Look. I’m a pretty good decision maker. I make decisions slowly and mindfully; I try to gather as much information as I can and I consider it carefully before settling on a course of action. I am mocked at times by my family for never being able to pony up a decision except after a time. “We thought maybe we would all do X together. It’s not till next month but I know you have to THINK about everything,” my sister will say. I like to spend hours looking at cookbooks and planning. In the early spring I like to look through gardening books and research which flowers are best for xeriscaping, or which grow in clay, and which of those come up when, and which combinations will offer both various heights and various blooming periods. When I’m taking a trip I spend a lot of time looking through options on the internet—flights, hotels, the proximity of my lodging to restaurants and whether or not the place has—hope against hope—a regular stinking coffee maker rather than one of those blasted single-cup numbers (and I’m not talking Keurig either). And lots of times I emerge with outcomes I’m happy with. But sometimes, well.
What you are seeing in the image above is a corner in my newly painted office in my home. I think it might be atrocious. And this strikes me as rather sick and wrong given that I thought the hell out of the decision. Or maybe not completely out, since as I sit in said office typing this post I think I might be in the midst, or as my students say, the “mist” of hell right now. OK sure, you can judge me, you with the lower key wall colors at your house and your ability to see this floor-to-ceiling image of the wall colors at my house, knowing full well that all I was working from was a one-inch stripe on a paintcard from Lowe’s. Sure. I mean almost anyone can see the problem now. (I know, I know, always try out the paint on the wall before committing… blah blah blah.) Actually, I had a suspicion that the colors were a risk but I was trying to stretch my aesthetic sensibilities. At our vacation rental at the beach we have very beachy colors and I find my time there so uplifting and, perhaps paradoxically but perhaps not, both relaxing and invigorating. The colors are these blue and green shades with a little bit of peach. Plus, in the August edition of, dare I say it, Better Homes and Gardens, there was a feature on these paint colors. They’re supposed to be “mood lifters.” I was inspired. I clearly have some set patterns, given that the wall paint that was part of the office updates I oversaw at work look peculiarly like the colors I used to decorate my house. So I was going for new colors and a break from the pattern. I was stepping out. (Sigh.) Maybe when I get the furniture in here it will die down a bit. Though that didn’t work for me the last time I picked a bad office color and had to have it repainted; I was nearly blinded but how lime that green felt. But paint colors haven’t been my only bad choices.
I took several years to save for a used boat, then researched for a year before buying one only to acquire a vessel I couldn’t quite get comfortable operating. (I know, I know, always drive it yourself first before committing…blah blah blah.) And then there was the time, which my children love to recount, that I most ungingerly told them that a dog they loved died. We were on our way to their Grammy’s house for “some happy, sunny holiday,” according to my daughter, and we were about a block or two away. One of them said “I can’t wait to see Sally,” a slobbery and sheddy dog of my mother’s whom we all loved. “Oh.” I said, “Sally died.” “WHAAAAT?!!!” they shouted through instant tears. “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought I told you. “Sally the dog?” “Yes, they had to put her to sleep.” “Oh my god! Mom! I grew up with that dog!” “Uh, I’m so sorry, I just, I thought I told you.” “No! You didn’t!” So we arrived with them pretty devastated and me feeling like an idiot and now every time we visit they recount this glorious moment of my motherhood for me so I can relive the incompetence and humiliation of it all. So despite the fact that I go through all, well maybe not all but many, of the motions of good decision making, I have my moments when I’d like to tell the universe, “You be the decider.”