I’m a devoted listener to Gretchen Rubin’s podcast “Happier.” This morning, they were talking (again) about “Happiness 911” songs— those songs you listen to that, no matter what’s going on, can improve your mood. And I got to thinking about some for me:
I spent the evening on Friday at the Denver Art Museum. I have had a membership for the last three years, and only manage to go once per year, which means that I’m totally overpaying for this. But I find that I don’t mind, and here’s why:
I’ve been to some of the great art museums of the world. Musee D’Orsay, the Louvre, the Prado, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery, in Washington D.C., among others. Let me own up front that the Denver Art Museum’s collections and exhibits are not as impressive as these places. But I think I love it better than all of those places, and not just because it’s my hometown art museum. I loved the Prado and the Art Institute of Chicago, in particular— their collections were awe inspiring. I’m someone who can spend hours and hours in an art museum and never be bored. I soak up the art like a sponge. But, for example, in the Louvre, the sheer volume of it was overwhelming. It took almost no time for me to narrow my focus to only sculpture and to skip all the other galleries, because I didn’t know what to look at. I developed a distaste for portraiture in the Louvre, because it was so entirely overwhelming. I didn’t know what I was supposed to see in all these faces. It struck me as more of an invaluable art warehouse than a museum I could enjoy exploring.
I didn’t really intend to take a blogging break, but it did kind of work out that way. It’s been a busy season for me— a big family gathering involved lots of preparation, then lots of engagement while it happened, then I got sick afterward (predictably), and then the dog went in for surgery number 2 last week. Here’s a picture of him looking pathetic when I picked him up last week:
A few years ago, Colorado Opera postponed their much-feted world premiere production of “The Scarlet Letter” because of financial trouble. That was the spring of the year that I decided to double down and formally teach religious education, though the people I’d been volunteering with the high school youth group with were all bailing out of the program. My mom and I bought season tickets to the opera that year, because they slashed their prices replaced “The Scarlet Letter” with dyed-in-the-wool crowd pleasers, including “Romeo and Juliet” and Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.” Though we were novices to opera, my experience with ballet taught me that familiar material makes an unfamiliar art form more accessible. It paid off— we’ve since enjoyed several performances: “Carmen,” and “Aida,” and “Rigoletto,” among others, and are season ticket holders to this day. They’ve emerged from their financial troubles, and are in a position to do some more innovative programming.
This last weekend, I went to the ballet with my ballet buddy and her niece and my mom. We saw “ALICE (in Wonderland)” at the Colorado Ballet. It was a wonderful performance— beautifully done. I enjoyed so much about the way they set it and characterized things. Alice grew, she shrunk, she floated on a pool of tears, she fell down the rabbit hole. At intermission, I was chatting with my companions about it, and my ballet-buddy referred to “Beauty and the Beast” as possibly her favorite of the ones we had seen. I had the sense that I saw B&theB, but I don’t have any specific recollection of it. Of many of the ballets and theater/opera performances, I have a prevailing mental image— a particular set or costume, a particular moment that stands out. I just don’t have one for B&theB. She seemed surprised. She’s a few years older than I am, and remembers specific ballets better.
I’ve been plugging along with making myself write a longer-form piece. Right now it’s non-fiction, but I can see a way for it to become a work of fiction (and it will need to become fiction if it’s going to see the light of day). It’s not going terribly— I did a week (I count a week as 3/5 days) of 20-minute lunch writing in December before the busy overtook me, and I’ve done a week and a day of lunch writing in January, plus some reading about structure and some experimenting with writing software. I’ve transcribed it and tried my first mind map (not a fan, so far).