Thursday, February 10, 2011

Taking Time for Myself

On the Smart Spending blog that I like to read, there is a weekly post by Teresa Mears about special sales, freebies, and deals that restaurants and stores are offering for that particular week. This week, I read about how Bank of America was sponsoring a Museums On Us plan, where people who had the bank's credit card could get free admission to museums all over the country on the first weekend of each month. I looked on the list of museums, and saw that one of my favorite places in Chicago, the Art Institute, was on the list. Regular admission is $18, $12 with my student ID.

I got a lot of work done last Saturday, as usual. I had just flown into Chicago that day after coming home from an out-of-state trip to visit my parents. But after I got home and had had a chance to rest, I went back to work. I planned to do the same stuff on Sunday: work on my dissertation, complete a project for my website job, and go to the gym. (Paris Hilton would probably make fun of my weekend plans. But I make fun of her cartoon character voice, so there.) I was rereading my blog post from last week and saw on the list about my desire to give up some gym time in favor of going to the Art Institute. So I decided to take some time for myself to go.

And I'm so glad that I did. The museum wasn't nearly as crowded as it normally is on a weekend, probably because of Superbowl Sunday. I have zero interest in football; I don't even know (or care) who played in the Superbowl. One time I tried playing football with a group of classmates. I was just eager to join in the game, despite the fact that I didn't actually know how to play it. So when I actually caught the ball, I saw all these people coming at me for it. I freaked out and tossed the ball to the nearest person, who happened to be on the opposite team (everyone on my team collectively yelled, "Ohhhhh! Why would you DO that?"). It just seemed so much easier than getting tackled.

My favorite art in the museum is the work of the Impressionists. I never get tired of looking at Degas' dancers or Monet's water lilies. I was disappointed because my favorite painting, Paris Street, Rainy Day, was on loan to a museum in Germany so I didn't get to see it again. Every time I go to the museum I study the painting and try to see if I can find something I didn't notice before, like the veil over the woman's face or the fact that there doesn't seem to be any rain in the painting.

I was so fascinated by the paintings that I wanted to reach out and touch them. But I was afraid that the guards would descend upon me and start whapping me with information brochures, bellowing, "Step AWAY from the painting or the green lions on the steps outside will come to life and ATTACK you, THIEF!" while tourists gawked at me and said, "Gee, I didn't peg her for being a sociopath." Or maybe the alarm would sound in the form of a bolt of lightning striking me down while a voice from above thundered, "Do you DARE to defile great art, philistine?"

I am always impressed and amazed by the beauty and imagination that are reflected in the paintings at the Art Institute. I like the ones that seem to tell stories. Seeing art like that inspires me because it makes me want to create my own art, only instead of using a paintbrush and canvas I want to go home and pick up my pen and my journal or sit down at my computer and write a new story.

I went down to the Thorne Miniature Rooms, which is another one of my favorite exhibits. I love looking in all the rooms with their tiny furniture and even tinier accessories, like small eyeglasses and microscopic newspapers. I can't help marveling at how much time it must have taken to create each room. I like looking at the rooms that depict living rooms, bedrooms, and dining rooms from different countries and time periods and imagining what it would be like to live during that time.

I was a little distracted though, because there was this guy standing near me who kept sneezing. I was hesitant to touch the wooden support bar that people often lean on when they peer in the cases to look at the rooms, because I was afraid that I might get infected by his germs. Then I'd start sneezing and fellow germaphobes would flee from me, screaming, "Get back! Get back!" while squirting hand sanitizer on me in self-defense.

I wondered about what people a hundred years from now will think of our time period, and what kinds of things they'll be showing in the museums about the twenty-first century. Take books, for example. Maybe books will be obsolete by then; writers will simply be able to send their stories to readers' heads through telepathy, so that when people get this glazed look in their eyes and stop in their tracks for several minutes at a time, people will think, "Oh, they must be reading the new best-seller. Either that or they're stoned." And then they'll look at the books and the e-readers in the museums and laugh at our generation's primitiveness.

I hadn't been to the Art Institute in over a year. It felt good to take some time for myself, away from my work, because I hadn't done that in a long time. I used to do all kinds of "Chicago" stuff, but lately I've just been working.

When you take some "me" time, what kinds of things do you like to do (other than writing)?

Side note: I think I'm coming down with a cold, which SUCKS because I'm supposed to go on a date with Bachelor #1 this Saturday night (he texted me this morning, and we made plans to go out. Guess I should wait until later to tell him that I hate texting.). I don't want to cancel because I don't want him to think I'm blowing him off. But on the other hand I don't want my date to shrink from me when I start coughing and sneezing; he'll probably fling some cough syrup and Kleenex at me before running away, yelling, "Please don't infect me, you walking germ, you! Never call me again! AAHHHH!"

I blame the Sneezing Guy for this.


  1. Good luck with Prince Charming #1!!!! Also: Emergen-C works like nobody's business.

  2. I agree with Anna: shock your system with mad vitamins and it should go away.

    Also, loooove the Chicago Art Museum. In NYC there's a billion museums and some of them are nice, but none of them compare to Chicago's, they really don't. I don't know what it is but there's just no comparison...

  3. Hi Anna,
    Thanks! I'm not sure if he'll be Prince Charming, but as long as he doesn't make me think up excuses to leave early, I think it'll be okay. :)

    Hi mmarinaa,
    I've never been to NYC's museums (or NYC for that matter), so I'm envious that you got to go. Someday I'll see them, I hope. I love the museum here in Chicago so much I wish I could sign up for a membership. Then I'd go more often. But at least they have the Museums on Us program on each first weekend of the month, so I might try the free admission thing again.

  4. What a fun visit to the Museum. I love Museums and historic places.

    Your post made me laugh. Specially about the germs. "Get back! Get back!" while squirting hand sanitizer on me in self-defense." LOL

    Hope you date went well :-)

  5. Hi Doris,
    Thanks! Museums are fun because they often have free days, so that gives broke people like me the chance to explore them. :) And the Art Institute is the kind of place that I enjoy going to again and again.

  6. The Art Institute of Chicago RULES!!