Saturday, July 10th
Firstly, Union Station: Wow. Beautiful. I must go there again someday, if only to explore. And screw cars and airplanes, the train is now officially my favorite mode of transportation.
East Coast American landscape is not a pretty sight. Lot's of crumbling old buildings, repetitive housing developments, and swamp. It's even worse than Japan (rice paddies, pachinko parlors, apartment buildings), and doesn't even compare with that of the U.K. (Scotland SO gorgeous, my eyes glued to the window, British countryside makes me go SQUEE).
I'd already been in Philadelphia before on a school field trip, so I didn't need to see all the historic stuff like the Liberty Bell and Betsy Ross house. And though it was raining on that trip, the weather was nice this time, albeit a bit hot. We saw Benjamin Franklyn EVERYWHERE- after a while, my mom began referring to him as "BF." The name stuck for the remainder of the trip, and perhaps for many years to come.
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology: Since I'm a major ancient history geek (OMG Sumerian clay tablets with cuneiform!!), naturally I was in a state of rapture throughout most of the day. It was smaller than I expected, though. They only had one tiny room for the Islamic world, and though the Chinese exhibit was impressive, they could have done a lot better with it. But they also had a nice selection of mummies (whatever happened to Rest In Peace?!), went into a lot of detail on the America's, and had a large number of Greek artifacts (though I'm the biggest fan of European civilizations). I guess the British Museum spoiled me in a way. After all, not much can beat seeing real Assyrian bearded lions right before your very eyes.
In the Museum Gift Shop, I bought a cuneiform mug, a book about the Silk Road, and a CD with music from the reproduction of a lyre discovered in the Royal Tombs of Ur. I would have liked to buy a T-shirt, but the Ur ones were only in Xtra Large and the Hammurabi's Code shirts came in really lame colors. Jewelry was mega expensive. I'm not usually in to stuff like that, so it kills me when I can't buy something I DO want. Forget those stupid manufactured diamonds, for my wedding ring I want lapis lazuli and gold!
After that, my mom wanted to go to the Rodin museum, so we hailed a taxi there. American taxicabs SUCK. They're so dirty, and most of the time, the drivers A)can't speak english, B)don't speak anyway, C)don't know their way around the city, or D)charge way too much. Compared with the taxi's in Japan (squeeky clean seats) and the U.K. (helpful drivers who are always interesting to listen to despite their strong accents), I give American taxi's an F for filthy, foreign, and unfriendly.
By then my doses of caffeine were running out and I was getting sleepy and tired. I literally collapsed when we got to the hotel. I found out that the lyre CD was made up nearly entirely of MIDI recordings. This was very disappointing; I bought the frickin' thing for real instruments, not digital ones! I also discovered that the hotel TV didn't have Cartoon Network, which means I missed the new episode of Wolf's Rain, not to mention Cowboy Bebop and Trigun. More incentive to buy the DVD's, I guess...
I went straight to sleep without eating dinner or taking a shower at around 8 PM. Big mistake. At midnight I regained consciousness and could not fall asleep for several more hours. Fortunately, my crazy as hell imagination went haywire in the meantime and I managed to set up the history for the world that my new story takes place in, as well as backgrounds and motives for my major characters, created a few new minor characters, plotted out the first two floors of my main character's house (complete with furniture & plants she grows in her garden), and built an outline of the first four chapters.
Hey, if I'm going to have insomnia, I might as well be productive.