A terribly insightful comment from Robin McKinley about the response of readers to writing–I’d say it also applies to the reaction of viewers to art.

People not liking something — or disliking it for the wrong reasons, see above — is depressing; but people liking something too well is disquieting. Like being given a diamond necklace in thanks for a embroidered pillow-case. This doesn’t make you happy, it makes you feel fraudulent.

Which is not to say that I don’t love praise as much as the next person–“Hey, I really like this,” “Hey, you really captured something here,””HA! A lungfish! Lookit his little gills!” are one of the major things that artists live for, but the unfortunate corollary is that it’s terribly hard to explain why people writing “OMG THIS IS MY NEW REASON FOR LIVING!1!” on a painting is a little more creepy than flattering, without sounding like a complete ingrate savaging the fans, which is the last thing I want to do. (I know, I know, we’re all supposed to shun anything other than constructive criticism as mere dross from the masses, unfit for the serious artist who thrives ‘pon savage critique and the bitter bile squeezed from the gall bladders of our harshest critics. Screw it. Criticism is vital in its place, but “OMG! So cool!” is as good a quick pick-me-up as anything. I’m shallow. And I’m comfortable with that.)

I hasten to add that it’s not that anyone’s said anything like that recently, I just tripped over the quote, and it articulated a feeling I’ve had in the past much better than I’ve ever managed to articulate it. (So don’t all start worrying that You, Personally, have left some bizarre comment that has forever thrown me across the weirdness horizon. Seriously. Y’all are cool.)

Went to the doctor for my first physical in…well, a long ass time. And it was good. Nice doctor, nice grad student who did most of the stuff–they played “Find the Heart Murmur” (I have a terribly minor murmur that seems to be vanishing with age–it used to be fairly distinct as a child, but you can only faintly hear it now, and to find it on ultrasound I have to practically stand on my head) and declared it vanishingly small. So I go in in two weeks for cholesterol testing, which will probably be rather high, since both my parents are very high, and I need to exercise more frequently, lose the obligatory five pounds, and drink less caffiene, but other than that, I am declared pretty darn healthy. Which is nice.

The doctor was flamingly, mincingly, almost exaggeratedly gay, which made the pap smear a vaguely surreal experience. I am not used to having someone say “Oo! Ectocervical tissue!” in quite those cheery, utterly nonthreatening tones. (Not having heard the phrase before, I asked, which ended with him drawing cervixes on the little white paper table-cover and explaining interesting things about squamous vs. columnular tissue cells and their relationship vis-a-vis the cervix.

He won me over completely, however, when going in for the breast exam, he spotted the tattoo on my bicep–I have a rather large black celtic hound tattoo armband–blinked, turned my arm over, stared, and said, in awed tones, “Wow, you’re not a wuss!” And then he had to explain to his assistant that getting the underside of the arm tattooed is an exercise in agony, and you can always tell the guys who wussed out by the barbed wire going two-thirds of the way around the bicep. (There are very few pleasures in this life, when one is a nondescript woman of no particular physical strength, to compare to standing smugly next to a giant Hell’s Angel who could bench press a Volkswagon, and having a much more badass tattoo than his. It’s a small victory over the cosmos, but I’ll take what I can get.)

I did have to get a tetanus shot, though, since it’s been ten years, and my attempts to weasel out were firmly quashed. So now my arm is sore, but I suppose I’ll be grateful when next I stroll through Bob’s House of Rusty Nails and Small Biting Animals.