unveilings (5)

dressing up, she spoke to me and said,
“what did you do the whole time you were sick?”

“I didn’t do much,” I said.
“I was pretty depressed, and
saw little value in going forward as
a damaged sort of man.”

“damaged?”

“yeah, i had lost significant
brain capacity from seizures, and
everything had slowed down for me,
mentally. being quick was always
kind of who i was, and it felt like,
i wasn’t… anyone anymore.”

she looked at me, through the
darkened room,
so lovely in her black dress, just…
waiting

“i’ve never really talked about
that time. it’s very hard to
relive, hard to come to grips with.
but, it’s what happened.”

“how did you get out of it?
the depression?”

“medicine. therapy. friends.
family. faith. activity.
one minute at a time.”

we gazed at each other for
about forty silent seconds

“this seems like a strange
topic to be getting into before
a date…”

“not really. it’s a big deal to a girl
when the guy she’s falling for is…
real with her.”

“my reality, huh.
i never saw it as having..
value, i guess”

Sketches – 73

Thank you for the flowers! They’re lovely.

I grew them myself
In… ummm…
Our back yard

We live in a condo

Yes, that made it
Far more challenging.
Any way, with the artist-in-residence
Thing falling through, I thought
I’d remind you I love you

Yes, well.
As an actuary, you could
Have at least warned me of
Impending pandemics

I could only have told you
The odds

I see.
How do you feel about
Ordering from
Iron Mandarin tonight?

That can’t be
The place’s actual name.
Did I miss
Stan Lee being Chinese?

It’s new, and that is what it’s called.
But it doesn’t have a Marvel theme
Or anything.
So you can’t order
Moo Goo Gai Stark, or anything

Too bad.
Sure I’m up for it

And I was going to watch
“Crash Landing On You”.
I’ve heard it’s good.
You interested?

What is that?

It’s a Netflix thing.
K-drama.

Oh, hell yeah.
I’m always up for one of those.
It’s like overdosing on plot.

Well, I don’t know.
I figure we watch the first part and see
How we like it.

While eating
Chinese food out of…
Pepper pots.
Sorry! Sorry…

You should be

Sketches – 72

So — why are we at this school, again?

Oh, that’s right, I haven’t told you.
I am going to be artist-in-residence here
Starting next fall

Well, that sounds cool.
What does it entail?

I will teach two classes a week,
Produce a number of commissioned works,
And give a speech at graduation

That sounds like fun.
What kind of time commitment are we talking about?

Oh, it’s pretty serious.
Looks like 25-30 hours per week, minimum.
But I thought it would be energizing
Being around younger people.

Have you thought about how
You’d prepare to teach?

Oh, yes.
I’ve been dreaming about it.
Standing in front of a blank blackboard
Saying, “here are all my ideas”.

Yeah. I think not.
You have ideas that have their own ideas.
What are the courses called?

“Finding Your Own Voice” and
“History of Underground Art”

Seriously?

Yep.
In my day, courses had names like
“Neo-Impressionist Techniques” and
“Advanced Aesthetics”

Those sound like great courses
For you to be teaching

Yeah, but —

But what?

It took me years to find my own voice.
How to I help people find theirs?

How, indeed.
What do you think?

I don’t know.
By learning about Underground Art?

Hmm.
I’m understanding the blank blackboard
More and more.
Well, you’ve got some time
To figure it out.
I’m really proud of you, you know

Thanks.
It’s going to be weird to be
In front of college kids who
Think of me as “old”

Oh, I figured
All the college guys would hit on you.
And a decent percentage of
The girls

Oh, please.

So… why are we here tonight?

Oh, I wanted you here
For contract talk.
The offer seemed mostly fine, but
I’d feel better if you looked at it, too

Got it.
Just out of curiosity,
What exactly is ‘Underground Art’?

Oh, it’s like Underground Math, only…
Understandable.

Underground Math.
Now there’s a course I’d take

Of course you would

Sketches – 71

Guess who’s got all her Christmas shopping done?
This girl!

Well, bully for you.
I’ve almost… started…

Wow, you put the “pro”
In procrastination.
Why so behind?

I’m not sure.
You can be hard to buy for.

Me?
Never.
I like everything that’s
Absolutely, precisely what I want.
What’s hard about that?

Meeting that level of precision
Hasn’t always been my best thing

Do you need ideas?

Yes. In every aspect of life,
Come to think of it

Well, I’ve never been to Sweden or Norway.

Nor Jupiter, while we’re enumerating places

Fiddlesticks. Norway and Sweden are way closer than Jupiter.

What about Finland?
We could go for the Scandinavian trifecta…

Good idea. Throw in Denmark while you’re at it.

Just… throw it in. The entire country.

See? You’re good at gift ideas already.

Anything else you want?
Maybe something closer to home?

Nah, trips are fine, I’m
A simple girl, at heart.

Who loves cold places, apparently

Well, it is Christmas…

What Is Love to You?

And what is love to you?

She said:

I see the picture in my head —
Of two that hold together so
That years won’t find them letting go —

Whatever all that life might bring,
They to each other justly cling;
This is the picture that I see –
And this is what love is, to me.

He said:

The world’s not made like that:
Your such a naive flower:
Relationships all fall apart,
They all come down to power.

She said:

There is a truth that’s told,
That what cannot be bought’s not sold:
That selfishness will never know
That love exists. And, even so

I will not compromise on this.
I have a heart, it’s mine to give;
And so, in search of love I’ll go:
It’s how I choose to live

He wandered off to someone else
She wasn’t sad to see him leave:
While two stood not too far away
In whom she did
And he did not
Believe

Sketches – 70

I love to see you laugh

I think I have a stupid laugh

What?

I sound like a donkey.
And I snort.
It’s embarrassing

I love your voice.

I notice you didn’t say, “laugh”

I love the sound of your laugh, seriously.

You don’t get tired of it?

No.
It’s when you’ve stopped laughing
That I’ll really worry

You don’t laugh very much.

No. I know I don’t.
Not much surprises me, I guess

That’s why I enjoy the challenge.
Getting you to laugh takes effort.
I like that

Well, your weird that way

Don’t guys enjoy the challenge?
You know, in dating?

It depends. Many do.
I’m just not wired that way

You went after me hard enough

Yeah, well.
I was rather smitten.

I bet we could drive
A long way in any direction
And not find another guy
Who’d use the word “smitten”

I was taken with you?
Infatuated? Afflicted?

Somehow, that last one
Sounds ominous.
Like I was a disease

Lovestruck?
Crushing on you?
Enraptured?
Just fricking gone?

As opposed to now, when —

Oh, I’m still fricking gone
Where you’re concerned.
And a little bit afflicted

I’m about to afflict you,
If you don’t watch out


(To read other episodes in this series, click here. – Owen)

Reroutes (2)

She spoke to me of fall, and said,
“That year, we took a trip to see
The leaves first turning.
We were to start a family,
And I was burning
With readiness, and fearfulness,
And all else in-between,
And every night we talked of wonders
That day seen.

I never dreamed that any trip
Could be so good.
The night’s were full, and intimate.
Ray understood
And shared, I think, the fears I had.
The glorious fall weather
Was like a curtain over us,
We two, together.”

They have three children, now, the youngest
Just turned ten.
I asked her if they ever talked
Of going back again —

“Oh, no,” said she, “the memory’s great,
But I think time has shown
When anything’s that perfect, I should
Just leave it

Alone.”

A Donut Shop Encounter

[overheard in line]

… so… you like the Butternut?

Yes, they’re very good.

Then I’ll take one of those, too.

Anything else, sir?

Yes. Your employee discount.

[Laughs] Sure. Why not. Anything else?

Yes. Your number.

Umm… I have a boyfriend.

Really? Ever given HIM your employee discount?

Nice one. That’ll be four seventy-three.

[Turning to me] Can I help you?

I think I’ll try the Butternut as well. You handled that really well, by the way.

Yeah, well… his wife is waiting for him out in the car, I figured she’d appreciate it.

Or wouldn’t, as the case may be.