Thursday, August 27, 2009

What I Learned This Summer - Part Three

Grief is an Odd Feeling. Grief over Celebrities is Odder.

RIP, Michael Jackson. And, not to be crass, but you really lived longer than I thought you would. I don't know who you really were or what you did or didn't do. I do know that when we were kids my brother and I played your music as much as our Star Wars album, so that's saying a lot. And I do know that all of the weirdos wailing in the streets in their supposed sorrow (and I include most of your family in that) yeah, well, they helped to kill you and I hope they figure that out one day.

I will say that I did get a bit choked up, when in the middle of all of the circus that first week of his death, The Simpsons that Sunday simply ran the old episode where he was a guest voice. His character was Homer's roommate in an asylum who thought he was Michael Jackson and helped Bart write a song for Lisa's birthday. It was a sweet gesture and a fitting tribute to the crazy that was his life.

By far the more upsetting celebrity death for me this summer was John Hughes. And it's odd because I have no idea what he was like as a person - even in the way you think you know a celebrity, but really don't. But he was literally responsible for the soundtrack of my adolescence and with his sudden passing I feel like I really, really have to be a grown-up now. It kinda sucks.

Everyone has their favorite John Hughes movie. I, of course, love all of my teen-angst-riddled Molly Ringwald films, but I think his best was Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Silly and absurd, but also still funny and really, just very beautiful to watch. You don't usually get that from a teen comedy. John Hughes had a talent for marrying music and film in a way that isn't cliched but instead make you feel instantly nostalgic for that time in your life. Even if you weren't old enough for that time in your life to have happened yet.

Did that make any sense?

Anyway... when I would read articles about Hughes' death, the scene and the song that kept popping into my head wasn't the "The Thompson Twins and sitting on the dining table with the birthday cake," or "dancing in the school library to 'We Are Not Alone," or "Duckie lip-synching to Otis Redding." Those are all great and rightly have been posted and paid tribute to over and over again. But for me, what kept running through my mind, and what typified John Hughes work was The Art Institute of Chicago and The Smiths.

What I Learned This Summer - Part Two

2. Always, always - ALWAYS - use test paint:

Every single frickin' room in my house is, or was, in the process of being painted. In two of them I first applied test paint and have ended up with exactly the color that had been floating about in my head.

You know, in my head, the place where I am Martha Stewart and my best friends are Tom Filicia and Nate Berkus. It's all kinds of fun in there...

But, in two of the other rooms I arrogantly taped a couple of paint chips to a wall, declared a winner without much thought and then painted. Only to be horrified at the end result.

In the bedrooms I wanted a nice, coffee-with-a-bit-of-cream colored brown. Not too dark. Not too light. A Goldilocks of brown, if you will. How hard could that be, right? Well, the boys that helped me paint started on one of the bedrooms while I was busy doing something else in another room and were being suspiciously quiet while they worked. After a bit they called me in to look at the color, sounding a bit concerned. And rightly so.

It was pink.

Well, eventually a mauve-ish tan. But all wet and shiny and freshly painted, it was pink. We tried to convince ourselves that it would dry darker and be fine. In reality, I think they knew I was going to hate it, but they were very sweet (and very tall - Summer Lesson Learned Part 2.5 is always get tall boys to help you paint...) and humored me and kept painting anyway. Two days later I went back to the paint store, they added green to the paint, matched it perfectly to the color in my head and I went home and sheepishly re-painted by myself.

Then the bathroom. Oh the bathroom. It needed a muted, robin's egg blue - one of those nice Martha Stewart vintagey shades of aqua. But again... I recklessly painted and then stepped back to take a look, promptly declaring "Aaaaaand now I live in a beach house!" Turquoise. Bright, blinding turquoise. Seriously. Like hang a shrimp net in the corner, find a parrot statue for the back of the toilet and a seashell cover for the box of Kleenex. Lord. Finally though I got it right and now every morning I sigh at how much I love it and how it's finally exactly the right color. Finally.

I bemoaned to Katie about all of this one afternoon and she said that for women, picking paint colors is akin to men's inability to stop and ask for directions. It's something that we believe we should be able to just inherently do without assistance and sometimes we just can't. So true.

It's almost all done now. Well, as done as it's going to get for now. And I will share photos soon.

Until then, in my head, it's happy hour and Tom and Nate and I are enjoying martinis and discussing what fabric to recover my living room chair in, if you'd like to join us.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

What I Learned This Summer - Part One. Or....

The Official Moment Wherein:
  • My boss goes on vacation
  • I can see the light at the end of the home renovation tunnel
  • It's only 7 more days until the start of college football
  • I recently went to see Julie and Julia so I'm reminded that I should be posting something on my blog so that Nora Ephron will one day find me interesting enough to turn into a movie...

No? Ok, moving on...

So, I've been negligent. But with good reason. Kinda. I've spent most of the summer thinking about what I'd like to be when I grow up, should that moment ever happen. And, when I haven't been doing that, I've been painting and wandering through Lowe Depot and obsessively reading about college football. It's been, like, the least girlie summer in history. But I have learned a lot. So, if anyone out there still remembers me, I give you Part One of the Top Five Lessons from the Summer of 2009:

1. I Suck at Balance:

Mostly I suck at balancing the different areas of my life. I'm always letting one of them consume my time and energy and in doing so let the others sit over in the corner and collect dust. And dog hair. Lots and lots of dog hair. I've always known that I do this, but never before this summer have I realized so clearly how dysfunctional I am about it.

The aforementioned home renovation tunnel prevents me from seeking paid help for my condition so until Dr. Phil starts penning an advice column in This Old House magazine, I'm kind of on my own to figure out how to fix it.

I also physically suck at balance. Startled out of bed a couple of weeks ago - by the producers of the dog hair that's collecting on the areas of my life I can't keep balanced - I stumbled into the living room to assess the identity of the person that must've been trying to break into the house and murder us all to warrant all the frantic damn barking. Turned out it was only a stray dog running loose on our street and in the process of my stumbling I clumsily ran one of my toes directly into the dog gate, breaking it slightly.

Points for irony: knowing that it wasn't an important enough toe (second-to-last on the left foot - a.k.a. the Little Piggy Who Had None) or a severe enough break to warrant a visit to the doctor, I just taped it. But I didn't have any medical tape handy for myself, so I swiped some from the other first aid kit in the house. The dog first aid kit. If one of them sprains a paw running through the house because I've woken them up at 2am over something stupid, then maybe I'll feel badly about it.

More points for irony AND bonus humiliation points: the next day I actually had a doctor's appointment. HOWEVER, let's just say that feet were not her area of specialty but that she did have an opportunity get a good look at my feet and asked what I had done. I told her and she said not to bother seeing a doctor whose area of specialty included feet because "unless you broke it off altogether, all they're going to do is tape it." She offered to re-tape the toe for me but said it looked like I had done a good job. I neglected to mention it was thanks to the dogs' first aid kit.

So, there you go, one lesson down and four to go. Hope you've had a good summer too.