Friday, July 25, 2008

Surprise design.

I've never really been a fly by the seat of my pants kind of gal. I like to have a plan and know what’s going to happen next. I don't even like to put my iPod on shuffle because it makes me nervous. Jumping from Notorious B.I.G. to Frank Sinatra to a Latin dance number we downloaded for my 30th birthday fiesta just feels wrong to me. Even if I happen to love the randomly selected song, I can’t help but worry, “What if the next song is a podcast?”

You might be thinking, “Well, on the upside, you're probably very organized and productive.” Yeah, not so much. Instead of doing, I'm planning to do. And not in a, "Let's plan to do that on Tuesday," kind of way.

If I come up with an idea like, say, making my laundry room look less laundry and more room, the likelihood that I will actually begin the project hovers somewhere between "maybe if we have out-of-town guests who I really want to impress" and "not until we decide to move and sell our house". In all probability, it may never happen.

My style of planning is a little bit like this:

I will get really excited about something, talk about it a lot and come up with an absolutely flawless plan. Then, instead of starting the project like any normal human being would do, I start picking it apart. In no time at all I convince myself it will be too expensive, too labor-intensive, too hard to find the time, too you name it. Before ever getting started, I am completely over it. I mean, if it didn't work in my head, why on earth would I try it in real life?

This is not a particularly great way to live. Not only is it self-defeating and unproductive, it's also majorly lacking in excitement.

A recent podcast I was listening to (by choice, not by random selection) compared living a totally controlled life to going on an over-planned vacation. You know exactly what you'll be doing every minute of every day. You might be in an exotic location but would never know it because your four-star hotel looks just like every other hotel you've ever seen. Your tour guide speaks English and so do all the people you sit with at dinner. You never step one foot out of your comfort zone and return home exactly the same person you were when you left (well, aside from the suitcase full of tacky souvenirs).

On the other hand, a real adventure can change your life forever. The people you meet, the things you do, the ways you rise up to meet a challenge - it's these things that stretch you and make you grow into a better person.

Hearing it described like that made me wonder, am I living my life like a tourist?

I immediately became more conscious of my actions (or in-actions as it were) and expressed a desire to change. I wanted to be the kind of person who jumps in shouting "WOO HOO!" instead of "HOLY $#!T! HOW DEEP IS THAT WATER???"

This morning, I got a nudge.

Liam woke up a few minutes before the little girl I babysit for arrived. I got him dressed and situated with a peanut butter waffle and some Blue's Clues. Then I started a pot of coffee, let the dog out and opened the door to the laundry room to kill feed my meowing cats. When I opened the door, I saw this:

That huge gray and white puddle on the floor? Paint. Wet paint.


I'm not exactly sure what happened but it appears to have been a chain reaction involving cats, golf clubs, and a tower of half used paint cans. In addition to the huge puddle of paint, the cat prints are leading to another mess (I'll give you a hint - it's not the cat box...).

I stood in the doorway for a moment, frozen in a state of overwhelmed amusement. There's a puddle of paint on the floor. Paint. Ha! The knock at the door shook me out of my inactive stupor and I left the situation to greet and care for Baby Girl.

There wasn't a thought in my head while I rocked her and got her down for a nap. I would have liked to have been hatching a brilliant clean up plan but had absolutely no idea where to begin. As soon as she fell asleep, I drank a quick cup of coffee and did the next most logical thing: called my husband at work. I think this is a universal wife move. We call the one person we know can't help us at the moment and share all the details of the most recent household shocker while they try their best to remain composed and professional (The Christmas tree fell over! There's paint on the floor! I'm pregnant!). I guess we figure, if we have to deal with it, so should they. Plus, it gives us someone to pin our frustration on ("You didn't even do anything!" "I was AT WORK!").

I know I am not the only wife who does this.

With Bill up to speed on the laundry room situation, I had nothing left to do but dive in and fix it. I put on some short shorts, took a deep breath and marched into the room with an apprehensive, "Woo hoo?"

Fortunately the floors were already painted (I never thought I'd say that...) so nothing major was ruined. We had even talked about wanting to repaint the floors a lighter color but didn't know where to begin. Well, that was no longer a problem. I got everything off the floor (except for the heavy stuff) and vacuumed up the cat hair and dryer lint. Then I found a paint roller and began to mix the perfect shade of gray.

Well, sort of perfect.

I started out very nonchalant about the finished product. I knew I wasn't painting the floor so much as I was distributing a paint spill so it would eventually dry. I was rolling the half-mixed paint as evenly as possible and trying not to let the messy brown border bother me. Once I had the floor about half way done, I stood back to look at it. It already drove me crazy. Even though I knew I would eventually finish the floors, I didn't want to see a mess every time I had to do laundry in the mean time. More even mixing and a little edging couldn't be that much more difficult. I needed to try harder.

Now that half the floor was covered in a thick layer of gray and white marbled paint and the paint brushes were on the other side of the puddle, it became very clear that this project was about to become more than "hands on". I checked the baby to make sure she was still sleeping, gave Liam some chocolate milk and turned on the extra long Blue's Clues (thanks, Noggin!).


I jumped right into the puddle of paint and nearly fell over and broke my neck. Why I didn't think paint would be slippery is beyond me. "Oh! OK. OK. I can do this." I was nodding my head vigorously while maintaining a Sumo wrestler squat. My center of gravity was low to the ground, my arms were thrown out to the side for balance and as long as I didn't try to move, I was pretty steady. My legs were starting to shake and I knew the faster I finished this workout/project, the better.

I carefully skated over to the shelf and, with one arm on the washing machine for balance, squatted down to grab the paint brush. It was stiff and covered in cat hair. "OK, no problem. Nooo problem." I shuffled toward the bathroom and grabbed onto the doorknob to steady myself. The door swung open and my legs kicked out in both directions. I held onto the door for dear life and somehow managed to get my legs back under my body without falling ass first into the paint. I felt like an old woman getting out of her car and discovering a patch of black ice in the Sears' parking lot. Only, if I fell I would break my hip and be covered in paint.

I washed the paint brush in the bathroom sink and started edging. "Edging" might be too fancy a term for what I was doing. "Shoving a wet paint brush under the washing machine and dryer and painting around the cat food and tool box and whatever else I didn't bother to move while sweating and panting in a shaky Sumo stance" is a little bit more accurate.

Suddenly Liam was at the door. "Oh, Mama, are you painting?"

"Yeah, Buddy. Just stay there, OK?"

"Mama, are you painting with your feet?"

"Mmmhmm. Pant, gasp. Mama's almost finished, OK?"

"Do you know giraffes are very tall?"

"Yeah, Buddy. Pant, pant, pant. Just go watch Steve and I'll be right there."

"Oh, Mama, giraffes live in very tall houses."

I continued to paint while sweating and shaking and twisting my back in ways I didn't think possible. Finally, I was done. Well, almost done. About two feet from the doorway I realized I didn't have a way to get out of the laundry room. My hands and feet were covered in paint and unless I wanted to repaint the kitchen floor too (I did not) there was no where for me to step. I stood there for a moment, looking aimlessly at my gray feet and the space around me hoping something might spark an idea. Again, not a thought entered my head.

Finally I realized the door I was clinging to had a curtain on it. Perfect! I tore it off the window and threw it onto the kitchen floor. I stepped onto the curtain and exhaled for the first time in 40 minutes. Solid ground! I finished painting the last bit of the floor and then shuffle-hopped on the curtain over to the kitchen sink where I jumped in and cleaned myself up.

I couldn't believe it. I was finished! Not finished finished (the paint job is a base coat at best) but started finished. For me, that's the hardest part. In my head, repainting the floor was a really major project. The kind of project that would require multiple trips to Home Depot, at least two people (preferably one with some sort of expertise), and a whole day of sanding, cleaning, and painting. I never would have thought I could do it spur of the moment with two babies in the house.

Now that I can no longer talk myself out of it, I am going to re-do the laundry room for real. I can't wait. In fact, I won't wait. I will post photos of the awesome finished product SOON. I will have to paint, reorganize, sew, talk to people at Home Depot, spend money, move heavy objects, and step way out of my comfort zone.



Callie said...

This made me laugh out loud. I'm the same way. Always talking myself out of stuff before I start. Hope the next leg of the project goes well. :)

Courtney said...

I laughed so hard, I cried! I'm not kidding one bit, Maggie! Thanks for bringing comedy to everyday disaster! Whoa, too funny!