Are You Culturally In-Sync With Your City?

Jefferson Memorial

One of my favorite memorials

Last night as I was driving home from dinner at Policy, a pretty fabulous new restaurant in D.C.’s U Street Corridor, my friend pointed out the capital building on our left side. It was glowing on a dark night, and it looked stunning! And, then it dawned on me. Every time I drive through the city, I drive through the National Mall to get to my destination, but I never look at what’s around me.

Then I thought, “How often do I visit a museum, take a walk through the mall or sit on the steps of one of the memorial? Definitley not as much as one would think.

When you live in a city like Washington D.C., it’s very easy to take what you have for granted. I know when I visit home, people always make the same comments, “Well, you could never get bored in D.C. especially with all those free museums.”

 Well, the truth is in the last two years, I have visited the museums and the memorials about 10 times (okay maybe a bit more), but not as often you would think considering the proximity of my home to the city.

There are so many amazing activities to do in this city: attend a performance at the Kennedy Center, check out an exhibition at one of the many museums, enjoy a fabulous jazz performance in Duke Ellington’s area.

So, looking back, I decided to reflect on some of the exhibits, concerts and performances that I have seen in the last couple of years:

  • The Hidden Treasures of Afghanistan at the National Gallery of Art: This experience was phenomenal. On view were hidden treasures dating back more than a thousand years ago that survived during the Soviet-Afghanistan War and the Taliban reign.  For centuries, Afghanistan was ahead of its time period filled with treasures, but wars have caused so much destruction, leaving the country to start all over again and again. The exhibit was a wonderful reminder of the contributions this country has made over the years.
  • The Butterfly Pavilion at the Museum of Natural History: On a cold, February afternoon, my friends and I went to see hundreds of butterflies in this 85 degree indoor pavilion. It was beautiful walking through a mini tropics surrounded by a variety of colorful butterflies, and the perfect way to get out of the cold.
  • Vijai Nathan’s Performance at the Freer Gallery:  Vijai Nathan is a stand up comedian who is simply hysterical. During Asian-Pacific Islander month, she performed at the Freer Gallery, and was amazing. I don’t think I had laughed so much in a very long time. I love watching performances where the performer connects with the audience on many levels, and she did, taking a very personal story, and turning it into an unforgettable performance.
  • The National Book Festival: If you haven’t been to the National Book Festival then you are missing out on something. I attended the Book Festival in ‘08, and had the opportunity to hear one of my favorite authors, Philippa Gregory (you know the writer of the Other Boleyn Girl). Sitting among other avid fans,  she did reading of her book The Other Queen. But my favorite line was when a person asked her a question of what she thought of the movie The Other Boleyn Girl, and she said, It was ridiculously beautiful.”
  • Seeing Diana Krall at Wolftrap: Seeing Diana Krall, one of my favorite jazz singers, was a night I will never forget.  Even with the rain and a slight chill in the air, the concert was fabulous.  Just a couple of months away from my second anniversary in Washington, I could not help but think, “I am so glad that I am here.”

I have vowed as one of my resolutions to do more cultural activities then in the past. One of the first things on my list is to visit the Cezanne and Manet exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery at the end of the month.

What about you? Are you culturally in-sync? What cultural activities do you enjoy?

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