Friday, June 26, 2009

Bertie's everyflavored Blog-farts

I have been gone a week and I am totally out of touch. After I check-off some items on my chore list, I'll try to catch up with all of my blogging buddies. I have really missed them this week.

I went to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Conference in Washington DC. It was spectacular, especially for a bumpkin like me. I am amazed at the brilliant ideas for choices in education that have been established throughout the nation. I'm thinking about what might work in Columbia, and what niches might be met. For instance, there are elementary schools (in SC too, I think) where everything is taught in French. I don't speak French, unfortunately, but I'd like my children to be able to speak as many other languages as they can master or even pick up. That's just one program, and the rest of the curriculum is excellent, of course. Anyway, I'll muse on that stuff more at my other blog The Matriarch's Corner, where I pretend to know something about stuff and try to use complete sentences. Not really.

We stayed at the Renaissance on 9th Street. It was a lovely hotel and the concierge was helpful and the mattress was really comfortable and the shampoo smelled really nice. And it was right next to the convention center. But, being a country bumpkin, I can't understand why, if we pay $300 a night convention rate hotel fees, we have to pay $12.95 a day for Internet service. And $2.50 for a soft drink. And $25 a day to park. OK, I admit it... I'm a provincial mouse. I have stayed at Best Westerns (and other hotels) with free Internet, comfortable bed and shampoo that didn't make my hair fall out. They didn't have a concierge, but when we asked the desk clerk where to eat, she said there was a really good Greek restaurant about a half mile away. It wasn't in the middle of DC, of course. And I know $300 a night is chump change for a nice hotel in a big city. And the mattress was comfortable. But, good grief, how do rich people stay rich when they waste so much on conspicuous consumption? I really am a hick, ain't I?

I love DC. Even though the streets are jammed with cars and buses full tourists and government workers and lobbyists and diplomats and everything else, the city's layout is logical. I love the fact that the streets are named after famous letters and numbers. I know the order, once I get the NW/NE stuff straight. The metro and bus system is just as clear, even for tourists. I love color-coded metros.

And DC has so much STUFF. My sister Ellen & I only toured one day, but it was great. We had hop-on/hop-off bus passes on the open-topped bus. I recommend that as a way to go. We saw more of the city than we would have if we'd tried to drive. We got to pick our stops and concentrate on the sites, not the parking. The pass was good for two days, so Dad, Bob, Ellen's husband Paul, Joseph, Mark, & Roslyn toured on Monday as well.

I saw the Vietnam Memorial for the first time. There were flowers for father's day, I think. Mark kept asking if I was OK, but I couldn't really explain.

At the Korean Conflict Memorial, there were Korean marines --- veterans and younger men. It was very moving.

On Wednesday, we went to the Capitol to tell our Senators and Congressmen we support Quality Public Charter Schools. That was cool, even though we met with staffers, mostly. The staffers were very knowledgeable and interested. We were supposed to meet with Congressman James Clyburn in person, and most of our group probably did. His office is in the Capitol building, so the security is tighter. I'm sure it's our fault for not realizing this, but we had a rather unpleasant encounter with a pompous security guard. We also had a wonderful encounter with a woman at the Sgt at Arm's desk who went out of her way to help us.

A staffer from Congressman Brown's office took us to where we go through security to get into the Capitol. The other office buildings had security, but other than having to take off my stylish belt, it wasn't a problem. At the Capitol, we got in the wrong line and someone said we could go the other way. Following directions, we walked in that direction. There was a metal detector there, so it's not like we were jumping the security. But Officer Odie started yelling, "LOOK OUT YOU HAVE SOME RUNNER'S!" We didn't pay attention because we didn't know WTF he was talking about. When he grabbed us, we explained what we were doing. God, what an ass. So we headed over to the Sgt at Arms desk, where two women checked our IDs and gave us passes. Ellen wasn't with us, so I asked the lady what Ellen should do to get in. She said she'd get her, asked me what she was wearing and run upstairs to find her. It took two tries, but she got her and got us through. BUT THEN, we went back to the metal detector where Officer Odie starts yelling, "LADIES!" like we are supposed to know the dumb f he is talking to us. Then he tells us our bags are too big and we have to do something but I'm not sure what. One alternative was to put them in our congressman's office, but our congressman's office was in the capitol building. So I said, "Fine." And we left. I understand the need for security, & I don't expect security people to be overly friendly, just professional. I don't see the need for pompous rudeness. And the fact that the lady (I think her name was Bobbie) was soooo helpful stands in stark contrast. We were really looking forward to talking to Congressman Clyburn, too. Oh well. Maybe we can invite him to the school.

On the way up to Washington, we visited my cousin Karla and her family in Leesburg VA. They were so welcoming! (Chris --- thanks for letting us use your bed and sorry for ruining your Wii golf score.) Along with great talk, great food, and great coffee, Karla took us to the Mannasses battle site even though she's probably been there a million times.

On the way back, we saw my aunt & uncle, Ellie & Cec in Shadyside Md. Cousin Jay and his cool family came to visit, but we had sort of dropped in (not literally, but only a couple days warning) and they had other plans. It was good to see them all.

Between Karla & Frank's house and Ellie & Cec's house, I am inspired to get rid of a lot of my junk and only keep stuff we love. Frank is a Navy officer, so they have traveled a good bit. I think it's the moving that honed Karla's simple but elegant & comfortable decorating style. Ellie & Cec have lived in the same house for 40 years maybe, and you can see layers of collected things reused in a new way. But no clutter. We'll see, but wanting is the first step to realizing, right?

The weather was perfect the whole time. It was in the 80s with a breeze. With the right shoes, I could have walked all day.

It's great to be home. Time to start deciding what I really love... other than the husband, the children and the babies, of course.


Martha said...

Welcome Home, sounds like an amazing trip. I need to declutter my office and closets more, I have a cordless phone MIA.

Kim said...

Welcome back - sounds like a great trip.