Friday, October 25, 2013

Weeks 7 & 8: Galesville, Annapolis, Baltimore, and Wasington D.C.

Since I returned from my trip home to San Francisco, we've been housesitting for Larry's friend Charlie, who lives on the West River in Galesville, Maryland. We were happy to have some down time, with no pressure to sightsee--especially at first because of the government shut down. When the shut down ended, we drove into D.C. for the day, wandering around part of the mall. The Washington Monument was covered with scaffolding. I was very moved by both the Martin Luther King, Jr. monument, especially the many quotes carved into walls behind his statue.

Then we went to the Lincoln Memorial. It was a gorgeous day and people were out in droves. Some young people were just sitting there studying next to the water, and I wondered what it might be like to be able to come to this park--grand, important, and gorgeous--whenever one felt like it. I thought of the many demonstrations and rallies that had been held here.

I don't often discuss politics as my views are incredibly radical--I'm an extreme idealist who believes in the human race and discounts the idea of countries and borders. I oppose killing--and thus war--of any kind. I've always kind of loved Martin Luther King, Jr. because he insists upon a unified concept of humanity and justness. It's not that I don't understand why we sometimes go to war, but I still believe there is always another way, a peaceful resolution available to all of us.

I remember when we walked up to the Vietnam War Memorial and how it seemed to go on and on--and how the names are under the grass, and how it's not flashy. I remember when it was built.

Vietnam War Memorial
 D.C. was never a place I dreamed about coming to. It wasn't on my bucket list. Still, I was moved by the Vietnam War Memorial. There's a directory where you can look up names and Larry found the name of a friend's father and we went and found that name among the sea of names.

Larry looking for his friend's father's name on the Memorial
We drove around downtown and found a movie theater, so we wouldn't have to fight rush hour traffic. There, we saw "Mother of George" about Nigerian immigrants in Brooklyn.

Our next outing was to Baltimore. Though the Baltimore Museum of Art is massive, it was actually pretty manageable because most of its major collection--the Matisse's--are on tour, and the museum itself is under renovation. Larry and I both enjoy Matisse and I was kind of disappointed, but there was an exhibit of his drawings of his daughter and a couple of Matisse's--including the one below, which we want to get for our wall when we return home.

With my background in conceptual and performance art, I tend to be delighted by the more contemporary works, like the dried fruit peels sewn back together pictured below. Larry tends to love earlier works and more realistic works, but we've both been coming together to find an appreciation of the other's tastes on this trip, which has broadened us both.

We then went to a diner called "Cafe Hon" where the waitresses were supposed to wear beehives and call you hon. That didn't turn out to be true, but it did have leopard-print fabric on the booths. And the food was good and Southern.

We then drove down to the Inner Harbor, in search of a park with interactive play sculptures. It took us awhile to find it and our detour took us through Little Italy and past the house where the flag that the Star-Spangled Banner was written about was sewn. It was awesome to see old houses and buildings.

We finally found the park! Here I am playing in the park, though I asked the kids if they thought the one sculpture was only for kids and they said, to my disappointment, yes. I still went on it.

Then we backtracked through town to find The Book Thing, a free bookstore where people can recycle their books or pick up new reads.  Like most of Baltimore, neighborhoods can change from upscale and hip to sketchy looking with boarded up and demolished buildings. The neighborhood right before Book Thing didn't look particularly safe, and we turned into the alley where it was and weren't sure we were going to get out of the car, until we pulled up and saw several people coming and going. There was a big warehouse full of piles of books being sorted and then rooms and rooms of shelves and shelves of books. We spent a good hour there looking through the stores and choosing our selections, leaving happy.

Our next sightseeing venture was back in D.C. We took the Metro down to the Smithsonian. I had no idea that the Smithsonian was really 19 museums. We chose the American History Museum, which was three floors and a full day's tour. I loved seeing the popular culture room--with early typewriters, Dorothy's ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore, and the original Kermit the Frog puppet. We both loved the African American history wing, with one side devoted to the Civil War and the other devoted to the Civil Rights movement. Then there was transportation, the history of electricity, American history, coins, and much more--including a collection of lunch pails and the shoes of Celia Cruz, Cuban-born pop star. It was a filling and great day.

Detail from the Golden Books Collection, one of my favorite exhibits at the Smithsonian

Julia Child's Kitchen at the Smithsonian--awesome! 


We spent a lot of time just hanging out in the house in Galesville, resting, reading, me working on writing projects--and  sometimes going into Annapolis for lunch.

One night, we had a treat--Charlie arranged for us to use somebody's tickets to a music event in downtown Annapolis, so we got dressed up and went to dinner and a show. Paul Thorn is a favorite of Larry's and it was a great happenstance he was playing in town that night. I loved the opening act, a Baltimore band fronted by a guy named Cris Jacobs with a upright bassist who played like there was no tomorrow. Paul Thorn was hilarious and he and the band performed non stop for an hour and a half to a super grateful crowd. And we were grateful for the chance to be there.

The next day we did another trip into D.C. I wanted to see the Folger Shakespeare Library which had an exhibit about different stagings of Shakespeare through the centuries. It was super illuminating. I grew up on Shakespeare, going to see plays at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego when I was a kid and studying acting there. I played Puck in Midsummer Night's Dream in high school and then Titania two summers ago in Merced. It was great to get new insights on Shakespeare and the many interpretations of his work over the years.

We were right down from the Capitol, so we decided to go inside and take a tour. The tour took us under the dome and in the crypt, which was where George Washington was supposed to be buried but he'd wanted to be buried at home, so it was empty. There are statues of different statesmen and women representing the different states, along with a statue of women suffragettes, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr. We went in the original room where Congressional hearings were held which was pretty cool especially as we had just watched the movie "Lincoln" which mostly takes place in that room.

Congress wasn't in session. Really? They've been off for over two weeks and are taking another break? But we could've gotten a pass to go into the rooms where they are in session and seen where all that law-making and war-making takes place.

After lunch we went into the Library of Congress, a glorious place with a grand reading room that you can view and Thomas Jefferson's Library on display on a spiral of bookcases. He had thousands of volumes of books and many of the originals are there. Some are replacements or just boxes with the titles on them.

Reading Room, Library of Congress
Then, I was off to meet my friend Louis and his daughter Freya for dinner. Charlie had just gotten home from a trip to San Francisco, so Larry went home to meet him and watch the World Series. Louis, Freya and I checked out a gelato place that Louis is thinking about investing in: and I tasted more gelato than I'd thought possible to consume. Then five-year-old Freya really wanted me to have whole wheat fettucini, bought fresh from Whole Foods, so we went back to their place to make dinner, visit with Louis' wife Sonya, and put Freya to bed. It was great to see Louis again and to meet his lovely daughter.

Friday we just hung out in Galesville, getting ready to head out the next morning. . .for more adventures. . .

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