So today I went out to the “Art of the Carolinas” art trade show (which is running all weekend at the North Raleigh Hilton, and you should go if you’re local and arty.)

My plan was simple. I would get frames with which to outfit the Bathroom of Monochromatic Lust. They would be on sale, and since I need many frames, this was the most cost-efficient way to do it. I would look neither right nor left, as I do not need more art supplies. I would not browse. I would go and get frames, and then I would leave.

Doubtless when Odysseus left Ithica, he told Penelope that he was just going out for a beer with the guys and he’d be back in time for Telemachus’s piano recital.

I walked in, and immediately ran into my old manager from the art store, Tom (of “Zion!” fame) who said “My god! Ursula!? I almost didn’t recognize you! You look amazing! Err–will you carry this?” and then of course my convention reflexes took over, and I instinctively grabbed the stack of posterboard he needed grabbed and fell in behind.

“You want a job?” he asked, as I lugged. “Come by the store, we’ll take care of you.” (I don’t know if I want the job or not–I could do two days a week, maybe, but anything else I start to lose money by going to work. Still…)

Well, so much for my plan of not looking anywhere. He had to drop off fliers at all the tables, and thus my fate was sealed. Cheap Golden fluid acrylics! Richeson brushes! Inks! Canvas!

And then I saw it.

A sign with the three most beautiful words in the English language.

No, not “I love you,” or “Take me now,” or even “The check cleared.”

Half-Price Clayboard.

Had Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, and Vin Diesel all appeared before me at that moment, naked except for strategically placed whipped cream, it is unlikely that I would have noticed.

I fell upon the booth, making a noise that several gentleman of my past acquaintance would recognize, although they generally had to put in some pretty solid work in order to hear it.

They had sizes I’d never SEEN. I gibbered. I grabbed one of the staff and began to point. “That one. And that one. And that one. And–hell, you only live once, that one–”

A woman came up to me, extended her hand, and introduced herself as the founder of the company. I gabbled something about crack dealers and being hooked and thank you so much oh god, the clayboard, the gessoboard, the glory–

“Are you an artist?” she asked. “Do you teach? Do demos? We’re looking for someone in the area to demo the clayboard and the gessoboard–we’re happy to do trades, or custom sizes for artists–“

I gibbered a bit more, scrawled down my name and website, laughed maniacally, and went off to give Tom his posterboard.

So I got my frames and I got a lot of gessoboard, and I won’t even tell you what that did to my credit card, but whatthe hell. It’s a tax write-off anyway. I left the show forty-five minutes later, still feeling a warm glow.

It died somewhat when I discovered just how much a month of Effexor XR costs out of pocket (my insurance company is not gonna cover my meds, the bastards) but was restored when the clerk of my favorite used book store, a charmingly bitter fellow from Queens, waxed enthusiastic over my fuzzy socks. Then I went off to my postal office, and one of the locals there said “Ursula?! I hardly recognized you! You’ve lost a lot of weight!”

“Forty-five pounds…” I said, pleased.

“It looks great!”

So yes, I hemorrhaged money today, but still…it has been a good day.

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