We had our feet up, on the George RR Martin train yesterday, watching the Santa Fe scrub chug by and sipping beverages. The guitarist was covering train songs, and we got out a crossword which had a themed answer (Hint: Starts at Grant ____ in the northeast, ends at Santa Monica ____ in the Southwest, John Steinbeck called it the Mother ____). I almost fell out of my chair when I saw the answer was WHERE WE ARE.
Through Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico, Flagstaff, Arizona, don’t forget Winona, Kingman, Barstow, San Bernadino….
Of the many versions, I do like the Manhattan Transfer cover of “Route 66,” as well as John Mayer’s leisurely version from the soundtrack to Cars. We’ve been zipping along what Steinbeck called the Mother Road for a week, and aside from soaking up all the writing advice, we’ve had time to tour, eat, admire the clouds, eat, learn a little history, and eat some more. If you’re bombing through on the Interstate, you might only see asphalt and Applebee’s, but if you meander through the towns, you can hardly help but stumble over one kernel of beauty after another and if you eat a bad meal, you’re not really trying.
Vandals attacked Our House yesterday, but as the aimless barbarians they were, they could do little but pose for idiotic selfies. We can repair the windows; no real damage to the Apotheosis of our Democracy. The walls have been refurbished before. Our House–Our Capitol–has long been a work in progress, changing continuously. After all, it’s built on words.
I did not, until today actually understand the distinction between “capitol” and “capital,” which means I’ve probably misused them for years. I thought “capitol” meant the governmental head of something whereas “capital” meant money or referred to a good idea. Actually, the “capitol” is the building, and the “capital” is the place. “Capital” can also refer to a size of a letter or wealth, i.e. the source of wealth.
Jefferson invented the specific idea of the “Capitol,” or rather he stole borrowed it from Rome. The original architect for the Capitol building–and we’ll get to architects in a minute–wanted to call it the “Congress House,” to be distinguished from the “President’s House” or executive mansion, the White House. But Jefferson, always a guy who understood the optics, thought it needed to have classical influences.
I have some picture-taking advice for my younger self. Have we invented that time machine yet, so I can go back and tell me? And, while I’m at it, tell my parents and my wife?
Maybe while I’m waiting for the Singularity to work on that, I can just tell you the basics that rank highest on the list. Write stuff down. Reduce to what’s important. Focus on people, not things.
This is top of mind because I just finished part two of the massive picture project–the one we all have–organizing and digitizing our photos. I think that’s on everyone’s “When I’m Retired” list which could also be “When I’m Furloughed… When I’m Stuck Inside for Days on End…” It doesn’t make the project more fun that you might have some time to work on it, though. But you should get started because those pictures are fading as I write. Plus global warming.