Saturday, March 21, 2015

Week-in-my-Life: Mar 2015 (Pt. 3)

Recapping the last two days of the week... (you can read parts 1 & 2 here and here)...

FRIDAY 03/20/15

6:35am = After falling asleep about 11:30pm the previous night, wake up about 3 times during the night; finally get out of bed to start the day. Breakfast: whole-wheat waffle with peanut butter & strawberry preserves, blackberry-flavored Greek yogurt, and tea.

7:55am = Against my better judgment, decide to launch into a liberal but jocular defense against a conservative post on Facebook by the ex-cousin-in-law KG.

9:00am = Start work day chatting briefly with staff about plans for the day; snack: coffee and two (tiny!) shortbread cookies.

11:30am = Catching up on more neverending emails and projects, but making progress. Receive news at work that donors' tax documents for their donations are signed, so rush off 7 blocks away to retrieve papers and call donors reassuring them docs are on the way, then process via FedEx. Snow starts falling.

1:00pm = Snow is coming down harder now. (Happy 1st day of Spring!) Home for lunch: spinach salad with chicken, tomatoes, apple, Swiss cheese, cashews, and ranch dressing with water.

2:00pm = Grab backpack and laptop, then head downtown to work at Pret a Manger cafe near World Trade Center. Snack: chocolate chip cookie and Earl Grey tea (which, surprisingly, the cashier gives me for nice!). Spend next few hours working mostly on my performance review and catching up on emails. Snow seriously falling now.

4:15pm = Receive my awaited summons from AA to head to NJ, so pack up laptop and walk in blizzard-like conditions to PATH train, on which my iPhone dies at 43% battery for like the gazillionth time, which causes me to curse out Apple yet again, although in my head, not aloud, because passengers will think I'm borderline lunatic fringe.

7:00pm = Lazy in-house early evening with AA channel surfing between Something's Gotta Give and Pretty in Pink, the most schizophrenic and incongruous pairing of flicks ever. Finally select new movie to watch, The Namesake (U.S. premiere 2007), which at first I am hesitant about because I've wanted to read the novel by Jhumpa Lahiri before seeing the film, but then agree and truly am very satisfied. The movie is excellent and highly recommended as a snapshot of the immigrant experience and assimilation into American culture (hence image above). The Indian actress Tabu plays the mother Ashima and is just superb. Dinner during the move: barbecue chicken pizza and salad with red wine. (Why didn't we order Indian?!?!).

10:00pm = In bed, AA quickly falling asleep (see earlier in week for comments on his sleep habits), so I watch Dateline, but then realize there is loud music coming from next door. And, of all things, it's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" by The Shirelles. Then it repeats. Five times!! I wake up AA and tell him someone must have been murdered and the song was put on to mask the screams (the episode of Dateline has clearly affected me). He clearly thinks I'm crazy and falls asleep. Finally the song stops...only to be followed by "Locomotion"...repeated 4 times! Someone must be practicing their karaoke or auditioning for America's Got Talent. It finally stops about the time Dateline ends, and I actually fall asleep.

SATURDAY 03/21/15

7:30am = Wake up from a glorious full-night of sleep...first time this entire week! Huzzah! Breakfast: blood-orange Greek yogurt, English muffin with butter & blackberry preserves, and two cups of coffee.

8:00am = Continue to engage on Facebook with KG using tongue-in-cheek commentary about conservatism/liberalism, then fondly remind him of his NYC liberal roots. Further ongoing commentary leads me to give up and say we should celebrate happier thoughts, like that the DPG-JBs, AA, and I are going to Rome and Florence soon! More huzzah!

9:00am = While AA is in class, I start preparing notes for my upcoming talk in Rome on the sculptor John Gibson (more on that in another post). Make great progress. Snack about 11am: raisins, walnuts, and tea.

12:30pm = AA picks me up and we drive to Edgewater for lunch at Greek Taverna: lamb (AA) and pork (moi) souvlaki sandwiches with homemade herb fries.

2:30pm = Decide to go for a drive and wind up on the Palisades Parkway. Park and admire the view of the Manhattan/Bronx landscape along the Hudson River (see the lovely image AA took below).

3:45pm = At Newport Mall in Panera having berry scone and tea (AA has peach-pecan muffin and coffee), and amazingly they don't charge me for the food (how does that happen two days in a row?!).

4:30pm = At the movies seeing Kingsman: The Secret Service, having used a coupon for free tickets courtesy of the M-CAs (thanks!). Movie is slow at first, but picks up fast and is quite an action-packed film, with some uncomfortable environmental truths, dark humor, and some graphic-but-not-bloody violence...overall quite good!

8:30pm = Dinner: homemade chicken tacos courtesy of Chef AA! And (very strong!) blueberry martinis. Dessert: fruit & granola with a cup of tea. And the wind-down for the night is coming soon...

Whenever I write these "Week-in-my-Life" posts, I'm always amazed by the unusual things that happen. There was the library flood or the visit to the Palisades or all the snow. Before writing, you know some things are a given, like what will happen at work or some basic meals that are consistently eaten each day. But after writing, you discover all the surprises, the little twists that make all of it worth having written. One of the great challenges I've learned in life is that it is a continuous series of ups and downs, peaks and valleys. Sometimes these are very difficult to deal with and you want them to go away, but other times there are happy moments that you want to last. But they all come together, and we discover that that is life, the adventure, the wave, the laughter and the tears, the giggling and the frustrations, and the quiet moments you spend with those you love. It's all part of life, and these predictable and unexpected experiences are all what makes it worth living to the fullest.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Week-in-my-Life: Mar 2015 (Pt. 2)

WEDNESDAY 03/18/15

5:00am = Wide awake after not-so-great night of sleep (again). Breakfast: oatmeal with berries and Greek yogurt, with tea. Decide to lie back down again.

6:15am = Still awake, my brain on overload.

7:30am = Finally must have fallen asleep but now awake. Start getting ready.

8:30am = Step out of subway at 110th St., notice someone's dandruff is flying everywhere, then realize it's actually snowing again. UGH! Get grande blonde coffee and cranberry-orange scone at Starbucks.

9:30am = Visit School of Journalism Library with LS to assess environment for potential loan of paintings they are requesting.

10:00am = Informal interview with prospective intern for Summer/Fall.

11:00am = Meeting about potential collaboration for art & visual literacy program for med students and doctors at the medical campus. Some great ideas shared!

11:40am = Meeting cut short by announcement from TG that there is a flood in the library, and all staff needed. I hurry upstairs and see water is gushing, having come from a burst pipe on an upper floor, water now rushing through the vents and cascading like a waterfall all over about 1000+ architecture books! Everyone called to action trying to salvage books, separating wet from dry, setting up emergency fans, etc. It's a total mad house, but actually quite amazing to see everyone ban together (including a few students studying in the area) to help save what they can, while facilities staff try to stop the flood.

1:00pm = Lunch at local diner: mushroom & goat cheese omelette, potatoes, and wheat toast with coffee, reading my book on the history of the unification of Italy. Get call from LS that there is another flood in a different building and a painting is affected. Rush to finish lunch and head out, only to find out it was not an emergency and nowhere near as bad as other flood, but definite water issues, so we remove painting to storage.

3:30pm = More neverending emails and other projects at work. Finally leave about 5pm. Startled by how cold and windy it is outside.

6:00pm = Phone calls to the Uncle, then DPG to express some concerns about his apathy toward everything. Unfortunate situation.

7:00pm = Dinner: chicken, spinach, tomatoes, and rice in a bowl with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Decide to watch via Netflix on demand the movie Dumb Witness (1996), a murder mystery originally a book written by Agatha Christie, where an adorable Fox Terrier named Bob (played by Snubby) helps Hercule Poirot solve the murder of the dog's mistress Miss Emily Arundel. (I've watched this before and read the book, but it's one of my favorites, hence the image above.)

10:00pm = Go to bed.

11:00pm = Still awake. So annoying! Finally fall asleep about thirty minutes later...

THURSDAY 03/19/15

2:40am = Wide awake and cannot sleep. Make decaf tea and a turkey & Swiss cheese sandwich with apricot preserves.

3:45am = Finally back in bed, falling asleep...

7:00am = Awake, start to get ready, amazed to discover via text that AA is already at work! (Sometimes he's crazy.)

8:45am = At Starbucks eating sausage, egg, and cheddar breakfast sandwich and drinking a grande blonde coffee.

12:30pm = After spending most of the morning working on my annual performance review, meet colleague DCM for a trip to the Upper East Side to visit a gallery briefly and then to meet with a new potential donor. Productive trip, and much for us to discuss.

3:30pm = DCM and I finally eat sandwiches for lunch. I am SO tired though. Spend little while finishing up a few things at work, then head home.

5:30pm = Stop at Gristedes for milk and on impulse buy Entenmann's chocolate chip pound cake and blackberries. (Don't judge!) Go home and indulge in a cup of tea and slice of cake with said berries and dollop of Greek yogurt. (Delicious!)

6:00pm = Sugar crash! I pass out on the bed and fall immediately into a deep sleep.

7:30pm = Awake. Play Candy Crush Soda on my iPad for a few minutes, trying to wake up, then start blogging. Praying silently that I will be able to actually sleep tonight...

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Week-in-my-Life: Mar 2015 (Pt. 1)

It's been about 2-1/2 years since I last posted one of these more personal moments: a random week in my life. You can read the last time I did this in August 2012 (here and here). People's comments to me about these often remark about how funny it is to read what happens in my life. The detailing of my food choices are particularly amusing to some. But what I discovered about these posts is that they also force me to think about what I'm doing and what I'm eating. It's like, "If I'm going to be confessional, I better look good!" So it is relevant for me to be doing this again these days, as I've been doing a lot of thinking lately that I need to make a few healthier life choices. I haven't been to the gym in so long I think I've forgotten how to use treadmill (not really, but I hope I don't fall off). One of my friends commented over the weekend that he's been going meat-free for Lent, and while I don't think I can be that extreme, I have wanted to cut back on my overall meat intake and emphasize more fish for a change. (Reading below, however, you will see that so far I have not been too successful in that mindset.) No matter how this week plays out, and any lifestyle choices that I may or may not modify, you can damn well be sure there are some things I just will not give up, like my daily dose of Ghirardelli dark chocolates and my cups of tea. But note: dark chocolate is healthy for your heart, and I don't use sugar in my tea anymore, so already these are signs of how healthy I truly am.

SUNDAY 03/15/15

7:30am = After a night of so-so sleep, I wake up and make coffee. AA is asleep, so of course I wake him up because I've decided he sleeps too much. (Ha! Watch how that bites me back!)

9:30am = Slowly getting going, eventually dress and take AA to Levain Bakery on the Upper West Side (my new discovery last week on Unique Sweets!). I want a roll with chocolate, but they are sold out (dammit!) but get a delicious blueberry muffin instead and AA gets brioche with chocolate, and large coffees. Walk through Central Park, until finally we are so freezing cold we need to head home.

10:30am = Brief visit to friend JM working at florist.

11:00am = Call the Uncle in nursing facility where he is recovering from broken-hip surgery. Afterward, realize the inevitable must now happen: laundry that has been sitting in baskets for over 3 weeks must get done, so schlep to basement and go back & forth, up & down, over next couple of hours doing about 6 loads. AA takes a nap (seriously!).

12:00pm = Reserve tickets for the DPG-JBs, AA and me for the Vatican Museums in anticipation of our upcoming trip in April to Rome. (Fantastico!)

1:30pm = Still doing laundry, AA is awake, but now I'm starving. Order in from Ollie's chicken and broccoli and fried egg rolls. Surprisingly getting caught up in watching on Ovation the fantastic multi-part Colin Firth adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

2:30pm = AA naps. Again. Place a mirror under his nose to make sure he's actually still breathing, then look up narcolepsy online for more information, just in case...

4:00pm = Shower time then AA has to go home (I hate good-byes...boy I hope he sleeps tonight!). Have tea and watch more of P&P.

6:30pm = Meet JM for dinner at Jackson Hole, and can barely finish my 5-lb.(?) bleu cheese burger and fries. (Seriously. It's insane.)

9:00pm = Blogging! And knowing it's time to get ready for work tomorrow. Ugh.

MONDAY 03/16/15

6:50am = After waking up 3 times and contemplating an early start to the day, the alarm finally sounds, I turn it off, then fall right back to sleep and wind up waking up 30 minutes late!

7:00am = Breakfast: oatmeal with berries and Greek yogurt, and tea.

8:40am = At work, slightly humiliated after having carried on the subway a mounted poster map of China (don't ask) that makes me a sight for numerous unknown observers.

10:00am = Deal with morning email and look in on staff handling return of numerous large Chinese stone sculptures from an exhibition. Finally get some morning coffee (and a shortbread cookie).

12:30pm = Spend most of morning hours drafting press release about conservation project of a painting and the donors who made it happen. Won't be able to get out of 17th-century British painting mode rest of the afternoon (not necessarily a bad thing). Lunch: turkey & Swiss cheese sandwich with cashews and cherry tomatoes (brought from home).

3:00pm = More brief visits to see staff and pleased with turn of events in how sculpture is all put away nicely. Finish draft of press release, move on to Excel spreadsheet about various things. More email that never seems to end. But finally...tea time! Earl Gray with a chocolate-chip cookie. Sit outside to enjoy with warm weather in the 50s.

5:30pm = Call from Papa's accountant about his taxes. Decide I need to leave work and go home. Weather is so nice, start walking the 30+ minutes home. With each step finding myself feeling accomplished with progress of the day and actually smiling. Stop in Walgreens to buy nasal spray, then a bodega to buy daffodils (love daffodils! spring is here! hence the photo above), then a wine store for some Sauvignon Blanc, and finally a grocery store for a lemon pepper rotisserie chicken.

7:00pm = Dinner: aforementioned chicken (not the whole thing!) plus leftover tortellini & vegetable soup. Dessert: decaf tea, 1/2 apple and Ghirardelli chocolate mint.

9:00pm = Blogging (is it really that time already??!!). Planning bedtime momentarily....

TUESDAY 03/17/15 (St. Patrick's Day!)

6:35am = Wake from a night of very disturbing dreams about my family, so vividly real that I can hardly believe they were just dreams, and I'm upset for almost an hour, but get support via texts from AA and DPG.

7:30am = Breakfast: blood-orange Greek yogurt and toast with almond butter & apricot preserves, and tea. Back to sleep for brief cat-nap to relax.

9:00am = Slow start to morning. Stop at Oren's for cappuccino and chocolate-dipped biscotti, then finally to work.

12:00pm = Spend morning catching up on various projects (and more neverending email), feeling somewhat accomplished. Lunch: tuna wrap with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, plus Sun Chips and club soda; sandwich not very good, so throw out half.

1:30pm = Brief meeting with conservator to review drawings by American artist Marguerite Zorach for potential exhibition loan.

2:30pm = Productive meeting with Dean at Teachers College about art collections and potential future projects for graduate students.

3:30pm = Drinking a mocha and sitting out in the chilly afternoon breeze on a break.

4:00pm = Caretaker conference call with DPG and staff at nursing facility about the Uncle's health prognosis so far; actually a positive call with some supportive news on their part!

5:00pm = Happy hour drinks with TG and MH: 2 Sam Adams lagers and french fries (no comment--it was happy hour, and it is the official Irish drinking holiday!!)

7:00pm = Dinner at home: chicken, Swiss cheese, spinach & ranch dressing sandwich with cashews and decaf tea.

8:00pm = Follow-up call with DPG regarding earlier caretaker call and plans about our upcoming trip to Italia. Texts received from AA declaring his attendance at a talk by Arianna Huffington to be "very inspiring," which I am very glad to hear -- he needs more converted liberalism in his life :-)


Monday, March 16, 2015

Review: Sculpture Victorious

Toward the end of December, I had included in my annual round-up of favorite art exhibitions Sculpture Victorious: Art in an Age of Invention, 1837-1901, aka the long-awaited Victorian sculpture exhibition. It was held in New Haven at the Yale Center for British Art, and currently is on show at Tate Britain. I'm actually a little frustrated because I wanted to see the exhibition again when I go to London in a few months from now, but the show is scheduled to close a week before I arrive. In any case, I'm very glad I had the opportunity to see it in its version at Yale, and I'm pleased to share that my exhibition review in the Spring 2015 issue of Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide has just been published. This open-access, peer-reviewed journal is free to read, so you can see my review by following this link:

The image you see above is one of the smaller, technical marvels in the exhibition, a hand-sized figurine of Queen Victoria made by a machine, a work that was but one of the many in the show that celebrated the union of man and technology during the Victorian age. Here is what I wrote about it: "Displayed in vitrines to the left and along the wall [in the entrance] were miniature, mass-produced representations of Victoria available to middle-class consumers, derived from official images of the monarch such as the busts [seen nearby]. One amazing feat of artistic, technical ingenuity, developed early in Victoria's lifetime, was the sculpture-reduction machine. Prototypes had been designed and utilized by James Watt and John Isaac Hawkins, but by 1828 Benjamin Cheverton had launched the most commercially viable machine. His replica of [Sir Francis] Chantrey's bust of the queen, in ivory on a stone socle, measures about 7 inches and dates from 1842. The carving arguably reveals its mechanical origins, but the delicacy in its handling and details is still extraordinary." (Image: Victoria and Albert Museum)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

MWA XXXIII: Millais's Spring

This has been a tediously long, cold winter, and as I think back to January's Monthly Work of Art, Winter by Houdon, it seems only appropriate to shift to the upcoming season of Spring, which we are all looking forward to in the NYC area. As such, the latest MWA is by the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais (1829-1896), and is appropriately titled Spring (Apple Blossoms), 1856-59 (image: Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, England). Although we are still officially in Winter, I perceive this painting as positive reinforcement of warm weather on its way. (By strange coincidence, as I'm writing this, I'm drinking Twinings Winter Spice tea, which is described as "a comforting apple flavoured camomile tea spiced with cinnamon, cardamom and cloves." Interesting convergence of associated symbols...)

I first saw Millais's painting a number of years ago when I first visited the Lady Lever with my cousin HA. This museum is not far from Liverpool and has an amazing collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings (among other great works of art). I also saw this painting in Fall 2007 when the Tate Britain hosted the well-displayed monographic exhibition of the works of Millais, curated by Alison Smith and Jason Rosenfeld. In this painting the delicacy and refinement in the eight young women, their vibrant clothes, their outdoor tea party, and the beautiful flowers and grass about them, all create a Victorian-themed fete-galante. But it is that one young woman in vibrant yellow who stares out both innocently and seductively from the lower right, and it is her presence that makes this painting erotic and disturbing at the same time. I will quote Rosenfeld, whose catalogue entry on this painting reveals all.

This painting was part of a small group of pictures Millais painted "equating new ideas of female beauty with natural and human mortality. Low and wide, they are landscape format, on a large scale. ... The girls pose on a lawn, with a low stone wall separating them from a verdant landscape filled with blooming apple trees. The resulting design is claustrophobic ... and the frieze of colourfully clad girls pushes out of the composition. ... The girl in yellow on the far right, ... posed by Alice Gray [sister-in-law of the artist], lounges on her back, a blade of grass between her lips, and looks out of the canvas in a come-hither pose. ... Only the recumbent girl on the far right looks out at the viewer; she is in a prone position and directly engages the deeper theme of the picture, hence the scythe above her. This traditional memento mori, or symbol of mortality, makes plain the meaning of the picture, that human and natural beauty will fade. The scythe is the farming implement the girls have used to cut their flowers, and also alludes to seasonal transitions, as the blossoms of the trees will ripen into fruit to be harvested. In Spring, the garden wall keeps out the wider world, but only for so long; in this season sexuality comes earlier to some than others, and along with it an awareness of its power. The girl in yellow is 'blooming', a term Millais used in his correspondence of this period to refer to young girls in maturation. ... Ultimately the figure is risque."
-- Jason Rosenfeld and Alison Smith, Millais (London: Tate, 2007), p. 136.