Jessie Raymond: Painting proves to be a job with no end
It wasn’t supposed to be this complicated.
My husband has been working on our house, and it was time for me to do my part: the painting. It’s not because I’m the better painter; it’s because I hate painting slightly less than he does, and because it’s the only renovation-related work I can help with.
All I had to do was paint our new home office and one wall in the dining room. And I couldn’t put it off; when you spend as much time as I do whining about how long it’s taken your contractor husband to fix up his own house, you can’t procrastinate when your turn comes around.
But the scope of the painting has grown considerably.
With new paint in two neighboring rooms, the kitchen couldn’t keep up. It’s like when you buy a new pair of shoes and wear them out of the store. You take one look at the old pair in your hand, and you can’t believe you wore those nasty, beat-up things in public without people giving you their spare change.
So it is with a newly renovated, newly painted room or two. The adjacent spaces suddenly look very tired.
“I know.” I said, “I’ll repaint the kitchen.”
“Great,” said Mark, who doesn’t care what gets painted as long as he’s not involved.
“But the old cupboards clash with the new wall color,” I said. “I’ll have to repaint the cupboards.”
“Go for it,” said Mark.
“Wow, now the trim looks so dingy,” I said.
I can’t stop.
I started by repainting the ceilings in the dining room and kitchen. Painting ceilings is just like painting walls, but with more gravity. It thus requires covering every inch of the floor with drop cloths, heretofore known as Something for Jessie to Trip Over While Holding a Bucket of Paint. When it comes to painting, I’m a klutz.
The way I do it, painting is a contact sport. I go too fast. I knock cans over. My attention wanders. I lean against wet walls.
At least once during any painting endeavor I will leave a wet stirring stick somewhere on a drop cloth. Later, descending a ladder, I’ll unknowingly step on the stick, and then realize that I don’t know where I left my cell phone. I’ll scour the house, my flip-flops tracking a quarter-sized splotch of paint through every room. (In a bitter twist, nine times out of 10 my phone will have been in my back pocket all along.)
If I’m rolling out a wall, when I get near the ceiling I’ll sneeze or encounter a spider, either of which will cause me to startle and jab the ceiling with the roller.
If I’m painstakingly cutting in an edge, my hand will cramp up, causing me to drop the brush. No matter how I scramble to catch it — coating my hands with wet paint as it cartwheels through my fingers — it will land on the only 4-inch square of exposed hardwood floor in the room.
It’s uncanny, though: Once the work is finished and the errant drips and smears have been scrubbed away, you can’t tell that the work was done by a wild-eyed, paint-spattered, fumble-fingered hack. It looks, if I may toot my own horn, adequate. As an interior painter, I could be the love child of Jackson Pollock and Martha Stewart’s slightly less talented sister.
Given the volume of painting to be done, I’ve been diving into marathon sessions, where I don’t leave the house all weekend, except to run out for extra rollers. Dirty and disheveled, I sidle furtively into the hardware store, hoping to avoid running into anyone I know. (Furtive sidling, paradoxically, seems to raise the odds of me running into someone I know.)
I have painted so much over the past two weekends that now, as I fall asleep, I twitch, trying to catch an imaginary falling paintbrush. Last night I dreamed I was a kid again, and Jackson Pollock and the lesser Stewart sister were fighting over me in a heated custody battle.
I just want the painting to be over.
But when I stand in the freshly painted kitchen and look down the hallway — the hallway that, incidentally, leads upstairs to various painted bedrooms — I cringe. Next to the kitchen, the hall color just does not work.
In other words, the painting’s not going to be over for a while.