Destination: Washington, DC

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Photo Copyright Taraka & The Tara Chronicles, 2018

Yesterday was the long-awaited seventh grade field trip to Washington, DC, to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Veruca was very excited, at least insofar as one can be excited to spend a day away from the classroom and visit a different city. I would be lying if I said I was looking forward to this trip. And not just because of the solemn nature of the lesson.

We had to arrive at school at 6:30 a.m., and would not be returning for… twelve hours. I was a chaperone and so again responsible for other children not my own. That alone induces anxiety, though I have to admit it’s far better with 12- and 13-year-olds than it is with 8-year-olds. We were going to Washington, DC, a place my apocalyptic mind is certain is North Korea’s prime target. (Nevermind that if this were to truly happen, we don’t live far enough away from DC to survive anyway.)

So we arrive at 6:35 and board one of four buses. I get the last adult seat next to a very nice, but large, man. We introduce ourselves. And then he buckles up his seatbelt (they have these on tour buses!) while remarking he doesn’t want “another Tracy Morgan situation.” Great. What the hell do you say to that?

I texted my mom friend, Ashley, who was on another bus. Our bus didn’t have enough seats, as it soon turned out when three more people tried to board, and one of the two teachers riding with us was outside on the sidewalk losing her shit. And I can hear the bus driver saying all the buses have 58 seats, they’ve always had 58 seats, blah blah blah. All this, before 7 o’clock in the morning. I sipped my coffee and watched them through the window with fascination.

Disaster was eventually diverted when some seats were discovered on the other buses and we were soon on our way. Spazzy loaded the Night at the Museum movie and, later, the second one. After the longest bus ride ever, we finally pulled up next to the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum.

Our ticket time was 11:30 and we had an hour and a half to kill. Ashley announced that she needed Starbucks NOW and so she plugged it into her GPS and we were off. The six of us loaded up on beverages (my girls went with “The Pink Drink” – seriously) and I went with a White Chocolate Mocha Tall. I was so proud of myself for not screwing up how to order at Starbucks.

There are A LOT of black SUVs with tinted windows in DC. It’s creepy, the way they’re parked, engines running, along the streets. Something about them gave me anxiety. Or, maybe it was the caffeine. Either way, I was grateful to get away from them.

It’s a very serious matter, entering museums today – like going through airport security – bags are put through x-ray machines and we walk through metal detectors. V cannot go through – because her insulin pump cannot go through x-ray machines – so at every entrance we have to announce this and she goes around the machine and is personally inspected. Oh, did she love that.

After, we’re handed “Identification Cards” we aren’t supposed to open until sometime later (though no one ever tells us when and we end up cheating, I suppose, because we look). Each card holds the name and photograph of a real person who lived during the Holocaust.

Our group was lined up on a staircase, four across on each step – or, were supposed to be – but it’s kind of hard to squish that many people together especially when many are full-sized adults. One of the chaperones or teachers (not sure who she was) ordered my three girls and me to step down, because every step had to have 4 people on it. I said, there’s no room to step down. (There was a dad directly in front of me who was easily 6 feet tall, twice my size and clearly need TWO steps – picture this scenario). She said, you have to… every step has to be filled. I’m not pressing my body against a stranger, I snapped. (Yeah, I know. Not good form in front of the kids.) For the record, I’m usually very agreeable. I don’t know what got into me.

And before you think I’m a total asshole, I GET IT. I know there was a point to that exercise as we waited for our whole group to get through security. The mom on the opposite end of that step in front of me sniggled. The dad behind me, equally as large, announced a few minutes into our wait that, I hope I don’t get lightheaded and fall down like that last time. And I burst out laughing. I told him at least he’d have a soft landing.

We were soon led to a more open area and three elevators designed to look like something industrial and that’s all I’m going to say about that because I was having the most uneasy feelings here and I couldn’t shake it. (Yeah, yeah, I GET IT.)

The guide asked our group some questions, including – How many people did Hitler kill?                  Do YOU know?

Anyway, the museum was very crowded. But quiet. People spoke in whispers. There was at least one other school there and we spent so much time reading the exhibits that I looked around at one point and didn’t recognize anyone. To say that there wasn’t enough time to spend here is the understatement of the year.

We were never taught much about the Holocaust in school. I didn’t read anything related to it until I was in college. I didn’t know who Elie Wiesel was until my Junior year. I don’t think I knew that some 25,000 books that were decidedly “un-German” were burned on this very day in 1933. I didn’t know that books were published and taught to German schoolchildren, intended to indoctrinate them to Nazism and prejudice against Jews. I don’t think I knew that the Nazis also exterminated people who were “incurably ill.” Veruca said, I would’ve been killed.

We left the museum roughly 2 hours later. We were all hungry and also wanted to visit another museum while there was still time. At least one of us wanted to shop.

 

Details….

Raizel Kisielnicki was a 44-year-old mother of three who lived near Warsaw. She and her husband owned a grocery, gas station, and restaurant. On September 25, 1942 she and more than 3000 other Jews in their town of Kaluszyn were deported to an extermination camp, where she died.

Attack on Intellectual Freedom. The 1933 Book Burnings were carried out by German students from universities around Germany. “Any book which acts subversively on our future or strikes at the root of German thought, the German home, and the driving forces of our people” and/or written by authors considered enemies of National Socialism. These included Einstein, Mann, Freud, Kafka, Marx, H.G. Wells, Upton Sinclair, Helen Keller, and Margaret Sanger.

Indoctrination of schoolchildren. The Nazi regime removed Jewish teachers and others who were considered “politically unreliable.” Hitler’s portrait hung in every classroom. New textbooks that taught obedience to state authority, racism, militarism, and antisemitism, and love for Hitler were utilized in classrooms. Der Giftpilz (The Poisonous Mushroom) was an anti-Semitic children’s picture book metaphorically explaining how to recognize a Jew, in the form of “good” mushrooms vs. “bad” mushrooms.

Who. Hitler only singled out Jews, who he saw as an inferior race, for complete annihilation. Germans were among the first to be persecuted for their political activities, for being mentally or physically handicapped, or homosexuals, criminals, or nonconformists. Hundreds of thousands of Roma and Sinti (“Gypsies”) were also killed. The people of Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia were also considered inferior races.

How many? The question was, how many did Hitler kill? The answer is ONE. HE killed one person. Himself. Yet he was able to commandeer an army of Nazis to exterminate an estimated SIX MILLION Jews, and others…And an entire population of people was complicit in these killings.

Think about that.

 

 

 

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No April Fools

Today’s post is brought to you by this:

Oh my God, Trix! We were talking about what we eat for breakfast – my friends and I were talking about it – like what kind of cereal we like and Hope said she loves Fruity Pebbles and I love Trix which is really just the same thing except they’re little balls, you know? Oh, and mom – you might not get to sit with [a mom friend] on the field trip because you have to choose your bus ahead of time and she may not be on our bus. And we have to get tickets to Mary Poppins because Reena is in it and I really want to see my bestie and be there to support her. And guess who’s playing Mary Poppins?  I don’t remember what part Reena plays… I have to text her and ask. And you have to buy the tickets TONIGHT.

And this:

Opac tried to hug Veruca and she yelled at him to stoooooooop! She didn’t want a hug. His response? You weren’t held enough as a child.

Meanwhile, back in Spring Break land….

Todd got the flu. It was ugly. And then it morphed into pneumonia. After work I drove him to urgent care where they can do everything under one roof, which they did, and I’m happy (well, not happy happy) to report he tested positive for flu and pneumonia, and is currently recovering.

He announced in the car on the way there that he did NOT want to spend his entire night in urgent care, and I told him to shut the hell up that it wasn’t going to be that long and that it’s better than spending the entire next day traveling to three different locations to accomplish the same goal. And he knows I’m right, because he left there already feeling better because he was ranting about the family doctor all the way home and he’s now a fan of Patient First.

So this week is spring break at the college and he’s got pneumonia. Todd is so not the right person to get long-term illness. It’s one of the few differences between us: he is not a sitting-still person. He needs to be doing something. All the time. It’s been a week and two days, and he has watched every episode of every car show and American Pickers and Pawn Stars and Forged in Fire, and he’s pissed off.

I took him out Monday to buy a new kitchen faucet – we had a cheap one he’d installed before the renters had moved in and it corroded at the top so that when you turned it on it shot water straight out at your face. It was great. I kept forgetting and I’d turn it on and … you can picture this, right? I decided not to mention it to the kids, to see who got hit first. It turned out to be Opac, who hilariously exclaimed WTF?! It’s the little things, people.

One of my coworkers suggested putting a paper towel over the hole, since it will cling when it gets wet. Great idea! I really wanted to tape it up with duct tape. And I would have too, if I could’ve found it. And that’s another story in this great house of ours. The mystery of Where-Is-It applies to just about anything you might be looking for.

Usually it’s tools. But here’s the thing – if you know where it was used last, that’s where you will find it. Seems legit, right? Except that WE can never remember where we last used it. I am fruitlessly trying to apply that place for everything, everything in its place rule… but unfortunately it only works with those willing to play.

Anyway, Grumpy Gills got to spend the day out again on Tuesday thanks to another trip to the car dealership. My car – I swear is a lemon – there, I said it – is acting wonky again. Engine light came back on, on Sunday on my way to pick up the kids for Easter.

(Todd stayed home because, sick, and I took the kids for an early dinner at a Japanese hibachi steakhouse with my mom… because why not? V was in heaven and O decided to sleep in the car while we ate. Teenagers. I ate sushi again and I think I’m good for a few months.

I also remembered what I don’t like about hibachi places – feeling obligated to watch the show and then sit with mouths gaping like seals while the chef tries to land pieces of broccoli in your mouth. Three times. Because one sailed past my head, one hit me on the nose, and the other landed in my hair. There is absolutely nothing dignified about this.)

So anyway, the car. We sat in the waiting area while they ran diagnostics on it. The music was classic 80s rock and it was so loud I thought I was in a fraternity house. At 9 o-clock in the morning. The place was like an ant hill. People everywhere, hustling about. The waiting area sits back behind the showroom, so we have a full view of one gorgeous $72, 000 blue Cobra that was polished so bright I could see my reflection in it, and a fully-loaded F250 white king cab that Todd spent the better part of 78 minutes trying to sell me.

Given the state of the Edge, which is only a year old and has spent more time in a garage than my ‘77 Audi Fox in high school, Todd is becoming increasingly keen on trading it in. I love my car. I’d be happy to trade it in on an identical one. Todd was still pitching the merits of pickup trucks when I suggested that a) I’ve already driven two, b) I am too short to be driving something that big, and c) he can trade in the California GT if he really wants that truck. He smiled at me and then suddenly remembered that it’s been an hour and a half and no word on WTF is going on with the car, so got up and wandered back to service. I went to the coffee machine and loaded up on cup #3, which – if you know me – was not going to end well.

Nearly two hours later the Enterprise guy comes to deliver us to our loaner – a f*cking PICK UP TRUCK – because the dealer needed to keep our car. The entire ride home Todd is all, how great is this… this truck runs so smooth… and I’m all, I will fall out of this thing every time I drive it. But not really, because I know it’s short term and I can enjoy the adventure of driving a pickup again because I know it aint ever gonna be mine.

Other miscellaneous stuff:

One of our neighbors saw our exterior motion-sensored light going on and off like an SOS signal and was worried we were signaling for help, so she got another neighbor involved who called to check on us.

I returned to the chiropractor for the first time in 3 months. He’s feeling around my neck making “oh” sounds and I’m like, am I dying? You know it’s bad when the doctor is admitting it’s bad.

Buying tampons at 48. This is bullshit. Eight bucks for a box. Tampax PEARL. WTF does that even MEAN? Why can’t they just call them tampons and be done with it? Gotta make them sound all fancy and shit. Like, what difference does it make, really? I know this all sounds trivial, but it occurred to me when I emptied the last box that why the hell do I need to keep buying these?

I’m embracing the aging process, sort of, but some of the details are just BS.