A Broad View

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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.

 

iphone be gone

yesterday, tuesday, 4pm, the early hours of halloween, i found myself stumped,

due to my lack of focus.

it all started when i had hauled all my teaching gear to my crossover vehicle.

– well, the reading manual, so that i could figure out my next plan for the students, and a big fat AVID book, where i would find info to help me conduct a productive note-taking lesson with the kids –

anyway… i put those two texts onto the back floor of my car,

along with my white jansport backpack, a round fluffy Rugrat (Tommy specific) knapsack, the one i recently reclaimed, one that once belonged roberto, long ago, when he was a rugrat himself, and next to my macbook air,

i’m floundering, unfocused…

this is about my iphone; not my afterwork, parking lot life.

well, actually, the parking lot plays a big role here.

before i sat in the driver’s seat, i realized my phone wasn’t with me.

which, honestly, it isn’t unusual that i didn’t have it because i really don’t carry it with me much… whereby on the other hand, it’s actually amazing that i even noticed i had forgotten it… because i really don’t carry it with me much.

you get what i mean?

well now, after noticing the missing phone, i trekked back to classroom, hunted around for it, but couldn’t find anything remotely resembling my 2 1/2 year old white iphone.

hum.

i walked back to the car, sifted through my stuff, again, only to note that the phone was definitely not there.

once again, i unlocked both gates, walked back to class, lifted every paper and book, and found nothing except more papers and books. i stood there, near my desk and wondered.

hum.

and then i remembered that i had been cutting artwork out to hang up in the window so that the sun’s shine made the oily bones of the kids finger prints glow – which was actually pretty cool, a fun project for sure…

i was cutting the hand shapes, letting the fallen pieces of paper gather on top of my desk and when done i threw the paper in the trash.

no! i thought. no way. i did not throw my iphone away.

did i?

back at the car, i texted brad from my computer – thank goodness the internet was available out in the parking lot – then i walked to the trash can.

this is what i texted him, literally:

can you call my phone… i can’t find it… call a few times… i am outside by the trash then i need to go in the class…. keep calling until i answer it… if i call you good… if i don’t bad… i will message on my computer if i can’t find it… or my phone if i do…

he messaged back, OK.

i lifted out what i knew was my plastic bag of debris. the sprinkles of colored paper gave it away. then i walked back towards my vehicle and i placed the trash bag into the back of my car thinking that maybe i was overlooking the phone. something told me i was on the right track, but my thinking wasn’t concise. so, i decided i’d take the trash home and investigate there, just in case. i surely didn’t want to make a mess right there, at my place of employment.

that’d look odd. right?

seriously, though, no regrets.

that’s my motto, you see.

i heard no Old Phone ringing.

in the meantime, i assumed brad was continuously calling me because i hadn’t called or texted him back.

i walked back to class.

nothing.

i walked back to the car.

nothing.

opened the rover’s hatchback.

rifled through the bag of papers.

and then i heard it. ever so faint. my phone, ringing. coming from the trash bag. i stuck my hand inside. swirled it around. and found ‘the missing link’.

yes!

i answered brad’s call as i was walking the semi-heavy ladened trash to the large receptacle in the school’s parking lot.

 

the life and times of owning pets, and the reason i renamed my cats

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long ago, probably about five, six, maybe seven, eight years ago brad announced he knew someone, or talked to them in passing, or something, and mentioned that the person had told him about a cute, little, itty-bitty, barely-born, newly-arrived kitten.

he wondered if he could have it.

hum.

i have forever been opposed to pets because kids tend to think all they have to do is pretty much nothing. just occasionally (operative word here) engage with their newly obtained hobby. goldfish died due to an overload of food. while on the other hand, hamsters starved to death.

for me, it was too much to handle. little kids running around asking mommy this, mommy that, mommy, mommy mommy, which caused me to forget there was a pet in the house. i had tunnel vision. hence, supervised kids. unsupervised critters.

which meant no more pets. no. never. not on my watch.

until brad showed me, and roberto (a huge pet advocate), an adorable photo of the kitten he had mentioned. he caught me off guard. sly kid. the kitten’s big green eyes and fluffy fur was hard to resist, for all of us, apparently. please, please, please they both whispered, hands clasped into steeples, prayer-mode.

ok, i said.

say what? what did i say? i asked myself.

really?! they both screamed.

really, i mumbled.

as they were walking out the front door, i said, bring home two. (again, what the heck was going on with me?)

two? you sure?

yeah, you know, to play together.

within the hour they brought home Cassandra and Skyler (named later that afternoon by the boys). fraternal twins. one black, one multicolored. both with green eyes.

i was smitten.

still am.

roberto recently moved out and brad is a busy 17 year old. both engaged elsewhere, most of the time. so, aside from brad allowing them to sleep in his room, the girls belong to me. i tend to them 99% of the time, and i even renamed them. (the kids don’t know this, they’d probably think i’ve gone bonkers, but oh well, a caretaker’s got to do what a caretaker’s got to do, right?)

cassandra’s now-name is chicka-chicka-boom-boom (which, ironically, is the title of an adorable kid’s book about the lower case letters of the alphabet climbing a tree, thinking they know what’s what) because of her diva personality and i refer to skyler as skitter. so sweet, yet so nervous. she has never been able to fully relax.

ah, there she is. I can hear chicka-chicka-boom-boom’s deep guttural mew call me.  she wants in the house for a quick nibble of chow and a full-on vigorous back rub. she likes her cheeks gently caressed as well.

spoiled. i know.

 

grades

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She talks. Alot. During class. During recess. In the library. While on the computer. At the lunch tables. Talk. Talk. Talk. She’s what you’d call a social butterfly. And a gossip. Someone who knows everything about everyone. I know because she tells me. Gives me the scoop about her life. Their life. Everyone’s social life.

As much as I understand the social aspect of growing up. Of life. Of being a student. I also know the importance of getting good grades. Grades that build upon each other. Year after year. Success after success.

Seriously, people, I tell the kids. You really need to understand how important the grades you receive are. They are a reflection of your determination.

As I was giving my speech, she was talking to the girl. To the boy. Both sitting behind her. I’d look at her. I would stare. And she’d quickly turn around. Until I began lecturing again. About how some day they’d all be going off to college. To educated themselves even further. Go to great colleges. Because they were getting great grades. Because they persevered.

And again, she talked. To the girl next to her. To the boy in front of her. She even passed a note to the girl diagonal from her. A note I had to intercept. A note that interrupted my train of thought. A note that had nothing to do with school. But everything to do with who was dating who, and who be stilled her heart.

On the day I handed out report cards, the grade reports of all my students. Many kids happily accepted the take-home-share-with-your-parents-news while others cringed at the thought of what lay inside the sealed envelope.

I watched her skip out the classroom door. Across the blacktop. And then she ripped opened her achievement marks. She tossed her head back. Wasn’t surprised by the comment I wrote. The comment stating she needed to focus more, talk less. She leaned her face down. Concentrating on the not-so-great marks she received. Then she looked at her friend’s report. Seeing how they compared. They laughed. As if everything was A-OK. That life was just grand.

Suddenly, she was at my classroom door. Having returned unexpectedly. And all she said to me was It’s your fault I didn’t get good grades.

Explain that to your mom, I responded. And she walked back out. Onto the blacktop. And sat with her bestest friend. Watching the cutest boys in school. Giggling about this and that. Him and her. About everything except the importance of good grades.