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.