Monday, November 25, 2013

The Ultimate Challenge

What, you may ask, is the Ultimate Challenge? Well, my Dear Reader, I’ll tell you. And yes, this post will involve some very Victorian capital letters for emphasis of abstract concepts.

First, let me confess that I have long sought the Ultimate Challenge. I’m an overachiever from waaaaaay back! Want me to do something phenomenal? Simple—just tell me I can’t. Or that no one ever has. Or make me watch someone try to do it and not quite make it. Give me a challenge and I am ALL over it.

So much so that, when I fell in love with the sentiment—and the design—of this plaque, my husband spent a couple of years tracking it down to give it to me.

Only she who attempts the absurd can achieve the impossible.
But a funny thing happens as one grows older, Dear Reader. One grows (at least one hopes one grows) wiser. Values change and, if one lives a Thoughtful Life, one changes one’s priorities.

I no longer have any desire to make the Impossible happen merely for the sake of making the Impossible happen. A funny little voice inside my head—perhaps the Voice of Wisdom?—now says, “And what would be the point of that, Rosanne?” It might go on to add “What will you gain from this? Is this where you want to spend your energy?”

This voice faces its own challenges. This voice struggles to be heard over my Ancestral Voices, the voices of our Puritan forebears who said, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop” and “Hard work never hurt anyone” and “Deeds make the man” and all sorts of Fun Sentiments like that. This voice struggles to be heard over all the well-intentioned adults in my childhood, praising me for what I accomplished. This voice struggles mightily to be heard over the thirty-second hits of artificially attractive inadequacy from Madison Avenue, the pristine perfection of TV lives, the perpetually discussed poison of Pinterest and Facebook, home of life’s highlight reels.

Now I’m choosing to turn my ear toward that funny little Voice of Wisdom. I’m choosing to let the words on my plaque guide me.

“What?” you may say, justifiably confused.

I’m going to attempt the Absurd AND achieve the Impossible. I’m going to stop caring what anyone else does or thinks. I’m going to love my family, pursue my passions, and make time to rest. That may sound absurd in Our Modern World, but that’s what I plan to achieve.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Eighties Are Calling…

…and I may go there for good!

Last weekend, Big A. and I got into the spirit of the school fundraiser, a dinner and auction with a 1980s theme. We’re prime targets for the theme, having gone through all of junior high and high school in the 80s. And we had a blast!

I also learned a lot. Even getting ready was both educational and entertaining.

In true 21st century, social media-driven, sound-bite form, here are some of my insights:

--Dear Thirteen-Year-Old Self, It will be okay. You will learn to do make up. They will invent anti-frizz hair products. Your appearance doesn’t matter nearly as much as all the amazing things you will accomplish. Your true friends will embrace you and your offbeat style. You will fall in love with an amazing man who loves you and it will be wonderful.
Proof that an 80s survivor decorated the bathroom.
--On the other hand, please don’t say I look like Debbie Gibson. Just…no.

--The 80s had rock stars with style. C’mon, I had to say it. And if you don’t remember that, you didn’t watch enough bad TV to memorize the ad for the 80s Time Life collection or whatever it was.

Check out that ticket price!
--Men’s shirts, untucked. Hello? Why did we ever stop the giant, oversized shirt thing? SO FREAKIN’ COMFY!!!

--Everyone had his or her own 80s. We saw Wayne and Garth types, we saw Top Gun types, and Blues Brothers types; we saw Madonna wannabes, Olivia Newton John wannabes, and honest-to-goodness vintage Hammer pants. Just between the two of us, we paid homage to Molly Ringwald, Jennifer Grey, the Miami Vice look, and Ferris Bueller. Like anything else, the 80s was in the eye of the beholder.

--In terms of music, everyone also had his or her own 80s. This would explain a set comprised of “Mony, Mony” then “Electric Slide” then “Blister in the Sun” then Michael Jackson. We dance to half of those; you guess which half.

It got weird when the DJ found my husband afterward and said, “We played ‘Blister in the Sun.’” 

Big A. looked baffled—he was. 

The DJ said, “Didn’t you request it?” 

Big A. said he didn’t. 

The DJ went on, "Really? Oh. Well, some guy who looks like you was begging for that song." 

Some other six-foot-three guy in a linen suit and Save Ferris t-shirt? Okay. If you say so. We sure did enjoy the song, though—shout out to the crew from OC this summer!

Well, readers, whatever your 80s were, I hope you had fun. We sure did!

Genuine 80s vintage items I own/wore: boots a la Molly Ringwald in Breakfast Club, a black belt with that "V" shape in the front, the jean jacket my brother handed "down" to me in about '87, a Laura Ashley handkerchief, aaaand my prized Christmas 1985 Swatch watch. Oh yeah.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

What Have I Done Lately?

It’s time to take my blog back from the trolling p**n sites that have been randomly hitting it—I want to drown out that mess in clicks from real people now!

You, my small but mighty readership, are entirely entitled to ask where I’ve been lately and if any good has come of my absence from the blogosphere. I hope so.

This fall, I’ve channeled my creativity into more tangible form. We finally busted through (or ignored) some time and money constraints to improve the house we’ve been living in for ten years. Not entirely. Not in every way that we envision. Not even to our current satisfaction. But we took a step!

A little background—Big A. is an architect and I’m just a general, all-around, fussy visionary. We both love to inhabit beautiful spaces. So it’s been a challenge living with all the “high-end designer vinyl wall coverings” that the previous owner bequeathed us. Especially since they were in shades of beige and puke. Oh, and lavender. Can’t forget the purple bathroom.

Beige shelves. Beige walls.
So, over the years, Big A. and I have stripped wall coverings and painted rooms. BUT, here’s the catch. Our house has six rooms: two bathrooms, three bedrooms, and one GREAT ROOM. Yes, the entire rest of the house is one room. With lots of windows. And a half-wall. And an entrance hall our ladder won’t reach.

Choosing colors for a GREAT ROOM--years, people.
For YEARS—years, people—we’ve debated the pros and cons of stripping and painting the GREAT ROOM ourselves. We could do the work (we’re pretty handy), but the time and effort per progress equation killed us every time.

Let’s skip to the end: we hired people. It took one to three professionals (averaged at two) eight full days (8 days x 8 hours x 2 people=128 hours) to strip the wallpaper and paint. We did all the moving stuff and covering furniture, which we left moved and covered for two weeks.

If Big A. and I had tried this, we would have gotten in maybe 2-4 hours at a time, less stops to negotiate sibling peace treaties and supervise snack selections. And that would have been on weekends. So, say, 24 hours of actual work per weekend, max—now the job takes five to six weeks, during which we cannot possibly leave everything we own covered and moved, so we have to start setting up and taking down everything each time, reducing our actual work time to…nothing.
Furniture covered and walls bare. Teehee.
About the amount of "help" we needed.
Unsurprisingly, we have many bookshelves.

Anyway, we did that. We moved and covered everything, lived out of cans for two weeks, uncovered and replaced everything, then started projects like painting bookshelves and making cushions with matching valances and painting our Key West-style kitchen chairs (ten hours per chair, thank you very much!) and now we’re catching our breath in a blessedly beige-free GREAT ROOM. Yay!
Happy cushions!
More happy cushions!
Happy color!

Happy chairs!

And that’s what I’ve been up to. How have you been?