Second verse, same as the first

Technically, I think I may be on the fifth or sixth or EIGHTY GAZILLIONTH verse, when it comes to the never-ending process of painting the dining room, but I do rather feel like a hamster on a wheel, at this point.

Get up. Check email. Do some work. Paint. Do some more work. Do other stuff around the house. Paint. And so on.

I feel like a tremendous wimp. I mean, yes, applying plaster is extremely time-consuming, but it’s not particularly DIFFICULT, and painting with regular paint is simple enough, and also, it’s not a very big room, and why in the world does this seem to be the project that never ends? Am I suffering from some form of home improvement retardation? I think I might be.

(“For just pennies a day, you can help a struggling homeowner. Despite their limitations, they’re working so hard to live in a normal house. Won’t you help?”)

I find that an empty house and endless painting lends itself to a kind of introspection that I normally don’t have time for. Because I can think about the paint—

Hey, that’s… wet.

—or I can think about other stuff.

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend who’s a vegan. I find veganism fascinating, mostly because I cannot comprehend of a world without cheese. As important as I find bacon to my personal sense of happiness, I could give it up, I think. I consider vegetarianism on a pretty regular basis, for all sorts of reasons, and while I’ve never (yet) done it, I can at least PICTURE it. But life without cheese? What would be the POINT?

So last night while I was applying a second coat of primer (did I mention that this room has a chair rail? So the endless extravaganza of the Venetian plaster was only the UPPER part of the wall, and now I’m working on painting the lower part), for whatever reason I was trying to think of all the foods I could still eat if I was a vegan, and whether or not I felt they constituted a broad enough range of fare. Each time I would hit on something that made me incredibly happy—say, license to eat avocados at every meal!—I would then stumble on another food which I consider absolutely indispensable. Like pizza. Or any of the billion other foods I love which involve glorious dairy.

Yes, maybe I AM a baby cow. YOU DON’T KNOW. I could be.

And to be clear, it’s not that my friend is pushing veganism on me, it’s just that this is how my brain works. One side of my brain reads an article about the inhumane treatment of supposedly “organic” and well-treated animals, and before the tears are even dry, the other side of my brain has no problem whatsoever piping up with “Know what would be good right about now? A BIG CHEESEBURGER! WITH EXTRA ANIMAL CRUELTY!”

So after ruminating on that for a while, I sort of got mired in that whole “time is passing so quickly” kind of thing, which is basically the fast track towards concluding that I have been asleep for half of my life. I mean, honestly, there can be no other explanation.

My brother is about to turn 40, which is IMPOSSIBLE, because he’s only three years older than me and I’m only… oh. Nevermind.

Otto’s youngest brother (Wild Thing) is about to get married, which is IMPOSSIBLE, because when I met Otto we were in college and Wild Thing was only 7 and Otto referred to him as Sparky, which I genuinely thought was his name for a good many years. Nowadays if you call Wild Thing Sparky I suggest you have your running shoes on, and also apparently 7-year-olds can get married in Massachusetts because… oh. Nevermind.

Yesterday was my unniversary, which is to say the anniversary of my first marriage. Had we stayed married, yesterday would’ve been 14 years (which is, just for comparison, five years LESS than I’ve known Otto). It is mind-blowing to me that I could, at this point, have been married to ANYONE for 14 years. I’m not sure that I knew how to wipe my own butt, 14 years ago. (I’m being metaphorical. Please do not panic, or make disparaging comments about my ass. It’s got enough problems.)

Today I should be able to finish the navy blue paint, and I am going to try my darndest to spend my painting time thinking deep, introspective thoughts like, “Hey, that’s… wet.”

This is why I probably shouldn’t be allowed to spend days on end painting.


  1. jennielynn

    Blame it on the paint fumes.

  2. Megan

    A dear friend contacted me after years and years and mentioned that her oldest (who was born a few weeks before my second) was… well, OLD and I had to sit there and cry a little because although I’m totally aware that my second is just as old if her kid is old that makes me ANCIENT. Which is clearly not true.

    Oh, and when I painted my living room and hall a glorious green it took about three months. I’m sure of it. What with the taping of the seven doors and the cutting in and the extra coats because the color was deep and… yup, about three months.

  3. All Adither

    Life without cheese isn’t all that bad. But I do miss the pizza.

  4. Leandra

    Ruminating. Love how you threw that in there so casually!

    I think about vegetarianism occasionally, and veganism only rarely. Both have been on my mind recently, what with all the hoo-ha about Oprah’s cleanse diet. I’d like to think I could do it, but honestly, it just seems like work trying to figure out what I COULD eat. And I’m lazy, so it probably won’t happen.

  5. dad

    “…life without cheese? What would be the POINT?”
    Spoken like a true Wisconsonian. Wait…that’s one of the places your not from.

  6. RuthWells

    Hey, sister, we all have problems! My son has a mustache, and he can’t possibly be any older than… oh. Nevermind.

  7. Noelle

    I really want to see a picture of this room when it is finished.

  8. Lisa

    Well, I am a Wisconsonian(?) – Wisconsinite – and can assure you that there is no life without glorious cheese. That’s just silly. I tried one of those detoxes once. I lasted three days. It was gross.

  9. Lori

    There are days which I think “I could never be a vegetarian” and then I think over what I ate that day and realize that meat never touched my lips. Hmmm. I guess I’m a occasional vegetarian. But to go the extra step (and effort) to eat vegan is beyond me. I love me some dairy. Plus, nuts can’t come into our house -> add one severely peanut/nut allergic kid plus one over-protective mother who prefers to not have to have additional stress in the house and the result is – no nuts in the house unless they have a heartbeat!

    And painting? It warps the time-space continuum. Once a paint brush comes out, walls grow and calendar pages flip by. It’s a scientific fact – I have the paper around here somewhere.

  10. zeghsy

    she could be from wisconsin. she’s sounded like one there.

    you should open a window. it will help with the fumes. or put music on, sing REALLY LOUD and torture anyone who happens to be unlucky enough to come too close. you stop thinking about sparky and 7 yrs old being allowed to marry anywhere.

  11. RuthWells

    Oh, and re: vegetarianism. I had to give up most animal protein intake because of my kidney issues, and what I miss most is a big old chicken wing (or bbq ribs, or hardshell crab, or sushi) pig-out. I don’t miss the day to day meat, just the special occasion stuff. Yes, I do cheat sometimes. It keeps me sane.

  12. CrystalM

    I just had my 14th wedding anniversary Wednesday, and I spent the day trying to figure out where the time has gone. It’s still a little surreal that I’ve spent that much of my life with that man. I can certainly relate to what you were thinking.

    The description of the room sounds like it’ll be great when you finish. Good luck!

  13. Beth

    @Lori: “no nuts in the house unless they have a heartbeat!” Those are totally words to live by!!!

    My BFF and her husband are what they call “flexetarian” — they’re vegetarian for the most part, but they eat meat when they feel like it. Seems to work well for them. And they haven’t given up cheese (cheese, glorious cheese!).

    I can appreciate the moral choice of veganism, or even vegetarianism, but I truly do believe that we are omnivores. That’s why we’ve got all the different types of teeth. So, eat what makes you happy and healthy. Me? I’m looking for some omnis to eat for lunch :-)

  14. shannon in oregon

    you do have your windows open, don’t you? :)

  15. Headless Mom

    Let’s not discuss 40 please.

    T- 3 weeks.

    Lalalalalalalala I’m not listening!

  16. Lisa

    Hey there’s another Lisa here that’s not me. I just passed the 20 year mark of my first marriage and never knew how to mark the date. Unniversary – like that one!

  17. The Other Leanne

    Ruminating, heh. Maybe you ARE a baby cow!

  18. themuttprincess

    I think the fumes are finally getting to you.

  19. Jamie

    I agree – life without cheese is not worth living. Sometimes I make a grilled cheese sandwich, and then just eat the gooey melty cheese from the inside. Yum!

    And let’s not discuss age. I have great-neices and nephews already. And my friend’s kids are grown up or almost there. I don’t even consider myself an adult yet.

  20. almostgotit

    Hey. Forty happens. (better than the alternative, right?) And it’s not so bad. It’s the new “Ten,” really, except that this second time around at being ten, you get to own your own house, drink margaritas and have sex.

  21. Vane

    I’m having a really hard time accepting that my daughter is already about to turn 9, I’m pretty sure she was just a baby not too long ago.

    As for life without cheese? I agree with you, so not worth it …

  22. Carolyn

    @ Beth – Flexatarianism is totally something I can live with.

    @ Mir – I married a painter. He may not read my blog unless I specifically ask him to, but he can paint a room in a day. I guess it’s just all part of balancing sacrifices/blessings. :)

  23. elizabeth

    just so you’re clear on where I stand with cheese: I am, at this moment, eating four cheese ravioli with a very garlic-y alfredo sauce. (probably annoying my whole department here at work with all the garlic too) yum. could never do the vegan thing. I love me some dead cow. not that I get it that often, but still.

    I really need a pic of this dining room. having a hard time seeing it in my mind for some reason.

    Lori – nuts with a hearbeat – love that!

  24. Laura

    Now you see, I thought the unniversary was the date the divorce was made final, and the nonniversary was the anniversary of the previous marriage. My ex and I non-celebrated our 20th nonniversary a couple of weeks ago. Happy introspecting!

  25. Rachel

    A few months ago I received a letter stating that my high school class was having a (ahem) 20 year class reunion – gasp! There must be some huge mistake, that is not possible! Someone must clear this up, heads will roll! See, if you do the math, 2008 – 1988 is not possibly 20 years! Oh wait, nevermind! So I guess I’m going to a reunion this summer. Still not sure how that happened… and the part about can’t imagine having been married 14 years, sort of there with you, except started dating my husband in high school, so we’ve been together 20 years (married 16 of them)… so in 7 years my (11 year old) daughter could start dating the guy she’s going to marry? Not possible (especially since she won’t be allowed to date until she’s 30, according to her dad).

    Life without cheese? I don’t even want to think about it.

    PS You and your walls both look very pretty!

    PPS I love your blog!

  26. Heather Cook

    “So after ruminating on that for a while” haha… cow reference!

  27. Leslie

    Oooh, I like what ‘almostgotit’ said about being forty – it’s a much better outlook than the one I have now. I’ll have to remember it since I’m now staring 40 straight in the eye. Ack!

  28. Kathleen

    I’m allergic to wheat and last year, chocolate started upsetting my stomach so badly that I had to give it up. (O chocolate, how can you be so cruel?) The way I see it, if my body is choosing to eliminate entire swaths of the grocery store, anything that’s left is fair game no matter how it’s made or where it came from. No offence to the vegetarians and vegans out there, but I think that anyone who voluntarily bans foods is looking for ways to be complicated. I would give a lot to be allergy-free.

    If you’d like to laugh at someone else’ venetian plaster story, I think this one is kind of funny:

  29. Mike Golch

    yep blame it on the fumes.

  30. The Other Lori

    Wow. Are you painting in a well ventilated area?

    I’ve been a vegetarian for years. And when I say “vegetarian” I mean nothing with a face. I’m not one of those vegetarians who eats seafood cause they’re not really…oh nevermind. Anyway, I’ve recently switched to vegan and it wasn’t as hard to give up cheese as I thought. Or ice cream. Or yogurt. They make delish vegan versions of all of these. Hey, stop laughing. They are delicious. I’M SERIOUS!

  31. Bob

    MUSIC! put in your hip-shaking-est mix tape and boogie while you paint. The B-52’s do not lend themselves to quiet introspection. Unless you’re a rock lobster, or live in your own private Idaho.

  32. Kate G

    The Other Lori – so glad you posted as i was thinking the same! i am a vegetarian and meat was easy to give up because, well, i dont like it. i dont like mushrooms either. both are equally yucky to me. i am on the fence about cheese. dont love it, dont hate it. keep thinking of going Vegan but it’s eggs are more prolific than cheese! so i wander back and forth between the two.
    really all – life with out cheese is not bad. you dont get all snotty!!

    and i think having random wandering deep thoughts is a good hobby! leads to fun entertaing blog posts for us :) well the time alone and the paint fumes – great combo!

  33. The Crazy Vegan

    For what it’s worth, my pretty, I’ve never met a vegan who didn’t love cheese — the smell, the taste, the chewiness. Vegans spend a lot of time talking about cheese, trying new recipes, experimenting. Most of us miss it, and the vegan substitutes range from “ok” to “nasty.” (Homemade recipes tend to be better than the store-bought stuff). Cheese is definitely the biggest roadblock to most people becoming vegan. So my advice to someone who’s considering becoming veg but can’t give up cheese — become veg and don’t give up cheese. Anything any of us can do to reduce our reliance on animal products (and eat more whole plant food) is good for us and good for the planet. You don’t have to go “cold tofurkey.” :)

  34. threeundertwo

    Hey youngster! I’ll second the notion that I think you need to open a window and get those fumes out of there. But you are soo funny.

    We eat vegan at many points in the year because it is part of our religious practice. Cheese is definitely the hardest thing to give up. We do get to have shellfish without a backbone though (hello shrimp, crab, lobster!) so we survive.

  35. Mother of Two

    I think you miss Otto and the kids…

  36. Windy

    Last year I spent hours upon hours choosing a color of “off white” to paint one of my rooms. Who knew there were so many variations of white? I agonized for days cutting, then painting. Finally after about a week, the one little room was done. I took a step back to admire the work, and guess what? It was the same darn color of white that was there before!I obessed, as usual, for nothing. So I admire you for choosing the colors and getting through the painting, no matter how long it takes. Look at it this way: the longer it takes, the more fumes you get to inhale. But I wouldn’t make any life changing decisions influenced by paint fumes. Give up cheese? Please. Now you know the fumes are too much!

  37. suburbancorrespondent

    I guess your point might be that sometimes it’s not a good thing to be left alone with our thoughts.

  38. Sheila

    I think you qualify for the esteemed title of Honorary Wisconsinite. Your prize? A giant wheel of aged cheddar and a foam Cheesehead.

    And yes, you HAVE to wear the Cheesehead to be considered one of us.

  39. mamajama

    I’ve been a vegetarian…well, forever, cause that’s how I was raised, but I find veganism somewhat intriguing and yet impossible as well. I too don’t think I could live without cheese. And then there are all the things that you don’t think about that have whey in them. Like Doritos…not that I eat Doritos all that often. I’m just saying.

  40. Flea

    Mmmm. I just had Cici’s pizza with a group of ten and eleven year old boys. I highly recommend the pizza part.

    So if you were to even go vegetarian, how would that effect Monkey, Chicky and the Otto? Would they have to make the switch? It would mean giving up fish tacos. Fish in general. Or them eating fish tacos while you watch. And drool. Oh, the humanity!

  41. Shannon

    “But life without cheese? What would be the POINT?”

    I think I said this to my husband yesterday. If not, I should have.

    “Yes, maybe I AM a baby cow. YOU DON’T KNOW. I could be.”

    And this is just the sort of random weird (yet hilarious) comment that my little brother would make.

  42. Fold My Laundry Please

    One time while painting, a fly happened to walk along in front of me. Without thinking about it, I reached out and let a paint drip fall right on top of it. It drenched the poor fly. I sat there watching as the fly kept trying to walk along, getting slower and slower as the drip dried until finally it stopped moving altogether. When my husband came home a half hour later, I was bawling and frantically trying to rinse the fly off in the kitchen sink. Then he walked over and opened the windows and I felt much better within 10 minutes or so. What I’m trying to say is, paint fumes can turn a relatively normal afternoon into a whole passel of crazy!

  43. Cele

    You always make my day.

  44. Brigitte

    Did I really meet my husband half my life ago? Lessee, we were just out of college, now he’s turning 44 this weekend . . ulp!

  45. StephLove

    We’re vegetarians here. If you’re seriously thinking about it someday and you have questions, feel free to email. I hear you about the cheese. I am trying to eat less cheese because of my cholesterol and even less cheese can make the world seem pretty pointless sometimes.

    Oh, and I’m 41. I didn’t like turning 40, but once you turn 40, 41 is a breeze so you have that to look forward to.

  46. Randi

    Painting is OH so much fun – wanna fly to VT and do my house next?

  47. Dani

    Unless all things Hostess and Entenmann’s are Vegan-friendly, I don’t have a chance in hell.

    Oh, the cheese part? I think I’d shrivel up and die if I couldn’t cover many things with cheese.

    Looks like I’ll be an omnivore for life!

  48. Dawn (The Other Other One)

    Such a funny post in so many places. “Ruminating” about eating cow, “YOU DON’T KNOW,” unniversary…

    Speaking of which, and the unbeliveable passage of time, my unniversary is the 23rd of next month. I would have been married for 25 years. TWENTY-FIVE. As in silver.

    Wow. That was a lucky escape.

  49. Astrogirl426

    How funny that you posted this just as I am going through some similar stuff. Here, let me ‘splain, Lucy:

    Recently (3 weeks? 2? something like that) my dearest darlingest friend A introduced me to the BLISS that is riding on the back of a motorcycle. So, I became determined to take a rider course and see if I like driving the motorcycle, and if so to get my own bike. Bunker hubs isn’t a fan of bikes, to put it mildly.

    On the same day I rode for the first time, I also stayed up at Lake George until midnight – didn’t get home until 1:30am – hanging out with A’s motorcycle friends (sweetest guys you could ever meet, I swear – they have welcomed me as one of their own with nary a second thought, which I will always be incredibly thankful for). Bunker Hubs wasn’t too pleased.

    Yesterday, I went for another ride with the same guys, and didn’t get home until midnight because I was hanging out with them, having a couple beers, watching fireworks, and generally relaxing. Bunker Hubs was a bit miffed but he got over it.

    I haven’t told BH yet, but the guy I rode with yesterday has convinced me to re-pursue my goal of getting a tattoo. I’ve decided to do it before the end of the summer.

    All of these things together sound like mid-life crisis (I’ll be 40 in 4 years). In actuality, it is the realization that I need to change some things about how I’m living, or else I am going to wind up back in the psych ward with too many anti-anxiety pills in me, again. And no one wants that :).

  50. Kelly

    I’m thinking a picture of your dining room masterpeice may be in order. :) I love losing my sanity for the sake of room.

  51. sumo

    Admit it! You could only give up bacon thanks to the glory that is bacon salt.

  52. She-Ra

    I do all my deep thinking on my summer road trips. Kansas is very wide. And lonely. :) I have to keep a notebook next to me for all the brain dump and random revelations that come to me at mile 3,043.

  53. Sean

    Does life without cheese even exist?

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