Search This Blog


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Living in a rough sketch

Do you paint or draw? Do you plan ahead and plot the course and then replicate these designs on a grand scale? Or do you sketch it out in the rough, and then begin to paint; accepting any happy accidents or organic changes as they come? I began 73 cents as a design rendering and then began to sketch it upon the brick wall. I wasn't happy with this method. I instead began to paint it in its entirety in little pieces. It was almost like one of those magic drawing books I got as a kid. I would rub a quarter or a pencil over nothing and then parts of an elaborate drawing would appear. What magic! Life is like that sometimes. It doesn't always work out like you planned and you finish parts of the picture at different times.

I got to know Fred in scenic painting class in 1992. He was taking the class for graduate credit. He could take either costume construction or scenic painting. He thought painting would be easier. I remember him using the words "blow off" class... I was a second year freshman barely passing my classes, but pretty good at painting, so I enrolled in it as well. Every week we were assigned to paint a 5'x5' canvas. The rest of the class would come and go all week and get it done gradually. Fred and I both liked to procrastinate. Each week we would show up at nine or ten. We would paint all night. I got to know Fred by pulling all-nighters with him for months. There is no better way to get to know the real person than pulling all-nighters.

Have you ever pulled an all-nighter? You aren't exactly chipper and bright are you? Fred would show up dressed in Metallica sweat pants. He would be wearing an Anthrax t-shirt under a magenta dress shirt. The ubiquitous walk-man tape player would dangle from his pocket. He listened to hard rock so loud I could hear it from ten feet away. I would paint silently. He would go on and on about news from Entertainment Weekly and Premiere. I would paint silently. He would frantically gesticulate while painting and quote ALL of the movie Star Wars from memory. I finally set my brush down and said in my most put-upon voice, "You are a walking advertisement for the entertainment industry!" He looked at me with his infuriating smile and said, "I take that as a compliment." Back to work he went with a jaunty step and that silly smile. I was furious.

I threw a sponge at him. It was a wet sponge. He got rather wet. he,he, he... A little later he came over to me with a can of Pepsi and poured liquid all over my head. I could not believe he drenched me in Soda! (It turns out he didn't. He had replaced the soda with cold water, but wasn't going to tell me.) I was doubly furious. It was full on wet sponge war at three in the morning on the Main stage. We finished our rather splotchy paintings and went our separate ways; for about thirty minutes as we had class at 8:00 am. Any third grader could have told us... we were falling in love.

We finished the semester and went to our homes for Christmas. After a few days without Fred, I missed our fights. I called him up when he was back from break. I asked him if he would go with me to a party to Peter's house. He said, "Sure, I will drive you. I know you don't have a car." The minute we got to the party he went in the other room with the guys and talked about the God-Father Movies. Peter played dance music. I asked Fred to dance. He said, "I don't dance." I was running out of ideas... Fred asked me if I would like to see the movie "The Fisher King" at his place. I said yes. We went to his place and began to watch "The Fisher King" He began to tell me all about the actors and the director. He was talking a mile a minute. I kissed him. He got the hint.

We were engaged two months later. We were to be married on December 26th 1993. We were so poor. I sold all my comic books to pay for the wedding invitations and Fred sold all of his comic books to pay for our rings. He was a DC fan and I was Marvel so it was a rather rocky engagement. But hey, we liked to argue! I wore my mother's Wedding Dress. Fred wore a nice suit. Poinsettias were the wedding Flowers as the Church was already decorated for Christmas. It was beautiful wedding. That was sixteen years ago.

We never had a honeymoon. We were too poor. We said we would go on one of those cruises or something for our twentieth anniversary. We never had anniversary gifts. It seemed a bit greedy with our anniversary the day after Christmas. We would go out each year for dinner and a movie to celebrate. Fred and I loved this yearly date. Most years of late, we would see Harry Potter. Fred was so disappointed last year when the Christmas release of "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" was pushed back to July. He joked, "I guess we will celebrate in July this year."

In July, I hired a baby-sitter and went by myself to a movie for the first time in 16 years. I watched "Half Blood Prince" with tears streaming down my face. Fred would have liked the movie.

So, here I sit on my 16th wedding anniversary. I am living in the rough sketch. I am not sure what is coming next. It was about this time in 1992; I realized I missed that zany guy named Fred... and I still do. I watched the "Fisher King" again not to long ago. It was a perfect first movie for us. It has a great message. When the love of your life dies it is okay to go a little crazy, but it is important to help others along the way. If you are torn up by grief and remorse, do not give up hope. You can change things. I doesn't matter if you are a shock-jock, a professor or an artist ... you can make the world a better place.


  1. Thank you (again!) for sharing your life with the rest of us. You do so with poignancy that inspires.

    Of course your goal to improve people's lives with access to health care and the corresponding resources is very worthwhile, but the heart and soul you invest in the effort makes your work vital.

  2. It is so inspiring that your beautiful love started with painting.
    And that you used painting to fulfill Fred's request to "go after them".