Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sitting Here On Capitol Hill...

**Okay, this little travel recap was written yesterday...but I fell asleep before I could muster the energy to go downstairs to the lobby where there is wireless access...**

This was my first full day in D.C. and it was pretty great. My phone has a built in pedometer—it registers that today I walked 17,327 steps or 8+ miles. I believe it!

My first mistake of the day was not ordering breakfast in my hotel room. Last night I thought—no way, too expensive. I’ll grab something on my way to the Capitol. Wouldn’t you know it…I was running late for my tour and didn’t even have enough time to grab so much as a coffee. The second mistake was thinking it wouldn’t be too far to walk from my hotel to the Capitol. Ha. Things are farther away than they appear! It was more than a mile and I arrived at the last minute, a bit out of breath from the nice jog I ended up taking the last half of my journey. Of course, I’d chosen today to wear a skirt. So there I was, running up Constitution Avenue in my skirt, having had no coffee. (I admit that at that point, I may have been just a little bit grumpy...)

Note to self: take the Metro. Just take it. Second note to self: remember your sunscreen when you know you’re going to be outside most of the day. Third note to self: remember your sunglasses too.

But despite my tardiness and general frazzled feeling, the tour of the Capitol Building was cool. Oh my—the rotunda made me think of when President Reagan died. I watched the whole visitation on CSPAN and wept. (he was my favorite president, after all). But it is so beautiful in there. Photos (at least taken with my camera) don’t do it justice.

Anyway, from the Capitol, there is a tunnel to the Library of Congress. But it seems that none of the other hundreds of people there realized that, because I went through the tunnel all alone. After being in such huge crowds, it was a welcome relief, but a little weird.

The Library of Congress—OH MY GOODNESS! What an awesome place! If you know me very well, you know of my immense love for libraries. That’s right. I. Love. Them. And this one is the largest library in the WORLD. The building itself is beautiful, but the books and collections are just amazing. I seriously saw Thomas Jefferson’s books today. And the Gutenberg Bible. I could go on, but I won’t. But I did something quite cool. (okay, maybe the fact that I think it is quite cool makes me a nerd—but I don’t care!)

I went and filled out the paperwork to get my very own Library of Congress card, which means I can use the collection! Okay, so I might not ever actually get to do it, but I needed to know the ins and outs of using the LOC so that when my characters in Love is Monumental are doing a little research, I will know the procedures.

After leaving the LOC, I made my way over to the Supreme Court. Shamefully, I did not go inside to tour. By that time, it was after noon and I still hadn’t eaten anything. I went to the Reagan Building to the international food court and had…wait for it…a French baguette with butter and Swiss Cheese. (my meal of choice when I was in Europe) followed by hazelnut gelato. (Oh, gelato, how I’ve missed you…)

From there, I walked to the White House Visitor Center for a quick stop, where I set off the security alarm because my shoes have some kind of metal on them. That was super, super fun.

But when I left there, I noticed that there were police and secret service agents and they’d stopped traffic in all directions. And there were people lined up on all sides of the street. I made my way over there in time to see President Obama and his motorcade headed to the White House. I videoed the event…will post later! And can I pause here to say that secret service agents are, as a group, very handsome. :) Am beginning to wish I’d made Thatcher (the hero in Monumental) an agent. Oh well.

Later in the afternoon, I went to the Museum of American History. Highlights: Dorothy’s ruby slippers, the puffy shirt from Seinfeld, Abe Lincoln’s top hat, the chairs and table Grant and Lee used in the surrender at Appomattox, and the original Star Spangled Banner. Pictures forthcoming!

I ended the day where I started it—at the Capitol Building. The US Army Band was performing a concert on the steps. Great way to end the day. But then I got lost on my way to the metro and ended up walking about 12 blocks. Don’t ask.

And now…am wishing I could sleep in tomorrow. But I have an early tour of the Washington Monument! SO EXCITED to see it and talk to the rangers.

A few photos below...and the song of the day is I'm Just a Bill from Schoolhouse Rock, which I had in my head all day.

The Library of Congress!


The Capitol Building during the Army Band Concert:


An impromptu stop at the White House:


Me, in front of the Capitol--I was actually at the Supreme Court when this was taken:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

First Day in DC!

Whew! My first day in DC is coming to an end...mainly because I'm about to collapse into bed, not because the day is actually over.

First of all, I did not get much sleep last night. Not only did it take me forever to pack (trying to find outfits that don't scream "I am a tourist and have no idea where I'm going" but yet also say "I am prepared to comfortably walk 5+ miles in any weather" can be a difficult task) but then once I was finally in bed, I was too excited to sleep. And maybe a little nervous about flying.

Let me pause here to say I could do an entire blog SERIES about my irrational fear of flying. I know...it is safer than a car, blah, blah, blah. I can't help it though. The older I've gotten, the more chicken I've become. (I did jump off a mountain once, but I was 21 and didn't know any better)

Anyway, my very sweet mother (who came to my house yesterday to help me get ready for my trip and is dog sitting for me while I'm away) took me to the airport bright and early this morning. And wouldn't you know--the flight was fine. :) A little bumpy but I didn't have too many panic-laden moments. And as we were flying into DC, we flew RIGHT BY the Washington Monument. I was so excited! I'm loving writing Love is Monumental, and I think being able to spend some time here is going to make the book much more authentic.

After I collected my checked bag (which cost $15 dollars to check--what a crime!) I set out for the Metro. I'd considered a cab, but decided taking the Metro would be better for research purposes. :) Got to my stop and found my hotel with no problem. Lovely hotel.

I grabbed lunch (and waited out a rainstorm) and then set out for Ford's Theatre. I had a reservation there for the museum and ranger program. (it was a good thing I'd planned ahead, because they were out of tickets if you hadn't gotten them in advance) The museum just opened earlier this month. Very interesting. I will post photos soon... Ranger program was good. I learned lots of interesting things about the assassination of Abe Lincoln. Those of you who know me well know that this kind of thing is right up my alley.

I left the theatre and walked to the National Archives. Passed the FBI building along the way. I've always had a secret dream of working there. :)

The line at the archives was brutal and it was hot outside! Finally made it in and seriously think this was one of the neatest places I've ever been! All those historical documents, photos, recordings, etc. Just cool! Especially if you love history as much as I do.

Don't judge me, but I didn't wait in the hour+ long line to view the Declaration of Independence. By that point, I just couldn't wait in another line. I did see the Magna Carta though. And a petition from the 1830's meant to keep Arkansas from becoming a state. Seriously!

It began to rain as I left the Archives. First just a little sprinkle--my new umbrella was perfect. And then the bottom fell out! There isn't an umbrella in the world that would keep a person dry in that kind of weather. I was drenched by the time I made it back to my hotel. My new umbrella sprang a leak too.

And now, I'm in the hotel restaurant, eating a yummy BLT. Looking forward to a hot shower, a good night's sleep and then...a BUSY day tomorrow! I have to be at the Capitol Building by 8:15 a.m. (that is 7:15 my time...ugh!)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Milestones



Being a writer is an odd thing sometimes. At this point in my fledgling writing career, each milestone I come to is worthy of a call to my closest friends and family members to tell them about the latest "neat" thing that's happened. I'm not sure at what point that novelty will wear off. Maybe never, so I'm hoping my family and friends will continue to clap and cheer and jump up and down with me when I need them to. :)

My biggest news right now is that I have 2 books releasing back to back--one in September (Love Finds You in Charm, Ohio) and one in October (the first in my 3 book Walk in the Park series, Love is a Battlefield)! I am beginning to get excited about the releases. I think for so long, it didn't seem real, while I was caught up in writing, deadlines, and edits. But now things are starting to pick up--I'm scheduling book signings, interviews and even have an author page on Amazon.

The other day, something happened to make it completely real. I received my first box of books. My books! I am not (too) embarrassed to say that when I pulled the first copy from the box, I literally sank to the floor and cried. I'm not an overly emotional kind of girl. But I expect that when I hold the next one in my hand, I will have a similar reaction. And possibly when I see them on the shelves at stores come September and October. I'll be the weepy girl doing the Snoopy Dance on the book aisle at your local Wal-Mart/Barnes and Noble/etc. Just fair warning. :)

One of my biggest lessons throughout the process has been finding out that writing is truly a labor of love. It's wonderful when the words are coming easily, the plot is coming together and I'm meeting my word per day goal. But then there are those days when the words don't come at all, and the deadline seems like it is creeping closer. The nights when I'm up writing and it is 2 am and I know I have to be at the office the next day (I have a full-time job, after all!). Those are the times when the love really kicks in. Otherwise it would be too tempting to walk away and claim it to be too hard.

I'm working now on Love is Monumental the second book in the Walk in the Park series. It will release next May. I'm leaving Thursday morning for a research trip to Washington DC, and plan on posting lots of blogs/pictures while I'm there, so stay tuned!

Song of the day is This Time of Year by Better than Ezra--favorite song, favorite band. Saw them in concert this past Friday night with 3 friends from college. I'm pretty sure that for a few songs we were 22 again. :)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Holiday! Celebrate!

Did you like that little shout out to Madonna circa 1983?

Okay, so those who know me know that the the 4th of July is my FAVORITE holiday. Hands down. What, you ask? Not Christmas? How about Thanksgiving?

Before you start thinking that I'm some kind of unthankful Grinchy person, let me assure you that I enjoy those holidays. But they just aren't my favorite.

So the 4th--celebrating our Independence. That's big. I think many of us forget just how blessed we are. How many men have fought and died to protect our freedoms. So I think this is an important day for remembering.

And on a different note, I think this is just a happy day. There isn't the stress that seems to come with Christmas or Thanksgiving. Just happiness. Lots of cooking out and laughing. Swimming and lazy afternoons. It's perfection, really. Then fireworks later, which still have a way of making me feel like a little kid.

So there you have it. My essay on "Why I love the 4th of July". :)

The song of the day...a little Bruce. Born in the USA.

Enjoy the holiday!

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