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Graduating to the second layer

"Are you ready to try the next layer?" he asked.

I looked up and tilted my head.

"You mean, I've graduated from the first layer?" I asked hesitatingly.

"Yes, not bad. Just sand down the first layer, and start applying a second layer of ground paint," he instructed.

Only yesterday, Bob the builder had scolded me for not doing enough and reminded me that I was only an apprentice, not yet an assistant.

Like the maid Griet in the movie "Girl with a Pearl Earring," I am sure I have talent beyond housework. Vermeer was quick to spot Griet's perception of light and colour. I have shown my dedication to mind-numbing, repetitive activity such has sanding down walls and scraping hardened spillover paint from glass. I just need to prove that I can withstand the toxic fumes of ground paint and lacquer-turpentine mix.

When the builder and his father, the master carpenter, are working on the house, I am demoted to cleaning after them and preparing lunch. Now that I have filled, sanded, and painted the hallway, I realise that I can do a lot more. Being able to see the results keeps me motivated.

Today builder applied less turpentine to the lacquer. Now that the first layer has been completely absorbed into the Medium Density Fireboards (MDF boards), there is no need to dilute the lacquer itself. After sanding the first layer, I started painting the second.

For six hours I worked, with only a short break for lunch: First the transparent lacquer and turpentine mix on the insides of the built-in closet. Next the white ground paint on the outside of the closet. Finally the grey ground paint on the floor of the closet.

Despite being physically and mentally exhausted by the end of the second layer, I wanted to carry on. The list the builder left me is full of interesting things that I know how to accomplish by myself: sanding down the stairs, painting a second layer of grey ground paint on the stairs, sanding down the heating pipes in the living room, cleaning the ceiling beams, painting a second layer of white ground paint on the ceiling beams, and so on.

Not only have I graduated to the second layer, I have also seen what is so fulfilling about doing building work. The built-in closet is no longer several pieces of MDF boards nailed together. It now looks like a proper wardrobe. Being able to see the results makes all the difference!

9 February 2004 Monday

Related Bon Journal entries:
Fill, sand, paint
Builder's apprentice
Builder's assistant
Zen of cleaning
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Anne Ku at Ilp in May 2001
Anne Ku

writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page.
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