Friday, September 26, 2008


This is my painting outfit. I like how miserable I look here. Makes me feel more literary, maybe in the Irish sense of the word. I say this because my book group, which met last night, just discussed The Gathering, by Anne Enright, a Booker Prize winner. Though short on plot, it towered with misery. And molestation. But the important thing here is that I showed up for book group in my painting outfit, because I was rolling until the eleventh hour.

So I'm sitting there at book group last night in my painty clothes, my hair is sprinkled with dove-white dots, discussing the lack of plot in this sad Irish book, dropping eggplant tapenade onto the hostess's flokati rug, and the new girl says, "those are pretty nice jeans to use as painter's pants," which I take as an accusation. I sputter an explanation, something about my overage of jeans, my short-lived but very expensive obsession with designer denim, how these are the worst of the bunch, and she says, "You don't have a pair of old sweatpants?" and I shake my head. "Old pajama pants? Nothing?" The woman is incredulous, and soon I am too. What kind of reject doesn't have an old pair of cheap ugly pants? I don't know who I am anymore.

It's not until much later that the other voice in my head, the one who knows better but doesn't speak up until it's too late, is whispering in my ear, you don't owe an explanation. You could paint in a ball gown and it's none of anybody's business. But it's too late. The approval of this woman I have known for thirty minutes isn't there for me. Worse, I have received official disapproval.

I say yes to that second glass of wine. Later I fret in bed. I am premenstrual but don't yet know this. I think about my jeans and wish I could have explained what a volatile relationship I have had with this particular pair of jeans since they came into my life half-price via ebay four years ago.

It all started with my friend L___, a boyishly tiny fashion plate whose style shone so brightly that I took it as a personal affront. I thought if I could get the same jeans she had, maybe some of her magic would rub off onto me. But I knew I'd better choose a darker shade of denim because I was afraid that in my slightly larger size, her almost greenish tinted pair would make me look like I was trying even harder than I was. So I ordered a different color, sight unseen, the photos are never the same, and when I received them, slumped with dismay. The color sucked. It reminded me junior high, all the most painful parts. And they weren't returnable since they were on sale. Oh yes, intrepid living-on-the-edge masochistic shopper am I.

I tried to love the jeans. And what's more I had to hem them. I had to commit to them on a deeper level. Twenty dollars later they're not so on sale anymore. And the tailor didn't speak very good English. And he had a weird rash around his lips. So when I explained "original hem," to him like my stylish friend taught me, meaning that the distressed original hem would be cut off and then reaffixed to the hemmed length, he said, "Okay. I do." And when I returned for my jeans that I tried so hard to love, they were very much not done the way I had asked, but hemmed with the too-too fresh denim of the freshly cut cloth.

I knew I should have taken them to someone else. The rash was a warning that I let go unheeded. I complained, tried to weasel out of paying, scolded the infected tailor for not listening to me, all to no avail. "It's impossible," he told me.

"But you said it could be done!" I cried.

"Need big machine. Two thousand dollar machine to do this."

My eyes widened. "Why didn't you tell me this before?"

He shrugged. His rash mocked me.

I stormed out of the store, desperate, deranged with fury. Now the jeans were not only the wrong color, but they no longer had the weightiness at the bottom that makes them drape and drag sexily. So at home, after glaring at them for a couple days, and putting them on, taking them off, over and over, trying to pose in front of the mirror just right so that the hems would look the way I wanted them to, berating myself into loving these damn jeans dammit, I grabbed my seam ripper and got rid of the hems.

I felt better knowing the rashy man's thread was no longer piercing its way through my regrettable purchase, but I still had the original hems—in my impotent tirade I had the rash-man pick them out of the garbage for me so I could show him the subtly worn edges that made the hems special and worth preserving. I brought the hems home so I could whip myself with them.

I forgot about the jeans eventually. I even wore them on occasion, but over the months I amassed enough additional pairs of jeans (all to compensate for this lousy pair) that it was no longer a life-threatening issue.

And then we bought this house and did some painting and I had no proper painting pants. I would wear Bryan's jeans, which were baggy and uncomfortable and needed belting, or a pair of his boxer shorts, but if company was over or I had to run to the store for another quart of HC-172 from the local Benjamin Moore store, I had to change my pants, and that's a drag. So I wanted a pair of jeans I could feel comfortable in, and even a little foxy, and upon opening my heavy jeans drawer, knew these were the ones.

Writing this down now I realize that even if I had explained the situation properly, the new girl from book group still wouldn't approve. I wonder why she didn't think my shirt was too nice to paint in. That was a gift from my mother.

Friday, September 19, 2008


It's a beautiful morning for a walk or a jog. It's crisp and cool and sunny, and here I am true to form, squandering it indoors, working on my pasty complexion. Above is the chair we found on the curb a couple weeks ago. I covered it with one of those Urban Outfitters bedspreads.

Hamish's first day of pre-school. He found his favorite toy right away, a broken alarm clock in the shape of a robot. The head moves up and down and everything. Today was the first day he cried when we dropped him off because he didn't have time to gather his "bug finders" which are two compass/magnifying glass/mirror gadgets. One he uses himself and the other he shares with his new close friend A____, also from Brooklyn. I was praying there'd be more like us out here—New York City refugees looking for some affordable real estate, natural beauty, good public schools, and an all around easier way of day-to-day living, plus a close-ish proximity to the overpriced apple, and we found our first family who fit the bill. We've already had them over for brunch and they are all lovely, stylish people. When we met we wondered where the others are, but we are totally okay with being pioneers.

I don't structure nap time, which could be a detriment to my mental health, but Stella manages to fall asleep when she needs to, wherever she might be.

Who says sleep needs to happen horizontally?

Ah, sweet rest.
Here is the current state of our kitchen, which am angling to paint something in a jewel-tone or at least saturated, to harmonize with the grey countertops and backsplash and the wood cabinets. I'm thinking yellow-green, but Bryan isn't 100% on board. Light grey looks like ass, you can see the test-patches, and I also thought of a stormy blue-grey but I know it'll just depress me as the days get shorter.

I'm lapping at my new issue of Domino for some inspiration I can pirate, so we'll see what happens. So far, I've been practicing restraint with my paint choices (except for in the kids' rooms) because I get sick of things quickly. It's working so far, but this room wants a darker color, but it doesn't want to sacrifice light, especially since that big gaping hole in the ceiling is being sealed up.

Oh there she is again snoozing away in her ninety-nine cent top from Old Navy.

And here she is awake on her first day of school. We drop the toddlers off in the playground and then they get to watch us recede into the parking lot distance so that they can cry all the harder. Our heartstrings, they weep.
The coffee table we found on the curb a month back. Four cans of yellow spray paint later and YOWZA. 

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Kathy Calderwood sent me a present, this beautiful, tiny superball painting. I hung it in the niche at the top of the tiger stairs. I call this niche my perch. Hamish calls it the deck.
The black banister.
Shelves I bought from the deceased next door's daughter. Painted them "Artichoke Hearts." I have next to nothing to put on them yet.
The master bath is 99.9% complete. Still have to hang the hand-towel holders, and I'm sensing the need for a vase of cherry branches. Or something.
I forgot to turn on the shower when I took this pic like they do in the shelter magazines.
Another perch.
This is where I come to blog.
Painted the fire screen white. That was my friend's idea, and a good one.
Painted the porch floor white. I'm going for a space-aged look out here.
My friend gifted me this amazing Maharam fabric as a housewarming. It's called Quatrefoil. I got these consignment shop chairs upholstered in it. Very exciting. I gaze upon them often.
The bedroom is very spare. Some people call it spare. I think it's unfinished. Add a loveseat at the foot of the bed? A settee? A giant flat screen TV that rises via remote control from a custom-designed bench? Dunno. I also wish the headboard were a little higher so I could sit up in bed and lean against it like they do on TV instead of lie practically horizontal with my book, which I suspect isn't as cinematic. But oh well, if that's my biggest problem, right? The mattresses these days are just so darn thick.
Hello again, chairs.