Thug Office (Notes on DIY: The Nightmare That Never Ends)

thugofficeafter3

Even though it’s been almost seven years since I married Harv and stopped working two or three part-time jobs, the privilege of freedom still feels foreign to me. It blows my mind that I can do as I please during the hours that suit me.

And now that I have this freedom (from: poverty, addiction, other shady shit), I no longer list every good idea in the Someday category because I can devote time to fulfilling my dreams. Last Wednesday morning I really had a hankering for the chicken teriyaki special with a fried rice upgrade at the mall food court. Guess what I ate for lunch that day? I set a goal. I make it happen.

In January, I slipped on a spray of greeting cards as I walked into my office. As I laid on the floor, I contemplated my two choices: A.) Tear the greeting cards into tiny pieces and then ask Harv how to work the fireplace or B.) Clean/clear the junk from my office. I picked choice A first, but Harv said that choice B would set a better example for Cal. Caring about your kid creates so much extra work.

What began as a weekend project to pack away a few boxes of clutter turned into a complete workspace overhaul. Today is Day 96. My ideas and expenses notebook turned into a rage DIY journal. Some of the legible notes are below.

Day 2 {January 18, 2014}
I’ve been saving this Moleskine notebook for five years. They seem to be very popular with white people. 

Day 2b
Harv saw my last entry and he said it’s not ok to typify only white people as Moleskine users. Maybe I’m racist. But I can’t be racist because I like Eminem.

Day 4
I just packed my 24th box of craft supplies and random junk. The boxes take up the length of the hallway and it seems impossible that so much came out of one room. Harv keeps asking me why there are so many unopened packages of stickers. I just said they came from a big value pack. Can his wallet be considered a value pack? I want to brighten up the space. Maybe new curtains or some wallpaper. The beige blinds are starting to bring me down. They don’t reflect my real personality. I want my new curtains to say, “I look like a Hallmark ornament collector on the outside, but I’m ghetto as fuck on the inside.” What says that? Silk dupioni? 

Day 5
Goddamn. I forgot how expensive curtains are. Maybe I’ll do wallpaper.

Day 5b
Wallpaper is fucking expensive. From now on, if I walk into a house and it has wallpaper AND curtains, MAD RESPECT. That’s the real kind of rich. Not hood rich like all those people that got everything in their mama’s name because they got bad credit.

Day 5c
Harv said he would help me paint if I don’t call him at work for the rest of the day.

stripes1

Day 10
I think I have to make my own glitter paint. Every article I’ve read so far says I need special paint crystals formulated for house paint but I mixed in three packages and it’s not very glittery. I need Trinidad James level bling.

Day 11
I bought every bottle of Martha Stewart florentine gold glitter at Michaels. Wallpaper would have been 1/3 of the total cost for the paint and glitter.

stripesprocess

 

Day 19
Painting looks so easy on TV. Harv says if I call HGTV “fuckin liars” one more time then I have to stop this project because it makes the vein in my right temple really pop out, and I think he doesn’t want to lose me.

Day 19b
Painting has been very therapeutic for me. I’m not that good at it, but I’m extremely decent. If the room is a little bit dark then it looks perfect. I’m no Bob Ross. I’m more of a Rick Ross.

nobobross

Day 27
Harv bought me some custom pillows. Actually, I ordered them and just sent them to his office. Now that the glitter wall looks so pimp, I’m not liking the off-white on the rest of the walls. Maybe I need to paint those too.

customgold

 

Day 28
Pinterest told me that gray looks good with pink and gold. I bought 5 different Benjamin Moore grays today. Meh. 

Day 29
Testing out 6 more grays.

bmoore

Day 29b
I don’t really like gray now that I think about it. Harv asked me if I regret starting this project and I just let the sunken look in my eyes be my answer. Sometimes words aren’t necessary if the emotion is powerful enough. 

Day 30
I went to the hardware store 4 times today and the young paint guy was there. He suggested white. This is all new to me but, apparently, there are a fuckload of whites. A lot a lot a lot of whites. This is reminding me of the gray swatching.

Day 31
I asked Harv if we could just move and he said no. Also, I Urban Dictionary-ed “pimp” and “thug” to see which one fit me best because that’s going to be my room’s theme, but it looks like I’m both.

Day 65
Picked the whitest white available- no pink, no yellow, no green, no blue, no gray tints at all. Still no curtains so I had to cover my windows with 7 pillowcases and 1 brown paper bag because I just realized that I hate sunlight. It sort of looks like a crack house window now. I’m glad I don’t smoke crack anymore. Crack is whack. I wish I came up with that.

crackwindow

Day 70
I want to run away from home but the main thing keeping me here is that I have no marketable skills. I can’t do anything well except talk on the phone. :(

Day 81
I cut my finger on cardboard while I was looking at frames for the dozen gold foil art prints I ordered. There was a lot of blood. It was a finger murder.

Day 82
:(

Day 86
I spent 7 hours hand sanding an Ikea console because the first coat of paint had a lot of bubbles and dried all fucked-up looking. I got the surface smooth again, This second coat seems to be drying in streaks. Fuck this shit.

Day 93
The console has been sitting in the middle of the dining room for over a week and I don’t know what to do with it. I pushed it over when no one was home. DIY is not good for people with a lot of anger in their heart. Those people need to just go to a store and buy everything already made and painted. Even if it costs full price.

I found a new spot to work. For the past three weeks, I spread out a thick comforter in the hallway outside my office. That’s my new office. I’m asking everybody to please respect my space and not step into or onto my office without my permission, but it’s a queen size comforter and it takes up the width of the hallway. Cal can’t get to her bedroom, but I think a little bit of hardship is good for kids. Harv keeps on forgetting to knock and he says he won’t do it because I don’t have a door, but why can’t he just knock on the wall? I’m going to pretend I don’t see him until he knocks. People really need to learn manners.

Day 94
Damn.

Before:

EJLofficebefore
After:

thugofficeafter
Before:

thugofficebefore2
After:

thugofficeafter2
I think I lost a lot of brain cells spray painting everything gold. NBD. I am Thug Midas.

I’m really not racist, so don’t be shy. Holler at me:
Flourish in Progress on Facebook: FB is my fave.
Instagram (@flourishinprogress): Pictures with white people. Also pictures of some poor life choices but nothing illegal because I don’t fuck with felonies.
Google+ (Elizabeth Jayne Liu): I forgot I even had a profile, but I’m going to start using it probably.

You. You. But not you. You don’t deserve any love.

felist

I learned how to pronounce “corrugated” two days ago. A lot of people think that learning stops after you leave school, but just look at me, constantly improving and smartering myself. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to say it again, but not that many people want to talk about cardboard or metal.

The more I learn, both about myself and my surroundings, the more I start to question everything I already know- beliefs I’ve accumulated through personal experiences or because I just assumed they were the truth.

We went to church on Sunday, mostly because Cal had been asking to go for weeks and I finally relented out of guilt. I’ve been trying to incorporate more of what she wants to do into our plans. For a while, the simple task of driving Cal somewhere was overwhelming. It must be difficult and shitty to be a 14-year-old with a myriad of interests and a parent who says “no.” I feel so much anxiety about leaving the safety of my house sometimes, but I’ve worked out a pretty solid system to keep my fears in check. I allow myself to act like a little bitch until 3:15 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and then I just have to get my shit straight and be a functional human being until Cal goes to bed. My desire to be the kind of mom Cal deserves trumps my issues.

During service, I started thinking about the lessons I learned as a kid during Sunday School. My biggest takeaway was that Christians really like felt boards and activities that involve cotton balls. From the very first Sunday, I also learned that God is merciful and that Jesus loves without exclusion.

I want to talk about Jesus loving everybody. I don’t want Jesus to love everybody.

I almost never share this thought with anyone because I think it’s really telling about my true character. There’s just no way to say that I want him and him and her to suffer and suffer deeply without sounding small. Maybe that’s why I never grew any taller. Hate is heavy, and it pushes you down.

I believe that some people are defective and malicious and broken beyond repair. When I think about these people receiving God’s love and mercy, it makes me question my faith. It makes me angry to know that the worst AND the best of the bunch still receive goodness and grace, and the wayward often get more compassion. When I am confronted with a person who has caused me immense pain and an opportunity to be forgiving, I choose the other end of the spectrum.

I once told someone (a man that I was dating) that I thought he should kill himself. It is, by far, the most heinous thing I have ever said, not just because the sentiment itself was cruel and evil, but because I really, really meant it.

I hated him because I felt like he took everything away from me, and I hated myself because I let him. He wanted to be #1 in my life, first and best in every category. He resented the love I had for my daughter and the time I spent with anyone else.

By the time I said that fucked-up thing to him, I realized that he had carefully executed a plan to cut off everyone in my life. Because he was violent and because he would not “let” me leave, I sent Cal away for more than a year because it was the only way I knew to protect her.

I tried to keep the most shameful and volatile moments as late-night affairs because Cal would be sleeping then, and she wouldn’t have to witness her mother doing degrading things, like getting on her knees and begging for forgiveness for an offense she wasn’t even sure she had committed.

But Cal overheard us. I know this because recently, out of the blue, she turned to me and said, “Do you remember when he said that you were stupid and you cried? I don’t think you’re stupid.”

I want to turn away from my faith during these moments. I don’t want to be loved by the same God that loves that man. Coupled with that hard-to-stomach truth is the knowledge that the dude is still alive. Let this be a lesson that no one gets everything they want in life.

It gives me pause to think about him reading this one day. But I’m not sure if prisons have internet access or if he knows how to spell “flourish.” Not only do I know how to spell “flourish,” I can also correctly pronounce “corrugated,” so it’s pretty obvious that we’re unmatched. Checkmate, bitch.

Maybe God sent Harv soon after this man to show that for every badness, the goodness that exists is so overwhelmingly bright. Light always overpowers darkness. Always.

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P.S. Mommyonthespot, you are the winner of last week’s giveaway. Please holler at me (flourishinprogress at gmail) with your mailing address.

P.P.S. Pics from our Fam Jam over the weekend on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress):

famjamdvfI love you first. I love you best.

Look How Far You’ve Come (Notes on Therapy)

futurecalled
I’ve been going to Corner Bakery for their Loaded Baked Potato Soup once or twice a week for the past few months. Sometimes, I upgrade to a bread bowl for an extra $1.89. I don’t do it all of the time because I don’t want luxury to become my standard. Plus, all of the soups come with a focaccia roll anyway, and it’s really not that hard to dig out a little soup moat. I treat myself to these soup lunches on the days I go to therapy.

I’ve avoided therapy for most of my life because the whole concept seemed like a crock of shit. Still, I’ve gone on occasion over the past sixteen years. Many of those visits were part of different drug treatment programs. You have to go every day and act like you’re making breakthroughs, but really, you’re just thinking how many more times do I have to lie to this homegirl wearing all Talbots errything before she recommends my release. It’s never made a difference because I had no interest in sorting through my sordid past. Processing and transcending and letting go takes time and effort. Not only did that seem painful and unnecessary, I also believed that I had earned the right to harbor all of my rage and depression. They were my souvenirs for surviving, and I fucking love souvenirs. (A big shout out to my Disney lapel pin collection. You guys keep my lanyards looking fly.)

The only gift Harv wanted for our anniversary last fall was for me to find a therapist I liked and start going on a regular basis. At some point in 2013, I moved into Rock Bottom, and he could see that I had no interest in leaving. Actually, I was getting settled and quite comfortable in my new little hole, and every time I left and came back, it just felt like home.

The request came at a bad time because I had already ordered a Full Dozen Strawberry Medley from Shari’s Berries as an anniversary gift for Harv. Highly perishable items are extremely tricky to return…if you can return them at all. I said I would “think about it” which is basically a “no” in adult code language. He didn’t pressure me nor did he bring it up again.

A few nights later, I had a hankering for something delicious and ate seven of the nine remaining Berries. I am surprised by my own selfishness from time to time. This was one of those times. Shari, why you gotta make your products so delectable? It didn’t seem right to order another dozen, and I thought about blaming Cal but decided against it. I felt horrible and guilty so I told Harv that I would start going to therapy. I don’t know. It made sense at the time.

My advice to you would be to think carefully before putting someone else’s food into your mouth.

I am trying something new this go-round: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR for short. It sounds kind of creepy. Maybe it is creepy but it can’t possibly be worse than everything that I have ever done to myself because I, on a deep level and in a non-transient way, dislike myself.

EMDR is supposedly effective for people who have experienced severe trauma that remains unprocessed. It goes directly against the coping mechanisms I have become so good at- denial, dissociative amnesia, detachment. In each session, I recall traumatic and distressing experiences, and as I allow the memory to fully unfold, I am taken through a series of sensory exercises.

I can’t describe it more than that. I don’t have the right words and it sort of makes me sick to think about it. Poet Nayyirah Waheed’s words on love now cross my mind each time I walk through my therapist’s doors:

“like everything I’ve ever lost come back to me.”

Except none of my memories involve love.

I still go and I haven’t given up on EMDR yet, although I feel like I am being punished twice for each moment I recall- once by living through it and a second time by inviting it back to invade the small amount of peace I have gathered and stored. Everything that I have ever pushed out and ignored and left by the wayside is coming back to me.

Each time I leave, I call Harv. The conversations are most often about how lonely I feel. I complained about this loneliness for months. Just two weeks ago, it dawned on me that it wasn’t loneliness at all. It was grief. But since I had not allowed myself to grieve about anything for such a long time, the only label my mind could attach to the heavy feeling was loneliness.  I’m not very good at grieving, but I feel like it could become one of my better skills. Like scrapbooking. My scrapping skills are fucking legit.

“Sometimes just the act of sharing a painful secret can relieve some of the pain.” -Anonymous

I hope so.
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Holler at me: Flourish in Progress on Facebook (I post a lot of quotes and thug shit here. Pretty decent way to waste time.) Instagram @flourishinprogress (me in a crop top, my crack house window, shit like that) Twitter @ElizabethJLiu (I complain a lot here.)

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