hiccuping falling over thing while watching these. I love that people who think of these things exist. This was a favorite, but you should also check out “Boys and Girls Camp.”

 

3. This post by cjanekendrick.com; my favorite section, and one that I can relate to a bit in this season, was this-

“The thing I noticed about me, about this summer, about that grass as it grew wild in the sun is this: what may look wild and untethered can actually be the very breath of obedience. Sometimes God just wants us to grow lush until we too, go to seed, replicate ourselves, scatter and store up more roots through the winter onto next spring, when the light finds us again.”

4. The fact that I conquered the Ikea Vittsjo. Sure it was true, as the mildly amusing graphic told me, that I needed a bit of a helper at one pivotal moment, but otherwise I independently followed the pictures and in only three separate sections of work, there she stood. Sure she didn’t fit in the part of the house I intended- measure twice build once means nothing to me- but once a lovely shade of emerald green is applied, she will work quite well in the hall.

5. Light saber fights: During a quiet night as the darkness descended on our quiet Durham street, I peered out the front window, and my jaw dropped when I saw this…

So, maybe it was just the neighbor kids and maybe they weren’t real light sabers, but in the darkening twilight it was the closest we’ll come to it this side of heaven. And it is not just my husband’s slightly too strong love of Star Wars that made it so delightful; seeing kids do stuff like this out in the real world just makes me smile.

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” Anais Nin