The Tourist Trap

I took a break from blogging because my mom arrived on Sunday, and we’ve been tooling all around DC. It’s one of the cities we both love, because my mom is a teacher (music specifically) and there’s always things she wants to see. On Monday, we went to the National Portrait Gallery, which was stunning. Yesterday, we went to the American History Museum, which to me seemed both amazing and incomplete. As an Outlander fan, I thought there was going to be much more about the 1700’s, and there wasn’t. You’d think the 1700’s would be pretty important around here… We saw the flag that inspired the Star Strangled Banana, and a few trinkets that people owned, but I wanted more.

Speaking of the National Portrait Gallery, I was stunned. They had original Matthew Brady photography that made me want to pull out my laptop right then. It was so inspiring, and I found myself wanting to stop and write about each photo and painting. My favorite was a portrait of Jimmy Carter when he was young, even though the ones of George Washington were the ones I came to ogle. He’s kind of popular in Virginia.

I remember seeing when I lived here the first time the sign for Alexandria that had the founding date and the population. It was something like 1745, and I was amazed. Years and years before the American revolution, while Scotland was being drawn and quartered by the English. The only reason I know this is because I’ve read the entire Outlander series up to this point. I would not know that otherwise. I am way too dumb to geography. My sister and I have that in common. My family and I once argued with her at the dinner table for over a half hour that New Mexico is indeed a state. When I told her that I was moving to Oregon the first time around, she thought DC was close (she was confusing the city with the state, I HOPE).

My mom also likes McDonald’s a lot. We ate breakfast there yesterday (Big breakfast sub bacon for sausage and a yogurt parfait to put on my hotcakes) and lunch today (double Filet-o-Fish meal, one of God’s gifts to mankind). I have decided this is acceptable since most of the time I am vegan now- not because I have anything against eating meat, because I still do. I just like that there are better fats in plant-based foods and I save a lot of calories that way. I am not fat, but I am short, so I’d like to keep the not-fat part in check. I knew for damn sure that my mom would only pretend to enjoy vegan food, so I haven’t pressed her on it… even though I think fake chicken is way better tasting than processed real chicken. I will take Quorn over Tyson’s any day.

I also eat 365 brand veggie dogs with cream cheese and Sriracha like they’re going out of style. Apparently, so do other people, because the last few times I’ve gone to Whole Foods, they’ve been out. I found a brand of sausage I like- the Tofurkey beer brats. They are so good with sauerkraut and mustard that I am loathe to eat real hot dogs ever again, because I am not sure what the hell is in them. I’ve read The Jungle, and I’ve gotten the shakes when thinking about hot dogs ever since.

Monday night we ate at Legal Seafood, where I had the prettiest house salad I’ve seen in this lifetime, and a vinaigrette that turned my face inside out it was so acidic. I loved it. I only ordered the house salad because I ordered mussels for an appetizer and when it came out, the bowl was bigger than Donald Trump’s head. They were perfect. The sauce I chose was spicy Thai, and it lived up to its name- so tasty that I mopped up every bit with sourdough.

In the American History Museum, there’s an exhibit with Julia Child’s kitchen, and a running videotape of her cooking show. By the time we toured it and watched the video, we were hungry for French food, so last night we went to La Madeleine. Mom had chicken with mushrooms, and I had beef bourguignon, the only recipe appropriate for apres Julia. All in all, it’s been a very successful visit, although yesterday I was almost killed.

I got on the silver line and I thought my mom was behind me. She shouted, “I can’t get on,” and I tried to back out. I got stuck in the doors and the train lurched forward. Luckily, the conductor saw me or I managed to wrench the door loose. Either way, it was not a pleasant experience and I hope not to repeat it. I just knew that leaving my mother in the Metro station was not a good idea, either.

The funniest thing that’s happened so far is that I got our lunch at McDonald’s and sat down with it. My mother didn’t see that I was at the table, and so I started eating my French fries (they depreciate immediately). I noticed that she wasn’t there after a minute or two, so I peeked my head out around the corner and didn’t see her. I thought she must have gone to the bathroom or something. In fact, she was standing in front of the counter. They asked her if she’d gotten her order, and she said she hadn’t gotten any of it. So, I’m sitting there stuffing my face full of fried fish, and she comes around the corner with another full order of food. She thought I was in the bathroom. To make things even funnier, they gave her a peach pie and an apology for being so late with her order.

So, to make a long story short, I had two double Filets-o-fish for lunch and I’m not taking any crap about it. I’m on vacation, and it was fucking delicious. The only thing I was really upset about is that the Old Bay tartar sauce was only a special thing and they don’t have it anymore. If I’d known it was just a special, I would have gone every day like those McRib freaks.

I’m not sure what’s in those, either. Have you tried the ones from Morningstar Farms? OMG. You’ll never go back.

In case you’re wondering why this entry is all over the place, I’ve had several, several cups of hi-caf black tea. I think my blood type is Assam by now. Plus, a Dr Pepper, a diet Coke, and some iced tea at Mickey D’s. Wired for sound doesn’t even begin to cover it. I was going to say it’s like I’m on drugs, but it’s not like that. It is that. Caffeine is a drug, and a very effective one at that… apparently.

My mom being here has totally taken my mind off of everything else in my life. I am only concentrating on showing her a good time, and today, we are worn out from walking all over DC for the past two days and going to the grocery store today. You would think that going to the grocery store wouldn’t be all that strenuous. When you don’t have a car, everything is strenuous- in a good way, though. I’m getting more exercise than I ever did in Houston, and I feel stronger than I ever have before. When I lived here the last time, I isolated so much because Kathleen had a big shot job and I had enough room to completely destroy myself inside the house… which is why I saw with certainty that Dana was going down in the same way I was. I had sympathy for it, but I couldn’t fix her. Only she could fix her.

My relationship with Kathleen died in the exact same manner that my relationship with Dana did, except that I was on the other end of the stick. I didn’t realize how sick I’d been until years after the divorce, and how much strain I’d put on the relationship without even realizing it. Kathleen lashed out, sleeping with coworkers. I lashed out, putting Argo above Dana in more situations than I ever should’ve. But at that point, I was just too lonely, too fed up, too filled with the knowing that I couldn’t help. I also lashed out at Dana’s parents, saying that I needed help because Dana was going down and it was more than I could handle on my own.

They got the message, but then they went back to DC- and calling someone can only do so much. Dana finally got a job and it made her feel better, but what we’d been through wasn’t fixable anymore. She’d had it up to her eyeballs dealing with the Diane situation and then the Argo situation. I’d had it up to my eyeballs with Dana’s rejection from the teaching program and not applying to another one and becoming dependent on me for her emotions about things… or so it seemed to me, anyway. She was happy when I was home. When I wasn’t, she isolated.

My mom being here has allowed me to put all of that down and just enjoy DC for what it is… a great tourist trap with a very generous McDonald’s.


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