Things I’ve thought way too much about while home sick

I hate calling in sick to work. That’s a new thing for me, because for the first time in ages I love my job and miss it when I am not there. Mind you, a day off here and there is welcomed, but generally I’d rather not miss out on anything. Work doesn’t FEEL like work most of the time, and I enjoy all of the people and the animals I’m surrounded with on a daily basis.

Serious moments at work:

 

 

Contrast those moments with this:

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Me, at home sick. Not fun.

I used to look for any reason to stay home sick when I was in school. I was a good student, but I was painfully shy. Staying home was much better! Back in the day, when my single mom was at work, she felt it was safe enough that, when I was in about 3rd grade I think, she could leave me home alone. This was the 1960’s in a middle-class suburb on a street of mostly retired people. My older siblings would be home at various points in the day, and mom could check in at lunch. Nothing bad ever happened. The things is, Mom was almost too sympathetic to my dislike of being at school and often let me stay home when I clearly wasn’t sick. I never had to resort to any Ferris Bueller antics to convince her to let me stay home.

 

I graduated (with good grades), went on to college, and survived just fine. Then I ended up at some point in a job that I hated. I’ll never forget the morning I burst into tears, threw my hairbrush across the room, and wailed to my then-husband, “Don’t make me go!”  Was that the first time I called in sick to work when it was really just that I was sick of the job?

Things got better. I switched careers after an interlude of graduate school (I hated school through high school, but I loved college), and spent quite a few years only being sick when I was really sick. And then along came the University of California and 12 years of me wishing to be sick, of fantasizing about breaking my leg in the shower so I could go to the hospital instead of work, of reading hopefully about the sysmptoms of appendicitis. My work ethic had died a slow death. I wasn’t so obvious as to call in sick on a regular, clockwork basis, like a colleague in one past job who we all knew would call in sick the day after pay day. Nothing predictable. But maybe calling in sick when I felt a little under the weather but not really sick. I would even gladly go for jury calls and hope to get onto a jury so as to not go to work. I wasn’t precisely a bad employee, just a not very dedicated one. Note to any of my former UC colleagues: there were many times I was genuinely sick. Please don’t think I ever took advantage of you to get out of anything!

'I'm going to be sick on Monday.  I'm telling you now so I don't have to call in.'

That’s all changed now that I am working in animal rescue. Every day brings new rewards and happy endings. Sometimes there are sad endings, too, but I try to keep moving as cheerfully as possible and toast the successes.

I wish I could say I never get sick, but I have whatever this gross lung crud is that’s going around at the end of 2017. I’m coughing like crazy, no energy, sounding like a dog with kennel cough. This would be bad enough in any case, but in addition to animals, I also work with potential adopters, and how bad would it look if I started coughing and wheezing in their faces? That would not bring good customer service marks on a Yelp review. I went in last Sunday and it was not pretty. Nobody ran away screaming, but a lot of hand sanitizer was passed around. I’ve stayed home since then.

I’ve had a lot of time on my hands to think. Too much. Here are some of my reflections.

Cats are better nurses than dogs.  They are sensitive, and pick up on subtle things. Or they just really love blankets and warm bodies. But dogs have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), like “Aw, hey sick buddy, let me cuddle with you…SQUIRREL! Gotta go!”

 

 

Watching television during the day is no longer fun. When I was home sick as a kid, or even as a teenager, the majority of that time was spent in front of the television. I’d watch anything. Even though we only got 4 channels back in the dark ages, I’d find something. I watched cooking shows, exercise shows, reruns in syndication, old movies…Maybe watching Julia Child and Graham Kerr (The Galloping Gourmet) contributed to my love of food and cooking, but I also watched Jack Lalanne and have no love of exercise. Note that I watched Jack Lalanne, I didn’t ever get off the couch and do any of the stretches or exercises.  I adored Bewitched reruns. At a young age, I got hooked on soap operas, especially All My Children. My favorite movies were those with Ma and Pa Kettle or Henry Aldrich.

It’s a wonder I have any brain cells left!

jack-lalanne-allenamento

 

Now we have TiVo, Netflix streaming, binge watching, endless channels, and I can’t stand the idea of watching television during the day. I feel like I have succumbed to true hopelessness if I watch. Nighttime is another story altogether, though. Which leads to:

Folding TV trays are a great 20th century invention. They don’t have to be for eating meals in front of television, although we use the old set we bought for $25 at the flea market for that pretty much every night. They are great for holding all of your medications, tissues, water glass, etc. next to you while you are curled up in your favorite cozy spot. I also use them to hold stacks of books and papers when I am at my desk writing and I run out of desk space.

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I found the almot exact set we have online, although the colors were less faded, where they were advertised as “vintage Eames era”. If you aren’t familar with the Eames name, Charles and Ray Eames were the noted mid-century designers who, by using their names, you add a gazillion dollars to the price of something.

Vintage-Folding-TV-Tray-Tables-Set-of-4
I really don’t think Charles or Ray Eames had anything to do with these.
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Ray and Charles Eames at home, LIFE magazine, 1950.

 

Life is too short to stick with a book you aren’t enjoying. This is a recent revelation for me. I always doggedly stuck to books I wasn’t enjoying as if it was somehow a virtue. No more! So many books, so little time. I’m not wasting that time anymore. The only time I can remember abandoning a book previously was in 2001, with German writer W. G. Sebold’s Austerlitz. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award that year. Sebald, who died at age 57 that same year, was considered by many to be a great author and possible future winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature until his unexpected death in a car crash. The novel sounds like it ought to be great, but I found it inscrutable. I was about 5 pages in, and I think it was still the first sentence continuing from the first page, running on and making no sense to me. I threw in the towel, figuring I wasn’t smart enough for Sebald.

 

I was recently defeated again. Not because I wasn’t smart enough, I just didn’t care what happened to any of the characters. At all. Any of them. This time it was Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, winner of the Man Booker prize in 2013. Maybe I should avoid books that win critics awards? This huge tome (848 pages) was donated to the Little Free Library I steward. I was intrigued. It was free. I needed something to read that would occupy me through a flight to Iceland and back, as well as any down time in between. Never mind that I could barely lift it. We went to Iceland in the summer. It is now very close to January of the next year. I got about 200 pages in. I couldn’t keep track of who was who. I didn’t care.  Finally, common sense (well, actually it was Bob’s common sense) had me send the book back out into the Little Free Library this morning. I want to enjoy my reading time, and if one of the rare chances I get to lose myself in a book is when I am sick, it’s not going to be a book that is torture to read. I saw somewhere that The Luminaries was being made into a limited television series. Yippee.

Now I am free to read a book that sounds right up my alley: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. It sounds utterly charming, quirky, and very British. I’m in!

 

 

 

Color coordinated clothing and clothing that isn’t pajamas are over-rated. I’m wearing might-as-well-be-pajamas clothes right now. Leggings, old stretchy cardigan, pulled-out-of-shape knit skirt. I am neither color-coordinated nor fashionable at this moment either. Am I warm and comfortable? YES! I figure I’ve always been more of a “fashion don’t” than a “fashion do.” Whatever. My sisters both have amazing senses of style and fashion. My mother despaired of my disdain for matching handbags and shoes, for scarves, for all of the little details that pull an outfit together. One of the reasons I hated high school was the judgment being passed based on appearances and wardrobe. I was smart and cute enough. Why wasn’t that enough? Not having the right label of jeans or shoes seemed (still seems) such a stupid basis for popularity and friendship.

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What Not to Wear. Unless you’re me!

In a brief moment as I was putting this sick-day outfit on, I thought, “None of the blue tones go together.” And immediately after that I thought, “Tell that to Mother Nature when a field of wild flowers of all different colors and tones is in bloom.” Colors go together. Period. Somebody told me once that the outfit I was wearing looked like a fruit salad. Cool, that’s what I say.

 

Take care of yourself. Stay warm. Eat healthy, whole foods. Remember to splurge on a bit of dark chocolate and other things you enjoy now and then. If you do get sick, stay home.  It’s best for you, your co-workers, and anyone you might come into contact with. If you are lucky, like me, it will be that much better when you get back to the job you love. And please, consider getting a pet from your local shelter.

awesome

I Survived the First Semester! Or, I’ve Been Really Busy

Saybrook-logo

When I applied to a Ph.D. program on an impulse last summer, I knew my life would be busy, but I didn’t realize just how busy. Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I thought, sure, I can go to school full time while working full time. It hasn’t been the easiest thing I ever decided to do, and I have many more semesters to go. But having now submitted my last paper for the first semester (YAY), I can look back and reflect on just how crazy the last few months have been.

before
Before–the cockeyed optimist, ready to study!
Insane Asylum Entrance
This way madness lies…
after 1
Got my last paper in. Semester one done. Can I brush my hair now?

One of my first moves was to get a big dry-erase calendar to organize my life. I hung it, planned out the semester, and then pretty much ignored it until today, when I am wiping it clean for next semester.

calendar 2
I’ll pay more attention next semester.

As would be expected in any doctoral program, books are involved. Lots of books. Some I really enjoyed. Some I struggled with. And I faced the reality that I have to pick and choose what to read; I can’t read it all. Or I’m going to have to take a speed-reading class.

MGLH
Read this book!
On Complexity
Foster cat Mouse and I struggled with this one.

My dictionary stays open to the “h” pages–I can’t remember the definitions of heuristic and hermeneutics to save my life.

I did have to change some things in my daily routine. My obsession with making the bed every morning is a thing of the past, I hate to say (sorry, Mom). As much as I like to do laundry, the laundry room is now the least visited room in the house.

unmade bed
I blame it on the cats.
laundry
I justify infrequent laundry by saying it’s because of the drought in California.
mending
My mending and sewing pile gathers dust on top of the sewing machine.
crafts
I have become the queen of unfinished craft projects.

We might not ever eat homemade meals if not for the Purple Carrot. Similar to Blue Apron or Hello Fresh!, it’s a service that ships the ingredients and recipes for 3 meals a week. Purple Carrot happens to be vegan, and has the caché of having Mark Bittman on the team.

Purple Carrot logo

purple carrot 2
Quick, easy, tasty and healthy vegan recipes. A life saver!

Of course, we do end up eating on tv trays in front of television most of the time. But that’s not new.

tv trays

 

eating at desk
Eating at my desk is also not unheard of these days.
Clif bar
Yes, a Clif Bar with coffee is a balanced breakfast, really.

Have I mentioned coffee? There’s a lot of coffee in my life. Funny thing. it’s mostly decaf, but still gotta have it!

I have managed to have some fun down time. Maybe that’s why I scramble to get my papers in on time, but my idea of fun down time is going out on marches and protests, and I think of those as a part of my humane education program. As my friend and fellow future Ph.D. Suzy Fisher says, don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk.

Never Be Silent

Elephant March
Marching for Elephants with one of my favorite activists, Sara Muñiz.
Gene Baur
Farm Sanctuary Founder Gene Baur speaks at UC Berkeley.
Walk for Farm Animals
Walk for Farm Animals in San Francisco with my buddies Cláudia Santos and Heather Meyer.
Preetirang
I also spent a beautiful day at Preetirang Sanctuary thanks to Cláudia.
Brave the Cage
I Braved the Cage with Suzy Fisher. Animal Place was at UC Berkeley to demonstrate what the lives of hens in battery cages are like.
FFF
Fur Free Friday. The awesome Kitty Jones is behind me, holding the Animals Are Not Ours to Wear sign.

A trip to Chicago was one of the highlights of autumn for me. I got to live my Ferris Bueller moment at the Art Institute of Chicago and attend a wonderful concert by the National Brass Ensemble, thanks to the generosity of world’s best boyfriend and amazing brass player Robert Ward.

There’s always room for food in my life, maybe too much so sometimes, and cooking classes are a great way to spend the spare time I don’t have.

JL Fields
Fun holiday cooking class at the PETA Foundation offices with JL Fields.
Thanksgiving cook
Thanksgiving chef in pajamas and apron, with bed hair.

I bake for the monthly bake sales held to benefit animal sanctuaries by the Berkeley Organization for the Advocacy of Animals at UC Berkeley.

I continued to volunteer for East Bay SPCA. It’s because of my experience there with the animals that I am on this path, so I can’t give that up! And I’ve added fostering onto the list of things I do. Our guest bathroom has been turned into a foster cat habitat.

Mouse 2
Foster kitty Mouse and her babies. She did most of the work. All now adopted into loving homes!
kittens studying
The kittens were not particularly appreciative of the finer points of research methodology.
Honeysuckle
Honeysuckle preferred television to studying.
Kianna
Kianna, not loving the cone, after surgery to remove her paralyzed tail (probably hit by a car).

During all of this, work was chaotic too! The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive moved into a new building. Moving is never easy unless you have truckloads of money to pay someone else to do it while you go on vacation.

I had a wonderful time volunteering at the Western Museums Association 2015 Annual Meeting in San Jose.

And just when I got settled into a new office and a new neighborhood, I found a wonderful opportunity to work at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis. Let the commuting begin! Only it didn’t begin so well. My car should be done at the MINI service center soon.

Shrem build
The Manetti Shrem Museum, under construction, planned to open in Fall 2016.

Ask me how I’m doing:

swing
I’d like to say life is like this, but…
thumbs up
A fellow Saybrook student posted this on Facebook; all of us in the program understand!

One day it will all be worth it: I will be one of the new Doctors of Philosophy getting to wear the coveted sash.

sash
Saybrook graduates, August 2015. I want that sash!

I couldn’t be doing any of this without the love and support of aforementioned Robert Ward. Thank you!

vegan kiss

And for any possible naysayers out there (thankfully that would not be any of my friends or family), I will leave you with the wise words of Harold. Please excuse his language.

Harold

 

Bueller, Bueller, Bueller…Chicago, part 2, the Art Institute

Warning: this is going to be a long post! But it will mostly be photos. If a picture paints a thousand words and you are at an art museum…

Founded in 1879 as both a museum and a school for the fine arts, the Art Institite of Chicago’s permanent home was built in 1893 at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Adams Street as a joint effort with the City of Chicago for the World’s Columbian Exhibition. The collection of the Art Institute of Chicago encompasses more than 5,000 years of human expression from cultures around the world and contains more than 260,000 works of art. The museum holds works of art ranging from early Japanese prints to modern American art. It is principally known for one of the United States’ finest collection of paintings produced in Western culture. It is the second largest museum in the United States, after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The AIC in 1893.
The AIC in 1893.

AIC map

The AIC in 2015.
The AIC in 2015.

That building still serves as the entryway, flanked by the bronze lions sculpted by Edward Kemeys. commissioned as a gift from Mrs. Henry Field (Florence Lathrop Field).  While their official designations are the North Lion and the South Lion, Kemeys referred to them as On the Prowl (North) and Stands in Attitude of Defiance (South). Since all I knew about Chicago before this visit was from the John Hughes movies of the 1980s, I, of course, first saw them in the iconic AIC visit scenes from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

On the Prowl (North)
On the Prowl (North)
In an Attitude of Defiance (South)
In an Attitude of Defiance (South)

FBDO

Ferris, Sloane,and Cameron approach the AIC
Ferris, Sloane,and Cameron approach the AIC

Despite my mission of taking a Ferris photo in front of the impressionist painting A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Suerat, I did allow myself to enjoy an exhibit on Chicago architectural history outside of the Impressionist Galleries.

overview overview 2 flw adler sullivan flw detail label

And then my Ferris Bueller moment, finally!

Ferris clip 1
Cameron with the Seurat
my moment
Me with the Seurat

I am not the only one who bases museum visits on pop cultural references; the museum has a handout on how to do the Ferris Bueller tour of the museum!

tour 1 tour 2

My second mission was to visit the Thorne miniature rooms, which I know from the beautiful book that was a gift from Robert Ward after he visited the miniature rooms and knew it was a collection that I would love. From the AIC website: “The 68 Thorne Miniature Rooms enable one to glimpse elements of European interiors from the late 13th century to the 1930s and American furnishings from the 17th century to the 1930s. Painstakingly constructed on a scale of one inch to one foot, these fascinating models were conceived by Mrs. James Ward Thorne of Chicago and constructed between 1932 and 1940 by master craftsmen according to her specifications.”

The rooms are very difficult to get good pictures of as they are behind glazing (understably; I would be able to resist touching!). An overview of the gallery:

overview 2 panel 1 panel 2

Here are just a few of my favorites; I apologize for the poor quality of the images.

English bedchamber
English bedchamber
A selfie in front of an English linrary
A selfie in front of an English library
French Modern (1930s)
French Modern (1930s)
New Mexico kitchen
New Mexico kitchen
California Living circa 1935-1940
California Living circa 1935-1940
California Modern circa 1940
California Modern circa 1940

Traversing the museum, you go through the art and cultures of the world.

China, Equestrienne, Tang Dynasty, 8th century
China, Equestrienne, Tang Dynasty, 8th century
India, Shiva as Lord of the Dance, circa 1000
India, Shiva as Lord of the Dance, circa 1000
India, Twenty-Armed Dancing God Ganesha, Remover of Obstacles, 11th century
India, Twenty-Armed Dancing God Ganesha, Remover of Obstacles, 11th century
Japan, Shukongojin, 12th-14th centuries
Japan, Shukongojin, 12th-14th centuries
Byzantine, northern Syria, Mosaic fragment with leopard, 450-500
Byzantine, northern Syria, Mosaic fragment with leopard, 450-500

rome 2 rome 2 panel

Some of the “Greatest Hits” at the AIC:

The American Windows, Marc Chagall, dedicated 1977
The American Windows, Marc Chagall, dedicated 1977
American Gothic, Grant Wood, 1930
American Gothic, Grant Wood, 1930
Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942
Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, 1942

I was particularly drawn to a selection of works by one of my favorite painters, Georgia O’Keeffe, in the Paul and Gabriella Rosenbaum Gallery, a gallery dedicated to Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz.  O’Keeffe studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago beginning in 1905.

Yellow Hickory Leaves with Daisy, 1928
Yellow Hickory Leaves with Daisy, 1928
Red Hills with Flowers, 1937
Red Hills with Flowers, 1937
Red and Pink Rocks and Teeth, 1938
Red and Pink Rocks and Teeth, 1938
Cow's Skull with Calico Roses, 1931
Cow’s Skull with Calico Roses, 1931
Blue and Green Music, 1921
Blue and Green Music, 1921
Black Cross, New Mexico,1929
Black Cross, New Mexico, 1929

And now, for a few things that I call Weird and Creepy for lack of a better description.

Statue of a Young Satyr Wearing a Theater Mask of Silenos, Roman, 1st century AD
Statue of a Young Satyr Wearing a Theater Mask of Silenos, Roman, 1st century AD

architectural creepy kid

Ivan Albright, Picture of Dorian Gray, 1943-1944 (painted for the 1945 movie adaptation)
Ivan Albright, Picture of Dorian Gray, 1943-1944 (painted for the 1945 movie adaptation)
Ivan Albright, Into the World There Came a Soul Called Ida, 1929-1930
Ivan Albright, Into the World There Came a Soul Called Ida, 1929-1930

And the final category, which I call Things I Like.

Auguste Préault, Le Silence, 1842-1843
Auguste Préault, Le Silence, 1842-1843
Jean-Auguste Barre, Mary of Burgundy, circa 1840
Jean-Auguste Barre, Mary of Burgundy, circa 1840

I was thinking Mary of Burgundy seemed like a kick-ass kind of gal, but then I read on the label that this sculpture depicts her in the moment before her tragic and fatal fall.

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Interrupted Reading, circe 1870
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Interrupted Reading, circa 1870
John Bradley Storrs, Ceres, 1928
John Bradley Storrs, Ceres, 1928
Turkey, linen cover, 17th century
Turkey, linen cover, 17th century
Eastern Iran or Afghanistan, Incense burner in the form of a lion, 11th century
Eastern Iran or Afghanistan, Incense burner in the form of a lion, 11th century
Charles Ray, Silver, 2015
Charles Ray, Silver, 2015

And, of course, we exit through the gift shop! Yes, money was spent.

shop 1 shop 2

That concludes our whirlwind tour of the Art Institute of Chicago. Still to come: The Chicago Cultural Center, the Palmer House, and more!