Ranting, Writing, Learning, Healing

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection” - Anais Nin

This used to be my ass
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Before the promotion into the high stress job, before I became the girl who ate Seattle and drank all it's wine, during the time when I was going to the gym three times a week...this was my ass. Yes folks, that is me; me and my beautiful, beautiful ass. I was on the road to having my ideal body. I was 30 pounds lighter than I am now, a mere 10 pounds from my ultimate goal weight.


One nice thing about this girl with this ass is that I was her, just two
short years ago.  This means that I can easily be her again.  Another
nice thing about this girl is that she reminds me of a very valuable
lesson that I thought I learned a long time ago.  I try to be a "see the
forest AND the trees" kind of lady.  It's funny how easy that is to do
when you are looking at someone else's forest. That sounded dirtier than
I intended, but you get my point.

As I get back into the routine of running and weight lifting, I have
decided to use this girl as inspiration rather than glaring at her and
closing her photo in disgust.  Sure, I have to ice my old and broken
body after I work out.  I have to pretend that Ben & Jerry's Oatmeal
Cookie Chunk has ceased to exist.  I have to go through the complete
and utter horror of getting on a scale.  But I can take it, I've done it
once before right?  Difficult as it was, I was able to commit myself to
a program and limit my intake of all of the things that make food
delicious.  I was an unstoppable, weight losing, muscle building
machine. 

And let's not forget, I ended up with that ass.

My stepson Riley and I have started running.  I have very serious
intentions of seeing the inside of my company's new work out room -- and
by new I of course mean the one that has been there for over a year. 
The one that I lobbied for back when I was working out and have, since
it was constructed, never stepped foot inside.  Well, it's on now!  

I see you, me with the proper curves, and I raise you.  I think we both
know how competitive I am, so believe me when I say that I'm coming for
you and I will win.


Memoirs; Chapter 1: Wanderlust
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This is the first interesting story of me.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  The first story of me that has any merit is the fact that I was the only planned child out of the six that my mother had.  In her first marriage, she had five boys.  They all have names that end in ‘erry.  When I asked my mother why this was, she said it was the only thing she and her first husband could ever agree on.  I observed at a very young age that, if this was the case, then perhaps they should have stopped making babies.  She didn’t appreciate this observation.

After her first marriage (which turned out to be pretty horrible) she ended up finding my father.  He was, in every way possible, the opposite of her first husband.  He was kind and patient.  He was trusting and loyal.  He was incredibly handsome in a Marlboro Man meets Gregory Peck kind of way.  But most importantly, he loved and adored her with every ounce of his being.  He was, and is, the best kind of husband any woman could ask for and the best kind of daddy any little girl could dream of having.  After they got married, despite the fact that she was in her 40’s, she wanted to give him a child.  He wanted to give her the one thing she didn’t have…a girl.  I love it when a plan comes together. 

When I was born, they both decided that the sun rose and set upon me.  I obviously don’t remember being an infant, but if the rest of my life is any indication I certainly never wanted for attention.  I was their little treasure.  In fact, they still tell me I’m their treasure.  Did I mention how amazing my parents are?

There are other stories of me that happened between birth and the story I’m about to tell that might give insight into the person I am today.  For example, when my mother used to feed me in my high chair I would eat all of the cheese first, then the vegetables and ultimately I would leave all of the summer sausage bits on my tray.  The first time they gave me an ice cream cone, I threw a tantrum when they tried to take it away, so I ended up obsessively slurping on it for so long that I got frostbite on my chin.  I snuck into my mother’s garden and stuck a bunch of pebbles up my nose for fun, then got angry with my mom when she had to hold me down to dig them out.  I was always more interested in rocks than in dolls.  I flirted when people told me how pretty I was.

When I was about two, my parents decided they wanted to go out for the evening.  They charged my second youngest brother, who was in his early teens at the time, to babysit me.  At what I’m sure was a perfectly reasonable hour, he fell asleep.  Sometime later my middle brother, who was in his late teens, came home to retire from whatever shenanigans he was up to that evening.  I speculate that he wasn’t entirely sober, but what do I know…I was only two at the time.  Point being, he didn’t pull the door closed enough for it to latch. 

I apparently decided that I was hungry, or lonely, or bored, or needed a diaper change, or just really wanted to see my Mommy and Daddy.  Whatever the case, I crawled out of my crib and walked out the front door.

It was 12:45 AM and one of my parent’s friends was driving home from the bar party that she had happened to be attending with my folks.  As she was driving, she noticed something on the side of the road that she thought was a dog.  As she drew closer, she realized it was a child.  Surprise!  It was me.  I had walked two blocks and was just feet from the highway that ran through town…fifteen minutes before the bars closed.  Luckily, I grew up in a town that was about the size of the house that I live in now, so she knew who I was.  She scooped me up and drove back to the bar.  She took me in to hand me off to my parents.  My mother tells me that she’s never seen a human lose all of the color in their face the way that my father did when he saw her approaching with me in her arms.

I’m still not entirely clear on the details of my brothers’ punishment, but I do know that it took a full year before my parents were comfortable leaving me with a babysitter again. 


Ch-Ch-Changes
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Karen posted a well-timed prompt on http://absintheroad.blogspot.com/.  Change has been in the forefront of my mind the past few weeks.  Perhaps because I’m about a mile past submerged in it? I’m not going to write a story, but I WILL blog the hell out of this subject.

Tomorrow marks the one month anniversary of my being a Program Manager.  I’m not really sure how to best sum it up.  I think it’s fair to say that my brain has been inundated with facts, details, historical data, rumors, opinions and about thirty different suggestions on how to best manage all of the information that that has been and will continue to be thrown at my face.  At one point in my career, I felt like I was challenged in my role.  I realize now that I had no idea.  I will say that the most important thing I’ve learned in my role is that when I ask my team a question like “Well, how does that normally happen?” and they stare at me blankly, it means it’s my responsibility.

On the home front, things have been out of sorts with Riley.  Without going into detail, I’ll sum up by saying that he has been lying to us and his grades are far less than desirable.  I sympathize with the kid.  He’s uprooted, first of all.  He’s a teenager and lacks any real sense of confidence.  He’s isolated and lonely and escapes from all of that via the obsessive relationship that he has with a girl who lives back in Texas.  When Joel and I finally reached our breaking point and put a limit to how much time he could chat with her online, because we were hoping he would try to make friends he could actually hang out with at the mall, he started getting devious and thus began the lying.  This might just be the smitten stepmother in me, but I think a lot of it had to do with the girl.  She very much manipulates the poor boy’s teenage hormones and sense of loneliness.  She has him right where she wants him and she proves it time and again.  It breaks my heart, mostly because I wish he could tell her that he’s worth so much more and doesn’t need to put up with her shit…and most of all I wish he would believe that’s true. 

The lying in and of itself is insulting…mostly because he doesn’t think we are smart enough to immediately see when he’s not telling the truth.  For the most part, the kid wears it on his sleeve.  It’s difficult to prove and even more difficult to address without proof.  However, some things came to a head and we had enough proof to point it out to him in a way that he was forced to admit that he had lied to us.  Then, the next morning, we got notification that he was pulling a D in one of his classes.  Since then my evenings have been spent scouring his homework, asking questions, checking his assignments…actually just doing all of the things that responsible parents are supposed to do.

Except, I’ve never had to be a responsible parent.  There are basically zero expectations for summer vacation, as it turns out.

I had a talk with him the other night and I apologized.  I said “Buddy, I know I’ve been somewhat absent since you started school.  First, my parents were here and immediately after they left I started this new job that I’ve been completely wrapped up in.  I’m sorry.  We should have been on top of this the whole time.  I will say one thing though…if this whole lying and getting bad grades thing was a cry for attention…congratulations.  You got it.  You got way more of it that you bargained for.”

 So, here we are.  For the past month (with the addition of the homework stuff in the past week and a half,) my AVERAGE weekday is as follows:

  • 5:00 AM.  (Time subject to change based upon whether I have a 7:00 or 8:00 AM meeting.) - Wake up.  Hang out with the dog as much as possible before needing to shower and get to work. 
  • 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM - Go to work.  Drown in data.  Take a handful of smoke breaks.  Try not to eat lunch at my desk to sustain sanity.
  • 6:00 PM - Drive home from work, fight traffic, sometimes stop at grocery store.
  • 7:30 PM - Walk in front door, get attacked for attention by dog.  Ignore dog, greet and kiss Joel and Riley; then give dog 5-10 minutes of lovey snuggley time.  What cats?  Fish = almost dead.
  • 7: 45 PM Go over Riley’s homework.  Help him with any outstanding questions/assignments he has.  Remember to tell him how much I love him and continue to encourage him to work hard at his grades.
  • Between 7:45 – 9:00 PM…make dinner.  OR.  Eat dinner that Joel has prepared, which usually consists of breakfast foods or hot dogs with no vegetables…which is why I prefer nights that I make dinner…even if it exhausts me.
  • Between 7:45– 9:30 PM, when not eating, call into evening meetings with India when applicable.  OR.  Catch up on emails that I wasn’t able to get to during the day, particularly if I’m waiting from something from China or India office.
  • 9:30 - 10:00 PM.  Enjoy the sweet, sweet Tiffany Time that I have left in my day.
  • 10:00 PM - Collapse into bed, fall asleep immediately.  Manage to get up at normal time the next morning.
  • 10:05 PM to 12:00 AM – If happen to go to bed later that 10, collapse into bed, fall asleep immediately.  Manage to get up later than normal time the next morning.  Scramble to get to work for first meetings.  Hate the rest of the day.
  • Rinse.  Repeat.

Saturday has turned into Napapalooza.  I can barely muster the energy to keep on top of the housework that Joel and Riley don’t take care of (although I admit that they’ve stepped it up quite a bit…sadly neither of them are very good at cleaning bathrooms).  My boudoir looks like it was hit by Hurricane Katrina.  Every morning it is an adventure trying to find clean underpants since having the time to do laundry is a luxury that hasn’t really been afforded. 

In a nutshell, this is my life.

NOW…it might seem like I’m bitching.  I’m not.  Maybe venting.  Maybe an exhausted expulsion of ranting.  Maybe that’s the same as bitching?  ;)  My point is, it might sound like I’m kind of miserable.  The weird thing is…I’m not.

I’m fucking tired, I won’t argue that.  I fear that I spend most of my time looking like a haggard old woman.  Nevertheless, I’m loving the job.  It is challenging and exciting.  The pace has been FAST, but I’m starting to figure out what the hell I’m doing.  The upgrade in responsibility is staggering, but so is the exhilaration when I do something right. 

And, as far as Riley goes, I’m really enjoying being more involved in his day to day goings on.  Actually, whether he’s willing to admit it or not, I think he is enjoying it too.  Joel made a comment the other night how he seems more engaged…happier.  It’s weird because he hasn’t been able to talk to Little Miss Texas.  I know he misses her, I know that he’s working his ass off to get off of restriction and be able to talk to her again.  I expected that he would be angry and pissed off over being punished, yet he seems pretty pleased that he has so much of our attention.  Truthfully, I felt unsettled that we were as off-hands with his school work as we were, but Riley is such an amazing kid that it’s easy to forget that he needs supervision.  I guess, in short, it is a mutually beneficial situation for all of us. 

Lastly, and I’m only saying this because this isn’t a public blog, Karen is moving back up to Seattle.  Considering our history, I think it is a pretty huge deal when I say that I’m ecstatic.  She and I had a bumpy beginning, but I consider her to be a dear friend and I’m so happy that she will be closer…both for my own selfish reasons and for the sake of the boy.  So, for those of you local buttercups who have not yet been able to meet her and bask in her presence, I’m sure that will change in the up and coming months.  Please note; this is not something that should be discussed in front of Riley until she has a chance to talk with him about it.

So, in summation, I guess what all of this means is that I still stand by the fact that change, while scary and exhausting, is definitely a good thing.


If you do not want to see me again, I will understand…
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I’ve had several relationships, both romantic and not,  which have had what I consider untimely ends.  There is a song that reminds me of one of these friends; “Jumper” from Third Eye Blind.  For some reason, I think because the universe is trying to tell me something, I’ve heard this song on the radio three days in a row.  It used to make me cry every time I heard it.  Now, it just makes me contemplative. 

 

I know these relationships each ended for a reason and I understand and agree with those reasons.  I think in a few specific cases, it’s hard for me to completely move on because my time with these people was such an amazing, beautiful chapter in my life.  It’s incredibly difficult to see those characters you grow to know and love fade into the background of a story; eventually drifting off entirely with no resolution to speak of.  You loved them desperately.  They made you laugh, they made you cry.  They heard you, they accepted you, they loved you desperately right back.  You related to them and you hoped with every fiber of your being that they would succeed; get past all of the cards stacked up against them and find a way to be happy.  And then, for whatever reason, they do a fade (slow or abrupt) and you never find out how things end for them. 

 

I’m happy with the chapter I’m writing now.  However, every once in a while something strikes me and I like to read back.  That’s when I get sad.  People are complicated and when you pair two of them, sometimes it’s beautiful and perfect and sometimes it’s a goddamned train wreck.  I think because of my dedication to the ideal that friendships should not be hard because that’s what your relationship to your family is for; it’s hard for me to figure out when enough is enough.  In fact, I’m not sure if I ever get to that point.  I can’t say that I wouldn’t write any one of these people in again at the drop of a hat.  This is not because I feel like this is the good or right decision for me, mostly it’s because it seems so incredibly tragic not to.  Despite all of the bullshit I throw at people, I’m a hopeless romantic and a hopeless optimist. 

 

I just wish that being an adult wasn’t quite so difficult.  I wish that hard choices never had to be made.  I wish that ultimately, there really always was a happy ending.  So, I guess that in the way that I do, I need to write this and throw it out into the universe.  Even if they never know, I’ll know that I’ve said it.

 

I still think about you from time to time.

Sometimes, I’m so angry with the way we left things that I thank Christ I don’t have to deal with you anymore.

But then sometimes I miss you so much that it physically hurts.

Sometimes I wish that you would be a part of my life again.

But then I remember what it felt like when you were.

Sometimes I think about everything I hated about you just so that I’m not so bothered by your absence.

But then all of those things I loved about you creep back and remind me why I miss you.

Sometimes I wonder if you’re happy.

I’m still wondering.

But then, I realize that some things are better left unsaid.

So, I put the snowglobe that is our perfect time together back on the shelf.

I’ll still admire it from time to time, even reach out and touch it, but not enough to disturb it.

Because then we start all over again.


Commitment
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Over the years, I have had several girlfriends who have asked me some form of the question “What, if anything, changes after you get married?”  I will start out by saying that I have heard arguments for and against marriage.  Some of them, I find incredibly compelling.  Some of them, I find to be cop outs based upon fear.  Regardless, this blog is not intended to get into the pros and cons of marriage.  Frankly, I don’t give a shit whether someone wants to get married or not, just so long as they are happy in their situation.  This blog is intended to give my perspective on a question that has been thrown at me time and again. 

So, is it really different to be married to someone after you’ve spent years in a committed and/or cohabitated relationship with them?  The answer is, simply put, fuck yes.

Explaining just what the difference is, however, is the part that is slightly more complicated.  I have offered this analogy in the past.

Say you are living with someone and they have this irritating habit of leaving a can of Coke, only half consumed, on the coffee table.  You get up on Saturday morning before they do and you’re straightening up and when you grab the can and realize there is still soda left inside, you get irritated for a moment.  Then, you go dump it out; grumbling to yourself pondering how many times you have to remind someone to either drink their freaking Coke or dump it out and recycle it themselves.  After all, this isn’t something that a grown-up should have to tell another grown-up. 

Fast forward to the day after your wedding.  You walk into the living room and that goddamned soda can is sitting on your coffee table.  Just like that, the can becomes something completely different than it was the day before.  Previously, it was an annoyance.  Now, it represents the rest of your life.  There is no walking away from the can without legal representation.  The can is now, officially, something that you are bound to deal with until death do you part.

That is probably the simplest way to explain the shift in mentality, but it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.  Your option to just pack up and leave is now gone.  There is no easy way out.  Now, I know what those folks who are not married and living with their significant other are thinking…it’s not easy to get out when you live with someone either.  My answer to that is…WELL…no, it’s not “easy”, but really, yes…it is.  Whether you own a house, a car, a fish or an Xbox together, you can always pack up and leave.  Breaking up is never easy, emotionally, financially or otherwise, but when you aren’t married it is a different kind of difficult.

Because…when you ARE married and you decide that you’ve had enough, you are breaking a legally binding contract.  When you know that you are supposed to spend the rest of your life with someone because you have promised to before the State, God, and in my and Joel’s case, the King; and even more so than that, SIGNED an agreement with witnesses present of your intent, it changes the stakes.  Every conflict requires a different kind of thought process, approach and method of conflict resolution. 

To give yet another example, I will relay a conversation that I had with one of my dear friends who was recently married.  This woman is one of those women who I respect with every fiber of my being.  She is a gorgeous, educated, edgy, ridiculously witty and all around delightful feminist.   She was telling me that when she gets into fights with her husband, as infrequently as they occur; it is sometimes really frustrating to not feel as though she has the option to just say “Fuck it”.  I replied, “Well, remember when I told you that being married was a choice you had to make every day?  Some days that choice is really easy and some days it sucks”.  Her response?  “Well, yes.  I do remember that.  However, I didn’t really understand what you were talking about until I was married”.  

This circles back to my point.  Despite the analogies I throw out into the world and how I try to explain it, marriage is really one of those things that no one could possibly understand unless they have been through it. 

Marriage is really, really hard.  It tries you in ways that you never even considered it might.  People have some sort of idealistic view on what marriage is.  I assume this either comes from the two hour Hollywood romances that give an unrealistic take on love; or…if they’re lucky, their parents who are still together and seemingly have it all figured out.  To that let me say, they probably don’t.  If they DO, it has come from a life time of being together and figuring out how one another work.  Basically, they’ve already put in their time so one should, in no way shape or form, expect to have that kind of relationship from the get-go. 

While I am no expert, considering all that Joel and I have been through in the last seven years, I feel like I’ve learned a thing or two.  Now comes the part where I will bestow some unsolicited advice, which is actually applicable married or not.  I just know that these things have basically saved my marriage, so that’s how I’m going to apply it.  ANYWAY… if you are asking yourself what has made things work between two grossly stubborn, passionate and opinionated humans, WELL…let me tell you what I have learned about my part in it all.

1. Take some responsibility:  Never, ever assume that someone has won the lottery by being with you.  If you start the process of getting into a fight, take a moment before reacting to think about how and why it all started.  This was the single hardest lesson that I had to learn…being a narcissist and all.  As it turns out, I am fallible as well.  It is an incredibly difficult thing to ask questions to get to the bottom of a problem and discover the problem stemmed from something that you did, but own up to your shit.  Don’t get defensive, talk about it like two grown-assed adults and deal with it. Sometimes, you have to admit that you were wrong.

2.  Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt:  Even during those times when it seems that it is ALL on your spouse, taking the time to simply ask “Is there something else going on?” or “Is there something bad that happened to you earlier today” can make a world of difference.  With Joel, I found that when he is at his most frustrating and irritating, if I ask the right questions I discover that it has little, or mostly nothing, to do with me.  I find out that he is taking it out on me because I am a safe outlet.  We talk about it, I remind him that while I love him inside and out, I’m not actually his punching bag and he needs to find a better method of dealing with his disappointment/frustration/anger/sadness.  When I remind him that I’m on his team and one of his greatest fans, it diffuses him immediately and he remembers that I’m the exact WRONG person to be freaking out on.  I’m sure in every relationship, this will manifest in different ways, but it is just a matter of figuring out and respecting how your partner works.

3.  Never assume that your spouse “should just know” what you are thinking or what you want:  This sort of circles back to the first lesson I learned.  There were many times when I assumed that Joel should know what he SHOULD be doing / have done/ planned on doing.  After all, MY way of doing things is clearly the RIGHT way.  ;)  As much as you might think it shouldn’t be necessary, ALWAYS communicate what you need and why you need it.  You’d be surprised how much difference it makes when you simply take the time to explain yourself.

4. Demand respect, but be open to compromise:  I’m not going to say that any one of these things is more important than the other, but as women we tend to go one way or the other.  We’re either overbearing and bossy or we’re shrinking violets who let our spouse walk all over us.  You MUST find a way to strike a balance.  You must find a way to listen to each other, openly and honestly.  You can’t be happy in a situation where you feel your voice is never heard.  It’s important to feel loved and safe and that your opinion matters.  However, you can’t be so committed to your opinion that you forget your spouse deserves to have one as well.  I’ve heard some women say that if you compromise in a relationship, you give up who you are.  That is not only ridiculous, but an ideal that sets you up for complete and utter failure.  Compromise is necessary in EVERY relationship.  Sure, you’re allowed your deal breakers (which should be established WAY before you ever get to this point), but being unwilling to compromise is not only unhealthy, it is absurd. 

5.  Have Sex:  A lot.

That’s pretty much it….Tiffany’s Five Steps to a Healthy Relationship.  :-D



Unhook the Stars
glamour shot
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Karen (my husband's baby-mama but more importantly, my friend) has started a blog meant to inspire creative types called The Absinthe Road.  Since I've gone through such a dry spell when it comes to writing, creative or otherwise, I've decided to give it a whirl.  So, without further ado...


Unhook the Stars

When I was a girl, I used to dream my biggest dreams at night while lying under the stars.  I grew up in an itty bitty town smack dab in the middle of nowhere; the view of the stars from my parent’s back yard is unparalleled by any other I have seen.  The sky went on for miles and miles, always clear and always filled with millions of tiny twinkling lights.

I would get an old blanket and take it into the back yard.  I would lie down and then spend the rest of the evening looking up.  Constellations - some known to the whole wide world, some known only to me - would appear.  I’d spend hours mapping them out with my fingers.  I’d find one star to declare as my very own and then attempt to burn its exact location to memory so that I could find it the next night.  Naturally, I never could, but trying to find it again was all a part of the ritual.  I would try differentiating stars from planets.  On occasion, I would even discover a space ship floating around up there.  Growing up in such a small town, it was an incredible thing to have the universe at my fingertips.  My only limitation was my imagination, which even then was fairly boundless.

The Pleiades Star Cluster (or Seven Sisters) was my favorite.  I loved her because she was always clear in my peripheral vision when I was looking for something else.  Then, when I would try to focus on her, she became difficult to see.  It was almost as though she was playing with me, flirting, flaunting about until she had my attention, then shying away from my keen stare.  She was my elusive playmate.

When I was in college, I was sitting under the stars in that very same yard on that very same blanket with a boy that I loved.  The Pleiades caught my eye as I was looking up.  As she twinkled at me, I realized that I hadn’t seen her in quite a while.  When the boy asked about the smile on my face, I shared with him the little game she and I played together.   He smiled up at her as well, and then squeezed my hand.   I decided in that moment that I wanted to share her with him.   She was no longer just mine, nor did she belong to the universe.  She belonged only to us, a beautiful sparkling reminder to each that the other was out there.

As it happens, time passed and the boy and I went our separate ways.  Although I still think of him when I see her, I’ve since decided that it probably wasn’t reasonable to try to keep her locked away as “ours”.  I have given her back to the sky.  I don’t regret keeping her for a while, nor do I regret sharing her with that lovely boy.  I’m glad that he knows of the game she and I played.  I hope he teaches his children to play with her as well.

Pleiades
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Round 10 with The Beast
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I haven’t blogged in a while and I’m sitting in my living room, utterly discouraged, so I figured I would write.  I am discouraged for silly reasons, primarily the Bad Ass Coffee Table that I’ve been working on for over a month now. 

This thing and I have gone nine rounds.  So far, I’ve won three.  I just stained it and realized that there were still tiny little sections where the paint wasn’t stripped/sanded off ALL over the damned thing.  I realized this after THREE ROUNDS of sanding, wiping down, seeing remaining paint, sanding, wiping down, rinse, repeat.  In short, I really felt as though I had done my due diligence.  (Not to make excuses or anything, but I partially blame the asshat who originally painted it almost EXACTLY the same color as the original wood.  What was the point in that?  It makes the paint almost impossible to see.)  I also discovered that the legs are not the same kind of wood as the top piece, so the stain takes differently…in a way in which I definitely do not approve.

I called my trusty nephew, who is a carpenter and has his own business.  He told me that since I used an oil-based stain, I should be able to sand down the parts with paint and be able to stain those spots again without any issues blending.  So, off I went.

Unfortunately, this didn’t work so well.   Maybe I sanded too much, maybe I didn’t leave the stain on long enough before trying to blend it.  Regardless, I can still see the color variation in the spots that I sanded/re-stained.  ALSO, after working my ass off, there were STILL tiny spots with paint.  So, I’m sitting here assessing my options.

I could:

1.       Easiest Option: Try to re-stain the top all at once and then scrub vigorously to blend color in all over.  Paint the legs.

2.       Not-Easiest Option: Sand the top piece again, entirely, and re-stain.  Paint the legs. 

3.       Option That Makes Me Cry Inside:  Start the process over, strip the whole thing, sand the whole thing, stain the whole thing.  Paint the legs (the legs need to be painted rather than stained, I just can’t get around this).

4.       Option That Would Make the Table Look Less Awesome Then I Originally Intended: Paint the whole thing.

5.       Option That Sounds Utterly Appealing at Present: Take the beastly thing back to the Goodwill, call it a day.

I think Option #2 is probably the course of action I need to take.  It isn’t HORRIBLY painful, but it still sucks.  I’m not a patient person by nature and the process of refinishing furniture has been good for me in that it absolutely requires patience in order to get it right.  However, I am still human and I have my limits…particularly when I’m trying to overcome one of my least desirable personality traits.  I’m SICK of being patient.  I’m over it.  I’m done.  I just want to be finished with this bastard so that it can be in my living room and I can move on to other projects. 

I’m also discouraged because I’ve been sick all week.  I had to cancel a girl date with Sarah and Angie that I was really looking forward to.  I still don’t feel 100% and I can’t deal with not being able to go at things full throttle.  I detest being sick as it makes being Wonder Woman slightly more difficult.  Also, Joely is now sick and when he is sick he is Needy McNeederson (which he fully admits).  Since I’m not feeling like my normal self, it is difficult to be able to sympathetic to his plight.

Work has been kind of “eh” as well.  I still don’t know what I’m going to be working on after our current product ships, although I feel that my management team is really trying hard to find a good fit for me.  It was touch and go for a few weeks and I was really worried about what kind of future I could have there, but I’ve had many talks with my management and I feel better about it now.  I still find it to be horribly awkward to not know what I’m going to be doing next month, but I’ll deal.

I think that’s enough complaining for now.  I feel like a tool when I bitch about things of this nature, mostly because I have close friends with “real” problems.  It’s time to go back to silently contemplating my next move with The Beast (coffee table’s new nickname).


Refinishing Project
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I've always wanted to refinish a piece of furniture.  I've had the stupid coffee table I've wanted to do something with for years, which I suppose qualifies as "a project", but it has never really inspired me to get off my ass and actually learn how to do the refinishing.  This evening, however, I found my inspiration.

I went into Value Village to see if I could find a bookcase for my office.  I did not find a bookcase, but instead found a rocking chair.  I tried to walk away from it, perusing different aisles, but for some reason it drew me back.  I stared at it for a bit.  I loved how the face carved in the back of it looked both regal and angry.  Finally, I sat down.  I rocked back and forth.  It occurred to me that it would be the perfect chair in which to rock the baby I someday wish to have.  After all, there is NO WAY that my and Joel's little baby could be rocked in a normal, boring chair.  

It was beautiful and charming and interesting and I decided that it needed to be mine; so, I bought it.

And so my Buttercups, I present to you my first refinishing project.  I will post again when I'm all finished making it my masterpiece...

The front of the chair, complete with one Basset Hound giving it a thorough sniff test:
Chair from Front

Chair from the side:
Chair from side

Disgusting cushion which will need to be replaced first thing...I'm thinking red velvet:
Icky Cushion

The face that drew me in.  I'm thinking that I want to refinish it with black stain.  The only reason I would be hesitant to do so is that I don't want to lose any of the detail by making it too dark.
Chair Face

Grandma’s Quilt
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My maternal Grandmother made a quilt for each of her grandchildren.  Grandma Emma didn’t much care for the patchwork variety.  She liked to take two large pieces of fabric and sew them together around the edges, one piece solid, the other with a print.  She then would sew an elaborate, beautiful pattern which could be clearly seen on the solid side.  She always matched them carefully; my Grandmother hated it when colors clashed.  I remember the room she set up in when she was working.  The whole piece was suspended on four pedestals, taking up most of the space in the room.   Then, she would draw out the pattern she wanted to make and stitch by stitch, she would hand sew it; turning two insignificant pieces of cloth into something beautiful.

I received my Grandma Quilt when I was eighteen.  It was my high school graduation present from her.  When I went off to college my Mama asked me, “Do you want to take your quilt from Grandma?”  I replied, “No, I’m not ready yet.”  My Grandmother was still very much alive, but I knew it wouldn’t be that way forever.  Some part of me knew that this quilt was a gift to be treasured for the rest of my life, even when I was young and thought I had the world figured out.  I knew that the moment t I took possession of it, I would have to officially be a grown up, because only a grown up could care for such a precious thing.

A few years later, after my Grandmother had her first stroke, I moved to San Francisco.  She was very much changed from the woman she used to be by that time.  She was the type of woman who never forgot a birthday, who made every one of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren sure they were her favorite.  After she had the stroke, she had a hard time placing us.  You could see recollection in her eyes at that time, although that seemed to fade over the years.  When I was packing up my life to start a new one, my Mama called.  She inquired “Do you want to take your quilt from Grandma?”  I replied, “No, I’m not ready yet.” 

After a couple of years living in San Francisco, I got the call from my Mama.  Grandma had passed away.  I wept.  I got a plane ticket.  I went home to say goodbye.  It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done; not only having to say goodbye myself, but having to watch my Mother say goodbye to her Mother.  I kept thinking that one day, I would need to do the same myself.  My Mother was my Grandmother’s only daughter, I am my Mother’s only daughter.  It is a bond unlike any other, and to see it broken by death is unbearable.   I stayed a while, and when I was getting ready to pack up and head back home, Mama asked again…“Do you want to take your quilt from Grandma?”  I replied, “No, I’m not ready yet.” 

Years passed.  I reconnected with Joely and moved to Seattle.  He and I got married.  I was quite settled into my life.  For one reason or another, I don’t recall what at present; we had to take the truck back to North Dakota for a visit.  When I was home spending some quality time with my Mama, she said “Tiffany, the quilt from Grandma is still here.  I think it’s time you take it home now.”  I paused for a moment, and then said “Okay, do you have something I can put it in to keep it safe?” 

She put it in a plastic trash bag for me.  I packed it in the cab of the truck because I couldn’t stand the thought of throwing it in the back.  I brought it into my house and immediately put it into a drawer.  I had it now, in my possession, but I still wasn’t ready for the responsibility.

In its warm, comfy drawer it remained for four years…until this evening.

I was in the process of washing the sheets and making up my guest bedroom.  It is a room that is closed off to the cats and the dogs…for the most part even Joel and I.  We rarely have cause to go into this room.  After I put the clean sheets on and fluffed the pillows, a strange notion hit me.  I went into my room and opened the drawer and there it was, still sealed in the bag that Mama put it in.  I carried it to my spare room and gently took it out.  I spread it over the bed, solid side up.  I traced the pattern, noticing that there were still ink marks from when Grandma first drew it out.  I looked at the stitches, each sewn by her very own hands. 

I lay down upon it and I remembered my Grandma Emma.  I remembered how I would pick strawberries in the garden and would come inside, SO excited to eat them.  She would help me wash them, then put just a bit of sugar on them and set them in the refrigerator for a while.  They tasted better that way.  I remembered the smell of her house.  I remembered how she would burn toast and then scrape all of the burned bits off saying, “It’s still good!”   I remembered playing Aggravation with her, and how she would let me win because she knew if I lost to many times in a row I would quit playing; she loved playing that game so much.  I remembered the salmon colored suit that she wore on Sundays and her red pants and how she always had the perfect accessories to go with everything.   I remembered how it felt when she touched my face and told me that I just didn’t know how much she loved me.  I remember how utterly comfortable and safe and loved I felt whenever she was near.

I let it all wash over me.  I wept.  I smiled.  I missed her terribly.

Then, I got up and finished making the bed.  I knew that she would not be pleased at how the quilt clashed with the sheets, so I threw the duvet over the top of the quilt, keeping its presence there my own little secret to cherish.

I have been changed a little bit this evening, I became more of a grown up.  I think Grandma would be pleased.

 

 


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