Archive | May 1, 2011

Ancient History

I had a great time yesterday. I hope Kristen and Barbie did. They wore out before I did. Kristen said she was on sensory overload. I forget not everyone reacts like I do in a museum. People give me sensory overload not museums. And the Getty Villa is one of my favorite places because it combines 3 of my favorite things, art, everyday things and gardens that were in bloom. I just I hope I wasn’t too big a bore.

When I was young I was obsessed with becoming an archeologist. That was after I found out marine biologists had to swim and I’d failed beginning swimming 7 times. I didn’t pass that until I worked at Singing Pines and Beest talked me into trying again.

From the time I was really small I loved ancient history and learning about the people who lived in Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. It’s why I worked a deal when I got in trouble being bored in 8th grade to let me start Latin in 9th grade as well as World History.

It just so happened that Mrs DeGrassi taught both. Mrs DeGrassi was one of the best teachers I ever had. She had all the best qualities I liked in teachers. She fed your curiosity and left you alone when you needed it and was there when you needed information or help. She got me to compete at Latin Club Convention in Roman History and Daily Life and I won 2nd prize in the state. That just fired me up more and she added to the fire by letting me write stories for World History assignments. I still remember getting an A for writing the diary of a mouse that was hitchhiking on one of Hannibal’s elephants when he tried to invade Rome from Carthage. I even wrote on typing paper and stained it with tea bags so it looked like parchment and then I illustrated it with mouse eye views of the route. The assignment had been to write a first person view point of something we had learned in Ancient History.

When I got to High School I continued competing in Latin Club competitions and taking the other 3 years of Latin from Mrs Davis. I ended up with a 1st prize, two 2nd prizes, and a 3rd prize, in Roman History and Daily Life and a 2md prize in writing poetry the one year I got talked into entering. I wish I still had that poem. I bet it was terrible but the theme was John Donne’s “No Man is an Island” and I knew the nuns from Immaculate Heart were judging and I wrote to my audience.

I learned a hard lesson my second year competing and the nuns had gotten tired of Hoover winning all the awards and included Byzantium in the Roman History test and I knew nothing about Byzantium because it’s my least favourite part of Roman History. I could have cared less even then about what the first Christians were doing. The next year I was ready for them and got 1st place. I made a point of looking for the nun who wrote the test when I up to get my ribbon. She was not happy. Hee!

When we were in 12th grade UCLA’s Classics and Archeology Depts helped sponsor a Conference for all Latin Clubs in So Cal and they had a lot of workshops. I went to one by a woman archeologist from UCLA, she was short and dark haired and I can’t remember her name but I wonder if it was Maria Gimbutas. I was so upset by her I kind of blanked her out because she told me if I didn’t have a rich daddy, I should give it up. I remember going home and crying because I didn’t have a “rich daddy” and even if I had I’m not the type of person who likes to accept help from other people. I’m still not very good at it.

When I got to Glendale College, I was in heaven. Most of my friends had gone to UCLA and UC Davis but I couldn’t afford it and I really wanted to take Art History from Sir Dr DeGrassi, my Latin teacher’s husband. He specialized in the restoration of ancient art and had been knighted by the Italian government for his work in Florence and Milan. I wanted to take classes there because they were actually taught by the professors, no TA’s and I’m glad I did because he was wonderful and I had other great teachers there.

I took 12 units of Art History from Dr De Grassi and ended up with another 12 in Anthropology and yet another 12 units in History from another stellar teacher Dr Livingood, 9 from Dr Craven an English, English professor who was the best writing teacher I ever had and was wonderful reading Shakespeare (He looked like Henry the VIII except in loud pink shirts with bolo ties) before I got caught up being on the student council and in a sorority and Honor Choir and quite literally burned out. I wish they had had gap years after high school in those days. I might have lasted longer. Instead I quit school and went to work as a supervisor at JC Penney and started working summers at camps.

But one thing still remains. I still love the ancient history of Europe. I love the Getty Villa because a good share of the objects there are things people used everyday in their life. These were somebody’s favourite piece of jewelry or someone’s bedside lamp. It has some wife’s favourite jar for wine, one that she was so proud to own and show off. Or here is the plate she served the fish course and the olives on. There is some child’s well loved toy, a bit battered and worse for the wear but well loved. Statues and replicas of statues that stood in some one’s garden or in the temple down the street. Mosaic floors that people walked on everyday as they went about their day. If you close your eyes and listen you can hear them going about their life and just for a small moment live in ancient times.