Wednesday, September 21, 2011


(In which I can no longer truthfully utter the sentence: "I have never, as an adult person, pissed myself.")

I arrived in Rochester on Thursday evening, and checked into the Radisson Inn. (My several attempts to find a place to stay through had proved fruitless.)

On Friday morning, after several cups of weak 'complimentary' hotel coffee, I gathered my painting supplies and headed to Rochester's historic 'Brown's Race' District. I situated myself next to the Genesee River, looking toward an abandoned factory. After a couple hours I had finished my painting and went in search of a snack. I found a convenience store, where I bought a bag of fritos and a big-gulp-size orange soda (which I drank and then surreptitiously refilled when the clerk wasn't looking). Hunger sated and thirst quenched, I headed back to Brown's Race for round two of painting.

I parked myself on the Pont De Rennes pedestrian bridge, which overlooks High Falls, a spectacular 96-foot waterfall that spills into the Genesee River Gorge. In 1892, an ancestor company to Rochester Gas and Electric built a steam and hydroelectric plant on the northwest edge of the gorge. The plant is still used for hydroelectric power today.

As I painted, streams of people wandered across the bridge, snapping photos of the Falls and leaning over the railing to look down into the Gorge. A couple walked past me, holding hands. I overheard a snippet of their conversation:
Woman: "You know that other waterfall? It's like this one, only a lot bigger...what's it called?"
Man: (after pausing for a few seconds to think) "Oh, you mean Nigger Falls."
I nearly dropped my paintbrush. I tried to think of something to shout after them as they walked on, but my stupefied brain refused to come up with anything.

Stunned, I continued painting. I mixed colors and measured angles. As I worked, my bladder reminded me (with growing urgency) of the whale-sized soda I had consumed a few hours before. I scanned my surroundings: there were no nearby public restrooms, and the constant pedestrian traffic across the bridge eliminated any possibility of inconspicuously relieving myself. I could either pack up early and seek out a restroom, or cross my legs, hope for the best, and keep painting. I chose the second option.

I painted (while choreographing my own particularly urgent version of the potty dance) until I could no longer ignore the protestations from my distended bladder. Belatedly, it occurred to me that drinking nearly a gallon of soda and then staring at a waterfall for hours on end was perhaps not the wisest idea. I pronounced the painting 'sufficiently finished' and scrambled to pack up my easel, wondering if it was too late to start doing kegel exercises. It was. As I loaded my painting gear onto my bike, my weather-balloon-sized bladder declared enough to be enough, and pulled its own plug. I stood, paralyzed with embarrassment, as warm ex-orange-soda streamed down my legs. I tried to squeeze my bladder shut again. Unsuccessful. If you've ever pissed yourself, you know that once you start, it's REALLY hard to stop. Meanwhile, throngs of people continued to walk by. I glanced down and saw a pool of liquid rapidly spreading at my feet. I yanked a water bottle off my bike and and emptied its contents on myself, saying loudly, "Oh no! I've spilled my water bottle all over my legs! Just water! This is definitely just water! Which I have spilled on myself!"

I'm pretty sure my charade did not fool anyone.

Moral of the Story: the karmic justice for stealing soda is remarkably swift and harshly ironic. Always pay for your refills.

Jen's Handy Camping Tips-Tip #2: if you are going to piss yourself in public, wear black pants. Black hides a spreading urine stain better than lighter colors.

Coming Soon: Syracuse

'High Falls' (6"x8")

An abandoned factory in Brown's Race (8"x6")

Genesee Brewing Company (6"x8")

Sketch of the Tap and Mallet Bar in Rochester

View of Rochester from the Genesee River


  1. LOL... Never done that one, but having to share a bathroom with an 11 year old girl did lead to the occasional use of a pee bottle on my part. Damn, they take forever in there.

    Have you tried for places to stay?

  2. Jen, you are ridiculously funny. Love it!