Quisque sed purus consequat, gravida velit eu, pharetra ex.
in fact, auntie nadine’s got to be feeling pretty good about her warm, sunny wedding day because the three days before and the five days after have all be 40 degrees and rainy.
of course, that beats 20 degrees with 24 inches of snow, but i digress …
sparklet and i are trying to keep up our daily outings, but between the weather and random february closures of tourist attractions (austin museum of art, elizabeth ney museum, zilker botanical garden) we’ve been having have a bit of a tough “go” lately.
so it was only inevitable that after yet another cultural attraction with redeeming value turned out to be closed, we found ourselves at the last refuge of the american consumer desperation … the mall.
the big surprise? i was by no means alone. there were quite literally a dozen (or more) adult/stoller pairs, pushing laps around the mall with no discernible interest in spending money.
the least surprising surprise? sparklet loves the mall.
it took her about 30 seconds to realize what window displays were, and from that point on she couldn’t rip her eyeballs away … well, not until about 45 minutes later when she had become so over-stimulated as to render her wholly non-functional.
the only store we actually went in was cryptically called “the longhorn’s shop” and sold a bunch of stuff in burnt orange.
i went in with every intention of buying sparklet a university of texas onesie, if for no other reason than to alienate the many baylor fans that seem to dominate (my life by way of marriage).
alas, there was no onesie to be had, so i grabbed myself a sweatshirt ($12!) and called it a day. i’m already working on my defense:
“hey, if the weather had been nicer…”
“excuse me, but diaper bags are *not* permitted in the museum. please use one of the many lockers we have provided for your convenience.”
i have a half-dozen retorts in my mind — “if she spits up, can i borrow a 17th century masterwork?” or, “my convenience would be to keep the bag,” or, leaning over to sparklet and saying, “if you have any poo, fling it now” — but i decide to play along.
as i am walking to said lockers, he calls out after me: “and there is *certainly* no food or beverages allowed in the museum.”
now, i’m even more confused. i check my palms for frosty cold beer-verage. none. i look for a taco platter from taco cabana. nope.
when i make eye contact with he-who-shall-be-annoying, he is giving the stink eye to baby sparklet’s bottle of breast milk.
well, it’s a damn good thing that the lady sparkler wasn’t there, because she would have said “fine,” stripped off her shirt, and sparklet would have started breastfeeding right then and there.
and i would have *loved* to see him try and stop her.
now, at this point, i’m irritated, but not irate. i just know exactly what is going to happen (and they did, in turn):
sparklet poo’ed when we were the farthest we could have possibly been from their lockers. instead of ducking into another bathroom, i got to track a rather uncomfortable (and expressive!) baby through twelve galleries to retrieve the diaper bag.
then, sparklet wanted to eat, and, unlike every other museum we’ve visited, we didn’t have the option of her nursing while she stared intently at the paintings, or even us stopping every once on a bench for a couple ounces.
instead, she would cry for five minutes while we went back to the locker to feed, she would lose interest (remember, i’m feeding in a locker room here), we’d go back to the exhibit where we had left off, sparklet would remember that she wasn’t eating, and she would scream for five minutes while we went back to the locker.
rinse, and repeat.
now, through most of this, i was in a pretty okay mood with the blanton. it’s their collection, if they want to do it this way, then that’s completely their call.
what irritated the bejeezus out of me, was when i realized that a dozen other people were carrying bags around the museum that were *all* bigger than the diaper bag i was forced to lock up.
there were big dallas-housewife-sized shoulder bags, there were camera bags, there were satchels and laptop bags. a student even had a backpack stuffed with what looked like four years of science textbooks.
all of this, however, misses the point.
i guess it’s possible that i just ran into the one docent with an over-developed sense of enforcement, but if that’s not the case … then i am honestly embarrassed for the blanton.
this thick-headed, anti-family crap is what i would expect from a hoity-toity gallery in some uptight, old-monied art gallery in the northeast. it’s not what i would expect from texas, much less from austin, much less from UT.
and, truth be told, the up-tight art gallery in the northeast would just post a sign by the door saying “we ask that you do not bring children younger than five into the exhibit space” which, while also being honest about the gallery’s intent, also allows you to not waste your ticket money.
(when i asked guy-with-long-nose-to-stare-down about getting a refund on my admission based on my new understanding of his rules, he turned on his heels, lifted his nose, and said “enjoy your visit.”)
so, i won’t be going to the blanton again with sparklet … and while i wish it was a high-minded boycott, it actually comes down to their collection.
their masterworks are almost exclusively morose (highlights include two severed-john-the-baptist-heads, one saint agatha with a forced masectomy) and the modern exhibits relied too heavily on items from the looks-like-it-was-painted-by-a-three-year-old school.
blanton. if you are listening … much “bigger” museums seem to find ways to be family friendly. i hope you’ll figure out something, too.
i think having a baby is the new fat.
today, in the national american indian museum, a woman alone with five kids (yes, that’s “one-two-three-four-five”) looked at me in exasperation when she noticed sparklet was asleep, and blurted out “well that’s a great way for her to see the museum” while she rolled her eyes.
yesterday, in the american art museum, two women stopped us in the cafe and asked how sparklet was enjoying the museum. i smiled while i said that she was doing great in the large format landscapes, but seemed to start loosing interest (i.e. fall asleep) once we got into the American portraiture. she scoffed, barked “yeah, right” and then stomped off.
monday, a random guy on the street — looked like a typical D.C. community activist, business casual, with dreads held up in Jamaican rasta hat — called out to me, saying “great job, father! great job!” while he applauded. fwiw, i was crossing the street … and doing it *exceptionally* well.
but really, besides the random activist, the only reliably positive people experiences have been security guards and cafeteria workers, especially the ones that are 35+ year old women. they just light up when they see someone alone with a baby, and are elated to have 2 minutes with the sparklet.
biggest observation so far? don’t talk to white people.
so far, without exception, white people think your baby is either (a) in direct competition with their kid/grandkid or (b) their question for you is just a thinly-veiled ramp to help them launch into a 10 minute soliloquy about their own.
either way, from here on out i’m dropping them like their hot.
P.S. there is an interactive “our universe” exhibit on the fourth floor of the national museum of the american indian, which has a ceiling (see photo above) designed to look like the night sky. it is now officially baby sparklet’s favorite place on the planet.
so her stomach/sleep-cycle doesn’t leave much time for futzing about, but we have about two hours of wakey-wakey time in the noon-ish ’til two-ish period after lunch that we can squeeze something in … but that’s only if we “commute” during her 11am/2pm naps.
i wish i had some sort of noble intention by helping her “explore the world,” but i’m afraid it’s just my ridiculously short attention span trying to save me from clawing out my eyeballs out from daytime TV (regardless of the awesomeness that is Nash Bridges).
that said, sparklet is really digging getting out of the house.
she’s all about paintings in the museums we’ve hit, so long as they are large format (loves those enormous english/american landscapes) or large blocks of color (presumably because most contemporary pieces look like they could have been painted by someone her age).
sculpture is fine, though white marble holds her interest much better than dark stone/iron. once the pieces dip towards the smaller side, it’s game over … and her attention quickly shifts towards the nearest light source (windows, track lighting, etc).
speaking of, the big wins so-far have been the stuff that hasn’t been on display … the skylights in the smithsonian american art museum and the national gallery, the tunnel of LEDs in between the gallery’s east and west wings, and pretty much anything with stained glass.
i’m not sure what’s on-tap next … but for the first time in my life, i am choosing things to do based on whether there are cool things that light up.