I had never been there before.
I walked around the building twice trying to find the way in. There's the obvious entrance area, which seemed to lead to nowhere. "Funny joke, Art Museum" I though to myself. I eventually gave up circling the building and tried the obvious entrance again. The fucking wall rolled back, triggered by a motion sensor I guess.
Fuck you, modern art museum. You're already trying too hard.
Here's the thing I don't like about Modern Art: it's all trying too hard. You can just feel that needy, grabby-handed energy emanating from every piece. You can sense the reaching that the artist is doing. This is not expression; it's shouting at the viewer before it knows what it's going to say.
I walked through an installation that was so lazy I couldn't get properly worked up at how un-artistic it was. Two dozen pieces, same process for each- a section of newspaper with paint spilled on them, and one other form of media also paint covered (tack nails, coins, some rubber...). White paint, and black. Maybe there was blue? I can't recall. I thought "maybe it's the articles underneath that lend some significance," but no... dead end there. I thought "At what point did the artist stand back and say to themselves 'Okay, now I'm done- the 24 pieces that came before are enough'." Or did the artist somehow, in their "studio" gaze upon 40 or 50 such pieces and have to PICK between them, narrowing down the selection to just THESE 24 pieces that are equally uninspired and lazy? I dunno. I hate modern art so much.
So I purchased an annual membership.
I have no idea if that's actually the case. And I don't care to research it. I just get a kick out of the fact that my unbridled subconscious chose to go on a goddamn vacation to Croatia because it would be cheap.
Dream big, Elyse. Dream big.
While at work the other day, she was up front with me and my work-twin Jason bemoaning her wee daughter's development.
"She kissed a boy at daycare," she declared. Jason and I stared at her. So? our combined gazes asked. Sandi's mouth turned down in a perfect upper-middle-class woman fret. "The boy didn't want it! I don't know what to do- on the one hand she's adorable but on the other she just wouldn't stop kissing this poor boy!"
I made my face an expressionless mask. I stared intently into Sandi's confused and forlorn eyes.
"You've raised a mouth rapist," I told her tonelessly.
Sandi's not speaking to me right now.
- Hyperbole and a Half, Allie Brosh
It's like she knows me. And found a way to make all of the messed up things about myself lucrative for her. That diabolical bitch.
It's my dead friend's birthday today.
Facebook reminded me. Which is, really, the only thing Facebook is good for. Reminding people of birthdays.
I find it kind of ludicrous. This artificial facsimile of living that continues after Jen very much died. But it makes sense too, since Facebook is how her mom told everybody that she was gone. Her mom takes pictures of purple sunsets and posts them to Jen's Facebook. Her mom thinks that they're a visible incarnation of her daughter's memory. I imagine her mom thought she'd be a grandmother by now.
I get a lot of calls for Jen at work still. More perhaps this month than previous months. There was a day a couple weeks back where almost every 3rd call was for her. People calling for her, using her maiden name. My gut response is to correct them- it's not Rotramel anymore, it's Ronhovde. But that's a moot point and I remember in the next beat. Her proper name means nothing to the callers, who weren't at her wedding. A wedding held a week after her diagnosis. So she could be married while she still had her crazy long, fiery red corkscrew locks. But after she'd had the port placed in her chest.
I just tell the callers that she's no longer with the company. Which, every time, strikes me as a heroically optimistic understatement. Fuck do they care anyway- they're all selling something, and I have it on good authority that she isn't buying.
I remember Jason saying that he wouldn't be going to the funeral. He just sort of blurted it out 3 days before. Like you would with something you'd forgotten until the last minute. Or like a declaration of something important to you but that you expect nobody else to care about one way or the other. A visceral afterthought. I couldn't react quickly enough to hide my disappointment. It was such a work thing to begin with. Every day at the office begins and ends with the tone Jason and I give it. Silently agree upon. The jokes we tell. The side eyes we give. How was I going to get through a work funeral without my work twin? We were gonna carpool. And then drink a lot, stoically. And then never speak of it again.
We have yet to speak of it, so I suppose that worked out okay.
And I went anyway. There were many work people, and many devout Catholics. Many people I hadn't seen in a long time. It was all sort of tribal actually.
At the end of the service Jen's family was arranged in a receiving line. And everybody filed past, and said appropriate things, and gave meaningfully understated shoulder and elbow pats. I found myself standing in front of Jen's mom, who looked relaxed. She was smiling and nodding, and not bewildered or awkward or grief stricken visibly. She looked calm; wry and sweet, the same way she'd looked a year before at Jen's wedding. In the same church, actually. I just stood in front of her for a moment. A beat too long probably. And wordlessly I sort of flung myself bodily at her. Because that's what you do when you're so very overwhelmed and somebody near you is just towering over everything, great waves of MOM pouring off her. She was very sweet to hug me, very sweet not to make me talk or feel bad for having nothing worthwhile to say. Very sweet to give me comfort when all I could think was "why are you standing here taking care of me when your daughter is dead?"
I agreed to go drinking with some other people and wandered out of the receiving hall into the late afternoon parking lot. I had lost the sense it required to stand in a room with people like a person. The process of eating macaroni salad baffled me. It all struck me as very white. I worried I'd start making a noise of distress that would start in the back of my throat, thinly, and that would transform into a roar of crazy. Something animal and senseless. Something that would sound like pitiful panic and confusion. I figured if that was going to happen, it should happen in the parking lot and nowhere near the macaroni salad.
So thanks Facebook, for reminding me of that. I'd not forgotten about her. I don't know why her birthday should be so significantly triggering. She's not more dead today than she was yesterday. Not more gone. Guess that's how it's gonna go for millenials though. This is just a new thing my generation will have. Like Jay's old Livejournal page. The farther I get from my days in Detroit, the more the dead folks hurt. Maybe I've gotten weaker for having been away so long.
Or maybe Facebook is just an asshole that told me I should buy my friend a Starbuck's giftcard this morning to celebrate her birthday.
It was an interesting day, all over. I was reminded that- and I hope fop can appreciate this- a lot of things that happen in the regular course of a day can be considered good material for future story telling.
Not great storytelling, mind. Not even great material. But different enough from the norm to be noteworthy. Ish.
Over the course of the day I discovered how terribly good I am at leading small groups of people, which was fun and worthless. I smile, I make eye contact, I open up my body language. I lean forward and grunt in the affirmative when others speak. I cajole and coax. I tell sympathetic anecdotes which bring others into the group. I tell jokes and laugh. I enunciate. I speak from deep in my chest and project. No shit, I'm fucking good at this. I got some lady to cry-cathart. Which is now a word.
Later on in the day, during the lecture bits, the instructor bemoaned the current state of communication. He lamented the "fact" that today's generation of youths will never learn how to converse with other people because they're always texting or posting to social media. "What's wrong with talking on the telephone?" he exclaimed.
The class echoed his fears and his assessment.
I sat silently in the back, wondering if these people had any concept that before the TELEPHONE folks used to write letters in order to communicate with people when they couldn't address them directly. Seems more like the current generation is just coming back around to the way things used to be. Before the godforsaken telephone made communication between people so abrupt and base. LETTER WRITING. Jesus.
It'd be great if just one generation of people could let go of the myth of the Golden Age of their own youth. Just one.
/Seriously though, I've gotta be angry at something. There's actually no way a raise will bump me back up to what I was making before the tax hike. Why on earth was I waxing hopeful about being able to afford starting a family?