Tag Archives: Washington DC

Still confused


I spent Saturday feeling guilty for not marching and watching the photos of all my friends who were at the march, happy and pink-hatted, brandishing clever signs, many bringing their kids to be part of history.

On Sunday I told myself to stop whining to myself and just promise I’d go to the next one.

Today’s Monday and things are confusing again, because the march had too many white women who like pumpkin spice and not enough intersectionality and I made a couple of political posts on Facebook and I probably said the wrong thing and it’s naive to wish we could all just get along and see each other as a person instead of a cog in the giant wheel of their group/race/culture/class/religion/gender/sexuality.

For someone who prides herself on her words and her diplomacy, I have a long history of saying the wrong thing to a response of resounding silence. When I was twelve we were all painting pretend graffiti at summer camp. I added “IRA”, because that’s the sort of thing you saw in graffiti. I didn’t mean I supported the IRA. Obviously. But it went down the wrong way entirely. I still have conversations in my head where I try to justify that.

Any time I try to talk about racism or politics I probably say the wrong thing too. Please understand that I’m trying to do better and I want you to tell me when I say something that drops with the sound of a million clashing discordant cymbals.

This is what I know. My two children spent their most formative years understanding that it was normal and good and right for a man with a big smile and brown skin and tight curly black hair to be President of the United States – a man who looked more like a lot of their schoolmates than like them. Now they are learning the hard truth that the person in charge of the country you live in is not always someone you are happy to look up to, and not always someone smarter and kinder and wiser and better than everyone else.

I think they already know very well that it doesn’t always make sense to choose the person who looks more like them – as a friend or in an election. We choose people for better reasons than that.

Tuesday.

The sun came out today for the first time since the Obama administration, which was nice and all, but was not reflected in any metaphorical way by the new president being any less awful or doing anything less terrible than all those things we were afraid he’d do, and a few more to boot.

But it was nice to see the sun, I suppose.

dinosaur and dollhouse mom at a desk together

I don’t have a picture of the sun so let’s let this represent the education secretary nomination and the EPA.

Frankenstein

I’m cradling a cup of tea in my hands (in between typing) but I’m afraid to drink it. I think I have to wait until it’s lukewarm, and I hate lukewarm tea. I’m looking at a sheet of instructions that tell me “do NOT spit, floss, rinse, chew hard food, sticky food, consume hot food or drink, drink through a straw…” and wondering how this is meant to work.

I’ve taken a sip. It’s not too hot but it’s a little warmer than lukewarm. I think it’ll be okay.

The inside of my mouth looks like Frankenstein’s monster. I got home at 11:00 but it took me two hours to look in the mirror because I didn’t want to see it. I had a periodontal procedure. If you don’t want to know any more, skip the next paragraph, where I will describe it at your peril.

I had a gum graft, which means they take some tissue from the roof of your mouth and sew it on to the bottom of your teeth where you should have gum but you don’t because your gums and or teeth are stupid and useless. They did it on four bottom teeth in a row, because for some reason that may or may not be related to my orthodontic work as a teenager, the gum there was eroding badly.

It was a “simple” procedure that took an hour in the chair and only a few more injections than your basic filling. It didn’t hurt, really, but it was awkward and uncomfortable and icky and I’m glad it’s over. Now I have three different sets of pills (anti-inflammatories, painkillers, and antibiotics) and a follow-up for next week, and I’ll be getting a fancy night guard so that I don’t push my teeth out of alignment again. I’m hoping this lasts until I’m 90 so I don’t have to worry about it again. Maybe 100.

Anyway, I’m sure you didn’t want to know that, but that’s what’s on my mind so that’s what you got.

Another thing on my mind is Saturday’s march. I really don’t give a crap about Friday’s inauguration, since it’s happening and I can’t stop it so I’m just going to ignore it. La la laaaaa. Don’t feed the troll by paying attention to him. That’s what he thrives on. But the next day there’s this big march you may have heard of planned for downtown DC. A lot of people are planning to go. Even people who don’t live here are moving heaven and earth to be there.

I’m a woman. I live within spitting distance of Washington DC. I certainly disagree with Trump’s presidency and all he stands for. But I don’t want to go.

That’s my gut reaction. I’m not usually overly crowd-phobic, but the idea of all those throngs of people just sets off my internal alarm bells. And someone on the radio this morning helped me figure out why else it is that I have the don’ wannas about this: it’s not the end. It’s as if many people have focused on this march as an end in itself: but for one thing, its aims are sort of fuzzy and nonspecific – to show Donald just how many people will show up to let him know they don’t like him; way more than will have shown up the day before to say they do – and for another, January 21st is not the end. It’s the beginning. Maybe I think I should save my energy for the four years to come. Maybe I think I should do something more concrete than going out and walking around to show my displeasure.

Maybe I’m just lazy; that’s always an option. Since I’m right here beside DC, I practically feel like I’m as good as there whether I go or not. I feel guilty about not wanting to go, but I’m not going to go just to stop myself feeling guilty.

Anyway, that’s where I am. And where I’m not. Pass the ice cream.

Playing tourist

Saturday’s lovely weather inspired me – me, the effort-averse home-lover – to suggest we go downtown. B, of course, was all for it. (He loves effort and has no problem with taking on a day-trip that may be doomed to failure from the start.) But the gods were smiling upon us and on the whole, the outing was pretty disaster free.

We hadn’t been to the monuments for quite a long time, because they’re unaccountably far from the metro stations (in relative terms, when you’d like there to be a metro station every two blocks in every direction as in Manhattan, I mean). But we girded our loins and tried to stop the kids from climbing every tree they passed and got down to the Tidal Basin without too much ado.

Dash trying to climb a tree

Looking for a good tree.

All the trees here will burst into beautiful cherry blossoms in another two weeks or so, and then the place will be thronged with tourists and we will avoid it like the plague. With great beauty comes great numbers of people with oversized cameras, as the saying goes. But yesterday there were just a modest number of people, and me with my little point-and-shoot, and we posed on rocks. And trees. And monuments.

Maud and Mabel at the Tidal Basin

Jefferson Memorial in the background.

Around the basin a little way we came to the Martin Luther King monument, which was erected nearly three years ago and I had never actually seen. (We clearly need more visitors. I can’t believe it’s been that long.) It’s large, white, and impressive. I really liked the low curving marble wall leading up to it, riverlike. Mabel liked sliding down it, slidelike.

Mabel sitting on MLK's name carved in a wall

B started to tell them the history of civil rights in America starting with slavery. It went on for a while. Dash managed not to ask me if I’d been alive when there were slaves, so I’m giving him bonus child points for that.

Part of the MLK monument

Part of the MLK monument

We continued back across the road towards Lincoln, stopping for a break and a sandwich under a tree. There were plenty of people at Lincoln, and Mabel had stopped wanting to pose for me, but she did look as if she was listening while B read the Gettysburg Address out to them.

B, Dash and Mabel

Good audience

Then, looking for an elusive bathroom because Dash had suddenly come over all OCD and claimed he couldn’t eat his sandwich without washing his hands, we ended up walking all the way back up Constitution Avenue and going into the Natural History Museum, where he had his sandwich and an Incredibly Expensive Cupcake. (The Smithsonian museums are all free, which is wonderful; but they recoup their costs by charging the earth for the food, and I shouldn’t resent that but I do.)

On the way we found Einstein, who also gets a memorial. Obligatory physicist posing ensued.

Mabel climbing the statue of Einstein

A giant among scientists. Har har.

There were Irish flags along with the Stars and Stripes all along the street, for the weekend that’s in it, I suppose.

Irish and US flags

There’s also a red and white striped flag in the middle which is the DC flag, but you can barely see it here.

The whole area near the museums and the White House features curbside vans selling sweaters, hats, scarves, tourist kitch, hot dogs, and ice cream. The kids know that these vans have ice cream, and Mabel, pretty tired after all that walking, began a sustained campaign for an ice cream once we left Einstein behind. I refused, because Dash couldn’t have an ice cream till he’d eaten his sandwich, and he had to (apparently, not my rule, I’m not that hygienic) wash his hands first, and I am not such an idiot that I would buy an ice cream for just one child. Also, I hate those vans on principle because they cause my children to have tantrums, so I don’t want to buy anything from them. (There may be some circular logic at work here.)

A piggyback did wonders for her mood, and the tears stopped until we got into the museum, where the security guard not unreasonably told us that we’d have to leave Mabel’s stick outside. She had, of course found the Best Stick Ever along the way. There were wails and despair and scenes of torture as we wrenched the stick from her little hands and B went back outside to hide it. I’m sure the guard went home and regaled his family with tales of the fearsome stick he saved the museum from.

Mabel with her stick in front of the statue of Lincoln

The stick in question, which was much more interesting than Lincoln.

But we retrieved it safely on the way out, so all ended well. And so back to the Metro and home via some ethical burgers and frozen yogurt. All in all, the sort of Saturday that should qualify me to do nothing at all on Sunday.