January 29, 2014

Project DC: Vietnam Veterans Memorial


When I was in elementary school, we took a family vacation down to DC. I remember stopping at the souvenir vendor trucks and picking out a t-shirt for myself and my best friend, Kristie, before we made our way to the Vietnam Memorial. I was so excited to do a pencil tracing of some of the names on the memorial, even though we didn't know any of the deceased. I think we lingered there a while as I walked up and down the memorial in awe, my little fingertips feeling the grooves of each letter engraved into that reflective black wall. Even at ten years old, I knew that this memorial was meaningful.

Since moving to DC as an adult, however, I hadn't made it back to the memorial. The hubs had never been before, which seemed like such a shame, so this past weekend, we decided to take advantage of a cherry, sunny day and head downtown. It was crowded, of course, and most people seemed to shuffle dutifully by from one end of the wall to the other. While the throngs of tourists are unavoidable mid-afternoon, I urge anyone who visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to take their time. It is such a simple yet powerful memorial, and there is something haunting about the reflection of living faces mirrored against the names of the deceased. Let yourself take in that feeling. You won't forget it.


We also visited the Three Soldiers Memorial and the Vietnam Women's Memorial, which round out the whole memorial experience. While I think that the wall is undoubtedly the highlight, I think these other two structures are also worthwhile and important.


This is the sort of memorial experience that is worth braving the tourist crowds. It's so close to the other major sights downtown, and if you let yourself slow down, you'll appreciate the magnitude of the experience.

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Want to read more about having fun in DC? Follow along as I embark on Project DC:

2. Go for a leisurely hike in Rock Creek Park.
3. Go on a White House tour.
6. Take a day trip to Annapolis.
7. Go to the Newseum.
8. Go back to Jazz in the Garden when it starts up again in the spring.
9. Go to the Holocaust Museum.
11. See the FDR Memorial.
13. Go to the National Portrait Gallery.
14. Go to the Corcoran.
15. Visit the Vietnam Memorial.
17. Go to more embassy events.
19. See the drum circle at Malcolm X Park.
20. Mini golf at H Street Country Club.
21. Evening drinks at POV.
22. Visit the National Archives.
24. Walk through the National Arboretum.
26. Go to the Jefferson Memorial.

January 28, 2014

Quiet Car

I sometimes forget how loud life can be. Living in the city, there is constant sound, even in the silence. A quiet walk home from the bus stop still has the whirr of cars passing by on the road behind me, and the freight train's horn can be heard through our windows as it passes through town. Voices filter in and out even at the sleepiest of moments on the metro, and my office has the constant fill of hallway conversations or music playing quietly on the computer. I never have silence.

I don't realize just how much sound bounces around in my day until I get a brief reprieve. Pandora is paused, I close my door, the world settles down, and things seem a bit more still, a bit more calm. It's not even that the moments before were frenetic or loud, but in those moments of enhanced quiet, everything just seems better. As though that piece that I hadn't known was missing has suddenly been clicked into place-- quietly. 


Quietly, but not silently. As I sit here, tucked into my beloved quiet car on the train, I hear sound find its way into this journey. Even this protected space cannot hold silence. The overhead bin rattles, and I can hear the clink of the metal rails as we make our way along the tracks. A newspaper crinkles, someone clears his throat. The train horn sounds. But even so, even with that, it's quiet. A time to let my muscles soften a bit, a time to lean back and notice things like sunsets and ice-laden rivers. And it feels safe, unrushed, and utterly protected. 


Shhhh.

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January 26, 2014

Sunday Currently : 53

You know that feeling when your dreams are all about the work you need to do the next day, and your left eyelid won't stop twitching? That restless worry that is somewhat realistic but mostly just really annoying? Yeah. I have that going on right now.

Postdoc interview season has officially begun! I'm feeling nervous, you guys. I feel a bit rusty with my interview skills, and while I know that it will all come back to me once I get back into the swing of things, right now it just feels icky. Today is all about interview prep and trying to get myself together so that when I head up to New York tomorrow afternoon for Interview #1, I can feel slightly put-together and not so frantic. We'll see how this goes...


reading :  Notes from last year's round of interviews to jog my memory about vignettes to share. It's funny to look through this particular notepad and remember sitting in all of those airports, reading over my outlines over and over again while waiting to board my plane. It feels like such a long time ago, but it was only a year ago!

writing :   Updated notes for this year's interviews... I have some major work to do!

listening :   To audio recordings of me giving case presentations... I really need to cut down some of my 20-minute talks down to 5-10 minutes. *facepalm* Also listening to O'Higgins purr as he settles down in my lap, which is much more soothing and adorable than listening to myself talk about an ethical dilemma.

thinking :   About interviews, obviously! I have two lined up for this week, then two the week after (that one is for one site but is across two days), and my mind is swirling with information about all of the different agencies. 

smelling :   A bit of the pine-scented candle on that coffee table. I'm trying to actually use the candles I collect, and this one has been around for far too many years. Time to light it again!

wishing :   For the ability not to ramble or say "um." :)

hoping :   For a positive interview experience! I know that they can be fun when I let myself relax and feel confident, and I'd really like to tap into that this week.

wearing :  Sweatpants and a sweatshirt, though I might change into different clothes so I feel a bit more put-together today.

loving :     Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In between interview prep, I've been re-watching old episodes, and it has reminded me how much I love this show!

wanting :  The hubs to get back from his weekend adventure in Durham. It's too quiet around these parts!

needing :   Lunch, though I have serious doubts about the contents of the fridge at this moment...

feeling :  Stressed! But I'm trying to relax and remind myself that I have basic social skills, so my fears about being a total weirdo at my first interview are probably inaccurate. Probably. Maybe. 

clicking :   On another episode of Buffy! Time to take a break from interview prep, don't you think? :)




siddathornton

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January 22, 2014

Project DC: MLK Memorial


There's something very cool about living in DC when a new memorial is erected. In a city with so much history and so many recognizable, timeless monuments, I take it a bit for granted that tributes to important pieces of our nation's history are all around us. When the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial was unveiled in 2011, it was a reminder that there are still so many stories to tell, and Dr. King's legacy is surely an essential part of our nation's history and future. 

I had driven past the memorial so many times in the past couple of years, usually catching a glimpse from the passenger seat of a friend's car, but I hadn't yet paid a proper visit to its little nook alongside the Tidal Basin. The hubs and I decided it would be appropriate to check it out during MLK Day weekend, and we did just that.


After passing between two sculpted boulders, we walked along the sides of the memorial, silently reading the quotes chosen to represent MLK's legacy. The hubs impressively knew each speech from which the excerpts had been taken, and he pointed out that the inclusion of a statement against the Vietnam War was a bold choice-- Dr. King was a beacon for civil rights, but people sometimes forget that his message of peace sometimes was in opposition to our government's stances on various matters, particularly the war. The FBI even wiretapped him with approval from then-Attorney General RFK, trying to discredit him and prove him to be an adulterer and a Communist. Can you believe it? It's easy to whitewash Dr. King's history, but I think that remembering exactly what he was up against is crucial in appreciating how much he contributed to the civil rights and anti-war movements. 

The figure of MLK emerges from another giant granite boulder. While I must admit that this style is vaguely reminiscent of Soviet-era statues I once saw in Budapest, more than anything, it makes a powerful statement. He is such a massive figure, and the many tour groups that gathered at the base of the monument all looked up at his determined expression in awe. It's a very impressive presence, and its location along the Tidal Basin also makes it very beautiful. I can imagine how gorgeous (and crowded!) it must be in the spring with cherry blossoms in bloom. 


I'm glad that we visited the MLK Memorial, especially on that weekend. As with so many of the DC spots I am visiting, I wish that I had gone sooner, but more than anything, I feel so happy that I made the trip downtown to enjoy it. The hubs has pointed out that even if we don't make it to all of the museums and monuments on my list before we one day leave the DC area, we can always return, especially if we have little ones! I do have to keep that in mind... but honestly, there's something special about taking in the sights of the city while DC is still my city. There's something comforting and exciting about knowing that these treasures are just a few metro stops away and that at the end of the day, we get to back home to rest our tired feet. So yes, it's okay to save some sightseeing for future years. But until then, I'll just keep on soaking up powerful, memorable places like this one. 


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Want to read more about having fun in DC? Follow along as I embark on Project DC:

2. Go for a leisurely hike in Rock Creek Park.
3. Go on a White House tour.
6. Take a day trip to Annapolis.
7. Go to the Newseum.
8. Go back to Jazz in the Garden when it starts up again in the spring.
9. Go to the Holocaust Museum.
11. See the FDR Memorial.
13. Go to the National Portrait Gallery.
14. Go to the Corcoran.
15. Visit the Vietnam Memorial.
17. Go to more embassy events.
19. See the drum circle at Malcolm X Park.
20. Mini golf at H Street Country Club.
21. Evening drinks at POV.
22. Visit the National Archives.
24. Walk through the National Arboretum.
25. Visit the MLK Memorial.
26. Go to the Jefferson Memorial.

January 19, 2014

Sunday Currently : 52


Three-day weekends are the best! While I admit I was terribly lazy yesterday, today is all about activity. I am on a mission to de-clutter and clean up our house, partly because my parents are visiting in a couple of weeks and partly because winter makes things feel dustier than usual-- I just need to clean everything!  The hubs and I are also going on an excursion downtown in a bit so that we can visit the MLK Memorial. I've driven past it before but never given it a proper visit, and it seems appropriate to do that this weekend. 

The past week has been odd. I was out sick from work for part of it, and I spent a lot of time in bed, trying not to cough up a lung. Blegh. Thankfully, I'm feeling a million times better and ready to be part of the world again. Here's to a fun Sunday!



reading :  All the King's Men. I just started it and haven't gotten very far. No opinion about it yet, but I do hope it draws me in a bit more. 

writing :   Cover letters, cover letters, cover letters! A postdoc or a job awaits me...

listening :    To the hubs putting together his tuna fish sandwich in the kitchen as O'Higgins frantically meows up at him, trying to get a bit of tuna. This little guy squeaks at every opportunity for food, even when he has just been fed!

thinking :   About my plan to de-clutter the house. We have put together a donation bag for clothes, and I am parting with another three pairs of shoes. I really need to dig through my bags of jewelry and organize the pieces I want to keep, but that might need to wait for this evening or tomorrow. 

smelling :     The eau de toilette that I just sprayed. I had forgotten that I had this one, and I think it will be perfect in the spring time! So crisp and fresh. 

wishing :   For good news in the near future...

hoping :   That the metro runs smoothly when we head out in a little bit to go downtown. Weekend track work is always a headache, so I may need to pack my book so that I can amuse myself if we have a long wait. 

wearing :   New grey jeans from J. Crew Factory, and a newish black, white, and red striped shirt also from Factory. Note to self: Donating clothes does not mean I get to purchase 30 new items, even if they are on sale....

loving :    Our new auction items! My-father-in-law kindly drove the items to us from Ohio, and we are enjoying them so much. We need to do some rearranging, as the mule chest is a tad larger (okay, a lot larger) than I expected, and it might work best in our guest bedroom,

wanting :   To keep cooking with items we already have. Last night I made a delicious, spicy dish of quinoa, sweet potatoes, and bell pepper with cayenne, and it felt so good to put together an easy meal! This dish might be repeated this week...

needing :   To put together a snack before we head downtown. Greek yogurt with kiwi perhaps?

feeling :   Motivated to keep cleaning up our house, thankful that my bronchitis/pneumonia is nearly completely gone, and excited to walk around the city and enjoy some sight-seeing. Being a tourist in your own city can be so much fun! :)

clicking :   On some job postings, and I will be doing some Sunday Currently reading later today.

Happy Sunday!


siddathornton

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