Chad and I were in Washington, D.C. for exactly 36 hours this past weekend. Technically, the purpose of the trip was to attend Ian and Amy's "Going Legal" Celebration (more about that in a minute), but since my brother Rudy and his family live in nearby Woodbridge, VA, and since my best friends from law school (Quyen and Jee) live in D.C., well, we had to balance the delicate task of juggling quality time with three completely different groups of people, all of whom we wanted to see. Are you in the same bind? Do this....
First and foremost, fly jetBlue Airways! Our cross-country, round-trip tickets, direct (!), only cost $238.20 each! I couldn't take Friday off from work, which meant we had to take a red-eye, leaving around 11:30 pm on Friday night, which would arrive in D.C. at 7 am on Saturday (the "Going Legal" Reception was scheduled for 7 pm Saturday night!). You can imagine how miserable a red-eye can be, especially when you know you won't be able to check into your hotel for several hours after you arrive, and none of your friends will want to go pick you up at the airport at 7 am! But jetBlue makes the flight pretty darn comfortable ~ I love the low fares and individual T.V.'s on the back of each comfy leather seat, not to mention the extra 2-inches you get in leg room (believe me, you can FEEL the difference!). And, the jetBlue employees are also so darn nice! In fact, even the on-board etiquette cards, tucked into the back of each seat, playfully suggest that passengers just "Be Nice." I was sitting in my seat, waiting to take off, stuck in the Center Seat, feeling fussy because I was hungry and sleepy, when I saw those two words peeking out at me from behind a magazine in the seat in front of me: Be Nice. I pulled out the card and showed it to Chad:
Be Nice. Introduce yourself. Say, "excuse me" and use your own seat to get up. Keep the aircraft clean.
Anyway, we landed at Dulles Airport at 7 a.m. My little brother (and Saint), Rudy, picked us up, which meant he probably had to get up at 5:30 am ~ it was his first time meeting Chad. We had been in the car only about five minutes, driving in the pouring rain, when the conversation turned to politics (clearly, I was not paying attention and did not steer Chad clear of that topic!). All I remember is my brother telling me that he gets his information from Fox News, and hearing my voice rise a decibel as we debated John Kerry's alleged "wishy-washy stance on issues" (my brother's view) versus Bush's very-real destruction of American civil liberties and, well, world peace in general (um, my view). Somehow, as my brother sped along Highway 66 dodging rain drops the size of baseballs, the issue of Jane Fonda's questionable activities during the Vietnam War came up, whereafter I countered with a crazy quote from Al Franken's book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, but then we agreed on Wal-Mart's destruction of liveable wages and then my brother blurted out, "So, what religion are you Chad? We may as well go there, too." (Welcome to the family Chad!) Then my brother mentioned how much he liked having me visit (I think he was sincere, too!). But the best part of the drive and the , the part that restored my faith in my brother's politics, is that he said, "But I can tell ya this, if Hillary were running right now, I'd vote for HER!" Yeah! Go Little Brother!
Finally, we got into D.C. around 9:30 am and we met my friends Quyen and Jee at The Diner, where they serve super-tasty and super-cheap food (two eggs with homefries and toast for $2.99!). After a hearty breakfast, Chad and I were ready to drop-dead-asleep right there on the linoleum; it was almost 11 am. Jee let us sleep at her apartment until our room at the Adams Inn was ready ~ we slept, hard, until 3 pm!
So, the Adams Inn is a quaint Bed & Breakfast on Lanier Place, two blocks from Adams-Morgan. Can I tell you how cute and inexpensive the Adams Inn is?! Our room, with a private bath, was only $95, BUT they give a 10% discount to non-profit people and so our room was only $85.50! The room was really big, and peaceful and quiet and damn adorable! Plus, we were within walking distance of the various places we needed to be (including important purchase of "Festive" lipstick at Blue Mercury in DuPont Circle and late-lunch consisting of copious empanadas at Julia's Empanadas).
Which brings me to the "Going Legal" Reception. Amy and Ian, social justice icons known for their "Freedom Brunches" and "Not In Our Name Brunches," got hitched/married/went-legal on Friday, June 4. Rather than register for gifts, they asked all their friends to make a donation to the John Kerry campaign and/or moveon.org. How cool are they? They also cleared the date in advance with all their friends, and tried to make sure they scheduled the party early enough so that the Dems could make good use of the money! Friends and Countrymen, these are true patriots!
I mean, who needs to register for new salad bowls when you can register for a new President!?
So, we all contributed to the Dems, and got to dance all night with the happy couple at Bossa, in Adams-Morgan. The martinis were flowing, the cleavage factor was off-the-chart, and the music was off-the-hook. Ian and Amy really know how to throw a non-party party! The DJ upstairs was spinning Michael Jackson and Prince, along with Manny Oquendo's version of Elena, Elena, and the live band downstairs (Grupo Cubano or Cubano Group) was red-hot. I heard the "Happy Merger" couple was out until 3 a.m. with their fans, but Chad and I stumbled back to the Inn by 1 am (only one martini for me ~ I was designated walker!).
I have to tell you that, right before the party/reception, I became one of those wedding guests that brides and grooms (but mostly brides) HATE with a capital-H! I had the nerve to misplace the invitation and then call Ian on his cell phone a mere 2 hours before the big event to ask silly questions such as, "Um, so where is this shindig? Um, will there be food there? What time should we get there?" Ian graciously told me to jump off a roof ~~ kidding, he gave me all the info with a smile on his face ~ he knows how I am. But then, Chad and I were over an hour late anyway, due to an unforeseen blowdryer incident at the Adams Inn! You may recall my previous post discussing the VITAL NATIONAL IMPORTANCE of my blowdryer and diffuser (we curly-haired people just need a little slack, please). Well, there was poor, unsuspecting Chad, busily working on a practice essay for the California Bar Exam, when I swung open the bathroom door, hair dripping wet, sagging curls everywhere, and announced, "Houston, We Have A Problem!" The electrical outlet in the bathroom was not working! I had to diffuse the curls STAT or risk looking like a frazzled French Poodle at the party! You know what Wonderful Chad said? In all sincerity and seriousness (hmm, I hope...), he said, "Well, that is more important than this" (the "this" being his practice essay for the CALIFORNIA BAR EXAM!). I was too traumatized to thank him profusely right there and then, and promise to worship him forever, but, hey, I made a mental note to myself about that, ok? :) It all worked out (don't ask what I had to do....) and when we walked in (late) to the party, Ian came right up to me and asked, "Blowdryer Incident?" Sigh, he knows me so well; I love that guy! But no one noticed how late we were because the party was in full swing (see, e.g., "martinis were flowing....," supra).
The next morning, we squeezed in another nice breakfast with Jee and Quyen at Tryst (the coffeebar-by-day/cocktail-lounge-by-night sister to The Diner) before my brother and his family picked us up at the Inn. We had about four hours to spend with my brother and his cool wife, Sessy, and their cute kids before we had to go to the airport ~ both Chad and I wanted to go see the Constitution at the National Archives (partly to see if it was full of holes as the current Administration treats it). Alas, the National Archives is closed on Sundays, so we decided to just drive down to the National Mall and see as many monuments as possible.
I have been to D.C. a lot, but it was Chad's very first trip, so we wanted to show him the "big ones": the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, the Korean War Veteran's Memorial, and the new World War II Memorial. Sigh ~ all the monuments and memorials just drove home the point of how much war and conflict have driven our country and the toll on human life ~ I simply did not get filled with patriotic pride and joy as I read some of the 58,325 names of dead Americans on the Vietnam Memorial.
Luckily, my 3-year-old nephew, Rudy, kept the mood light and my 11-year-old-smart-as-a-whip niece, Diandra, made the moment poignant. Later, to really rile up my brother, we stood in front of the White House with the kids and we all shouted, "JOHN KERRY!" as my brother snapped this photo:
It only took one try to teach my nephew to say "John Kerry" ~ their brains are like sponges ~ I love it! Shortly after, we noticed some Secret Service Agents nearby but I am sure our photo-op had nothing to do with it!
Then, after we mooched a delicious, 3-course lunch from my brother at the Old Ebbitt Grill near the White House, he drove us back to Dulles Airport ~~ at 7 pm on Sunday evening, 36 hours (and about 3 martinis, 10 national monuments, and 75 friends) after landing, we were back on a plane heading home. The five hour return flight consisted of studious Chad working on practice MBE's and essays for the California Bar Exam ~ oh joy.
Oh yeah ~ last observation ~ one thing I noticed in Adams-Morgan: how do you know when a Hot Spot has Gone Cheesy? MTV's The Real World moves in ~ yep, the new season is filming in Adams-Morgan.......ugh