DC Made Me Dizzy

My whirlwind trip to Washington DC last week was both exhilarating and exhausting. The program I attended with Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine was all I'd hope for, and actually a whole lot more. I came home loaded with information, both in my brain and in my suitcase, and now I have to spend time going back over all of it and really assimilating what I plan to teach.

I had imagined myself traveling up and down the west coast, mainly Portland, Seattle, and San Jose, teaching Food For Life classes in all three places, since I'm in all of them often. It looks likes I'll be mostly confined to Portland though, since there are FFL Instructors all over the country (and the world!) and we're pretty much required to stick to our own home area. It makes sense, but it's also kind of disappointing. Maybe I can get them to work around this little rule, since I've found that there are no classes being offered in Seattle, and the closest classes to San Jose are over in the Santa Cruz area. Portland is wide open too, which kind of surprises me. We'll see how it goes. Contact me if you want a class and can't find one! I'll do what I can to make it happen for you.

Dr Neal Barnard spoke to the group. Amazing man. A new hero of mine.
There was more time for fun than I expected on my trip. I made some friends and we all ventured off in the evenings to explore and eat and see some sights. I'd been to DC once before, but it was a very different experience for me this time. Not as hot for one thing (we went in August last time... ugh), and because I stayed in a different part of town than the last trip I got to see a whole different terrain. A friend had given me a subway pass, which I used a couple of times. What I quickly realized though is that I preferred to see where I was going and what was along the way. A train in a huge underground tunnel is cheap and fast, but you end up missing a lot.

I learned about Uber this past February in Seattle. My kids know everything, which is great because I've grown tired of faking it. When they tell me I need some new technology, I believe them. Uber is one of those things I might not have found on my own, but I'm really glad to have that little app on my phone now. It's like a cab only better. More like a personal driver who is always on call (although it's always a different person), and always shows up in just a few minutes. You request a ride through the app, get a confirmation with a picture of the driver and his license plate number, and a text or call as he's arriving. Your credit card is on file and billing is automatic, including the tip. It's always cheaper than a taxi, the cars are nicer, and I find the whole Uber experience to be a good one. Besides, since I cheaped out on the hotel, which turned out to be not that great, and not at all convenient, I felt justified in spending a few extra bucks to get around.

I suppose there was once a canopy over the door.
The view from my window, directly across the street. No, a wake up call was not necessary.

Probably needless to say, I didn't want to spend a lot of time in my hotel. The exception was the wonderful little Italian place next door, where I sat out on the patio just before closing two nights in a row and had a glass of wine and some of the best bread I've ever eaten. Just a little snack as I avoided going to my room. 11:00 still felt like 8:00 to my body - much to early to go to bed. On my second visit to this lovely little place, a nice man from Albania cleared my table and chatted a bit. Everyone who worked there was Italian or at least from that general part of the world. They were all so nice, and I almost felt like I was on vacation in Italy. I told Rick later that the Albanian man made me feel like Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun, when he bowed slightly and told me (in a very nice accent) that I was "Very beautiful lady." He wasn't hitting on me. I'm pretty sure those days are over. It's just so nice that there are men in the world who feel comfortable complimenting a woman, no matter how old she is.

Little side stories aside, I saw a lot of the usual suspects in DC, and really enjoyed the whole tour of monuments and views.

I'm not sure how this picture happened, but I like it. See how the stripes in the flag are see-through? I like to imagine it's a magical message, foretelling a coming transparency in our government. You never know.
While standing around the base of the Washington Monument, someone handed us extra tickets to ride to the top. I didn't even know you could go to the top until that happened. I also didn't know that there had been an earthquake in DC a couple of years ago, which damaged the monument. It's a free-standing stone structure, held together only by its own weight. It reopened to the public just a couple of months ago, and tickets are hard to get. We were just in the right place at the right time!

This is one small vignette on the wall of the World War II monument. So beautiful.

And then there's Mr. Lincoln. Sigh... I love hanging out with him. Even with all these people it felt like a holy place.
Dinner on the last night was at a terrific Ethiopian place called Meskerem. We'd read about it and decided to Uber our way over there from the Lincoln Memorial. We had a fun ride with a driver who had grown up in DC, and was happy to point out interesting things along the way. At the restaurant, I felt like I was back in Ethiopia. It was wonderful, and the food was even better than any I had in Ethiopia. I have no idea what any of the dishes are called, except for the injera, which is a wonderful tangy, spongy, soft flat bread made from teff, the tiniest grain in the world. It's kind of like a big, thin, sourdough pancake that you tear apart and pick up bites of food with. No forks were offered, and we didn't need them.

The lighting was not great for photos, but I had to try. This was an absolutely fabulous meal.
So I'm home now, and this brings me to the "dizzy" part of the title of this post. I woke up the day after my return to find that every time I moved, even a little bit, my head would spin. I was afraid I was coming down with something, or that I'd injured myself when I fell off a bench in a Chinese restaurant and hit the concrete hard, flat on my back. (I was not drunk. It was a freak thing that was very embarrassing and painful and allowed the entire place to see my underwear.) I emailed someone that day and said that I'd taken in so much over those few short days that "my head was spinning." That's when it hit me. It was information overload, for real. I took it easy all day and was fine by that evening. But even now, several days later, I'm easing into all I need to do to actually get classes together and start teaching here. It's a lot, which is great because it means I'll have a lot to offer. I just need to take my time and make sure I'm keeping up with myself.


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