My second day in DC was much more pleasant that the first temperature-wise, and just as delicious food-wise, so I honestly think it was a success!
We got to a *very* late start in the morning – I had a horrible moment where I woke up at 7:30 am (we were up until 2:00 talking about race and America), and couldn’t get back to sleep until 9:45 – so breakfast turned more into brunch. On top of all that, there was a fire alarm that went off so we were late to our tour of the National Portrait Gallery.
But that’s okay because the National Portrait Gallery is really cool. I have never seen such diverse portrayals of people in an art museum. Most of that was thanks to the national portrait competition. I took one picture of a piece in there, “I Love Your Hair” by Tim Okamura, but I will be using it in a later blog post so you can google it or look for it there.
There were portraits of fat individuals, trans individuals, civil rights leaders, presidents, celebrities… It was the kind of art that was fun to look at because of how people chose (or didn’t choose) to portray themselves and the world around them.
It was also cool because a lot of the portraits were not the “classical” style that we have become used to seeing, with alabaster skinned white women and stern white men. One of my absolute favorites was this painting by Roger Shimomura. It a classical Japanese version of painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware.” This piece was so tongue in cheek and awesome, that I wish I could take it home and also commission a series of other pantings done in traditional styles with other minorities. There is already one called “George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware,” so maybe next is “George Lopez Crossing the Delaware.”
The portrait gallery bleeds into the Museum of American Art, which was also really cool. I became a bit of an art museum nerd after Academic Decathlon by default – I had to study Art History for two years, and then I took another semester of it in college. I have to say, if you don’t like art, take an art history class. Especially one that teaches like the “Wellesley Method,” where you also practice some of the techniques while learning about them. It makes you appreciate art a lot more. So while I am not one of those people who will stare at a painting for hours on end, I do take longer than a day to go through a museum.
That’s especially true when you have pieces like Nam June Paik’s “American Superhighway.” This is a behemoth of a work, donated by Paik’s Estate. I can see why.
I could spend a lot of time just staring at this. It’s schizophrenic and electric and generally awesome. Alas, I had some shopping to do, and also dinner with a friend, so we did have to leave the museum.
We took the metro to Dupont Circle. We had been walking or taking the metro for most of the weekend. I was reading in my book abut walkable cities (I have weird hobies, sue me) that DC is one of the only truly “car optional” cities in the nation. I really feel that. Even if their trains do look like underground nuclear apocalypse bunkers. Fallout Five should be set in DC – seriously.
In any case, the nuclear apocalypse could wait, because we got KRISPY KREME DONUTS. LIKE FRESH FROM THE OVEN DONUTS. I am OBSESSED with donuts – they are one of my favorite ones in a while treats. I have favorite doughnut places in Chicago, but Boston (and Japan) both lack proper doughnut fare, so I was a little deprived when we got there.
After the most delicious of all the delicious treats, we had about two hours to kill. Not enough time to go home, but also not enough time to actually do anything. So, since I still hadn’t bought my Reddit secret santa gift, I dragged us to Kramer Books & Afterwords, an independent bookstore/cafe in DC. My secret santa was lantix, a psychologist, bilingual, and liked things related to being latina and psychology. Her Amazon wishlist was a little bare, but Drown by Junot Diaz was on it along with some other books. I don’t actually really like the way Junot Diaz writes, so I decided to instead pick up a book by Julia Alvarez for her – “In the Time of the Butterflies.” The problem is, I read the back of the book and wanted it for myself! So we walked over to a used bookstore so I could pick up both that, and “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents” – a book I had seriously been meaning to read.
I would like to point out that I spent 70 dollars shipping books here from Japan, spent over a hundred dollars buying books for research this semester, and haven’t read ANY of them yet, and yet and over half way done with this book. I need to sit and do research. Also study Japanese…
ANY WAY. After the book adventure we walked (catching pokemon all the way), we went to Lindy’s Red Lion for burgers. It was pretty quiet, as the place is a bar and it was 7pm on a Sunday, but the waitstaff were super nice, the olympics were on, and more importantly the burgers were ON POINT. SO DELICIOUS. I mean my friend got a reuben burger. Not a burger with reuben toppings. A burger WITH CORNED BEEF ON TOP. I mean come on. The onion rings were also reminiscent of Medici on 57th’s before management changed, so I was incredibly pleased.
Of course, after that, I had to pack and get ready to leave. I got an early flight because when I originally planned the trip I thought I had workshops to teach the next week. But that turned out to not be the case, so I got up at 4am for absolutely nothing. Luckily security was light.
All in all, DC is a pretty great place, and I can’t wait to go back. In general, if you’re trying to travel on a budget not the city for you – stuff was not quite Tokyo expensive, but definitely more expensive than some other cool places. But then again, you can walk wherever and museums are free, so there are always trade offs. I’m really glad I went though!