friday field trip

Friday Field Trip:
National Postal Museum

Last Tuesday after I got off work (2:00 pm), Briseis and I headed into the city to park my car on the Army base right down the street from the Taylor Swift concert – before the area became gridlocked because of the concert and rush hour, and for free – and then met up with Shannon a few Metro stops away to explore the National Postal Museum, which means this isn’t technically a field trip that we took on a Friday, but since I’m posting about it on a Friday I’ve decided that it can borrow the title and not be a fraud.

National Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, Especially

So yeah. The National Postal Museum. Sounds kind of lame, right? Going into it even I was a little “meh,” and that’s notable because the mail is one of my favorite things ever. Srsly. I’m a grown ass woman that still hand-writes letters to pen pals (so do my kids!), and getting the mail is my favorite time of the day (I freak the fuck out if anyone else does it, especially if they do so without asking). Even still, I did have overly high hopes for this place, especially after the disappointment of the Building Museum a few weeks back. BUT. Turns out: The National Postal Museum is one of the coolest fucking museums I’ve ever been to. Maybe even my favorite. Absolutely unexpectedly amazing.

National Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, Especially
That bright blue mailbox ↑ is from The Vatican!!

The National Postal Museum is housed in “the” Old Post Office – not the one right downtown across from FBI headquarters that’s being turned into a hotel by Donald Trump, but the one in Northeast literally right across the street from Union Station. We entered on street level, which is actually the top level of the musé.

The top half of the museum is hollowed out in the center so that all of the exhibits are housed along the perimeter of the building. And they’re pretty fucking rad exhibits. A lot of the stuff is low-lit in order to preserve the integrity of the historical items, so apologies in advance for some oddly-colored photos.

National Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, Especially

The first thing we saw was the first-ever postage stamp – the Penny Black from 1840. The room that this was in had a shit ton of early postage stamps, along with some of the most notable stamps in American history (like the introduction of the breast cancer awareness stamp, etc.). There was also an old spider machine thingy (I think that was its official name) that was used way back when by teams of two workers for producing sheets of stamps in bulk, including the famous inverted Jenny sheets.

National Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, EspeciallyNational Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, Especially

We also saw a flight suit worn by Amelia Earhart during flights she piloted that had mail aboard:

National Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, Especially

An old school Pitney Bowes postage machine (from the very early 1900s, if I remember correctly):

National Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, Especially

A letter aboard the Hindenburg:

National Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, Especially

A letter aboard the Titanic (which was written exactly 100 years (to the day!) before Madden was born):

National Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, Especially

And the oldest piece of paper mail that made its way to its recipient along the Silk Road way back in 1390 (Make sure you read that correctly. Not 1930. 1390. THIRTEEN NINETY. As in 14th century…holy eff!):

National Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, Especially

There were A LOT of other really cool artifacts housed in the top floor exhibits – documents and letters and personal items and public property that survived some of history’s most defining moments. There was also a cool interactive display that you could search or browse through every postage stamp ever produced in the United States, there was even an area for kids to design their own (commemorative) postage stamp, and there was a table with three or four trays full of old postage stamps from around the world that each visitor is allowed to pocket six from, to take home and start his or her own stamp collection (or to paste in a summer mini).

National Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, EspeciallyNational Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, Especially

The bottom floor of the museum is where all the stuff is kept, most notably old mail carriers in all different shapes and sizes: Planes, trains, auto, horse-drawn carriages, semis, you name it.

National Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, EspeciallyNational Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, EspeciallyNational Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, EspeciallyNational Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, EspeciallyNational Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, Especially National Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, Especially

I seriously can’t say it enough: You have to check this place out. It might sound weird, but even in the digital age, the postal system is so integral to our connection to others, near and far. Digital communication is great, sure, but the tactile quality of real mail is something you can’t replicate on the computer or your iPad or your smartphone. If nothing else, a trip to this museum will absolutely shift your perspective and help you realize how important the postal service has been, and continues to be, to not only our daily personal lives but to international relations and commerce, exploration and history. The exhibits are relevant, rich and interesting. This place really is a hidden gem. And besides all that brain-y, thinking-y stuff, it’s just a gorgeous building with a beautiful aesthetic, plus it’s right next to some other really cool DC stops, like Union Station, which is packed full of eateries and shops.

Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to explore the whole thing, or to take our time perusing the exhibits that we did make it to, because we had to get back to the Metro to head to the stadium in time for T. Swift. But since it’s free and like, four seconds away from work, we can easily head back on a day we have more time. If you ever get the chance to visit DC, check this place out. So many little bits of history packed into it, which makes it a must-see DC stop. It will be one of the highlights of your trip, I promise.

National Postal Museum, Washington, D.C. // Kelsey, Especially

in photos, us

Bahama Mamas | 01

Freeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, Especially

Apologies up front for this post. I have so many photos from the trip that I want to share but I feel like it’s TOO many, so I’m still trying to whittle ’em down, because while they’re all super gorgeous (not because of any rumored photography skills of mine (which are exactly that – rumored), but because the scenery was on point), I’m sure no one wants to look at 137 photos of essentially the same thing (palm trees!), followed by 93 photos of essentially another same thing (the ocean!), etc.

Anyway.

Here’s the first dump of photos from our trip. It’s not much, I know. Sorry? I feel like I have to get our photos up ASAP since we’ve already been back for like, a week, but other things have been going on IRL and I haven’t had much time to sit down and go through all the photos. And when I finally did have four seconds last night to start, photoshop shit the bed and shut itself down after only a few photos in because that’s the story of my life and instead of trying to outsmart it and try again I just went to bed. Anyway, just know that there’s more coming. More photos and definitely lots of words – I have a lot of details to share (what we did, where we went, when we did it all, blahblahblah), as well as some thoughts about our overall experience, but I still need to sort all that crap out in my brain and figure out how much to share and how to say it. Check back next week for that.

For now, a few photos from around the hotel/resort; of the scenery; and a few of our adventures.

Freeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, EspeciallyFreeport, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, Especially

Okay! That’s it for now! More next week – hopefully on Monday…if I can get my shit together over the weekend.

happy list

Things making me happy this week | 19

Flower art installation at MIA // Kelsey, Especially

BEING HOME, and all the things that come with being home, like THE GYM, our own bed, the DVR and regular food.

Reading 3 books during the course of our 5-day vacation.

Finally being able to start putting the KonMari method into practice. I finished the book two days before we left for the Bahamas and as badly as I wanted to start tidying right then and there, I knew waiting was my best bet. And it just so happens that RJ moving out will coincide with this de-clutter rampage I’ve started, so seriously – perfect timing, right? (PS: More on the RJ moving out thing to come. Eventually.)

Taking ↑ that photo ↑ of the rad flower “PEACE & LOVE” installation at MIA in between the millions of rushing travelers that kept popping in the frame, TRYING TO RUIN MY PHOTO (no cropping necessary! (seriously!))! #howrude. The photo is kind of crappy quality “up close” since I took it in the middle of the night under fluorescent lights, but whatevs.

Updating our TV “shelf” (as the kids call it), AKA “media center,” which is still too fancy a phrase for anything in our house.

Planning our next tropical trip, which will most likely be stateside…down in the Keys. Yay!

Pool days. Always, and almost every day.

Hitting (and then juuuust barely passing) a long-time credit-related goal.

Our June book. I keep calling it our “June Project Life book” but it’s not at all PL-y so oops? More to come next week.

More-than-tentatively but not quite all-the-way-for-suresies deciding to go back to traditional 12×12, Design A Project Life-ing after the summer. Yep. I *think* it’s time to head back to what I know (and still secretly (but not really secretly) love). What can I say? Old habits die hard.

What’s making YOU happy this week?

kelsey, real talk

On being gay not straight

Lucayan Marketplace, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, Especially

Hey! Hi! Happy Tuesday! One (week (work))day down, four to go. Like, tick-freaking-tock, amirite? Being back from vacation was totally fine until the workweek hit. Now, only one full day in, time is dragging ass. Ughhhh.

Anyway. I’m still working on putting together a post (or two (or three)) about our Bahamas trip (so many photos! (so many thoughts to share!)) but until then, one from the archives, updated and altered a bit because it desperately needed to be.

I originally published this post last summer under the title, “Let’s Talk Gay.” The post was meant to help describe my thoughts about sexual orientation – my own, specifically – and the idea behind the (fabled and actual) choices associated with being gay. The thing is, though, the title of that post (and every single mention of the label “gay” it contains) has never sat right with me because I don’t identify as gay. It’s something that I adamantly (yet respectfully) disown when others assign it to me; something I have literally never called myself in my head or out loud. Yeah, I know. Weird. I’ve been dating another woman for over two years now. If that’s not gay, what is? And if it’s not gay, what is it?

The truth is, I don’t know. Bisexuality? As hard as it may be to convince you otherwise, fuck no. Experimenting? Definitely not. Life partner-ing? Sure, I guess. Same sex-ing? Yeah, technically.

Personally I don’t understand the need to attach a label to my sexual orientation. When people, including myself, try to do it I become irritated and anxious and uncomfortable and…defensive over it. Fuck if I know why, but I think mostly because I don’t fucking get it myself and have no clue how to label the way I feel and more than not wanting to not be restricted (because I really have no interest in using a non-label as a sexual orientation as reasoning for free reign over whoring it up with whoever, whenever), more than that, I don’t want to automatically assign a set of expectations – of or for me – by packing my sexual orientation in a neat box sealed up with a pretty little label. But if you really want one, how ’bout “fluid.” Or if that’s still too cliché for you, what about just…realtionship-ing.

Relationship-ing could work. I mean, it’s a pretty accurate description of what Shannon and I are “doing” together. We’re in a relationship. Not a gay relationship. Not a lesbian relationship. Not a same-sex relationship. I mean, yeah, those are all technically accurate relationship types that describe ours, but I don’t use any of those qualifiers when I reflect on, or describe, our relationship. That’s such an annoying answer, I know. I’m sorry that I don’t have a better one. I wish I did, but I don’t. I’m trying to figure it out though, which is why I’m bringing all of this up here.

As a first step in figuring out that answer, I wanted to re-publish my “On Being Gay” post using the super vague “not straight” descriptor instead of the much less vague and more restricting “gay” descriptor, because I wanted to feel like the post I wrote for myself actually fits me. And because I want to start talking about this topic more – because I want to better understand myself and because I want other people to better understand that love really is just love, no matter who it’s between* (*as long as we’re talking about consenting adult humans here).

So here’s the thing about being gay not straight: it isn’t something you choose to be, or something that you’re “turned”. Having a lack of attention from mommy and daddy or too much attention from a pervert relative or neighbor or classmate doesn’t make you gay not straight. A rocky relationship with a member of the opposite gender doesn’t make you gay not straight. Being possessed by the devil doesn’t make you gay not straight. Making out with your best friend at some frat party when you’re drunk doesn’t “turn” you gay not straight. Being born gay not straight is what makes you gay not straight.

What you choose is to stop pretending that you aren’t gay not straight – to other people or (and?) to yourself. What you choose is to stop being ashamed by or embarrassed of being gay not straight. What you choose is to stop being afraid of or worrying about potentially negative social or familial consequences that could result from your being gay not straight. What you choose is to reconcile any internal conflict that exists between who you know you are with the morals and values, and ethical or religious beliefs, that have told you that who you are isn’t who you’re supposed to be, or that who you are isn’t who you’re allowed to be.

What you choose is to stop hiding from who you are, or hiding who you are from other people, due to shame or embarrassment or some degree of fear – of ridicule, of criticism, of prejudice and stereotyping, of disappointing or being disappointed, of humiliating or being humiliated, of being ostracized, of being “different”.

What you choose is to stop giving a fuck about what other people may or may not think about who you are, to stop letting someone else’s – anyone else’s – construct of you or expectation of who you should be overshadow who you actually are. What you choose is to have the courage to love yourself enough to just be who you are regardless of what anyone else – regardless of what everyone else – thinks.

I have a billion more thoughts on this subject, and I’m pretty sure a lot of you out there would be interested in reading them, and I’m 1,000% willing to share them and discuss them in this space, but I just have to figure out how to make the thoughts in my head turn into a combination of words that make sense on the screen. Once I do that, I’ll let you know.

etc., us

Back to life, back to reality

Smith's Cove, Grand Bahama Island // Kelsey, Especially

We’re baaaack! Halle-frickin’-lujah.

I’d hoped to have enough time to throw together some thoughts about our trip in time to post this morning, but our trip home didn’t exactly go as planned, which means we got home way later than expected, and when we did finally make it home, we made it home just in time for RJ to move out, so we’re not only re-adjusting to “real life” but also adjusting to RJ not being here at all, which is like, the best news ever for us but not as awesome for the kids.

Anyway.

We’re back. We made it. Our trip was, of course, full of “just our luck” moments, which is to say that it wasn’t exactly what we had been expecting and even though overall we had a good time and feel like the whole thing was “worth it,” we’re happy to be home. But more about that later, along with roughly a billion photos from our trip (QQ: As a blog reader do you prefer a lot of photos in one post, or photos split up between a few posts?). For now, here’s to the first Monday morning after a week on vacation. May we survive it without incident.