Psst - Just to keep you on your toes, there are three past participles of abide—abode, abided, and abidden.
Someone far wiser than me observed that a man’s interests change predictably over his lifetime. They go from sports, to women, to career, to golf, and finally to bowel movements. I’m teetering on edge the last phase, but back somewhere between sports and women my passion was art. Throughout my early years, I was so well regarded as an art student that I enrolled at the Colorado Institute of Art immediately after high school. It was there I learned a valuable lesson. I learned that it’s really difficult to go to an expensive private school, buy all sorts of art supplies, and have some semblance of a social life on a gas station attendant’s salary. So I joined the Marines and put my artistic ambitions on hold.
The Marines stirred new interests in me. I became obsessed with blowing things up with hand grenades, charring the countryside with flame throwers, laying down fields of fire with machine guns, and other really fun stuff. But the Marines actually introduced me to something useful, something that became my calling, my course of study, and my career—electronics. It fascinated me to finally understand, really understand, how radios work or how TV signals propagate through the air or how autopilots actually fly planes. I was hooked. I didn’t have time to drip paint on my smock or get chalk dust in my hair anymore, I had electronic circuits to troubleshoot, to design.
I’ve tried to rekindle my interest in art by seeking out the works of others. I’ve spent endless hours in the Prado, the Tate, MoMA, the Louvre, and most of the major galleries here at home, but it was the Impressionists in Winter: Effets de Neige exhibit at the The Phillips Collection in Washington DC that I remember most vividly. I can close my eyes and still see the truly wonderful, impressionist paintings of les effets de neige (the effects of snow) by Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, and Camille Pissarro. Wonderful!
Somewhere along the line, art ceased to be my passion and became an endless source of beauty, enjoyment and wonder.
Another place that haunts me is The Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas with its fourteen huge black and color hued paintings Mark Rothko spent six years preparing for the chapel that he co-designed and never saw finished. He took his own life before the chapel was completed, adding to the aura of this place, his most important artistic statement.
Some of my other moving memories are: the Monet in the 20th Century exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, seeing Norman Rockwell at his studio in Stockbridge, the Cezanne exhibit in Philadelphia, R. C. Gorman’s gallery in Taos, meeting Amado Peña in Scottsdale, and the wonderful work of Andrew Wyeth at his Chadds Ford Gallery. Oh I almost forgot…the Edward Hopper exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington and his permanent collection at MoMA etched deep and lasting impressions on my soul.
I picked up a piece of charcoal a few years back and doodled on a sketch pad long enough for me to realize that this wasn’t my calling anymore. And it wasn’t that long ago that I had to know how every new electronic gadget worked. Okay, so I figured out how the GPS in my car works, but that doesn’t make me the nerd I used to be. I’ve entered into a new phase of my life. I’m a writer-wantabe.
I now spend endless hours at my computer trying to get my margins right in Microsoft Word, looking up arcane words, or searching for acceptable synonyms for words like—bullshit. Did you know that you can use bull, shit, crap, bunk, bunkum, buncombe, guff, rot, or hogwash as a replacement noun, and bull, fake, feign, sham, pretend, affect, or dissemble as an alternate verb? But it’s the placement of commas that is life’s real challenge. I, tend, to, stick, them, everywhere or leave them complexly out just to be safe. Either way, I’m always wrong.
So there you have it, I’m an old Marine that pictures himself as a bumbling art aficionado, and is technically savvy, for a geezer anyway. The good news is—I’m getting near the end of my bucket list and I’ve still got a couple of years left. But, I’m destined to spend my final days at my computer, writing nonsense like this, contemplating my next bowel movement.