Friday, July 1, 2011

Intermission II: in which we learn I might be a security threat...

Hello! We are just back from a quicker-than-we'd-have-liked trip to the east coast to see some sights and visit some relatives. (Mostly I wanted the boy to see some of his kin--and for them to see him and how fast he's growing!)

Anyhow, one of the highlights of the trip was spending two days with my brother, who took us to see cool stuff, one day in D.C. and one day in Harper's Ferry.

In D.C., before we went to the NMAI (I wanted to see an exhibit there and relished the chance to share with my loved ones what I love about that place), we decided to tour the Capitol visitor's center. It didn't exist when I was a kid; if you wanted to see the capitol, you just walked in; maybe you opted for a tour, but you could just wander about and look at stuff if you wanted to. Of course, in a post-9/11 world, that is right out the window. The new (opened in 2008) visitor's center is a resplendent underground building filled with statues, artifacts, and exhibits on the history of the capitol.

But before you can go in, you have to go through security.

I had something on my person that was apparently a threat:
(cotton washcloth in progress... sorry for the blurriness)

Yup, that's my knitting. Yup, right there on the security sign it said that pointy objects, like knitting needles, were not allowed in. Pencils and pens were okay, but NO knitting needles.

I was annoyed. I refrained from pointing out to the guard that pencils are just as dangerous as knitting needles. Instead, I asked if there was a locker or someplace I could store it while we toured the building. The younger guard suggested I put it in the trash. (I am not kidding. I wanted to smack him. I think the fact that I did not shows great restraint on my part.)

I looked around, and there was definitely no place to put it. I decided to stash it behind a wall--not exactly hidden, but sort of. I thought to myself: okay, I'm leaving it to the gods (and the kindness of strangers); if it's still here when we get back, that's great, but if not, I won't be upset.

(Here is my knitting project in its "hiding" place...)

So we went back in, and this time went through the security gate. And I was denied entrance, this time for something buried in a pocket of my purse:
(offending item #2)

Here's a photo of it in my hand, unfolded, for scale:
(national security threat = I might snip someone?)

I carry this tool around in my purse because it's handy, not because I want to hurt anyone. I was quickly going from "annoyed" to "incensed" to "pissy," especially given the fact that I've been through airport security a bunch of times with knitting, and even once with these scissors (I forgot they were in my bag until after the trip!). But my brother pointed out, rightly, that the guards at the capitol have been assaulted and hurt in the past, so they're being extra careful nowadays. I grumbled and moaned, but got myself back to civil with a super-quick walk to the car and back to stow my threatening items.

After which I was sweating like a horse. (Ask someone who knows D.C. to tell you about the humidity... The place was built on a swamp!)

But then when we got in the statuary hall, I saw an old friend and that did wonders for my mood.
(I love how this statue suggests movement! You can also see how my hair & eyes suggest humidity... erg.)

This is Sarah Winnemucca, native activist and writer of My Life Among the Piutes. As Patrick took my photo, another family paused to wonder who this person was, and I went into "professor" mode, telling them a little about her life and writing. Patrick said you could really see how excited I was about seeing this statue, and about teaching others about her.

So probably my FBI file is a little thicker from this adventure, but I had a good time. Here are some other pictures from that day:

(King Kamehameha of Hawai'i)

(replica of Freedom, the statue atop the Capitol dome...)

(Here she is full-length.)

(Better keep an eye on this group of suspicious-looking characters...)

(One of my favorite things about the NMAI: it's a giant building that, in some ways, is very unobtrusive!)

(There was a group doing Polish dancing! We only watched them for a minute or two--in a hurry to get to dinner--but it was kind of cool.)

(Mr. Pointy Head; or maybe he's doing his impression of a unicorn?)

I hope you avoid doing anything that makes your FBI file thicker today...



  1. Gosh, you were 7 blocks away! So sad I didn't get to see you.


  2. Maybe they were all worried about you getting "snippy" with you and "needling" them.