Thursday, June 09, 2011

In Which I Learn to Relax While on Vacation

What a strange concept that is.

This is Jason's new apartment building:


It's not as posh as his last place, granted, but still pretty spiffy. His couch, thankfully, is comfy, and I pointed out that his plan is a clever one - his smaller-than-the-previous-abode apartment will seem quite spacious when he gets it to himself after sharing it with me.

We went to dinner last night at this tiny cash-only hole-in-the-wall-ish restaurant:


in this strip mall:


Which feels oddly Casa Bonita-like, in a Vietnamese way.

As we drove out there Jason explained that the best food is in the suburbs. If this place was any indication, he's very much correct. The caramelized chicken with lemongrass and chilies was delicious.

We went to Harris Teeter, a grocery store, after dinner to get some supplies, then back to the apartment.

We did talk for a while past bedtime, but turning in at midnight was a much healthier time achievement than we usually make the first night of reunion. Thanks to a terrible bedtime the night before (3:00), I hit that type of exhaustion where you're so tired you can't sleep.

Jason was up bright and early at 7:00 the next morning to go to work. I bid him farewell. Then I thought about getting up right then, too, and getting to work on my vacation.

Then I realized that there was no reason I needed to and, in fact, I would fare better for the day if I got rid of my headache.  So I went back to sleep.

I don't know if you know what an achievement that is.  One of our family mottos is "If you don't need a vacation after your vacation, you did it wrong" (followed by "We can make that" and "Du beurre, du beurre, et encore du beurre").  I am squishing a lot of guilt for indulging in a life of leisure for a little while, but I am determined to try out this new lifestyle.

When I did get up, I showered, dressed, and watched The Daily Show while eating brunch.  I was already off to a terrific start.

Next I wandered around Jason's neighborhood a little bit to get a sense of the lay of the land then headed to the Smithsonian via the metro. The ride was fun, since a quatro of Italian men in natty dress shirts and sunglasses (which they kept on in the metro, of course) sat not too far from me and spent the ride in vigorous conversation in Italian.  Diversity!  I love it!

I didn't linger outside on the mall for too long, given this:


(Note the "Feels Like" part)

So I headed for the American History Museum.

It was packed! There were quite a few high school groups there in matching t-shirts and I was torn between a) an "Aww - teenagers!" nostalgia, b) an annoyance at the noise and chaos of that many young people, and c) actively suppressing my urge to manage that many young people and terminate their unruly behavior. My field trip instincts are finely honed and hard to turn off.

Here are a few of the things I saw besides teenagers:

Tax Collector in a Tree
A Tax Collector strung up in a tree

Civil War Nurse Diary
The diary of a Civil War nurse named Amanda

Heritage Map
A map of immigration patterns for museum visitors (I added my family's history to the database - you're welcome, Smithsonian!)

Creepy Statues
An exhibit about transportation in America that included creepy people statues who stand outside of the display barriers (Don't blink!)

Carosel Books
An exhibit about moveable-design books (as in pop-up books)

Scopes Stuff
The original textbook and radio microphone from the Scopes Monkey Trial

Reaissance Wind-up Friar
A wind-up animated Friar from the Renaissance

Lion King Mask
A mask from The Lion King

First-Born Portrait
This highly accurate (from my observations of Family/Jack dynamics) comic

Old Friends
Some old friends

Julia Child's Kitchen
and Julia Child's kitchen (man, that woman's awesome)

They've redone the entire museum since I was here last, and I like the changes and additions overall. In particular, the display for the Star Spangled Banner is nicely done.

I kept overhearing snippets of conversations to the effect of "Okay, so from here we'll go to the Archives and then swing through the Portrait Gallery..." and I noted how nice it is to not be doing that. I got to see everything in one museum, and then I headed back to cook dinner when I was ready. That's it - no rushing to the next place, no aching feet or dehydration. It's really, really pleasant and I feel extraordinarily lucky to be able to try this kind of vacation (Thanks, Jason!).

Jason got home around 7:30 and we had dinner, watched an episode of Doctor Who, and did some event planning for the rest of the time I'm here. Within an hour I
  • Bought a ticket to a matinee of Follies (with Bernadette Peters!) at the Kennedy Center,
  • Bought tickets for Jason and me to see Aretha Franklin at Wolftrap (if anyone has picnic menu ideas (Rachel, Miranda - I'm looking at you!) let me know!),
  • Booked an evening painting class in Georgetown, and
  • Registered for a ticket drawing to see a free OkGo/Pomplemousse concert (fingers crossed!)

While I still don't have a daily agenda, I made the beginnings of a To Do in DC list. The heat wave's supposed to break this weekend and the forecast is for Monday to have a high of 80 (whoo!). I think a trip to the zoo is an appropriate celebration of that. Tomorrow, though, I'm going to do whatever I feel like doing.

And that's perfectly okay.

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