It's not about the house.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Day 11, Project Freaking Three: The Best Laid Plans

I’ve come to the conclusion that stripping paint is a lot like writing.

You start with a nice clean white expanse (or maybe some other color if you’re in, like, kindergarten -- or California), and then with a quick first pass you turn it into a horrible disgusting mess that you’d try to hide if company popped in. With painstaking care and lots of precautionary measures, you go over it and over it and over it -- and every time you think you’re done you find another flaw. When you get so mad you’re throwing things and decide it’s going to have to just be good enough, god damn it!, you hear a little voice in the back of your head telling you it’s not, keep going. Finally you get to a point where you think it might really be good enough this time, you don’t hear the voices anymore, so you put it away and go to bed -- and wake up to a whole new batch of flaws in the morning that you just couldn’t see in the dark the night before. Finally, when you really-really think it’s actually, honestly good -- not just good enough, but good -- then, if you’re very-very lucky, someone who respects you and has only your best interests at heart will point out to you all the spots you didn’t realize that you missed. (And if they are very-very lucky, they’ll be in a different city when they do it.)

So yeah, no staining today.

I didn’t sleep well last night (psychasthenia, remember) but I managed to stay in bed until almost 8:00 anyhow. Forced myself to work until 11:30 and then rewarded myself with a half an hour of Miss Snark (which is, sadly, halted now, but I’ve been reading the back posts that I missed before I discovered that all blogs aren’t navel-gazing acts of adolescent-style angst -- just mine, apparently). Then I had to bathe the cat (she’s thrilled, but she refused to pose for pictures), and by the time I bathed myself it was 2:00 and our old neighbors Carmine and Elaine were here. Johnny and Carmine had plans to play guitar together, and Elaine wanted me to go with her to the mall or something but I, like a schmo, declined in favor of stripping the frucking door again.

See, it turns out , now that it’s dry, the bottom half of the door that I used the #3 coarse steel wool on yesterday, looks very different from the top half that I used the # whatever-it-was on Friday. I have to hit the top again so that they’ll match. And I am thrilled. In fact, this is how I feel:

(I said she didn’t pose, I never said I didn’t take her picture.)

One saving grace is that a very nice reader wrote in to suggest that I could turn my left-hand gloves inside out and use them on my right hand. That worked just swellingly, and it put a happy little jolt into my day to realize that I was going to able to get to work without having to go running any stinking errands. Until Johnny walked over with his empty prescription bottle in his hand and asked me, like a two-year-old, if he “had any more medicines somewhere.” Yes, dear, because that’s what I do: I fill your prescriptions three, four months at a time and then keep them in a secret place until you ask me. Did you not notice you were running low? Could you not have told me yesterday? Argh. He leaves for the Cape again tomorrow, and he can’t exactly go a week without blood-pressure medication, so I’ve got to go to CVS…

When I come back the phone rings because -- crap! -- because it’s 3:00 already and I emailed Charlie this morning telling her I had things to do but I would definitely be done by three and she should call me then. I let the machine pick up (because I really am an awful friend), pull my two left gloves on and my mask -- then pull off my mask and gobble a half a thing of cottage cheese because I realize I haven’t eaten anything -- and set to work.

I am this close to finished when I notice for the first time that this door is actually made out of at least two, and maybe three different kinds of wood. and may just look like crap when stained no matter what. I call Johnny in from outside for a consult and he says yup, sure enough, at least two different kinds, and adds that he knows how to make it look good but I won’t want to do it. Well, how? I certainly don’t want to go through all of this and have it still look like crap. I get enough of that with the word processor, thank you very much.

Bleach it, he says.

With what, Carmine asks. Not bleach?

Well, yeah, Johnny answers (being terribly polite for Johnny). Bleach it with bleach. It’ll take all the old stain out of it and leave it fresh and white, like new.

Now, like I said, he’s going away again first thing in the morning. If I’m going to do this without him, I have to know exactly what to do before he leaves. So I start riddling him with questions. Not straight bleach, right? Do I just pour it on or use a brush? How long do I leave it? Do I have to rinse it off? Will I need to do it more than once? How long does it have to dry? Should it be lying flat or standing up? Can I do it now or does the thinner have to be dry first? Really, straight bleach?

Turns out if you ask your husband enough annoying questions in a row about a simple project that is in his line of work, he’ll decide it’s easier to just do it himself.

It can’t be done tonight because yes, the thinner has to dry first, but he says he’ll do it first thing in the morning before he heads down to Bourne. If he does, and if it’s dry when I get home from work, then I’ll stain it tomorrow. Otherwise I’ll hit the hinges with the 5F5.

Unless, of course, I wake up and decide the whole thing’s a piece of crap, in which case I’ll re-write -- I mean re-strip -- it one more time…

Day 11: Accomplished (as it were)
Total Time: I forgot to check, because I was listening to Johnny and Carmine play guitar instead of watching a TV show or listening to a CD that I could time myself by. Let’s say an hour?
Total Cost: Nothing (thanks for the inside-out glove tip, NanaJan!)
Chances That Johnny Will Actually Get Up And Get That Thing Bleached For Me In The Morning Before He Leaves: Paltry

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