Paint, Lies, and False Optimism

We’re close.  We’re sooooo close…

You may think that first sentence should end with “…to insanity” but in truth, our sanity fled a long time ago.

No; we’re close to finally finishing our second floor renovation… if by ‘close’ you read “we only have to paint three walls and half the floor, install the shower doors, buy four sets of bifold doors and install them, hang a bathroom door, build storage shelves and a twenty-four-foot bookcase, and trim out six doors, four windows, and two skylights”.

Honestly, we’re almost done!  …Or we’re delusional.  It’s one of those D-words; but ‘delusional’ is so harsh.  I prefer ‘optimistic’.

You may recall that I confessed my antipathy to painting back in May when I ended up painting our exterior trim.  Shortly thereafter, we tried to hire a painter to do our interior work.

The original painter who did our addition was the messiest painter I’ve ever seen.  By the time he was finished there was paint everywhere, all over our new flooring and even on the door handles; and he seemed to think that was perfectly okay.  We didn’t call him back.

After a lengthy search we found a second painter who thought he could fit us in.  He showed up, gave us an astronomical quote, and then vanished after we asked when he could start.

So we found a third.  He showed up, gave us a reasonable quote, and said he could start the following week… and then vanished.  (I heard a rumour that he was fleeing three ex-wives and a soon-to-be-ex fourth.)

So we tracked down the second painter again.  We waited a month until he finally showed up and started painting… and then he had a tantrum and walked off the job after doing only two rooms (badly).

By then I was out of time and patience, so I did it myself (despite the fact that I REALLY HATE PAINTING).  It was a slow process, but it looked surprisingly good when I was finished.

So for the second floor, we didn’t even bother trying to hire somebody.  “I’ll do it,” I said to Hubby.  “Even though I REALLY HATE PAINTING.”

“Should we do the floor last?” he asked.  “Just in case you drip?”

“I never drip,” I said proudly.  “I’m a very tidy painter.”


I guess I can’t blame our ex-painters for being flaky, because apparently there’s something in latex paint that turns people into liars and/or nutjobs and/or destroys their hand-eye coordination.

Last summer I painted without a dropcloth and never had a problem; but now?  Good Lord.  I have paint on the floor, the ladders, my clothes, and every part of my body that isn’t covered by clothes, including my hair.  When I’m finally finished upstairs, I’m going to frame my jeans and market them as a modern art piece.  (On the upside, the walls and ceiling are pristine; and thanks to Hubby’s foresight we’re painting the floor last.)

But slow?  I’m positively glacial.  With emphasis on ‘positively’; as in ‘falsely optimistic’.  Before I started, I thought, “Ah, I’ll be done in a few days.”  I’ve been painting six hours a day for two weeks and I’m still not done.

But I’m close.

I’m sooooo close…

*cuddles into straitjacket and rocks back and forth, humming*


To be fair, that mess isn’t all from mistakes – I also clean the end of my small roller on my pants because it’s easier than finding a rag. But still…

Optimism Or Idiocy?

This week, I’m diving into uncharted waters – again.  It seems for every new situation that arises in my business or personal life, I acquire another three skills I never wanted to have.  But does that make me say, “Oh, wait, I don’t know how to do that; maybe I should get some help”?

Oh, hell, no.

’Cause that would be sensible.

No, my response looks more like this:  “Sure, I can do that.  No problem.  Is Wednesday okay?”  *scuttles frantically away to research arcane topic*

Last week, I learned basic ASP programming in an afternoon.  It wasn’t one of the more enjoyable afternoons I’ve ever spent, but I got my web forms working.

This week, I’ve been reading up on discretionary trusts, crash-safety specs on 2012 SUVs, and how to get rid of pocket gophers.  Frankly, rodent eradication has been the most relaxing and enjoyable part of my research.  Those little bastards have been decimating my carrots.  Messing with my garden is a killin’ offense.

…aaaand now that I’ve invited flaming hate mail from gopher-lovers…

Most people would consider my jump-in-with-both-feet approach to be at best, a liability, and at worst, sheer idiocy.  I prefer to call it “optimism”.  After all, I’m living proof that too much prep time isn’t necessarily a good thing.  My only colossal failures occurred after years of training and/or preparation:  my first career and my first marriage.

I dated my now-ex-husband six years before I married him, and my bachelor’s degree in interior design took four years to acquire, plus the extra two years it took for me to wrangle my failing thesis through the appeals process.  As long as I cheerfully disregard the delicate issue of innate competence (and I do, oh yes I do), the cause of my failure in both cases was obviously “too much preparation”.

Since those massive failures, I’ve flown by the seat of my pants for everything from becoming a computer geek to installing granite floors to developing the optimum recipe for banana bread.  And everything has worked out pretty well (including my second career and second marriage).

Thank goodness for my enabler:  that source of great wisdom, pure bullshit, and occasionally, useful instructions – the internet.  With the internet on my side, it’s actually possible to take on a ridiculously unrealistic challenge and come out smelling, if not like a rose, at least not like a skunk cabbage.

Problem is, I’ve been cursed with an unholy combination of do-it-yourself-ism and perfectionism.  I don’t just jump in and do it, I jump in and want to do it well.  I expect to come out smelling like a rose.

Which brings us back to that “optimism” thing again.  Some may use the word “delusional”, but… pshaw.  What do they know?

I realize this approach sets me up for more colossal failures.  I can sense their vile miasma hovering just behind my left shoulder.  Fortunately, I’m right-handed.  My plan is to keep moving so fast that failure doesn’t have a chance to catch up.

And I don’t mind if people call it idiocy – I’m happy in my delusional little world.  ‘Cause it has nice granite floors…

The house Delusion built.

Delusions Of Competence

When I was a kid, I was an obnoxious little know-it-all.  This probably explains why I was slightly less popular than herpes.

After a few years, I figured out that nobody likes obnoxious little know-it-alls, but by then it was too late.  When you go to school in a small town, your position in the clique hierarchy is established at an early age.  It’s probably just as well.  I never did get over being a know-it-all; now I just try not to be obnoxious about it.  Sometimes I even succeed.

My main problem is that I’m blessed with an overabundance of what I prefer to call “optimism”.  This characteristic leads me to believe I can tackle just about anything, and that I can probably have it done before lunch.

It doesn’t seem to matter if I’ve never done it before.  I research it a bit and then decide, “Ah, how hard can it be?”  The internet has only made things worse.  “How-to” videos are my evil enabler.

This has led to a few spectacular successes, a surprising number of acceptable results, and an occasional disaster.  Fortunately, I’ve never decided to try brain surgery or air traffic control.

But with age comes wisdom.  Back in the old days, I’d jump right in, secure in the knowledge that “I can do it”.  Now, I’m much more mature and measured in my approach.  Now I jump in hoping I can do it.

Maybe I’m solving the wrong problem here.

I’m not incapable of learning from my mistakes, though.  One of my more valuable life lessons arrived as an epiphany in the dressing room at the clothing store:  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.  Sometimes I even remember to apply this wisdom before enthusiastically plunging into another ill-conceived scheme.  (Another lesson from the dressing room:  spandex should be issued only to those in possession of a current and valid Fashion Police Spandex Permit.  But I digress.)

Lately, I’ve been thinking about this “optimism” trait more than usual.  My first book hit last week.  Three more will be up within the next five weeks.  I’d like to point out that, unlike my usual reckless approach, I did actually spend a lot of time learning to write before inflicting my books on the unsuspecting public.  But there’s still some little part of me that wonders if this is one of those projects that’s doomed to ignominious failure.

Telling people I’ve written novels makes me feel the same kind of defiant discomfort as if I was admitting I wore adult diapers.  (I don’t, by the way.  Just sayin’.)  There’s the certain knowledge that it’s not a shameful thing, but it’s also slightly embarrassing to admit I spend a great deal of my time interacting with imaginary people.  It tarnishes my know-it-all image when people realize I’m spewing pure, unadulterated bullshit.

On the upside, my “optimism” shows me a happy world in which people actually buy my books and enjoy them.  Guess I’ll have to wait and see.

I’m hoping for spectacular success.  Before lunch, if possible.

P.S. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Since my step-mom is dealing with breast cancer right now, I thought I’d share this video with its delightfully, um, solid message. (Sorry, guys, this one only has eye candy for the ladies.  I’ll let you know if I find a counterpart for prostate cancer awareness.)