Monday, December 20, 2010


Today was a sucky Monday. Aren't they all? Why do we allow them to persist, week after week? When I started my car this morning, the "malfunction indicator lamp" came on. Why now, when it's pouring rain, and I'm about to leave town, and I have no extra money because I just finished Christmas shopping? At work, there were buckets all down the hallway catching the rainwater from the leaky ceiling. Yes, there were also leaks in some of the galleries, and my apartment windows. And a museum in Switzerland wrote a nasty letter threatening to withdraw their works from our exhibition because our security isn't up to snuff. Turns out they're right. And then I stopped by Staples on the way home, and suddenly got all Dad-sad because the last time I was in a Staples was with Amy shopping for paper to print Dad's memorial service program on. So then I'm walking down the street crying in the rain, and I come home to a huge mess of cat barf, after almost a month of improved health; is it because I didn't give her the B12 injection this weekend, or is she slipping down the slippery slope right before I leave on vacation? Should I try to sequester her in the kitchen for that entire week? Sometimes it's just too much. :*(

But on the positive side . . . at least the cat barf was in the kitchen and not the rug. And at least I have nice rain boots to splash through the puddles. And at least I got to park on the non-street-cleaning side of the street so I don't have to rush to move my car in the morning, whether it's functioning or not. And at least I get to go away on vacation in a few days and forget all of this, if only for a little while.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Here's one thing I do know about Indian art: I love Ustad Mansur. He was a 17th century Mughal painter and court artist who specialized in depicting plants and animals. He was the first artist to paint the Dodo! Aren't these fabulous? I'm surprised I can't find more quality images of his work on-line . . .

the boy upstairs

I have to say, it's very comforting to have a good neighbor upstairs. I'm sitting in my cozy apartment, the rain is falling like crazy outside, the cats are curled up together on the blue chair, a candle is burning on the coffee table, my little Christmas tree is glowing on the hearth, and I know my good friend P is equally cozy just upstairs. If we need each other, we're here, but mostly I think we're content simply knowing the other one is nearby. Sure, we visit in the hallway or on the back stairs fairly frequently, or he invites me up for a glass of wine, or I invite him in to catch up on matters of work and romance. But the rest of the time it's just kinda nice knowing he's there; hearing him walking around, or turning on the shower, or chatting with friends. Like he said when I first moved in, he'll be Rhoda to my Mary Tyler Moore, only with a penis. But seriously, we may not have as many capers as a sitcom duo, but we've certainly had an intense year, and I'm grateful to have such a generous, thoughtful, compassionate, and entertaining friend and neighbor.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


The Elephants of Asia exhibit opened at the LA Zoo this past week. I volunteered for one of the morning VIP previews (delicious mango lassi yogurt parfaits and cardamom french toast, plus free coloring books!), and then had a chance to fully explore the exhibit this weekend, albeit in the pouring rain, and it's fantastic. Many years in the making, it's wonderful to finally have this huge section of the zoo open and accessible, and to see our three elephants happily exploring their new home.

Billy (the bull) loves the waterfall, and seems to be constantly on the move around the enclosure, checking everything out. It's amazing to see him trekking along in the distance from across the enclosure, and absolutely awe inspiring to see him suddenly come around a corner, his massive form and impressive trunk and tusks filling up your field of vision. I've never been to Asia, but I think this exhibit must capture a little bit of what it would be like to encounter an elephant in the wild. It allows him the dignity and stimulation to thrive, and us the honor of being able to study him and enjoy his presence.

Tina and Jewel, the two females, also seem very happy, and I think it's awesome that they were rescued from a circus, and now have the chance to live in an expansive home where many people are devoted to taking excellent care of them. They've been together for 30 years, and are very close friends. It's so endearing to see them leaning against each other, caressing each other with their trunks (even entwining their trunks together), and making little squeaks of pleasure as they rub their thick hides against the elephant barn.

Like anyone who cares about animals at all, I have mixed feelings about zoos. Bad zoos are an abomination and should be shut down. It goes without saying that circuses are cruel. But a quality zoo can be an amazing thing. They provide happy and healthy homes for their animals, many of whom have never known life in the wild, and many others who have been rescued from circuses, or private owners who were arrogant enough to think they could keep a chimpanzee or tiger as a pet. They offer visitors a chance to see and learn about animals that they may never have the chance to see in the flesh otherwise. Sure, natural history museums are one alternative, and there are plenty of fabulous nature programs on TV, but there's nothing to replace the experience of witnessing a living creature -- at least one that's happy and thriving in semi-natural state. Plus, and this is the biggest thing of all, any self-respecting zoo these days is heavily involved in conservation. This means breeding and preserving a healthy captive population, but it also means educating the public and fund-raising to support a plethora of conservation programs in the wild. And that's the primary message of the new elephant exhibit. There are more Asian elephants in captivity in North America than there are left in the wild. The zoo's exhibit tells the stories of elephants in India, China, Cambodia, and Thailand, and how their past and future is integrally tied to the humans who share their habitat.

In the other sphere of my life, "India's Fabled City: The Art of Courtly Lucknow" opened at LACMA last week. There are amazing works of art, including opulent miniatures, glittering jewels, detailed panoramas, gorgeous metalwork, pistols and scabards, and of course, lots of elephants! I confess, I don't know that much about Indian art, but I'll soon learn! My two worlds are colliding, in a good way. 2011 will be the Year of the Elephant!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Why are people so afraid of confronting incompetence? Why are so many bad seeds tolerated, and indulged even? Why do institutions and societies allow psychopathy to persist? Why shouldn't everyone be expected to perform to a certain high standard, in any workplace, or indeed, in any situation period? I'm only talking about the simplest things, like trust, communication, personal responsibility, and basic good will.

I like to believe there's room for everyone in this world, but maybe you're in the wrong room. Hey, it's not personal. Your personality simply isn't a good fit. Period. Maybe you should consider becoming a hermit. Do you think I was born yesterday? Were YOU born yesterday? How have you managed this long with this attitude? Or have you been so beaten down by the system, that you don't even realize how out of line you are? Should I slap you around a bit until you come to your senses?

Why am I constantly surprised to learn that people who are older than me, make more money than me, have more education than me, or outrank me, aren't necessarily any smarter than me? I can't seem to shake this crazy idea that with age and experience comes a certain degree of wisdom. Gosh, I always thought that's how it worked. I thought that was something that we should all be striving for: greater wisdom and understanding. Why are some people happier moving backwards?

It's okay if you're not the sharpest tool in the shed. Or maybe you're severely overworked, or in way over your head. Maybe you feel like you've been swimming upstream all these years to no avail, and it's made you bitter. I understand, but it doesn't give you the right to be a bastard and try to bring the rest of us down to your level. We're stronger than that, and goodness always prevails.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

gobble gobble give

Today is Thanksgiving. Mr. G and I volunteered for Gobble Gobble Give. Like last year, there were lines around the block of people waiting to contribute food and sundries, and to volunteer to package up individual meals and deliver them to homeless folk around Los Angeles. We dropped off our contributions at one door, and were handed two boxes full of packaged dinners to deliver at the next door. And then we hit the streets.

Before we headed out I had to inspect what it was we were delivering, and it looked damn good! Turkey, double-stuffed potatoes, pumpkin pie, multigrain rolls, yams-every-which-way, quinoa salads . . . and most of it looked homemade, which means not only is it probably more tasty, but it also has that personal touch. That little bit of "love" cooked in, if you will. It just makes it better, and it's awesome that so many people take the time to cook, prepare and deliver this stuff to those in need.

Like any slice of humanity, the homeless community is a mixed bag. Most people we approached were happy to see us, and gratefully accepted whatever we had to give. But some folks weren't interested: either they'd already eaten, or what they really wanted was money for other purposes, or they just didn't want to be bothered. It felt a little predatory, driving the streets of LA, looking for homeless people. It was surprisingly more difficult than you might think. There didn't seem to be that many people out, and more often than not when we did spot someone, we'd see the telltale styrofoam container telling us that some other do-gooder had gotten to them first! Dang it!

You can't help but wonder what all these peoples' stories are, especially when you have any kind of direct interaction with them. Most of them were perfectly kind and sane, and appreciative. Are they simply down on their luck? Do they have some kind of mental or substance abuse issue that we're simply not seeing at that particular moment? Can they just not function in mainstream society? And is it kind or condescending to drive around offering them food today? What if you offer food to someone who isn't homeless, but just looks that way? Is that insulting? And why don't we do this every day? Maybe we will start doing it every day, or at least year-round.

I especially liked the genteel fellow with the orchid balanced atop his grocery cart who said, "I'm not a terribly grand eater," but gladly accepted a meal; and the guy all wrapped up in blankets reading his books; and the woman sitting in the doorway who wished us a happy Thanksgiving; and the woman with the cool Chinese hat who asked for gloves and socks, and was so happy when we went and bought some and found her again on Wilshire; and the rosy-cheeked woman with the wheelchair by the 99cent store who just sat right down on the sidewalk and dug into her meal.

And I have to say that through his generous actions, once again Mr. G reminded me why I love him. He never hesitated to approach anyone and offer them food and toiletries and clothing, and to ask if there's anything else they wanted/needed for future reference. He considers many of the people we encountered part of his community, which they are of course. He knows he'll see them again, so why not have a box of blankets, socks and cigarettes in the back of your car to hand out when you see them next?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

randomly exploding cat

How can such a sweet little tabby generate so much chaos? One minute she looks like the creature on the left, calm and cuddly; and the next minute she looks like the disaster below, exploding in all directions, leaving destruction and mayhem in her wake.

Clearly she has some kind of problem, but she seems to feel fine 90% of the time. It's only when she's actually in the act of exploding that she seems uncomfortable. Otherwise she's begging for food, scratching up the blue chair (it's cheap, so I've abandoned it to the cats), snuggling on my lap, sitting in the bathroom sink waiting for a sip of water, or generally harassing me, per usual. I guess I'm glad she's not deteriorating rapidly; this is apparently a slow burn kind of thing. But the ambiguity is troubling. She'll be fine for days -- sometimes even weeks -- at a time, and then one evening I come home and all hell has broken loose, and I spend the next 30 minutes cleaning the floor, the rug, the blankets that I have covering my furniture, and of course the litter box. Sorry, if this is grossing you out, but it's grossing ME out more! I can no longer trust her enough to let her have free reign in the house like she has always had.

So I'm battening down the hatches, buying a pet gate and investing in a paper towel company, and sequestering her to the kitchen/dining area. There she has two beds, her own litter box, food/water, a big window, and room to bounce around. When I'm home and can supervise her, she can come out and be normal. But the rest of the time, she must be secured in a tiled area. The question is for how long? And will the various diet changes and injections help? And how can I ever go away on holiday again? No one wants to cat-sit an explosive cat!

Friday, November 5, 2010

time allotted

I guess I'll dismantle my Day of the Dad altar this weekend. I really loved creating it and having it here, but the marigolds are all wilted, and it just seems like maybe it's time to tone it down a bit. This cabinet already had a Mexican theme though, and I think I'll keep the one main photo and his armadillo collection there, so it won't have to change that much really.

Looking at the altar, with photos of Dad and other loved ones lost, I can't help but reflect on notions of fate, and destiny, and how much time each of us is allotted on this earth. Is it predetermined? Is there any way to avoid the inevitable? Of course each of us must die, but you never know when or how exactly it will happen.

Momo (my great grandmother on my mom's side) was lucky in this regard. She lived to be 96, and was perfectly healthy up until the very end, working in her garden and doing her tummy crunches each day, and keeping her name on the wait list for the retirement home just in case, even though she never needed it. She was smart enough to know that her mind wasn't as sharp as it had once been (although it was still very sharp), and was practical enough to sign herself up for meals-on-wheels, and give up driving after side-swiping a wall. Of course she had plenty of hardships in her lifetime, like losing her husband at a very young age with a house full of young children to raise on her own. And then finding love again in her 80s only to have her new husband die soon thereafter. But she lived a long, happy life, with a graceful exit.

Gramps (my mom's dad) was lucky too. He lived well into his 80s, and although his heart was failing him for the last year or two of his life, he hardly had a complaint up until that point. He wasn't a perfect man (who is?), but he too lived a full life, with his wife by his side, four children and a handful of grandchildren, his ham radio in the mornings and his honey bun and coffee in the afternoons.

Grandma (dad's mom) also lived a long life, with nary an illness, but she suffered with Alzheimers for the last many years (or rather those around her suffered, as is usually the case). Virtually all of her siblings succumbed to the disease, so it was no surprise that she too fell victim to it, but I know that Dad did everything he could to help her retain her dignity and feel safe and comfortable until her final days. And Charlie (my dad's dad) died long before I was even a glimmer in anyone's eye. My dad was only 10 years old when his father died from a combination of a weakened heart from childhood scarlet fever, and alcoholism. I think he was only in his mid-40's, and never got a chance to see his two sons grow up.

And then there's our beloved Wayne, who was only allowed 17 years on this planet. Much too short a life, and those closest to him will never recover from his loss. I hadn't seen him recently when he died suddenly in a plane crash many years ago, so to me he'll always be that quirky little preteen boy, full of sensitivity and intelligence.

And last, but never least, is my own dear Dad. Hardly sick a day in his life, we presumed he would live a long time, but imagined that eventually his mind might start to go, like his mother and aunts/uncles before him. But he never got the chance to go senile, or even get old really. He was cruising along just fine, a picture of health and vibrancy. Then he came down with a "flu," which was diagnosed as acute leukemia a week later, and two days after that he died from a brain hematoma. What the hell? I guess that was his life. He got almost 68 years out of the deal, and escaped quickly and pretty much painlessly, which is good for him. Who knows how many years any of us have left? Maybe our fates are already sealed, and it just remains for us to live until we die and find out exactly what that fate will be.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I've met so many good dogs recently. Some dogs are just trouble, and even the best dogs can be excessively needy and time consuming. But they can also be incredibly rewarding as well, and I've even been contemplating getting one as my next companion, once my kittens pass on, of course, which I hope they don't do any time soon (little bums).

Dogs are so pure and innocent. All they ask is that you give them tons and tons of love. And they give you tons and tons of love back. My sweet stepdog, Scudo, was my constant companion in the days after Dad died. The first few nights when I slept on the couch, he slept there with me (or rather ON me, all 60+ pounds of him), and we were a comfort to each other. Perhaps he sensed that I needed some extra love, so he was there to provide. Or perhaps something about the way I smell or sound or behave reminded him of Dad, who was also his dad, and who we both were missing. Regardless, he's a super handsome and good dog, and I'm proud to call him my brother. :)

And then there was Fred, a silky spaniel in Dallas, and silly little Buttons in Plano. Both sweet dogs just trying to be in the mix. And Caesar and Ramona in Silverlake; especially poor little Ramona, who clearly had a rough youth and takes a while to trust people. You can see sadness and fear in her eyes when she growls at you initially, but by the end of an evening with her lovely owners, she was snuggling and wagging her tail every time I patted her head. It's heart breaking to see these poor pups who've been through such hardships but still have such good hearts. And the delightful Juniper who looks like a husky little bear, and who fit right in with Ann's two darling corgis as she explored the beach with them for the first time. And Slumber and Bowie in Sherman Oaks who licked my ankles under the dining table, and later hid dead squirrels in the couch cushions. And who could forget sweet, sensitive Angus in Arizona, and his new pal Pearl who looks like another lovebug. And the microscopic Pickles who makes me so mad when she runs at me barking her head off as I try to get into my own front door, but then makes me smile with her tiny little tongue licking my fingertips once she realizes I'm not a trespasser.

I've always dreamed of having a little brown terrier, like my stuffed dog Pepper, or maybe a pug. Of course I'd go to a shelter and get a rescue dog, and of course I'd want a dog that could be happy in an apartment situation with a working mom, which could be tough. And I'd name her Daphne, or him Nigel.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

a study in contrasts

I attended my first staff meeting at LACMA this week. What a crazy place! I'd just come from checking out some leaks in the ceiling of our special exhibition spaces (!), and Michael G. came up to me directly to ask how I was settling in. That's awfully nice of him! I told him where I'd been, and he said, that's why we call it "leak-ma," as he stuffed a cookie in his mouth.

The meeting itself was in the glamorous Bing auditorium, and started with all the lights going dark, and the crowd cheering. The screen was then illuminated with the zingy, albeit somewhat cheesy, new 3D promo spot for the museum that will be playing in theaters across Los Angeles soon. Morgan Freeman narrates. This was followed by a hilarious animation of the Resnicks and their art collection getting ready for installation for the big opening of the new exhibition pavilion. You'd think we were in Hollywood or something.

Then Michael & Melody (2nd in command) took the stage and energetically thanked the staff for all their hard work recently, informed us that there would be a merit increase this year, and no health insurance increase (in contrast to many similar museums, including the Getty), and said that overall we are in excellent shape financially. MG confirmed that he's renewed his contract for another 6 years, and conceded that yes, there are some issues and challenges ahead, but LACMA has a bright and exciting future. Yay! Plus, there were 41 new staff members introduced. That's gotta be almost 25% of the total staff. That explains a lot right there -- both the energy and the chaos!

Walking out with another Getty alum, we marveled at what a contrast this was to Getty staff meetings, which were mostly doom and gloom. The air was always heavy when our director somberly took the stage to tell us that there would be layoffs, there wouldn't be merit increases yet again, health insurance costs would be higher next year, our multi-billion-dollar endowment was in trouble, and ultimately, that he was resigning. We'd leave each meeting feeling disgruntled and demoralized. Sure LACMA may be flying a bit by the seat of its pants, a bit willy nilly, a bit wackadoo, but most people are happy, the institution is ambitiously moving forward while hiring new staff and paying them well, and we have a director who is both empowered and present. Freaky!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

one vs. the other

Readership of this blog has declined 25% since the passing of my father. That's supposed to be funny because so few people even know this blog exists, so to lose one follower represents a drastic percentage decrease. Ha ha.

I'm suddenly compelled to play compare-and-contrast:

Effete, indulgent, pretentious, Euro trash, spoiled, coddled, isolated, fortunate, beautiful, advantaged, irises, unique, global, notorious, newsworthy, travertine, bureaucracy, shiny and new, privileged, ponderous, inspirational, intimidating, austere, perfection, highest standards, aspirational, wealthy, apex, antiquities, influential, beloved, villa, selective, snobby, gardens, vistas, refined.

Labyrinthine, department store, street lamps, entrenched, chaos, baggage, variety, expansion, growth, opportunity, reward, funny mustaches, patchwork, wackadoo, costumes and textiles, arts and crafts, wear and tear, random, modernism, retro, methane gas, palm trees, urban, dynamic, minefield, light and airy, food trucks, bad haircuts, excitement, accessible, Japanese pavilion, living artists, installations, change.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

elysian Fields

In Greek mythology, the Elysian Fields were the final resting place of the souls of the heroic and virtuous.

And those that have three times kept to their oaths,
Keeping their souls clean and pure,
Never letting their hearts be defiled by the taint
Of evil and injustice,
And barbaric veniality,
They are led by Zeus to the end:
To the palace of Kronos,
Where soothing breezes off the Ocean
Breathe over the Isle of the Blessed:
All around flowers are blazing with a
Dazzling light:
Some springing from the shining trees,
Others nourished by the water from the sea:
With circlets and garlands of flowers they
Crown their hands,
Ruled by the steadfast councils of Rhadamanthys.

(Pindar, Greek lyric poet, ca. 522-443 B.C.)


Is it macabre that I happened to have posted a string of death-bed quotes here mere weeks before my own father passed away? How could I have known that it wouldn't be so bemusing once death actually touched my life in this way? Is it inappropriate to be blogging so soon after such a horrible event? I think I can do what I like, and I think Dad would approve.

This evening I was looking up quotes about friendship. So many wonderful people have been showering me and Amy with love and support -- close friends, casual friends, old friends, new friends, family members, and even somewhat random people who remember some small, pleasant encounter they had with my Dad at some point in the distant past. It's really a beautiful thing. I know I have good friends, but it's certainly times like these that you understand what that can really mean, and how important it can be. And I dare say that Winnie the Pooh & Christopher Robin had some terrific insights and reflections on both friendship and life in general, and I know Dad would appreciate that.

"If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you."

"If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart, I'll always be with you."

"You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes."

"If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear."

"I used to believe in forever, but forever is too good to be true."

"I wonder what Piglet is doing. I wish I were there to be doing it too."

"Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known."

"Promise me you'll never forget me, because if I thought you would I'd never leave."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I've been reading a lot of Edgar Rice Burroughs recently, and watching a bunch of Tarzan movies. I'm very impressed with the special effects in these old Johnny Weissmuller films. Sure, they pretty much ignore the bulk of the book, and Tarzan himself is portrayed as much more naive and savage than he really is ("really" as in the reality of the book and my own imagination), but how do they get him to swing through the trees like that? I know Johnny was an Olympic swimmer, but he was apparently also a trapeze artist. So impressive! And Jane too! Never mind their awesome tree house, and basic life of paradise living among the jungle animals in peace.

Tarzan is so iconic, it's hard to believe that one man's imagination invented him. I mean, can you imagine a world without Tarzan? Can you even remember when you first heard of him? It's like he's always been there in our cultural subconscious. Even if you've never read a single book or watched a single movie about him, you know who he is: an awesome white guy who swings through the trees, befriends animals, hollers through the jungle, and loves his Jane.

Has anyone ever made a movie about the primitive world of Pellucidar? Now THAT would be amazing. But I suppose it would just turn into another dinosaur effects spectacle, or some campy sex-fantasy type thing with scantily-clad women a la Raquel Welch (which is classic in its own right, of course). You could never properly portray the sense of adventure and exoticism in today's cynical and politically correct world. Thank god we still have books.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

so long, and thanks for all the fish

Of course I had to say a few words at my farewell party, and I was searching the internet the night before trying to find some clever last statement or rallying cry, preferably something historic or cinematic, like a quote from Socrates or Napoleon, or Clint Eastwood. Or something mock-inspirational like "Keep calm and carry on!" or "Onward and upward!" But nothing seemed quite right. I did however find some amusing last words (most of these were said on people's deathbeds, hence not quite appropriate for my situation, but almost!):

"Am I dying or is this my birthday?" (Lady Nancy Astor, upon waking up shortly before dying to find her family gathered around her bedside, d. 1964)

"Is everybody happy? I want everybody to be happy. I know I'm happy." (Ethel Barrymore, d. 1959)

"Now comes the mystery." (Henry Ward Beecher, d. 1887)

"Goodnight my darlings, I'll see you tomorrow." (Noel Coward, d. 1973)

"Damn it. Don't you dare ask God to help me." (Joan Crawford, to her housekeeper who was praying by her bedside, d. 1977)

"I must go in, the fog is rising." (Emily Dickinson, d. 1886)

"I have not told half of what I saw." (Marco Polo, d. 1324)

"I hope the exit is joyful and hope never to return." (Frida Kahlo, d. 1954)

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." (Dr. Seuss, d. 1991)

"Promise me you'll never forget me, because if I thought you would I'd never leave." (A.A. Milne, or maybe Winnie the Pooh)

"And Scarecrow, I think I'm going to miss you most of all . . ." (Dorothy)

"Tomorrow is another day!" (Scarlett O'Hara)

"So long, and thanks for all the fish." (Dolphins)

veni, vidi, vici

So that was that. The end of a very important era in my life: my days as a Getty Girl. Yesterday was my last day at the Getty, and it was hectic and crazy, but it culminated in a delightful farewell party on the Ranch House porch, and a viewing of "Elektra" in the outdoor theater under the Malibu stars. I couldn't ask for more! Strangely enough, I didn't even feel the urge to cry until I was literally driving out the front archway at the very end of the night. I did cry a little, but not as much I thought I would. That's probably why I feel sick today. The emotional impact hasn't quite hit me yet. I'm hoping for a nice cathartic cry session later this week :)

I met this little grasshopper on one of my last private strolls around the Villa. I took advantage of our closed days to walk around and soak in the quiet beauty of the site one last time. I'm sure I'll visit the Villa many times in the coming years, but I don't know that I'll ever have the chance to experience the galleries and gardens alone, the way only staff can do without the "public" getting in the way. I think this little grasshopper is a talisman of some kind. Go forth, little grasshopper, and experience the world outside the Villa. Go from a Getty Girl to a LACMA Lady. The term "Lady" sounds a little old-fashioned (and just plain "old"), but the implication of growing up is relevant.

There are so many things I'll miss about the Getty, and of course the Villa in particular: the beautiful setting; the dolphins jumping along the PCH; the stunning galleries and amazing collections and exhibitions; the scrumptious publications; the impromptu prosecco and pie parties at the Ranch House; lengthy conversations with friends on my therapist's stool or in the Herb Garden; the intimate evening exhibition openings; the entertaining lunch-table banter; and the many wonderful, eccentric, hard-working, quirky, psychotic, fantastic people that I had the pleasure and/or pain of working with. All good experiences (or at least learning experiences). There is no place else like the Getty Villa, and I am so grateful that I got to be part of that core team that re-opened the Villa to the public in 2006. I feel like I really made a contribution and left my mark. And I gathered so many wonderful memories and friends along the way, which I'll never lose no matter where I go next.

My final party was my own, and it was just what I wanted. A bunch of wonderful people gathered on the porch, eating and drinking, and expressing friendship, gratitude, sadness, pride, and the whole gamut of emotions. Karol and Quincy both said wonderful things about me, which I appreciated, and I was presented with some fabulously unique gifts that I will cherish, and which will forever remind me of my time, and my friends, at the Villa. I received two gorgeous prints taken by our own talented photographers, Ellen & Tahnee, and beautifully framed and matted by the amazing Peter, who selflessly goes to any length to make sure that people he cares about are properly feted; sock monkey earrings and a book of sock monkey portraits that I've been wanting for years; a lovely pair of antique earrings from our head curator; an intriguing book about the lives of Peregrine Falcons from darling Dave; and this glorious, zebra-striped, stiletto-heeled shoe chair which I've been coveting for months! The perfect end to a perfect experience.

Thank you, one and all.

And now for a week of decompression, reflection, and preparation for the next adventure.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

mouse lemur

I wish I was a mouse lemur, living in a hole in a tree. Twelve of us living together in one little niche because we're so small, coming out at night to eat nectar from giant tropical flowers. Not a care in the world. I imagine there are lots of things that might eat me in the nocturnal tree-tops, but I'm not worried about that. I'm focused on licking nectar off this pretty flower and getting a big sugar rush. Oh, and crunching on the occasional night moth for added protein.

Friday, August 20, 2010


I'm going to savor every last bit of this experience.

getty goggles

It seems like only yesterday I was getting my first tour of the "new" Getty Villa, where I'd just accepted my dream job as Villa Exhibitions Coordinator. I was barely 30, eager to make a change professionally, and hardly able to believe my luck at getting a sweet job at the Villa right before it reopened to the public after years of renovation! I'd only visited once before, when I was eighteen, but it had always been my fantasy to work there one day, and then suddenly, this job basically fell in my lap, and it was the perfect example of that expression: luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

I was on cloud nine. Everyone was so impressed. Ooo, the Getty! That's really a step up. That's the kind of place everyone in the museum world aspires to be. Ooo, the Villa! It's so beautiful out there in Malibu. It's all antiquities all the time. You can see dolphins on the way to work! And it turned out to be just as dreamy as I'd imagined. Probably even better. I made many, many wonderful friends and colleagues. I worked on many, many wonderful exhibitions. I became part of a close-knit family of Villa people, sharing good times and bad, triumphs and controversy.

And now I'm leaving. Can it really be time to walk away from the dream so soon? The Villa is still wonderful, but some of the glory is gone, and that in itself is a hard thing to admit. Maybe the glory isn't gone so much as it's just changed. And that's a natural thing. Perhaps my Villa era has passed, and now it's time for something completely different. It better be, because I just jumped off the deep end and there's no turning back now!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

ducks in a row

Line up, damn ducks!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I've been lucky not to have many bug problems in my life (knock on wood). But since I've moved into this wonderful apartment -- and it IS wonderful in almost every way -- I've had serious fruit flies, a major flea infestation, and now apparently a termite situation. What the hell? I guess I can count myself lucky that these infestations haven't overlapped. One bug at a time, please. I'm reluctant to tell the landlord because I don't want to have to evacuate myself and the cats if he has to fumigate or some horrible thing, but clearly I'll have to do something if this goes on much longer. I'll give it a couple more days and see if maybe it was just a fluke episode . . .

Saturday, August 14, 2010


I wish I could clone myself so I could get more done in a single lifetime. I may have some ambition, but I'm not one of those hyper ambitious people who pursues multiple advanced degrees, while traveling the world and raising a family. Mostly, I want to be mellow, and allow time to savor the experiences that really make me happy.

But, if I could clone myself (or get cloned, I don't care who does it really, as long as it's done well), I could keep my wonderful job at the beautiful Getty Villa, take the exciting new job at LACMA, get another job at the Natural History Museum, and maybe another one at the zoo, and also do field research like Jane Goodall and David Attenborough, and be a wildlife photographer. Funny how all of these involve "working," though. If I really had the power to clone myself, I guess I should think bigger. Some clones could work -- because I really do love the work I do, or imagine myself doing in these various scenarios; and it's good to have the structure and community that a working environment or professional field offers -- but other clones could travel the world simultaneously, visiting the pyramids of Egypt, the ruins of Petra, the wildlife and cultures of the African savanna, the antiquity of Greece, the tropics of Hawaii or Costa Rica. And yet other clones could just live a life of leisure, lying around sipping fancy drinks in exotic locations -- but I think these last clones would eventually get very bored and commit suicide.

Cloning is all well and good, but I presume you don't get to actually experience all those lives yourself. You're just one of the many versions of yourself. You still only get to live your one life, and you can just be proud of the others, or make them report back to you monthly with tales of their adventures. Maybe a better solution is time travel. Then you could try out one career or path for as long as you like, and then when you're ready to try something different, just turn back the clock to age 20 or something, and set out down a different path. But again, would you be able to remember each of your various lives? I guess you'd need to be immortal really, and then you wouldn't need cloning or time travel; you'd have all the time in the world to try out everything that catches your fancy. But I suppose there are drawbacks to that too . . . or so they say. (Immortality: It's all fun and games until your sun supernovas. But wouldn't that be a quick death anyway? And come on, immortality lasts forever, even if you don't have a physical realm in which to exist, right?)


Ambition a: an ardent desire for rank, fame, or power b: desire to achieve a particular end. Applies to the desire for personal advancement or preferment and may suggest equally a praiseworthy or an inordinate desire.

"Ambition makes you look pretty ugly.
Kicking, squealing, gucci little piggy." Paranoid Android, Radiohead

Can you read this graphic? Ambition: Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars. Or the unimaginable hideous gaping void of space. One of the two.

Several people have called me "ambitious" recently. It sure beats "passive-aggressive," but it's not a term I would ever have used to describe myself before. These people have meant it as a compliment, but I've always thought it had kind of a negative tinge to it, implying that you're motivated by money, greed, power, and/or that you're willing to get ahead at any cost, even if it means stepping on others along the way.

That's not me. I'm just a girl trying to get ahead in this world. I would love to make more money, sure, but what I really want is to not be bored. I want to stay stimulated, and I want to feel like I'm moving forward in my life. I'm very comfortable in my current job, and I think that alone makes me feel uncomfortable. So perhaps it's time to move on, especially when opportunity knocks so loudly.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


We are overdue for another Tycho magnetic anomaly appearance. I just finished reading 2001: A Space Odyssey, and now I'm re-watching the movie. Arthur C. Clarke is a genius. Kubrick's pretty damn cool too. I did an image search for "2001 monolith," and found a variety of images like this, and also several of the World Trade Center. Was that it? Did 2001 come and go, and the bombing of two giant monoliths that symbolize all that's wrong with the world (in the eyes of some people) was meant to be our spiritual awakening? I feel gypped.

That first monolith 3,000,000 years ago certainly put things on a bad track. Couldn't there be some happy medium where we developed a certain level of cognition and power over our environment without shooting it all to hell? I guess there was for a while . . . and there still is in certain isolated parts of the world, but that doesn't really matter in comparison to the large-scale destruction and chaos that the majority of us are contributing to.

The book is of course fantastic, to the extent that I actually got goose bumps several times while reading it. The movie is of course equally fantastic in its wonderful retro-modern imagery, and its uncanny musical score which can make even a simple black obelisk appear instilled with mind-boggling, otherworldly significance. Look at the cool furniture in the space lounge; the cool rotating rooms that defy (or rather create) gravity; and of course poor Hal, who seems much more devious in the movie.

And what does it all mean in the end, anyway? Arthur C. Clarke is a genius. Did I say that already? His books are completely mind altering. They should be required reading. They're fantastic science fiction, but they transcend the genre, and explore the most profound spiritual and philosophical avenues. Almost too profound -- they force you to question the fundamentals of what it might mean to be human, to even exist at all, yet offer no real answers. It's impossible to articulate really, which is what makes him so genius. Is this baby going to destroy the earth thus initiating an entire new era of existence in the cosmos?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

fine, be that way

I've been described as passive-aggressive by co-workers twice in the past month. Granted, one of these people is considered loopy at best, and the other one psychotic at worst, but still. I don't think I'm passive-aggressive (generally-speaking), but I hate to think that my actions are being perceived this way. Does that statement sound passive-aggressive? Maybe if I said it really sarcastically with an annoyed look on my face. But I'm being sincere! Aren't I?

No one has ever described me as passive-aggressive in my personal life (I don't think . . .), but apparently the fact that I get things done with a smile is unsettling to certain people. Today it was used because person A asked her colleagues to help with a certain simple task, and had apparently been faced with resistance, so I was asked to solve the problem. I (and others) felt that her colleagues should help if at all possible, and that perhaps they just weren't being responsive to person A (for various and sundry reasons), so I asked them very nicely, but firmly, to please help us out with this request. They both immediately complied, and person A said, "Did you do your passive-aggressive thing?" I think SHE was being passive-aggressive by implying such a thing!

I like this puzzle-piece photograph: a very neutral, yet pseudo-provocative image to accompany a discussion of psychological issues. Passive-aggressive behavior is a clinically described personality disorder characterized by habitual passive resistance to demands for adequate performance in occupational or social situations, via procrastination, stubbornness, sullenness, and inefficiency. It is a form of covert abuse that is subtle, and veiled or disguised by actions that appear to be normal, at times loving and caring. It is said to stem from an inability to express anger in a healthy way. None of that sounds like me, except the last sentence. I do have some anger issues, but I try to keep that to myself (ha-ha).

When I did an image search for "passive-aggressive," lots of images came up of notes people had left in office kitchenettes complaining about people eating food that wasn't theirs. I have never done this, but I did post a note on the office microwave asking people to please be considerate of others when heating up stinky food in a shared workspace. Yes, it really annoys me when people heat up faux barbecue or some weird fish dish, and stink up the entire office suite. It's inconsiderate! Is it passive-aggressive of me to nicely ask them to think twice next time? Should I instead confront them with fists raised? Maybe. You think I'm passive-aggressive? Fine. I'll just be plain aggressive from now on (and I mean that without an ounce of sarcasm).