samedi 5 juin 2010

Hell is

Work in (miserable) progress

A shared project.

A friend suggested that "getting a marriage license should involve a skills test, carpentry, plumbing & electrical, squishing spiders, etc." I am all for it. I would also add a compatibility test involving renovating a room together, all by yourselves. For those who really (so smugly) think they've got the perfect marriage planned, a sure bet, then the test would involve an entire house.

You think you're made for each other, do you? You think that love cures all, hm? You think that you admire and respect each other and control issues are for others, right? I'm sure they are. I am sure you will be very happy together.

I really am.

So were we. For about the space of our wedding afternoon. Radiant. Just like Fiona and Shrek. Then came marriage, the other's kids, and exes (that would be his), financial reality, voluntary loss of real and gainful employment and self-respect (a place to be right), culture -- oh, yeah, big time (remember, Fiona was happy to become a whatever Shrek is, which pretty much sums up how marriages work), and a home to renovate within that financial and cultural reality.

When Worlds Collide would be a good title for our marriage.

I picked up the wood yesterday, right? And I had given them really detailed drawings, right? And they were going to cut the wood, right? Well, they cut it, but so that my husband would have all the precision cuts to do at home, without the tools, or the patience. The idea was supposed to be to cut it so we would only have to assemble it. That was about all we could handle. I noticed first that they hadn't done the detail in the edge of the window sill. Then I realized all the planks and wood sections were square. I soldiered on in my hope, right to the edge of the cliff, where hope ends and faith begins.

Let's skip that part of the dialog. It's unpleasant, and I'd have to type my part in ALL CAPS, and not because my voice is high and squeaky like Owen Meany's, but because I ended up shouting. With the kitchen door near the street open.

"Ne crie pas," said my husband, making a move towards the open door. I thought of my neighbor slamming his gate door closed and shouting at someone in his family -- if not his entire family -- all the way across the street and into their garden across the way and decided they'd understand my losing it in my kitchen and shouting very naturally at my husband.

"Oui, d'accord, tu vois? Moi aussi, j'ai besoin de décharger mon stresse comme tu le fais en ralant tout le temps, alors je crie." He looked at me. He blinked. "J'en ai marre de tes 'je ne comprends rien' et de tes 'comme je voulais le faire'. Si tu sais le faire mieux que moi, et je te rappelle qu'on a commencé comme ça, mais cela n'a pas très bien fonctionné, tu le ferais toi-même, tout seul. Je me dégage de toute participation dans ce projet. Tu le finis comme tu veux, et si je n'en suis pas contente, ce ne serait pas pour longtemps."

Uh-oh. I was really angry. I ended reminding him that we'd already tried his way, and it hadn't worked very well, but if he didn't like mine, then he is welcome to find his own way because we cannot work together, I wash my hands of the room renovation; he can do it exactly as he pleases, and if I don't like it, then so what? I won't be around long enough to really care.

He returned to work, and I note that my plans are in the vicinity, on the deck chair by the minuscule work table. And then he appeared at my side, my plan in his hand.

"Tu t'es trompée ou je ne comprends pas?" Are you mistaken, or don't I understand?

I knew the answer to that already without looking, but I took the sheet of paper and turned my attention to it.

"Le placo-plâtre, il arrive où?" Where, he wanted to know, did the sheetrock arrive. he was certain I hadn't thought of that.

I pointed to the line on the plan and said, "Ici." All you have to do is look at the section, but I understand, he is not in the building trades at all, but he knows better than anyone in them, surtout sa femme chérie.

Do I sound bitter? I hate that.

"Oh." He walked back out the door.

He returned a little later.

"Ta planche de 13 mm, elle arrive sur le verre?"

"Comment?" On the glass? Why would the jamb go just to the glass of the window?

"Elle va jusqu'au verre?" I thought hard about it. Vert. Not verre. Besides, you drink from a verre, the window is a vitre, which is not a homonym for verre. He meant did it arrive where the paint ended on the frame, or before it.

Reluctantly, I followed him into the petit salon, where I was sure to be made an idiot in about two judging sentences.

"Parce que," he began to explain, "ça arrive ici." He pointed about half a centimeter past the line where the green paint ended and the bare frame showed. "Je suppose ça ne fait rien?"

Now, you'd be surprised, but "je suppose" can be fighting words. Sort of like, "I gather". There is a whiff of sarcasm that clings to them when used in certain circumstances. Circumstances strikingly like the present one.

"Non, ça ne fait rien, surtout parce que la partie du cadre de la fenêtre de l'autre côté peinte en vert est plus large, alors ça serait plutôt symétrique." No matter that the painted part of the window frame was wider on the left, making having the jamb farther out on the right not pose a problem; he really wanted me to see that I had to have measured incorrectly. I was pretty sure I hadn't, but it really wasn't worth it.

Why, why in God's name do they push us to this to get anything done at all? Best to stick to the kitchen and painting one's nails.

Ain't no ze-en when he's here
and he's always here too much when he comes home.

Separate homes to renovate, perhaps? The struggle itself is enough to fill a man's heart. Remember, one must imagine Sisyphe happy.

I think I'll go take it out on the hedge.

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