Nov 8 2009

Unsettled in Washington DC

I’ve felt unsettled since we landed in DC on Saturday.  During my run this afternoon on the Washington Mall, I decided to attribute some of it to the redeye I took from Seattle mid-week and some of it to Washington DC itself.

Let’s start with the redeye.  I’m 43.  When I was in my 20’s and early 30’s, I regularly took redeye’s (often as frequently as once a week).  Five hours of sleep on the plane due to my superpower of being able to sleep from wheels up to wheels down, a quick shower, an extra long toothbrushing session, and I was good for a full day.  Wednesday night I took JetBlue from Seattle to Boston.  Five solid hours of sleep followed by a ride to my hotel.  I brushed my teeth and then crawled into bed at 8am for a little more sleep.  I woke up at 1pm, had a meeting, and then went back to sleep until 5pm.  After dinner I went to sleep around 10 and slept until 7.  I felt like shit when I woke up, had a full day, and crashed again at 10pm Friday night.  It’s Sunday and I finally don’t feel tired.  Yesterday, I sent my assistant Kelly a note that said “Don’t ever let me fly on a redeye again.”

Yesterday was a pretty day in DC – a little cold, but sunny.  Today has been beautiful – in the 60s and sunny.  Amy and I are here mostly to go to the Supreme Court tomorrow and hear the oral arguments on re Bilski.  Yesterday was a mellow walk around day with dinner with college friends at Vidalia (mildly ironic since I’m allergic to onions).  Today, we went to the National Gallery and the National Museum of Natural History – if you are in DC and you are an art lover you should absolutely make time to see the Meyerhoff Collection – it is amazing.  We also got lucky and saw Leo Villareal’s Multiverse light sculpture before it was removed.  All I remember from the National Museum of Natural History is the passel of children and the dinosaurs.

Now for the other half of what is making me unsettled.  As I ran on the Washington Mall I had chunks of time with the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.  Both invoke deep American pride – I find that the best description of the emotion I felt while taking a short break from my run and staring up at Abe Lincoln.  However, something just felt wrong.  DC feels too busy, the restaurants are too full, there is too much traffic, and just too much stuff. I remembered thinking about the office buildings between Dulles Airport and DC – virtually all of them were filled with companies that generate massive amounts of money from the federal government.  Several of the buildings undergoing renovation (such as the Hoover Building) had big pictures of Barak Obama on the signs talking about the scope of the renovations.  I started comparing DC to several of the other capital cities, such as London and Paris, and realized that DC is all about the business of government, whereas the other capitals that I’m familiar with are much broader in scope.

Between the damage I did to myself with the redeye and my sense of being overwhelmed by “the business of government”, I think I need to go hide in the mountains for a few days.