Washington D.C., Day 2 – The Library. My Library. We OWNDZ This Library.

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”

-Virginia Woolf

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Who has a library card from the Library of Congress???

THIS GIRL.

You know what you can do with a library card from the Library of Congress???

YOU CAN GO IN.

And go in, we did.

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This place is enormous.

I mean, all the buildings in D.C. are enormous, but you just don’t know enormity. You experience enormity.

And then, we went in.

Ben and I have a foundation of reading together which have spanned over two decades. We have reading chairs in our home specifically dedicated to reading in front of the fire. Every room in our house has bookshelves, and the shelves near our desks are double stacked with books.

And we ain’t stopping. We just gettin’ started.

Needless to say, we were in heaven in this quiet hamlet, and we had no inclination to leave.

Wait, how ’bout we zoom in a little…

See that figure, leaning on her arm and sitting in the great, quiet Reading Room of the Library of Congress?

That is me.

Screen Shot 2016-12-10 at 8.06.09 PM.pngI am reading.

In the Reading Room.

I cannot tell you the joy I felt sitting there. It may be something small to others, but to me it was something very special.

Women have had a…complicated…relationship with Libraries.

The relationship has not always been cold or closed to women, but it has also not been as open and easy as it was for me this week.

Particularly in University libraries: “In 1967, Lamont Library (in Harvard) allowed women access.”

This happened when my parents were growing up, after Harvard first opened its doors in 1636. Well over 300 years had passed before the regal university could stomach the idea of women in their libraries.

Progress has been made even this year, as Dr. Carla Hayden (link!) was just sworn in as not only the first African American Librarian of Congress, but the first woman in this seat in the history of our nation!

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Link to video!

I mean, how can you not be swathed with exhilaration at this news?!

Besides this heavy moment, we also got to wander in the Jefferson wing, which was equally as amazing. They had all my favorite books on display, to boot!

…how did they know??

Plus they have the Gutenberg Bible, and I got to take a peek into the original office of the Head Librarian…so jealous of this office. 

Most of all, though, was when we got to go through Jefferson’s Personal Library. Like, the actual books Jefferson brought into his home to study. 

Are you kidding me.

Which was humbling…and delightful. I loved seeing the patterns in the books. He has the same patterns that Ben has with studies, from my eyes. Ben has seasons of study, where he will spend months (sometimes years) going through one subject until he knows it backwards and forwards. From philosophies, to theologies, to literature, to business, to poetry…he is a diverse man with incredible tastes.

But all in all, the majority of the books he has are on systems and systems’ management.

Jefferson had the exact same pattern: Lots of books from one trunk of study, but interspersed with seasons of branches, building a solid tree of knowledge.

(See what I did there)

I was surprised how much Opera was in his library…that was interesting to see.

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We definitely went to the Library a few times.

I told Ben he could just leave me there and go home to fetch the kids…so we could all just live there forever.

He said no 😦

Washington D.C. – What We Have Here Is A Vision…and A Map.

“A ship that sails without a compass will get lost at sea.”

Matshona Dhliwayo

 

I live by the words, “Always be prepared.”

Mostly to inspire myself to actually prepare for things. There is a moment of utter dread and failure when you arrive somewhere and discover you are missing something fantastically vital to the event, and everything is going to fall apart because of this.

I hate that feeling.

Which is why we entered D.C. armed with a map.

Now, according to Matthew Gilmore, there are 226 museums in D.C.

Which is INSANE and IMPRACTICAL. I also am not interested in most of them, like the National Postal Museum, for instance. Not a big interest in the Post over here, although I’m sure it is fascinating to many. Or some. At least enough to make a museum out of it, apparently.

I am, however, exceptionally interested in just about everything else…which means we needed a vision and a plan!

First we outlined the area we were going to go. Then we made a rough estimate of where we were definitely going to visit, and then had an auxiliary list of places that were along the way in between the core destinations where we could go.

These were the places we did  go to…in alphabetical order:

  • Arlington
  • FDR Memorial
  • Ford’s Theatre
  • International Spy Museum
  • Jefferson Memorial
  • Library of Congress (3 times)
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • National Air & Space Museum
  • National Archives
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Pentagon
  • Smithsonian Castle
  • Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
  • Smithsonian Air & Space Museum
  • United States Capitol Tour (twice)
  • United States Capitol Visitor Center
  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (once was more than enough)
  • Washington Monument
  • White House (standing outside, on the side, behind a liturgy of fences and next to an unholy amount of scaffolding thanks to the media’s construction of risers for the pending inauguration)

So, here are the maps we used!

This is where we started.

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We started at DuPont Circle. The significance of DuPont Circle is that it is just a little outside of the main drag, so we got to see a lot of old houses and Dutch architecture, which delighted my soul:

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Definitely a stark difference from beige stucco in California.

DuPont Circle also houses the embassies, so in order to get to the Metro we had to walk past the embassy of Indonesia and the embassy of Portugal, which were beautiful buildings. It’s interesting to see how they decorate the houses to reflect their countries.The embassy of  Portugal had these amazing lime green curtains hanging in all the windows, to reflect the green in their flag which waved gallantly in their garden, while the embassy of Indonesia had a gigantic statue of Hindu goddess Saraswati on a lotus flower.

saraswati_120915045419link

 

It was just amazing how much stuff you got to see just walking to and from places!

This is the map for Dupont Circle. We hit the Starbucks down the block from our hotel, as well as KramerBooks down the road! That is a nice bookstore, and reminded me a lot of bookstores in North Beach in SF. So, a bit of home for me.

 

This is the overall map of where we travelled.

the-mall

And when I say “travel” I mean “walk.” I wore my walking shoes with absorbent socks, and I did not get one blister the whole week…which is usually what happens if I try walking all over Seattle in stylish boots. Forego fashion and just wear a pair of sensible shoes, and you’re good to go.

This is the area where all the buildings and museums are…there is still more outside of this area, but all the big ones are here, so this is where we traveled all week.

 

Now, this is the layout of the White House area. All the unholy scaffolding is on Pennsylvania Ave., in between the White House and Lafayette Square.

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To the left of the White House, however, is one of the most amazing buildings I have ever seen. It is the Eisenhower Executive Office building, which used to be for the military…before they moved them all to the Pentagon. But this sucker was five times bigger than the White House, and it is where White House staff and the Vice President work:

 

The Eisenhower Office building

You have to get on the Metro to cross the Potomac in order to reach the Pentagon and Arlington.  But everything is so closely laid out that when we were on top of a hill in Arlington, we could still see the entire Mall. It was crazy.

 

arlington

 

So, all in all, from Monday to Friday, how much did we walk??

30 MILES.

That is a lot of walking, and we were beat after the week. But we covered so much area and riddled ourselves with endless history and knowledge, which make both of us ridiculously happy.

Cause: nerds.

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