Monday, September 17, 2012

Project Fear Less: Finish a project alone

Here's how it started:

An empty space in my brand-new apartment, matched with a significant lack of counters.  The tiny table I brought with me simply because I had very few pieces of real furniture worked to a point, but didn't even begin to fill the space or the need.  And so the dream was born.

In my omnipresent Moleskine sketchbook, I doodled a remade kitchen: one with a pegboard over the stove and a table-and-shelf combination made to fit the space exactly.  I would line the shelves with jars of homemade pickles and cheeses and spread ingredients (mise en place FTW!) and homework out on the generous work surface by turns.  If I ever worked up the courage to invite friends over to my little hovel, we'd sit on simple benches to eat simple food and drink decent wine and someone would probably break out a Sharpie and draw something beautiful on the unfinished wood surface, already stained with beets and cabbage juice and scored with knife marks.

I started really believing I could do it.  I took measurements and bought some absolutely enormous pieces of plywood (apparently what I thought was plywood was actually particle board!) and drew up pages and pages of increasingly-less-rough schematics, but only the first of which stayed in my notebook:

And then TM, who has all the tools, and I set out to actually make the damn thing.  And it was fucking torture.  We rediscovered all the different reasons we simply can't work together.  For my part, I draw these perfect pictures in my head and then think of them as though they are immovable before we even cut the pieces out.  We had to do some serious remodeling of my designs before even starting the process.  Once we had everything cut, it became apparent that I'd made yet another mistake (what?  have you ever designed a table from scratch and scraps?) and we'd need to backtrack and possibly get new wood.  This got me in a serious funk.  I was angry at him for not pointing out the flaw in my design before we cut the wood, and for not paying attention while he was cutting so the pieces weren't exactly straight, and for a million other things that happened varying fractions of forever ago but still twist in my side whenever I think of them, which are the reasons I broke things off in the first place (sorry, internet, I didn't think it was classy to talk about it then) and even though we try so, so hard to stay friends I can't forget them.  And not a word of it came out - I just withdrew so completely I could barely hear him when he told me he was leaving the tools so I could finish it on my own.

And then I cried.  And the legless tabletop lay on my kitchen floor for several days while I stumbled around trying to get all my shit done.  I got kittens, which helped my blood pressure.  I wrote about my beloved Papageno, both in tidbits on Facebook and some private stuff.  I sang "Stardust" like all the freaking time.  And then I grabbed the handsaw and got to work.

And I finished it all by my damn self.

It's far from perfect.  I still need to sand it down, and I couldn't even get a couple of the screws to sink in all the way.  And I'll probably have to take it apart soon, as my car getting broken into for the second time in a few months has convinced me that I need to make living in a halfway-safe neighborhood a real priority.  But it's solid and it fits the space and it's something that I completed and I can touch it and feel its weight and the texture of the wood beneath my fingertips.  And it's not the last thing I'll make.

Many thanks to Tony for helping so much.


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