I love painting! In theory, anyway. Reality somehow ends up looking a little different from what I’ve envisioned.
I have a form of ADHD that is less common than the usual variety, and is significantly different in that it doesn’t include hyperactivity. (There’s some argument about whether it’s actually part of ADHD or is a separate neurological issue, but that’s another post for another day. Unless I forget. Which I probably will.) It does, however, include a chronic tendency to overestimate my own abilities to multi-task, to prioritize like a rational human being, and to determine exactly how many activities will actually fit into any given hour of the day.
So, in practical terms, this means I can wait until the end of my sentence before I say, “Oh look, a squirrel!” But then when I see the squirrel, I’m not only distracted, I’m derailed. I think, “Oh, he’s so cute, running around on the tree out there. All the leaves are off the tree now! I should probably rake. Oh hey, I didn’t cut back my roses last fall, darn it! I should go do that, and I know where the clippers are, they’re right on the front porch because I was going to do it in November but then I got so tired that day and forgot about it.” And then I will go out in the January cold and prune my rosebushes, and not remember what I was originally doing until hours – perhaps days – later.
Can you see how this might be somewhat incompatible with a project involving wet paint?
So, when I take on a project like changing the bathroom’s ivory-and-more-ivory color scheme into a more updated soft beige with crisp white trim, I have to be PREPARED. Caffeine – check! Hershey bar – check! Paint – check! (Priorities, you know.) Paintbrushes, tape, newspaper, drop cloths, screwdriver, paint stirrer, rags, ladder – checkcheckcheck! Horrible old jeans and dark pink shirt that was so ugly that paint splotches improved it. Pandora on the iPad. Hallway light turned off so that I will not see squirrels or their non-rodent distractionary equivalent. (Did you know there is only one instance on Google of someone else coining the word “distractionary”? How can that BE? It’s such an obvious word!) (Oh. Whoops. Case in point, there.)
Anyway, I’m ready to go. I have everything All Planned Out, so that I will stay on task and finish what I’m doing. The Beach Boys will sing, the sun will shine in the window (in January! in Oregon!), the tape will all go on straight, and my drop cloths will not get scrunched up under my ladder. I will work industriously, painting perfect lines with my beautifully steady hand, never dripping, never spilling, never smacking my hip on the corner of the bathroom counter and swearing loud enough that it echoes off the bare walls. Somewhere in this increasingly rosy picture, I’ve developed the ability to effortlessly paint around the tricky bits and reach all the awkward corners. It’s not until I notice that my dream self looks suspiciously like Reese Witherspoon at her most adorable that I get the uneasy feeling that things might not quite turn out exactly like this image, at least not in every detail.
Four hours pass, in a decidedly un-dreamlike manner.
I do not look at all like Reese Witherspoon by now. (I didn’t look a whole heck of a lot like her in the first place, but now I really don’t.) I am hot, tired, cranky, and distinctly wobbly from the paint fumes. The awkward corners have been attempted, fudged, and abandoned. Pandora has forgotten what I told her, and she is playing Boston. (Not that I don’t like Boston, I do, but it’s not always the most restful music.) My drop cloths look like they’ve been attacked by a flock of incontinent seagulls, my paint-flecked hair is escaping from its hastily arranged bun, and the ladder is in the bathtub. Swearing? Don’t ask.
However, I have mostly managed (we’ll just ignore that isolated instance of FarmVille) to stay on task. It has taken much longer than I expected, but my poor focus-challenged brain has managed to stay pointed in the right direction for most of the afternoon, and I have actually accomplished quite a lot. And then my daughter comes home and it all goes to pieces.
I am standing on the bathroom counter, the ladder long abandoned because it’s not tall enough. (Or I might just be too short, but I’m not willing to consider that possibility right now.) She’s talking to me through the partly open door, and I am trying to reach the corner with the roller. And then, CRACK! The much-abused wooden edging around the countertop finally gives up the ghost, falling with a clatter to the floor. Startled, I step into a puddle of paint on the counter that I swear was not there a minute ago. I am still dangerously close to the edge of the countertop, which is now just that crucial bit narrower than it was. Still brandishing my paint-covered roller, I shuffle onto a free bit of counter. NOOOO! I just got more paint on the counter!
I need a wet rag, stat. I stand on my non-painty right foot and reach with my painty left foot to get the damp rag off of the ladder. I manage to wipe up the worst of the paint with the rag clenched in my toes, and drop the rag in the sink. When I realize that my paint roller is dripping, I finally have the presence of mind to put it back in the pan. By now I’ve put my left foot down onto a patch of newspapers, which promptly stick to the bottom of my foot.
I have to laugh … I can’t help it. I look like an escapee from a lunatic asylum (apparently one undergoing interior redecorating), my daughter is doubled over in a hysterical fit of laughter, and the bathroom looks like a particularly stylish bomb has gone off. And Pandora, in one glorious, serendipitous moment of electronic clarity, has decided on Queen for the soundtrack:
“Another One Bites the Dust.”