The Mother of Intervention

Yesterday, I said to my sister Laura, “I don’t believe in hell, but if I’m wrong, I’ll be removing wallpaper there.”

I’ve spent the last four days working on her condo, stripping the walls of dark green and brown. She and her partner Erma are moving three buildings down from my place. I’m in charge of wallpaper eradication. Laura’s the painter. Erma’s in Kentucky, sorting through a lifetime of accumulation, giving stuff away, and packing what they’ll need.

While spraying and scraping, I did my usual tangential wanderings/wonderings. How many coats of paint would one have to apply to reduce significantly the space within the room?

“You’re deep,” Laura said, when I posed the question. I think she’s grumpy.

I should be.

I found the seams in the dining room’s border and pulled the offending decoration off and away easily. The identical border in the living room was a bitch. Even worse was the entrance foyer. Beneath the paper was glue, a thick membrane of skin.

Difficult situations are supposed to inspire creative solutions. Nothing ingenious occurred to me. I had a spray bottle, a scraping tool, and something to protect the floor but nothing abracadabra to get rid of that dermis, hanging like confounding chad all over the surface.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Laura handed me a gadget (made in New Zealand) that fits in the palm. You run it over the paper, up and down, round and round, to score and allow more water to penetrate. Great device.

Life presents hurdles, but someone generally unravels the predicament to suit his or her requirements.

For example:

Nuclear power plants throughout the country are leaking radiation into our water supply and, magically, an authority announces a new and lower standard for drinking water. Done.

According to a report prepared by Russia’s Federal Atomic Energy Agency, the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant in Nebraska suffered “a catastrophic loss of cooling” on June 7 when the Missouri River flooded the area. Obama ordered a “news blackout”. Done.

Wildfires are raging in Arizona and Sen. John McCain identified the culprits?”illegal immigrants”. Done.

War is expanded to Libya and Obama agrees with lawyers who conclude that military action in the country doesn’t amount to hostilities?that our bombing is humanitarian. Done. Reminds me of Operation New Dawn, the name of the war that’s officially over in Iraq where thousands of troops remain in “support roles”, still killing. And dying. Done.

Money is flowing to Wall Street?through print, print, print. But Obama said this gem in January of 2011: “We want an economy fueled by what we invent and what we build. We’re going back to Thomas Edison’s principles. We’re going to build stuff and invent stuff.” I’m sure we have. No improvement to infrastructure or job creation but plenty of sophisticated weaponry. Done.

Advanced propagandizing is a prerequisite for elected officialdom. The repackaging amounts to language-ing for perception alteration. Languishing is the result.

Seems necessity is not just the mother of invention. Necessity, also, is the mother of intervention. And this country’s “leadership” is the mother of all interveners.

Missy Beattie is exhausted in Baltimore. Commiserate with her at missybeat@gmail.com.



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Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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