As I said, things around Casa Linguini have been pretty tense lately as we near the finalization of our bankruptcy. This general aura is not helped by the daily reminders of doom and gloom predicted on the news that Dirtman insists drone on all day long.
My usual response, in the good ol’ days when my backbone was intact, used to be a forceful command of, “Enough!” as I snap off the television and come up with some ridiculous scheme that, while most likely unable to be executed, at least gets everyone out of the funk we’re in and thinking outside the box.
But on top of the overall dismal character of what we’re going through, we have the added burden of job hunting, a task that I at first approached very matter-of-factly until, for the first time in my life, I couldn’t find a job I wanted. Seriously, up to this point, I’ve never been not hired when I wanted to be hired. But, then, I was never job hunting at 51 years old before. (I know there are those for whom it would make their day if they walked into their local McDonalds to hear me ask them if they want fries with that, but I can’t afford to work for such low wages merely for the satisfaction of those who want a bankruptcy to result in complete degradation.)
So let’s add rejection to our list of depressive conditions and you can understand why it’s harder these days to channel my inner Pollyanna. But channel her I do, even though right now, every penny must be accounted for, every expense justified to the world at large, every thing we do or say judged through a filter called “bankruptcy.”
Some days are better than others, but the best days are the ones where someone else takes over the cheering up so I can just enjoy the ride for a day.
Such was Sunday when my brother Dark Garden and sister-in-law Beth up and hauled us into Washington, D.C., for the day. On top of that, they wanted to go to my favorite place: The National Gallery of Art.
We each have our own view of the day which you can read Dirtman's take on his blog (scroll down or click the archives to Oct. 14, 2008) and here from Dark Garden. Beth is, as always, patient and tolerant with the lot of us.
The last time I was at the Smithsonian was when I was homeschooling the Heirs and, naturally, our visits focused on the Museums of Natural History, American History and Air and Space. When I was single I used to take the train to D.C. from Jersey and, through the Smithsonian Associates program (which back then was really, really generous), I stayed at the L’Enfant Plaza for two nights ($75 including two continental breakfasts delivered to my room, a dinner in one of their dining rooms and an all-day pass on the tour bus – which I only used once). I’d spend hours at the gallery. Since I’ve been married, I went once when Dirtman was at a conference in Rosslyn and took Metro in and spent an entire glorious day just exploring the art of the 16th and 17th centuries.
I’ve always been particularly fond of this time period. I always feel this obligation when I’m at the gallery to start at the beginning and work my way forward in time. It’s always such a relief after the almost suffocating effects of the Church on art, to finally see those lovely sepia-toned Flemish and Dutch paintings of everyday life and pock-marked peasantry.
Because, as much as I’d like to believe I’d inspire an artist to use my visage on a serene-faced Madonna, I know I’d be in one of those Molenaer Dutch peasant paintings, a figure in the background basting a grouse – or just doing what I do.
It was so nice to get lost for a few hours, though I think the Escher-like layout of rooms got to Beth after awhile. I was fading fast myself after being on my feet for so long (I won’t go into all the ramifications of being without health insurance for over a year, but I will admit that the effects of not taking medications you were supposed to be on for the rest of your life can result in being pretty uncomfortable and, frankly, I find it annoying).
So off we trotted to dinner which, since Dark Garden was in attendance, was bound to be an adventure for reasons we never quite know why. All I know is this: We go to restaurants, eat and leave with no incident. Add Dark Garden to the mix, and things invariably go wrong. He does absolutely nothing to deserve this. He’s friendly enough, no more or no less than anyone else. He’s undemanding and polite.
This time we didn’t even get to order before we knew it was happening again. All around us were people who had been seated after us, receiving their drinks, ordering food. And there we sat – no water, no server and no one with which to make eye contact or flag down or hit over the head and drag to our table.
So we walked out (and they let us) and went onto another restaurant where we were greeted and placated and fed and watered, then back to the Metro where the engineer (who also announces the stops) had to be about the happiest operator I’ve ever driven with.
So today Dirtman and I sent two e-mails: One to Uno Chicago Grill corporate offices detailing our non-meal at their Union Station restaurant; and, secondly, to D.C. Metro telling them how delighted we were to be on the Orange Line Sunday evening.
I guess I have to say this for anyone keeping track: Dirtman and I spent ne'er a penny all day. And Dark Garden says shuddup about it already.