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Operation Room Re-Do

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“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all”. Last summer, I learned the verity of Sam Ewing’s distinguished quote, as I portrayed each of these acknowledged—yet undesirable—traits that can come along with hard work. As my freshman year of high school dwindled to a close, I came to a disillusioned conclusion: I had become dissatisfied with a number of parts in my adolescent life. I didn’t know if it was just Teenage Angst who surfaced my discontent, but I certainly wasn’t planning on tolerating It any longer. I realized that perhaps it was my environment making me unhappy—the plethora of stuffed animals, “bedazzled” bookshelves, and baby-blanket wall paint encompassing my bedroom certainly proved my realization correct. I felt the desire of change coil within me, and that was then I had an epiphany: the stem of dissatisfaction must have come from the roots of a too-ingenuous abode! How easily I can change my life with just a few coats of paint and a good cleaning, I had thought, not to mention a replacement of my godforsaken floral carpet. Little did I know, however, that my seemingly bright idea would result in a summer of tears, stains, and discovering the real expense of growing-up.

I had never been a connoisseur of home improvement reality television shows, so I had no expectation that Ty Pennington would magically appear and be my room re-do fairy godfather. But, I had enough experience with HGTV to know that I needed to start small. I began with the menial tasks of sorting through things I had acquired in my fifteen years of living. Three piles grew out of my diligent categorization: things to keep, things to throw or give away, and a maybe pile. Now, anyone who knows me can tell you that I am extremely indecisive. For example, I clog the aisles of Target for a good ten minutes just to debate whether Crest really is better than Colgate if I fail to find my preferred brand of toothpaste. As a result of my horrid ambivalence, cleaning leads me to frantic break-downs, in which I ask myself questions like, what if my future child will need this hacky-sack? or what if this Beanie Baby is actually worth millions, and I just don’t know it? (At this point, I squander away both the hacky-sack and Beanie Baby by squashing it into a sock drawer.) Needless to say, it was quite arduous for me to rummage through my worn Christmas cards, pick through my dated Seventeen magazines, and play the to donate or not to donate game with my old toys. Whenever I thought about what I had put in my “keep” pile, I overanalyzed and contemplated until I finally let it reside beside the other junk in my overabundant “maybe” pile. My room was a travesty: the clothes, old school work, and stuffed animals were strewn across my floor. This gave some relief to the eyesore of my carpet—a tacky miscreation of pastel fabric orchids, roses, and intertwining leaves—but not much to my sanity.

Today is the day I would break up with my indecision, I thought to myself as I scanned the atrocity I called a bedroom. I had made this adult decision to redecorate my room, and I was going to follow through with it. So, one night in a fit of self-revelation, I truly cleaned through my “maybe” heap, which left me with two “keep” and “get rid” piles I could be pleased with. Finding the decisiveness within me by overcoming my irresolution is what I call Stage I of Operation Room Re-Do.

As I had thought the labor-intensive part of my room re-do was over, the next step was actual redecoration. I know what I wanted: something “me”, something mature but not too old, and something classic yet inexpensive. Naturally, that would lead me to become completely adamant on having white wood flooring and cherry red walls—because that was “New York loft chic”. I told my mother this as she kindly suppressed concern behind a forced half-smile-half-grimace. My newfound bossiness and disregard for expense became Stage II on the road to redoing. Who cares about the amount of money a fifteen-year-old girl’s project will cost if it meant living in happiness? I scoffed at my mother’s suggestion of buying a new bookcase from Art Van, and I was a complete tyrant in the face of anyone who opposed my dead-set wishes.

I seemed to be all talk, however, when it came to actually deciding on colors, flooring, or any type of real decoration. My bratty façade was quickly becoming useless as a shield against the impending doom of indecision and uncertainty creeping back into my mind. My family probably took my shrugging and muttering at decoration samples as an act of teenage apathy—but there was really a war raging inside of my head over paint samples and picture frames. I spent hours looking online at websites that boasted of having the best ingredients for a perfect dwelling recipe. My head swam with images of an ideal, hip room courtesy of Teen Vogue, Anthropologie, and Urban Outfitters. Each click of a mouse and every new trip to Lowes took me a step further from the no-mercy girl who had demolished the “maybe” pile just a few weeks ago. Stage III of Operation Room Re-Do was my desire to avoid any real change by just terminating the whole project.

I distinctly remember the day my cousin Josh came home from college on the hottest day of the summer. I didn’t know it at the time, but he and my mother were in cahoots to end this room redo once and for all. Their scheme was simple: Josh would take me to Lowes for one last trip, buy a gallon of whichever paint I wanted, and paint my room that night. They both knew Josh—my perky, persistent, and absolute favorite person in the world—would be the sole person to pressure me into buying (as I had become accustomed to impulse shopping by buying the likes of expensive shoes and bags whenever Josh as around). I had forgone the idea of white wood walls until I had decided on a wall color. The hour-long trip of my contemplation and Josh’s constant hovering led me to the purchase of Luscious Lips: a cheery mix of red and pink. Looking back, however, this brought me closer to the depths of my childish self instead of submerging me in a classy New York state of mind.

With my walls primed and furniture covered in linen, I was ready to paint. Josh took out a screwdriver and carefully opened Luscious Lip’s lid as my mother and I sat silently in anticipation. A wave of nausea hit me. No, it wasn’t the overwhelming fumes of paint that made me fill icky—it was the color. Luscious Lip’s hot pink, Barbie’s-Dream-Car-gone-wrong color was certainly not that luscious. Perhaps it would look better on the walls than in the can, I had thought as I picked up a paintbrush and ran a stripe of color down the wall closest to me. Under the heavy influence of denial, I managed to poorly paint my whole room. Thanks to the scorching summer heat and my feeble painting attempt, paint droplets uncanny to both the color and consistency of Pepto-Bismol had slid down into various crevices and door hinges. My floral carpet was dotted with blotches of Luscious Lips, and the room gave off a radioactive glow in the dark. In a daze, I retired to my living room’s couch for sleep while the stomach-turning fumes died down. Not until I found myself in a puddle of tears underneath a polyester blanket had I realized that I was in Stage IV of Operation Room Re-Do: complete and utter mental breakdown.

I think a week had passed, and I still hadn’t been inside That Room. Then something clicked: I realized I had to get out of my revolving funks of being either an indecisive child, a domineering tyrant, or a lamenting teenager. No, my problems hadn’t been caused by Lowes’ false advertising, or by Anthropologie’s frivolous yet appealing items. It was I who bought Luscious Lips on a whim and couldn’t decide on realistic decorations. Each component that influenced That Room was a factor solely based on my own poor decisions. Hadn’t I wanted to be an adult? Now, here I was: I was faced with an adult decision, and it was time to either deal with the consequences or fix them once and for all.

And so, I decided.

I closed the pages of my expensive, unnecessary decorations I had saved on my computer. I took my mother’s suggestion for once by trying out Art Van and buying a bookshelf I adored with a reasonable price tag. As for the Pepto-Bismol party, I replaced my wall color with a cool, cucumber green: it was “me”, mature but not old, and classic (with a bit of New York loft appeal). It actually matched some of carpeting by bringing out the detailed leaves I hadn’t noticed before, and it contrasted beautifully my deep purple comforter. I’m still working on improving my room, but without the help of Teenage Angst. I can end this experience of my absolute favorite mistake by labeling it as the ongoing Stage V: right now, I’m somewhere between hesitancy and boldness, somewhere between a child and an adult, and somewhere between being naïve and all knowing—and I wouldn’t have it any other way.



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