I admire people who are ridiculously confident in their own abilities. Inspired by the internet, I often think that I could do anything if I were really determined. You want me to build a deck, replicate nuclear fission, or train a hamster? No problem. Self-reliance is liberating, and most people I know take on at least a few DIY projects. I drove by my friend V’s house the other day and witnessed her accidentally spraying herself in the face with a commercial strength hose and anti-fungal lawn chemicals. Did I think she was an idiot? No. I admired the fact that she didn’t let the resulting numbness in half of her face prevent her from treating that pesky grass fungus. There is just no stopping a determined woman. She may have also discovered a cheaper Botox alternative.
My friend Jamie of the blog Six Oak Street is another determined DIY-er. She used to live in the same neighborhood as me, and we share a passion for home projects and funny stories. You can read one of my favorite stories of hers here.
Jamie is a tough, smart, competent woman who always finds a way to get stuff done. Despite her lack of official qualifications, she possesses licenses to buy an assortment of industrial chemicals for stripping paint, welding metal, and more. She’s like the beautiful and much more fun spawn of Martha Stewart and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (because she can do cool stuff and might be a mastermind, not because of her looks or a history of abuse or mental illness.) Maybe not the best analogy.
Anyway, even those with licenses sometimes overestimate their powers, and I had to save Jamie’s life once during one of her many remodeling projects. I called her up one day, and she sounded too happy and loopy on the phone. She told me she’d been painting the cabinets in her study and might have been in there too long. Maybe I should come over to check on her, she suggested. When I pulled up five minutes later, she stumbled out of the ground story window, looking like a cheerful but crazed lunatic. Jamie doesn’t even drink coffee or alcohol, much less do drugs, but in that moment she could’ve competed with the homeless in San Francisco for “Most High and Crazy Looking.”
Turns out she’d been using oil-based paint with an air gun sprayer, so she was basically breathing fine particles of oil paint. She had a mask, but not the right kind. Of course, she’d opened the large window, but it wasn’t enough to ventilate the airborne paint.
We went back into her kitchen since she’d done an excellent job of sealing off the office from the rest of the house. Then the questions started. Once a minute, over and over again, Jamie looked at me with surprise and asked me how I’d gotten into her house. She was happy to see me and all, but she didn’t remember how I got there. Then she’d pass out or glaze over while I explained again. All the while, I was trying to reach her husband on the phone. In her only moment of semi-clarity, Jamie told me to not call him. I realized that her husband was like my husband—despite a near-death circumstance, they’d really rather not be bothered at work because somebody has to pay for our shenanigans.
And then she’d come to again. “Angela! Hi! What are you doing here?” After several rounds of explaining to Jamie how I got in her house, I decided she might need medical help. My doctor’s office put me on hold, so I called 911.
While we sat outside and waited on the paramedics, Jamie entertained me by asking over and over again why we were out there.
“HEY, those sirens sound really close!”
“They’re coming for you because you’re as high as a kite.”
The paramedics arrived. Jamie is very happily married, and Normal Jamie would not be forward with hot young firemen. However, High Jamie greeted them with a loony “HellllOOOO” and wasted no time in telling them how good-looking they were.
“WOW! You guys should make a calendar. You are all REALLY hot!!! SO HOT. It’s like a novel or tv show come true, where the cute firemen show up. This doesn’t happen in real life, but here you are. And you’re here for ME? Hahaha. Wait, why are you here for me?”
repeat 4x while they check her vital signs
The paramedics laughed, blushed, and said she’d be much better after about forty minutes of fresh air. She did recover her senses quickly but then got sick several times that evening. Poison Control said it was her body getting rid of the toxins.
Jamie later told me that she kind of knew she was passing out periodically while painting, but she was determined to finish everything in the room before stopping because she was almost done. DIY costs more than just money, y’all.
Jamie returned to normal, but the paramedics are probably still hoping for the day she tries a new, dangerous project and has to call them. Unfortunately for me and the paramedics, she moved to another state. Also, I’m pretty sure she’s since researched the proper use of painting respirators.
Have you surrendered your pride or personal safety for a DIY project? Please comment!
See also my story of sacrificing my crotch for amazing cabinets at Hanging by a Thread(s) and the Zoolander Miracle.