Sunday, June 26, 2016

Black Eye 1998 and 2016

                                                                                             *photo by Andrea Wallace
In 1998, while playing soccer, my face got in the way of the ball. The result was a black eye that lingered for about two weeks, going from black to purple to red, and finally fading away. Two weeks ago, our youngest daughter was mugged in a smash and grab by a young woman.  The bruise is just now starting to fade away.

We are discovering that people are reacting very differently to Teal's black eye than they did to mine. While my eye was healing, I found that people wouldn't look at me, assuming that my black eye was the result of some kind of domestic abuse.  This was not just in stores, but even at parties, and other places where I knew people.  It seemed that if someone made eye contact with me then they would have to ask, very simply, "What happened to you?" and they just didn't want to go there.   When I asked Teal how people were reacting to her black eye, and her story was quite different,  "I'm getting tired of telling people what happened.  I wish they wouldn't ask". She works as a server at a very nice restaurant and she said that about half of her customers ask what happened, the other half don't.  I don't know if this difference is because she is younger than I was when I got my black eye(I was in my 40's), or if it's a sign that now, 18 years later, we are just more aware and sympathetic--less afraid to go to those dark places. I hope it's the latter.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

After the Flood 2016

 On March 16, of this year, after a morning bike ride with my friend Susan Zimmerman, I trotted out to the studio in my bike garb(cleated shoes, Lycra pants and top)to gather the trash to be picked up that day.  With a "what's wrong with this picture" feeling, I saw that water was pouring out of the front door.  Inside I could hear a roaring noise, which turned out to be the inlet valve to the hot water heater. Water was gushing out and had been for some 12-14 hours.

In a panic, I had to figure out how to turn the water off( it turns out to be not such an easy task)and then call the plumber.  The plumber, a neighbor and a friend, made it from the other side of the city in 20 minutes.  Once there, he directed me to call our insurance company, saying that they would get the ball rolling, and they did.
The insurance company called Steamatic, and they came within the hour.  Within a few hours we had emptied the studio of water, repaired the faulty pipe, and set up ten huge electric fans and two large dehumidifiers, which were to run for about a week, drying things out as best they could.
The next step was to cut the drywall on the exterior walls about a foot and 1/2 up from the floor and remove the insulation which supposedly wicks the moisture and can cause mold. I had my doubts about this happening, but, at the same time, didn't want to take any chances.
The drywall was then replaced and taped.  The dry wall mudders were next in line, and they arrived and made a huge mess.  When they finished, there was dried white mud everywhere, and white footprints all around the studio floor.  They used my utility sink to empty their dirty water, which backed up and wouldn't drain.  Adding insult to injury, they smoked inside the studio, their empty food wrappers(mostly candy)and cigarette butts everywhere.  The job had to be redone and then cleaned up.
As terrible as the mudders were, the painters were just that wonderful.  Perhaps because we all spoke the language of paint, I felt an immediate affinity with them, a family business of brothers, uncles and nephews.  They were good spirited, funny, and able to do things with their brushes that I can only dream of.
And then there were the Steamatic guys:  Albert(on the right) was with me from the very first hour of getting everything back.  Warm, kind, and sympathetic, they were extremely careful in everything they did, especially in the handling of my art.  My husband and I had removed it all from the studio so that the workers could do their work, and the Steamatic guys helped me put it all back, no mean feat(think four truckloads to the garage and back, all having to go back in a systematic order).
Since I had to keep working through all of this, I set up in our living room.  It worked fine, and I liked the close proximity to the refrigerator, but I had to be careful about not making a mess.

My studio, on the left, pre-flood, on the right, post.  Leaner, cleaner, stripped down of 22 years of accumulated artist type hoarding.

None of my art was damaged.  I had everything in storage units that rest about four inches off the floor.  What was damaged was replaceable, and insurance covered most of it.  We had a $1000 deductible, and except for a minor skirmish with the insurance company they paid for everything above the deductible, probably between 6-7000 dollars.  It was six weeks almost to the day from the event to me moving back in. I've spent the time since organizing and eliminating as much as I can, all the while being absolutely certain that I'm tossing something irreplaceable.  The flood wasn't something I would wish on anyone, however, it certainly wasn't the worst thing that could have happened. In the big scale of bad stuff that happens, this was only a tiny tiny blip on the cosmic meter.