Sunday, April 5, 2020

Hard Work

"Life grants nothing to us mortals without hard work." -Horace

* * * * *

Paint your living room in a weekend!
Choose a fresh color to reinvigorate your space!
Re-painting a room is the easiest, cheapest way to redecorate!

Decor and design headlines shout these soothing claims all the time - If you'll just run out and buy yourself a gallon of pretty paint and a handful of brand spanking new supplies, a freshly painted room can be yours in no time! 

And P.S. You can paint in whatever cute outfit you happen to be wearing. No need to even change your clothes or put on a smock!

Though I most certainly wasn't looking for it, I encountered another version of this myth one just five minutes ago. (Scroll down for the video.)

Because that is what this spin-doctored story about home painting is, my friends. 

A myth. 
A fairy tale. 
A fantasy.

An outrageously optimistic twisting and turning of the cold, hard truth that painting is hard work.
At this angle, if I squint just so, this almost looks like the normal room. With the couches and the lamps squished together. Little does it reveal about the squalor laying just beyond.

I earned the chops to make this claim because, once again, I just spent a long weekend with a paintbrush in my hand.
There's something about the color of painter's tape that makes me grit my teeth. Blue or green, it's jarring and ugly. Every moment that it's up, I want it to go away. 

And I wasn't even painting an entire room. 

My goal was simply to freshen the paint on the lower half of my living room - the wainscoting, if you will - and the other bits of trim around the windows and doorways.
Pamplemousse La Croix is an essential element of my painting ritual. 

And I wasn't even starting from scratch. About a year ago, when the wood floors in this end of the house were installed, I realized it was high time I repainted the trim as well. I got a good start on this project by laying down the first coat and doing all the tricky cutting in bits.

But then I got distracted by summer. 
And then I tore my rotator cuff. 

You know, stuff happens.
Sigh. I would much rather be outside pulling weeds. 

Last weekend, I did the dining room. As this week kicks off my spring break, I figured I was fresh out of excuses for putting off the rest of the job any longer. Living room and front hall, here I come. 

So, promising myself I would wrap up the living room phase over this beginning-of-my-holiday weekend, I shoved the furniture to the middle of the room, disassembled most of the art on the walls, dug through my painting supplies, and dragged into the house what I needed. 

Most of my painting supplies are not shiny and new. In fact, they look pretty rough, used and scrubbed and used and scrubbed, a little grubby to be sure but good enough to see me through another project. My ladders - short and tall - have been around for decades and both have the paint splatters to prove it, 

Old towels and rags, 
paper towels,
cleaning wipes,
and yards and yards of Frog Tape  

went into the making of this chaos. 

For my painting ensemble, I donned a pair of cherished but entirely overworn sweatpants purchased in Danang, Vietnam, and one of my husband's old flannel shirts.
For at least 15 years, Jim Dale reading Harry Potter has been my go-to entertainment for painting projects. I've been through the entire series at least a dozen times and still enjoy every sentence. 

Then I cranked the audio books and got to work.
Gracie loves painting projects because they tend to keeps me in one room, so she doesn't have to keep track of me and follow me around the house. 

In her two and a half years with me, Gracie has grown well accustomed to my painting parties. She waited patiently while I cleared her a path to the couches, then she hopped up and assumed a napping position, her head perfectly propped on the pillows.
She's quiet as a mouse until around 5:30 when she comes out of hibernation and reminds me that maybe it's time for a walk. 

Hours flew by. 

I climbed up and down ladders,
cursed the imperfect nature of masking tape, 
cleaned up a hundred dribbles of paint on the floor,
changed the CDs, 
and celebrated each tiny bit of progress.

Gracie drowsily changed sofas once or twice, and kept sleeping. Good dog.
Taping off the pie-shaped sections of the half-circle window and the rounded edges of the trim piece that runs along the top of the four lower windows put my taping skills to the test.

As Sunday afternoon wound down, I faced the sad truth: I wasn't even going to finish the living room job this weekend. 

I still have a few stretches of straight, flat wall that need a second coat. Thank goodness I saved the easiest task for last. 

But I can't - won't - wait to complete this room because next weekend, I'm scheduled to paint the wainscoting and trim in the front hall. I know, I know - it's my schedule and I can change it if I want. But if I don't scratch this painting job off the top of my to-do list soon, I am going to make myself crazy. 

So tomorrow morning, I will resume. Once the last of the painting is done, I'll clean up the mess, scrub the floors, and breathe an enormous sigh of relief. And then next Saturday, I'll start all over again.
My mission for Monday morning: race down this section with a mini-roller for a final second coat, and then I'll finally be done! Until Saturday. 

Tonight, as I sit here in my painting paints, speckles of dried paint on my arms, and a self-inflicted chaos of painting debris waiting for me in the next room, let me say with authority and conviction:

Painting a room is hard work. 

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