“Our magnolia blossoms. Life begins to happen.”

“The hot night makes us keep our bedroom windows open. / Our magnolia blossoms. Life begins to happen.” -Robert Lowell, To Speak of Woe That Is in Marriage

In the whirl of the past two weeks, I’ve learned a lot about wedding planning. There have been so many big and little decisions. It’s so easy to see how this could get out of control emotionally, financially, and socially. So we are doing are best to rein it in, get the big decisions made, and then go about life–engaged, happy, but no radically different than we were before. Because it was our life before that makes it wonderful that we are now engaged.

We are having a late summer wedding and we will have the people we love there and it will be lovely. That’s all.

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A beach, a dog, two airplanes, a sunset, and…

…a ring!

On Saturday I attended my design class (late) as usual, and then Carter picked me up for lunch at chipotle. He’d spent the morning at the office so he seemed a little distracted, and he told me he’d spilt his coffee all over his pants. We went home and he changed; afterwards we were both ravenous and went to grab burritos at Chipotle. We planned out the rest of the day as usual: Target and Costco for groceries, then a trip to Fort Funston with Beast. I planned to cook chicken piccata in the evening.

We got to Costco late, maybe around 3:30; being that the sun sets early these days, I suggested that we delay our trip to Sunday so we could go home early and cook. Carter waffled a bit but finally decided that yes, he still wanted to go to the beach. We got home from shopping and I readied the beach accoutrements: ball, tossing stick, treat bag, a sturdy jacket for me. As we were about to leave, Carter asked me where the camera was. Being that the sky was already beginning to darken, I was a little skeptical, but he was insistent. So, I found the phone and we were off.

At the beach, Carter decided not to bring his hiking bag, which we usually do. We headed down towards the sand. It was dusk and there were little clouds of plovers skimming the tops of the waves, and Beast predictably lost his mind and raced after them like a maniac. We watched him and enjoyed; Carter took a short video of Beast sprinting across the sand.

We reached the middle of the beach and paused to look at the airplanes ascending from San Francisco airport. There was one that climbed steeply, and then banked out towards the ocean; Carter said it was heavy, and so was probably headed towards Asia. Another airplane looped around and headed back inland.

In the middle of our lovely pause I noticed that Beast was taking a poop near the cliff. I started to head for him but Carter said–I’m not picking that up right now. We leaned against each other for a few minutes while the sunset reddened over the water, and then Carter turned to me. I started suspecting something when he dropped Beast’s ball and throwing stick. He said he had an early Christmas present for me, and bent down on one knee, and asked me to marry him.

I said yes, and smooched him soundly. He smooched me back. I seem to remember my hair flying everywhere in the wind. So I kissed him through my hair.

He slipped the ring on my finger as I bounced up and down. We recruited a pair of passersby to take our photo. We look ridiculously giddy, or at least I do. There was a brief debate about which finger the ring was supposed to go on–left or right? (We settled correctly on right, as we live in these United States.)

We climbed the wood-and-sand stairs back up the cliff and I told Carter that this place would always be special for us.

“Turds in the plaza.”

“Turds in the plaza.” -Tom Wolfe

Fountain, by Marcel Duchamp

I visited the San Francisco MOMA this past weekend with my design class. The rest of this post is what I posted to our class discussion site; I was just so cheesed off by a few things I saw…modern art is a vast category and I hate to characterize it so, but there is a good amount of it that is rotten. I can’t hold it in anymore. I hope this doesn’t result in a bad grade in the class, but I don’t care so long as I pass.

***
I really enjoyed the visit, and particularly enjoyed the Laughing Nude, as well as the massive Hem (I think that was the name), the large nude that we looked at after Currin. They were beautiful.

In regards to some of the other things we saw, to be honest, though, that old fairy tale The Emperor’s New Clothes comes to mind.

This is true of the Duchamp Fountain/urinal piece. While I suppose much can be said about the provocative nature of the piece, my basic, underlying response is: if that’s art then I’m a monkey’s uncle.

When the conceptual or theoretical impulse behind a piece overpowers the visceral appreciation that it evokes from a viewer, then I think it is fundamentally flawed. If the point of the piece is to call old certitudes about what qualifies as art into question, then I suppose it accomplishes its goal, but this seems more like a philosophical sleight-of-hand than a piece of art.

As much as pop artists (artists that are actually popular with the public) such as Thomas Kinkade or Norman Rockwell are reviled by the art establishment, I see more value in their work than Fountain. Fountain falls in line with Tom Wolfe’s reference to sculptures outside office buildings as “turds in the plaza”; more or less an exercise in intellectual/philosophical masturbation than a thoughtful effort to connect with a vast and varied public viewership. So if I must concede that this is art, I would only be forced to admit that it is art for a very small, elite, and navel-gazing segment of the population. But for the rest of us, shock value does not equal artistic value.

When I came home from my visit, the first thing my boyfriend (a physicist by training who knows nothing about art and has never been to MOMA) asked me is: “did you have look at a toilet?” I had to respond that yes, that was the first thing we looked at. He laughed. I think it’s sad that the average person’s view of modern art is that it’s essentially a receptacle for human waste.