Thursday, March 19, 2009

The “Big-Bang” Living Room Project

The idea of decorating as a form of punishment occurred to me yesterday after Week 2 of Project: Redecorate. Unlike the car manufacturers, who offer yearly limited color options like: white, grey or blue; interior design colors are an endless rainbow-nightmare from which I cannot awake. I’m a castaway on “Beige Island,” safe and serene…and I’m afraid to be rescued. The process of color change is my personal Hell.

The what-ifs are multiplying: What if the wall color doesn’t match our sofas? What if the carpeting looks shabby when everything else is done? What if the end result is “Barney the Dinosaur’s” cave... on gummy bears?

In the past few weeks, we have been working on inexpensively decorating our living room. As with all inexpensive expectations, the “Big Bang” Living Room project has exploded from a moliscule paint job to major, giant construction of beams and stoning our plain fireplace. Caught up in the whirlwind of “The Living Room of Dreams,” anxiety has hit the ceiling and struck us blind…stone, stain and paint colorblind.

“That brown looks too orangey.” I said to Fred, holding up a color sample marked Baked Bean.

“It looks reddish to me.” Fred countered.

Is that cherry, or is it mahogany? Is it sienna or is it burgundy with a hint of coffee? Subtle, barely perceivable differences started revealing themselves to us from across the room-- driving us mad. The color palate of brownish reds we’re working with could be used to paint Chief Running Horse’s portrait, or a lobster dinner at dusk, or milk-chocolates floating in Dr. Pepper. They’re alike, but enough different that there’s choice-conflict around every corner.

“Do you see a purple hue when the oven light is on?” I said, holding up a paint chip. By this time I had ridden the “color-wheel” a few too many times.

“No, but I see a touch of aqua-azure when I close one eye,” Fred said; his inner-interior designer pushing up through him like a crocus through the cold, spring ground--an aqua-azure crocus.

Once we reached an agreement on a paint color (brown), it is necessary to pick stain and beam type.

“What if we had beams with arches up to them?” Fred asked.

“You mean a four-part groin vaulted ceiling with flying buttresses?” I asked, enthused to be talking art history and architecture.

“No, but I was thinking it would be an excellent show-piece for a deer head over the fireplace.”

Fred is back.

We will certainly banter about how many points the deer’s antler-rack should have. Once agreed, Fred has to find one, count its antlers… and shoot.

I just hope its fur matches my sofas.

Friday, March 6, 2009

“I’m Bringing Sexy Back”

Thanks anyway, Justin Timberlake, but I mean “Sexy” the car.

It’s been 2 years since we bought “Sexy” the Chrysler Pacifica and it's already looking a little long-in-the-tooth these days. If dogs age at a 7-1 ratio, my cars age at 20-1. It's not faulty mechanically-- it’s just been lived-in and broken-in, like an old shoe…or an old purse…or an old dumpster.

When I drove our used 2004 White Beauty off the lot, I was in a 1950s movie, fake scenery whizzing behind me, scarf casually wrapped over my head, dark glasses, bright lipstick and hair blowing. I turned up the radio, opened the sunroof and I was young again in my new sexy ride.

Well, a lot sexier than our Durango, anyway.

“Sexy” was pristine at first: black interior, GPS, leather seats, “bitchen” stereo. I took a vow to the car, “I promise to keep you clean, and not forsake your floor mats in favor of salty boot prints. I will not allow gum-wad sculptures to be constructed in your ashtrays or spill drinks on your fluffy carpeting.” I meant every word.

I lovingly kept it clean…until the first child-pop-spill spoiled my perfect image of her. It was stained…impure. Little by little, used Kleenex after drinking straw, it became a wastebasket with wheels. Clothes, hats, gloves, CDs, DVDs went askew in the glove box; window scrapers lay across the rear seat like pick-up sticks. I’d vacuum, but not with the passion I had before. Where I had once put a sheet in the trunk to transport our hairy dog, now, Jasmine jumps in and out, depositing her fur willy-nilly. “Sexy” is no longer.

“Sexy” is one in a long line of “Heidi” cars that went from that “New-Car Smell” to “Eau de Animal Rendering Plant.” My 1987 Dodge Omni, “Precious,” had a stench that I felt sure would be sniffed up and down by cadaver dogs. I eventually found the culprit--a potato had frozen and thawed and rotted under the back seat. I removed it. A week later, the smell remained. I found another rotting potato in another location. That had to be it. A week later… same thing. Ultimately it was determined that a whole bag of potatoes had somehow opened and rolled throughout my car, each leaving behind a schmiere of mold. “Precious” was renamed “Putrid.”

Presently “Sexy” has a road-salt coat on. Where a fast-foot drink cup became soft on the bottom, the drink holder is filled with liquid that sloshes when I stop or turn. The entire back seat is sticky. My daughter’s window is cloudy from bank-sucker fingerprints, nose prints and messages like “Hi, Mom!” written in window frost.

I feel terribly guilty. Yesterday, in the morning light, from outside my car, I swear I saw the words, “Kill Me” written in condensation fog from the inside.