by Mark Van Proyen
Kathy and I bolted out the door and into the hallway, moving quickly through the door to the stairwell. While grasping the sturdy handrail, we quick-stepped to the ground floor to find an emergency exit. As I reached to open it, Kathy barked, “don’t go that way, or you’ll trip the fire alarm!” Meanwhile, I could hear the security guards descending the stairs above us. I wondered if tripping the alarm would be worse than being given a tour of the convention center’s rent-a-cop detention facility. Then, Kathy pointed to another unmarked door, shouting “through here!” It opened onto a room with a long table and some lockers and onto another door that opened to the loading dock, which stored large boat trailers stacked two-and three-deep. Luckily, the loading dock’s roll-up door snagged on a poorly positioned trailer hitch, allowing us to crawl under it and out of the building. While she helped me to my feet, she said: “don’t look up to your left, ‘cause there’s a security camera up there—make sure to keep your face under the brim of your hat.” Looking to my right, I saw that an electric jumbotron announcing that the Conference of the American Association of Phlebotomists would be the next event booked into the San Jose Convention Center.
Walking briskly, we made it to the street adjacent to the staff parking area at the rear of the center. Then, three of the green-jacketed guards emerged from the fire exist and spied us. One of them shouted, “Hey, come back here; we need to talk with you!” Since there was no audible fire alarm coming from the fire exit, I assumed that they had deactivated it. Still, I knew our chances of being detained would diminish once we were past the driveway and off the property. But toward us they came, even as another one of them emerged from the fire exit door clutching a handheld radio. Kathy and I broke into a trot, and then a full-out sprint, arriving at an intersection with a broad boulevard where many people were standing in close formation, some holding handmade signs that read “Stop Saddam!” and “Save Kuwait!” This was strange since the first Gulf War had been over for ten years, and the second one was still over a year away. It was less than an hour after sunset, and we had managed to cross paths with some kind of pro-war commemoration parade that was displaying itself to the evening commuter traffic. Consequently, television crews, accompanied by bright lights, were there filming the scene, which proved a perfect deterrent for our pursuers and enabled our getaway.
Kathy and I worked our way to a position behind the lights as the security men stopped to confer with the man holding the radio. Coming down the large boulevard was a truck-born parade float in the shape of a large cake covered with American flags, accompanied by the sound of ghastly accordion and banjo music, which was no doubt intended to be both festive and patriotic. Suddenly, the parade float and the sounds emanating from it stopped, and I noticed that some police were scurrying about in a manner that suggested serious concern. Onlookers were being asked to step back and remain calm, and the television crew started to move their equipment toward the stalled parade float. Then the police bomb squad appeared from the shadows, wearing heavy helmets and thick protective garments. They instructed the crowd to move back and away, which it did with urgent dispatch.
It seemed that someone had left an ominous-looking package in the street near the parade float, rousing the suspicions of some concerned citizens. One of the bomb squad officers stealthily moved toward the package, and motioned for another officer to bring a German Sheppard forward, which was unleashed and encouraged by its handler to sniff the package. It did so dutifully, for what seemed to be a long time — made longer by the hushed silence of those watching from what they presumed to be a safe distance. After a long spell of olfactory inspection, the dog looked back at its handler and returned its attention to the would-be bomb. Lifting a hind leg, it proceeded to urinate on the package, prompting laughter and a celebratory resumption of the hateful accordion music. Then, to complete the canine theme, a heavy-set woman with short greased-back hair walked up to us. She was holding a large cardboard box and was wearing a sleeveless T-shirt — poor protection against the evening chill. A dark bruise was visible on one side of her mouth, which had a cigarette planted in the middle. Under the pink blanket inside of her box, she revealed a clutch of infant pit bulls. Out of her mouth, which was missing several teeth, came a raspy tobacco-saturated voice: “Want puppies?”
Kathy grabbed my arm and said, “Let’s get out of here.” But before we could move, I heard a familiar voice calling my name. It was Kenworth Bascomb approaching from across the street. “Any chance you’re driving back up to San Francisco? I just missed the last train, and I don’t want to be stranded.”
I answered “well, that puts both of us in trouble, because I took the train down here earlier this morning. I was also planning to take it back to San Rey.”
Then, Kathy spoke up. “We can all go back in my car—it’s parked about two blocks away, over there. But we have to get going.”
Turning toward her, I said, “Can we stop in San Rey? That’s where I live. It’s on the way, but only halfway up to San Francisco.”
“No problem, but we should get going now.”
The three of us crossed the street and walked past a building that housed a Czechoslovakian restaurant. I stopped to look through its large plate glass window. From the center of the room, came more horrible accordion music, played by a walrus of a man. He was serenading about a dozen septuagenarians wearing ornate lederhosen and feathered caps; their arms were locked at the elbows as they danced in a tight circle, apparently having a great deal of fun. I wondered what special occasion they might be celebrating.
Again, Kathy grabbed my arm, and in an exasperated tone of voice, she said, “Look into the abyss, and the abyss looks into you!” Her message was clear, even if her impatient tone was a bit overdone. She was in a hurry, and for that reason, we needed to be in a hurry, too. Although he said nothing, Kenworth seemed to be in accord with Kathy’s desire for quick forward motion. But then, another delay. A girlish voice said, “Professor Fowler? Hi, I’m Kimmy. I’m in your art history class, and I was hoping that we can get a ride from you—this is my friend Helen—we were going to take the train, but the last one already left, and we are stuck down here. We don’t have any money for a hotel.”
I turned to Kathy, who suddenly seemed dejected. She said, “sure, why not. The car is over here.”
As the five of us walked up to the car, Kathy whispered, “Listen, Jay, I don’t want to alarm anybody, but I don’t think I can drive—my medication is wearing off, and I am starting to get dizzy. I am having trouble seeing—I think our little adventure getting away from the security goons might have set me on a spin. Can you drive?”
The thought of driving all of the way to San Francisco to drop passengers made me apprehensive. I wondered how I might find my way back to San Rey after doing so. I might be able to get a late bus or take an expensive cab from the Millbrae Bart station; not exactly convenient, but doable. “I hope your car is an automatic—I can’t drive a stick.”
“It’s a Honda Accord—here are the keys,” Kathy said. “It’s the grey one by the mailbox on the corner.”
The car wasn’t new enough to have an electronic lock, so I opened the driver’s side door, telling Kathy “you should get in the back seat; Kimmy and Helen, you too.” Kenworth looked relieved to learn that he would be assigned the more comfortable front passenger seat. Seconds later, there was the snapping of seat belts, ignition, and a lurch into traffic, with the freeway on-ramp looming dead ahead. I hadn’t
driven in months, but Kathy’s car was easy to operate, and it had good acceleration. I noticed a small Franciscan cross hanging from the rearview mirror, and even in the dark, I could tell that it was made from finely crafted cherry wood with an inset of delicate enameling and ornate metalwork. It was of the exact type that I remembered from Italian churches in Florence and Rimini, the very same type famously painted by Giotto.
When the rain started to sprinkle, I activated the windshield wipers and looked in the rearview mirror to see that Kathy’s eyes were closed, her head tilted backward. I hoped she was only taking a quick nap. Kimmy was in the middle, so her face had a prominent place in the mirror. She had dark, teased-out hair, chubby cheeks covered with dark freckles and a prominent overbite that made her look a bit like a chipmunk. Helen had short dark hair that was slicked back in the manner of a 1950s crooner, and her eyes set close together. Her jaw dangled downward as befitted someone who had grown accustomed to breathing through her mouth. I decided to make some small talk by asking the backseat passengers if they were down for the UAA conference.
Kimmy said, “Yes, because Russett –I mean, Professor Vodavich– gave me her badge and told me I had to go to the conference to make up for missing her test. Boy, was that boring, but least I didn’t have to pay. Helen just got off work at the book show.”
Speaking slowly, Helen quietly added, “I work for the security company. I was checking badges at the book event and also at the job interview pavilion.” I realized that a security guard’s uniform could have been stuffed into the small backpack that she held on her lap.
Kimmy’s use of the word “boring” implied that she had missed the critic’s panel, or had at least missed its concluding foray into bottomless polemics enacted by the infamous Ms. Franco. But I was wrong. She went on to ask, “who was that bitch walking around showing off her bush? What was her deal? And what about that African dude? What was his trip?” Kenworth let go with a nervous laugh, suggesting he was wondering the same thing, albeit for more esoteric reasons.
I decided to try to explain. “The woman was Andrea Franco. She is a performance artist who does things that she says critique institutions. She was doing a performance that was supposed to be a critique of our panel.”
“You mean like a mental institution? Is she a crazy person? Kimmy continued. Why couldn’t she just say that you were all full of shit? That’s what I would say. Especially you.” In the rearview mirror, I noticed that Kathy’s eyes suddenly sprung wide open, her face registering alarm. “You need just to come out and say that you think that artists are there for you people to manipulate and use—I mean, that’s what you’re saying, right? Dressing it all up with a lot of Bee Ess is just stupid.”
Keeping one eye on the traffic ahead, I responded, “Maybe I wasn’t clear, but what I was trying to say that people should stop manipulating artists and that artists should stop manipulating each other.”
Chiming in, Kenworth quipped, “that’s never going to happen.”
Kimmy was undeterred by our remarks. “I heard that the school used to be great until you came in. Before that, people were free and could do whatever they wanted, because they were artists. Then you came in, with your snooty sport jackets and fancy briefcase, and your fancy talk. We don’t need that, and we don’t need you, because we’re artists and we should be able to do whatever we want! And you want to take that away from us!”
Kenworth seemed respectful of the difficulty of my having to drive and debate at the same time, so he asked, “what about non-artists, don’t they get to be free?”
“Fuck all the non-artists; they aren’t worth fuck! Especially you, you fucking asshole. Who do you think you are, some big shot or something? Fuck you!”
Then it was Kathy’s turn to speak, and she did so with loud, albeit slightly slurred speech. “Jay, I want these women out of my car now!”
Even though we were driving on the freeway in the rain, I found myself eager to comply with Kathy’s demand. But before I could steer the car toward an off-ramp, I heard someone hiss the word “bitch” as a scuffle broke out in the back seat. Quickly, I veered the car to the far-right lane, and then onto a gravel shoulder. When it came to a halt, I got out and opened the back door so that I could intervene in the conflict, first by pulling Helen out of the back seat, and then reaching in to grab Kimmy, who was beating a terror-struck Kathy with a heel-end of a yellow shoe. But before I could pull Kimmy out of the car, Helen attacked me from behind, hitting me on the back of my neck. It was combat!
I quickly ducked so that Helen’s second punch flew past my head, and then I used her overreaching posture to advantage by grabbing her at the waist, lifting her, and then throwing her down on to the pavement, which she hit hard. Then I turned left to see Kimmy coming at me in full fury, flailing her purse as if it were some kind of medieval bludgeoning weapon. Purse in one hand, shoe in the other and perched on one leg, she seemed to be acting out a frenzied pantomime of what an enraged flamingo would look like if cast in a martial arts movie, so I had to be quick on my feet to dodge her attacks. From inside the car, Kathy was shrieking, “Jason—think about your job!”
Fortunately for me, Helen was back on her feet, which was surprising given how hard she hit the pavement a second earlier. She grabbed Kimmy from behind, so as to restrain the motion of her makeshift weaponry. Then Helen addressed me with the voice of experience: “Get in the car and just go! Go now! Go!”
I was glad to obey, and seconds later, the car was back in the flow of northbound traffic. Kenworth turned to the back seat to ask Kathy if she was all right, and her voice quivered as she answered in the affirmative. His eyes seemed quite enlarged, and I noticed that my hands were still shaking on the steering wheel. For the next several minutes, the three of us were silent.
Finally, Kathy composed herself well enough to say, “Well, that was exciting.” Her voice was dry, which seemed to break the ice, leading Kenworth and I to let out a chuckle. “Don’t worry,” he said,
“I will back you up if you get into trouble at work; as far as I am concerned, that was a pure case of unprovoked assault.”
Kathy said, “right on!” I knew that the testimony of a credentialed newspaper reporter was every bit as good as that of a police officer, meaning that I would most likely dodge any bullets pointed at me from the school’s lawsuit-adverse administration.
Suddenly, traffic came to a standstill. We were still well south of Palo Alto, and we had a long way to go. I remembered that we had to get to San Francisco before I could go back home to San Rey, and I began to worry about how I would make my way home. I wondered what could be holding up the traffic, but I also noticed that none was heading in the opposite direction. I asked Kathy if her car had a radio.
A minute later, we were listening to a broadcast report of what was called a “chemical incident” on the 101 Freeway with traffic stopped in both directions. This was bad news, but I also noticed cars exiting the freeway up ahead, so I positioned the Honda to follow suit. Forty minutes later, we were finally off of the highway and moving west on a side street, the plan being to eventually link up with the northbound 280 Freeway at some point west of Palo Alto.
It was well after midnight when we dropped Kenworth off at his house in the Mission district, and ten minutes later, I pulled Kathy’s car into the underground garage beneath the apartment building where she lived. After I parked the car, she seemed to sense my concern about missing the last bus back to San Rey, so she asked: “why don’t you just stay here?” It was late on a Friday night, so my odds of finding an affordable hotel room were nil, and the temperature in San Francisco was much lower than it was in San Jose three hours earlier.
I was both enticed and disturbed by her invitation. Some months earlier, I had sworn off having any more romantic liaisons with students because they always carried the potential for unwelcome grief and career-threatening disaster. On the other hand, Kathy seemed more sensible and mature than most students, and she seemed to have had some real-life experience before her most recent adventure in graduate school. Most likely, her invitation was for me to sleep on a couch or in a guest room, and even if it wasn’t, that’s how my newly acquired instinct for self-preservation would insist on taking it.
We entered the apartment and I was surprised and relieved to see that it was quite large by art student standards. It had a separate bedroom, so one source of potential awkwardness was neutralized. Kathy seemed to have slipped back into a daze. “I need to get to bed right away. There is a pillow and an afghan on the couch by the TV. Sorry, I can’t be more hospitable, but I need to lay down before I fall down. Good night.”
I didn’t get a chance to return her salutation before the bedroom door shut hard, so, over to the couch I went. I took off my shoes and then stretched out under the afghan, pondering the streetlight glare coming through the window. I thought hard about how I might best communicate the evening’s events to Dean Alfred, or even if I should. And what about Theda at the Citadel Lyceum meeting? What to make of that? No clear answers were forthcoming, so I dozed off.
It seemed like I had been in a deep sleep for several hours when something woke me. When the panic of not remembering where I was subsided, I noticed Kathy standing over me, eerily illuminated by the window’s raking light. Dressed as if she were going on a camping trip, she wore a heavy plaid shirt and tall high-lace boots partially covered by the crisply rolled cuffs of new blue jeans. The look on her face was strange, severe and a bit angry. Her jaw thrust forward, and her gaze seemed focused on a far-off horizon. In an uncharacteristically deep voice, she asked, “What are your intentions with her?”
I thought I was dreaming, so I paused before responding. She repeated the question, pronouncing the words more deliberately. My answer: “all I want is to get home. I don’t have any intentions.” I wondered who the “her” was in the question, and then it hit me: the questioner wasn’t Kathy, but another very distinct personality that was asking about Kathy. I was witnessing a bonafide instance of split personality or a good imitation of it.
“She thinks that you want her, and she wants you to want her, but you can’t have her, and she can’t have you. She is sick, and she can make you sick. You should leave. And you should stop leading her on.”
I know that defending myself on this point would be dangerous, so I tried to change the topic, asking, “can I wait until the sun comes up? I can catch the first bus.”
Plaid-shirt Kathy said, “OK, you can leave then. But leave. You must leave. It’s for your own good.” Then she turned and walked back toward the bedroom and then turned into the bathroom. After the door shut, I could hear the sounds of vomiting, but they subsided, there was no sound of a toilet flushing, only the bathroom door opening, and a second later, closing. Then silence.
Disconcerted by the visitation, I checked my watch. It was 5:20 in the morning. Sunrise was still over an hour away. I pulled the afghan over my head and closed my eyes.
The next thing I remember was bright sunshine pouring in from the window. I heard movement in the kitchen leading up to the welcome gurgle of a coffeemaker, and the sound of a newscaster’s voice coming from a radio or television. Then, Kathy entered the room, clad in a black T-shirt and light grey sweatpants. I noticed a gauze bandage taped around her left arm above the elbow, and peeking out from beneath it a dark bruise.
“Are you up? Coffee is on the way.” I was relieved to hear that it was regular Kathy speaking to me, rather than the woodsier version that had visited a few hours earlier. “News said 101 was closed because a tanker truck jackknifed and spilled a load of vegetable oil on the freeway. Hard to imagine how that could stop both lanes of traffic for so long.”
She walked over carrying a tray, upon which sat two cups and some other crockery. “How do you take it?”
“Usually with milk and sugar. But let’s start with black for now.”
“Black it is—did you sleep well?”
“For a few hours. What time is it?”
“Almost eight. Sorry, I was so unsociable last night, but I was in a bad state. Feeling much better now.”
“Did you take your medicine?”
“Just a few minutes ago, already kicking in.”
I thought that asking her about her medical situation would be awkward, but I was more interested in getting to an even more delicate question. “You know, you woke me up last night. You were wearing a plaid shirt and you seemed really strange. I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t dreaming.”
A cloud of apprehension passed over Kathy’s face. “Oh, how embarrassing. It’s been a while since that’s happened. I hope that I didn’t scare you. Sometimes when I go off my medication schedule, I go into a fugal state—actually, I felt one coming on ever since we walked in on that Citadel Lyceum meeting. Usually, I can concentrate and make it go away, but with all of the excitement…I hope that I didn’t say anything too embarrassing.” When my silence indicated she did, her voice quavered. “Did I?”
“You don’t remember?”
“Oh no. Oh no! Oh, god, I’m mortified. No, I don’t remember any of it.”
“Well, maybe we should just forget it. Or maybe I should just make something up.”
“You have to tell me, and don’t you dare make anything up!” It hadn’t occurred to Kathy that teaching assistants should refrain from giving direct orders to their supervising professors.
“Well, for starters, it seemed like you were not even you—you walked in dressed like you were going on a fishing trip, and you talked about yourself like you were another person. It was pretty creepy. I thought it was a good you weren’t carrying an Ax.”
“Did you say anything?”
“I answered a question, and I agreed to leave.”
“What was the question?”
“The question was, ‘what were my intentions with you?’”
“You mean like a parent asking…”
“Yeah, kind of—like I may have had something dishonorable up my sleeve…you know, traveling salesman, farmer’s daughter, broken heart.”
Kathy buried her face in her hands, and it seemed as though she was fighting back more tears. After a long moment, she clasped my hand and said, “I guess now would be a good time to explain myself. I think my little alter ego is a function of my health situation. You should take the fact that she was so concerned about your intentions as a compliment because she knew that if our situations were different, I would have happily invited you to sleep with me because I have a crush on you. Well, kind of a crush. But the fact is, I am HIV-positive, and I don’t want to make you or anybody else sick. I need to take several medications to manage things, and some have bizarre side effects. How’s that for a situation?”
I felt my heart sink, and at that moment, I realized how attracted I had been to Kathy, and how much effort I had made to block that fact from my consciousness.
“How long have you known?”
“Little over a year coming up on two years. One of the reasons I decided to go to grad school was so that I could get in on a group health plan, and the school has a good one. Also, I needed to get out of LA and away from my ex-husband.”
“Did he infect you?”
“It had to be him. I’m sure it was, but that’s not the reason that I left him. He is an EMT and was exposed to the virus when some dirtbag street person stuck him with a dirty needle. I left him because he knew and didn’t tell me.”
At this point, Kathy lost her struggle with sadness and let go with tears and a long plaintive whimper. Then she collected herself and said, “the reason that he didn’t tell me was that he had been going to these Citadel Lyceum meetings, where he got the idea that he only needed to be as honest as he could be, and that if he couldn’t be honest enough to tell me about his infection it was somehow OK. So the bastard made me sick and then said that he was sorry only after I found out on my own. So you could say that he chose the Lyceum over me. I went to some of those stupid meetings with him because he was really into it. But as far as I could tell, it was just a group of people giving each other permission to be a bunch of self-serving hypocrites. I told Jesse what I thought, and he was furious. I officially left the Catholic Church to get a civil divorce –not that I was ever that good a Catholic. Then I left and came up here. I thought art school could be a good way to find something meaningful to do while I am still alive, which the doctors say will be 3 or 4 years if I stick to the regimen. The fugal states started soon after I started on the anti-virals, but the really scary thing is that they might also have something to do with a brain tumor.
“Have you had a CAT scan?”
“Yeah, and they show no sign of any brain tumor. But my doctor says that there is no reason why the cocktail should cause fugal states. I guess I am just a medical mystery. Anyway, I’m sorry that I startled you. I hope that you don’t think that I am crazy.”
Suddenly, I remembered seeing Amy, Alice and Theda at the Citadel Lyceum meeting, and I remembered what Amy had said about Alice at the Broken Frame. Then I realized why Kathy was not at the critic’s symposium.
“You weren’t in San Jose to go to the UAA conference. You were there for the life coach event, right?”
Kathy smiled. “Yeah, I heard that Helmut Zyklon was going to be there, and since his little cult of weasels has managed to ruin my life, I wanted to see the king of the vampires face-to-face. As far as I know, he isn’t even supposed to be in the country—he lives in the Caymans and was thrown out of France, and is still wanted here for tax evasion, which is why the old ZST organization was turned into Citadel Lyceum. I think he’s still on their board or something after walking out with about a zillion dollars. While I was sneaking into the convention center, I saw you walk into the book fair. Later, when I learned that Theda was doing something at the Citadel event, I wanted you to see that she was part of it, so I went looking for you—that’s when I saw you sitting with that guy at the bar. Wow, Burton Donaldson. I wish that I could have met him.”
“We were on the art critics symposium together.”
“Was that what those girls were talking about? I kind of nodded off.”
“Yeah, they were there. But I’m curious, if you don’t mind me asking, how did that Citadel Lyceum thing affect your husband?” My memory had grown clear, and I was able to recall the Aimless Amy saga about Alice, and their subsequent surprise attendance as a reunited couple at the Zyklonathon for life coaches.
Kathy paused, and she seemed reluctant to answer. “I guess you could say that it turned him into a kind of zombie with a mechanically positive attitude. It seemed like he suddenly had a canned answer for everything, but the answers weren’t really answers; they were only clever evasions and denials, like ‘turn your question backward, and you will see the answer,’ that kind of thing. I mean, I was only asking him where we were getting the money to pay for his Lyceum seminars, and he accused me of trying to hold him back as part of — get this — the marriage racket. Then I found out that those classes had put us deep into debt, really deep. I began to think he got interested in it because he was unhappy in our marriage, but the real truth is he was unhappy in his life; always was, but more so at that time. His mother died right before he got into it, and that was a big deal, with lots of fighting between brothers and sisters. He was Latino, and he comes from a large, devout Catholic family. Because of them, I converted to Catholicism right before I married him, and for a while, I cherished the connection between family and church community. As I look back, I can now see that part of the reason I got married was the fact that I envied how close he was with his family, and how close his family was with other families that were part of the church. Growing up as an only child of a single father in northern Arizona, I never really had any experience of a large, close-knit family, and I always felt that I was missing something important. However, after his adventure with Citadel Lyceum, he started to grow apart from his family; he turned on them if you to know the real truth. They were all concerned, and they wanted me to help them convince Jesse to quit the Lyceum. But after I was diagnosed, enough was enough. I filed for a divorce, gave him back his name and his ring and left the church. Then, I moved up here.
“What part of Arizona did you grow up in?”
“Bullhead City. My dad managed a casino across the river in Laughlin. Still does. My mother left when I was very young, and things have always been tense with my step-mom. But she also was the one who encouraged my art. She works as an art consultant for the Aeolean Winds timeshare company and says as long as she has her job, she can buy enough of my work so that I can live off of it. So far, I have sold her every painting I have done since being admitted to the MFA program, but I have only seen a little bit of the money because she is holding it in trust until I graduate. Aeolean Winds owns this apartment, and I live here rent-free. That way, my student aid situation stays squared up with the IRS. Of course, to cash in on the situation, I have to make the kind of paintings that I make, which everybody here seems to hate.”
I remembered her sponging blue paint in her studio. “I guess your work is just too obvious about its commercial dimension as tasteful interior decoration. At NCSAD we are deeply invested in pretending that our artistic values are operating on a plane of high seriousness. Not that anybody actually knows what that means.”
“Oh, I can see that—I mean, there is a difference between selling wall furniture to a corporate decorator who lives in eastern Arizona, and getting your work in a big museum show, right? From my stepmom’s point of view, it doesn’t get any better than the Sedona art fair.”
“Not as much as you might think. And it’s getting less and less so all of the time.”
“Anyway, that brings me to a question that I wanted to ask you. How can I fail my final review?”
“Why would you want to do that?”
“Because it would be much better for me to stay here for another year. One reason is that I could get additional financial aid and stay on the medical insurance. It would also allow me to claim two full years of residence in California, so that when I did leave the program, I could get on to Medi-Cal—Arizona or Nevada don’t have anything like it, and as you can imagine, my medical situation is an issue.”
Placing my fist to signify deep thought, I said “well, I never heard of anybody actually trying to fail their review, at least outside of not showing up for it—but you can’t do that because to get the extension, you need to make a presentation and have it be rejected by the committee. Not making the presentation will just get you thrown out of the program. The review committees haven’t been chosen yet, but when they are, I will see what I can do.”
# # #
About the author: Mark Van Proyen’s visual work and written commentaries focus on satirizing the tragic consequences of blind faith placed in economies of narcissistic reward. Since 2003, he has been a corresponding editor for Art in America. His recent publications include: Facing Innocence: The Art of Gottfried Helnwein (2011) and Cirian Logic and the Painting of Preconstruction (2010). To learn more about Mark Van Proyen, read Alex Mak’s December 9, 2014 interview, published on Broke-Ass Stuart’s website.