I Promise You At Least Five Parenthetical Asides in This Post; Bonus Points If You Count More


There is a fortuitous convergence at the end of the semester:

Gasping for air from beneath a heap of research papers, I claw one hand out from under essays about childhood obesity, bacteria-phobia, the death of newspapers, and the upsurge in wind farms,

and that hand, calloused and gnarled, flops around blindly (what with having no eyeballs)

until it encounters my husband’s faintly-whiskered cheek (because he’s 99% Nordic Boy Wonder and 1% newborn mouse, faint whiskering is the most he can achieve).

The flopping, stroking hand is expressing appreciation. Were it in a bad mood, it would slap and flip off and plumb for ear wax.

But no.

Flopping, stroking hand loves Groom (and may very well express that sentiment more fully, after dark).

For, just as Flopping Hand is cramping from clutching the grading pen and wiping away tears of disappointment,

Groom has finished out his semester and has work to show for it.

Translation: I ain’t be gottin’ much time right now, but, because my husband took some art classes all term and made pretty pictures, I can hitch my blog to his star and post them here.

At the end of last Spring term, I went on at some length in a video about his work, but this time I’ll be more brief (somewhat unattractively, your collective “whew” registers even here, miles and miles away). Groom took Painting I this semester and marveled at how long it takes to turn out a good piece, largely because one has to wait for the paint to dry before adding the next bit. Paint and wait; paint and wait; paint and wait. He also completed Art History, an online class that fully demonstrated any possible pitfall of online education (typed this mortified online instructor who canNOT believe the poor quality of “instruction” she has sometimes viewed over her husband’s shoulder in the last year, O Holy Mothers of Slackers Who Still Collect Pay Cheques). Fortunately, he had the textbook, read the thing and, therefore, edjamicated himself. Lastly, he took Digital Painting and Drawing, a course that fully demonstrated the possible strengths of online education. In fact, he learned the software and techniques so well that many onlookers can’t appreciate the hours upon hours of work he put into each piece.

However, as a kind and astute audience, I feel certain y’all will be just the right folks to see that talent can distinguish itself, even in digitized art. You are also the right crew to fathom how cool it is to have random pictures floating around the house when one is casting about for a picture to adorn, say, one’s anniversary invitation:

As you can see, Groom’s response to an assignment early in the term gave us fodder for our invite. While everyone enjoyed the image, some lost their breath upon reading the text. An astonishing number of people got all nervous and had to blurt out, “That business about 4 affairs? Really??? What happened? Is there something we should know?”

Yea. ‘Cause when people are throwing a huge party for their 10th anniversary, and they are the most soppily in love couple you know, and they have evidenced in the past a sense of humor that tends to skid sideways,

generally the backstory is a whole lot of adultery that screams out for publicity.

Knowing there was some consternation in the ranks after we sent out our invitation, we prepared an answer to use during the party:

“Yes, Guido/Carla/Father O’McFlanniganahan, there have been 4 affairs. Neither of us had them alone. We always had them together, as we enjoy opening the marriage to the magic of a third. So, uh, the first affair was with Miss Silvia, our espresso maker. The second was with Tina Fey. We took turns licking the make-up off her face. The third was with late night television’s Craig Ferguson; he brought puppets. And the fourth was with Omar from THE WIRE. Now, with that mystery cleared up, what did you think of the squash on the card?”

After the 85 wonderful guests (only 3 of whom remain bewildered–and hopeful–to this day with regards to the infidelity) trooped out after our party, Groom was ready for a little quiet time during which he could refocus on his art assignments. This past week, he spent hours and hours and then an hour plus 14 more minutes working on this (my favorite thing he’s ever done):

Based on photos of the ice packs that jumble the shoreline of Lake Superior each winter, this was his final project for Digital Drawing and Painting.

This picture does for me what Groom himself does. It alters my heartbeat.

But here’s the thing: he posted it to the online class, in the discussions area, amongst all the other messages containing digital paintings and drawings of unicorns, Captain Hook, and guitars sporting angel wings…and no one commented on it.

Later that night, Himself admitted to feeling a little hurt, as he’d been excited about what he’d created and hoping for feedback. But nothing.

The next day, he asked his instructor about it, and her take was that he had created an image that appears photographic. Everyone thinks he uploaded a photo and then clicked a few buttons on the computer, and voila (or, as my students write it, “Viola!”).

Eventually, a couple of classmates did comment, ho-hum “that’s neat” responses. Despite that, he feels proud of what he did, especially because he knows he opened a blank canvas on the screen, took the digital “brush” in hand, and drew, filling the blank white with just the right shadings of grey and charcoal to transport viewers to a cold February day on the shore of the world’s largest surface of fresh water.

That’s what real art does: it transports us, makes us catch our breath (sometimes with shock; sometimes with awe).

In this case, the art provides my cramped, flopping hand with a frigid respite,
a soothing patch of ice upon which to rest and recooperate

before I force my attentions back to the next essay on the stack.

(the end)

(except P.S.: at the art show on campus this week, Groom received bids on two of his pieces, one of them the squash from our invitation and one of them an oil painting. We’s rich! We’s rich! Daddy sold his squash so Mamma could get her some Grillz!)





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22 responses to “I Promise You At Least Five Parenthetical Asides in This Post; Bonus Points If You Count More”

  1. kmkat Avatar

    Heck, I was gonna ask about the affairs, too. Guess I don't have to. Instead I'll ask this: srsly, did you get a grill?

  2. jess Avatar

    Geez Louise, that Groom is a talented 'un. I would have taken that ice picture for a photograph too. It's breathtaking in a freezyglass sort of way. I like.

  3. diane Avatar

    I think Groom's ice venture is one of the most amazing pieces of art that I have ever seen; I come from a family full of artists (some of them famous). I can't believe how realistic it is.
    As far as the affairs go, I thought you were talking about how many parties you've thrown since you were married. Stop making that face, I know it's a naive response.

  4. Fragrant Liar Avatar
    Fragrant Liar

    Well, please tell Groom I am SO impressed with his artwork. It's incredibly good. You're right. It looks like a photo, but knowing it's not makes it that much more amazing. Good job, dude! And congrats on the sales and the grillz, mama.

  5. Jim Berg Avatar
    Jim Berg

    I'm glad once in a while that you're too lazy to write a blog post and we get to see His artwork. Cause, he's really the sizzle in my bacon.

  6. Jenn @ Juggling Life Avatar
    Jenn @ Juggling Life

    That is a gorgeous piece–I'm stunned that it is not photography. You picked a talented one!

  7. ds Avatar

    Consider my heartbeat altered by this post: your words, his artwork (the ice is amazing). There is an unfair amount of talent floating around your household. And we are lucky enough to see it!! Thank you.

  8. geewits Avatar

    I think the ice piece is AWESOME! Congrats on your 10th. (And "viola" cracked me up!)

  9. Becky Cazares Avatar
    Becky Cazares

    I'm no art critic, but the thing I like about the squash is how the yellow one reflects on the one below. At first I saw the stems as too paper-like and needing to be more rugged, but the more I looked at them, the more they fit in with the simple crisp lines of everything else.

    As to the ice, while I like the icy coldness of the tall protruding one (and the one in the center with the dark edge that begs to be touched), what I really like is the wet, sloppy melting-ness of the ones in the foreground. The contrast is so nice. And the cloudy sky really creates distance – that's amazing. If you had told us it was drawn with pencil, that would make sense. How the heck do you create this digitally? Wow. Viola, indeed!

  10. Jazz Avatar

    That picture so rocks. Though I prefer to think of it not as ice in the winter on a lake, but as the pile of ice I'm going to put in the shaker for that Margarita I'm going to sip on the balcony. On a balmy summer evening.

    That's my interpretation. Yep…

  11. Hannah Avatar

    The artwork looks great. Your husband is very talented! They both show a lot of detail.:)

  12. choochoo Avatar

    Those are some rockin' pumpkins!

  13. Pam Avatar

    I love Groom's art work. I miss your presentation of it however, your previous "show and tell" clips of his talent, cause let me tell ya, the pride shines through.You are one talented and creative family.I think its wonderful the way you all delight in each other, and even expand this to embrace the coffee machine – but be careful with your continuing steamy affair with that shiny glitzy number, you could get your fingers burnt!!xx

  14. chelle Avatar

    holy frijoles!
    that digital drawing is AWESOME. It totally looks like a photo!

  15. Jeni Avatar

    Ok, I'm gonna sound like my son with my comment/questions here (my son almost always finishes a statement or a question with the question, "Does that make any sense?")
    I thought the picture was a photo too and saw nothing wrong with thinking it was a damned great photo using all kinds of tricks of the photography trade to make one feel you were eyeball-to-eyeball with those big old ice chunks. There's a guy who does a photography blog that I follow -Rune, from up in Norway -and what I love about many of his pictures is that so many of 'em turn out looking so gorgeous, such beautiful colors and all, that it makes you wonder is this a picture or is it a painting? Like they are interchangeable, if you know what I mean. Because to my eye (ok, I know it's a very untrained one too though) I like when a photo or a painting is so sharp, so in detail, that you you can't really discern which it is. That lifelike, ya know.
    I'd tell Groomeo to not pay any attention to the ho-hum comments on his work. It's fantastic, sharp (very sharp) attention to detail and every possible nuance. Now go, create some more!

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  17. secret agent woman Avatar
    secret agent woman

    I really love the ice one.

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  18. phd in yogurtry Avatar
    phd in yogurtry

    I thought the ice was a digital photo, like maybe taken in the ice bucket at your anniversary party. I wondered if it was enhanced somehow, whether I wasn't quite "getting" what the assignment might have been. So wow, yes, majorly impressed with Groom's work.

    And yes, I do love the squash. Good taste in color palette or tone (or whatever it's called, never took an art class, can you tell?) me being a fan of muted colors, and all.

    Finally, I giggled/smirked at your "4 affairs". Because, um, yeah, not sure who would have chosen an anniversary party to announce infidelity, or at least, not in between ER visits and squash.

  19. Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings Avatar
    Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings

    So these affairs…will we be reading about them like a Tiger Woods tabloid cover story?

    Anyhooo…the art is awesome. I haven't the slightest what goes into digital art so I'm amazed. Not too mention, if it had been a photo it would have been super cool anyhow.

  20. lime Avatar

    wow, that was one seriously impressive drawing of ice pack. and i am so glad he got bids from people who recognize talent when they see it.

  21. Anonymous Avatar

    My husband and I don't know how to have sex without David Letterman in the room.

  22. Patois Avatar

    Is Tina's make up edible or the regular kind?

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