escaping home: the downtown holiday market & the national portrait gallery

Sunday, December 13:  Today, we go downtown to check out the Downtown Holiday Market in Washington, to try to get into the Christmas spirit and to escape from our house.

the market
the market

Our youngest son (23) is crashing in our basement after his latest disaster.  At the beginning of the month, his housemates in Maryland asked him to move out of their house because of a disagreement. I imagine he is mostly to blame.  After a couple of his business ideas crashed and burned, he sank into a depression where he was basically sleeping every minute of the day.  It has been a very tough time for us, seeing him suffer and knowing that he is self-sabotaging his own life and squandering the gifts of his intelligence and all the things we’ve given him.  He really needs psychological help but refuses to get it.  We’re coming to the end of our rope with him.  Today, we just need to get out of the house and have an enjoyable outing on our own.

At the holiday market, we look in on all the booths and stop to listen to some Christmas music.

more plaques
more plaques

After exploring the market, we walk over to the National Portrait Gallery, entering through the lovely atrium.

Inside the atrium at the National Portrait Gallery
Inside the atrium at the National Portrait Gallery
Eye Pop
Eye Pop

We come first to “Eye Pop:  The Celebrity Gaze,” featuring Brad Pitt, Oprah Winfrey, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Peter Dinklage, Eminem, Michelle Obama, Sonia Sotomayor, Eva Longoria, Serena Williams, and Kobe Bryant, to name a few. This exhibition features 53 portraits of luminaries who have been at the top of their fields.

Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt

In the ongoing collection “American Origins,” a “conversation about America” is on view in a series of 17 galleries and alcoves chronologically arranged to take the visitor from the days of contact between Native Americans and European explorers through the struggles of independence to the Gilded Age.

We are enjoying our lazy afternoon, so I don’t do my usual identification of paintings. I present them here simply for your enjoyment, without any identifying tags.

We then walk back out through the atrium where the poinsettia and the twinkling white lights evoke the holiday spirit.

me in the atrium
me in the atrium
glittering trees in the atrium
glittering trees in the atrium
atrium of the National Portrait Gallery
atrium of the National Portrait Gallery
the atrium
the atrium

Though we are trying hard to enjoy the outing, it’s tough because we’re constantly worried about our son and trying to figure out what to do with him.  We know we have to take the tough love approach, but we’re not really sure how to go about it at this point.  He’s become a huge black cloud hanging over us.  We love him and want him to succeed and be happy, but we know that unless he gets professional help, it’s doubtful that will happen.

On the steps of the Portrait Gallery looking toward Verizon Center
On the steps of the Portrait Gallery looking toward Verizon Center
Streets of Washington, D.C.
Streets of Washington, D.C.
Chinatown
Chinatown
The Chinatown gate
The Chinatown gate
bustling streets of downtown
bustling streets of downtown
a drive-by of the Washington Monument
a drive-by of the Washington Monument

The outing is a short escape from what we’re dealing with at home, and it does feel like a slight relief.  Sometimes life is a struggle.  I guess I can’t complain too much; after all, we are lucky in so many ways.  I just hope we can figure out what to do with him before he’s irrevocably lost to us. 😦

Advertisements

22 thoughts on “escaping home: the downtown holiday market & the national portrait gallery

    1. Thanks so much, Joe and Beth. I have been seeing a therapist myself, and it is helping a little. My son has also started seeing a therapist over the last two weeks, so I’m really happy about that. I just want him to get help and to take care of himself, and to achieve some successes in life so he can gain some self-confidence. Thanks so much for visiting and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond.

  1. This post touched me, I think because it expressed your feelings more than facts. It is you, not a tour guide. It’s so hard to watch a loved one, especially your child, flounder and flop aimlessly about, not knowing what direction he is meant to go. It just may be that he will have to suffer some really hard times before he is willing to accept help. There will be tears – it will be hard.

    1. Thank you, Carol, for your kind words. It is very hard to watch our son, who has so much potential, flounder aimlessly about, not knowing his direction and not having the confidence or emotional fortitude to pursue anything. I think he’s slowly becoming aware of his downward spiral and how he’s self-sabotaging himself, as he’s started seeing a therapist and as of last week, finally got a job. Keeping busy and having someone to open up to are really important to his achieving some degree of self-awareness and confidence. Thanks for your kind words of concern. xxx

    1. Thanks, Anabel. Just two weeks ago, my son started seeing a therapist, which I hope will be helpful. Slowly, he’s getting on his feet, but we fear his tendency to fall back and so look on hopefully but with fingers crossed. I’m glad you like the photos; that redhead was certainly a stunner. 🙂

      1. I do, darlin’. Thanks very much, Cathy 🙂 Hope you enjoyed your birthday celebration with Mike. Dad says his eye is good as new now, following the op. Heaven forbid- I’ll never get him to give up driving now! 😦

      2. Mike’s birthday celebration was very nice, thanks so much, Jo. It’s not often I drink vodka and eat Russian food, so I enjoyed it, as did Mike. I’m glad your dad’s eye is as good as new, even if it means he’ll be terrorizing everyone on the roads! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Carol. He has started seeing a therapist, something we’ve been pushing for him to do for a long time. I hope he keeps it up. He also got a job last week. Small steps forward; as long as we can see some progress, even if it’s slow, we feel a bit more hopeful. 🙂

  2. I agree with Jo, the red top suits you (actually I am totally envious of your tops – where do you buy them from?) and I also hope things are looking up for Adam. Has he returned from Hawaii yet? Parenting is SO hard and we always blame ourselves even if we have done our best. All you can do now is be there to support him if needed. He will grow up one day.

    1. Thanks for the compliment about the top, Jude. I’m a big fan of textiles in general, but especially tops, since they tend to fit me no matter what size I am and they come in so many beautiful fabrics these days. That particular shirt was a Lucky Brand shirt. I also buy a lot of my tops from Anthropologie and South Moon Under, my two favorite shops in the world.

      As for Adam, he came back from Hawaii on February 1, and he originally said he wanted to go there to live on March 1. Since he has no money, that won’t be happening. However, he has started seeing a therapist and just last week got a job. Now hopefully he can start getting on track to save some money, pay off his debts, and pay his own way to Hawaii if he still wants to return. I do hope you’re right that he will grow up one day. He has a long way to go. I think his heart is in the right place, but he needs serious help dealing with his roller coaster emotions and some other bad habits he needs to overcome. We love him of course, but cannot keep supporting him financially in his bad decisions. Parenting is SO hard, you’re right about that. xxx

      1. So glad Adam is doing well. He’ll get there in the end. We all develop at a different pace I guess. It is hard to stand by and watch your own kids struggle though.

  3. Hi there, I don’t know why or how I missed this post. I am also hoping things with Adam are a bit better but I can tell from you writing his future direction is up to him. I had a younger boyfriend once who also had every opportunity but refused to go to university because he fancied himself an ecologist and writer, never having any training in the former, nor believing he actually had to write something down once in a while in order to be called a writer. He insisted his masterworks were all in his head and it was not yet time to present them to the world in print form. I got so frustrated with him, once in his 30s he was still drifting from one project to another, often in distant locales, with equally broke and unemployed like minds. Nothing worked for him but if you questioned his approach (i.e., suggested formal training) he got mad. I finally cut him out of my life even though our relationship was long over and we were just friends by then. I was angry that I was caring more about his future than he was and I “KonMari”-ed him, along with a lot of other people I realized I was investing so much time into (e.g. Warwick!).

    Unfortunately as a mother you do not have that option. However, you left home on your wanderings long after your children were already young adults so I hope you can let go of lingering guilt. My sister is 60 and still blames my parents for her shortcomings (her incredibly poor choices throughout her life) and my mother still feels the guilt my sister forces on her despite a million conversations I have had with her to let my sister take responsibility for her life. Tough love is the answer, the only answer, but that is easy for an outsider to say. Of course we think, take away Adam’s comfortable bedroom in your home and see how fast he gets a job. But it is not that easy, however. On the other hand, I know of more than a few parents who actually had to sell their family home and move into small condos in order to get their adult children out of the house and into paying their own way in this world. It is inconceivable to me to want to stay home until you are 30 or later but I was born in 1960 and the minute we turned 18 we all left home back then, and paid our own way in university, took crappy restaurants jobs, etc., until we got our degrees, all while living away from home and somehow managing to have a blast living rough and being successful students at the same time, drinking cheap booze on the weekends, seeing bands, etc., until we outgrew all that in order to make our way in the world as quickly as possible. Kids do not think that way today, and they seem an awful lot younger than we were at the same age nowadays. I feel so bad for you, such successful examples but yet your children struggle so needlessly.

    I love your blogs and how you and Mike are able to just get away and escape into a quiet world of nature walks and photography. How I envy you having such a companionable relationship! I would not want to be in a relationship ever again, but I do miss having a male companion now that I am stuck here in Canada, my lifelong worst nightmare come true for health reasons and due to that rotten motor vehicle accident I was in 12 years ago which destroyed the trajectory of my life and my health. But as a Canadian, of course we cannot miss any opportunity to mention our personal health and our national free health care in the same sentence. I am facing losing my disabily pension however (this means free prescriptions but does not impede the free health care part whether or not I have the pension) and this is troubling me as I do not earn much working full time. I have never had to face the poverty of the aging single female demographic but I am starting to and it scares the heck out of me. I thank God I have all these qualifications and degrees just in case (as well as my EU German passport which I just had renewed after tremendous red tape and expense) just in case. The fact that Adam has no qualifications of any kind worries me as we are only worth the weight of those pieces of paper as far as employers are concerned. We cannot all be Steve Jobs or Bill Gates who were geniuses who also worked bloody hard to make their visions a reality. Thinking about being great is not the same thing, nor is a fear of very hard, very frustrating and not always satisfying hard work and study.

    Well I seem to have written a blog in response to your blog! I know you screen your comments so I am not in fear of this not being posted – it is meant for you. Time to chat soon, I would like to know how things are working out and how the renovations are going. I am going to see if there are some other blogs I have missed or responses!

    The photos are amazing by the way, as we got no snow at all from that storm up here only one hour north of the Falls. My childhood was filled with winters like Snomaggedon, that was normal for us every winter the whole season. Now, we rarely get any snow and of course we have none now. As for KonMari, I tried it with my bedding, standing it all up after folding it properly and was amazed how much I could get into a drawer! It is a miraculous way of dealing with clutter but I do not have the motivation yet though I have donated more than half of my clothes as well already without that system. There are still tons of clothes I also know will never fit again though I do love them still and cannot bear to get rid of them. I think it is okay to keep one drawer for all those little things which only mean something to you, even if joy is not always your first reaction when looking at them. Nostalgia is nice, too, seeing something as a reminder of a great life’s lesson is another.

    Take care, big hug xx

    1. Hi there! I’m finally getting around to replying to your long message. As for Adam, he sounds much like your old boyfriend, and I think life is giving him some hard knocks as a result. He’s alienated everyone he knows and even us to some degree, though of course we will always love him and wish him the best. We can’t keep bailing him out financially as we’re reached our limit, and I need to stay home to make sure Mike keeps the hard line with him. Mike is very generous, often to everyone else’s detriment.

      It is a whole different world out there now, and a whole different mentality among this generation, who all want to find “meaningful” work. Of course we all would like to find that, but the reality is that it’s not always achievable, at least not without a lot of time and energy invested into getting there. I’m in a quandary about that myself, which I seem to always be in (!), and I plan to write a blog post about that soon. Life is not easy for anyone. We all have our struggles and often we mistakenly think we are the only ones suffering, but then we look around and see everyone struggling in their own unique ways. We’re not alone.

      I have tons of qualifications as far as degrees and education, but as you know, that doesn’t always help you to get where you want to go. I’m starting to believe that having a clear vision of your goal is important and then working doggedly toward that specific goal is key. I haven’t found success myself, at least not monetarily, but luckily I have a husband who is not only caring and patient, but is also financially successful. It is a very scary thing indeed to be part of that aging single female demographic. As you know, the older we get, the harder it is to get gainful employment and often all of our qualifications are overlooked because there are young people who will do anything to get hired but often don’t have any loyalty and expect to move up into higher positions right away.

      As for KonMari and decluttering, you know how much I love clothes and books and I have a TON of them. No longer do I have as many because I did get rid of 19 bags of clothes, shoes and accessories that no longer “spark joy.” I know it is hard to part with some clothes that you just love, even though they may not be flattering on you, or they may not fit “right now.”

      How strange that you didn’t get much snow there in the far north, while we’ve had quite a bit this winter. We’ve had some winters in the past where we got no snow; it’s never been an absolute that we’ll get snow in any winter.

      Thanks for all your sharing. Hopefully we can chat very soon. Yesterday was Mike’s birthday; we went to the Russia House for dinner and we’re planning a trip to Philadelphia next weekend as a belated birthday celebration.

      Keep happy and warm; I know spring is right around the corner! xxx

      1. Hi again, I think this is the last one I have not replied to. Oh I hear you about the aging single demographic, that is my middle name! I have made the decision more out of panic and fear of winding up alone and living on cheap food with all my cats all alone and then dying and no one finding me for days! We have had that twice here since I started at this law office, where we have wills for people who died like that and the executors could not be found. One was dead for 2 weeks in his apartment before anyone found him, the other a few days.

        Can you imagine, I would be chewed up by my cats! At least my parents should live a good long while, but my fear is becoming my very overweight and bossy and know it all sister, who has always been alone and who always will be alone. I have been home almost 2 years and I have still not been to her apartment about 2 km from where I live, a 20 minute walk, because she is also a hoarder. I have taken it upon myself to KonMari my eating habits, what sparks joy and what does not. Looking in the mirror after a shower certainly does not. I never had this issue with belly fat like I have now, but I am so sick of it and sick of not feeling like the person inside. I need to make myself more presentable and in our society, that means lose weight. No one gets off the hook for anything anymore if they are female no matter their age, while the men can look like Fred Flintstone or Don Knotts or Kevin Smith, we must present like a mixture of Pamela Anderson or some nameless supermodel. No matter how old we get. I hate what the Internet has done to us! You remember the promise of the women’s movement and what that meant for women. Sadly there was no corresponding movement for men to learn to deal with the new paradigm shift, but once the internet came along, all that hard work was reveresed and women are just objects to be randomly commented on, judged, criticized and bullied for not being some infantilized ideal by mysognist men. You found a good one, and I am glad you could hang onto him. I am not sure what I will do or what will happen to me where that is concerned. I live in a great place for men (Google Canada HQ is down the road from where I work and I am in the legal field) but I don;t know where these people hang out as bars are looing their appeal as more and more people are staying in with friends and great food an 52″ tvs and no need for a designated driver if you can stay home and drink better and more for less. The online world terrifies me, so many losers online judging you just for taking a look. They are fat slobs sitting in dank basements, unshaven with wife beater shirts looking down the camera, but they expect you to be, again, like Pamela but ready and willing to bare your breasts upon first request. The “nice” men, well of course you get suspicious – what’s wrong with him is our autumatic response to any single guy who looks okay on the surface. I still pefer to old fashioned way to meet men, though since I cannot afford to go out, how will that happen?

        For now, I am working on a new mindful eating plan with a food journal where all emotions and self talk are recorded. It has already made a difference, because I have stopped snacking and stopped forgetting to maintain some sort portion control. What time I eat, all this information is so boring, so intimate, yet can be so revealing when you are eating to stuff your feelings or to relieve boredom or to temporarily block out a bit of self loathing. All of the above! We all write for different reasons to accomplish different things. But my friend on FB started a lose 100 gr a day idea but I am not weighing myself as I have no scale. But I am going to get one tonight and I bought all these books on working on exercising over 50. Tonight I will also get a very thick pad for exercise as the yoga mats are like paper. I really want to feel better, and 100gr a day would be a goal where it is hard to disappoint yourself with unreasonable expectations.

        Yes, I think I got rid of about 25 shopping bags of stuff like clothes and shoes and I am almost done, then I Have been using those vaccum bags to flatten out the seasonal clothing so it can be put away. Thanks to my cats, there have been holes poked by nosey claws in them already which defeats the purpose, so this time I am buying new ones and putting them where they cannot be reached. This is part of the KonMari not mentioned, but I think with seasonal clothing it is a good idea. One for winter one for summer one for textiles you want to keep but cannot display, one for bedding you are not using because it is black and your cats are not! I bought a ton of desigher bedding in Tokyo I adore but for now, as for teh first time I do not have my own second home where I had all this extra stuff, I will keep it packed up as I am still hoping one day to get a small flat somewhere someday which I will eventually retire into.
        I heard from Irena, guess what she is having Dehli Belly issues in China every single day. Sound familiar? In Nepal it was called the Kathmandu Quickstep! Haha! She works very little and not been able to motivate anyone into doing things on the weekend or forming attachments, much like you experienced if I remember correctly. She does not have money issues so she can splurge on travel costs more, but I told her about the app you used to get around and to look in your blog for the name of it. She likes her job and her students, and it is clean there where she is she says. She asked Warwick to consider taking a job there where she is, but he is too busy supporting all these families of freeloaders in his life that he is stuck in Saudi without having saved a dime, hating it beyond belief, but needing to stick it out so he can pay for all these other people who are using him for money. But I don’t care, he sends a few photos now and again, nothing much else, the odd complaint about working with Saudis but nothing personal. I would rather be in Europe of course, one of my best Geneva friends is working in Brussels for the EU, but thank God she is safe. I wish I could forgive myself for leaving my job in Geneva for the choices I made but it is hard to move past that. I do love my current job, but oh my I earn only 13.00 an hour and that makes it barely 11.00 an hour after taxes. That is our minimum wage. A single woman in her 50s with my education and background? But my boss is so good to me and I am never idle despite not having work to do, I cannot risk losing it, but I am workingon my French certification which will take 2 years though it is mostly me working on my own as the courses are really easy. I transferred out of the first one to start again in April as the teacher never showed up until I started complaining in week 3!! It would have taken about 4 hours to complete the entire 3-month intro course, luckily I have taken into french about ten times!! I am working with the Annenberg series French in Action, on the side. I need teh certification though if I want to do any UN volunteers work teaching ESL down the road. Better go now, I have a letter to type and a bill to process. HOpe you have some photo diary started re the renovations!! Yes we need to chat very soon!!!! xxx big hug, also what is happening re the next cocktail hour please!!?? xxxxx

    2. Oh, I did want to respond to your comment: “Unfortunately as a mother you do not have that option. However, you left home on your wanderings long after your children were already young adults so I hope you can let go of lingering guilt.” In fact, when Mike and I first split, Adam was 14 and Alex was 16. Adam and I had always been especially close, and I think it devastated him in ways he doesn’t want to admit. There’s nothing I can do to make it up to him now, except to try to be here for him and to support and love him in any way I can.

      1. Thank you for correcting me regarding the ages of Adam and Alex when you split. Yes, that is a very tender age, but I am sure he was not the only child going through that. Perhaps that is the legal assistant in me here, that is all we deal with pretty much. Splitting families and custody and who lives where when and for how long. It seems frightfully normal in this day and age now. I can see how where this could have affected him, but then again, you cannot in my uneducated non-mother understanding, permit a child to hold that over you the rest of your life. My sister has done that to my parents, and my sister is almost 60 years old. She blames every failure in her life on my poor parents for what they did and / or did not do when we were kids. It is ludcrious. As an adult you can make choices which are postive or negative, you can forgive or be bitter. I know there is nothing you would not do for any of your children, but up to a point, you can only do so much. After a certain number of years it is up to each of us to get past past wrongs, imagined or otherwise, in order to grow and thrive. Easier said than done, tough. 😦

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s