Archive for ‘Stuff’

March 14, 2011

Meet Jesse!

While I sometimes force Boyfriend to sit with me while I work on projects, for the most part I sand, paint and prime all by myself. At the end of a long day, working on a project like the little pink desk (seen here, here and here) helps my mind unwind and it is practically therapeutic. After pretending all day to be a grown-up, painting with no lines to consider or conversation to keep up is relaxing. I just want to getaway and these little projects are my sandy white beach.

On my grouchiest days I want to be alone while I work, with only trashy reality TV and a Diet Dr. Pepper to keep me company. However, without fail, someone always follows me down to my project hideaway in the basement. Not caring whether or not I want company or how bad my day was, Jesse is right on my heels as I descend the basement stairs… that is, unless he trips over his monkey and tumbles down to the bottom first.

Meet Jesse:

Jesse doesn’t really belong to me. He is kind of a rental… but don’t tell him I said that. His situation is confusing enough as it is for his tiny little dog brain. You see, his dad (one of my very best pals) lives in Wichita and has a job that requires him to travel with very little notice. He sends Jesse a check every month for his upkeep and stops in to say hi when he is in this neck-of-the-woods. We came up with this plan without stepping foot in a court room. (Well, pretty much I volunteered to watch the little guy until something more permanent comes along.) I would say he is the kind of my favorite thing out of all my stuff but that will give him a big head.

And sometimes he eats poop.

Jesse sprawls himself out on the floor of the Man Room (my dad’s workshop where I currently work on projects since it isn’t reliable weather outside yet) and faithfully waits until I decide I am done for the day.  As I start to close up the paint can, Jesse always scrambles to his feet, leans back on his hind legs to stretch, leans forward to stretch his haunches and shakes his fur free of dust and wood shavings from past projects. He languidly walks to the door and waits for me to go upstairs. As we climb up the stairs, Jesse’s tail is always wagging and I am always glad he was there to keep me company.

As a little “Thanks For The Temp Dog!” for Jesse’s dad, I busted open a box of 96 Crayolas and colored a card from the both of us. It was cute and it smelled like kindergarten but I think we could do better. Project details to come!

March 9, 2011

102: Picking Rules (Continued)

I don’t want to be misleading… There are more rules. That first one was just so exhausting to relive that I had to press post as soon as it was done. I never want to think about that experience again. It was all wrong.

Picking Rule #2: Only Take Whats Trash

Okay. This sounds obvious, but you will be surprised at what people use to decorate their yards and the end of their driveways. In fact, while winding through teeny tiny towns on our last trip to Manhattan, Boyfriend and I had to really analyze a few situations when determining a pick.

For example:

    This is an acceptable pick:

Big Trash Pick? Yes!

    This is not:

Big Trash Pick? No!

So this one is pretty obvious. Whatever.

But I really wanted that Plastic Yard Deer. I can’t explain why. I just wanted it, okay!? Boyfriend looked at me like I was kidding. I wasn’t. Once he realized this he made sure to lock the car doors.

Some picking situations are a bit harder to decipher thanks to the materials included in the pile.

    Pick through me, please:

Upsidedown Toilet? All yours!

Please take note of the upside-down toilet to the right. Any takers?

    “Art”…Please do not pick:

Not for picking or sitting. Ouch!

Ouch.

I wish I could say these were actual pictures from our trip, but they are Google Images that symbolize things we saw. I’m still thinking about that deer…

March 3, 2011

Picking 101: Big Trash Day

It is March! Finally February had melted away and spring is right around the corner. For college students, visions of sugared daiquiri rims and sandy beaches dance in their heads. For Boyfriend it’s the Kansas City Royals home opener. For me, though? There is one thing this weather means. Big Trash Day.

Big Trash Day is the mother of all trash days. It is an inspiration for people all over the city to bust out of that winter funk, throw open their windows and clear their houses of junk and the dust it collects. Spring Cleaning was never really a concept I embraced. (When we had to spring clean at the sorority house, I checked in and then made my self scarce. As long as someone at least saw you down there for a minute…) The Spring Cleaning phenomenon culminates in one glorious day where the city allows you to put TWO PICK-UP TRUCK’S worth load of trash at the end of your drive way. Appliances, furniture, rusty old water heaters and all kinds of stuff! The garbage man will take it all…

…Unless I get to it first.

There is a certain art to gathering one mans trash to transform into your own treasure. What we call “picking” is a concept I believe I learned from my precious Granny. Her house was a maze of picked chairs and trinkets she lovingly spray painted gold. She picked for the good of others, always having a couch or bed frame available for someone in need. Taking things off of the end of people’s driveways takes guts and requires no shame because, chances are, the nosy homeowner is peeking out their window and wondering why the hell you want their crap. They are most likely imagining the new home for the drawer-less dresser you are struggling to stuff into your car… and it ain’t pretty.

This course on “picking” (essentially taking awesome pieces of trash to transform into awesome stuff) centers largely around Big Trash Day, simply because it is the easiest of picking opportunities. A successful pick is one that is discrete and quick. Even though picking is totally legal (I think), there is a certain rush associated with the grab-and-go. When you are cruising through a neighborhood and a forlorn lamp with no shade catches your eye, it is easy enough to screech to a halt, jump out of your car grab the lamp and Go! Go! Go! No one saw you and even if they did, you were quick enough to leave them wondering, “What just happened?” Small picking is easy.

It is the big stuff that, unless properly handled, can lead to pulled muscles, scratched bumpers and (most importantly) a damaged ego. It is important to know your limits, which is why I am devising a “How-To Pick” for all you wannabe Big Trash Day Treasure Hunters.

Stay tuned for this How-To because, baby… It’s Pickin’ Season!

February 28, 2011

Playing School > Actual School

As the youngest of three girls, I often leached on to whatever my sisters were doing, saying or playing. I am sure this got annoying at times and despite their attempts to ostracize me (they coined themselves “The Bigs”… a nickname that clearly didn’t involve their baby sister), I managed to weasel myself into a few games where three participants were absolutely necessary. The most notable of these games was “School.”

Playing School was simple enough. One person was the teacher and the other two were the students. The teacher was always my oldest sister, Katie. Meghan and I were always her obedient pupils… a trend that carried over to all aspects of our lives as her minions. In order to play School, Katie would demand her privacy while setting up the schoolroom in the unfinished playroom area of our basement. Meghan and I would wait patiently in the living room as Katie toiled away with lesson plans and handwritten worksheets.  We would play with My Little Ponies, hop from pillow to pillow avoiding “Hot Lava” stretches of carpet, or just sit on the sectional and pick our noses until Katie opened the door.

Our schoolroom was a wonderful place. Thin black carpet covered the unfinished, cold, cement floor and the unpainted cement walls were covered in chalk drawings and schoolgirl declarations of love. (So-And-So hearts Whats-His-Face! Me + Boy-In-The-Other-Class = LOVE 4EVER!) There was a just-like-the-cartoons, green chalkboard and yellow chalk and a colorful, pull-down map that still featured Thailand as Siam. An old computer cabinet served as the teacher’s desk stuffed with old textbooks we scrounged up from garage sales and recycling day at our grade school. As perpetual students, Meg and I saddled up to real, laminated wood, hinged school desks that spilled everything on to the floor when you tried to access a pencil stored inside. It was perfect.

What made playing school so much better than actually GOING to school? It was just us three for the most part and Katie usually got sick of playing ten minutes after she allowed Meghan and me into the schoolroom. (But not after sending one of us to stand with our nose pressed up against a thick, chalk dot on the wall—a punishment dreamed up by kids who have never known a switch or a smack.) Do little boys play school, or is it just the girls that accidentally call their teacher “Mom” every once in a while?

When it came to painting the desk I picked up a few weeks ago, I originally planned to paint it something crisp and fresh or bold and dramatic, not whimsical and girlie. I walked into Home Depot determined to pick a color that fell into one of those categories, but walked out with a color called “Ballet Slipper”… a color reminiscent of the paint that was smeared across my bedroom walls during my years playing School.

Ballet Slipper

February 28, 2011

Stuff Solution

I am a fake and a total phony. I wasn’t always this way. No… a few short months ago I was just “me” and now I am a big faker. Everyday I pretend to be a real-life, living and breathing grown-up. Let me tell you what… It is killing me. Before landing a spot in the Real World (not to be confused with the television show that more accurately depicted my previous life) I would wake up and… Wait. Some days, the most taxing thing I would do would be getting up.

But nowadays, I have to pretend that getting up, getting dressed and not hanging out in a t-shirt and undies all day comes natural to me. To be at work at 8:00 am I roll out of bed at 7:00. (Okay, fine. 7:20. And that is after hitting my snooze and resetting my alarm because for some reason I thought I might actually get up and exercise, or at the very least, shower.) In order to give the illusion of a fully functioning adult, I have determined that I need some stuff.

Stuff is the cure-all for any problem. Messy room? Head to target for some organizational stuff! Flabby abs? New spandexy workout stuff. Unsightly blemishes? Stuff! Stuff! Stuff! The problem, however, with all this stuff is this: Stuff won’t solve any problems if you don’t use it correctly. Sure, shove an organizational tub in the corner you have a handy new place to hold a pile of clean unfolded laundry. Three pound free weights make great door stops. Three bottles of Proactiv next to my bathroom faucet are just squatty plastic statues that remind me that (just like me) Katy Perry, Julianne Hough and Jessica Simpson all have breakouts from time to time. So, what is my solution to these unused solutions? One more thing.

(By the way, a “thing” is a the singular term for an item of  “stuff”)

When I was in high school, I tutored children from a nearby homeless shelter after schools. Together, we would work through work sheets. And by together, I mean I completed most of the worksheets with my left hand to make it look like the kids did it. What can I say? I wasn’t cut out for elementary education. (Or any job really for that matter…) I actually enjoyed doing the worksheets, though. Tracing over dashed letters of the alphabet and matching nouns to adjectives really suited me. I suppose that is where the inspiration for this poster came from.

It is easy enough. Fill in four goals you would like to complete each day and color in the corresponding circles each day. The goal is to have a poster covered in ink, rather than empty like this one is now.

Feel free to click and download the link below and join me in 12 weeks of goal dominating. Because you’ll never know how much you can do until you get up off your ass and do it. (But don’t hold me to that… I am starting over on Monday.)

Goal Stuff

(Wrote this on Friday… Not sure the Starbucks and Pumpkin Bread count as healthy…)

February 22, 2011

The Desk

This past weekend, the Boyfriend and I returned to Manhattan, KS for the first time as Kansas State Alums. The grueling two-hour trip that used to be filled with dread of upcoming tests, late projects and early (because 10:30 am used to be early) classes was now a bright and cheery portal for escaping the Real World.

How could I have ever dreaded going back there? Sure, people told me to enjoy college while I could. “These may be the best four years of your life,” they reminded me. My sisters warned me of the bleak reality that lurks past graduation, just waiting to chew you up Mondays at 8:00 am and spit you out Friday at 5. In college, you have 153 hours (9,180 precious minutes or 76.5 episodes of 30 Rock) of free time. Real World? You only get 80 and half of that is spent sleeping! Plus, weekends don’t really count because you are either busy running errands or dreading the Job Monster that is drooling all over your desk at work, just waiting for this weeks meal. Guess who is on the menu?

Needless to say, the weekend served as a well needed break from the already monotonous drone of an eight-to-fiver.  There is nothing like a college town to make you feel young again. (I know that is cliché, but there is a reason retirement communities are springing up in Universityvilles all over America.) On Friday, Boyfriend and I stayed at his house from last semester, practically revelling in the filth of no-responsibility. Staying up late! Drinking bottom shelf liquor! Hunan Express’ General Tsao Chicken at 3 am! We were practically drunk on the thrill of being students again… a feeling further fueled by actually being drunk.

Saturday afternoon, fueled now by Gatorade and Tylenol instead of Barton’s Flavored Vodka and Natural Light, we drug ourselves back to Aggieville–Manhattan’s main bar and shopping area. Soaking in what has changed around there (a lot in just the few months we have been gone) we habitually wandered into our favorite store, Acme Gift. I was immediately revived by what I found. No ibuprofen pill or sports drink could perk me up like a SALE! And not just any sale… Acme Gift was having a GARAGE SALE.

Sorting through stacks of clearance dashed prices and never-quite-right items was just what the doctor ordered for my hangover. Table after table, my hands were full of  just-perfect-for-so-and-so stuff. Then Boyfriend made a mistake in which I thought he knew better.

“Hey, look at this! It looks like it came straight out of my speech classroom!”

There it was. The perfect reminder of our days as undergrads and a shining metaphor for our future as alums.


The Desk

Sure. It was covered in a permanent marker note unlike the desks we knew  carved with Greek Letters and childish drawings of the male anatomy. But if you looked past that… It really was a desk straight out of Bluemont Hall. I walked around it. I ran my hand across the scratched desk. I took a seat.

The Desk

It creaked and moaned when I shifted my weight, but so will I eventually. Ingrained in its table were the faded remnants of math problems and chemistry solutions, slowly vanishing the way the same information is fading in my mind. It was stamped with KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY, not unlike I was as I turned my tassel in December. It was $5.00.

And now it is mine!

Update: The desk has been sanded and ready to prime. Stay tuned to see what happens!

February 22, 2011

Stuff That Makes Me Tick

I have always had a thing for stuff. Now, I was always taught that money can’t buy happiness… but what about stuff?

Ever since I was little, I was frenzied by stuff. Stuff sent me into the type of hysterics that would land most kids a one way ticket to a shrink. Stores knew just how to lure me in, too. I was (and, admittedly, still am) a sucker for “Two-for-One” or “Buy-One-Get-One” deals because, Hey! …more STUFF! In order to save money, I had to remind myself that if I buy Item X, I could have bought ten of Item Y. (But, I could have Item X now!) Crippled by indecision, my delicate child psyche was shot by stuff. Needless to say, my sense of quality over quantity was slightly skewed as quantity wins when you err on the greedy side.

Every once in a while, I would realize it had been a few days since I accumulated any new stuff. I began clearing the top of my dad’s dresser of any loose bills and change on a regular basis, a process I called “scratching up money” in an effort to get stuff. When that didn’t go over so well with Dad, I hatched a new master plan to get my fix of stuff. I would sneakily slip stuff out of my sisters’ rooms and set up a sort of yard sale outside my bedroom door. They would eventually stroll by, notice their price tagged Beanie Babies, Pet Rocks and bedazzled purses, and exclaim, “Hey! That’s MY stuff!” I innocently would claim it was found in the common areas of our house therefore free game for my peddling. I’ll admit, this wasn’t the most ethical of business practices, but they were actually buying their stuff back from me! And everyone knows… you need money to buy more STUFF.

Years have passed and I have accumulated and disposed of more stuff than I can even recall. I would like to say that my stuff has gotten nicer and more worthy of my coveting, though recently I have developed a habit of finding “free” stuff. You won’t believe the stuff some people throw away!