Saturday, February 13, 2010

on writing, and windows

Okay, so, remember how two days ago I was ranting and raving about Nicholas Sparks and how I swore up and down that I would soon present to the world a love story better than his?

Yeah. That's not going to happen.

It's not that the challenge isn't compelling enough - especially if I could actually pull it off, and even more especially if I could sell it the way I fantasized (with newspaper titles deeming me the newest uneducated, coffee-making, hole-in-the-wall loser-turned-competitive-novelist ("Watch out, Nicholas Sparks!"), which still sounds almost fulfilling enough to give it a shot.

I just can't do fiction very well. Not for long periods of time, anyway. I have written it, in small doses, and I've helped other people write it. It's fun. But it's not interesting. Because I can't relate to it. No matter how realistic or taboo a story may be, I still find myself questioning the author: But have YOU been through this? Then you don't truly understand it. The story is nice, but I can't relate to YOU.

Obviously, I am a big fan of relating to things.

I don't know if I will ever end up publishing a work of fiction. I certainly hope so, at least for my future children's sake. One of my greatest dreams has always been to create a book for a child so that I can read it and pass it on as a gift to my own someday. Something I made with my hands and my mind, something I love. Something just for them.

In the meantime, I've had this other idea brewing, an idea which isn't quite yet concrete, but in the end will probably be a compilation of things. A semi-autobiographical guidebook of sorts. The topic? Colombia. Understanding kids. So-called "mission trips." Anger. Take your pick, it will all be in there. Currently, there is a title. But the rest is all just notes and scribbles (and mutterings, of course, in between steaming milk and counting grimy change).

Even when I'm writing, I'm making collages. It's weird.

So anyway, I will probably need some encouragement in this area, because even though I love thinking and talking about my history with Colombia and jobs I've had working with young people in the past, diving deep enough to retrieve essential memories and bits of wisdom (which is what I'd have to do in order to accomplish this endeavor) is always an emotional task. If I know there's a significant pool of interested readers for it, I will probably make a better effort to get it done.

P.S. (I love p.s.'s, don't you?) One of my new favorite blogs to follow is Door Sixteen. We may not have the same taste in home style (she prefers to paint everything black or white and furnish with clean, sleek objects), but we share the same enthusiasm for salvaged goods, budget-friendly ideas, and do-it-yourself projects (after creating a shelf in her bathroom that perfectly displays four rolls of toilet paper, which apparently had been a childhood dream of hers, I get the feeling she nearly cried with joy - hello? Remember this bad boy? RELATABLE!).

Anywho, this morning upon reading back on some of her old posts, I found this! Nearly word-for-word the post I just wrote about MY old sash window project. And I absolutely love that she painted the locks too, which kind of inspires me to try it out on mine. Readers, take note: There is absolutely NOTHING illegal in the world of home renovation. Especially when paint is involved!

I think this girl and I may be long-lost sisters. Since I have no sisters, the idea of it is kind of fun.
Friday, February 12, 2010

bedroom blues

I'm talking about a good kind of blues, of course. Because my bedroom is FINALLY painted. Hooray! Now, before I show you the after order to truly appreciate the time and effort I put into this project, you absolutely must see what I was up against:

Yes, that is MOLD. Creepy, cruddy, horrifying mold (and a spider, which is, in my book, just as horrifying). And the scariest part about it is that these photos were taken AFTER I had spent days trying to scrape, scrub and otherwise get rid of it, to no avail. This poor window had the worst of it, and I vowed to give it a makeover if it was the last thing I ever did...and I believe it almost was!

Undoubtedly one of the toughest challenges I've ever faced, this project, which included running out of painter's tape at the most inconvenient moment, as well as hours of painstaking, meticulous brush work, is without question one of my greatest feats and I'm quite proud of the end result!

As you can see, I got new curtains. They still need to be hemmed, but don't they fit perfectly with my pirate ship theme? And for both the curtains and the rod, I spent only $35. That's the magic of IKEA.

Obviously, our room is still missing a few essential, say, a bed. But I think this is a good start, and at least it's no longer the Ice Hotel.
Friday, February 5, 2010

paint colors, and my beef with Nicholas Sparks

Most people, I believe, try to relax on their days off. Have a little coffee, putt around their favorite hobby shop, maybe take a bath...

I paint.

Don't get me wrong, I did sleep in a bit later than I'm usually able (getting up at 4:45am most days tends to seriously mess with your body clock), and the first thing we did after showering was head to the beach. That's kind of our weekend routine. When you work in a very fast-paced, often stressful environment, there is nothing better on your day off than the soothing, monotonous sound of crashing waves to take the edge off. Simply put, the ocean is just so good for your soul.

But I returned home on a mission. Having painted nearly every other room in the house, I was finally sick of staring up at dingy, slightly moldy walls from my bed every night (for some reason, I decided when we moved here that the bedroom would be my last makeover project, content with putting it off until spring...why? WHY?). And I was finally sick of sleeping on the floor! Does this mean I'm an adult now? The fact that I'm anxious to throw in the towel and purchase a real bedframe (not even opting to build one myself with miscellaneous ballusters and salvaged doors, which was my original plan) surely must qualify as some kind of rite of passage.

The pirate flag, however, stays.

So soon, there will be a bedframe, which I will need to make a trip to IKEA for. But I was not willing to wait any longer for a new paint job, which is why as soon as we got back from our mini vacation at the beach, I began clearing our bedroom like a crazy woman. Floor, vacuumed. Laundry, bagged. Mattress, off to the living room! (Now we are sleeping between the couch and the TV, which was romantic Christmas Eve, but not so much now, even though our poor little naked tree is still standing nearby. Hey, don't knock it. It is very difficult to part with the most perfect Christmas tree in the world, and besides, every time you suck up more fallen needles, it makes for a wonderful all-natural air freshener next time you vacuum a space).

Seaside Villa is the name of the color we chose for the bedroom. It's blue. For some reason, paint names are very important to women. I know that in all practicality, it makes no sense, but this will never change. So no matter how seriously you men couldn't give a rat's ass about whether a room gets painted Gray Brick or Dockside Haze, do everyone a big favor and do what you have to to channel your feminine side and pick the one that sounds pretty. Because a woman is never, ever, ever going to settle for a color that sounds like crap, even if it looks the best. Yes, it's dumb, but don't make her feel that way. Just agree. (And for all those who are wondering, Jeremy loved my Seaside Villa.)

And now, in completely unrelated news, I've decided to write a book. Yes, I know, I sound like a broken record, as I've been saying this for years. But it just hit me lately, why not me? Nicholas Sparks is on, what, his twenty-third novel or something? And every single one of his blasted stories gets made into a movie! Now, I'll be the first to commend Mr. Sparks for his dedication and success, but I will be damned if a 45-year-old ex-pharmaceutical salesman can write a better love story than me! And so, if for no other reason than to give Nicholas Sparks some competition, I vow to write a story that will one day allow me to quit slaving away for Howard Shultz and his big old coffee empire, and post it here for all to see.

Off to the writing board I go!
Wednesday, February 3, 2010

a curbside prophet, a misplaced sushi chef, and yet another piece of furniture finds a home

Yesterday was a page of good things. When you're young and poor and relatively stupid, an entire page of good things can sustain you for a while, and that's exactly what I've been needing lately.

It began with David. David is a regular patron of ours at Starbucks, and at this point I think I can honestly say he is my favorite. He has soft eyes, unruly hair and beard (probably due to the amount of time he spends wandering the frigid streets), and walks with his head bent to one side. He's not very sturdy on his feet - some attribute this to age, chalking it up to senile instability, while others believe it's a side effect of years of alcoholism. Whatever the case may be, it's caused him to teeter on occasion and, one morning, he collapsed right in front of me at the counter. He was okay ("I'll just sit down for a few hours and I'll be fine," he insisted, his tone, as usual, reminding me of Eeyore's ever-positive twin brother).

Supposedly, David just turned 66 - I say supposedly, because the information that passes his weathered lips is nearly always fantastical or, at the very least, unreliable. He once claimed very seriously that his mother was born in a gingerbread house. He also informed us recently that his sister Patricia "still works here." While it's possible that he does in fact have a sister named Patricia, she definitely does not work at Starbucks.

My first conversation with David was back in September, when I moved to the Cape. Having been fairly warned about his oddities, I distinctly remember feeling like most people do when they are forced to converse with someone who is mentally challenged - unnaturally nervous - and feeling guilty about it. I had managed to avoid waiting on him for some time, but now had no choice but to face the unexpected. "Have you been enlightened?" He asked me, after I handed him his coffee. "Enlightened about what?" I replied. "In the Buddhist way," he said with a crooked nod. Not wanting to get into some lengthy philosophical debate, but unsure of how else to respond, I simply stated "No, I haven't." "Well," he said matter-of-factly, "neither have I," and walked away.

The conversation left me stumped, partly because it was so random, but also because I had been expecting something a little more relevant. Everyone else at work had claimed that David seemed to mysteriously know things about them, almost in a prophetic way. I was neither a Buddhist, nor studying "the Buddhist way." What was up with that? I felt unreasonably cheated.

Yesterday morning, however, David redeemed himself. He'd already come through, got his coffee, and had been sitting in the cafe for some time as usual, just calmly planted there with only God-knows-what running through his mind. Then he suddenly got up and wandered over to the counter. "Back for your refill?" I asked, preparing to take his cup. "No, not just yet," he drawled, his head nodding in that crooked way. "Are you married?" He asked, catching me off-guard. "No...not yet," I said. "Marriage is wonderful," he crooned. "I was married once. You fall in have children...sometimes you just have to scrape by. We both had jobs. Sometimes she was a waitress..." His voice trailed off and he paused to ponder something. "But marriage, from what I can marvelous."

I thought about what David had said all morning. How had he known that my thoughts as of late revolved specifically around marriage and "scraping by"? And perhaps even more baffling, how could a man who seriously believed his mother was born in a gingerbread house turn around and have a completely normal, even deeply meaningful, conversation like this one? Once again, the man had left me stumped, though decidedly in a much better mood as I drove across the bridge to meet my mother for our weekly sushi lunch date.

This week, one of my aunts and one of my cousins joined us at New Tokyo for the sumptuous feast. Herman, the head sushi chef, was waiting tables. That might not sound strange to you, but in the three or so years that my mom and I have been going to New Tokyo, never once have we seen Herman anywhere but behind the sushi bar.

I think there is some kind of alternate law of physics that proves anytime someone else shares in one of your routine experiences, something about the experience simply has to deviate from the way it has always been. (Like the one time Jeremy came to visit me at Starbucks with some of the kids I used to work with and David walked in with slicked hair wearing a suit jacket and shiny new sunglasses. As far as I could tell, David was a hobo and had always looked like a hobo, and yet here he was looking undeniably like a celebrity.) Like I said...physics.

Anyway, as it turns out, Herman's serving skills are almost as perfect as his culinary skills - almost. I don't want to be the one to encourage him to stray from behind that sushi bar on a regular basis! He was wonderful, and our lunch was delicious and very fun. The only exception was the moment I found out that the softshell crab roll I'd been eating for three years included the eyeballs and brains of the crustacean, leaving me slightly horrified. But then I remembered that I've eaten cow tongue (willingly, and in a dirty, sweaty third-world country), and promptly got over it.

What better way to follow up a lunch date involving sushi than a trip to buy another piece of salvaged furniture?! My mother kindly graced me with her presence on the drive to
Salvage Chic Antiques, one of my favorite places in the world, to pick up a teal-colored wooden cabinet that was on hold for me. After a quick walk-through, of course, I found about a million other things I'd love to have, but I was very happy with my purchase. Not only was it better than it looked online (pictured in the store below), there is something sickly satisfying about going online later in the day to see a big fat SOLD over your purchase and knowing that somebody, somewhere, is pissed at you for getting to it first. I know, because quite often that pissed off person is me!

I can't wait to hang this cabinet in my bathroom, where it will helpfully store all that extra toilet paper and bars of soap that've been staring up at us from awkward places on the floor. Three cheers for the Island of Misfit Furniture!

P.S. I thought you'd all like to know that I finally solved the mystery of what to do with your leftover pot roast (assuming there is any, of course - growing up with a dad and two brothers pretty much eradicated the word "leftover" from our family dictionary). The thing is, there's usually not enough left over for everyone to make a full second meal out of it, but there's enough that you can't really sneak it into something else just to make it look more filling. So what we did was smear a bit of mashed potato over toast, and spread the extra pot roast with its gravy on top. Mmmmm!


My name is Audrey. I'm just a twentysomething learning how to master the arts of cooking, cleaning, working and being in a relationship, same as you.In between all that, I like to collect sea glass and salvaged furniture. Occasionally, I cut and paste scraps of paper together. In the end, I am hoping that all of these things together will somehow amount to something good. This blog is a journal of my efforts to get there.


thesalvagedbride at gmail dot com