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Brain full

So, yesterday, after exactly 35 minutes of sleep (3 weeks of spending a lot of time working at my desk finally caught up with my spine. Not good.), I got up at 4 AM to get ready to go to NYC.

Duchezz and I got to the Thruway lot to meet the Gage-mobile, and inadvertantly played "Fool the Earl" by bringing a car other than the one he was expecting. But soon Her Excellency and Her Ladyship were safely ensconced in the car and we headed for Albany.

The bus was prompt, our "Cruise Director" his usual charming self, and only some of the people on the trip were annoying. We had a lovely, smooth drive down, and the bus dropped us off right in front of the Bard Graduate Center on 86th Street.

For the record, I'm not a big stumpwork* fan, and some of the more spectacular pieces in the exhibit (English Embroidery from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1580-1700:
'Twixt Art and Nature
)were definitely in that style. And, well, my tastes running as they do, the amazing embroidered woman's jacket didn't fill me with the urge to instantly pick up my needle and try to recreate one of the motifs on a bag or glove.

But, that said

OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The exhibit is closing this week, but if you love embroidery, BUY THE BOOK!!!

My mind is still trying to wrap itself around what I saw, given what I know of period tools. Between the precision of the stitches, and tightness of the ground (I didn't have a measure with me, but some of it looked like at least 100ct evenweave, because I have some 50 ct., and some of it looked to have twice as many threads per sq. in.). Brain hurt.

And then we got back on the bus, after an hour and a half (too short to really see everything, but just in time to stop some of us from attacking the upscale senior citizens with their little LED flashlights shining in on the 500 year old textiles. Grrrrrrrrr).

Then the bus took us to The Cloisters. For some, this was another trip to familiar territory. For the two girls raised in lower middle class (Duchezz) or barely above poverty level (moi) households in Central New York, this was the sort of thing we'd only read about.

Brain full. Brain very full. Full. Full. Full. Brain so full it almost hurts. Now, in part it may have been because I was at that point functioning on 36 hours with no sleep, but when we came up the stairs from the level where The Treasury is, I cried--not break down sobbing, more the silent stream of tears. As you come up around the curve of the stairs, in front of you you can see through an open arch into one of the exhibit rooms. If no one is standing in the doorway (and no one was), the only thing you can see, filling the entirety of the archway, is part of one of the Unicorn Tapestries. And I cried. They aren't even my favorite tapestries. But it was suddenly overwhelming. I'd just spent 10 minutes focusing on 9th century ivory carvings, thinking about the detail, and the tools they'd used. Thinking about the conditions under which they were created. The bread with the bits of stone in it they ate for lunch. The light they worked with. The abuse their feet took, just getting to work....

And there was a piece I've read about. Hell, I even taught about it...and there it was, less than 50 feet away.

People who live in great urban centers, who grew up with means, in school districts that took junior trips, or senior trips to places like Washington or Los Angeles, New York or Boston, Dallas or Chicago, Philadelphia or San Francisco, may not be able to understand the effect at 46 or 52 of going to somewhere like The Cloisters at that age, for the first time.

Our brains are full. We were there for nearly 4 hours, and I never even got into the gardens (nothing really up yet, and, frankly, it was too friggin' cold). I wanted to sit in the cloister and just...sit. And I wanted a telephoto lens, a high resolution camera, and someone who can actually take good pictures to whom I can say "I need a picture of that corner of that statue." "Okay, now come over here and can you get me that upper right hand corner of that triptych?" Well, you get the idea.

Brain full. And it's too damn far away. Sigh. Maybe next year Duchezz and I can go again. We certainly have friends who'd love to see us. And maybe we can time it so the gardens are in bloom. The Lenten Roses were lovely, but, really, that's hardly enough. ;-)

We made great time home (yes, Jess, you were right--we drove right through Paramus), and we got to scritch the Callie-dog when we dropped the ladies off, and were still home before 11.

I finally wound down enough to sleep by 1:30, then up at 7 for Mass. I'd forgotten how long Palm Sunday service is (I always do). Then breakfast with the Bridgewater firemen, errands, and home. The office mate loaned us Quantum of Solace, which Duchezz is paying more attention to than I (I think I'm in the wrong frame of mind). I'm for bed. And a new week.

BTW, if you are reasonably local to Concordia--it was a great trip, well-organized, really inexpensive. They're planning to do this again (probably Boston next time, and after that maybe another trip to NYC, maybe the Met downtown), and if you have the least interest, try to go. Really--you won't be sorry.

*using the term most people recognize, though not, in fact, the term used on the museum notations, which are far more precise, as they should be.



( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 5th, 2009 09:36 pm (UTC)
I have always said that any kid in nyc even poor in the gheto is better exposed to culture than people almost anywhere. I grew up money poor but much better off than most because of it. And part of why I have worked on rural literacy and book giving programs.

Hon we live 15-30 mins from the cloisters depending on traffic, you both are more than welcome to come a stay with us, we can even just drop you off a few days in a row if you would like and then pick you up later so you can just wander. heck your welcome even if you dont want to go there.

ash (and Dio)
Apr. 5th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I remember
the first time I visited The Cloisters. Just to be close to an effigy, and to see a real wine steward's measuring cup was amazing.

Apr. 5th, 2009 09:48 pm (UTC)
I still haven't made it to the Cloisters, but I will get there one day.

I understand some of what you are saying. My family didn't travel to any of the cultural places. We visited grandparents and that was about it. I didn't even get to go on the school trips to DC and the like. I am making up for it now in bits and pieces.

The only thing that keeps me from being a completely uncultured clod is my love of reading and books.
Apr. 5th, 2009 11:57 pm (UTC)
Oh I think I know the exact way you were feeling. I've never been to the Cloisters (it's on our to do list) but I was lucky enough to spend a week in England.

Ariel and I were living in Ireland with our girl--who was then two. We had to delay out vacation to England due to his work and ended up going in mid-August--high tourist season.

The trip started off poorly with Ariel dropping the video camera and reached a low point with me getting to the gates of Westminster just in time to have them shut in my face. (Sometimes the closing time and the last admittance time are not the same)

On our way out of London and headed to Hastings, we took a detour and went to Windsor Castle. It was not on our itinerary and I'd done no reading on what we'd see. We got there as it opened and joined the first group of visitors.

I have little tolerance/patience for crowds and soon moved on ahead of everyone else. (it was a self guided tour with staff in most rooms. I entered a long rectangular room and first faced a heavily brocaded wall with huge mirrors. I saw portraits reflected in the mirrors and my pulse quickened.

I turned to face an entire wall of Holbein portraits of the Tudors. They were almost life size and just beyond my reach.

Here I was standing alone (except for my daughter on my hip) facing portraits that I had only seen in my mom's books.

I walked down the wall slowly, breathless and in awe. The last portrait is the one of young Elizabeth. I'd stared at this portrait so many times. Having been a young ginger haired girl myself at one time...I loved this portrait!

Just then my little girl piped up with "I like the pretty lady, Mommy" I lost it and stood there with tearing slowly dripping and told her "yes, Mommy likes the pretty lady too."
Apr. 6th, 2009 05:15 am (UTC)
This is why I am determined to be touristy this trip :)

We are going to see at least one castle this weekend and all sorts of other good stuff.

Glad you had a great time at the Cloisters. I love all the stained glass and the gardens.
Apr. 6th, 2009 05:38 am (UTC)
I am glad you had a wonderful trip.
Apr. 6th, 2009 07:52 am (UTC)
The Liberal Arts Club at MVCC (no, I asked, there isn't a Conservative Arts Club) usually takes a bus trip to NYC during the spring semester. I went last year with another librarian. They drop you off near Rockefeller Center, and it's very easy to get a subway train to the Cloisters, and then back downtown to see the Met. It was $25.00 and left from the campus. If you talk to Carolyn Pace, she can fill you in.

Glad you finally got to go!


Edited at 2009-04-06 11:53 am (UTC)
Apr. 6th, 2009 09:35 am (UTC)
If you EVER want to go to the Cloisters again, we used to try to get there at least twice a year. I'm not far and the two of you have crash space any time you want. You don't even have to ask, just look like you're interested.

Apr. 6th, 2009 10:09 am (UTC)
regarding the Bard exhibit: Told'ja

I was highly amused that I was able to walk around reading the blurbs and saying to myself "Beth wrote that, Beth wrote that, no not that one, yep, Beth wrote that".

If you look at the book there are initials in the catalog entries. I was mostly right! :D
Apr. 6th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
We are planning on going Sunday. According to the dates that is the last day... Glad you had a good time.
Apr. 7th, 2009 10:30 am (UTC)
First - very proud and thrilled that you went and had the wonderful experience you did.
Second - maybe sometime you come here and we all go back. I've never been, either.

Your feeling on the tapestries - I had a similar feeling in Cluny on that one out of country trip I had between junor and senior year, not when I saw the Unicorns, but when I turned a corner and saw a quiet tapestry of a woman in a dress I liked and realized that this was real, this wasn't a book, this wasn't secondary research, someone's hands made this THEN and I was looking at it NOW and it was real.

love you.
Apr. 7th, 2009 09:11 pm (UTC)
So glad you had fun. Our offer of a guest room and relatively native guides still stands.. and you get the amusement factor of a brighter than average 4-year old thrown in. :-P Spencer ADORES company in the house... and is far more interested in adults than in other children, even now. Even Danny finds him charming... and you know thats sayin somethin!
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )