Archives for category: I’m gonna need a high five

I’ve been convinced for the last year or so that the only thing standing between me and really incredible, Martha Stewart-level dinner parties was our lack of a dining room table.  I mean, obviously the problem couldn’t be my all-consuming exhaustion, lack of enviable cooking skills, or inability to lure friends out of their houses with anything short of a steady rainfall of chocolate and booze.  No, no, the table is clearly the problem.

It’s not that I haven’t been looking for a table. Oh, I’ve been looking. But I can’t buy a nice table because I know that Michael has a vision for making one. I’m sure that this future, handmade-with-love, one-of-a-kind piece will be beautiful, and I am eager to see it, but there are many other pressing concerns that take precedence over buying a bunch of hardwood for a table. I’ve been searching for months for a used one that will serve while I wait for the masterpiece, but so far everything I’ve found has been too small, too big, too ugly, or $1,500.

(Attention Craiglist: if I had $1,500 to spend on a dining room table, I wouldn’t be consulting you.)

Anyway, at the end of the day or at least this complaint session, we have no table that can seat more than four with any level of comfort. I bemoan this fact with regularity, usually during some kind of passing crisis over not having a social life.

So that’s the lengthy background behind my reaction on this past Saturday, which is when Michael casually mentioned that he had invited some friends over for dinner on Monday.

I should have been excited, right? People were coming to dinner! I wasn’t excited.

“We don’t have a table!” I whined. “I don’t understand where you expect me to put people. We need a dining room table!”

“Don’t worry about a thing,” he said. “I’ll take care of it.”

On Sunday I saw this in my driveway:

That’s salvaged wood from old shipping crates.

He topped it with a piece of plywood that’s been propped up against the dining room wall for about a year now.

Then I threw some linens and every candle in the house on it, surrounded it with the kitchen chairs, the bench/coffee table from the living room, and Annabel’s bench seat from kitchen, and made my eyes and my brain really soft-focus.

Just like that, dinner for seven.  It worked just fine.

I’m very excited to have people over for dinner now.  But I’d better do it quickly because I’ve been informed that Michael will be needing that piece of plywood back for Memorial Day weekend, which is when it will be turned into the other  kitchen bench seat.

I suppose it’s best that we have a deadline. I’ve been sleeping on a bed made from 2x4s and plywood for about seven years now.  You know, the temporary one.


Who wants wine?

Brace yourself, folks.

This is my house:

Here’s what you see: a slightly sad little cottage surrounded by tools, scrap wood, and things that are “going to the dump this weekend, I promise.”

You see crap under the porch.

You see crap on the porch.

You see the skeleton of scaffolding on the roof.

You see a mishmash of paint, some faded, some not, some nonexistent.

You see a landscape that looks like a bomb site.

You see a chicken.

Here’s what I see:

The shingling, people. The shingling is done.

There are no more shingles to be put on my house.*

I mean, yes, it took us so long to finish shingling that the stain has faded in some spots to the point of needing to be redone. But you know what? We were going to redo it anyway once all the shingles were up.  So that totally does not count.

Somewhere on here I promised to start writing about the housebuilding project again once the shingling was done.

Say it with me: the shingling is DONE.

*Actually, the shingling was completed in October. But I didn’t want to write about it until the rest of the barn board on the dormer was stained. It appears that is not going to happen until summer.  I can’t wait until summer. I’m declaring it done.

I can only guess that my deepest, darkest self, the part that’s usually buried under twenty-seven feet of denial and obfuscation, is an optimist. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for why I like New Year’s as much as I do.

I like New Year’s a lot.  Not because of the parties–I don’t think I’ve been to a truly enjoyable New Year’s party since 1999, when I attended a roaring house party mere blocks from the United States Capitol.  I think my theory was that if Y2K was going to launch the world’s nukes, I might as well go in the first round?  I don’t know. I was 24. I’m sure it made sense at the time.

So, no, it’s not the parties, although this year, spent playing card games with my sister and brother-in-law, was pathetically enjoyable. I like New Year’s because of the fresh start aspect; that metaphorical blank notebook is irresistible to me.

Many people get confused about this and think of New Year’s as a time for corrective measures.  Something like, “Boy, I really blew 2011. I’m going to make sure that 2012 doesn’t have all those errors in it.”  Ridiculous thinking, that. Not only will 2012 likely have the same mistakes, it will have brand new ones ready for you. Screw ups you can’t even imagine are lurking just around the corner, folks, and all the vows to eat more vegetables aren’t going to help you there.

(Look, I warned you that my optimistic part was a bit buried.)

I prefer to take a different approach. I like to set a big purpose for the year, some kind of habit I’d like to instill in myself or a big life goal I’d like to work on. I let these themes develop organically over time and usually by the end of December it’s pretty much settled.  I’ll get to my 2012 theme in a second. But first: 2011.  In 2011, I vowed to become a bit more focused on who I was and what I was doing.  As a result, well.

As a result, 2011 was kind of a weird year.

It wasn’t a bad year. I need to qualify that because I know many folks, online and in real life, for whom 2011 was an absolute ankle-kicker of a year.  I am not comparing my year to their years. It wasn’t that way for me.  Really, when you get down to it, nothing about my external life changed much in 2011.  The same basic facts were the same in December as they were in January: same job, same friends, same kids, same husband, same half-built house.  But I think there were a lot of internal changes in 2011. I spent a lot of the year doing very unsettled and antsy navel-gazing, with an especial focus on my excessively neurotic tendency to examine every minute facet of my inner and outer lives by pulling them apart like dryer lint while I look for flaws.

Did you get lost and despairing somewhere in the middle of that last sentence? Good. Then I properly conveyed my mindset for most of 2011.  Feel free to send Michael your sympathies.

But I think I’m just about done with that, mostly because what I learned most about myself and what I’m do is that I’m very annoying.  And that leads me into 2012.

At some point, in the midst of all my fretting and overthinking, it occurred to me that I was spending the majority of my time taking.  I read things, but didn’t write them. I used things, but didn’t make them. I planned things, but didn’t execute them. I thought, but I didn’t do.  That sort of endless taking makes for a bit of a boring world, I’m finding.

That’s why the 2012 theme is: less consumption, more production.  Less taking of the products other people have made, and putting more of my work out there. In short: more writing, making, and doing. Starting here. Starting now.

The 2012 notebook is open. Let’s do this.