Speak the words modern art and my brain immediately conjures up the image of a canvas with enough primary colors splattered across it to resemble any preschooler’s first take-home painting.  Better yet, I’ll imagine a mishmash of broken items (maybe a doll’s head, an umbrella, scattered playing cards, and a wooden chair) stacked into a Jenga-like tower and glued together.  "How is THAT art?" I’ve often asked museum curators.  (That’s a lie.  I’ve never had the audacity to ask aloud, but I’ve sent this question out telepathically several times to no avail.)  It wasn’t until a recent visit to the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. that my opinion of modern art completely changed.

I hadn’t planned to visit the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.  I needed a reprieve from the sun’s skin-frying rays and the strange donut-like building not only intrigued me, but offered an air-conditioned haven from the outdoors.  Inside I found myself transported into a strange environment of sight and sound, light and shadow, and a dimension of imagination.  It was something straight out of the Twilight Zone! 

Now, many of exhibits still left me shaking my head and wondering what con artist managed to fool someone into thinking it was worth money.  At the risk of offending those people, here are a few examples of pieces I personally thought were complete rubbish (Andy Warhol fans, be warned):
Someone was throwing out their old Eater decorations, I guess.
The Display Stand with Madonnas is supposed to be "familiar and fantastical" instead of tacky and boring.
This is really just an anagram for the message: "NOT ART, SON. HEHE! -W"
Art, however, is subjective.  It was interesting to notice how museum visitors reacted to the pieces.  I would pass right by one display while someone else would stand there marveling at it.  Likewise, a few pieces I found incredibly deep and thought-provoking whereas other visitors breezed right past them without a second glance.  The art I loved the most included:
Stand before it and stare into an abyss. Stand before it and you get a visual representation of infinity.
A fun light project. I liked being in the room of cool blue for awhile. :)
For me, a glimpse at social dynamics and human cruelty.

The next time you’re in Washington D.C., I hope you’ll consider visiting this Smithsonian museum.  Unlike the other museums, it isn’t swamped by school children.  For me, it was a wonderful escape, an opportunity for introspection, and a chance to appreciate modern art.

Happy flying.
~Jenn Grahams

PictureJenn at Crew Member Self Defense Training
Sometimes it’s hard to feel my work is important. 

I was walking through the aisle picking up trash when it happened.  The middle-aged man with eyes completely glued to the movie on his iPad floated his hand in a trance-like motion toward the outstretched garbage bag I held firmly stretched between my two hands.  Instead of dropping the half-full cup of orange juice into the trash bag, the distracted man planted it upside down against my thigh and a second later I felt the sticky, sweet juice dribble down my right leg and pool into my right shoe, thus ending the unwanted leg-bath of Vitamin C.  The fact that it took the man a five full seconds to pry his eyes away from his movie and then mutter a barely-intelligible apology before turning away again was infuriating, making me want to smack the silly piece of technology right of his tray table and give a mother-worthy reprimand of, Look at me when you say you’re sorry, young man!

It’s hard to be taken seriously when people think you’re just a sky waitress.  Some people seem to think that once I’ve served them a Diet Coke, I’ve fulfilled my role on the flight.  My job is finished, right?  The times have changed and long gone is the era of the stewardess.  Today, being a flight attendant is all about safety.  We are paid to be there in case something bad happens.  We are not paid to cater to the every whim of passengers.  Nope.  We are there for safety first and if possible, comfort second.  We are trained to take charge during medical emergencies, evacuations, and other life-threatening scenarios.  Fortunately, such situations are quite rare and so most of what we train for is never used.  In two years, I’ve only had one serious medical scare and it was resolved without needing to divert the flight.  Nevertheless, emergencies do happen and they have happened to co-workers I know. 

Of course, when it comes to keeping people safe, the scariest risk is terrorism.  When I signed up to be a flight attendant, I signed up to be the last line of defense between lunatics and the flight deck door.  It’s a huge responsibility and I think about it every day.  Here in the United States, we will never allow something like 9/11 happen again.  Period.  When I signed up for my job, I knew I had signed up to put up a fight and sacrifice myself for others should that type of situation arise.  Perhaps not all flight attendants take their duties seriously, but I do.  If the time should come, I will be ready to save lives and if necessary, put the lives of my passengers ahead of my own – including the life of Mr. Orange Juice Dropper.  

As a new writer trying to pitch my first novel, I am required to write a synopsis of my book.  The agents who will receive my synopsis are short on time and frankly, probably more interested signing with an established writer instead of me.  That's why it's so important that my synopsis is concise and attention-getting.  One pitching expert recommends limiting a synopsis to 500 words!  I've written a book that is 78,000 words and I'm supposed to explain it in a chunk of text that could fit on the back of a cereal box?!  That's insane!
I was procrastinating doing this dreadful writing task when a pair of good friends came into town with their adorable munchkin known by the nickname Baby Cakes.  My experience with children is pretty limited and I knew my friends were on a mission to break my fear of child-raising, making sure I had plenty of one-on-one time playing with their sweet girl.

Baby Cakes had lots of toys and books and when we were playing...viola!  Clarity hit me like a good whack to the head.  I suddenly realized that Baby's Disney Frozen board book was a synopsis!  

Some poor writer at Disney had to come up with a FOUR SENTENCE synopsis for the movie Frozen.  Somehow, I found that very encouraging!  It's all about cutting out the fat and getting to the meat of the story! (Sorry, vegetarians.)

Check out the Frozen synopsis in the pictures below.  You can purchase the book HERE on Amazon

Use the social links below to pass this article on to all your writer friends!


    Jenn Grahams

    is a flight attendant and an aspiring writer.  She lives in the Midwest with her husband, many pet fish, and two chinchillas named Kuzco and Pancho.

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