On view in the Impressionist rooms of the National Gallery of Art are two paintings, Pandora and Saint Sebastian, by the French artist Odilon Redon.
I love these paintings. The entire Impressionist/Symbolist/Cubist/ etc. collection at the NGA is a great one, but the Redon's are really special. It's not hard to find a Cezanne or a Monet, but Redon's work is less well known and harder to find. If you find his work on display here, treasure it. Look at it for 30 minutes at a time, go back again and again. His paintings have a surrealist, dreamy quality to them, and he played with symbolism and mythology in his work. He was bold enough to leave some parts of the canvas totally bare; in other parts the paint is layered and wrought in such a manner that you can see the work behind it.
Though the NGA has a number of his paintings and drawings in their collection, these are the only two currently on display, and they weren't on view just a few years ago. Check them out now before they go into storage again!
Some catkins poking out despite the snow.
A quiet side street,
a green light,
snow covered roofs fading into the sky,
and a warm place to eat.
Snow days were, of course, special as a child, but somehow they feel even better as an adult. Maybe the unexpected time off seems like such a treat because of the day in, day out, year round nature of work. Or maybe it's because a snow day lets us feel like kids again, giddy with anticipation and jubilant over the unplanned freedom. Whatever the reason, this mid- February snow storm that shut down the Fed, and most of the rest of DC, was much appreciated.
A few weeks ago we were were out late in the wilds of Virginia, and decided to try to grab dinner on H Street before heading home. We tried Toki Underground first, but even at 10:30 we were still looking at a wait of 2.5 hours (!). We moved on to Sticky Rice, which also had no free tables. Cold and dejected, we were about to admit defeat when the hostess at Sticky Rice called out to us "There's a new place a block down - Copycat - buns and skewers." Perfect!
Copycat Co. is divided into a cocktail bar up top and bare bones dining/kitchen on the ground floor. We ate downstairs and it was pretty much everything I like and nothing I don't. Think, bare bones stainless steel counter with bar stools, behind which is a guy rolling out the wrappers for potstickers, and an open kitchen off to the side. Almost no decoration, and three choices for food - potstickers, bao, and skewers. Oh, and four options of beer, one of which was Tsingtao.
A limited number of options is a huge plus for me in a restaurant - in my mind, the fewer decisions I have to make, the better. I'd rather select the venue and general type of food, and let the chef figure out the rest. I really liked that Copycat chose a few street food items, and did them well. But my favorite part was something a bit more intangible. For a brief while, when it was just us at the bar sipping Tsingtaos, and the guy rolling dough, and the smoking kitchen, I felt like I could have been somewhere else. I felt like I could have just as easily been tucked away in a bar on the other side of the world, as I could have been tucked away right in the city I was in. Which was a nice feeling, and one I'd go back for.
Has anybody else been to Copycat Co.? Thumbs up, thumbs down?
1. The double cross - when the lights at an intersection are timed such that you can cross to a diagonal location without stopping.
2. Cutting through a quiet alley way in the summer (early evening with a bit of sunlight left), and the quiet before slipping back out into the noise of the main streets.
3. The secrets in plain sight, like the fig tree with ripe figs that you've walked past a thousand times on the way to the metro before seeing it, and stopping for a sweet bite.
4. Sinking into a seat in the dark, cool movie theater after walking many blocks in the high summer midday heat.
5. The owner of the corner store who knows you not in the way of knowing your name, but knowing your quirks and food habits.
6. Kind strangers.
When you first arrive in a new place, it has a history and stories outside of yourself. It's its own being and you are your own being. It has an official history, with famous people and landmarks. Here is where Lincoln was shot, and this is where Martin Luther King spoke of his dream.
Over time, a place starts to cradle your stories alongside its own. You start to live into it. Now this building is no longer just the spot where presidents live, but also where you and I watched fireworks one summer. I've been here long enough that the layers are starting to build up, and I can say now:
Here is where I ate breakfast with my ex-boyfriend before he was an ex, and here is the building where I went to work at my first professional job, and also where I had my wedding dress altered. It looks out over the park where I've sat in the heat and in the cold and waited, for him, for her, for you.
And this is the building where I went to my first internship, and also where I now work. Here is the bar where I always meet out of town friends, and here is the other bar where I had that blind date with the man who was so nice, but not for me. Here is the fountain in front of which we said our vows, a few blocks from the subway station in front of which we first kissed. And when you take that subway line a few stops, you get to the museum, in the corner of which is the painting that I've looked at over and over, when I was alone, when I was happy, when I was sad, when I was lost, and when I was found.