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Sunday, May 14, 2006



... and Alexander Calder to the rescue!

It's been a week of happenings all leading to today. Despite queaziness brought on by not being sure where my feet were going to deliver the rest of me, I did manage to assign power to the top half of my body and -- eventually -- overcame what turned out to be disconcerting spasms of vertigo that strike with little warning -- depending upon too-quickly executed turns of the head, loud sounds, and fast movement picked up at the outer edges of my field of vision. However, in the process did a few stupid things that proved that it takes a little more than common sense to keep all the body parts neatly aligned and moving smoothly.

Feeling temporarily improved, on Wednesday I joined David and the kids for a trip across the bay to the Orpheum where we shared a rousing performance of Cathy Rigby in Peter Pan. What a show! Not sure what I expected, but surely not the great music and dance and delightful stage settings that we watched from the second row of the dress circle along with a soldout house where the median age must have been somewhere around 11, give or take a few toddlers and at least one octogenarian. What a time!

Together we groaned and booed at each entrance of the "Bli-my Sli-my Cap-tain Hook" with his cartoonlike pirate crew. The hardest part was not singing along with every song. The only explanation for the entire house not bursting into song at the drop of the maestro's baton and a few familiar notes was surely the median age of the audience and the lack of any memory of the original. I'm sure that every grownup in the theater knew every word of the score. "I gotta crow" made every muscle in my throat ache from the not-singing.

On Thursday I skipped a work-related scheduled tour of the bay aboard the Delphinus to visit the mothballed fleet at Suisun Bay near Vallejo. It was an annual volunteer's day event, sponsored by the park. Figured (wisely) that this would take more tha
n sea-legs and given the current state of my inner-ear problems, this was not the smartest thing to undertake. The combination of a trip over water sounded less attractive than an invitation to see the Calder Exhibition at the SFMOMA -- slated to close in a few days. Now that was a wise decision.

However, this was the first time I'd found myself fearful of looking up at the massive skyscrapers in the financial district (for fear of toppling over). For the first time I found myself acutely aware of the movement of traffic all around us. Even the movement of the escalator that fed us from underground of BART up to Market Street had been disorienting. Strange.

But that was of little concern compared to the stupidity of visiting the wing where the surrealists were being featured. Magritte does not play well when one's ears are ringing and the tones are about a half-note off -- one from the other -- making for a dissonance that is threatening to sanity,

But ... Alexander Calder's sculptures were magnificent! I'd only been aware of his mobiles and a few of his wire pieces, but here was an entire wing of his large sculptures in both wire and the most exquisitely-balanced and engineered pieces imaginable. I could have spent the entire afternoon in those rooms. Maybe -- in a way -- his works served to provide the one thing I most needed on this Thursday afternoon, on a day in May in 2006; balance. I felt "steadied" by it. In a strange way I felt whole, anchored. If I could just store up enough of this to carry me on the walk through the heavy five o'clock homebound traffic of the financial district to Tadich's where we would have an early dinner ... .

Alexander Calder had provided some temporary but much-needed relief but, unfortunately, this would not last more than a few hours.

Friday brought some stability and bright colors no longer shocked my peripheral perception, the ringing in my ears slipped into a single note, and the dissonance was lost in the busyness of another day at the office... .

Now if only the world would react similarly ... and the country would strike some kind of balance instead of careening off into more chaos each day. Could it be that my body is simply mirroring this new and frightening reality?

Could be ... .



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