It's not about the house.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Day Nine, Project Three: Requiem For A Paintbrush

Oh ugh, why did I say I’d do this? I’ve been Puritan Manifesting for just over a week, I took two measly little days off, and now I can’t bear the thought of getting back to it. Which, now that I’ve spelled it out, sounds like a pretty good reason to have said I’d do it in the first place. Lazy lazy lazy lazy lazy lazy Jane…

I decided to listen to Mozart’s Requiem while I worked today because in the car on the way home from work I actually heard “Rock Me Amadeus” on the radio. (I’m sorry, I know people are all up in arms about it from New York to the Golden Gate, but I like my “we play everything” station (mine’s called Mike, yours might be Jack or Tom or Jeff or Billy Bob or Norbert). Yes, I know radio is supposed to be local and good but the fact is that it {isn’t} -- and if you’re lucky enough to have a good, local station, I bet you dollars to doughnuts the signal isn’t strong enough to carry you to work. The fact is, radio stations are so standardized they might as well be networked like the television. There’s a KISS in every market (playing “Go heavy go widdit” over and over and over and over again); a classic rock station and one that bills itself as “alternative” (both of which lay claim to the Clash, as Joe Strummer turns over and over again…); there’s something called “Adult Contemp” (which might as well just throw a “t” on the end there and be done with it); and then there’s talk (’nuff said). It’s all yuck, so forgive me if I get a little guilty kick out of hearing “Rock Me Amadeus,” “Devil Went Down To Georgia,” “Tie A Yellow Ribbon,” “Sweet Escape” (shoot me, but I also don’t hate Gwen Stefani) and “Walk This Way” all in a row, and showing up to work with a smile on my face.)

Now, where was I?

Oh yeah, “Rock Me Amadeus.” The Requiem is the rockingest thing old Wolfgang ever wrote, so I -- wait, I don’t own the Requiem? How do I not own the Requiem? I know I do, maybe it’s on vinyl. But I don’t have the patience to go through all those boxes in the basement right this minute. Oh well, I can’t really see substituting some deedly-dee little piano concerto, so I guess Songs of Kris Kristofferson will have to do. If “Sunday Morning Comin’ Down” doesn’t qualify as a requiem then I don’t know what does. (Maybe “Loving Her Was Easier.” Or “For The Good Times.” “Why Me,” “Bobby McGee,” “The Pilgrim”…)

So. After looking and failing and swearing, and deciding not to do this today after all, and then feeling guilty and deciding to have another look, and then another, I finally found everything I needed in the basement save a brush. That is, I could easily put my hands on about a thousand brushes, but Johnny isn’t here to tell me which to use.


For most of you this probably doesn’t sound like a dilemma. You’re thinking this decision ought to be the easy part: pick the ugliest brush you can find to do a job that’s only going to ruin the damn thing anyway. Right? But see, Johnny does this for a living. He’s a professional painter. Every brush in this house has a name and a purpose and a history, but he’s not exactly the neatest freak I ever met. Even the brush that’s been behind the radiator in the bathroom for the past six months and has a nest of spiders living in it is not necessarily up for grabs. He may have paid $15 for it and expect it to last him five more years. Seven, if it stays behind the rad a little longer.

Even to do something as destructive as sit in 5F5 for weeks on end, Johnny goes through this whole process of selecting a brush for me to use. Then he gives me a tutorial (again) on how to clean it when I finish every day. Then he inspects it when I’m done. If I’ve left the tiniest speck of gunk in there he’ll tell me just to leave it for him to clean up from now on. So sometimes I leave a speck of gunk in there on purpose.

When I first started stripping paint a couple years ago, I didn’t feel like playing the whole choose-a-brush game, so I just went and bought myself a new one. The cheapiest-ass, plastic-bristled brush that I could find. I only planned on ruining it anyway, I figured, so who cares? It cost two dollars. I was so proud. Damn thing disintegrated as soon as I dipped it in the can. Big black blob of booger-bristles.

Anyway, Johnny’s not home and I’m not going to buy a new brush and I don’t dare choose one of his, but I’ve got to do this. Right? Yes. Yes, I do. Suddenly, I have a brainstorm: the buckets out under the porch! He claims the brushes in them will still be good someday -- and maybe they will be, if he ever gets around to cleaning them -- but in the meantime I bet he wouldn’t even remember that they’re there, let alone notice if one of them went missing.

So I pull on a pair of rubber gloves (for some reason, I find five left-hand gloves under the sink and only one righty; I’ll think about what that might mean some other time…) and I (gag) go out and (gag) retrieve a brush from the (gag) painty-moldy-turpy-leafy water it’s been marinating in for lord only knows how many months or years. Hot water and dish soap and voilá , Johnny was right, this nasty old thing’s as good as new.

If by this point you are tapping your fingers and thinking “jeez, get on with it already!”, then you can imagine how frustrated I was to be only ready to begin to work. I’d been at it for the best part of an hour now and I hadn’t actually managed to do a thing.

And you can imagine how frustrated I was when I sat down to begin and saw the eighteen-inch swath along the bottom of the door that I had somehow forgotten when I had the heat gun out the other day.

So I had get the goddamn heat gun and do that goddamn section first, and then when I finally started with the 5F5 I realized I had the wrong kind of steel wool but I goddamn used it anyway even though it didn’t really work, and then when I got to the corner of the door I realized that I’d forgotten to heat-gun the edges and, well, let’s just say I didn’t finish it today, all right?

I need a drink. I’ll finish it tomorrow. Tomorrow there’s good stuff to listen to on NPR.

Day, what? Where are we? Should I count the days I didn’t work? No? Okay. Day Nine, Then: Accomplished
Total Time Spent: Oh crap, an hour getting ready and then Kris Kristofferson one and a half times (because I couldn’t touch anything with my poison hands and didn’t have the patience to take the gloves off to choose a new CD) -- probably about two hours all together.
Total Cost: Nothing, but I’ll have to go get the proper steel wool pads tomorrow. And maybe a couple right-hand gloves.
Johnny Coming Home In The Middle Of All Of This And Not Noticing (Or At Least Not Mentioning) That I Stole A Brush From Him: Priceless

1 comment:

Georgetown House said...

OMG woman you crack me up.