Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Clothesline, or Perfectionism Unbound

I am a nit picker. I am problem focused, goal oriented and outcome driven. I am a perfectionist, and I am insecure. I occasionally have problems.

On Easter day I felt like a toad. I had gained four pounds and my new Easter dress was snug. I had a meltdown and went into fat mode. Fat mode is no place for an insecure perfectionist. I finally had Mark pray for me so as to be able to escape my abyss of self hatred. Did the trick. Recognized all the good things in my life not connected in any way shape or form with my shape or form. Day was then great...until about 2pm when Mark said, "let's put up the

I am a perfectionist. Mark is not. My credo, "Any job worth doing is worth doing well." Mark's credo, "The best is the enemy of the good." See a basic philosophical difference there? Has caused us no end of problems and this latest project was to be no exception.

I love to hang clothes on the line. Always have. Puts me at one with past, present and future. A farm woman thing maybe. This new rented house does not have a clothesline and the owners nixed us putting one in using cement. Mark likes to make me happy. (This statement alone should be enough to cure all my ills.) When the neighbor offered him her old clothesline he took it. It is a cast iron pole with a top resembling an open umbrella. Clothesline wire is strung between the ribs. It does not require cement to stand it up. It is home made and heavy as sin. We lifted the umbrella top off the pole and carried it over to our yard. We then dug the heavy pole out of a snow bank and also drug it home. That was two months ago. On Easter day in the rain Mark decided it was now time to put up this contraption. Said it would take ten minutes at the most. It took us five hours.

The PLAN was to, "Put the stake in the ground, slip the pole over the stake and then set the top on the pole." Now is always the time when our basic philosophical differences begin to tell.
I said, 'Is this the same size stake as the one we dug out of her yard? (He had gone to the store and bought a new stake a week earlier.) It doesn't look like it. Did you measure them?"
"Why do you always criticize anything I try to do?"
"I am not criticizing I am just asking. It looks smaller than the stake she had."
"Size doesn't matter," said he.... The new stake was indeed smaller. We then proceeded to pound the green and white steel fence stake into the ground. The rain was supposed to make the ground softer. It didn't. We took turns with the sledge and half and hour later it was in. "Now we just have to slip the pole over the stake."
"Which end goes in the ground," I asked? He looked perplexed. "I think it was the flange end," said he.
"I don't think so. I think the flange end will keep it from going far enough in the ground to stand up. I don't want it to wobble. With the skinnier stake I think it is going to wobble."
"You think I am an incompetent boob don't you? You are never satisfied I can do anything right." Things were getting warm in spite of the freezing rain.
"No I don't think you are an incompetent boob, I am just saying what I think."
"Just leave me alone and let me do this."
"Okay but I think you're wrong." Have you ever tried to pick up a cast iron clothes line pole and hold it up vertically even if you are mad at your wife? He couldn't lift it without my help. I went and got a ladder (which made him madder) he silently climbed up it, I stood the pole on end by leaning it on the ladder, and with both of us lifting we got it high enough to be able to drop it over the stake. It wobbled.
"Go get me some dowels. I will jam them on either side of the stake." I eventually found the darn things and he pounded them in. The ten minute project had now taken an hour and a half and I was soaked to the skin. (No raincoats, this was only to take ten minutes.) The pole was not solid but wobbled less. "Okay now lets put the top on." I decided ordering me around was better than no talking at all. We picked up the aluminum top and dropped it on. My clothes line looked like a slightly wonky open umbrella but at least it was up. With one small problem, it was at least eight feet tall. I am 5"5". "Maybe you could use a stool to hang the clothes," he said. He looked so dejected I decided to be nice.
"Lets get the sledge hammer and just pound it down some more," I suggested. He looked decidedly uncomfortable.
"We can't he said."
"Why I asked?'
"We've got the pole in upside down and the flange won't allow it to drop any further into the ground." I came unglued. I hate it that I swear. And on Easter day. I was so mad I cried. Mark felt worse. "We'll lift it off and just turn it over. It will all be fine." Remember the dowels? We could not get it off. And the rain continued. "Okay. I will just saw it off to the right height." Have you ever tried to saw off the top of a cast iron pole with a hacksaw, in the rain.
"You can't do that. It will make the pole wobble worse and it will take forever."
"Go away and leave me alone," he yelled. He never yells. He went and got the hack saw, climbed the ladder and began sawing. The pole wobbled.
"Hey, I yelled over the furious sawing, don't you need to measure that against my height?"
"No, I know how tall you are." I came over and stood by the pole.
"I think that is too short I said. The lines have to be tall enough to accommodate sheets." He ignored me and kept sawing. The pole kept wobbling. I went over and silently braced my body against the pole. He kept sawing. It was cold tedious hard work. We eventually began talking. A sort of comrade in arms feeling developed between us. We both felt a great sense of accomplishment when three hours later the pole was two feet shorter. We went and got the top and dropped it on. One of the ribs rested on my shoulder. I stood there in the rain exhausted, cold and angry. I had spent all afternoon doing something I had not wanted to do in the first place, and doing it in a way that went against every particle and fiber of my nature. I had a choice to make.

We went indoors, showered, sat in front of the fire and carb loaded. After much popcorn later, I decided in this instance "the best was the enemy of the good." I will simply hang the sheets in fourths. But, my perfectionist self is silently screaming.

Take care of yourselves. Love Bea


Alix said...

I giggled at a lot of your comments. It reminds me of a time when I wanted to plant a "small" flower garden. I, too, decided it would be best accomplished either while raining or just after, when the ground would be softer. Wrong...just messier. My plan was to have a small row of giant Zinnias to run down the side of the driveway. I thought a couple of rows would do the trick. After spending two hours just digging up the earth, I proceeded to fill it in with potting soil. Then I gathered up the packets of seeds (I had no idea how many seeds would produce a nice amount of flowers) and decided to ignore the directions. Instead of planting one seed an inch apart along a row (and making sure there was at least another inch separating the rows), I just took the packet and basically poured the seeds into the furrows I had created, covered up the seeds with soil and watered generously. After about a week, I started noticing a LOT of green sprigs shooting upwards. Well, to make a long story short, when all was said and done, I had a literal wall of huge (5 feet tall) brilliant Zinnias of every color imaginable. They attracted the butterflies which was an added bonus, but because it ran down the length of my driveway, I could never see what the traffic was doing on that side of the driveway because of the flowers...LOL. The end result was a lot of pretty flowers and the yield was far more bountiful than if I had followed the directions!

Debra said...

Whoo-ee, that sure sounds like marriage to me, only in ours, he's the perfectionist and I'm the one that wants things done in a hurry. Either one of us questioning the other provokes a storm of outrage and hurt feelings. We're just right for each other.

BigAssBelle said...

boy, this must echo my own grand little marriage, because i thought i'd left a comment earlier and it's not here. must have lived this ;-)

mike and i just had a similar go-round with replacing the window for my bathroom. my bathroom has been under renovation for . . . years, actually. my bathtub ~ a grand clawfoot princess tub ~ has been in the garage for a year. his shower has been done since we started the whole mess three years ago. somehow, once we got the great new walk-in shower finished, there was no real need to forge ahead. it wasn't just him, but still.

so here we are. bathtub won't go in the house. we have to replace the window anyway. very old, rotten sills. window's out, bathtub's in. voila!

new window is ready to go in.

me: don't we need some caulk?
him: no, it fits tight here and water can't get through because of the trim.
me: but the trim can't be completely tight against the brick?
him: well, i guess not. but then there's this channel here.
me: but the water will just channel down to the bottom, then drip between the brick facing and the wood part of the house. rot. termites. big $$ 10 years down the road. you know?
him: hmmmpf. you don't think i know what i'm doing, do you. it will be fine.
me: what does it hurt to put a bead of caulk there?
him: oh all RIGHT. okay, fine. have it your way.

i don't understand this about him. he is a master carpenter, highly skilled, a true artist with wood. but he likes to make things look pretty and doesn't care so much about the underpinnings. i am driven mad by the thought of the underpinnings not being just right, though i like pretty as well.

do you think this transfers from this eating plague? i have to deal with the underpinnings before the exterior becomes right? oh i don't know, that's foolish, but we are wholly incompatible on this issue. he wants to get it done and have it look good, even if only for a little while. i'd rather get it done, have it look good and know it's going to last.

it's why we have a deck with nails ~ gorgeous deck, very grand, wonderful and unique. nails. it's why the sill on my back door needs replacing. the pine sill looked great six years ago but . . . it's pine. sigh.

i wish i could do these things. i'd just handle all of the house stuff. i feel ya on the clothesline deal, and while i don't think of myself as a perfectionist, i would have been boo hooing and mad and wet right there with you. husbands.

Beula said...

Lynette, I am big on underpinnings. Foundations. If the foundation is not sound the house won't stand. Or won't stand for long. I can't stand pretty if the underneath is shoddy. Insight, ding, ding, ding. This may be why I can't stand to dress up if I am eating bad. Pretty on top of shoddy work seems like a lie. I know I am getting metaphysical here, but is major important I think.

I have spent years building a foundation under me. The fat shored me up while I was under construction. It is a law of first things. As we have been able to lose the weight, I guess our underpinnings are now stable enough for some pretty flourishes. I hope you are getting a dandy paint job.

Mark has his foundation in order. That's why I married him. He has been a good role model. And his besetting sin in laziness.

Lynette said...

This may be why I can't stand to dress up if I am eating bad. Pretty on top of shoddy work seems like a lie. I know I am getting metaphysical here, but is major important I think.

oh i think that's it, exactly.

i don't know what it is with mike. for years i kept thinking he was going to have some meltdown, because he was only 6 months sober when i met him and all alcoholics have to be really messed up head heart and soul, right? well the looming meltdown never happened. he got sober and he's been happy, joyous and free ever since.

i am envious, at times, because it seems i have to struggle so. then i remember that i am also plagued with this food thing and that makes a huge difference.

i am happy he's never had his meltdown, it's just perplexing. it is, with him, laziness too. just too much trouble. it's lack of interest, i think, also. he is such an artist and he is so visual, that the underpinnings just don't matter to him. but then he has the ability to simply put the underpinnings out of his mind, too.

i can't do that. when it's in my head it's there forever. example: with this bathroom remodel, i've been obsessing for the last three years about one of the floor supports that i was certain had bare wood on dirt under the house. i reviewed what i thought i saw the construction guy doing over and over. for years.

my nephew was under there working on the plumbing two weeks ago and i asked him to check to see if the support between the shower and the new bathroom was bare wood on ground or if it had block or brick.

it has both ~ block and brick ~ so i've obsessed three years over something that i thought i saw. sometimes i'd wake up at night thinking about this, imagining i heard termites in the walls. i.n.s.a.n.e. i am. i am my father's daughter. :-) my daddy was a brilliant research chemist, one of the brightest people i've ever known. his obsessions were legion and mine are too.

there's probably a drug for this :-) i am so foggy this morning, i could use some kind of drug. sigh. off to work. rambling on your blog as if it's my own :-) thanks for following up. hugs,

Cindy174 said...

I have been in fat mode, too. I posted today, I have had some trouble posting, but I think this one worked. Thanks for checking on me..I need some supervision. I like the insight of the posts and the comments here. It hits home with me. Thanks

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