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.

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”


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?

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

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…

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.

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…

Sketches – 70

I love to see you laugh

I think I have a stupid laugh


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?

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

Crushing on you?
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)

Sketches – LXIX

I can’t believe you’re wearing that

What’s wrong with this?

You look like my dad.
It’s not your sexiest look

Fine. I’ll change

Just give me that shirt.
Goodwill needs donations

Wow, you really hate this.
You realize, a man could never say
What you just said to a woman.
He would be called verbally abusive.
It would be all over the Internet.
It would go viral or pandemic or something

You’re probably right, but
That shirt’s gotta go.
It looks like the pattern was made
By someone operating a jackhammer

[… coming back in the room]

Much better

So did your dad have bad taste in clothes?

The worst.
And he was a really good looking guy.
He wore weird mixtures, like
A Hawaiian shirt with a bolo tie.
Stuff like that.
When I was a teenager, it used to
Really embarrass me

Well I won’t wear that shirt again.
Especially since you just took it.
You miss your dad don’t you?

Every day.
Especially recently.

Any particular reason?

All that craziness with my sister.
Keeping calm was my dad’s province.
That’s not really mom’s thing.
Or mine

He sure loved his girls

You think?

Honey, I know.
I met him.
He loved you two,
Thought you were the coolest things ever

Yeah, well,
He wasn’t big on saying it
TO us.
I’m glad he said it to you

He would be proud of you,
Of what you’ve made of the gallery

Now I’m gonna cry

I could put the shirt back on,
Change the mood

Tacky is not a mood

Sketches – 68

Is that a sepia-tone painting?



No, it’s representative of
Our current times.
How we may look back on them
Forty years from now

So as quaint and out of fashion
As faded black-and-white photographs?

More like lithographs,
But yes

And what do you see
As the essence of our times?

I haven’t worked that out, but,
Blindness and hubris are in there.
We cannot see what is right in front of us.
Most people have stopped looking,
Unless they think there’s a good
IG post to be seen.

And the hubris?

Oh, that’s everywhere.
We are trying to create
Artificial intelligence
Without genuine wisdom;
Machines can learn, but
Kids are left untaught;
And we sit in judgment of all
Previous generations and societies,
As though we are so much better.

That’s a poem right there

Now it needs to become a painting.
Do you mind cooking tonight?

No problem.
How about chicken curry,
Squash, and whole grain bread?

That’s hubris, right there,
Thinking you can pull that off

But it’s more or less sepia

Then I’ll more or less
Try to eat it

Sketches – 67

If anything happened to me,
Would you remarry?

I don’t think so

Why not?

I’m weird, I’m
Hard to get along with.
There could never be anyone
As perfect for me as you

I think women would be
All over you

Then your hypothetical future
Looks nothing like the past.
What about you?
If anything happened to me,
Would you remarry?

It’s easier for guys.
You stay attractive as you age.
Men just want younger women

So guys are shallow for seeking youth,
But young women aren’t shallow for seeking
So-called ‘high status’ older guys?

That’s actually a fair point

And anyway, guys are attracted to you

Yeah, well, don’t die, is my advice

Then you can’t, either


You want to stop at
This next exit and get a drink?
It says ‘cougars welcome’

It says ‘coupons welcome’

I was only three letters off

You’re right.
You are weird

Sketches – 66

Are you listening to jazz?


Are you listening to jazz?
Because that sounds like —

… Miles Davis, yes.
Kind of Blue.

Of course

I have a question.
Have you ever lied to me?

Ummm… yes.


Just now.
When I told you I’d lied to you

It’s too early for logic puzzles.
I started to write down
All the lies my dad told us.
It would take less time
To write down the number of
Truthful things he’d ever said

Oh, love, I’m so sorry.
You don’t talk about him much

He’s gone now.
I mean, he always was, but
Gone irretrievably,
You know

But you loved him

Loved and hated, yes.
Still do.
Always will, I guess.
He would tell my sister and me
About the new house he was going to build for us:
Beside the ocean, on a hill,
Where I would have a pet dolphin,
And she would have
Her own flock of seagulls…


I think I realize now,
Lies were the best things
He knew how to give us.
The world seems a pretty dark place
To a little girl who can’t
Trust her father.
But that house,
The one he was going to build —
That was beautiful

Have you ever painted that house?
The way you imagined it?

Every painting I paint is that house,
In a way.
I’m always trying to bring the past back…
And fix it

But you work so hard
To be truthful and accurate
To what all actually occurred…

When people think they know,
And you show them that they’re mistaken,
They may grudgingly agree,
But you’ll always feel like a liar to them

Ok, you topped my logic puzzle

But you understand, right?

I think so

Where are you headed now?

To wash my car.
Need anything while I’m out?

Bring back more tissues, please


Sketches – 65

Do you know it used to be
By far the most expensive pigment
For artists to buy?

No, I did not

If you look at old paintings,
You’ll realize
Many of them have
Little to no blue in them.
So I’m doing this series
With no blue

It’s weird to think
Of blue being hard to come by

It’s weird to think, period.
Art should make people think

All art?

Yes, but
The kind of thinking varies.
It doesn’t have to be
Terribly serious
All of the time, however.
But thought, yes

So will one day
This be called part of your
Lack-of-Blue period?

No, it will be part of my

How about I let you work?

Good, I’ll see you around dinner time.
What are you making?

Plans to cook dinner, apparently.
It will be good, don’t worry.
No blue dye of any kind

Now you’re getting it