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Hulk Smash!

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My husband is not handy.

When it comes to building, hammering and sawing, I am a one-woman band. (Did anyone else just get the mental image of a bear wearing a tutu with a crosscut saw in one hand and a violin bow in the other? No? Just me? Moving on.) And when I get into builder mode, I’m a beast. I could take on Ty Pennington and Bob the Builder with one power drill. There is no one faster. No one handier. No one more driven. No one more … accident-prone.

I guess I should clarify my previous statement. I’m a “beast” in the way Hulk would be if every time he yelled “Hulk smash!” he were referring to his own toe — and if his Hulky green color came not from some weird gamma ray explosion but from nausea while coping with the pain of said smashed toe. When I’m building, I rarely think with my brain; I think with my stress level. And thus, injury becomes a necessary evil to getting stuff done.

This became particularly apparent in the past week. We just arrived in our new home, shipping only my son’s Jeep bed, two coffee tables and a lounge chair. The rest of the furniture was to be bought new.

I hate living in transition; existing in the unsettled is very unsettling. A life in boxes is no life for me, so when a project package arrives, I tend to meet the FedEx driver, screwdriver and mallet in hand. But this time, I didn’t have the opportunity to unintentionally terrify the local deliveryman by wielding a weapon while waving hello. Rather, because of tireless preplanning, the furniture beat us home. We arrived to find a mountain of packages on the front step, wet from the day’s rain and begging to be assembled. With so much unsettled and so much to build, beast mode emerged. Fast and furious.

And painful.

There was no room I was more eager to establish than what I have affectionately coined the Wild Writer Room. Our new digs, on a lake and backing woods full of hiking trails, were purchased in part to allow me to chase a longtime dream of hosting a nature-based writers retreat. We will break story around a campfire, breathe life into our characters on the trails and push through plot holes as we paddle on the pond. The Wild Writer Room, where my writers will stay, has to be perfect. For this room, the furniture had to be real, the lights bright, the ambiance calming and creative. And the desk — oh, the desk — had to be inspired.

I obsessed over the perfect desk, considering well over 100 before landing on one that screamed “Oscar-winning screenplay and New York Times best-selling novel written here!” It was beautiful. It was unique. It was … heavy. Crazy heavy. It took two professional movers and my husband to carry the unassembled desk box upstairs. So why, why did I think I could build this desk by myself? Beast mode. That’s why.

While in the process of doing no more than simply pulling desk pieces out of the box, I dropped one on my big toe. The impact ripped off my toenail.

Hulk. Smash.

Katiedid. Green.

The ER doctor stitched my toenail back on and, after looking at my broken toe on the X-ray image, commented that he would have advised me on how to care for my broken bone but could tell from the photo that I’d suffered so many broken toes before he was sure I’d have found the lecture old hat. I was to relax, keep my feet up and let the wound heal.

Adorable.

The next day, I was hobbling around as I built the bookshelves and bedframes. I drove to and fro, purchasing the must-haves for my home and future writers retreat. The day before I was supposed to return to the hospital to get the stitches removed, I stubbed my toe on the writing desk box and popped off my nail again.

Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” It seems the same can be said for sitting down at a writing desk — especially an unassembled one.

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