C’mon, it’s more than the art.

2467832972_46b82e56acI am a museum girl.

That may sound awfully bland, but I adored Prague because of it. And I loved Vienna more because of the Leopold.

I agree that they can easily become overwhelming– room after room, frame after frame. And maybe you can appreciate one piece of art, or one sculpture. Maybe you can see the importance in this display or you can really love that exhibition, but the rest just blends together. Paintings melt into other paintings, swirling into the blank walls; halls fold into each other and become one long walk stretching past miles and miles of artwork that you can’t distinguish and doesn’t really matter to you anyway. It’s like in the movies, when you’re standing still, staring at something. No one knows why you do it, and everything else moves past you twice as fast, but you’re still just standing there.

Museums are a little dizzying, but I like that feeling.

Call me crazy, but I am a museum girl. I mean, not all museums are great. I got to see Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” in the Lower Belvedere, but to be honest, the whole thing was a little too hyped and a little too rushed. Everyone was just herded into this building, and of course, the crowds pool around this one painting at the end of the hall. I was shuffled and shoved, and it didn’t feel like a museum at all. I didn’t particularly care to see the Sistine Chapel (well, besides the fact that it was the freaking Sistine Chapel and one of those “things to do before you die” sort of things) because it was all so controlled and crowded. It was impossible to just stand there quietly and admire it.

The truth is, most museums are tiring. They wear you out– the watching and the walking and the thinking. Some of them are even exhausting, but there are those great ones, the ones that let the exhaustion creep up slowly on you so you barely notice. Sometimes exhaustion can be thrilling. I love just standing there, looking at something. Quietly, silently, patiently waiting to see something extraordinary. And if you don’t see it, you move on. But when you do see it, you just want to stand there a little longer and smile because you saw something remarkable. And it feels like you saw it first.

I feel like this in bookstores and libraries. Sometimes art galleries and aquariums. Still, that’s another story. Back to museums. Let me tell you, there are some great museums out there. The National Portrait Gallery in London, the Franz Kafka museum in Prague, the Upper Belvedere in Vienna. You name it.

My last was the Leopold. I loved the Leopold. I wish I could’ve stayed there all day. It was funny because Meg and I didn’t really even intend to go there. It was a toss up between the Leopold or some exhibition on Dennis Hopper. Don’t get me wrong– I love Dennis Hopper. I’ve done writing assignments trying to mirror some Dennis Hopper.

But I’m glad we settled on the Leopold.

I love how really great museums can just steal you away. I still wish I could go back and walk those halls and wander through those rooms.

Jen Gotch

There is something really calming to me about being in a museum. You can enter with a group of people, but in the museum, it’s like you’re alone. Everyone wanders off on their own. You choose the right corridor and your friend takes the left. You go through these massive rooms and pass through those long hallways, and you just take it in– that you’re alone and you’re looking at these pieces and you’re just waiting to see something brilliant in them. Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t, and you move on and you move on. You see your friend waiting for you at the exit and you leave the museum behind and you walk out those doors into the street and it feels wonderful.

One thing I learned while I was traveling alone was that it has the potential to be painfully lonely. Maybe that’s why I’m a museum girl. In museums you always feel alone, but you never feel lonely. Now, isn’t that funny?

I’m still trying to find that sort of peace without having to drive all the way to the bookstore or search the internet for new galleries and exhibitions. It’s a strange and lovely feeling. I can’t explain it. I don’t even think I understand it. I can feel it when my footsteps echo, loud and even, through those empty, open rooms.

I am a museum girl, and it brings me so much joy.

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Quarter of hell– PWND.

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This is my life.

OMG.I stop by the gas station on Madera Road to fill up my tank and get my car washed. It desperately needs both. I have been driving on empty since Burbank and my car has been accumulating dirt and bird poop since I got back from Hungary (that’s right– 6 months, people). I go through the automated car wash, compiling my trash into one bag and listening to Michael Jackson sing “The Way You Make Me Feel.” A minute or two later, the machine tells me to drive through–my car is clean.

Summer has officially begun and I can finally see through my windows. Yesss. I’m thinking it’s a good day.

I see this man in red sweat suit standing on the curb waving at cars. I think, hello strange man, it’s a good day. I exit out of the gas station and U-turn to get on the 118-east. The man is waving his arms and dancing. It’s a little odd, but everyone’s different and if he wants to dance in the street, I’m thinking he should be able to dance in the street. I’m┬ástill waiting for the light to turn green so I can head back to San Diego. The man crosses the street and walks right past the front of my car.

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Don’t forget, don’t forget.

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Psalm 45:10-11

Listen, O Daughter, consider and give ear: forget your people and your father’s house. The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord..

In the spirit of finals

Education

“You put the Boo in Kowski”

from an interview with Charles Bukowski (1971)

Charles Bukowski

How come you’re so ugly?

My life has hardly been pretty– the hospitals, the jails, the jobs, the women, the drinking. Some of my critics claim that I have deliberately inflicted myself with pain. I wish that some of my critics had been along with me for the journey. It’s true that I haven’t always chosen easy situations, but that’s a hell of a long ways from saying that I leaped into the oven and locked the door. Hangover, the electric needle, bad booze, bad women, madness in small rooms, starvation in the land of plenty, god knows how I got so ugly. I guess it just comes from being slugged and slugged again and again, and not going down, still trying to think, to feel, still trying to put the butterfly back together again… it’s written a map on my face that nobody would ever want to hang on their wall.

Sometimes I’ll see myself somewhere… suddenly… say in a large mirror in a supermarket… eyes like little mean bugs… face scarred, twisted, yes, I look insane, demented, what a mess… spilled vomit of skin… yet, when I see the “handsome” men, I think, my god my god, I’m glad I’m not them.

Charles Bukowski is a force. You can hate him all you want, but you really can’t deny his power.

I’m not a huge fan. He has his moments. I think that’s the thing with Bukowski– you don’t have to like him. Chances are, you probably won’t. He is what he is. Everything he writes is brutal and honest and real. Sometimes I hate him because he’s just so unconventional and vulgar. Then other times, I find myself reading something like “The Laughing Heart” or “Roll the Dice” in the middle of the night and the things I hated before push me back into a humbled awe. Not everything has to be clean and not everything has to be beautiful, and if it makes any sense, I think there’s a strange sort of beauty in that.

Fun fact: Wikipedia calls his sort of writing, “dirty realism.”

I watched an interview with him once. He is entirely unapologetic, and that’s really rare. If you can make it through the whole thing, you’ll hear him trash Tolstoy and equate writing poetry to taking a good shit. But god, Bukowski is never anything but himself. Most of the time, I don’t even agree with what he says. He is unforgiving and terribly cruel. Still, you have to give it to the man– he knows himself well.

I don’t know. Certain things have crawled their way under my skin lately, and I’ve just been letting them sit there to stink and rot. I don’t know what bothers me more, the things themselves or the fact that I’m not firm enough in myself to let them just slip away. Sometimes the things that hurt the most are the things we keep close to us. We pull them in, thinking if we wrap ourselves around them tightly, they’ll suffocate under the pressure. But they don’t. They just stick and melt into our bodies until they’re a part of us, and we forget that (at one point in time) we could’ve let them go. We could’ve just let it go before it ravaged its way through us, before it gathered in our joints like a dirty rust and weighed down heavy like a thick, metal chain. We forget, and we hold it close and we just take it.

But that’s the thing about Bukowski. He just lets that shit go. He is so set in himself, so firm and unmoving in his convictions and his ways, that anything anyone else has to say about him just falls to the side. He certainly isn’t my favorite writer/poet, but there is something about him I just have to respect. Bukowski is unflinchingly brutal. He gives as hard as he gets, and he never lets anything get the best of him. He never lets anything get too far under his skin; he lets it slide. It isn’t worth his time of day. It will never get what it needs to make a dent because he doesn’t give it that power. It rolls off him like a dirty sweat, irrelevant and quickly forgotten. It drips off his fat and on to the floor. And he walks on, he walks on.

You can hate him– it’s fine. But I’m telling you, Bukowski is a force.