Monday, October 29, 2007

My brush with mental illness

I am a reasonable person. I'm neither extravagant nor excessive. I look for bargains and shop at thrift stores. I'm not cheap, but I'm careful with my money.

Over the weekend, however, I flirted with flamboyance. I took a walk on the wild side.

It all started a couple years ago at one of Sport's endless piano competitions. We were wasting time in between rounds, walking up and down Main Street of a tiny Oklahoma town. And then, I saw it: the most precious little dog bed ever handcrafted by man (or woman).

I'm not one of those kooky pet owners. I don't coddle my dog, dress her in costumes at Halloween, or buy warm sweaters for her to wear during the winter. She sleeps on an old pillow and a worn blanket that the boys no longer use.

But I wanted that bed.

At the time, Bella was still a little pup. I imagined her perched under the canopy like a prop out of an interior design magazine. The outrageous price tag stopped me cold. In my heart, I knew I could make that bed. All it would take was an old dresser drawer, some spray paint, padding, and a pink fleece blanket.

Thus began my search.

For two years, I've kept watch for an old chest of drawers, tossed in the trash by a neighbor too lazy to donate it to AmVets or the Salvation Army. I finally found the perfect drawer last Sunday during Big Trash Day. My chance at creating a masterpiece had finally come!

I dug through my craft boxes and found a used can of black spray paint. I attempted to saw away a piece of the drawer, but had to ask a friend of my neighbor to actually do the sawing since my toothpick-like biceps did not have the strength to pull the metal through the wood. I glued part of the drawer back together, and when Elmer's didn't hold, I resorted to my trusty old staple gun. I cut up an old egg crate mattress pad and made an adorable bolster pillow out of black and white fabric. After a good wash, Bella's pink blanket looked perfect against the glossy black. After five hours of work, the fancy bed was ready for its occupant.

And Bella wouldn't lie in it. She wouldn't even go near it. I even tucked a delicious treat inside it to entice her. She approached the thing like it was going to go for her throat, snatched the snack, and ran off to hide.

Now, part of me -- the rational part -- knew that Bella would not sleep in this bed. It observed my frantic crafting with a weary resignation. Nothing could have stopped me from making that bed, not even my subconscious realization that I was wasting precious hours of my Sunday afternoon working on it. I suppose I just wanted to prove to myself that I could make something that closely resembled the fancy, extravagant bed I'd seen in the store.

Well, I did it. Now it sits in the garage, waiting for a sleepy occupant who's not afraid of everything.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Big Trash Day

Sunday night we had another one of those furious Oklahoma thunderstorms blow through. In a matter of minutes, the streets were flooded, trees were bent sideways in 50+ mile-an-hour winds, and the sky was filled with dancing bolts of lightning. I looked out the window and watched a small boat bobbing down the road.

It was the night before Big Trash Day, one of my guilty pleasures.

Officially called Fall Clean-Up, we were notified by the city a couple of weeks ago. Neighbors have dutifully been cleaning out their garages, sheds, attics, and backyards and dragging the junk to the curb. Refrigerators, mattresses, stockade fences, broken swings, and an ungodly amount of toilets wait patiently to be hauled away. (I try not to think about how long it takes for this stuff to decay. Those porcelain thrones will probably still be there 10,000 years into the future.)

I rolled out a broken lawnmower and a torn up mini-trampoline, and SO piled up some branches and rotten plywood.

Once the stuff is on the curb, the eyeballing begins. Unfamiliar trucks appear in the neighborhood. Burly men with handyman skills load up fridges and grills, tables with broken legs, and chairs that lean too much to the left. Someone nabbed our lawnmower only moments after I'd put it outside. I admire the fact that these items will be either fixed or stripped to be used as spare parts. I like knowing that they won't yet be taken to the landfill.

Lego and I spied a couple of redwood benches that were in great shape. Giggling, we ran over and spirited them away to the back garden. Then, we drove around in the mini-van, looking for something else that grabbed our attention. All we found were two very nice pots that would look lovely if planted with some fall mums.

But, no matter. I still have Spring Clean-Up to look forward to, Big Trash Day: The Sequel.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Survivor -- Mean Mommies edition

My new read is Confessions of a prep school mommy handler, by Wade Rouse. I picked it up because I enjoyed reading his America's boy: a memoir.

Rouse is a gay man, Southern born and bred, hired as a PR director at a prestigious private school, and the book goes into details about his dealings with very pretty, very mean, very rich mommies of elite elementary students.

I'm enjoying it so far, although it's not exactly funny. Biting and sad, more likely. Never having been incredibly wealthy, I find it hard to imagine being so proudly shallow. I'd like to think I'd never cave in to the kind of peer pressure that forces me to wear pink every day, call my daughter Itsy Bitsy, or dress my teacup poodle in a matching outfit. But, having been a victim of my share of mean girls, it might be difficult to ignore the siren's song of popularity.

You want me to buy a Louis Vuitton handbag, wear a Lilly Pulitzer dress, and host a Botox party?

I can do that.

No, wait. I can't. I won't do that! Go away, mean mommies!

What I'd really like to see is a bunch of hyper-wealthy women stranded on a deserted island and watch as their civilized veneer is stripped away -- along with their four figure wardrobes -- their roots grow out into gray, and they start eating bark off the trees. Now that's the kind of reality TV I'd enjoy.