Geek Holiday day 4

I’m writing this on the train that runs between Washington DC and Baltimore. It’s about 6:00 EST, I went to DC on the train by myself today and I didn’t even get lost. It’s weird being in such a densely populated urban area, people are stacked up everywhere. How do people deal with the constant bombardment into their personal zone? I think they have to shut each other out on some levels. Case in point, I don’t know how many people I’ve stood next to and said something to, who didn’t respond until I touched them. It’s different with service people, they’re responsive, expecting you to talk to them. Everyone has been just lovely, genuinely. I wonder about all these people walking walking walking. Where they’re going, what their jobs are, how they live. Their lives are much different from mine. I don’t think I could handle this, the toll it must exact on the psyche. I suppose people are happy enough but I don’t think I could live like this. I mean, I couldn’t handle being around a bunch of people all the time even in Las Cruces. Most days, the only people I see are immediate family members.

It sure is green here. Trees everywhere and you don’t even have to water them. I’ll bet they don’t get forest fires here. Just plant something, anything and it grows. I haven’t seen any agriculture at all since I got here though. Strange, where do they grow food? I suppose they ship that in. Sad that, no visuals of earth cycles beyond shrubbery. At home, food grows all around us, cotton too but you already know that. Lately, we’ve been getting local eggs but we have to go to the farmer’s market early or they’re gone. I bet it’d be very strange for someone from here to go visit New Mexico. We’ve got real cowboys and real indians. Here, the only horses I’ve seen are in statues.


Temperature wise, comparing today, it wouldn’t be much different from back home. Today everybody was complaining about how hot it was and maybe it was, but it didn’t bother me, it was a little humid. Weather report said 20% but that had to be bogus because it was raining cats,dogs, squirrels and rats. Eric said he saw a rat on the street (Lexington Market) last night. The only rats I’ve ever seen are the ones I kept as pets. There are squirrels here, everywhere. Cute little buggers, tree rodents, with tails as ephemeral as dandelions. Like you could blow on their tails and the fur would just float away…they show no fear. One came kind of close (within 6 feet) and I thought he was so cute that I waved my hand at him, hoping to see him scamper away even more cutely but no no, he came straight at me! I jumped back, momentarily wary he were rabid but Eric said they’re well trained. In our part of the world, if a squirrel comes after you, you run, it may have plague or something. These squirrels were food-picky and wouldn’t eat just any old thing. The birds cleaned up after the squirrels though, everyone looked very well fed.

I visited with one of the librarians awhile today. She told me stories. She said they have regulars, people that come everyday. Some people are homeless and she says it’s hard to tell sometimes. There are some real characters. There’s the guy who’s been coming in for years, sits in the same place, borrows their scissors, cutting stuff up and pasting it in a book he’s making. Supposedly, he’s the deposed ex president of Liberia. He doesn’t talk to anyone except but every couple of years, saves it all up and spouts it all in a couple of sentences. They had to buy an extra pair of scissors, he borrows theirs every day, all day. Maybe he thought no one would notice, that it wasn’t an imposition? There’s this other lady, comes in every day dressed to the nines, a real fashion plate, very attractive. She’s been job hunting at the library for years. The librarian said she’s disabled, no short term memory so she can’t work. I told the librarian she should blog, they have some interesting stories.

At the library, I’m camped out in one of the cubbies with my lap top, camera et cetera. Around me are other cubbies. When I first got here, I had this grandiose sense of solidarity with the other researchers in the room. I imagined that like me, they’d trekked from somewhere across the country, maybe even an ocean, just to study at the biggest library in the world. Wow. My mouth hung open in wonder, agog. I wondered where everybody was from and what weird thing they were into. Turns out, the jokes on me, Ha Ha Ha. Other than other weirdos (such as the guy who’s doing research to prove the government is engaged in a conspiracy to hide the cure for cancer and god knows what else), it would seem I’m the only one doing any research. I mentioned that to the librarian. She agreed it was sad. The finest library in the world and most people use the computers to IM their friends, look up dating sites and read the latest on the pink pony blogs. It made me wish there isn’t a god -if there is- because as a people, I thought we didn’t deserve it. If there is a god or some great cosmic karmic fairness in the universe, we don’t deserve the library of congress and so, it would cease to exist for us. I know some people do use it, but so few! I looked around today, at the screens of others. I was the only person studying. Sad that. How can we justify the costs of what the library surely must cost us if so few use it? So much of what we have, we don’t deserve. I guess that goes for a lot of things.

Speaking of deserving, the librarian said that on Thursday, they were going to give some little kid a behind the scenes tour of the library. The kid’s interested in science. He’s someone special so he deserves it -in a fashion I suppose. I can’t exactly say I envy his access considering his visit was pre-arranged by the Make A Wish Foundation. I thought I was a library fan but this kid’s dying wish is a tour of the science archives at the Library of Congress. Pall cast, I was saddened to know of another who appreciates the splendor.

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11 comments

  1. Lisa Bloodgood says:

    I don’t go to the library as much as I used to, but I think I’ve looked at every book they have on fashion, costumes, sewing, etc. I bet the LoC is just awesome. Cool for the little kid though, glad he gets to do that.

    I bet you’re seeing a lot of weirdos (and I mean both in a good way and a bad way) there and around the city. We saw a guy here (and Portland, OR isn’t that big) who was pouring coffee creamer on his forehead, eyebrows, cheeks, and eyes.

  2. Laura says:

    “It’s weird being in such a densely populated urban area, people are stacked up everywhere. How do people deal with the constant bombardment into their personal zone?”

    We all go a little more nuts every day. (Sadly kinda true.)

    I haven’t been to DC since I was a kid, but I’ll have to go and do some research @ the LoC, just to represent all us geeks.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I love your idea of a geek vacation–sounds like my idea of a vacation. I am the only person I know who, on their honeymoon, went to 5 different science museums, just for the fun of it. Including the V and A, and the Science and tech museum across the street, in London. 3 museums in Paris; we couldn’t find any in Scotland. LOL. The V and A had the BEST textile bookstore I have ever seen; I could have spent a fortune in that store, easily, without trying.

  4. Esther says:

    I love, LOVE working at the local library. People use libraries the same way everywhere though. I look out the office window and the only people in the library are staring at computer screens. It makes you want to point out that Shakespeare is on the shelf behind them. Or the entire history of WWII in the opposite corner. So many resources that get ignored. But every now and then a 10 year old boy comes in and intelligently asks for a book on the Titanic or Snakes. He checks out so many books that we have to load them in a grocery bag for him to ride home. It’s those times when I’m grateful the library exists.

  5. Robyn says:

    If you go just 45 minutes or so out of DC to the west or to the south you will find beautiful farms. Most of them horse farms. Just like around all large cities that are growing out these farms are getting more and more extinct, and more of their land is going for housing. My mother in law lives 1.5 hour drive away from DC and there are people there who commute everyday into the city because the housing is so much cheaper where she lives, and there is more of the small town feel.

    I love libaries, best memories of childhood is going every other week with my mom to the library and getting stacks of books to read. Now it is so much easier for the kids to do research on line for school projects, but we still visit the library for reading books.

  6. Anir says:

    There are ‘real’ Indians in the D.C. area also, and all up and down the East coast; well all over the continent. Probably the Indians in the Southwest are the most visiable and expected. Also you’ve got some Indians who are cowboys and cowgirls.
    In my twenties, I used to live in the university library and got locked in one night with a friend looking at clothing books, including copies of Godey’s Ladies: we didn’t know that ringing the cowbell meant the library was closing. My friend freaked but we just called campus police and they let us out. I was also asked by a 12 year old to be his brother’s girlfriend in a almost empty public library–he asked quite charminglying. I said ‘uh, no thanks’ because the brother was only a few years older. I’ve never been to the Library of Congress but would love to go. So glad you are there–my pleasure is vicarious.

  7. Karen C says:

    I happen to go to my local library about twice a week. I was there last night, in the self-check out line, waiting for a darling little 5 year old girl to check out all of her books (with her stuffed animals perched on the side to watch her). It brought back memories of when I first discovered the library and how much I loved going there.

    So when I got back to my car, I called my daughter and asked to be with her when my oldest grandson (6) checks out his first book. He just started reading, and now reads EVERYTHING, even the backs of his DVDs.

    It’s up to us all to instill the love of books in our children. So all of you children apparel companies, how about a trunk show in your local library or at their next rummage sale of used books?

  8. sahara says:

    If DC is dense, then New York City must be frightening.

    Here, your apartment is your space. In crowds, especially on the subway, you carve out mental space. Most of the time, we’re very engaging people who do talk without having to be touched.

    Despite the internet, we also use our libraries very extensively in New York. The former Orbach’s department store (back in the day, known as the place for “line for line copies” of couture clothing)is now the Science, Business, and Industry Library. A number of university libraries grant public access––Fashion Institute of Technology’s library is great!

    Even our local libraries are well used; but then, one of the major industries in New York City is book publishing. I’m still surprised about DC, though. It’s hard to think of the LoC being under utilized.

  9. Miracle says:

    Here, the only horses I’ve seen are in statues.

    When I lived there, they had cops on horses all the time. Wonder if they still do that.

  10. Tiffany says:

    I am really enjoying this post. I live in Baltimore and commute to DC everyday. Its funny how you just get used to things and take them for granted. I can go through my entire day surrounded by people and have very little social interactions. Once I enter my building and greet the guards I might not talk to anyone else for hours on end. I don’t think I’ve every used the Library of Congress. I go to the library near my house all the time. I guess it just never occurred to me to go there.

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