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She’s a (he)artbreaker

May 18, 2010

Really draws your eye right in. The colors are so complementary. Just utterly stunning, really. And the painting above my darling Isabel is nice, too.

Conversation with my ex-girlfriend Vicky about my new painting by Asheville, N.C., artist Jennifer Barrineau:

Me: Here’s a picture of the artwork my mom bought me on our trip to North Carolina.

Vicky: Oh wow. How pretty! I sort of want it.

Me: Yeah, I knew you would. Love it. Can’t wait to hang it over my mantel. It’s called “Rain Tree.”

Vicky: Does it remind you of Marie?

Me: Umm, no? Why would I choose a piece of artwork to bring into my home if it reminded me of my stalker?

Vicky: Well, you know, because “Rain Tree” sounds like Braintree – the town.

Me: Oh.

Vicky: I guess she technically doesn’t live in Braintree.

Me: Yeah, but her mom does.

Vicky: Huh.

Me: And I had to take the Braintree train on the Red Line to get to her apartment.

Vicky: Hmm.

Me: And one of my only really good memories from that relationship was the time we made out in the rain. There were probably trees nearby.

Vicky: Well, it’s really cool. Enjoy!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Rain Tree” was too bulky to bring back with me on the plane to Boston, and I had no intention of buying a second ticket as if I were an obese passenger too hefty to fit into a standard-size seat, so the artist shipped it via UPS and it was delivered late last week. It arrived in the biggest cardboard box my cats have ever seen. I have never heard Teva purr so loudly in the seven years that I’ve had her. Her purrs usually sound like a muted metronome – barely audible staccato clicks. And here she was completely unable to contain her excitement over the ginormous box that had magically appeared in my bedroom.

But I could relate to Teva’s thrill. It has been a long, long time since a box was in my bedroom.

I tried to snap some photos of my cats in, on and around the huge package – it’s been even longer since a package, let alone a huge one, wandered into these here parts. Teva, however, left to her own devices – lacking boxes and packages, you’d think I’d have a dresser drawer full of devices – would eat packing tape by the roll. Any kind of tape, really. Scotch, masking, electrical. She’s basically the feline version of Bubba from “Forrest Gump,” except she’s equally obsessive about shrimp and adhesive. In a bid to deny Teva a tape smorgasbord, I quickly cast aside the camera and focused instead on breaking down the cardboard, which was pretty much a race against a bowel obstruction.

After discarding enough styrofoam to insulate a shantytown and recycling the box – one of these days I will get desperate enough to recycle a box from my past – I proudly mounted (I know, mounted) the painting above my mantel. It’s the perfect fit, subtly complements the dark woodwork in my apartment and looks so amazingly AWESOME.

And …





. . . I look at it, I am reminded of the 37-year-old woman who bought me a “Life is Crap” T-shirt depicting a cartoon rectal exam for my 29th birthday, and stalked me for more than four months via the interweb and postal service after we broke up. I haven’t heard from her in about 90 days, but for all I know, she still may be stalking me now. (Hi, Marie!) She never ran her stalking schedule past me, which is just like her. I sort of want to call and ask, “Are you done?” But I have a feeling that might send the wrong message. Or it would send the right message, but provoke her. Or she might just assume I want to recycle her box. Which I sort of do because it’s been more than seven months since I boxed.

The painting is the first thing I see when I rise, and the last before bed. Even when I just catch a glimpse of it in my periphery, I think, “Rain Tree,” Braintree, Marie.

No matter how hard I try, I cannot stop associating my gorgeous new work of art with my former piece of work.

Thanks *so* much, Vicky.

41 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2010 2:00 PM

    Great post, though I admit, I think there might be some more boxing jokes you could have slipped in.

  2. May 18, 2010 2:01 PM

    Is Isabelle a Russian Blue? She looks like my baby cat ( I didn’t name her) who is a RB.

    Now. How to stop thinking of Marie when you see the tree?? Hmmm. That is a tough one. You could ummm….. not that wouldn’t work. Maybe you can uhhhh .. no never mind. You could think of it as a snow tree unless of course you and she who will not be mentioned bumped frozen boxes in the snow?
    I got nothing. Sorry.
    The painting is beautiful though.

    • May 18, 2010 6:43 PM

      Not sure about Isabel’s pedigree. I adopted her and her sister from a shelter when they were kittens. I saw that little stripe down Isabel’s nose and immediately fell. in. love.

  3. May 18, 2010 2:06 PM

    Actually the tree reminds me of a cerebral cortex – with all the nerves going doing to a central stem. Maybe you should think of it as a Brain and, oh fuck, that probably wasn’t helpful at all. Sorry.

  4. May 18, 2010 2:10 PM

    For some reason, I keep thinking of Malvina Reynolds.
    (Incidentally, the painting is beautiful. I think Vicky has designs on it and this was just a thinly-disguised ploy to try to get you to hate it and pass it onto her)

  5. May 18, 2010 2:15 PM

    The painting is SO great. Simple awesome. . .I too would like to buy something like that and put it on the front wall facing my bed.

    Sad, that such an art reminds you of your stalker. But uhm, you can maybe hang a picture of Marie right next to it. This way, this “artpiece” won’t remind of you Marie anymore. Seriously.

    But then, you will have to think about doing something about Marie’s picture to not remind you about her. I am sure you will be able to that. You are a smart chick.

    I am glad I could help. lol 😀

  6. May 18, 2010 2:18 PM

    My cat Alexei would be ecstatic for hours simply with a cardboard box(need not be bigger than him), packing tape and plastic bags.

    Gorgeous painting, btw. Sorry it brings back unpleasant memories of your stalker. You’ll just have to find another gal, hey grab a random stranger if you have to, to share kisses with in the rain for some positive associations. 🙂

  7. May 18, 2010 2:18 PM

    Once someone pointed out a dorky smiley face in a beautiful framed photo of the earth from space. And every time I looked at it, instead of seeing the majestic beauty of our planet without borders, boundaries or conflict, I saw….Dorky Smiley Face.

    But, the person who pointed it out to me wasn’t a stalker, to the best of my knowledge I wasn’t stalked by any dorky smiley faces (although there was a suspicious ice-cream man around that time) so really, you win.

    But the art complements the cat just beautifully. So at least you’ve got your health. Or something.

  8. The Only Minx permalink
    May 18, 2010 2:27 PM

    Dammit! I’m sure that Vicki does have designs on your lovely painting. Maybe you could re-frame your thoughts: when you look at the picture, use it to remember the wacky and sweet trip that you had with your Mom; the joy of seeing the picture for the first time and the resonant purrs of complete kitty ecstasy over the box. Forget that demented chick (and burn the shirt!!)
    Hugs from The Minx

  9. May 18, 2010 2:37 PM

    I was thinking of associating the painting with your joyous kitty cat’s purrs too. That’s something that might work for me, as I love my cat more (I’m starting to think) than I’ll ever love a boyfriend or whoever. I was also feelin’ the “cerebral cortex” thing, but more in the sense that it reminds me of one of those “crystal” balls with the electric laser thingies in it … and you put your hands on it, so you can move the energy around and stuff (does anyone know what the hell I’m talking about? I’m not sure I do anymore, but those things are cool).

  10. The Bad Lady permalink
    May 18, 2010 3:23 PM

    Heh. Glad to know my ploy is working. “Rain Tree” will look lovely above my mantel, and in exchange, I will give you a vintage Wilderness Heals poster. I’ll even frame it for you.

    You’ve come a long way from the Elton John posters, and I’ve come a long way from wolves and dreamcatchers. Of course, that wouldn’t be hard… Stop judging. We lived in Ohio, for crying out loud.

    • Carolspy permalink
      May 20, 2010 11:23 PM

      And pictures of lesbian or bi-ish singers! Don’t forget those! Ah, Ohio…

      • The Bad Lady permalink
        May 21, 2010 8:41 AM

        And the Tori Amos collage/collection of lyrics cut from magazine headlines that adorned my bedroom door… Man, back then I thought I was SO DEEP.

  11. May 18, 2010 4:26 PM

    You should ask Marie to move house.

    Or you could replace the painting with a giant picture of Tina Fey.

    Or you could Photoshop a picture of Tina Fey’s head and Amy Poehler’s head onto robot bodies with an apocalyptic background – because that’s pretty much how we’re going to look when the world ends.

    Problem solved.

  12. May 18, 2010 4:39 PM

    Oh man! I hate that. It’s bad enough when you associate a movie/place/song with an ex, but those can be fairly easily avoided. This is like associating your fridge with an ex.

    Hell, I threw out a BED once because it reminded me of an ex.

  13. May 18, 2010 5:08 PM

    Oooh, I love that picture.

    If I knew you better, like Vicky does, and could manipulate you into giving me the painting, I so would.

    But then again, blue wouldn’t go in my house.

  14. May 18, 2010 5:27 PM

    Don’t let it get to ya. One day you won’t even be able to accurately recall her last name. Trust. I know.

    Your mom got you that painting, and that is all it will be for you. The weird is still fresh, is all.

    You are probably too young to have seen the movie “Singles”, but in the movie, Kyra Sedgewick’s character cleans the toliet with her exes shirt. Mmkay?

    Shirt is still useful, nothing went to waste, and also, cleaning the crapper with this particular shirt has a note of poetic irony, yes?

  15. Dsolution mama permalink
    May 18, 2010 5:38 PM

    Just call me “solution mama.” You can give me the painting and not feel bad like you would if you gave it to Vicky. Then you continue on your search for a good piece of art for above your mantel. And it’s all about the search…

    You can think of how wonderful Braintree is because I found inexpensive cork floors there, I found a kitchen and bathroom surplus store, which allowed me to decorate my bathrooms inexpensively while having them look like I spent a lot on them. Plus, the best bakery—Konditiermeister (excuse the spelling) is there (they baked my wedding cake, which I recall you enjoyed). SO, while Marie’s mother might reside there, and you took the Braintree train, maybe you were just on that train to find all other hidden gems that lurk in Braintree!

    My third and most difficult solution to this problem would be to engage in self-hypnosis to remove the undesirable association. I can give you detailed guidance on this solution, but be aware that it takes serious commitment. 🙂

  16. May 18, 2010 6:14 PM

    i know… have a threesome with vicky and marie. then marie will stalk vikki. i know, im fulla ALL the good ideas.

  17. May 18, 2010 6:24 PM

    Here’s what you do: Every time you look at the painting pop a valium. You will soon forget about Marie and instead your Pavlovian response will be one of calm and a little bit of drooling. It works, I do this with my mother and now whenever she calls I immediately start uttering nonsense and fall fast asleep which then means I don’t have to talk to her which is good (cuz she’s not your mom) she’s crazy which keeps me from blowing tons of money on therapy and electro-shock. So see I know where of I speak.
    The painting is quite lovely so it’s a shame to have it relate to a stalker. And, yes, I agree it goes very nicely with the cat.

  18. MirtoP permalink
    May 18, 2010 7:40 PM

    Possible solution: Watch the 1957 flick “Raintree County” with Elizabeth Taylor (young!) and Montgomery Clift. Thenceforth, you’ll only associate “Rain Tree” with Liz (sigh) and Monty (double sigh).
    Hm, possible problem: Liz T.s character turns out to be **crazy**…
    I’ll keep trying!

  19. May 18, 2010 10:01 PM

    I’m with singleinmy30s, next time it’s raining head for the nearest tree and as soon as you see someone hot (or at least not hideous) just walk up to her and start sucking face. you may get slapped or arrested but people go to great lengths for their art so you shouldn’t do any less.

    The valium idea sounds good too but I think that might get a little precarious unless you modify the schedule. If you take one every time you look at the painting it’s true that you will soon stop associating it with the crazy. But that’s because you’ll be dead from popping 453 valiums in one day.

  20. May 18, 2010 10:22 PM

    Gorgeous painting! And congrats on the free cat toy (my cats would have kitty orgasms all over a box that big). And congrats on the huge box in your bedroom. I know that if anything bigger than a vibrator enters my bedroom, that’s cause for celebration.

  21. May 19, 2010 2:05 PM

    i have officially decided that it is within my purview as twitter wife to seek out other art you will just HAVE to buy to distract yourself from such an association. because making you spend gobs of money on art is useful. helpink! i’m helpink!

  22. May 19, 2010 2:09 PM

    I’m sorry but… you just said interweb 🙂 That made me smile.

  23. May 19, 2010 2:11 PM

    oh yeah, and that cat. *sigh* Beautttttiful 🙂

  24. May 19, 2010 9:00 PM

    Boxes…mounting….it is just too much. Awesome post.

  25. May 19, 2010 11:44 PM

    Did you find that artwork at the Gallery in the Bohemian Hotel (Biltmore Village Area)?
    It was absolutely beautiful place.

  26. May 20, 2010 1:50 AM

    I’ve always heard that if you get a song stuck in your head that you should recite the pledge of allegiance outloud five times and it will make the song go away. You could try that, but art isn’t a song, and it might not work. Maybe you could sing “O, Canada” to make the art association go away. But then you will have to do the pledge of allegiance again to make “O, Canada” go away, and now I’m tired just thinking about it all. Forget it’s too hard.

    Anycrap, what I meant to say was “nice art”.

  27. May 20, 2010 8:55 AM

    My brain works that way too! I make these associations and it’s allllll over. On the other hand, your cat is adorable and I’m pretty sure she’s asking me for a head-scratch, with her eyes. But my obese tiger would be wickedly jealous, and probably stop talking to me. Until he got hungry, and all *might* be forgiven.

  28. Dizzy Goddesski permalink
    May 20, 2010 1:01 PM

    ok, I’m sorry, but imo the worst thing I read in this post is the “7 months” bit. it saddens me & I must help you somehow.
    my suggestion is to have an amazing and possibly anonymous sexual experience while looking at the artwork & then you will forever associate it with feelings of illicit pleasure.
    also put a mirror beside the artwork – it’s tons of fun to watch 🙂

  29. May 20, 2010 1:47 PM

    I find myself insanely jealous that you have a stalker. I want a stalker.

    Oh, And Vicky’s really mean.

  30. May 20, 2010 1:53 PM

    I *would* offer to trade you some of my artwork for the painting, but since I’m currently making engraved and stained glass pieces, that might not go over so well since you have cats. (None of my animals are allowed anywhere near my workspace!)

    It’s an awesome painting though, and maybe you should take a picture of it, have Kinko’s blow it up to a huge poster, roll up said poster, and beat Vicky about the head and shoulders with it for trying to wreck such awesome artwork for you.

  31. May 20, 2010 2:00 PM

    I love the painting! Beautiful colors!

    LMAO ‘It has been a long, long time since a box was in my bedroom.’

    Just when I thought my box might see a rare package, the package ran away. Fuckin’ packages – sometimes I think they’re more chicken then beef.

    Post coming about that shit the minute I get back to my computer! 🙂

  32. May 22, 2010 2:25 PM

    kyknoord sent me. and yes, i generally do whatever he says… great bit of art. doesn’t remind me of your stalker-ex. it looks to me more like a scary vampire tree, where a wander in the woods will get the life sucked from your neck, dooming you to a eternal life of damnation, torment, and insatiable blood lust…

  33. hisqueen permalink
    May 22, 2010 8:32 PM

    yep..Kyk sent me too..I think the tree looks like it’s on the edge of a lake that is iced over in the winter with other trees having a light layer of snow on them reflecting gently on the ice. it’s very pretty and calming to look at.
    Or you could use Daisy’s idea and read the “Twilight” series while laying there looking at the painting.

  34. redg_rl permalink
    May 28, 2010 8:07 PM


    a lovely tree, the perfect colours.. how could it possibly have anything to do with marie? i think that you need to re-define yr art. it’s yrs so you should REALLY own it. have a ceremony with the kitties & re-experience what caught yr eye about the tree in the first place. trees change alot so why not yr associations too? leaves, no leaves, different lighting, different colours in the sky.. a ‘tree-birth’? i’m done.

  35. Sebastian Melmoth permalink
    June 1, 2010 2:14 AM

    “She never ran her stalking schedule past me, which is just like her.”

    HAR! This is a good line. Nice mathematical humor.

    I just got the ‘box’ joke and now I’m slightly embarrassed. But I love your blog. also, those pussy cats seem nice. Ooops. I said pussy.


  1. Bad kitty! No more catnip for you « the other side of the mountain

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