My DC Commute

My Faculty Fellows placement is with the National Endowment for the Humanities, a federal, grant-making agency.  Because the grant review process at the NEH is confidential, I can’t blog about much of what I do there.  I can, however, blog about getting there. 

I thoroughly enjoy my walk to and from the NEH each day.  In New York, my commute from Queens to the now debate-famous Hofstra University on Long Island involved a walk, a train ride, and a bus ride, and with all due respect to the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills and the Long Island Railroad, the sights don’t compare with what I encounter here in DC.

The Faculty Fellows program found an apartment for me on a leafy street of townhouses in the Mount Vernon Square neighborhood near the Convention Center and about a mile and half from the NEH offices in the Constitution Center.  My walk to work takes me down Seventh Street past a predictable set of local shops and national chains (Starbucks, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Dunkin’ Donuts) but also past the Lansburgh Theatre, where the Shakespeare Theatre Company is performing Romeo and Juliet, the National Archives, Indiana Plaza, and the Hirshhorn Museum, one of the Smithsonian’s art galleries.  Along the way I pass an array of outdoor sculptures, a nearly two-dimensional figure towering outside the Smithsonian’s Reynolds Center, which houses both the American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery; the spider-like sculpture outside the National Gallery of Art; and the Delta Solar outside the Air and Space Museum.  As I pass the entrance to Washington’s Chinatown, I encounter crosswalks decorated with dragons and animals from the Chinese zodiac (rat, ox, rabbit).  Once, at that intersection I also saw a compact red street sweeper bearing an uncanny resemblance to the machine the Cat in a Hat used to put Sally’s house back in order in that Seuss classic—it moved on before I could snap a picture.  In short, my commute is a gawker’s delight.  

Craig Rustici, Ph.D., Professor of English at Hofstra University, is a Faculty Fellow this semester at the National Endowment for the Humanities