Leaving Nature for my Natural Habitat

The winter break is over and the kids, those of my own and those at the University, are back in class. That means I am as wellIMG_9862

Of course back in class does not mean classy. What it does mean is that if we hope to operate at a university level we could discuss and dissect what exactly “classy” means.

Is it visible? Is it observable? Who decides what constitutes class? What are the ties between what is considered “classy” (behavior, clothing, topics, etc.) and socio-economic class?

Is there value in being classy? Is this value only in how those with high social class perceive the one in question?IMG_9870 (34)

I might suggest that most of us who ask such questions would not likely feel good about the answers.

The Entire World Belongs on My Desk: or perhaps free standing in that space beyond the chairs

This one is fairly simple; I want the world.243264817341665319dbSQ5FtPc

I have always loved maps and globes. Knowing where things are, wondering what places are like, wanting to go there. I like the spinning sphere you can touch and turn, and pick up cradled in your hands as you laugh with menace.203625521253187891_dcd00bf119cd

But no, really, I like globes and I want one.IMG_1635

Athenaeum Providence

Athenaeum. Cool word. Cooler building.

The Providence Athenaeum is the United States’ third oldest subscription library. It was founded in 1753, 23 years before the Declaration of Independence, but 22 years after Ben Franklin founded one in Philly.

Philly wins!

But it isn’t a contest. There is just something about bookshelves that require ladders and wooden desk chairs.
They make you want to be there.

Athenaeum of Philadelphia

Perhaps you are smarter and more informed than I, we can have that argument later, but while walking with my wife through Washington Square one evening I came across a word I had never heard before.

Athenaeum founded 1814.

It was inscribed on a bronze plaque with no other explanations. Intriguing.

Athenaeum of Philadelphia

I had lived most of my life just calling the library “the library”, till arriving in Philly when with a snicker I read every sign that read “Free library”. I never knew any other kind. Till now.

Apparently the word means a place where printed materials are kept, available for reading. Turns out this private circulation library is open to the public 9-5 Mon-Fri.

Staircase to the stacks.

You must buy a membership to check out a book, and they say there is a members only reading room, but any old person, like me, can stroll right into this room.

main reading room

If I make an appointment I can do research here.

research room

I didn’t read a thing on this trip, I just strolled around being a creep with my iPhone.

in the chess room

While I may not be the best, I enjoy a game of chess. I am horrible playing chess with friends, better in the park, I have no idea how good I am here but i intend to find out.

chess room

Why have I never heard of this place? I am not all knowing but I believe I am slightly more informed about this city than the average Joe; so how did I miss this all these years?

Stacks in the research room

It was some years ago that in like fashion I discovered Philly’s civil war museum complete with Honest Abe’s death mask. I found this one slightly more interesting. I’m not sure why, but seriously, how did I miss this?

Death mask from Napoleon

Indulgence in the City

I sold the van.

On Monday I will be tucked cozily into a cubicle at a “respectable” job.  Nine to five, Monday through Friday, forty minute commute; I will be one of “them.”

This is just one step in a larger plan.

Yesterday, my plan was to make like Napoleon (Dynamite not Bonaparte) and do what ever I want.  Had my wife granted herself her own day she probably would have spent it in some family activity focused on the children.  I wish I was, but am not, that selfless.  I boarded a bus and went to the city.

Most apples have cores, this one has a heart.

I travel better by myself.  No worrying about if others are bored while I am entertained.  No ticking from the time bomb built-in to all children; just me and my own fancy.

Journey from the depths to Celestial heights.

I will spend the foreseeable future constrained by schedule, on this trip I defied planning and let whimsy be my guide.  Except for that one appointment in the afternoon, the bus schedule, and a budget.  I am not very good at whimsy.

He was surprisingly good.

The temple, a museum, and a library; look out I’m out of control.  Some time earlier I dropped my camera and lost the ability to see the images on the camera.  I now shoot from the hip.

He sat as if he was part of the architecture.

Perhaps it is my appreciation for the honorable Robert Nesta, but finding myself in a room filled with third century books of scripture, I spent my time squinting at Coptic writing from Ethiopia.

Europeans colonizing Africa in the name of converting the heathen were surprised to find Ethiopia already Christian.

Television tells of our society being in decline.  We are taught to fear urban centers and the youth therein as dangerous.  Public libraries, full of common folk, encourage me to turn the television off.

The library where I grew up looked nothing like this.

The internet puts the whole world at our fingertips.  The East Coast puts a good portion of the world available for personal visits.

Hollister Hovey. More on our visit is to come. http://hollisterhovey.blogspot.com

Ms. Hovey gives good dinner advice.  After our meeting I moved on.  I have no shame and do not find dining alone in any way awkward.  The conversation is of course lacking but the company is always top-notch.  On this occasion so was the food.

Burger with bleu and sweet potato fries.

Day trips to places that aren’t your home, traveling alone, get tiring by the end of the day.  I love New York at night but the excitement of it is lost when there is no one with which to share, or when your knees hurt and the only place to rest requires a purchase.

The Skylight gets 1/2 of a star from my stomach, five stars from my knees.

Had I a van I would retire to the hammock.  But isn’t this the city they say never sleeps?  I suppose the city wanted company as much as I did.

Wonder if they would like a freelance writer?