Monday, July 21, 2008

Frenzy Forfended

Talk about harried! I've had Mark's car to paint since Wednesday night. Thursday was spent the way it always is with a new car -- pretending it isn't there. Okay. That's not accurate. But I do act like I'm ignoring it when, in fact, it's got my full attention. It's like being in love in, say, seventh grade. Well, and in the fourth decade, too, I'm afraid. You just ignore the object of your affection until s/he finally realizes that you're smitten. If s/he glances your way, you quick! turn your head. You glance at the sky. You whistle an aimless tune. The advantage of this being a car instead of a love object is that it actually can't glance my way. What a relief!

I walk around it, rubbing at spots, pulling at the Honda logo, bending down and snapping the bumper with my finger. I mutter things like, "Okay, but then where would the yin-yang go?" I spread my arms and swirl my hands like a conductor, helping myself to envision what I'm talking about. Then I hear silverware clinking from the neighbor's kitchen and realize that she can hear me murmuring and see me gesticulating, so I stop it for a while. It doesn't last long, though. If she thinks I'm a nut-bag, she won't be the first.

I have to turn my little kitchen into a little studio. The two feet of counter space have to be cleared off. I want the little rugs to be the non-skid type, so I switch them. I line up paper plates, jar lids, frozen-meal and Meow Mix containers -- anything that can be used as shallow reservoirs for paint servings that I'll stick the sponges in. I arrange stir-sticks from the paint store and plastic spoons. I crack open a new box of latex gloves. I grab the Gojo and then remember that this is the first time I'm going to use non-toxic paint. I put it back, not quite trusting that action. No Gojo? No paint thinner? No big fat mess that will never go away because 1-SHOT, the sign-maker's paint which causes cancer in California, is a thing of my past?


I get out the big rubber mallet, my pride and joy. I feel so competent owning that thing. I've got the big flat-nosed screw driver, too, for prying off the paint lids. These two tools look like twins, they're so bespattered, head to toe.

Another mismatched twin set is the canine contingent at Stefan and Lissa's house. I've painted two trucks and a golf cart for their new nursery, Banyan Scapes. They've got a short fat bulldog (because that's the only size they come in) who's brindle, and a matching GREAT DANE. They look so funny together!

My studio's ready. I've added the blue painter's tape and scissors, my pica stick (which I had engraved with my name at a jeweler's a hundred years ago), the white China marker. I'm set.

I only need to drive the car to the car wash, and then pull it up between the houses, up to my kitchen door. That will wait till Friday.

And Friday came. With it came a big dark funk that I honored by feeling fat, ugly, and stupid all day. Still, I went out in the morning to wash the car ... and couldn't release the parking brake. What? It's got a standard transmission, which I know how to drive (don't I?), but still, who uses the parking brake in flat Florida?

Well, I asked that question -- more as an indignant, rhetorical rant than a question -- of a handful of people, and they all said, "Well ... I do."


I let Friday slip by but that's okay because I have a whole week to paint the car and who can do good work when she's feeling horrible?

Actually, the answer, I'm pretty sure, is: I can. Yeah. I don't think I need to be in a good mood to do good work. I might have to be in a good mood to write, but not to paint. In fact, the first paint I ever put on a car was when I was angry and heart-broken and hopeless. And I remember years and years ago, I got on this huge rave about freaking men. All they do is TAKE, y'know? Not a single one gives. They all take! take! take! I was so mad! The only halfway artistic thing I'd ever done was papier-mache (my queendom for some accent marks!) piggy banks for my ten nieces and nephews way back in my married days, so I made a papier-mache, um, breast, using my actual, ah, chest for the model. I intended to have a whole series of them, each with something hanging off them, draining them -- men! babies! -- and then I couldn't think of anything else, and I've never had babies, but I should think they'd be kind of cool and not really a bother, at least not so young, so I gave it up.

I also envisioned a series of peniseseses. Do I have to mark this as an "adult" blog if I say "penis"? God. I hope not. The penes would be stand-alone units, like a hat-rack sort of. And the tips would have:
  • a screaming, raucous, wide-open baby bird mouth (because men are so greedy)

  • the muzzle of a rifle (because men use sex as a weapon)

  • the head of a squalling, pissed-off baby (because men are so demanding)

Actually, I remember having at least half a dozen of those ideas, but, as with the breast, the idea came to naught. I'm sure it's just as well. I can't guarantee it, but I suspect a wall full of angry penes would put a pall over a party.

Plus, that was in the Olden Days. Now, of course, I see men as kind and gentle and strong and sensitive and cooperative and understanding.

Not to mention: I digress ...

Saturday, I ran off to an all-day drumming session. It was taught by Buddy Helm. Just go to and see for yourself. It wasn't a plain old drumming circle. It was great and I'm glad I went. I got to eat at The Summer of Love, too, on South Pasadena just after the Palms of Pasadena Hospital. It's a nice enough sandwich joint, a place where lunch can be a ten-dollar bill instead of two of them, as is normal for dear old Gulfport ...

And my buddy Mike was able to release the brake, so I finally got started on Sunday. Whew! And by the way, don't tell Mark any of this, okay? Thanks.

All that muttering and hand-waving did me some good because I made more headway on Sunday than on any other first day of any other car.

And today's Monday. Suddenly, I was inundated with work for Liz's book. It sort of blindsided me. I was just making corrections, and there weren't that many, but still, I sat down here at eight in the morning and didn't get up again until six. I was starting to panic. I've got some really complicated things planned for Mark's car and I need all the time I can get. I'm just sick about those days I wasted. Okay: that day. Day One and Day Three were not wasted. But I hadn't counted on having to work on the book and I started to think nothing would get done.

How quickly I went from well, this is a surprise to this will never get done! auughhhhhhh!

And then Mittens, my beloved cat, sat outside and screamed for entrance. She came in and sat on my, um, studio -- a 20x40" folding table that I was using for the two hundred and eighty-eight times two pages I was dealing with. I moved her off the studio four times. There just wasn't room for her and the book. And I was getting insane about getting things done. But Mittens just made herself comfortable in the way of the cat, and there was nothing I could do but take pictures of her being so cute. She saved the day. I lightened up.

I made a huge mistake on the cover of the book, but Liz caught it and it took one minute to fix. I'm going to get to bed at a decent hour tonight. Tomorrow and Wednesday will be all for Mark's car. There will surely be last-minute touches on Thursday morning, and then I'll pick him up from the airport at three forty-five and he'll never know how frenzied I was for a couple hours today.

Liz's book is the ultimate pet sitter's guide named The Little Bastard Won't Bite ... and everything else your pet sitter needs to know. You'll want several copies of your own, one to keep and many to give. Many of Liz's friends have the honor of having their pets' pictures included in the book. I'm one of them. I swear that this photo of Mittens sitting on her own page was not staged. I didn't have time or inclination for it. It just happened. Again, that cat saved my day.

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