Saturday, May 1, 2021

Arts and Crafts

Q, crazed at the Met in the early aughts

 The a.c. technician came to perform the semi-annual cleaning and servicing of my HVAC system a couple days ago.  I had scheduled for early afternoon, and he came right on time.  It was the same tech who has been coming for a couple of years, so when he showed up, we chatted a bit before he got to work. He knew his way around, so I left him alone and sat at the computer learning new Photoshop stuff.  

I wanted a beer, but it was early.  Maybe a Michelada.  Yes, that would be a nice compromise.  I looked around when I pulled the beer from the fridge.  I grabbed a glass and some Bloody Mary mix.  I had just finished pouring when he walked in the door.  He looked at me askant.  I felt like my mother had just caught me stealing a cigarette and hid the glass behind a paper bag.  

The Michelada went down well and quickly.  I looked around.  I poured the rest of the beer and some Bloody Mary mix just as he walked in again.  "Goddamnit," I thought, "why do I care if he sees me drinking in the afternoon?"  It was odd to me that I was trying to hide my Michelada from the a.c. tech.  Some strange guilt was overcoming my pleasure. 

Yesterday when I got up, I had a very early morning text from my ex-secretary: 

"Boyfriend ended up being a lying, cheating douche bag. So we’re done."  

How does one respond to that?  "No shit!  You always date douche bags."  No, that didn't seem quite right.  What struck me most was that she caught him going to his ex-girlfriend's house at 3 a.m.  What the fuck was she doing driving around his house at 3 a.m.?  Wouldn't it be easier just to break up with him if you felt the need to drive around checking before dawn?  Who wants to live like that?

I wrote back the cliched, "Oh, no!  I'm so sorry 😢."

That's right--I used an emoji.  

I spent yesterday trying once again to unclog the print head on my big ass printer.  I ended up printing photos on different papers to see if it would have any effect.  The first print that ran through the printer came out with drops and streaks of the cleaning fluid I had used and was not usable.  It was a big 20x16 print and not to waste it, I decided to do a little experimenting.  I've been wanting to try some colors that are sitting around the house, pencils and paints.  I lay the print on the table and picked up a basket full of paint tubes.  They said "oil" but they looked cheap, and I wondered if they were oil oils or water based oils.  I know little about painting.  I found one that was called "flesh."  Perfect.  I squeezed it out on a piece of cardboard and dipped a brush I had found into the little mound.  When I wiped it across the photo, it was opaque, thick from sitting in the tubes for who knows how many years (I didn't buy them and don't know where they came from).  I needed oil, but all I had was olive oil.  Fine.  I poured some out onto a plate and began brushing it on the photo in and effort to thin the paint.  It worked--somewhat.  I charged my brush with olive oil and mixed it with the dry clump of paint.  It began to spread.  With enough oil, it went on in transparent colored strokes.  It went on like the old Marshall's Photo Oils I had used many years ago.  It seemed almost perfect.  I went to the bathroom and got some cotton balls, put out some other colors, mixed them with olive oil, and began swiping it around.  That seemed to be working.  I got excited.  I hadn't hand colored photos for decades.  It was fun.  

When I had "finished," I decided to Google hand painting inkjet prints.  There was not much out there.  Hand painting was something of a thing long ago, but with the advent of digital technology, all that sort of disappeared.  What I found on the internet disheartened me a bit.  All the information came from art teachers at the elementary schools and "crafters."  It seemed I was practicing some form of adult coloring. Or maybe not so adult.  I was "crafting," perhaps.  Maybe.  I mean, I had thought of attaching things to the photo, too.  "Arts and crafts" I kept thinking.  I could get into a local "Arts and Crafts Festival."  Join a collage group that meets once a week and shares ideas.  

Whatever.  I liked it. 

I looked up the paints I was using.  They are oils and they are very cheap.  Online, people complained about how thin they were, but that is good for me.  I learned something I already knew.  I need to coat the paper with a gel medium before I paint on it.  I still don't know if using olive oil is a "thing."  Maybe.  It seemed to work.  I started thinking about other products from the pantry.  

Later, I packed up to go to my mother's.  I decided to throw the painted photo in the car to show her.  She said she liked it.  I think it was the scale that did it.  I made mistakes and it is sloppy, but even if I didn't make mistakes, it would still be sloppy.  I don't want to make something that tries to look like something it is not.  I like the smears and out of bounds splotches.  I just need to learn more about the medium.  

I had decided that morning to make it a sushi Friday night.  I left my mother's and picked up my order. Home, I set up my dinner on the deck, fed the cat, poured the sake, and sat down to eat.  Everything was perfect.  

And then the mosquitoes.  They have gotten bad.  Why must good things get spoiled?  I don't want to say I've been in a "bad place," but. . . I just wanted to cry.  I just wanted something to be good and easy.  I was tired of coping.  I was really tired.  

I've become fragile and frail with life's events.  My life's events and those that surround it.  

Good thing I remembered to buy a fresh bottle of scotch.  When dinner was done, I sprayed mosquito spray and went into the house to light a cigar and pour a drink.  I took them out and sat in the lingering smell of insecticide.  The cigar smoke and the smokey whiskey helped to deaden it.  

Night.  YouTube.  Netflix.  

What more could I want?  Life is a cabaret, right?  

Sure. Ain't it grand.  

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