Tuesday was Staff Appreciation Day at GSUSA, which they celebrated by making us go to an all-staff meeting to celebrate employees who had been with the organization for five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and even 35 years (could you imagine? you've been working at one place for almost twice as long as I've been alive), and then turning us loose by 10:50 AM. It was really great to have the day off, but I don't go to work until 10 AM, so GSUSA showered me with appreciation by making me wake up at 7:30 to sit next to someone who interpreted the event as "Take Your Daughter To Work Day," dodging the limbs and wayward orange juice of a very restless six-year-old. If I wanted to see children at work, I would've interned at a daycare, thanks.
Instead of F-training it back home for an extended nap/extension of sleep, I decided to instead take the opportunity to take a stroll to the United Nations building, a place I've always wanted to visit ever since I got involved in Model UN. I no longer do MUN anymore and tend to treat the UN not unlike my parents treated me every time I got a harebrained, wildly grandiose yet totally impractical idea as a kid (or now), with a lot of love and admiration and respect while at the same time maintaing a condescending, dismissive sort of head-patting ("That sounds great, honey, but I do you really think Iran is going to halt its nuclear program just because you and 2/3 of your committee 'suggested' it? Why don't you run along and see if France is home? You two can take a bike ride to the pool. It's a gorgeous day outside."), but it's still an important institution, and one that I would be upset with myself if I didn't see it this summer.
The building is, understandably, extremely limited in its accessibility unless you're a delegate or head of state or with a tour group. I fit none of those categories (I had spent the morning trying to avoid a wayward Crackberry-to-face at the hands of a restless first grader and I was not about to spend an hour with multiple children), and could venture only so far. The current exhibitions featured climate change, indigenous issues, and disaster relief, particularly after the earthquake in Haiti. Unfortunately I was too shy to ask someone to take a picture of me in front Ban Ki-moon's portrait with a silly grin and two thumbs way, way up, so these will have to suffice:
Fun fact: the UN Building, like the Parthenon and the Pyramids at Gaza, utilizes the Golden Ratio; the considered the most aesthetically pleasing based on mathematic principles, the ratio of the width of the building to the height of ten stories of the building is approximately 1.618, which is the limit that the ratio of subsequent Fibonacci Numbers reaches (or doesn't I guess, whatever, I am now officially talking about subjects which I am not qualified to discuss in length. Hell, I failed my trigonometry final junior year. FAILED. F. LESS THAN 63%. WITH PARTIAL CREDIT. This is not an exaggeration.)
What made this...museum? collection of exhibits? displays of international affairs paraphernalia? great was that it required a lot of reading; you had to read every plaque and sign in order to really grasp the significance of the piece. For example, dove mosaic:
Cliched symbol of peace, or cliched symbol of peace given as a gift to the United Nations by His Holiness Pope John Paul II?
Fun, multicolored, painted turtle...
Or fun, multicolored, painted turtle of Native America origin used as a therapy practice for troubled or depressed teenagers at an adolescent treatment center in Pennsylvania?
Random copper bust...
Or random copper bust of heroic United Nations Mediator on Palestine from SWEDEN?
Anyways, after a cursory sweep through the visitors' area, I walked back to Midtown, stopped in the New York Public Library at Bryant Park for a hot minute, go overwhelmed, and headed back home for that nap. It took me 20 years, but I finally realize that naps are our friends, and they only want the very best for us.
Some more assorted pictures:
The United Nations has such a great aesthetic. Usually I don't like blue, but they pull it off so well. Really brings out their eyes. Also, I like Sec Gen Boutros Boutros-Ghali's glasses.
An activity book for children featuring a not-so-environmentally-friendly generic father figure. The UN bookstore may have been the best part of the entire visit. So many collections of treaties! So many chotchskies!