mains de secretaire

So, I’m sitting here and staring at my hands.

They aren’t very callus-y. (And, no, one is not more callus-y than the other. Perv.)

They are big. They look like hands. Just… soft.

I’m not sure how I feel about it.

I’m somewhat burly. I am! Well, I’m not completely without burl.

But, considering my relatives and ancestors, I would expect more calluses is all.

There are carpenters and builders all over my family. On both sides. My family tree has a tree house in it. And probably a bar.

My maternal grandmother’s family were all carpenters… and brawlers.

My maternal grandfather had some building skills as well.

My paternal grandmother’s family… well, I’m not entirely sure. They can certainly drink. And some can play the fiddle.

My paternal grandfather was amazing. He could build anything. He was a whiz with wood. And, when he was younger, he was in charge of testing the quality of concrete on huge building projects. He’d stop the cement trucks coming onto the job site, take a handful from the back, rub it between his fingers and either wave them in our turn them away. I can’t imagine that. I can’t even tell when food is cooked. When I cook boneless chicken breasts, I have to buy the exact same type, cook them for the same amount of time, at the same temperature every time. If that chicken company goes out of business, I’m gonna starve.

Or poison myself.

I have two uncles that are carpenters/contractors. My dad builds substations.

So, my family builds homes and controls electricity.

I can drive a nail.

I’ve done it on a few occasions. And it felt somewhat natural. Like it was in my DNA. But, waaay dormant.

A couple of summers ago, I worked on a deck with my Dad. It didn’t start off well…

Dad: Just put down the decking. Nail it here and here. Alternate on every other one to here and here. And that is it.

Me: Interesting… And this “decking” of which you speak?

Dad: It’s the wood, you. Wood!

Me: Would I what?

Dad: Would you feel it if I hit you with this hammer?

Fine, that conversation didn’t actually happen. I am just annoyed that this post isn’t funnier.

Moving on…

My father would make sure to talk to me every once in a while as we worked on a deck. He and I suffer from the same problem. Our minds wander if we are performing repetitive tasks.

For example, I started thinking about all the nails in the pouch of my carpenter’s apron. (Yes, I said “apron.” Again.) I was imagining them all living in their own little nail world. Going about their nail lives. Worrying about the return of their arch nemesis “Magnet Man” and trying to find a cure for oxidation.

Yes, this is how my brain works.

I thought I would jump start my inner builder one summer when I worked at one of those giant warehouse-style building supply stores. I learned quite a bit, actually. Though it had a bumpy patch or two.

One day I took a board back to the cut shop to have it, well, cut. The cut shop dude wasn’t there, so I decided to do it myself. I put it on the saw and was just reaching for the on switch when he came in and yelled for me to stop.

Him: Stop! You are going to cut your hand off?

Me: But, I didn’t even start yet.

Him: You just look like you don’t know what you are doing.

Me: Fair enough.

He was probably right. My mind was wandering to the cute girl who I had just sold a door too.

[I helped her pick it. I carried it to the check-out. I told the cashier to give her ten bucks off because of a little scratch. The cashier looked scared, but I told her she could just tell her manager that I said it was OK. (Ha!) And then I carried it out and put it in the back of the truck that the girl was driving. We chatted for a few minutes. Exchanged names. But, not numbers. I told her that anytime she came in for stuff that she should ask for me. She smiled and said she would. Then she thanked me and drove off… And then I remembered that it was my second last day of work.]

Part of my job at that store was to help people design their decks. There was a little kiosk, with a computer and deck design software. Despite it being pretty user friendly, and hard to screw up, I laughed every single time. These people were asking for me to help design large decks to go on their huge and expensive homes and all I could remember from 7th grade drafting class was people having sword fights with the t-squares.

I should mention that I’m not completely useless. I can put up shelves. Assemble crap from Ikea and the like. But, I think it would be amazing to be able to build something from scratch, you know?

Maybe my role is to build things with my words? To create worlds with my writing?

Yeeeeah, I didn’t buy that either.

I’m going to go wash my hands with a brillo pad.

17 thoughts on “mains de secretaire

  1. I think your dad and my dad are the same man!

    Just kidding.

    I do know what you mean though (and there’s nothing wrong with words!). I’m pretty sure words last longer than even the most reinforced concrete and decks combined!!

  2. miriam: On the plus side, I did inherit the sarcastic bastardness. I would have been bummed if that one had skipped me.

    sharnee: Even if I am writing things about episodes of “The Hills?”

  3. I’m surprised you didn’t take the obvious future wife angle on this one – you’ll meet when she designs and/or builds a deck for you (or a family member), and she’ll agree to a date despite being creeped out that you were transfixed by her hands as she worked.

    Just try building something. It will be crap, but you’ll learn, and the next thing you build will be less crap. That’s how I built a fence, finished a basement, laid a laminate floor, built a deck, and am working up towards doing a built-in cabinet with integral window seat. (I may be in over my head on that last one.)

  4. mr. ska: I probably COULD do some of those things. But, with easy access to people with actual skills, and a general lack of patience, it never seems like a good idea.

    queenbee: Thanks! You know, for liking my tag more than the post that I spent HOURS pouring over, trying to get it just right for you people. (No, not really.)

  5. Awwww so sad! I can’t build anything either though and do not understand how people are able to. Oh well, I’m sure you’re good at other things…right?? Hehe.

    And you totally talk about aprons alll the time. AND when I was on the Victoria’s Secret website last night, I saw a little apron outfit thing that you would LOVE. hahaha. don’t get too excited…

  6. susie: I am not without my skills. As for the apron… I don’t have favourites here at That would be mean. But, if I did… You… WAY up the list. I’m just sayin’…

  7. “or example, I started thinking about all the nails in the pouch of my carpenter’s apron. (Yes, I said “apron.” Again.) I was imagining them all living in their own little nail world. Going about their nail lives. Worrying about the return of their arch nemesis “Magnet Man” and trying to find a cure for oxidation.”

    …and this is why i come back to read your ramblings. every. day. you wordbuilder, you.

  8. But, I think it would be amazing to be able to build something from scratch, you know? I think Lindsey Lohen said this in that movie Mean Girls

  9. Calluses aren’t as great as you might imagine. The joy of being able to build something from nothing is, however, greater than you can imagine. Sarcasm aside though, when you create something from words it’s the same thing. When I build a shelf or a box it’s like a simple blogpost. Not real hard. Not real complicated. Minimal satisfaction. It’s mostly just a form of expression and a way to stay in practice.

    When I build a cabinet or dresser or something big it’s like writing a short story. I feel the same sense of satisfaction in knowing I created something that was in my brain, and worked out the potential problems or details ahead of time, or along the way.

    Either way, when you’re done you can enjoy the finished piece whether it’s furniture or a deck or a story. It’s okay to be proud of a good piece of work.

    Plus, ladies frequently dislike the feel of callouses on their skin – so there’s that to consider.

  10. you had me at: They aren’t very callus-y. (And, no, one is not more callus-y than the other. Perv.) had me laughing, that is.

    and that’s a weird thing for a girl to say. but tis true. maybe because my latest post makes a reference to my boobs in the second line. and i promise that’s not a shameless plug for my post.

    so, now i’m in love with your sense of humor. just fyi.


    and i’m not one to just throw that word around.

    (this is when i could make a joke about how i still haven’t told my boyfriend who i now live with that i l-word him or i could use the term in a very superifical way and say “i love saved by the bell reruns!” but then i’d get sidetracked talking about why, saved by the bell, is deserving of real, genuine love.)

    your blog is awesome. can’t wait to read more!

  11. blogging barbie: If you keep visiting, I’ll keep rambling. (As if I could stop it even if I tried.)

    nycponderings chick: I’ve seen that movie 3 times and don’t remember that!

    twobuyfour: You raise a valid point about the ladies. Plus, if I had calluses, maybe female skin wouldn’t feel as good to my hands. Eeeeeeep.

    skinny: Apparently not. I’m pretty handy at finding someone else to do the handy work for me though.

    mindy: I bet you have your own personal wing.

    damsel: Hi again! And thanks so much for the kind words. Too infrequently do I get a comment that mentions both boobs and Saved By the Bell.

  12. Blog hopping and I found this page. Enjoyed this post, and I think its quite a feat to be able to put up a shelf. I tried it once. The wall didn’t take.

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