A Broad View

Image 6-21-19 at 7.28 PM

I’ve heard so much about The Broad Museum, everywhere. From people (in person) and people (online) to people (via a phone or text conversation). With each conversation the more I heard the more I wanted to visit this artistic place in Los Angeles.

My youngest son, Brad, (who appreciates art, all kinds, from Jackson Pollack to Basquiat to Andy Warhol to Kaws to Picasso), and I walked passed an extra long line of people (who didn’t purchase  free tickets beforehand, online) and into the tall rectangular structure, anticipating a rewarding experience.

The building is interesting. Simply driving by it seems to be an ordinary structure, nothing much to think about. But if you stand a distance away you can see how art is used to form the shape. Looking towards the entrance, the north side of the building, you will notice that the bottom corners are sliced off, creating a unique design. You will also make note of the complimenting gashes carved all around its surface. Plus, there is a small oval (window?, I think) surrounded with a frame of blue and yellow.

When Brad and I entered the building our first option, if we so chose, was to stand in a line (Yuk! I hate lines!) to sign up to experience the Infinity Mirrors by Yayoi Kusama (2 hours later, from that moment). Line displeasure aside, we concurred, Why not? An interactive piece of artwork should not be bypassed.

We assumed exploring would take a while, a couple hours at least, so we took the escalator to the 3rd floor – the only floor with art displayed – and strolled around the venue, gazing at and contemplating various pieces. Of course, we had to hit the Basquiat works and the Andy Warhol’s, which did not disappoint. I learned that the Barbara Kruger pieces are the color inspiration for the ultra popular clothing store, Supreme. Supreme’s red and white colors, the styling, and the font they use are an imitation of Kruger’s. We walked under the oversized table and chairs created by Robert Therrien, which was supposed to return one to childhood memories of crawling around. For me, I didn’t vibe on that memory – I never crawled under tables. But, the style of the chairs Therrien recreated are a perfect match to a chair I have that belonged to my dad, long ago. A chair that is a staple piece in my home office. Jeff Koons’ colorful balloon-like animals and fruit (made with stainless steel and a mirror-like surface) are fun pieces of art. Reminders of the good things in life. And the black and white photos by Robert Longo make you think. As does the charcoal on canvas drawing by Jenny Saville.  Both artists created a feeling that I have been part of a similar story. And finally, the exhibit Soul of A Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power was extraordinary and thought provoking, showcasing contributions by artists beginning during the civil rights movement.

Heading back to the ground floor, to the Infinity Mirror room. I realized we still had 45 minutes left before Brad and I could even stand in line (Blah!) to enter the space filled with panels of mirrors and strings of lights. We wondered if it was worth the wait.  Right about that time, as we were contemplating leaving (instead of waiting), Brad and a guy – an employee of The Broad – both about the same age, engaged in a conversation about the pants and shoes each was wearing. (Fashionistas are everywhere!) There had to be some kind of bond because when Brad asked, “Is it worth the wait?” pointing toward the Infinity room. Mr. Employee said, “Follow me.” We did. And he graciously guided us to the front of the line.

Wait or no wait, it was worth it.

On the way home, we discussed what we thought about the museum and it was determined that, overall, the works of art were definitely worth taking the time to visit.

Yet, the downfall, was that with so many people given access to The Broad at one time, the noise level was very distracting. Art should be experienced quietly, reflectively, and respectfully, like libraries.

 

Summer

IMG_0872

As a teacher, summer always comes just at the right time so that I can take a break from the chatter of work. Don’t get me wrong, chatter is good, chatter is great, especially when speaking about kids in the classroom. The energy is rewarding in that students are engaged and excited to learn. To grow. To gain confidence. And to feel safe. To not worry. To embrace themselves. To know they are worthy. And to have a voice. A unique voice that needs to be heard.

That said, I definitely enjoy my summers. I create a schedule that’s not a planned time-frame but rather a loose, relaxing, take it day-by-day lifestyle.

This morning, I woke up three hours later than I would have if I had to go into work. I sipped a hot cup of (black only) coffee while watching Good Morning America. I began writing (again, finally) after six months of nothing noted. I enjoyed a grapefruit before heading out for a walk through the neighboring neighborhood, which is full of foliage and steep hills.

Summer is important because, for me, it is the key to maintaining a calm demeanor. A calm demeanor means protecting my well-being. And protecting my well-being is required for when I return to the classroom for another year of learning and building confidence within my students. Because, what’s better than a very patient teacher?

the healthy option

it’d been several months that i had been mad at myself, coming home from work, from a day filled with the energy of 10 year olds. i’d walk in, drop my gear on the kitchen table, turn on the television, and lounge on the couch with the intent to calm my mind for a bit. the problem was i’d feel myself sink lower and lower, and before i knew it, i was falling asleep.

so.

i made a statement, not only to myself but to rudy as well. ‘i want this tv gone, out of the house.’ by the next day i had moved it into the garage, where it sat unused. and then i transferred my after school activities to the kitchen table. the hard chair and tabletop  worked, for a while, until i reminded myself that while working on teacher work i could use my computer to watch… whatever.

bad.

several more months passed when i made another statement. ‘all i do is sit here and watch shows on Netflix. i’m kidding myself. i am losing it. not taking care of myself. i need a stand up table.’

‘huh?’ rudy grunted.

‘well, a desk. a desk i stand at instead of sit. it’s a healthy option.’

the thing is, as a teacher i walk around the classroom all day long. checking students work here, checking behavior there, and guiding lessons everywhere. by the time i get home, the steps i’d taken at work, about 6500, made me feel i’d earn sit-down time. but, i’d mistakenly believed sitting for the rest of the night made up for all the walking i did during the day.

wrong. i was feeling bloated.

so, i did a quick search of desks that you can work at while standing.

and boy, did i find a beauty. it’s called an UPLIFT DESK, made in austin, tx. the tabletop is made from reclaimed fir wood and comes with a controller (attached to the desk) to automatically adjust its height.

i’m in love.

plus, a new puzzle obsession has occurred, an activity that (both figuratively and literally) keeps me on my toes.

and.

IMG_E0326

to add to all the joy i am feeling, i have set up the room in my house, the one with the wall full of windows and, more importantly, the light filled room surrounded by items given to me by my sister and my mom, two people who are on my mind daily, two people who continue to guide me and remind me about what’s important in life.

Life

 

IMG_0977

 

Ups, downs, and all arounds.
That's life,
unexpected events and occurrences
mixed together with the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The good turns bad, which looks ugly, and feels never-ending.
Yet,
life is a journey.
Nothing should be the same except for deep-rooted feelings,
and the love for one another.
So,
when things seem impossible
remember, look around, and embrace what's possible,
what can be.
The bad and the ugly
are reminders not to take life for granted,
Rather,
grab hold of the good,
ride with it,
embrace it,
and remember it, always,
and forever.

 

Anger Strikes a Pose

IMG_0193

A few years ago a student of mine stated, “You’re so chill, so easy to talk to.” I smiled, happy I was making an impact with my low-key demeanor. Happy that just being me was important to someone else.

“You know what I also really like about you?” she added.

I made eye contact with her. “My blue Vans™ High Tops?” I joked.

“Well, yeah,” she laughed, “but I like how you respect kids. Instead of talking down to us, you speak to kids as if we are equal. Like, you don’t make me feel small. You make me feel I can accomplish anything.”

“Wow! That’s so great. That’s exactly what I am hoping I am doing.”

I must say, all that is awesome, great, the reason I wanted to be a teacher, a person who has an impact on these youngsters who cross my path, not only to educate them but just as important, to build their self-esteem.

BUT, this year, for the first time, no kid has ever said nice things about me, to me. (Not that I need the accolades) it’s just that I have questioned myself as to why I am allowing deep-set negative feelings about the world at large seep into my core and camouflage who I truly am. In other words, I feel what’s good about life has taken a backseat to what is wrong in our world. Thus, these feelings have had an impact on the kind of teacher I never thought I’d be.

Nothing dramatic, just not cool. Not chill. Not low-key.

“…I like how you respect kids. Instead of talking down to us, you speak to kids as if we are equal…”. 

I’m missing that. 

A few weeks ago, when I had a conversation with myself (yep, I do that, I talk to me because I know myself best) I realized my behavior was out-of-tune. Today, the old me, the chill me, stood if front of a group of relaxed,  smiling kids who seemed to enjoy being in my classroom.

just do it

i have a pile of books to filter through. lessons to lightly write. work to get done. yet. here i sit. unwilling to get on-task. me. a teacher. always reminding my students to stay on task. to concentrate. to get their work done. but, i am finding that the task, though necessary, has not quite found its way into my educator thoughts.

IMG_1354

in a while, i will sit in front of those school books. those teacher’s manuals. and i will review. yes i will. because, review i must. for my own sanity. and to ensure starting the year off right, properly educating students. who will be depending on me to fill their days with classroom ooo’s and aaah’s, and just as important, life lessons.

but first, i need to sit here and think.

“mom, can we talk?” brad asks.
“yeah, sure,” i say, with a smile.

i guess my teacher tasks will have to wait even longer to imprint my brain with information.

This Child of Mine

IMG_9990

It’d been an exhausting week… Back in the 5th grade classroom. Dealing with excessive heat. Walking into a house without central air, a house that is just as hot inside as it is outside, with no relief. Not complaining, just stating. Weather in the triple digits is sure to zap anyone’s energy, so when I began to slide lower and lower into my favorite oversized chair, the one planted directly in front of the TV, I didn’t care that it was only 6pm. I was tired. Then,  5? 20? 45 minutes? later, all I remember, was Rudy saying “Hey,” as he walked in from work, rousing me from a light doze. “Oh, hey,” I responded, popping back into an upright position.

Several hours later, I lay down on my bed, ready for a much needed snooze-fest. And then there was a knock on the front door. For a minute I waited, assuming Rudy would answer but he didn’t. Maybe it was because he was in the garage and the knock was very light? Maybe he just didn’t hear it? But anyway, because it was after nine, I knew it must have been important, which meant I couldn’t ignore the knocking. I stood on tiptoe, looked out the small window in the upper portion of the door and saw a girl. I opened it, gingerly. Carefully.

“Yes?” I asked. She was young. Early to mid-twenties. Polite.

“May I speak with you?” she asked quietly, backing off a bit. I was confused.

“What is it?” I said.

“Please, can you come out here? I need to talk with you.” Now I was more confused, and becoming concerned, frustrated. Did something happen to one of my kids, and for whatever reason, she felt responsible?

“Who are you? What’s up? What do you need?” I questioned firmly. She walked toward me, holding her phone out, showing me a map, a white circle with a computer icon in it.

“Someone stole my computer and it’s showing that the computer is here, at your house.” She was so polite. So nervous, worried, concerned, and upset. I leaned in close to her phone and sure enough it was my address.

“I don’t want to press charges,” she continued, “I just want my computer back. I’m a student at Cal. State, Fullerton and I just bought the computer for school. I need it. Please.” Still confused about the situation, but understanding what she was asking me, I told her to hold on, that’d I look for the computer. I closed the front door.

I immediately walked into Bradford’s bedroom, pissed that my son could commit such an act. I called him. Yelled at him. Told him to tell me where the computer was. Not wanting to hear excuses or explanations I told him to “just tell me where it is!”

I handed it back to the girl, telling her I was sorry, that I didn’t know what was going on. I called Brad again, in front of her, did some more yelling then handed my phone to her and let her have her say.

“What the fuck!…” she began, then turned and looked at me saying “I’m sorry about the language…”

“No problem,” I responded.

“What the fuck were you thinking?” she admonished. Then she went on saying this and that, asking who, where, and why. When satisfied, she handed the phone back to me.

Turns out, it wasn’t Bradford who stole, not only her computer, but a backpack with her wallet in it along with all her expensive school books and other supplies. Turns out Brad happened to give the thief, a person he didn’t know aside from seeing him occasionally around town, a ride. The fact that the thief, sitting in the back seat, was holding a backpack, a computer, and an iPhone didn’t faze Brad. Until I “schooled” him, told him “No son of mine!” that he realized his mistake.

“Mom, this dude had that sh*! on him. He called me about 20 minutes after I dropped him off saying he had left it in the car and wanted me to take it out because it was so hot!”

I believed him.

Later that night, after giving a statement to the police, after learning the thief lived four doors down from the girl, she walked up to Brad and thanked him for helping her, that she was planning to “throw that guy’s ass in jail!” And then she looked at him, really eye-balled Brad and told him, like a parent would, that he needed to think about his choice in friends, about what he wanted in life, that he shouldn’t be around that kind of BS.

Brad nodded. “I definitely learned a lesson tonight. Thanks for believing me.”

“Thank you,” she said to me.

It was after midnight when I lay myself down to sleep. I closed my eyes but so many thoughts bounced inside my head. Thoughts about my child. My children. About lessons taught. Lessons learned. About me as a parent. I’m teaching the lessons and my children are learning the lessons, but how far do the lessons take them, to what extend? My only hope is that what I pass on to them instills the importance of thinking about their actions and how those actions effect others.