Yesterday I wanted a little escape and some museum time, so I made the jaunt to New Bedford and the Whaling Museum. The streets downtown were all blocked off, so finding parking was irksome, and once I finally had found some and was walking back toward the museum, a thousand people dressed as Santa ran by. Because, oh, why not.
Claudio and I went to the Whaling Museum about two years ago, and decided we had to eat chowder in town because of the wonderful "Try-Pots" chapter in Moby-Dick. We forgot that in the book the chowder is consumed on Nantucket, not in New Bedford, and perhaps that is why we were both struck down by terrible diarrhea. His hit on the way home, so we were desperately trying to find a place to stop when a song by Tilly and the Wall, the chorus of which is "sometimes you just can't hold back the river", came on, and I laughed so hard I almost ruptured something, while he said through gritted teeth, "That's not funny."
It was hysterically funny. Because I am, as previously established, twelve.
I seem to have digressed. In any event, it is a wonderful museum, and they have a new exhibit called "Visualizing Melville", in which quotes (mostly from Moby-Dick, but some from other works) are printed on the wall next to objects or paintings which illustrate the topic or the theme of the quote. I cannot think of a room which would not be improved by having "Quakers with a vengeance" printed on the wall in giant letters.
There was hardly anyone else in the museum (probably all out watching the Santa run), so I had most of it to myself. Some rooms were dark until I walked in and the motion sensors turned the lights on. It was rather lovely.
I have never minded going to museums by myself. There is always the moment when you see something and wish that you could look around for a companion and hiss, "Come here; you have to see this," but there is also something to be said for going at your own pace, with your own thoughts.
The Whaling Museum hosts, every January, a marathon reading of Moby-Dick. It lasts 25 hours and goes through the night (obviously). Every year I think about going and do not. This year I am determined to do so, because I have a book blog now, and am clearly obligated to blog about such an experience. It is probably too late to sign up for a reading slot, unless I am willing to do four a.m., but I will call anyway to find out. I established last month, when I decided to go to a show the night before getting on a six a.m. flight, that I can get through a 38-hour period with five non-consecutive hours of sleep, if I have enough coffee and motivation. (The good thing about having given up caffeine on a daily basis is that when you need it, a little goes a long way.)
So I will do this. I will arrange dog care and I will do this. I would love to have company - get in touch if you think you might want to spend January 7-8 sitting in a museum listening to people read Moby-Dick for 25 hours (it's permissible to come and go, though if you go out for food I would avoid the chowder).