"You wan'a spend 60 hours in the next 4 days doing a mural for me? You wan'a?" Yes I do, little Savannah. In fact, that 3 year old girl could get me to do nearly anything by flashing those big brown eyes at me, grabbing my hand, and saying "You wan'a?" in that sweet little voice. You wan'a watch a show with me, you wan'a jump in a circle with me, you wan'a eat oatmeal with me, you wan'a jump off the Golden Gate Bridge with me? Anything you say. Yes. When the coffee and the diet cokes and the whiskey and the corndogs wore off, that was the voice that kept me going in the 18th hour of the 4th day of this ridiculous project.
But let me start by saying that customer service at airlines and airports in the US is at an all-time low. I know. That's obvious to anyone who flies these days, but they really took it to a new nadir on this trip. I won't go into the details of the way in which they screwed me on my flight to San Francisco on the way over a week and a half ago, because they were many and varied, but let's just say that it took me a cool 15 hours to get to my destination. Once I arrived, everything was great though, as akboognish and wife sc showed me a great time and some first class hospitality. We got some quality Cali-Mexican food and hit some fun hip spots in the Mission before calling it a PST night. The next night, we headed back down to the Mission (an area known for its murals, incidentally), met up with a handful of former Massholes, and partied it up at the bars and at a hopping house party. After a couple nights of partying, we were happy to take a leisurely drive up to Napa to hang out with MCSmackdown and his lovely little lady.
The room is 11 ft x 12 ft x 8 ft high and MCSmack had primed it with a metallic paint that was going to allow magnets to be hang all over the mural. We weren't sure how well that was going to work with 2 coats of semi-gloss on top of it (that was back when I thought I was going to be able to do two full coats of the entire mural in 3 days and change) but MCS'down thought it would be worth it to try. Here's what it looked like when I got there:
On my 4th day in Cali, I got right to work on the mural (well, after eating oatmeal and playing house with Savannah - can't say no. can't do it). She was in and out, being run around on errands and playdates, but when she did pop in, she was happy to identify the animals I was penciling in on the wall and didn't seem to have a problem with what I was doing to her room, despite not really understanding it. She even helped by drawing a bird on the wall, which I later painted in (see the photo at the top of the post). Later in the day, she came in to give me a big hug goodbye (she was going to her mom's for a few days), and she asked "wha's that?" about the drawing on the wall at her eye level. I told her that it was a rhino. She looked at it, gave the wall a hug, and stomped out of the house shouting "klop a pop pop! klop a pop pop!"
the exact moment that my heart disintegrated.
at which point, I resolved that she was going to get a kick ass mural no matter what. Well, I don't know if it's "kick ass", but the "no matter what" on the mural turned out to be 60 hours over 4 days, including an epic 18 hour painting session that spilled into 4:30 AM on Thanksgiving morning (which was the last possible morning I could leave to go back to SF). Here it is:
If you want to see what it would be like for a 3 year old to walk into the room, including my impression of how she would say "Wan'a see a mural?", view here:
I could've easily put another 10 - 12 hours into it to get it to a point where I would've been satisfied, but that's all the time I had, so some of the things I wanted to do didn't get done, or got done insufficiently. But I got it to the point where all the animals were done to my satisfaction and all the mistakes and drips were touched up. Hopefully, Savannah's going to "wan'a" hang out in her room. I'm pretty sure she'll like it. MCSmackadoo said that she's not scared of any animals so that wasn't an issue and he was very happy with the final product so that's that.
Postscript: A few hours later, I was back in San Francisco, physically and mentally exhausted, with a 15 person Thanksgiving dinner on tap. Good company and free flowing beer and wine assisted me greatly in making it through that. Not that it was particularly stressful. But it's the holidays. And I was 100% out of gas. But I got my wind (fumes?), and the next day brought a little leisure (including a stop at the mystery book store pictured at right) until I decided to go online and reconfirm my 9:39 PM red-eye, non-stop, first class flight back to Boston at around 3:00 PM. I couldn't seem to get any results from my search of the confirmation number so I called the 800 number. Turns out that they had cancelled the 9:39 flight and I was supposed to have been on the 1:30 PM flight instead. A solid 8 hours earlier than my flight. And they didn't feel the need to inform me of that in any way. Moral of the post: airlines suck, murals are hard, Savannah is cute.