I peeled my dining room ceiling like a carrot today. The popcorn finish has been bugging me forever in that room, which has a weird octagonal inset in the middle of the otherwise dropped ceiling. I believe the dropped ceiling is to accommodate the plumbing for the whirlpool tub in the master bath which is directly above. We never use the whirlpool jets because the last time I did, there was a leak in the pump and it rained in the dining room from at least ten places. This interior downpour was very exciting and messy, leaving brownish stains and bubbled paint on the ceiling and giving me cause to use every profane word I know as I tried to save the wooden table, the wooden floor, the computer, the business documents and everything else left laying around. I turned off the whirlpool jets almost immediately, but it took thirty minutes for the storm to diminish to a sprinkle. It took twenty-four more hours to get rid of the nervous tic beneath my right eye.
That was at least six weeks ago, and as I said, the popcorn had been bugging me for much longer than that, but I didn’t do anything about it. Why? I wasn’t sure I could. I thought maybe there was a right way to do it, that I needed a professional with knowledge and skill and maybe some useful products. I didn’t know any professional popcorn removers, so I hesitated and tried not to look at the brown circles and stripes on the gross bumpy ceiling, imagining instead a clean painted surface with maybe some white crown molding. Fancy. Then, today, a thunderstorm derailed our plans to work on our deck and so Mr. Wordtabulous and I started watching Yard Crashers and House Crashers on HGTV. We are highly susceptible to the DIY influence in our home and soon my husband was up and installing the new light fixtures I’d recently purchased in our upstairs bedrooms. (The old ones were deteriorating in a scary and oddly smelly way–I never knew corroded wire covering could smell like decaying mouse, but it does.) And I thought, I bet I could just scrape that popcorn ceiling off by myself. And I did. I wore a filtered mask and goggles. I spritzed water on the popcorn then scraped it off with a ten inch taping knife (think wide spatula.) The first two-thirds was easy, the last third was a chore, but I did it. I made a huge mess, which was contained to the dining room because I had put plastic drop cloths over the doorways into the kitchen and living room. I was pretty impressed with myself until my husband looked in and all he said was, “You didn’t put down a drop cloth?” Men. That wasn’t even a question. Obviously I had not put down a drop cloth. Which was fine, because dragging a drop cloth loaded with four pounds of ceiling popcorn and dust through the rest of the house wasn’t going to work better than just cleaning up the mess where it was. I then cleaned up, and with a few touch-ups I think we are looking good. I’ve got a nice rustic look with some texture and some flat spots. Now it is time to start thinking about paint colors for the ceiling and the walls.
The point is that I’m moving forward on something I thought I needed help with and was a little afraid of. Self-doubt is a drain on energy, opportunity, fun and momentum. My mom says that when people used to say to my grandma that they didn’t think she could do something, she’d give them a bright and challenging look and say, “I bet I can.” I get messages from the world and my own brain all the time that say, “You can’t.” I have considered this carefully and I am positive that listening to this message has hurt me by limiting possibilities many, many more times than it has helped me avoid stupid endeavors. It is (way past) time to stop always being a good little girl and to look fate, the odds, my own warped fears or whoever is standing in my way straight in the eye and say, “I bet I can.”