As I may have already mentioned, I wrote two books in just over five months and am now enjoying summer vacation with my kids. I expected to need some serious Zen time, totally checked out of anything requiring any neural activity whatsoever. But, while I enjoyed my hours on the beach doing nothing but sitting on the sand, listening to the water and watching my sons own the waves, I must admit to having an entirely different need to feed.
After emptying so much of my head, heart, and soul onto the page, I’m as hungry for brain stimuli as a newborn zombie. I’m only two weeks into my break, and I’ve been reading like a fiend – three novels, a hefty dose of poetry and a smattering of non-fiction, so far – and I’ve found myself listening to some of my more intense musical loves, like Arvo Pärt, Thelonious Monk, Amos Lee, John Coltrane and Joni Mitchell rather than my usual summery fare. We’ve started re-watching Lost from the beginning (perhaps the most complicated – and baffling – TV show ever), and last week, I began taking painting lessons, just to keep it real – and to keep myself from wandering too far down the existential path.
Over the weekend my husband and I did what I love to do best when I need to get inspired, get enlightened, and get back in my groove: We headed off to San Francisco and a day at the museum. This time, it was the Museum of Modern Art downtown (which was a little crazy busy and a lot fun and interesting since it was Pride weekend), because they’re currently hosting the Stein Family Collection, a show I didn’t want to miss.
It was worth the extra effort of negotiating the packed sidewalks and the closure of Market Street for the parade. The show was PHENOMENAL. A fabulous array of early Parisian avant garde paintings heavily weighted in favor of Picasso and Matisse, with a nice smattering of Cezanne thrown in to make me a very happy camper. (I love Cezanne.)
MoMA did a stellar job setting up the exhibit. They interspersed the paintings with enlarged photographs and pieces of exposition to tell the story of the three siblings (and Michael’s wife Sarah) and their relationship with the art and the artists of the period. It was the best interactive picture book ever!
By the time we walked out of the exhibit (nearly two hours later) I was replete. I told my husband, that’s it. Head full. Can’t do anything more…except I really wanted to stop back into the Klee exhibit and check out this one oil on burlap one more time because I’m experimenting with an acrylic piece on textured canvas…and nearly an hour later, we finally left the museum. Whew. I felt like the top of my skull had blown right off.
Luckily, the sun was shining, the parade was over and we were just a few blocks’ walk from the cable car turnstile. I’d just discovered that my husband had never ridden one of the city’s famous trolleys and decided to rectify that immediately.
We hopped on the Powell-Hyde line, and went for a ride over Russian Hill. The car was packed, but I didn’t mind. Cable car rides are romantic even if – or maybe especially – it’s standing room only. Besides, you get the best views from the boards.
Here’s a nice shot taken from the top of Lombard Street:
There was a gorgeous breeze coming off of the ocean, and after a long, quiet stroll through the Aquatic Park, we adjourned to a sweet little wine bar for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a short chat about the show. We were both still full up and processing, but we’ve had several great conversations about it since. I suspect we’ll be talking about this exhibit for weeks to come, and I’m thinking we might like to check it out again before it leaves in September. By then, though, I’ll be back to writing, happy as a lark and brain well fed.
Tell me – what do you do when you need to refill and recharge? How (or what) do you feed your head?