But Is It Art?



I was at the doctor’s office the other day (just a check-up) and as I waited in the examination room I studied the sole painting hanging on the wall. It appeared to be a European scene, a stone home’s exterior with a mottled landscape in the background. There was a tile roof and various potted plants. It was rather typical in its style and I suppose the intent was to show the viewer a bucolic scene, to trigger a longing for that place.


I’ve been going to the same doctor for years, and his art hasn’t changed. So this little painting is somewhat familiar to me. And I just can’t help it, but I’ve never cared for it. I’ve not known why and honestly – I’ve tried to figure it out! I’m not overly critical of it. It’s office art. Nothing more, nothing less. I highly doubt it’s of personal value to my doctor. I’m fairly certain it’s part of some bulk purchase designed to accessorize an entire office suite. I mean, it sort of matches the other art I’ve grown used to seeing there over the years.


Anyhoo, as I sat waiting for the doc, I studied the painting and really tried to dissect its composition. And I think I finally figured out what irks me about the danged thang: the light source isn’t defined. In other words, there is clearly a setting sun in the distance, hidden behind the house. And the light from that sun hits certain edges of the building and the stone fence. It also casts shadows where it should. But then there is some other light source shining upon a different side of the house, casting shadows where it ought not. As the entire scene is set in daylight, the second light source makes no sense.


Once I figured out the lighting snafu, I understood my disdain for the painting. And while in the end it really doesn’t matter what I think – for a variety of reasons – it did make me happy to have deciphered the problem. And to know I’m being taught by someone to never make that sort of mistake.

Seeing Red



When the doctor’s office called to cancel my appointment – with less than 24 hours notice – I should have sensed a disturbance in the force. But I didn’t. The gal on the phone offered to have me come in the following day and I said yes.


It’s my eyes. They’re exactly the same age as I, and they need to be checked now and then. It’s more complicated than how well I see, so I try to stay on top of my eye-health. (You should, too, but I’m not here to preach.) All in all, I was scheduled to have my vision tested, get a visual field test (whatever that is) and have my eyes examined for health and preventative maintenance.


The optometrist saw me first, pretty much on time. Dr. Song was just fine. She was polite, professional and no-nonsense. She finished up her portion of my visit, dilated my eyes and sent me to wait for the ophthalmologist. The Dilating Waiting Area was freezing. It was 3:10 pm.


After about a half hour, someone took me to get a test that measures the thickness of my optic nerve. It’s digital, and no big deal. It didn’t take long, and I was then led back to the same waiting area for the ophthalmologist to see me. The room seemed to have gotten colder, but I wasn’t waiting long. Someone then led me into an exam room. That was about 3:45 pm.


At 4:15 pm, I was cold and antsy. Okay, I was also miffed. I’d been at this joint since 2:30 and I’d been sitting just over an hour, with dilated eyes, waiting for an appointment that should have happened 40 minutes prior. As I sat alone in the exam room, shivering, I started to worry I might lose it and scream.


That isn’t an unfounded fear, y’all. Years ago, while working on an independent film, one of my assignments was to pick up certain supplies at the grocery store each morning. One day I was standing at the check-out of a major chain store, and there didn’t seem to be another living soul in the entire establishment. After a full 5 minutes, I sort of flipped out. At the top of my lungs, I screamed, “Is anyone working in this store?” It took all of about .3 seconds for several employees to surface and come running. I can’t tell you where they’d been, but they certainly did freak out at the sound of my screaming. Effective? Yes. Cool? No.


So when the urge to scream started circulating through my body, I remembered that supermarket scenario and opted instead to breathe deeply. I did walk out to the receptionist and told her my eyes had been dilated over an hour ago and that I was still waiting for the doctor. She said she’d let someone know and that it shouldn’t be much longer. I shivered as I walked back to the exam room. It was 4:30 pm.


At 4:45, someone came in to tell me it would take a short time more. I was no longer angry. I was just at a loss. I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t know what to say. I just looked at her and cried. I could have said about a jillion things, but I tried to keep it simple. Through tears, I said I didn’t understand why this office was so unprofessional. I said that if an office cannot honor its responsibility to appointments, then those appointments should not be made in the first place. Then I told her to just leave the room, as she wasn’t actually helping the situation.


I called Mister, as he’s my first line of – well – everything. That guy, I swear. He started asking the name of the doctor’s office, as if he was going to call and let someone have it. I told him to just let it go, and that I would wait it out so that I could make sure my eyes were actually okay. He was very kind and very calm. He helped me calm down a bit and the phone call ended. A minute or two later, yet another person came in and apologized for the wait, adding that I was next. When she said, “The doctor will be right in,” I responded, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” She then said there had been several emergencies and that those had slowed everything down. It was 5:00 pm.


At 5:15 pm, over 2 hours after my eyes had been dilated, Dr. Yates walked in and smiled. When I didn’t smile back, and when I didn’t respond to her greetings, she knew something was wrong. I told her I’d been waiting to see her for over 2 hours and she asked why. “You tell me,” I said. She looked confused and told me she didn’t understand why no one had informed her she even had a patient waiting, as she hadn’t been subject to any emergencies. She apologized and started to say more, but I asked her to simply examine me so that I could actually wrap up the entire appointment and leave. Before she began, she asked if I wanted to schedule another appointment, so that I could get a visual field test. I looked at her, with fresh tears in my eyes, and explained that the ball had clearly been dropped on that front. She apologized again and moved on. It didn’t take her long to finish the exam and that was that.


As I was leaving, the receptionist asked me to fill out a postcard so that they could send a reminder for my next exam. I looked her directly in the eyes and calmly said, “No, thank you. Today has shown me how terribly unprofessional this office is, and I will be finding a different doctor’s office for all future needs. I simply cannot give business to anyone who treats patients so rudely and with such disrespect. Feeling forgotten and ignored is unacceptable. Being lied to is unacceptable. It doesn’t matter if the doctors are good, if the office itself is so poorly run. I won’t be coming back here.” She looked at me and said, “What?” And y’all, I swear to beans, I repeated the entire statement.


I paid what I owed and checked the time. It was 5:28 pm. I had been there for 3 hours and I felt awful. I didn’t have regrets about my behavior or anything. After all, I had managed to not scream when the impulse struck. But I just hated having been tossed aside like old tissue. I hated people making up excuses and lies, right to my face. I hated that I had spent my morning working my ass off, doing the very best I could, before high-tailing it over for that appointment, where several people clearly decided to do less than their best. And that’s what it really boiled down to: doing – or not doing – one’s best.


I got in my car, paid the lot attendant the maximum fee (as I’d been in the place for so long) and aimed west, toward home. My eyes were still a bit dilated, so I lowered the car’s visor and wore sunglasses. I turned the heat on, trying to get my core temperature back up. As I navigated through afternoon rush hour traffic, tears slid down my cheeks. Sadly, they weren’t because of the blinding, setting sun.