pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: May 2014

17 May 2014

Things fall apart

Abandoned phone box
Washington, D.C.
8 May 2014

It was off to Seminar Day today. The spouse, the son and daughter and I picked up Grandad and headed down to Pasadena for donuts and science.

It was a stab at normalcy. We've gone together to Seminar Day for more than 25 years, first just the spouse and I, then with the son in tow when he turned 9, and finally the daughter joined in.

We know about how those projections in time work. Six months to a year. Three good months. Whatever. Doctors really don't know anything. I did the math 6 months ago when we learned the news. Fifteen months was average. Still, life and death happen in their own time. More or less.

Make it count.

I'd gotten the text from my brother-in-law just after my plane touched down at National two weeks ago. Additional metastasis. It wasn't a surprise at all, but it was a disappointment. And I was furious. I knew when I saw the pathology report in November. But in this case, I operate from a position of powerlessness.

Today, what mattered was that Grandad wanted to go to Seminar Day. And so we did.

He ate a donut. He went to a lecture about DNA. We stopped into the seismo lab. Then we went home.

Six months to a year. Three good months. Whatever. He is a fighter, and he will stay as long as he is able. But today was probably the last time we will eat donuts under the jacarandas and wisteria together.

At least we had today.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D7000.

10 May 2014

Damage control

Barbara Kruger: Belief+Doubt
Hirshhorn Museum
Washington, D.C.
6 May 2014

I am a writer. Naturally, words are art.

I spent last week in the District. It is that glorious time of year when the son finishes his spring semester and needs help packing up during finals, with the added fillip that this year he is planning to stick around for summer session.

Except for the next three weeks when he's going to be in California.

I didn't think he'd need my help this go round, as he did last year, but when I asked, he immediately requested that I come out to help him with packing and sorting. I asked about timing, and he told me to be out on Monday. Of course, this turned out to be about 3 days too long.

As it was, both the spouse and the daughter had small commissions for me, which were to do some research at the National Archives because they both needed some media that we knew was available there.

California to the other coast is all-day travel. I left Monday morning and arrived at National near 9 pm.

(D., I waved at you as I flew by, quietly cursing the Rangers for beating the Angels 14-3 the night before, at home. Not that Arte doesn't deserve it.)

Tuesday morning, I breakfasted early with the son, and then I set out for the Mall.

(No, not a mall. The Mall.)

It was a pretty day after the previous night's torrential rain storm, so I thought that I'd walk down to Foggy Bottom (a bit more than a mile from Georgetown), pick up the Blue Line and go from there. Of course, it turned out that the Foggy Bottom Metro station had been very well hidden, so it took me several extra minutes to find it.

Eventually, I reemerged at L'Enfant Plaza, across the street from the Archives.

We will draw a discreet veil over the doings at the Archives. Suffice to say that it became wildly apparent that the stress under which we've all labored for the last several months has taken a toll, and I really need to slow down and think about what I'm doing rather than REACT REACT REACT. Also it turned out that the what I needed to look at happens to be in a different Archives building in Maryland, and while I could have gotten there via a shuttle, it was late in the day at that point, and I was unlikely to accomplish much before closing time.

Also, I needed to take a breath.

I walked from Archives to the Mall, and found some lunch at the National Gallery's café. I read over my paperwork from Archives, decided to shelve that project for the day, and proceeded to the Hirshhorn.

I love the Hirshhorn. For many years, it and American History have vied for the title of "my favorite museum" (American History has fallen to second place because I hate the remodel), and this is odd only because I don't have a tremendous appreciation for Art.

(And you can thank the preeminent art historian who taught my freshman art seminar for that. She was ghastly. The kindly man who taught studio art the next semester actually did teach me something.)

But I love the Hirshhorn. Every time I go there--and I've been visiting it since I was 17--something there speaks to me on a visceral level.

This time it was Damage Control, an exhibition that will be closing May 26.

As I walked through the galleries, over and over, some facet of the show struck a nerve. Elegant photos of car wrecks, a candy-colored assortment of glass grenades, video of the 1994 riot in Vancouver: it all struck home.

I spend my middle-school years in a city ringed by Titan missiles, waiting to be hit by a Soviet salvo of the same. I bore witness to the 1992 Los Angeles riot. The Vietnam War took on a life of its own in our childhood games.

And what I saw, over and over, was artists trying to control that which is uncontrollable. Disturbing and powerful (and occasionally, a bit funny. I remember when that hapless tourist tripped over his shoe lace and destroyed 3 irreplaceable vases).

Somewhat later, as I walked back toward Georgetown, I passed the White House, as one does, and police motorcycles were whipping around, stopping traffic for a motorcade. As I walked up 17th, hoping to flag a cab, I heard more sirens and chaos behind me. Only later did I learn that a civilian vehicle managed to successfully follow the motorcade into the closed off area surrounding the White House.

No damage. The police arrested the driver and had him in control pretty quickly. The story is he got lost.

When was the last time you laughed?

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D7000.

03 May 2014

Last day of production, Spring 2014

Santa Ana, California
3 May 2014
I thought that iOS 7.1.1 might have fixed the iPhone camera problem, but clearly not.
Tech stuff: Taken with my soon-to-be-replaced iPhone4.