Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I'm a Fixer, Just Like Olivia Pope


...for those of you who don't watch Scandal, see you on the next post!

Although I don't look as good as she does in white and off-white, and my mom really died when I was a teenager--  not fake-died, spent decades in prison and then came back to terrorize the world-- I still think I have a heck of a lot in common with Olivia Pope, the main character in Scandal.

Take the vintage oak table.

"Vintage oak table? That does not sound like Olivia Pope," you might be saying. Olivia is all modern and sleek, with walls an icy gray and wine glasses the size of gourds. Oak and Olivia don't mix! True, but here's the thing: there was a vintage oak table in my life, and it was a problem that needed fixing, Olivia Pope-style.

In attempt to earn some money in dribs and drabs to try to shore up our hemorrhaging bank account, I decided to start hitting the thrift store again. On one recent trip I found a beautiful vintage table in perfect condition. I wanted to take it home, paint it, and re-sell if for a handsome profit.

But when I got it into my garage, I felt my motivation ebb. There was no one there to look me in the eye and say, "Get out your paintbrushes, Anna. You are a gladiator! Do what you must to earn the $100 OBO that will surely save your family from ruin!"

So it sat. My husband was not thrilled to see a table occupying his parking spot in the garage. Day after day, when he came home from work he'd push the button on the garage opener, and as the door made its slow ascent, he'd look with fear and dread to see if there were four oak legs waiting for him, and there were.

I suggested that perhaps we could move it to the basement until my painting mojo returned. He said a dismissive yet definitive, "It won't fit down the stairs," and that was that.  Now, as a fixer, I probably would have said, "Let's just try it" especially based on the knowledge that this is the same man who told me this curbside sideboard/cabinet would never fit in my minivan. Amateur.

Eventually, I decided to sell the table on Craigslist As-Is, and let its new owner paint or not paint at his or her choosing. Tim suggested we move it into my office area until it sold, but I prefer to keep active Craigslist items a little farther outside the heart of the home so that my neighbors can hear me scream if something goes down. Good Olivia Pope-thinking, right?

This makes me wonder how no outsiders ever seem to notice the murder and mayhem in Olivia's sphere of influence. Hmmm.

I was actually grateful Tim was out of town last week so the table could stay put while his car was at the airport. That gave me time to deal with two Craiglist no-shows. And by deal with them, I mean write pleasant emails back and forth for several days about the joy of owning this table, truly bonding with my new Craigslist friends until pick-up time when...nothing. It made me think that when I die and someone sends out a mass email to report the fact, there will be a lot of Craiglisters in my contacts who will say, "Who the hell is this Anna person they're talking about, and should I be sad?"

Anyway, with the prospect of Tim's return looming, my inner Olivia Pope sprung into action. Using my already advanced powers of estimation (see: Sideboard, Minivan), I was able to deduce that a solution had been right under my nose the entire time and that Tim's angst over the table could be alleviated rather quickly.

I know this is almost as complicated as some of Huck's computer hacking codes, but stay with me here. If I rearranged some of the crap in the garage and turned the table SIDEWAYS, I would be able to gingerly wedge it against the wall and Tim would still be able to pull into his spot safely. Oh yes.

Tim hasn't mentioned the change yet, but I went ahead and rewarded myself with a glass of wine and a bowl of popcorn for dinner.

Gladiator, indeed.


Karen L. said...

Haha! You perfectly described doing what needs to be done sometimes! You're getting your mojo back, girlie. (Said by a grandma...:)

Arnebya said...

So do you NOT know that this is the table/cabinet I was asking about? I would have totally given you $100 when I was there and asked our undrunk friends to help me get it into my van.

Sasha said...

I think you should go play Tetris now!

Karen said...

Great fix. Olivia would be proud!

Sarah said...

I've been following you for some time. We have a few things in common. I'm an English teacher. I have a son named Jack. He's alive, but my biggest fear in life is losing my children or my husband. Something you've had to face. This fear grew from the traumatic start to our relationship---2 weeks after we started dating, he got very ill and was on life support for two months waiting for a heart transplant. And, we LOVE OLIVIA POPE! I just discovered Scandal a few weeks ago and I've digested all of the episodes already! Your post today was a sign for me to tell you how much I love your writing and your honest story of grief. I'm looking forward to your book!

Jennifer said...

David is often amazed by what I can visualize fitting into a certain spot. And I promise that's not dirty talk. It seems like we have that in common. The fitting things into places. This comment is going really bad, really fast.

Greta @gfunkified said...

There is so much potential in that table!! I hope you find some mojo and can fix her up. (Also, I bet you look fab in a white pantsuit)

Penny said...

I tried to post from my phone a few hours ago, but I don't see it.
Anyway...I LOVE Olivia Pope! I discovered Scandal streaming on Netflix and totally binged on it last year. I am usually totally oblivious to fashion, but I LOVE her coats! (If you google, there's all kinds of websites that list everything she's worn.)
This season is fun, watching them use all the weird camera angles to hide her pregnancy.
And Anna, you ARE a gladiator!

Gigi said...

Men...they don't have "the eye" that we do. That is why they always say, dismissively, that it won't fit. That, and the fact, that they don't want to actually move the said item.

Alison said...

Go, Gladiator!

Unknown said...

Oh, poor Tim! ;-) Glad you are back to blogging more often! xo

Kir said...

Scandal, that table and you..I LOVE all three.

that piece is just gorgeous, can't wait to see it's transformation.

And I could come and watch you do it, I'll bring cupcakes, we could watch Olivia Pope "Fix stuff" ;)

Unknown said...

I love that show. So addictive!
Well played, Anna. Who knows. Maybe you'll wind up beautifying the table after all. In the meantime cheers to wine and popcorn and Olivia Pope!

Miss Stewart and Students said...

Right now we're catching up on Mad Men after a winter of watching all Downton Abbey, House of Cards, and Breaking Bad episodes. And by all, I mean all. So Scandal is next. Now instead of reading your post and thinking of the show, I'll think of your post while I watch the show--and I'm certain I'll think you're brilliant!

(BTW, no students took part in this comment. Lunch time is almost over, and I'm too lazy to log-out then in as "myself" to change the signature.)

Unknown said...

I don't watch the show (I know, Scandalous! ha ha!) but I do love furniture so I still read your post. :D

Also, nice move!

Sarah Reinhart said...

It's a beautiful piece, Anna. I can totally relate to the fight to keep it :)

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I need to go shopping with you. I see some thrift store dining room chairs in my future...

Jen G. said...

Hi Anna,
I've been following your blog for a couple of years now, and could really use your help. We have an 11-year-old boy in our community who just died as a result of being hit by a baseball at middle school team practice on Friday. I wonder if you could email me? I don't know the family directly but my son plays baseball and goes to the same school. Can you tell me anything that was helpful to you in those early days after Jack's accident that helped you? I'd give the mom a copy of your book if it was out--and I will, when it is! In the meantime, is there anything I can do to help this family shoulder their grief? Thank you so much for being so transparent with your writing. I thank you in advance for any suggestions.
Jen G.

Anna Whiston-Donaldson said...

Dear Jen G.

I am so very sorry! This is so incredibly sad and my heart breaks for this little boy's family. I've tried to email you but it comes up "No Reply Blogger" Can you email me at Thank you. Here is something I wrote about what helped us in the early days; maybe it can give you some ideas:

Love, Anna