Monday, July 26, 2010

We actually leave the house

In light of furloughs from both of our jobs (at least I keep my paid holidays and vacation—he didn't), we've been keeping close to home, working on our never-ending construction project of a house. I understand it's called a "stay-cation." Haha—like you're laying around your own house relaxing. We seem to have missed the "-cation" part of it.

But I thought at least Sophie and I, who are not permitted to use power tools anyway and are sick of reorganizing closets, might benefit from an outing. So we grabbed the MIL, her rolling walker, and handicapped parking pass and set out . . . for Oakland.

Although I'd heard rave reviews of the newly reopened Oakland Museum of California, I was a little skeptical. The museum was designed to facilitate people experiencing the exhibits—interacting with them! Christalmighty, I thought. The museum was fine the way it was. Can I not just go and look at shit??

Who knew how much I would like it? And how interactive I got??

Here's Sophie finding out what the Spaniards who first came to California brought with them. All kinds of stuff, apparently. The theme of the California history section is on coming to California, starting with the native Americans and progressing through various waves of invasion, immigration, and migration. I tried to explain how California is different that way and when I lived in Massachusetts for a while many people I met had entire families going back generations who still lived right there. Weird. My boyfriend's mother would exclaim, after a few cocktails, "But people in California don't know who their people are!!!" To which I would reply now "Of course we do. We've got a whole goddamned museum about them." At the time, of course, I was too shocked by the fact that the grownups seemed to get more wasted at parties than the kids to say anything at all.

At the end of the California history section was one of my favorite parts: The exhibit where they pile all the stuff they couldn't figure out what to do with. Categories included fun things like "What doesn't belong in this group?" (we were really good at that) and "Stuff kids collected" (the MIL and I had a good laugh over explaining the Blue Chip Stamp booklets to Sophie: "You get stamps at gas stations, paste them in books when it's raining, fight with your siblings over what to order out of the catalog, and don't ever get around to ordering anything!").

Here, Sophie got to select among a variety of labels for including herself as an exhibit. She chose "Strangest thing in the museum. Who brought this here?" She wanted to have the MIL hold one that read "Oldest thing in the museum." I pointed out the MIL not might think that was funny, and besides she had wandered off to the next section and we had to chase her down.

In the portrait gallery, Sophie used a lightboard to create a portrait of herself. You choose a color at the top and sort of fingerpaint with it. When you're done, it goes into a bank of portraits by other visitors that you can access on the screen on the left. But first it goes for a few seconds into a frame on a wall with other real portraits.

Look—I'm an artist featured at the Oakland Museum! The museum is supposed to email us our pictures, but they haven't shown up yet. They're not nearly as efficient as Disneyland, which always has my BuzzLightYear ride picture waiting for me when I get home.

Here we are enjoying jazzy art while listening to jazzy music (Dave Brubeck's Blue Rondo) and looking through funny glasses.

It was a nice way to demonstrate that art need not be a solemn and quiet experience.

But just when I think Sophie and I are really in a groove, she cycles back to take a picture of her favorite exhibit:

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