This one is even less of a professional travel guide. It’s mostly all thoughts I wrote down during the trip fused with thoughts while writing this. There are some sentences from my journal that I want to leave out as a knee-jerk reaction, but I kept some in.
It’s because of this thing Shannan Martin said on her episode of That Sounds Fun– ‘when I’m embarrassed about something, I try to say it a lot because it’s humbling.’ So here’s me attempting to do to that. (Hm, is Jesus is the only person who would be fine with publishing a transcript of all his thoughts on the internet?) Also, there are some details that I don’t remember for sure, but I’m going to talk about them like I am.
If you pin any kind of book-related pins on Pinterest, you might’ve seen a picture of this bookstore without realizing it.
I remember we were walking through the streets of Boston looking for Brattle. My parents were following me, and I was looking down at my phone and following Google Maps. At one point, I got nervous that we were going the wrong way when we turned into a wide alley and I didn’t see a book in sight.
I think it had something to do with the memory of walking around New Orleans, getting a bit lost while searching for the famous beignet place, and tempers flaring. Actually, that’s not true. What was really going on is the fact that I get stressed out when it seems like I might let down people I’m leading.
But, after a couple hundred feet, Brattle’s distinctive library carts and bookshelves appeared seemingly out of nowhere- it was the craziest sensation, just imagine taking one step and an entire bookstore coming into view that had been completely hidden by the corner a moment before- and I relaxed. Walking into bookstores and me relaxing go pretty hand in hand.
It was so great: there were so many spines to touch and sort through; everything was so cheap; there’s something kind of sacred about quietly and slowly paging through shelves and shelves of beautiful, worn books next to other people.
I ended up getting two books (The House of Mirth and The Annie Dillard Reader) for a dollar each, neither of which I have read yet. I really do want to read the Annie Dillard one though, but library books always end up getting priority over books I own. I also got a postcard for fifty cents and a magnet for free. The thing about the postcard is that it says ‘Scottish Rite Temple, Kansas City, Kansas’ on the front, and I’m using it as my Massachusetts card.
However, it’s not even a question what the best thing I got from there is. It is most certainly without a doubt the note that I found folded up in the front of The House of Mirth. It would be thrilling to find even a grocery list inside of a second-hand book, but this note is amazing.
First let me describe it looks like. It’s written on the top two-thirds of a sheet of notebook paper that was ripped very neatly. The paper has rounded edges like no notebook paper I have ever seen. It is yellowed and has been folded so that there are eight rectangular sections. The creases are pronounced. The writing is in black pen, slanted to the right, and in all caps- except for the f’s, they’re cursive.
And without further ado,
Dear Chester –
Just some “add data” for your future philosophical discussions Larry (or anyone else).
Everyone in Greece thought a great deal, but those who thought professionally were called philosophers. Most of them taught in one of the schools of thoughts. Plato’s greatest contribution was known as Platonic love or strictly Platonic. Almost everyone in Athens knew Socrates, especially Socrates, whose motto was “Know Thyself.” Socrates was forever talking. In fact he talked so much that he never had time to write anything down. He liked to ask people questions of which he alone knew the answers. He didn’t learn much, but he could dominate the conversation.
The Greeks produced so many philosophers that Europe was overstocked for centuries. (Along with urns + vases)
Sidenote: 1) There’s a symbol between discussions and Larry, but I can’t tell what it is. It looks like a c with a dash on top. 2) I really hope Chester and Suzanne are okay with this.
I’m obsessed with the green lanterns. I want one someday.
There was a man shouting through an orange traffic cone at the entrance of the capitol. The part I heard was about phones poisoning our lives. I bet he would’ve appreciated the villan in Incredibles 2. He was peaceful and polite though- whenever people went to take pictures, he would wave them up and stand to the side.
Things I learned on the tour (the tour was led by a high school student which was very cool):
– The statue of George Washington doesn’t have a name plate because the sculpture thought that everyone should know who it is.
– The saying ‘it costs an arm and a leg’ comes from when artists charged more for each limb that was in a portrait.
– Abe Lincoln was self-conscious of his height, so that’s why there are only a few portraits of him standing.
– Bartlett was this extremely brave leader during the Civil War who always led at the front. He got his leg amputated but tied himself to his horse so he could still lead. The Confederate side refused to shoot him. Afterwards, both the Democratic and Republican parties both offered him nominations, but he declined them.
– The grand doors are only opened for three occasions, one of them being at the end of a governor’s term. He walks out and into the Commons right across the street, symbolizing him becoming a commoner again. It’s called the long and lonely walk.
– The House of Representatives’ mascot is the sacred cod. It was stolen by a bunch of Harvard students. Flowers were somehow involved. They later returned it. The culprits were never caught.
Sidenote: According to Wikipedia, it’s Boston Common, but people sometimes call it Boston Commons, which is what I naturally want to say.
The common and the garden were beautiful. I love that the green space exists. As for the Freedom Trail, we tried to go on it, but I could not figure out how it worked.
It was a pretty packed campus. There were a bunch of summer school students and Asian people there. We just looked around. My parents did not like the atmosphere. I asked them to explain why this morning, and this is what they said: it felt more like a business, the grass was roped off, there wasn’t a comfortable feeling, wasn’t that great-looking of a campus. The last one makes me laugh, especially the turn of the phrase my mom used in Chinese. I also disagree with it because similarly to how I can’t help loving interesting light fixtures, the same goes with red brick buildings. And there was a clock tower. I don’t disagree with their other statements though.
I loved the atmosphere and the bustle and the light fixtures of this place- I don’t know why, but I have this thing for cool light fixtures. I got the BLAT (Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Tomato), and it was very good. My mom got the grilled cheese and my dad the lamb meatball. I didn’t like either of them as much as mine, which is the perfect scenario. Have you ever ended up liking what someone else ordered better than what you did and spent the whole meal wanting their food over your perfectly good food?
It was hard to get too. The driving was crazy, and so was the inside of the store- there’s more than one location though, and I think we went to the most popular one. There are multiple cashiers and lines inside, and I accidentally got in the way of a line I wasn’t in. We ended up getting espresso (which was not bitter, I asked beforehand), walnut, and pistachio. I didn’t exactly know what a cannoli was, so I was surprised that it was cream inside and not ice-cream. My verdict is that they weren’t that good.
We got honked a few times because my dad likes to make driving-related decisions slowly- he would describe it as safely. Getting honked feels like your car got plastered with huge stickers that tell the whole world you’ve been honked.
At one point, my dad couldn’t manuever out of the parallel parking spot, and we had to wait for either the car in front or behind of us to leave. During that time, my mom and I went into a super old church and just walked around. Before this, we had also gone to Trinity Church, but it was closed.
For next time if there is a next time:
A quick history refresher: The colonies and Great Britain were having a row over all the taxes, and that finally turned into something on April 19, 1775. The day before, the colonists found out that the British were planning on going to go to Concord and take all the arms. This was also the night Paul Revere’s (and William Dawes’ and Samuel Prescott’s) famous ride happened.
Then on the morning of April 19, the colonists under Captain John Parker and the British had that skirmish where somebody accidentally fired and nobody still knows who. This took place at Lexington. Seven minutemen died, and one was mortally wounded. The colonists fled.
The redcoats continued on to Concord, where they realized most of the weapons and gunpowder had already been moved. At that time, hundreds of minutemen had also gathered. For this fight, it is known that the British fired first, but this time it was they who retreated. That’s when the shot heard around the world was heard.
By that time, thousands of colonists had organized under the same Captain John Parker who had been beaten that morning to attack the redcoats on their eighteen mile road back from Concord to Boston. At the end of the day, the British had three hundred casualties (combined number of dead, wounded, and captured) compared to the colonists’ ninety-three. That battle was called Parker’s Revenge, and it was what the tour guide talked about when I went to the Minute Man Museum.
The girl who gave the tour was very enthusiastic and cool. She was a history student working there during the summer. She gave us a suspenseful version of how people figured out exactly where Parker’s Revenge had taken place. It was interesting.
Now back to the part about how nobody knows who fired the first shot. Personally, I think a British guy did it. Then it would make sense why he wouldn’t have said anything. What could he have said- I accidentally started a war where my country, the mightiest kingdom in the world, lost to this puny, upstart collection of colonies? On the other hand, if it was a colonist, it’s not like he would have been blamed for starting the entire Revolutionary War. It was bound to happen.
We missed the ship tour and everything was closed, so we just hung out. We took a bunch of pictures in this pretty flower garden, and I got a sweatshirt and t-shirt at this shop. I think the sweatshirt is one of the best pieces of clothing I’ve bought. It was inexpensive and as soft as it was before washing.
Two girls came in that knew the waiter- small town? One talked about how she changed her Instagram bio to business and got contacted by a jewelry business. Two other girls were having a conversation where one girl was dominating a conversation- dance team problems, school. While eavesdropping, I automatically assumed my feelings of disliking the conversation onto the other girl.
I got coffee ice-cream, and it was very good.
Which side do you think fired the first shot of the American Revolution?
What’s your go-to sandwich order?
If you had to spend a day yelling through an orange traffic cone on the street, what would you say? I think I would read To Kill a Mockingbird.