Saturday, March 06, 2010

I Found My Religion

Hi Mary Ann!

I'm so glad you like the CD. I wasn't sure whether I should tell you about my morning yesterday, but now I will because today it strikes me as funny.

I hadn't been feeling great–getting over a cough?–so I decided to lie down for 10 minutes before I came over to meet you at the museum at 11:00. I jumped up when I saw it was 10:45 and raced out the door. I drove, and when I reached Clement and 43rd, I found myself behind a car going 15 mph. I thought, "Oh well, I'll be turning off at 34th Avenue . . ." but it seemed like eons until I got to 34th, and then the same poky car turned left onto 34th Ave, too, and reduced speed to 5 mph. So I followed for another 5 minutes–as you know I could have walked to the museum by this time– and when we had almost reached the Legion, I spotted a parking place in the lot out front. Then, the car in front of me turned into the lot and I knew deep down I should've just zoomed on by the lot, but I thought since it was a weekday morning that there might be two spaces available. The car then reduced speed to 2 mph and drove with great caution into the one empty space.

I gunned the engine past them out of the parking lot and turned right on El Camino del Mar. I drove on and on down, parked by the ditch and flew out of the car. I thought, "I am MILES from the museum." I noticed a narrow path going uphill near the car that looked as if it could've been a shortcut. I started following it even though it got narrower and narrower and grassier and muddier. I could see the concrete fence/barrier around the parking lot above, but couldn't figure out if the path went around it to the front or not. The path ended at a golf cart road and by that point I didn't want to waste time walking back down the hill, so I climbed the hill to the concrete enclosure. I looked around and didn't see anybody so I hoisted myself up from down below and clambered over the enclosure. I was hoping there wasn't a security camera.

I tried to brush the dirt and grass off the hems of my pants & boots, and ran across the road til I got to that weird split in front of the Court of Honor, and tried to imagine which desk you would've left the ticket at. Your e-mail, which i didn't read carefully, told me to go to the membership desk; I chose the will call desk. I walked way around to the left instead of zipping right under The Thinker like you told me. I quickly tried to comb the brambles out of my hair before I reached the door, and then stood in line at the will call desk. When it was my turn, 2 nice people were working there, but they couldn't find a ticket. (hmmm.... wonder why?) My heart sank. Had you forgotten? I then went over and stood in line at the membership desk, where one nice person and one not-so-nice person were selling memberships and describing every single detail of each and every type of membership to enraptured museum-goers. When it was finally my turn, I asked the nice one if she had a ticket for Linda. She didn't, and she interrupted the not-so-nice one who rolled her eyes around and said, "Not that I know of . . ." Then the nice one happened to look down in front of her and saw an envelope with "ticket for Linda" written on it in big hot pink letters.

She handed it to me, I pulled the sticker off, stuck it to my jacket and shot through the door. I heard a voice calling, "Ma'am!, Ma'am!" (Could that be me?) I turned and a kind hand reached out to me offering a visitor guide and handing me the sticker that had already fallen off my jacket.

I jumped down the stairs and headed toward the gift shop. I looked into the gift shop and didn't see you, but a woman was leaving the shop who wore a museum badge, so I said, "Excuse me . . . Could you tell me where I can find Mary Ann Stein?" She said, "Who's Mary Ann Stein?" I was taken aback. How could anyone not know who Mary Ann Stein is? She barked: "Is she a friend of yours, or does she work here?" I paused again and said, "She works in the gift shop," though of course you are also my friend. "Well go ask _____!" I must have paused again, because then she turned and pointed to the woman behind the register and repeated, "Go ask ______ ! She's the one standing right behind the register!"

As I walked in the woman behind the register came out to help a customer decide on a print. I waited for a break in the conversation and asked, "Excuse me . . . can you tell me where I can find Mary Ann Stein?" "I'm not sure she's working today." "Oh, I know she's working today." "She may be in the back then. I'll go check in a minute . . . Is she a friend of yours?" She and the customer decided on a print, and she went to "the back" to see if she could find the print, and to see if you were back there.

You WERE!!! And you came out and gave me a hug. You walked me straight to the Kenneth Patchen exhibit and it dawned on me that I had shown up at the tail end of your break, and that we wouldn't be able to talk. Then you suggested lunch and went back to check on your lunch schedule. You asked if I would want to stay and look around until 12:30. I wasn't certain if you were really sure about wanting to have lunch with me because I thought if so, that you would have asked to meet for lunch in the first place. But I really wanted to talk to you. But I thought I should go home in the time between and then come back, but the very thought of that task was too enormous. So I said I'd look around and asked if I should meet you in the cafe at 12:30. You said yes and scurried back to work.

I thought, well hell. Why don't I look around now that I'm here. I knew I wanted to see the Kenneth Patchen stuff anyway. So I returned to the Kenneth Patchen room. Really, there just was not enough on view. The books that he'd made which looked absolutely fascinating were behind glass, and the pages weren't even opened a tiny bit so you could even catch a glimpse of a fraction of them. The room was tiny and claustrophobic and dark and many of the things in the room weren't his (though they looked fantastic, too). There was a video running continuously on a computer in the corner that was way too loud. I sat down at it anyway to try to look, but they flicked by at lightening speed, too fast for me to read any of the images. And the voice, even though it was the voice of K.P. reading his poems, grated on the ears coming through the little computer speakers at such a volume. I thought if Kenneth's wife Miriam were to see this exhibit that she would be disappointed.

I was desperate to get out of there, but at the same time I had had enough of an introduction to Kenneth Patchen to know that I had to find out more about him–but that this claustrophobic, dark, noisy room that harbored his treasures but made them unavailable to me was not the place. So I left and wandered upstairs through the rooms full of brown art. When I got to the room with the big golden dome, a docent was giving a tour to 4 or 5 other decrepit women and saying, "And now I'm going to take you to another room were you'll find out how another wealthy family chose to spend their money. Follow me!"

I was reaching the end of my rope, but decided to visit the Cartier show. After all, I was here; plus my next door neighbor had been to see the Cartier exhibit and she asked me if I had seen it yet and I had to admit that I hadn't, and I know she wondered why since I'm an artist. So I went back downstairs and stood in line. A sweet little man zapped my ticket and I attempted to enter. I got far enough to see mobs and mobs of people with headphones on crowded around displays of tiaras and watches. A video did catch my eye–of Marilyn Monroe and then Liz Taylor trying on jewelry and posing, and I loved that–to me it was much more engaging than the jewelry itself–but I wasn't able to get a clear view of the video either.

After slinking back by the guy who had just zapped my ticket, I walked back over to your shop to let you know that I'd better head for home.

You were very understanding, but then came my worst memory of yesterday: You asked me what Gretchen was like–if I liked her, and I said, "No, not really." I couldn't believe the words I was hearing coming from my mouth! I quickly added, "But I love her paintings," and you said that you did too. That's when I knew I really needed to hightail it out of there and go home and get back in bed. I asked if the store carried anything about Kenneth Patchen that I could buy. You showed me the one book available, and apologized that it was in black & white. But that was OK–it saved my life yesterday. When I got home and got in bed with the book, I found my religion. I know for the first time in my life what to write when faced with a blank space for me to fill in my religion: Kenneth Patchen.

16 xxx's & 37 ooo's,

Kenneth Patchen