Sketches – 53

How do I look?
Do you think this will work
For my interview?

I think it looks great,
And you look great, so, yes.

The buttoned-up collar doesn’t look
To pilgrimy?

Is that a word?

You know what I mean.
Do I look too Mayflowery?

No, you don’t.
You look very elegant.
Are you nervous about it?

It’s public radio.
They are liable to ask me about
The political situation in the Asteroid belt, or something.

That would throw me, I admit.
Don’t they mostly want to talk about the exhibit?

But, it could all be a trap.

Well, since it’s radio,
I think your outfit choice has fewer risks
Than you might be thinking.
I think they are more likely to ask you questions
About the historical events your paintings
Refer to than about events elsewhere in
The solar system. Just my two cents.

Oh, well those I can answer.

I know you can.
You’ll be great.

Will you be listening?

No, I thought I’d see if
Amazon Prime has old episodes of
“Dusty’s Trail”.

Okay, okay, don’t get worked up.
I’m just nervous.

Okay, then, try this.
When you get to the studio,
Take a few deep breaths,
And remember how hard you had it
On the Mayflower.

I hate you right now.
Actually, I love you right now.

And I love you.
Good luck!

We pilgrims never shrink from a challenge

Sketches – 52

I worry sometimes

About what?

I worry that you’ll leave me


Because you’re beautiful,
And I am not.
I mean, look at you,
There by the window

How long have we been together?

Eighteen years, as of

If I had wanted to wander off,
I could have found the door by now,
Even from over here,
“By the window”

I’m not the world’s greatest husband

And I’m not the world’s greatest wife.
I mean, I’m probably top 5%, but
Not necessarily the greatest.
Anyway, what’s got you worried
At this point in our relationship?

I don’t know.
I might be a little depressed,
I guess.
Or feeling old
And fat

We women are never told
That men have self-image issues, too.

No, they are derisively called
“Midlife crises”,
And dismissed as pathetic

There may be something to what you say.
Though I also think a lot of guys don’t
Have the same level of self-awareness
That you have.
Maybe it’s writing
All that poetry

Not sure about
Cause-and-effect order, there, but yes

I am not going to leave you.
I’m going on a four-day vacation with you
Starting tomorrow.

And you won’t be secretly wishing
You were there with Milo Ventimiglia, instead?

Jack Pearson sets
An unattainable standard for all men, I realize.
But no, he only has eyes for Rebecca, anyway.
I more like the Randall-type,
Which you are, by the way

Minus the abs.
I do have the anxiety, though

And you can do all that
Sexy math.
Chicks dig math

I never knew that

Sketches – 51

So, how’s the hotel?

Well, the view is beautiful, but
I wish you were here

I wish I was there, too.
How were the meetings?

Not bad. The woman
Running them kept them moving

That sounds helpful.
What did you have for dinner?

I blew off the official
Dinner and wine tasting,
And had Arby’s, instead

You are such a big shot.
I ate with my mom at
Olive Garden.

How was that?

If I knew what I know now
About Olive Garden,
I would have had us invest
Every spare dollar we had
In garlic

And now,
We’d be so rich that…

… I could have come with you.


Do you still think about me
During the day?


Do. You. Think.
About me.
During the day.
Like you used to.

I do, but —

But, what?

It has changed.
A little

In what way?

There was a day last year
When we were on vacation.
You were wearing a hat.

We were at Barnsley Gardens

And you looked so happy,
So beautiful,
So full of joy.
I often see you as you were
That day

That was a great day.
I was really happy.

That’s the picture that often comes
To mind.
Laughing, and
Wearing a hat, and
Playing with your hair

Do you realize how sweet that is?

Do you realize how beautiful you are?

Sketches – 50

“The waiting is the hardest part…”

Are you bored?

What, hanging out here
At the doctor’s office?
Not a chance!

You are bored

It’s not like either of us
Is here by choice.
Are you bored?

I’m chairman of the bored.
Or chairwoman of the bored

At least you got a title.
I’m just kind of
Looking around at stuff

Oh, really?
What do you see?

Well, I see you.
I like you.

Well, how could you not?
I am modeling the latest
In Old Navy t-shirts.
It goes so well with these
Banana colored walls

There’s an interesting
Magazine article here, about how
This upstart company is
Making waves

What company?

It’s some little outfit
Called “Domino’s Pizza”.
I think this magazine
Was actually printed on
Gutenberg’s original machine

Well, if that’s how often
People update their magazines,
It’s no wonder that
The magazine industry is dying

Which is sad.
It’s so hard already for writers
To find work

Says the writer.
Well, you’re right.

I’m only a
Part-time writer, dear.
But I know real writers.
You know, my father
Wanted to be a magazine illustrator
But back in the 1950’s,
Magazines switched to photographs.
So opportunities for artists
Also have changed and are
In some ways more limited

Agrees the artist.
You know, I got all excited
About a critic’s review a few
Weeks ago, but critics
Have much less influence than
They used to

I know.
Because they are typically
Published in magazines or

How long do you think we
Are liable to be
Waiting here?

Oh, could be an hour,
Or more, I’d guess.
At least we have each other

I think that often, dear.
I’m surprised my mom
Didn’t want us to go to the lab
With her

She knows we don’t get much time
Together, I think
In a weird way,
She wants us to get this time

My heavens, my mom loves you

And I love her, she’s wonderful

I don’t think you realize
What an honor that is.
She’s not crazy about
My sister’s husband.
Or my ex

Who, “Roid Rogers”?

Would you quit with
The weightlifting jokes?

Dear, he was “Mister Georgia”.
Bodybuilding was slightly more
Than a hobby.
I’ve been bodybuilding, too, just
Using doughnuts

And if you’re not careful with that
We’ll be right back here.
Anyway, I’ve told you before:
He was boring.
You aren’t boring, ever

Even here?
Where you are chairwoman of the bored?

Not even here.
And if we could be sure
No one would walk in to this waiting room,
I’d help you work off a few calories
Right here, right now

And endanger that priceless
Old Navy t-shirt?

Although, now that I think of it,
I’m not sure finding us
Would help my mom’s heart condition.
Although she frequently counsels me
To be sure and have sex with you often.

Umm… TMI.
Not that I don’t appreciate
Your mother’s wise counsel.
Besides, I’m pretty sure
She didn’t mean
“At the cardiologist’s office”

We could order Domino’s instead.
I hear they’re
An up-and-coming franchise.
I wonder if patients have ever had
Pizza delivered to a doctor’s office?

Technically, we’re
The patient’s family.
I brought a picnic, a book, and a lawn chair
To my doctor once.
I was in my twenties

You didn’t

No, I did.
I was tired of waiting for hours there
Every single time.
He laughed, and
He got the message

You realize
For years, you lived the life of
A performance artist,
More or less

I’ve never really liked
Performance artists

Yeah, of course.
Nobody likes their competition

I never asked, but
How were the fireworks the other night?

Really good.
Rosa’s kids really seemed to enjoy them.
Not so much her dogs.

Well, good.
How did you like Rosa and her sister?

Oh, they are wonderful.
I invited them over Monday for dinner
While you are out of town

Oh, cool.
I think I’m going to go get
A Coke Zero.
You want anything?

Nah, I’ll just be in here
In this room that screens out
Cell signals,
Reading the latest magazines.

Good luck with that

But I don’t need luck.
I am luck.

No argument here

Sketches – 49

I need some advice

Sure, babe. What’s up?

Well, except for Brazil, my World Cup bracket is totally screwed… I have seven days worth of work to get done in the next four days at the office… I’m exercising every day, but I’ve put on seven more pounds… I want to leave reviews on Amazon for some books I’ve read, but I don’t really know how to write a book review… It’s been so freaking hot this summer, I can’t ever seem to get comfortable at night, so I’m, sleeping bad even for me…

And you want advice?

Um… yes.

Okay, in reverse order: run cool (not cold) water at the end of your shower at night until you stop sweating… don’t try to win a Pulitzer for your book review, just pick the right number of stars and see how few words you can use to say how the book makes you feel… quit eating between meals… line things up at work on a list, by priority, then knock them down, one-by-one… and Sweden seems like they might make it to the finals

That’s… pretty good advice, actually.
I think I’ll take it.
So what are you up to today?

Catching up on emails and messages, right now.
Then celebrating the day, preferably
By not having to take my mom back to the dentist

Would they even be open today?

Probably not.
Good point.
I can cross that worry off my list

Well, I’m outta here.
I’ll see you tonight.
Thanks for the advice, love

I love that you ask for my advice.
I love even more that actually take it.

Well it is free.

Most people hate free advice

When it is unsolicited, yes
But I solicited you.
That doesn’t sound right

Actually, it kind of does


Sketches – 48

Hey, love, I’m back!
… Look at you.
Your review must have come in —
It must have come in good —

Hello, sweetheart.
It did.
It’s on the table

“Blah, blah,
  exhibit of seven new artists…
  trailblazing work of Hugh Gonzalez..
  technical mastery…
  shifting paradigms as a paradigm in itself…”

Yeah, that reviewer
Loved him some Hugh.
Hugh’s stuff is amazing…

Okay, here.

“The work of Janie Servant
  brings up the important question
  of the role of the modern artist
  in making sense of the American past.
  her vibrant cityscapes are evocative
  without ever being nostalgic —
  she tells stories, almost parables,
  and her encyclopedic “Mill Town” was the finest
  and most finished piece in the entire exhibit.”


I know, right?
She said modestly

You’re even doing your own adverbs now.
Well, you’ve earned it.
We should go out
And celebrate

I need a few hours to finish
The part of this I want to get done

Okay, no worries.
I have some things I was going to do
This weekend.
I’m going to hit the shower, then
Head out.

Sounds good.
Can you bring me some iced tea
Before you get in the shower?

Sure thing.
I’m so proud of you, I can’t even
Were you surprised?
That guy didn’t show
A lot of emotion
Going through the gallery

I was hopeful.
He spent a lot of time in my area,
And he came back for a second look at
“Mill Town” before leaving.

Is this now going to be like
“A Star Is Born”
Where your career
Starts its meteoric rise, while
Mine crashes down into a spiral
Of drunkenness and depression?

You are a mathematician.
Most people don’t even think
You even have feelings,
Let alone moods.
And, you don’t drink

Yeah, good points, those.
Well, when you become world-famous,
Don’t forget the broken-down
Actuary who loved you when
You were still a starving artist

Not starving.

Oh, that’s right.
Iced tea

Sketches – 47

Are you okay?

Yeah, just really nervous
This city is strange to me, and
This exhibit is huge

Yeah, but it’s exciting, right?

Right… sort of


You watch people walk through an gallery
They glance at one of your paintings
Then they keep walking


You spent hours on it
You poured a lifetime worth of passion
And planning into a canvas
It’s not that people hate it
It’s that they aren’t even interested
In really looking at it

Yeah, that would suck

I mean, you know
You’ve played the piano places
Where no one was really listening.

Yeah, it was the worst
It’s why I don’t do it for a living

This is more than my living
It’s my life

It’s possible, though,
That many people will look,
And will love one or more of your paintings

I know.
They might

Is there anything else?

Nah, I mean,
We went through the faux-pregnancy scare stuff
Back home.
It’s just been…
It’s been a lot

Well, I love your paintings
I think they’re genius
And I think you’re brilliant
And if I was a critic
I’d not only lead with you
In my write-up
Nobody would know from reading me
That any other artists were
Part of the exhibit

That’s also a lot
But I’ll take it

We have seven hours before
The gala dinner
You want to just chill here for awhile?

Yeah, let’s just get room service, and…

… and what?

Get my mind off all this worrying

I think we can do that.
I’m not just gonna walk by
Whatever might be on display

Now that’s what I’m talking about