Sunday, July 31, 2011

All Quiet on the Western Front

My parents invited me to come visit them for a long weekend, so I'm in Junction for a few low-key days.

At the moment, we're watching Le Charme Discret de la Bourgeoisie. Well, I'm kind of watching it. While it's been on, I finished reading The Paris Wife, caught up on my blog roll, and now I'm typing this, so I've only been paying partial attention. I don't think it would make much more sense if I was paying full attention, though. For example, we're just past the part where a boy poisons the milk of the man he thought was his father but is not his father according to the ghost of his mother who appeared in a closet along with a bloody mannequin of his actual father.


We were prompted to watch it after going to see Midnight in Paris last night. It is quite the moveable feast for any Francophile or English major, and while I'm still not a fan of Woody Allen's stiff and lifeless dialogue my literary Paris-loving self very much enjoyed the film.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Look for the Silver Lining

It turns out that the Denver Art Museum is closed on Mondays (Boo!), so Craig and I substituted an air-conditioned tour of Denver by car and an air-conditioned viewing of "Captain America" instead (Yay!).

At trivia we wound up with eight people so we had to split up into two teams (Boo!).  In a feat of utter fairness, our two teams tied for third (Yay!).

(Also awesome? The three-part question where you needed to name the city for each of the following museums: Uffizi, Musee D'Orsay, and the Getty.  I want a whole round like that!)

I spent the day today taking care of the fall-out from my accident last week.  While my whiplash injury's not getting any better; and while it took almost the whole day to work on getting my car, my neck, and my insurance up to snuff (Boo!); the happy surprise was when my doctor agreed that I should get massage therapy to treat the whiplash and then wrote me a prescription for two massages a week for five weeks which should all be covered by the other guy's insurance (Big Huge Freakin' Yay!)

I've got one scheduled for tomorrow morning, and a second one booked for Monday.  My doctor barely touched my shoulder before saying, "Oh, man, your muscles are like a rock!  You definitely need a massage."

So despite annoyances, there are some definite perks peeking through this week.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weekend Visitors and Muscle Relaxants

My parents came to town for the weekend, which meant the usual delightful rounds of shopping, adoring the grandchild, eating out, and generally hanging out together. I always look forward to these visits.  Unfortunately, the muscle relaxants the ER doc prescribed kicked in their drowsy side effect about halfway through Saturday morning.   For most of the day I was about as cheerful and loquacious as a zombie, and wound up falling asleep on Rachel's couch.

I stopped taking the pills today in the hopes of being more alert for the planned activities - brunch with the family and a rendezvous with Craig in Boulder.  Happily, I was safe enough to drive, but I discovered the lingering effects of Soma pills when I had to fight to stay awake in a darkened theater.

Craig, for those of you who were not reading my blog way back in 2006, is a fellow drama teacher from Texas I met, befriended, and acted with at the National Institute for Teaching Shakespeare, and we've stayed in touch mostly via emails about how the heck one goes about creating good theater with teenagers.  He's been in Colorado for a few weeks working on his Master's at UNC, and I was thrilled when he asked me to play tour guide at the end of his time here. We met up in Boulder today to see the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's production of The Little Prince, then walked along Pearl Street for a bit before getting a delicious dinner at Salt (thanks, Rachel, for the recommendation!).

Naturally, the only pictures I took today were of the dinner (where, oddly, my order was almost an exact replica of the dinner I had at Brasserie Beck):

Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
Green Curry Mussels
The play was nothing special. I tried not to let my bias for the Utah Shakespeare Festival color my opinions for a first viewing of a CSF play, but this show lacked luster and interest.  Mostly I think this is because of the source material - The Little Prince is just awkward as a play. There's very little plot and no mystery to drive the action or to keep the audience's interest. It's a lot of philosophy, really, and a lot of monologing. While scripts like that can work beautifully when they come from the mind of, say, Tom Stoppard, this script stuck firmly to the text of the book.  I love the book, as do many, but its explorations of the different kinds of love and of the acceptance of death are not written to be expounded to a live audience by a man with a mostly-French accent and a boy in a curly blond wig.

The production elements were terribly faithful to the original illustrations, which I liked. The set included three hills that transition from being sand dunes to planets through the lighting design.  The props, including the broken airplane, were all two-dimensional and painted like the book's drawings. They also used a rear-projection on the cyc whenever the Aviator drew something so we could see a silhouetted hand creating the pictures I'm sure the audience all knew from the book. The look of the play was good, but the pacing was slow.

Really, I just don't think this book works as a play. That being said, I do wonder how it would work as a performance art piece. Something really meaty and modern. Ooh! Even better, I think it would make a fabulous Punchdrunk-like children's production. It's not creepy enough for their tastes, I'm sure, but I think if there is a need to bring this particular book to living embodiment, it would work best as an immersive theater experience.

In any case, I'm glad I finally saw a CSF play, and it was fun to see it and talk it over with a fellow theater teacher.  I'm meeting Craig downtown tomorrow to show him Denver.  He asked me to share my favorite things about the city and, since I added a requirement for air-conditioning, that means Tattered Cover, the Art Museum, Sweet Action, and Geeks Who Drink trivia.  There's no DCTC shows on Monday, alas, and I'm assuming he wouldn't be that interested in Fancy Tiger.  Aside from that, though, I think it'll be a thoroughly Amanda-in-Denver afternoon.

It also means I'll be driving again, so I'm off to ice my shoulders.  It turns out you use your neck quite a bit when you drive what with checking your blind spots and all, so I'm a bit sore again.

"Turns out"... get it?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Let the Mocking Begin

So, I get home and discover feathers in my sister's hair.

Jason and I had spent most of my trip making fun of the trend, so naturally I gave her all kinds of grief.

She waited until I was incapacitated from shoulder pain, then pounced.

I'm so hip I can barely stand it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

In Which I Go to the ER

I got myself a general practice doctor before my big trips this summer since, you know, it's the grown-up thing to do.  She was surprised that I didn't have a doctor beforehand; that is, until I told her I was the daughter of a doctor.

"Oh," she said.  "By my experience, the children of doctors are either hypochondriacs or they won't go to the doctor unless there's a bone sticking out.  Which one are you?"

"Definitely the latter," I said.  I mean, why bother someone else when you can have stitches removed at the kitchen table?

Which is why when I had some soreness in my neck last night after the accident, it barely occurred to me to take some aspirin, let alone go see a doctor.

I spent the morning on the phone with various people getting the insurance stuff on it's way and making appointments for my car to be fixed.  I also called my insurance claim adjuster back to get a medical claim going.  My parents pointed out that even if I didn't act on it, if my neck starts acting up in the future it will be easier insurance-wise to get help if there's a record established.  Plus, I got a whiplash injury when I was in high school (car accident # 4) that led to years of neck and shoulder pain.  I figured I should at least let someone know about that, just in case the repetition of my head getting thrown about with a violent force turned out to be, you know, not good.

The insurance people told me to call my doctor and see what she says.  I did, leaving a message for her at the front desk about my headache and soreness.  Within minutes they called me back and said, "Go to the hospital.  Go right now.  Don't wait.  It doesn't matter if you're feeling better already or if there's no pain.  Get to an ER.  Now."

Well, then.

So I got in my dented-but-drivable car and drove myself to the ER.  I felt rather ridiculous doing it.  I didn't want to bother anyone, especially without blood or bones showing or anything.

The ER was quiet.  I signed in and within a few minutes a nurse called me back.  He took my vitals (turns out I have a fever too!) and put me in a neck brace.

Great.  I was really hoping to avoid that because, in addition to looking ridiculous, the neck brace is kind of the cliche fake-injury accessory.  It didn't help with convincing me that I wasn't wasting people's time.  What did help, however, was the growing soreness in my back and shoulder.  It was definitely getting worse.  Logical and educated medical person that I am, I decided to blame the neck brace.

Another nurse led me to get some x-rays (Fun!  Also, remarkably what I imagine getting a mug shot would be like), then the ER doc came in to examine me.  Happily, the X-ray films was negative - no fractures, yay!  He gave me a prescription for a muscle relaxer and an anti-inflammatory medication, plus a big list of symptoms to watch for in the next little while.

In the end, I actually enjoyed the trip to the hospital - everyone was really nice and efficient.  Besides, hospitals have pleasant associations for me - growing up, going to the hospital meant getting to see Dad at work.  Best of all, the doctor decided that I didn't need the neck brace anymore.  Hurrah!

P.S.  Again I say how glad I am that this happened when it did.  I can't imagine trying to fit in all the phone calls and car repairs and the ER trip during the school year.  Good timing, Guy-Who-Got-Distracted-In-The-Yield-Lane!

Neck Brace
Sexy, isn't it?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bringing the Lifetime Total to 19...

While on the way to my sister's tonight for dinner/So You Think You Can Dance I got rear-ended.

On one hand, at least it happened when I've got a lot of free time to deal with it.

On the other hand, this wasn't how I was planning on spending said free time.

My head hurts.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In Which I Visit the Last Museums

Flashback to Monday!

By my parents' recommendations, I watched the documentary Herb & Dorothy Monday morning as I packed.  The film tells the story of the New York couple who put together one of the greatest post-modern art collections in the country on the salaries of a postal worker and a librarian.  The film ends with their donation of over 4500 works to the National Gallery of Art, which now displays several of their pieces in the modern art wing.  It's worth watching before you visit - for the first time I looked eagerly at each placard to hunt for the "From the Herb and Dorothy Vogel Collection" text. I also recognized some of the art work from the movie, like the series behind me in the picture I took for my parents:


These bronze hands were not from the Vogels, but I liked the effect of the cluster:


My dad challenged me before I left for DC to find Dali's version of the Last Supper. Happily I did:


although why it is hung in a dim hallway next to the elevators, I don't know.

The modern art collection on display was actually surprisingly sparse, although I did love the airiness of the museum's design:


The west building, which houses the older collections, has a more traditional look:


I loved the tunnel that connected the modern art wing to the west building:


The lights ripple in patterns as you cross.

I covered the entire collection in the west building. Here are some pieces that caught my eye:

"Hide and Seek" by James Jacques Joseph Tissot

"The Dinner Horn" by Winslow Homer

"Neapolitan Fisherboy" by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux

"Woman with a Balance" by Johannes Vermeer (a Humanities class favorite!)

"Esther and Mordecai" by Hendrick Van Steenwijk the Younger

"Antwerp Cathedral" by Peeter Neeffs the Elder

"The Fall of Man" by Hendrick Goltzius

"Two Women at a Window" by Bartolome Esteban Murillo

"Nymph of the Fields" by Pittaluga

And, hey! Look what I found:

"Young Girl Reading" by Jean-Honore Fragonard

C'est moi!

After the interior museums closed for the day I wandered through the sculpture garden next door, then took the metro to the Kennedy Center for a Millenium Stage concert.   I got there ten minutes early, but it was already standing-room only:


It was a jazz quartet that included a vibraphonist. I've never heard a vibraphonist play jazz before. I enjoyed it.

Back on the metro then to meet Jason for dinner at Georgia Brown's:

Fried Green Tomato (gourmet version)

Steak, Frites, and Rocket Salad

We had a non-eventful evening after dinner - just chatting and going through Jason's new book about container gardening. It was a quiet way to wrap up my time in DC.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Welcome to Denver!

What's better than the Mason family all picking me up at the airport?

Dinner at Cafe Rio on the way home!

Thanks, Rachel, Ben, and Jack for the ride!

Heading Home

Jason and I had a small postmortem on the metro ride home last night.  We laughed about the quirks we had noticed about each other in spending so much time together and the accommodations we each had made.  Where I had spent so much more attention and time in attending to housekeeping details than usual, Jason held back his instinctual need to adjust the sofa cushions immediately upon walking in the door and, nobly I think, chose to spend more of his evenings and weekends doing fun things with me than doing much needed work or cleaning the bathroom.  We both learned about compromises, and we also learned about the importance of starting on neutral living grounds should either of us get married.

I also learned about two new aspects of myself.  I was surprised to discover how much easier and how much more enjoyable it is to do housekeeping chores when someone else is involved.  I had fears about how my own cleaning habits (or lack thereof) would fit into Jason's tidy lifestyle.  I found that it was not only a simple thing to put the apartment constantly to right, but it was actually a pleasure to do what I could to help Jason out time-wise.  Moreover, I head home now resolved to tackle some of my own closets and cupboards and purge those things that I haven't touched since my last move (bread machine, I'm looking at you!).

The second thing I learned about myself is what a dangerous thing to do this trip was to my contentment with my life in Denver.  It's not the dread of going back to work - in fact, this week I really started to miss the productivity, energy, and motivations work provides.  I kept busy with my DC To-Do list, yes, but I also started to long for the sense of order and accomplishment it provides.  No, I am dreading going back to my empty apartment, and that's a first for me.  Far more than the great city, the great adventures, and the great museums, I was spoiled on this trip by the companionship of a great friend.  I missed Rachel, Ben, and Jack; and I'm really looking forward to seeing my parents this weekend; but I am really, really going to miss having someone with whom I can break bread and talk the day over.  I am afraid the fall-out of this trip will be the overwhelming of the pleasure of living alone by the stark silence of loneliness.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Movin' On Up

After an afternoon of walking around the neighborhood north of the Mall, I met Jason at his office Friday evening.  We walked to Central for dinner, my favorite part of which was the gougeres we shared as an appetizer.  After dinner we crossed the street to the Ronald Regan Building and International Trade Center to see Capitol Steps.
I had heard a few of their songs through my Dad's music collection and the show is a Washington Institution, so it was on my To Do list.  There were some funny moments, but the show was surprisingly amateurish - for example, midway through a monologue over a microphone backstage the actor suddenly stopped and said, "But that's the wrong introduction for this next number!  Here's the right one..." and then launched into a different spiel.  I wondered, too, how much programs like The Daily Show, Colbert Report, and Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me have changed our tastes for political satire and spoofs, since many of the references in Capitol Steps were dated and, well, old news by now.

We went back to Jason's office to get his stuff, discovered I had left my phone in the theater, ran back over to the theater, thanked the staff member who had so nicely called the "Home" number on my phone and talked with my mom who asked her to call Jason to pass the message of the location of the phone on to me, then decided to go to a late showing of Harry Potter.  Two shows in one night!  It's like we're in college again!  (Although, given that we did the exact same thing last summer, I guess that's an unfair assessment of our late-night stamina.)

Despite the lateness of our bedtime, we were up at 9 the next morning.  Jason ran out for a haircut and to pick up some pastries from the German bakery while I got ready for the day.  Sunscreened-up, we got in the car and headed to Charlottesville, about 2.5 hours west of here.

We stopped at a Five Guys on the outskirts of Charlottesville for lunch, then found our way to the old part of the University of Virginia campus, the part that Thomas Jefferson designed.  It was so wonderfully academic - red bricks and white stucco and a bright green lawn capped off with a rotunda library/presentation hall.  The signs for summer orientation brought on fits of college nostalgia for us both, and I could easily imagine living in one of the dorm rooms hidden behind the rows of old wooden doors along the lawn.

From there we drove upwards to tour Jefferson's house.  I liked Monticello better than Washington's Mount Vernon.  It has great personality, stellar views, and a good library.  The weather was perfect with blue skies and a light breeze to temper the warmth.  Jason had been on the tour before (although it apparently used to be longer), but not since they discovered the actual color of the dinning room.

We staved off imminent starvation with the apricot hammentashen we had stashed in the backseat and drove through the Virginian farmland back to DC for dinner at a Belgian restaurant, Brasserie Beck.

They tucked us in a pocket-like back corner of the restaurant, too close to another couple for comfort and without any sort of view, and Jason was dismayed to learn that they had stopped offering the endives au gratin he had waxed rhapsodic about earlier.  I, on the other hand, had chosen the restaurant for the mussels, and I was not disappointed.

I did face a menu-dilemma.  I wanted mussels, yes, but there were so many other enticing dishes.  I narrowed my choices to a roasted beet and goat cheese salad, a pork loin with apple butter, and a half-portion of mussels.  All three sounded delicious, and yet ordering three dishes would be too extravagant, right?  I needed to eliminate one.  But then I heard a still small voice inside of me ask, "What would your father do?"  So I ordered and very much enjoyed all three.  Yes, most of the pork loin came home with me as leftovers, but oh! it was a tasty meal.

This morning we went to the Eastern Market to walk through the stalls of vendors selling produce, jewelery, and various other wares.  We got sandwiches at Market Lunch before getting some mozzarella, tomatoes, lemon basil, and peaches for dinner tonight, then headed back to Jason's place to change for church.

We don't have any grand plans for tonight, but I'm content.  We've had a full weekend, a full six weeks really.  I'm starting to accept (but I'm not done mourning) the fact that I'm leaving on Tuesday.  I've saved the National Gallery of Art for last of all and, given the temperature's forecasted rise, a day of air-conditioned art sounds just about right.


Dinner at Central
Dinner at Central (French Onion Soup and a Caesar Salad)

Gougeres at Central

Capitol Steps
A Sneaky Stage Shot

The UVA Rotunda

Part of the Academic Village


Front Hall of the Rotunda

My Man TJ


Proof that we were there

Flower in the Gardens

Vegetable Garden

The path from the house back to the visitor's center

Brasserie Beck
Mussels at (the very dim) Brasserie Beck

Brasserie Beck
Roasted Beet and Piped Dreams Goat Cheese Salad

Brasserie Beck
Pork Loin

Friday, July 15, 2011

In Which I Window Shop

"Have you been to Alexandria?" Jason asked Wednesday night.

I ran through my previous visits to DC in my mind. "Not as far as I know," I replied.

"You should go. Old Town Alexandria is really charming - lots of little shops and restaurants. I'd get a townhouse there if I could, but they cost a fortune, as you would imagine."

And so I went!



The yuppieness of the neighborhood, embodied in a bar's sign.

Natural History Museum
What's that I see?

Yes, please!

This is where my window-shopping turned into actual shopping.

The makings of an iPad sleeve.

I did a little window-shopping for Jason too.

I rounded out the afternoon by stopping off at a pastry shop on the way home to get lemon tarts to celebrate Bastille Day.  I figured Jason's night would be work-filled as usual, so it came as an unexpected treat when he suggested we go look at fireflies after dinner.  Walking along the woodsy path under the almost-full moon with miniature green lights drifting on and off made it very clear to me where fairy stories came from.

There was no way to capture the lights on video, but I did record the sounds:

Elegant, isn't it?  :)