'Tis the season for epiphanies, is it not? During my Christmas vacation, I had two. I'm not sure what real impact they will have on my life, as they were, after all, stuff that I kind of already knew, I just finally saw the whole picture. In fact, epiphanies are much like looking at a Monet painting up close, then stepping back a few paces and then a few more until you realize, "ah, it's another damn lily pond!"
This is the first epiphany:
For the past few days, I’ve spent much time in Home Depot. First, I had to find Home Depot. This part of the country does not seem to put their big, superstores on display the way that they do in Texas. Texas tends to put anything “big” and “super sized” right next to the freeway, visible for at least five exits. Not so here. Here, they tend to hide their super sized stores off down a side street, so you can’t just hop on the freeway in any given direction and run into a Home Depot. You have to hunt for it. Thank goodness for Mapquest.
About ten or twelve years ago, I dated a guy who worked at Home Depot. His nickname in the Chain of Fools Whom I’ve Dated was “The Fascist.” He wasn’t really a fascist. He was a Republican. Why was I dating a Republican? I could say “sadomasochism,” but, sadly, he was an improvement over the Mean Drunk (recently rechristened the Killer), the Pathological Liar, and the Dog. Actually, now that I read over this, I see that perhaps he was just a small part of a larger pattern of sadomasochism in dating. Hence, I don’t date.
In any case, the Fascist worked at Home Depot and gave me some tips on shopping there. He said that, to get assistance, you either had to be a dude or a hot chick. I did not count as “hot” myself, he said, because I dressed either like a schoolteacher or like I had just worked out – and I didn’t dress hot for working out. To which I replied “Duh!” So, I had to beg for help back then. (Yes, I know, why was he dating someone he clearly did not consider hot? Well, because I can be classified as a bit cute, and because I was working on a PhD, I was a bit of a trophy for the unambitious.)
Things seem to have changed in the intervening years. Not because I’ve become “hot,” since I still dress the exact same way, but because Home Depot has adopted a non-discrimination policy toward their customers. Their salespeople are now rude and unavailable to everyone, regardless of hotness or maleness. At first, I thought I wasn’t getting help because I looked like, well, I was in the middle of a home improvement project and ran off to the store to pick up more stuff. Also, I left the Double-Ds back at home. Then, I noticed, even the MILFs had to chase – not flag down, but actually chase – salespeople for help.
But, I have digressed. What was I doing in Home Depot in the first place? I am, after all, an apartment renter. Well, that is the epilogue of my Christmas vacation.
If you will recall, I discovered that one should not drive up Lookout Mountain in a moving truck because one must eventually drive down Lookout Mountain in a moving truck. One must drive down twisty, winding roads with sheer drops and no guardrail on the going down side of the road. Logical, correct? Except if you do not think things through. Then, you think, “Hey! Lookout Mountain! Ruby Falls! Rock City! Let’s go see!” The next thing you know, you are half way up the Mountain, death grip on the steering wheel, riding the brake, and fearing that you just might get religion in the next mile or two. That may be why there were so many churches the higher up you go.
Still, what does that have to do with Home Depot? And why was I driving a moving truck? Didn’t I just move? Did I fail to fill you in on yet another major life change? No, I wasn’t changing residences again. In fact, I fully intend to be moved out of this apartment in a coffin. No more moving for me!
Instead, when I went to visit my family, my aunt said, “I have a couple of pieces of furniture that you might want.” Antiques, of course. One was an armoire that might hold Narnia in its depths. One was a rustic console table. One was a huge mirror frame, and one was a cypress fireplace surround. My aunt has impeccable taste, and I would probably never spend the money on a really nice piece of furniture. I certainly wouldn’t be able to afford the kind of furniture that she has, even her cast-offs. So, how could I refuse?
Thus, I flew out there, played with the nephew, visited the ancestral homeland on the River Road, and rented a truck to drive everything back. Smallish truck though it may have been, it was still a truck. Chattanooga was on my way back.
Still, Home Depot? Didn’t I say she has good taste? What would I need at Home Depot?
Well, that mirror frame needed a mirror, necessitating a trip for a big ole bathroom mirror to make the thing useful. Then, I needed some heavy-duty wire to hang it up, since the thing weighs a ton. That was trip number 2. Then, I needed to know how to find studs (no, not THAT kind – but I’m pretty woeful in that category as this story has shown) because the thing weighs a ton and drywall just won't do. That was trip number 3.
The mirror, however, was not the main event. The fireplace surround was what kept me going back for more and more and more.
You see, the surround is made of cypress, a lovely, pink wood from the swamps of Louisiana, resistant to bugs and rot. Unfortunately, the prior owners of this surround did not appreciate the aesthetic qualities of cypress. So, I have spent three days trying to get through a layer of latex paint, a layer of oil-based paint, a layer of white wash, and a layer of varnish. I have done this on my balcony, twenty stories up, in ever declining temperatures, with only rudimentary knowledge of what the hell I might be doing. In fact, the location on the twentieth floor probably keeps me safe from management eyes because I’m probably doing something completely in violation of my lease or illegal or at least frowned upon. I’m certainly making a huge mess, progressing at a glacial pace. Indeed, glacial is appropriate because the temperature must be five million degrees below zero.
In any case, this past week has pushed me to that epiphany that prohibits denial: I am impulsive. I never thought of myself as “impulsive.” “Rational,” “cautious,” even, on occasion “meticulous;” but all of those qualities seem to have waned. You see, I learned on this vacation that I can no longer deny the fact that I don’t think things through very well. I tend to get an idea and just jump in, usually over my head. While that may not be the wisest method of doing anything, I find that it is the only way that I will actually get anything new going or do anything at all interesting. If I stop to think things through, and make a plan, nothing will happen. I’ll get all caught up in the planning and fretting and worrying about every different contingency that I will forget to get around to do anything.
I hate New Year’s resolutions because they just become one more thing to potentially fail to do and feel bad about myself for failing. Nonetheless, I think I should make one. Not to reign in the impulsiveness, but to find a way to incorporate more forethought and planning into my impulses. That is, after all, one of the benefits of being grown-up: you can act on your desires, but save yourself from potential disasters.
Oh, and I also resolve not to drive up Lookout Mountain in a moving truck. That one, I can keep.