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Some thoughts on making a mini-documentary

I just finished a six-week video production class and made a mini-documentary. Here it is!

My undergraduate degree is in photography, and thanks to Louisville, Not Kentucky, I also knew how to edit audio going into this project. In college, many of my friends (and my husband) studied film and video. I never got to video. I was probably afraid of it, and rightly so -- it’s all the worries of photography, combined with all the audio worries, plus the usual worry of hauling expensive, school-owned equipment on the metro and making sure it all works and is picking up the right things… it was an anxious six weeks. Of course, combining audio and photography also lets you do wonderful things you can’t do with stills and sound alone. And I’ve always enjoyed fiddling with something for hours until it’s perfect and I’m hungry and exhausted, so I loved having the opportunity to do that kind of creative work again. 

These oysters not shucked by Gardner Douglas. 

These oysters not shucked by Gardner Douglas. 

Some random lessons I learned (or remembered, because there are certainly transferable photo and audio lessons) during this process:

Like bourbon at a Kentucky wedding, you can never have enough b-roll.

Introduce yourself to people, even if you think they know who you are. 

Put your phone and metro card in different pockets. Otherwise, you might pull out your metro card with your phone, and it might fall into an open construction site behind a chain-link fence. 

You can eat farmed oysters outside of “R” months. 

Do not eat a warm oyster, especially when a nationally-ranked oyster shucker tells you he’s not going to eat it because it’s been sitting in the sun for an hour while you conduct an interview. There's a reason for serving oysters on ice. They're disgusting warm and raw. 

Tip your oyster shucker! 

The U.S. Oyster Festival takes place annually in Leonardtown, Maryland on the third weekend in October. Let's go. 

A Monumental Bike Ride

Drive from Arlington into D.C. on 66 and you cross the Potomac with a grand view of the river, the Kennedy Center, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial off to the right. I’m prone to neck-craning anytime I’m near water, and with the added distraction of monuments, I become a danger to myself and others. After making this drive a few times, I realized I needed to get myself, sans car, to the bank of the river so I could do all the looking I wanted before I drove off the bridge. On Monday, I finally rode my bike down the Rock Creek Park Trail to the river. Apart from a few steep inclines and some bike-shaking cracks on the trail, it's an easy, pretty ride past the zoo, a par course, a cemetery, and the beginning of the C&O Towpath Trail. 

(L-R): Kennedy Center & trash, Theodore Roosevelt Island, Key Bridge & Georgetown.

(L-R): Kennedy Center & trash, Theodore Roosevelt Island, Key Bridge & Georgetown.

Once I got a good look at the Key Bridge and the river bend between the Georgetown Waterfront Park and the Kennedy Center (and all the trash that collects there), I kept biking. Since I haven’t been to the mall at all since moving here, I continued my bike ride past the Lincoln Memorial, then decided to find the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, which I’ve never seen. It’s on the Tidal Basin, and since I’d also never been there, I decided I should bike around it and get up close to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. From there, I closed my Tidal Basin loop, pausing to check the paddle boathouse schedule (Wednesday-Saturday this time of year) and stare at these tiny, iridescent fish flashing just below the water’s surface.  From there, I headed home, stopping at the par course pull-up bars to test my upper body strength. 

 
Fish not pictured.

Fish not pictured.

 

This bike ride made me realize that while my neighborhood has started to feel like home, I haven't yet grasped that these monuments are also part of home. I have to remind myself that it usually takes at least six months for me to get really comfortable with a place. In the meantime, the ride inspired a few more exploration goals:   

Visit Theodore Roosevelt Island.

Explore Lady Bird Johnson Park.

Follow the Rock Creek Park Trail all the way down to Hains Point, where the Potomac meets the Anacostia. 

Just Exploring (Getting Lost in) Rock Creek Park

When we were preparing to leave Louisville last year, I wrote about the things I would miss most. The first thing on that list was Cherokee Park

Last weekend, we returned to Louisville to pack up our apartment for D.C. I planned to pack running shoes for a final trail run in Cherokee, then left them out, realizing that 1) I probably wouldn’t have time to run and 2) if I did, I would be tired and achey, making packing more difficult. 

I was right, there was no time for running or walking in the park, so I settled for a quick drive through with a stop at the top of Baringer Hill. As soon as we drove underneath the green archway leading into the park, my eyes started leaking. That park gave me so much solace in my time in Louisville, and I missed it and will continue to miss it. I needed this one final visit and view. 

No dogs on Dog Hill today.

No dogs on Dog Hill today.

If you read last year’s post, you’ll recall that the first time I ran in Cherokee Park, I got so lost I had to call home for a ride. Going on these exploratory runs is becoming a habit. I did it once in St. Louis and kept running until I found my way home. The most extreme was Louisville. It never happened in Cambridge because I try to run on unpaved paths, and the most convenient one I found was along the Charles. Can’t get confused going up and down a river. 

Smartphones make getting truly lost nearly impossible, but I managed to confuse myself on my inaugural Washington, D.C. run. We’re staying near Rock Creek Park, so yesterday I walked to the Melvin C. Hazen trail and started running. When I got tired, I looked at my phone to find my way out of the park. I went the wrong way before I decided to stop running and start using the map to get home.  It took me about 45 minutes of walking through Chevy Chase and Forest Hills before I got home again. 

Crossing creeks makes a run more interesting. 

Crossing creeks makes a run more interesting. 

After the first time I got really confused running in St. Louis, I decided this was a great way to learn a new neighborhood. I fully plan to confuse myself in Rock Creek Park again. Our new home will about a five minute walk from the park, on the other side of the creek. I’m happy to be close to a park again and look forward to learning it as well as I did Cherokee. 

On Serendipitous Travel Moments, or Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

For one of the classes I’m auditing this semester, I’ve been reading Henry Brooks Adams’s autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams. Adams was the grandson and great-grandson of presidents, and though he worked as private secretary to his ambassador father, wrote, and taught at Harvard, in reading his autobiography, you get the sense that he never really did anything.  He did marry, and his wife, Marian (“Clover”) committed suicide by drinking photo developing chemicals. You don’t learn about this in his book, because he doesn’t mention Clover or her death at all. 

Although Adams didn’t talk about his wife’s death, he commissioned a statue in her memory (Atlas Obscura has a great post about the memorial). Today, you can visit the Adams Memorial at Rock Creek Cemetery in D.C. We spent a few days in Washington over our spring break. I thought about looking for the statue, but spent the time visiting museums and friends instead.

On our first day, we went to the Smithsonian American Art museum. On the second floor, we walked around a corner and there was a replica of the Adams Memorial. Had I read that Atlas Obscura post, or done any research beyond a quick Google maps search, I would have known this was here. Finding it by accident was more fun.

Replica of the creepy Adams Memorial.

Replica of the creepy Adams Memorial.

On our first day, we went to the Smithsonian American Art museum. On the second floor, we walked around a corner and there was a replica of the Adams Memorial. Had I read that Atlas Obscura post, or done any research beyond a quick Google maps search, I would have known this was here. Finding it by accident was more fun.

A few years ago, I arrived in San Francisco for a work trip on the last day of the Garry Winogrand exhibition at SFMoMA. I dropped my bags at a friend’s and ran over there for the last few hours of the show. What I didn’t realize (because again, no planning) was that it was also the last day the art museum would be open for the next three years, so admission was free and there were activities (like hat making) happening around the building. I saw the Winogrand, and as the museum closed, watched a dance performance in the lobby.

I love incidents like this. I could have planned for either of them (we know I need to work on my planning). But if I figure out where the thing is, how to get to the thing, and if the thing will be open, that seems like enough planning ahead. I like going out to see what I can find — or what will find me.