The Great Broad Adventure

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We hit up the The Broad (rhymes with road) for my birthday this last Thursday. As everyone knows I’m a huge fan of making your birthday (or any day really) a great day by deciding exactly what you want to do and then doing it instead of waiting around for others to magically read your mind and help make your day wonderful for you. Because they don’t have a clue! That’s really how it is.

How many times have you walked into an Anthropology store (or whatever store is your favorite. Maybe it’s Cabellas or even Target…) and thought, I wish my friends and relatives would buy me presents from here because I like every single thing in this store!! but then wandered the displays for an hour and found yourself not able to pick one thing for a friend (who is probably just like you and likes every single thing in the store) because you just don’t know if that’s what they’d really like? I mean, what if they already have thirty-seven floral aprons and they don’t really want a grapefruit-lily scented candle? How well do you really know your friends?!! Of course there are some things that stand out and shout someone’s name and that is awesome but it doesn’t always happen.

So that’s my point: People don’t know that you would just like to have a quiet day at home reading books all day with your big ol’ mug of tea OR have a giant surprise party in Las Vegas with strippers jumping out of a cake wearing fishnet stockings. People have no idea! You have to tell them! Or better yet, plan it yourself and then invite them to come with. You’ll have the best time ever. I promise.

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So yeah, The Broad. That’s my idea of a good time. I’m a heavy instagram user (insert eye roll from my family) and I’ve been staring at photos of The Broad for ages wondering about this crazy museum and wishing I could go stand in a black room filled with rain, which turns out isn’t a room full of rain but actually an infinity mirrored room.  Sadly, we didn’t get tickets for that room so I didn’t get to see it but at least now I have an idea how the whole thing works and next time I will make sure I make a reservation!

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Not everyone shared my excitement over contemporary art but I think they enjoyed the adventure anyway and now their brains are expanded a little.

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I don’t think anyone really gets contemporary art. That’s the point, right? It’s not supposed to make sense. It’s supposed to make you stand there and puzzle. Like it says in  Steal Like an Artist  “Modern art = I could do that + yeah, but you didn’t.” (Which I stole from here because I haven’t even read “Steal Like an Artist” but I should!)

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There are so many ways to enjoy art. One is to read the little plaques about each artist and imagine how and why they created each piece. Another way is to walk around completely open-minded and just soak in your own feelings. Don’t even try to learn about the artist. Make it personal experience. And a third really super way to enjoy it is to watch how others interact. I think that might be my favorite thing: watching other people look at art.

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Which pieces make them smile? Which ones make them screw up their eyes in confusion…

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People are even more interesting than the art I think.

Some people stare and contemplate. Maybe they are on their lunch break and just soaking up some peace and quiet… Most people take pictures and selfies.   They bunch up their families against their favorite installations throwing in a peace sign here and there. Some people make funny poses and completely forget about their pride, only worrying about their followers on the other side of their phone.

Is it really that bad to be that person taking a million photos and posting them to Instagram (or on a blog like this one)? I could argue both sides and I do. Of course everyone is moaning that all anyone cares about is taking pictures these days and they don’t truly enjoy the moment anymore but is that true? I think I enjoy it more when I’m trying to capture something. I love the thrill of the hunt and taking pictures is FREE! the best kind of hunt of all!  I would have never even found The Broad if it wasn’t for so many instagrammers posting about it. So maybe I’m a lemming or maybe I’m onto something joyful.

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Payam and I argued over this piece for really long time. He was adamant that the artist used photoshop to create all these shelves at Amazon being so close together. I was sure it was just compression of a fancy camera lens. Turns out I was wrong!

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We all loved the giant table and chairs. Of course I had to go and pretend to be a cat rubbing up against a chair leg (because how could you not?!) and then I got scolded by a museum guard which made me feel terrible. It turns out the guards are not as mean as they seem to be. I got scolded again later for standing too close to a piece and when I apologized the guard engaged me in a really interesting conversation and told me not to feel bad. So there’s that! I totally get it and I want to protect this art too but it’s hard when it’s so interesting and screaming out to be interacted with.

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Like these lumps of grass in front of the building. It turns out they are fancy gardens tended by expert gardeners and sitting on them is NOT ALLOWED. Our bad.

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All in all it was a great adventure. Everyone had a different take. We bonded over our differences and it gave us tons to talk about which is what what I really wanted for my birthday. My love language is time after all. Time with my peeps.

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It was my day and I felt really special. Payam kept telling me that every little stroke of luck he planned especially for me on my birthday. He’s a comedian like that. We had just enough time to get coffee before we queued up for our reservation line, that was part of his plan. Then the fact that the line was just long enough for us to have enough time to sip our coffee (as it cooled) and finish it right before we had to throw away our empty cups (that were not allowed in the museum)—all part of a magically orchestrated plan! And then this piece that was for me, obviously.

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Happy sigh.

I did it!

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I’m 45 years old and I finally got that tattoo I’ve always wanted. Actually, I don’t turn 45 until July 6th but we have kids that week. I couldn’t really take them with me and it’s not like I’m going to wait until the week after so I got my birthday present early.

I was so amped about this appointment. I still am actually. I’m waiting for the high to finally crash because this was an adrenaline rush and a half.

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I was worried about the pain. My only pain references are child-birth (which I had an epidural during so I always feel like I cheated), tooth extraction (EIGHT teeth!!! when I had braces) and that time I sliced my finger open because I was drinking (like an idiot) and cutting a lime with a dull knife for my margarita. So I was a little worried. Everyone said it would be bad but then I’d go numb and it would be fine.

Well guess what? I HAD NO PAIN!!! I am a tough mother ******! It felt like exfoliating with a pin. Seriously, tiny little insignificant pin pricks over and over. A mere flesh wound! I kept waiting for The Pain to happen but it never did!! Of course I got my tattoo on the fleshiest part of my arm like Popeye because I was worried about this exact thing and I figured this would be the least painful. Either I guessed right or I have the pain tolerance of Rocky. I’m going with the latter.

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You are probably wondering where I came up with this design and why. I want to say it took years but that’s not exactly true. Months maybe. I have wanted a tattoo forever but the designs in my mind have morphed over the years. I’ve gone from wanting Celtic journey symbols to coyotes to birds to even some Secret Agent Josephine art but I didn’t really want my own cartoony style on my arm.

Forever ago I admired some tough bartender chick who had full sleeves of koi fish decorating both arms. She was so hot with a black leather vest and a gives-no-shit attitude. Of course I wanted that because it was so far from my own identity. Probably not the best motive for getting a tattoo but it stuck with me visually.

I started to research Japanese tattoos and koi fish and I really fell love with their meaning. Koi fish often symbolize challenges in life, especially if they are swimming upstream.  A lot of people get them if they are overcoming drug abuse or fighting cancer.  I read that some Japanese stories tell of koi fish swimming upstream so powerfully that they became dragons as they break away from the water and become clouds of mist over a waterfall. I loved that visual.

I’m not overcoming drug abuse or fighting cancer. I have friends who are and both are very heartfelt and serious subjects for me but I feel like I’ve already overcome my struggles. I left a marriage after 14 years and I left my childhood religion and turned my back on my family and everything I knew. That was my struggle. So I designed my koi fish swimming downstream. I’m sure I will still have struggles to come but they are small in comparison to what I’ve already been through. And that is why there is a small koi fish swimming upstream.

The peony is because I LOVE PEONIES. That is all. Everything else is just decorative. I like it.

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Actually, I kind of love it.

I also love this little tattoo parlor. Alex was recommended to me from a sister of a friend. I couldn’t be happier with Alex. She is so skilled. She took my design and refined it and added shading. She really did exactly what I wanted, to the letter. She’s crazy about detail and cleanliness and that was really important to me. But best of all she was kind and sweet and I wasn’t scared at all. She really took all the fear out of getting a tattoo for me. It was like sitting around in someone’s living room, listening to punk music and talking about everything under the sun. I felt so tough and baddass but at ease and comfortable in my own skin and my own choices.

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So please, if you are thinking of getting a tattoo do check Alex out. I’m saying right now that I don’t plan on going back and getting “all tatted-up” like I hear everyone does but I can see why it is addictive.   It was a crazy fun time and I love the art! It’s like my own personal art gallery that I get to walk around and show off.

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Between you and me, I am pretty anxious/excited to see how people will react to it. It’s so different from any identity I’ve ever had before. I expect some criticism and I’m okay with that. It is who I am now and I expect not everyone will like it. I get it. I waited until I was 45 for a reason.