one of the good parts

I’m getting older. Maybe I will get to the part where I know better.

I’m supposed to be old enough to know better.

But I don’t. A lot of the time I don’t.

But maybe I should listen to the old woman in me. The one that says:

wear earplugs when you go to that club or that concert

and who says

That person is exciting, but she isn’t for you. You don’t need that.

Also, I have learned to know that I can find what i need. I have been workign on eating down my cupboards. I stock up when I go to the grocery store, which is all fine, but if i forget what i already have then I end up with 10 cans of tuna.

tuna is one of those things I *think* i like, and i often do enjoy it when I eat it. But I just never seem to reach for it.

I can trust that i will have the ability to get more of what i need. that is something I can remember

But is it art?

Reading one of my favorite columnists today, James Lileks talked about art. He says:

Is it really necessary nowadays to tell people who you voted for in order to reassure them that you’re criticizing art from the proper perspective?

That makes me sad and a little mad. Why do we have to agree on an ideology to be moved by beauty? That should not be so!

It’s unamerican.

But, upon reflection, it’s been held true for a long time. Only certain people are allowed to say what is true and what is good. Religion and education and class are all part of it. I would *like* to believe the world is more equal than that.

And that is what the founding fathers of America kinda said. “All men are created equal” was written then by those expounders of the age of enlightenment. We all get to make up our own minds. We all get to choose.

Except I am so much a snob on so many levels. I won’t read Harry Potter or the Da Vinci Code because I don’t believe that something so popular could be worth my time. And I as I am reading Joyce’s _Ullysses_ I am also listening to a lecture series from a famous professor about what this book really means.

So. I am a big fat hypocrite. I get to choose what I like. But I also want to choose who I listen to for recommendations.

When Chris and I were first dating, he took me to Disneyland. He loves Disney, and all the nostalgia of the Land. I hadn’t been since I was 5. He wanted to show me this magic place.

I was more sophisticated than a 5 year old this time. I went around in a search for authenticity and said “It is nice. But is it art?

He didn’t think it needed to be art. Which led to a long conversation in the one and only sit-down restaurant in Disneyland about beauty and the purpose of story and art in society. Is Disney consistent with the original storytellers intent with regards to Snow White? Is the current company consistent with Walt’s vision?

One of the reasons I love this man is that we are still talking about these things, on a monthly if not weekly basis. It has expanded to include a number of other examples.

But the thing about Disney is that it was created during  a moment of time in the industrial age that allowed the mass production and dissemination of beautiful things cheaply.

So now we enter an age of beautiful things being cheap and common. MAN MADE things being beautiful and cheap and everywhere.

I find it interesting that a lot of art students, and some professional artists, are now turning collections of man-man things into art installations. “Found art”?

Somebody made that.

Back before disneyland, the western art world was working to balance form to follow function and to follow beauty. We’ve been watching a documentary series, The Genius of Design , which discusses how to make all this happen. Is a telephone beautiful?

Steve Jobs tried to make his. And he is following a long line of designers.

Is there anything more available?

All these man-made things that we work on and use and try to find beauty in and beauty despite of…i have to wonder. Is it art?

Because we are not as good at art as nature. Can a painting ever eclipse a sunset? Or an eclipse, for that matter?

Yesterday while walking, I saw a woman whose arms were sleeved in tattoos. Man-made art. The ink–the pictures–that covered her arms?


Sister, don’t you know you are already a flower?

because it is easy to miss the moment of beauty

Yesterday, my husband was just off. He seemed grumpy, and I couldn’t do much but leave him alone.

I was not so charming myself. But we had a lot to do, and had a lot of toddler (one) to take care of. I figured I would take the little one to her favorite story time at the library. I told Chris this. He told her.

Life with a toddler should be on a need-to-know basis.

“Liberry!” She was pulling on the door to get there. But it wasn’t time yet.

“Why did you tell her?!”

“I’m sorry!” he said.

fine, I got my stuff together and we went early. But lo and behold, they had moved the schedule. CRUSH me. She enjoyed running around and playing even without the regularly scheduled story, but I was nearly devastated that my library would no longer have Saturday story hour. WHAT were they thinking? Us working parents (and that would be MOST) were not free to come at 11 on a Thursday.

We came home, and I was trying to share my feelings with Chris as we were getting V’s lunch ready.

“Did you complain? Did you tell them it was inconvenient?”

“No, because the regular kid librarian wasn’t there, and it was a new mean librarian. Not only did she not care, she said that Veronica had to put her shoes back on.”

“You should write them a letter.”

Typical HUSBAND answer. I WILL write a letter but right now I am having feelings.

“Never mind. I can’t even talk to you.”

“What? I just said you should write a letter.”


So, Veronica had her lunch and then naptime.

Glorious naptime. Back to bed for me. As I am ready to reunite with my pillow, Chris said “I am going to put Veronica’s kitchen together.”

He had long ago ordered a kitchen for V. She loves toy kitchens. He looked over the options and decided on one. The only problem was, the reviews said it was difficult to assemble. So it had been sitting in it’s box waiting til daddy had free time.

Apparently he had free time.

“Fine. I’m going to nap”

I lay down, and enjoy a book, and just as I am about to drift off I hear


the electric screwdriver. He is assembling the kitchen in the house. I thought he would do it somewhere else. The garage? Because he *knew* it was hard to do, and he wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise for Veronica.

Well, I was sleepy and not willing to get up to investigate.

Not until, that is, I hear the sounds of child awakening.

I stagger out. I see the living room entirely covered in parts. And a storm clouded husband, with the fugue that only comes from allen wrenches and “Some Assembly Required”.

“I didn’t think you were going to do this in here”

“I am pretty sure this is missing pieces. And I dont’ have the right tools.”

What in God’s name possessed this man to start this project here? And now? Doesn’t he know that my life depends on Saturday nap? How am I supposed to keep my energy up?

I looked at him. I did not say any of the things I was thinking. I didn’t even have the energy to yell at him. My nap was gone, never to be had. The point now was how to handle this situation.

“Can you move this to your office?”

“I don’t have room in my office!”

Hm. “Can you cover the parts that look like a kitchen so Veronica won’t know what it is?”

He gathers the bits, and I say “I’ll go get her and we will go somewhere while you finish.”

Now it just looks like he is constructing a white cabinet, and I go get the child. I tell her that we are going to go on a trip.

Not if she has any say:  “Jammies ON!’

yeah.  She didn’t really want to be awake either.

Well, since she is still sluggish we go to the couch and she plays with the iPad. She minds her own business, and Chris makes progress. She is happy to have us all in the same room. “Daddy, what you doing?’

“I’m building.”

back to the iPad.

Chris is making so much progress that he gets to the part where the hidden items have to come out. We had to confer over her head. The vote: she was content, and he should keep going.

Out comes the toy stove top, the little sink and the refrigerator door.

“A kitchen!” Eagle eyes darted up from the iPad. “Whachoo doing?”

“Daddy’s making a kitchen for Veronica. You need to wait your turn, and then you can play with it.”

Veronica, the irrepressibly wiggly child, sat quietly on the couch with me, and started fascinated at the construction of her toy kitchen. There were a very few excursions down the hall to find a favorite stuffed animal, but for more than an hour she sat patiently and waited in anticipation for her kitchen to be assembled.

It was a miracle. I’ve never seen her exercise such control. I would have sworn she didn’t have it in her to sit still and be patient.

At one point, when I had stepped away, she said to her daddy:

“It’s a very nice kitchen, Daddy. Thank you.  Can I come give you a hug?”

She had been instructed to stay out of his way. She had just said THREE PERFECT SENTENCES.

Daddy said “Yes, you can give me a hug.”

She walked up to him still in her footy jammies, gave him a big hug, and then went back to her chair.

The kitchen was complete fairly soon thereafter, and she could not have been more delighted.

Here’s the thing. I could have ripped Chris a new one for the many things along the way before we got to the part where Veronica was being as cute as anything. But I didn’t. I bit my tongue and just didn’t.

And we had an afternoon that we will remember for the rest of our lives. It was have been so easy to screw it up and never know what I had missed.