Two very exciting things happened to me tonight:
1. For the first time ever (it's what, my fourth semester at college?) I went into Washington, D.C. Friday night with friends, and went to a bar. We even got kicked out of the bar!
2. I got to see an actual book that had once belonged to Roger Ascham, and even had his personal handwriting in it! *fangirlish squeeing*
Guess which one I found more exciting? (hint: it wasn't the bar.) Somehow I feel this marks me as an abnormal person.
Yes, okay, that's not the whole story. To justify a daylog I suppose I should elaborate.
The big news this week is that I've lost my university ID card, which means I can't get into the dorm by myself or eat at the dining hall, so I've been surviving on ramen noodles and Vanilla Coke, and doing a lot of standing in the snow. This was made even more desperate because tonight, most of the Writers' House in which I live was going to the PEN/Faulkner reading at the Folger Shakespeare Library, and I needed my card to get on the bus to the Metro and to get my student ticket.
But I managed to sneak on the bus, and the house director picked up my ticket for me. And we got on the Metro, which was exciting as always. The boys were being boys and switched cars at every stop. The girls sat quietly and discussed hats. Yes, hats. And we got off at the right stop, and only got slightly lost on the way to the library, and only had one snowball fight in the middle of a busy intersection, and only ended up being about ten minutes late to the reading.
The Folger Shakespeare Theatre is incredibly nifty, and I can't believe I'd never been there before. It feels old, all vaulted ceilings, dark wooden paneling, red drapes and marble sculptures. We ended up sitting in the balcony. The theater itself looks exactly like I'd always imagined an indoor Elizabethan theater like Blackfriars to look, and must date back at least a hundred years. (I could look it up, but then I might as well be noding the library.)
The reading was a panel discussion with Francisco Goldman, Manil Suri, and Claire Messud. When we came in they were discussing globalism and the concept of the American Novel, which I found slightly surreal in the Victorian-Elizabethan atmosphere of the theater, but it was a great panel. The most memorable part, of course, was when Manil Suri read the sex scene from The Death of Vishnu and talked about how he reads that scene at every talk and the different reactions he gets in different places. (Suri: In Germany, they laughed at all the wrong spots. Goldman: Well, Germans probably do that during sex too).
After the reading was a reception. I rushed in as quickly as I could to snag refreshments,(because frankly the ramen's getting fairly old), but before I'd made it ten steps in I saw in a glass case by the door, a First Folio! I knew they had them there, but I didn't expect to actually get to see one! I was struck dumb and just stood there staring at it for a while. By the time I got to the food all the mango slices were gone.
The reception made me feel very literary. We stood around drinking sparkling water, taking advantage of free food, commenting on the quality of the cheeses and discussing foreign novels. Except me. I spent the time staring at the displays like an idiot. An original copy of James Boswell's Journal of a tour to the Hebrides! An entire case full of books scribbled in by John Dee! One of Henry VIII's Latin textbooks! Walt Whitman's pocket Shakespeare! Part of Robert Dudley's collection! And, of course, the aforementioned Roger Ascham inscriptions. (He's the only famous person I ever had a real schoolgirl crush on. He was Queen Elizabeth I's Latin tutor. Someone should fill that nodeshell.) And some random photographer took our pictures. Check the DC area alternatives.
At some point the house director asked us if we all wanted to go out for literary discussion and drinks (!) Even though only one of us was over drinking age. We all agreed. I figured it was probably the only way I'd ever end up in a bar, and it felt very safe. We were headed for a bar which I believe was called the Ark and Dove. Unfortunately nobody actually knew where it was, and instead we ended up at a Red River Grill. Which was not quite the ambience I was expecting. Half-a-dozen TVs blaring different channels, loud rap music, smoke, no room to move. The adults told us they no longer considered themselves in charge, but if we had fake ID's they didn't want to know about it. I wasn't at all interested in getting a drink, even an orange juice. Actually I had no idea what to do. I went into writer mode and stared around wide-eyed, drinking in all the details to remember so I could use it in a story (or, yes, a daylog) later. Loud rude people in trashy clothing. I couldn't tell if they were drunk or just naturally that way. Harried barmaid. Ashes, dirty dishes, empty beer cans, red-vinyl seats (I got my cloak caught while sitting down, so now I know what it's like to fall off a barstool). Reproduction movie posters on the walls. The bar itself, with all the bottles lined up behind it, which I can only describe as "shiny" in the "ooh, sparkly, I can't help staring at it" sense.
After about ten minutes one of the employees came up and politely asked those of us who weren't drinking to leave. Yes, that counts as getting kicked out of a bar! It does! So about three girls walked back to the metro station. I suppose I should have been worried, DC late at night, but nothing happened more alarming than wolf whistles from some stoned guys on a porch, and I've gotten *that* much in Glen Burnie. And we took the Metro home from Union Station, caught the free shuttle bus back to campus, and one of my friends let me in the dorm. I suppose the others are still at the bar. Meanwhile I've written a lovely journal.
Strangely, this adventure did not increase my desire to go out and get trashed every weekend. It did make me determined to go back to the Library sometime and sigh over all the wonderful, sexy old books.
In other exciting news, this is my 25th writeup and first daylog! Go me!