In my last post, some of you knew immediately what was on my kitchen wall, but I had more than a couple of people email me, asking me if Nate liked his antlers and do we throw blinking lights over him and stick him in the front yard for Christmas?
Then what the hell is that sticking out of his head and running across my kitchen wall?
Before I answer, there are three things you should know about me.
Number one: I am in love with words. Short ones, long ones, ugly ones, beautiful ones. I love the English language and how easily letters become words which in turn become sentences and thereafter paragraphs and essays and books. If I could, I would decoupage my walls with pages from To Kill A Mockingbird, all of the Harry Potter books, Webster’s Dictionary, and anything and everything ever written by Pat Conroy. If he’d let me, I’d decoupage Pat Conroy onto my wall. I love you, Pat! In a strictly cerebral sense. Call me.
If words covered my walls, I’d never leave my house. Not to mention the fact that I’d have a far better chance at beating my mother in Scrabble, or at least keep her from devouring all the triples, depending on where I was seated and how well I cleaned my eye glasses that day.
Number two: I don’t like empty walls. They make me feel lonely and desolate and abandoned and fat. Yes, I have issues but that’s another post.
Number three: There nothing in this category. I just believe things should be grouped in threes for aesthetic purposes.
I took my love for words and my anxiety over empty walls and combined them and came up with this:
One of Zoe’s friends asked why I had the name of a fish on our wall. I declared that I would never have fish on my walls as I do not like fish because I do not trust anything that swims in its own feces and, for her information, carpe diem was Latin for “seize the day.”
Blink. Blink. Stare.
I went on to explain that “seize the day” meant to make the most of your time because you never know when your time is going to run out.
This turned out to be a complete waste of tongue mobility and saliva on my part as fourteen year olds have no conception of time whatsoever. What do you mean, time will run out? Time runs out? Where does it go? Seriously? Cool beans. Can I stay for dinner?
So I threw her out of our house, yelling that she better not return until she watches Dead Poets Society and immediately thereafter, FedExes me a 200 page thesis on the movie and how it relates to carpe diem, complete with bibliography and power point presentation and a chocolate donut.
Just kidding! Except for the chocolate donut part.
I bet you can guess why my kids drop to their knees and periodically thank God that I never pursued a career in education, right?
I couldn’t find anyone who offered a seven foot long carpe diem the way I pictured it in my head. Then again, I can never find anything the way I picture it in my head. My head has a mind of its own that tends to wander way off the beaten path into other dimensions immune to GPS signals. It sends me postcards every so often, telling me it’s having a great time and wishes I were there.
I didn’t think my psyche could stand looking at a bare kitchen wall for another five years, so I seized the day and made my own carpe diem and relished in my own redundancy. I love it when that happens.
I designed the phrase in Photoshop and then I ordered it from Deb at Say It With Letters. Hi Deb!
When the letters came in, I busied myself priming them and sanding them and painting them and sanding them again and painting some more and embossing them and then, finally, sealing them, all the while asking myself what in the name of crazy stupid Hell had I gotten myself into.
But they were worth the effort.
Here’s a close up of the embossing that appears all over the letters. Did you know that heat guns get really hot? As in HOLY SHIT, WHO GAVE THEM PERMISSION TO PACKAGE UP THE SUN AND SELL IT AS A WEAPON? They burn like utter and sheer hell. If International Espionage Spies Are Us ever calls me, I’m ready because I no longer have any discernable fingerprints.
Despite my mishaps, I love to emboss. Next time Nate goes out of town, I’m going to emboss our entire house and see if he notices.
After all of my efforts, I still had to convince Nate to mount my carpe diem on the wall. As is typical of Nate, when faced with the possibility of a home decor item that is not comprised of light beige, dark beige and more beige, he immediately declared NO NO NO, dropped into a fetal position and rocked back and forth for approximately twenty minutes.
Me: Nate, it will look great! I promise!
Me: C’mon! I put my heart and soul and half my epidermis into these letters!
Nate: It’s too busy! Too much stuff going on!
Me: Nate, it’s just two words. It’s not like I’m asking you to hang up War and Peace.
Nate: They’re big! Big! It will be like the wall is yelling at me.
Me: Nate, I promise you … you won’t even notice them after awhile.
Nate: I can’t enjoy my dinner if the wall is yelling at me.
Me: Who do you think yells louder, the wall or me?
As it turned out, Nate was able to eat perfectly fine with a loud wall next to him. He simply dumped more cayenne pepper onto all of his food. You can’t very well see a wall when your vision is blurred, much less hear it over the roar of all that blood rushing around the inside of your head.
Nate was pleasantly surprised at how quickly he was able to hang up the carpe diem. It turned out to be a mere fraction of the time it took him to hang up my “Welcome.”
The entire word is six feet long, the “W” having an expanse of four feet on its own. That “W” was very, very fragile. I was afraid to breathe around it, lest I agitate its calm and serene aura. The one time Helena sneezed near it, I gasped and didn’t exhale for three days to make up for it.
I wanted it to like me.
I tend to treat inanimate objects as if they possess the capacity to think and feel. That’s why I scold my washing machine when it dances around my laundry room and pet my car before starting it in the frigid winter. Weren’t you listening when I admitted I have issues? Where have you been? Did you happen to run into my mind there? Tell it to come back. I miss it.
Ever so gently, I primed my “W,” sanded it, painted it, painted it some more, embossed it and sealed it. I was in the process of moving it a smidge so that it would be more comfortable when it succumbed and broke in half, leaving me standing on our upstairs landing with 50% in my right hand, 50% in my left, and watching 83.47% of my sanity run screaming down the stairs and out of the house, never to be heard from again.
After I stopped crying, I decided that I would not have all my work be for naught because what the hell did naught ever do for me? I would damn well hang up my “welcome,” broken or not, and when I say “I,” I mean that in the “we” sense, as in Nate and I together, except that Nate does all the work.
If you ask Nate how easy it was to hang up that “W,” he’ll pry open your mouth, reach in, grab your pancreas, yank it out and ask you how you feel. When you answer “arrrghsssstttpppppppft” and drop dead, he’ll tell you that you’re not even close.
And yes, I’m well aware that hanging a welcome sign above a door where no one sees it until they’re leaving is contrary. Unfortunately, I didn’t have another six foot span of space in which to hang it, except in our bedroom and I thought that might give people the wrong idea. Besides, I like being contrary. I’m good at it. Ask anyone, they’ll tell you.
And with that, I’m off to go stalk Pat Conroy. In a purely cerebral sense.