Rendered Fat Content


Shubha Taparia: Crescent (2021)

"I seem to need to expose myself to a certain amount of danger …"

I may have identified the source of my sense of disconnection with the recent changing of the seasons. After a long and lonely enough Winter season, Spring should have welcomed me with open arms and I really should have stepped right in there for a reassuring hug. I became stand-offish instead, as if Spring were trespassing upon my private space. I had become complacent over the final few weeks of that bleakest season, wasting opportunities to engage in this or that project, seemingly satisfied to lean back and let a little time pass by me. That was never satisfying work, but more of a defensive effort. After The Grand Refurbish ended mid-December, I'd retrenched, feeling aimless. The Muse was after me to finish a few projects, but I remained steadfastly disengaged, fitfully napping. Nothing really seemed worth doing after engaging in such a grand and satisfying furbish. Every alternative engagement just seemed to fall tragically short of something. I practiced moping.

Yesterday, Kurt Our Painter brought over his pickup truck to help me fetch scaffolding so that I could start a rather modest repainting of The Villa's outside.
I'd bungled an earlier refinishing, slathering on linseed oil beneath the top coats, and under this valley's extreme summer heat, that oil had seeped right through my finely laid finish, producing a blotching effect. I could resolve this error by repriming with a product variously referred to as Peel Bond Primer, almost a thin putty which, once slathered on, seals any layer beneath it. So, a little Prep work, very little as my original refinish remains essentially flawless with only the blotching and a very few siding seams featuring failing caulking, and three fresh coats, one of Peel Bond and two top ones, and The Villa should be good for the ages. This will very likely be the last time I work on scaffolding.

I realized as I climbed clear up to the top, as I limboed my way beneath the too close up electric wire servicing the place, that I had missed the sense of existential danger scaffold work induces. We've several times previously established that I'm a BIG chicken, and that assessment goes approximately double for me and heights. I do not, like The Muse does, elbow my way to the head of any line queuing up to take anyone up to the top of anything. One of my fondest memories is of my father and I patiently waiting in the lobby of the Empire State Building while my mom, sisters, and my first wife took the elevator to the top. I come from a long patrilineal line of BIG chickens. Still, I sometimes challenge myself to clamber to the top of things. I managed that first day to even stand up on the very tippy top, legs only slightly quivering, above any protective railing, so that I could reach clear up to the soffit, twenty-one feet up. I even managed to caulk a few cracks while so perilously posed. I returned to the ground transformed.

I face a few weeks of daily challenges to my sacred chickenhood. A few Spring days tempting the fates. A few Spring nights where I'll sleep the sleep of the ancients, whom I imagine living lives that daily threatened their existence. There's just something about living a life challenging some greatest fear. Scaffolding for me provides just the right amount of terror, not the Texas Chain Saw Massacre sort, but a more manageable kind, one which, with all innocence, even a BIG chicken like me can challenge eternity and win, to feel like a big something other than just a BIG chicken for a change. I'd faced Spring as any BIG chicken might, pulling the covers up over my head in hope of staving off existential dread, resulting in my wallowing within it instead. I needed some scaffolding egging me up. I needed some challenging job, one at root trivial enough and well within my expertise, but one I'd need to perform backwards in heels, as Ginger Rogers famously explained about dancing with Fred Astaire. I needed some work that might scare some vitality into me.

I will be tenuously balancing myself and my work for the next few weeks, Reconning a few feet higher than usual. I will feel successful just scrambling up onto the planks and give heartfelt thanks for the continuing challenge. We seem to pursue absolutely unnecessary safety as if that might ennoble anybody. We probably need some background platform of existential dread to properly inspire us ahead. I realize that I might work better when engaging Scaffoldingly, whatever serves as my scaffolding. I seem to need to expose myself to a certain amount of danger to produce anything really worth my effort. This seems like a significant discovery in my Reconning process and one I'd best heed going forward, wherever that might lead me. In order to vanquish dread, one must have some clear and present danger in their life. I'm no exception.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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