Monday, May 23, 2011

The Full Experience

Perhaps you remember our red wall.

No? Allow me to reintroduce you.

Yeah, that's the one.

That very red wall--one might even call it maroon--has rubbed me the wrong way for awhile now. It was slightly more than tolerated at Christmas for creating a lovely backdrop to our tiny tree.

Otherwise it was a dark corner of overbearing color, sucking the light--nay, the very soul--out of our otherwise kinda sweet house.

Why? Why a dark red flat paint for the one part of the house? The rest of the house's walls were delivered to us in unassuming shades of "eh". With an appropriate eggshell finish.

Gentle reader, allow me to tell you what you do about such a color monstrosity. Go instantly to your nearest Lowe's and buy everything you'll need to transform that wall into a delightful, gleaming beacon of Clark Household loveliness. Fall in love with the color swatch for the "Gold n' Sugar Cookie" paint finish--you know it will transform your morning coffee corner into the European Cafe you know it to be.

Then take it all home and let it sit around for 7 months.

This will, um, let you get ready for the painting process. Painting 2 square feet of wall can be an overwhelming process, and you don't want to just dive in without proper preparation.

Seven months of sitting around will just let you really get your DaVinci on.

Okay, fine, I was a lazy procrastinator. All kinds of busy and useful things happened around the house while I let that wall sit. A new year started. We got Osama Bin Laden. Brendon and his mom did everything from major plumbing work to installing ceiling fans...while I let that wall stay red.

Apparently my 7-month itch finally needed to be scratched. I busted out the trusty Sugar Cookie paint, the primer, that blue tape, and various drop cloths to protect my beloved distressed wood floors.

Let's just say that they are now further distressed. Sadly due to my ineptitude. I just didn't read the instructions on the Kilz primer. When I opened it up and it looked like a jar of natural peanut butter--with the oil separated on the top--I did exactly what I do with that peanut oil.

I poured it off.

So, um, it was a very long and challenging process to apply that primer. Several times I considered changing the roller for a spatula. I should have used a kitchen implement. It was like priming with cottage cheese.
And that oily stuff that had separated spilled a little on the drop cloths. Later I would find that it created fabulous Rorschach-style stains in my wood floors. Stupid drop cloths.

Luckily I had Pandora to keep me company, and at first my new Depeche Mode station gave me the energy that one can only get from an 80s movie-esque Painting My House Will Change My Life montage. Yeah, my shoulders ached and it was taking forever to apply that cheesy primer, but I was rocking out to bumpin' music only a Cassio can create.

I moved on to painting, hours later. And yeah, there was an actual curve to the learning curve. I stirred the Sugar Cookie can's contents and found it much easier to apply.

To my hair.

Once the process was finished (by then I'd nixed the idea of applying the gold finish...I couldn't feel my shoulders and I was concerned about how well the drop cloths were sticking to the floors) I tried to scrub the paint from my fingers.

As hard as that was, when I discovered I had a lot in my hair, I just cut it out.

Um, it was kind of a lot. And only later did I realize it was rather easy to wash out of my hair. Awesome. Now I have a haircut to match my Pandora station.

And frankly, Pandora, I don't appreciate your determination to prepare me for parenthood. Yeah, I tell you that I like Depeche Mode and you'll obediently play it for me.

And then you throw in a little U2; okay, yeah, I'll accept that. Suddenly a little...Coldplay? Will you listen to some Coldplay? Weeeell...yeah, I'll take it, but only because it's a fast song.

Then bam, you hit me with some stupid slow ballad by a really lame artist. What? No. Stop what I'm doing and stomp over to the computer. Thumbs down.

And the process repeats, like a little toddler testing a parent's boundaries. How far can I go before she hates the song enough to get up from what she's doing? How bad does the artist have to be for her to discipline me?

Argh. I'm not a mom yet, but thanks, Pandora, for giving me a little taste.

Anyway, back to the wall. I admit I was a bit disappointed in all the time I wasted on the prep work of taping and drop cloth-ing. You already know that the drop cloth didn't serve much of a purpose. Well, neither did the tape. See, when you apply paint as thick as a dairy topping to your walls, large chunks of it will come off with your blue border tape.

So now I have peeling border pieces of Sugar Cookie blowing in the breeze of the air conditioner, revealing the primer and red layers underneath.

Whatever. I was too exhausted at that point to care. And I had gone into the whole thing with the mentality that it would be a learning process. I would make mistakes, and I would be okay with them.

Hm. It seems that I created my Euro Cafe after all. My mistakes gave me a funky new haircut, stained floors, and peeling European. So I say that I did it on purpose, to create the full experience of being at a little sidewalk table in Spain. Muy bien!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Like a Puff to the Eye

It's hard to say "Manns."

Try it. Go ahead, out loud. Like your phone's spellcheck, your brain just wants to fix these things and say, "Men."

Kind of like how your eye wants to close when the doctor sends that puff of air into it. Or when he slices it open to reshape it. You want to close it then, too.

Yes, I went to the Mann Eye folks and had Lasik performed on my underperforming eyes. And while I previously felt that such elective surgery seemed a bit over-indulgent, now I can't imagine having considered not doing it.

It started, as most of my silly endeavors do, while Brendon was offshore and I had ample time to myself.

Well, no, I supposed it really started in second grade when I got glasses. But let's condense to the point of my consultation with the Manns (Men) three weeks ago.

I think they pulled a fast one on me, actually. I didn't notice it at the time, but the guy they employ to do the consultations was a smooooooth talker. I instantly felt happy and comfortable, and he sold the services well. The machine that does the surgery is made to stop working if there is a bump or movement of any kind, the patient is given valium so the whole 5-minute process is super easy, and the laser can't even cut deep enough to cause any damage.

And in retrospect, when he told me that I reminded him of his buddy's wife--a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader--that's probably when I was sold. Really? I fell for that? Yes, he said it, and I totally ate it up. Next thing I knew I was making my slice n' dice appointment and taking out my contacts for the last time.

Let's be fair--I've wanted this for a long time. It was not mere flattery (which I am SURE he says to every female who sits in that chair) but a true desire to see clearly on my own that pushed me to do this.

Seriously, at a contact prescription of -7.5, this is how I used to see:

The artist's rendition of her previous eyesight. See below for real image:

So I wore the damn glasses for a week before surgery. They ask that you do this so your eyes can relax back to their true shape. This lets them see if you really have enough cornea to give up for The Scraping and still have enough left over for the aging process.

And then I went and Mann, Jr. sliced 'em open and fixed 'em up!

It was a bit unnerving, even on the valium, as the first machine descended on my eyes to make the flap. My vision went black and I felt like I was seeing stars.

They'd numbed my eyes, but it still felt a bit uncomfortable. Even in my valium cloud. The nurse rubbed my arm and was quite comforting.

Silly me, I had thought that I was done when they sat me up from that machine. I looked at the infamous clock on the wall--the one that everyone said I should be able to read after the procedure--yet it remained as blurry as ever. I was seriously disappointed.

Then they guided me to the other chair to do the real work. Relieved, I laid down and The Mann did his thing. This time it was all red and green. He kept telling me to stare at the red dot, but there was so much movement!

I was nervous that I was somehow looking away, and my eye felt pretty uncomfortable, but I didn't want to go blind from a sudden nerve attack during surgery (despite all of Mr. Flattery's assurances).

So I used my ol' Pap Smear trick: wiggle the toes.

Come on, if you've read this far about slicing and dicing eyeballs then a reference to a speculum should not make you squeamish. That first gynecologist suggested I wiggle my toes while in the stirrups, and it's a just kind of my go-to move when I need to relax.

And then it was over. In a somewhat drug-induced cloud, I was led out of the room. I kind of noticed that I could see, but the light was overwhelming and my eyes felt scratchy. They taped shields to my face and the next thing I knew I was at home in bed having crazy dreams. Brendon administered my eye drops like a champion nurse, carefully un-taping and re-taping my shields.

When the valium really wore off, I woke up and gazed at the ceiling fan. Though distorted through the goggles, it was clear. The most beautiful freakin' fan I ever saw.

I had to sleep with the goggles 5 nights, and that first night we found out why. Brendon rolled over and his long lovely arm flopped at me, popping me in the face. The shields made a soft click, and I laughed to myself as I thought of this scene from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

So he's taken to calling me The Bionic Wife. Partly because I've had surgery to improve that which nature bestowed on me, but mostly because of how the shields make me look.

A small price to pay for 20/15 vision. I gladly accept my new title, dear husband!