Sponge vs. Knife

Addendum: I found the unpublished draft of this post in a folder on my laptop.  I wrote it in April and then squirreled it away to use in the not-too-distant future. Then, like many a squirrel, I forgot where I buried the nut (truthfully, I forgot I even had the nut at all).

Much has evolved since I first penned this, both in my personal life and the world at large. I publish it now, as it seems that a reminder to keep an open and expansive mindset might be welcome at this time.

I love our Long Island City apartment.

Part of that fondness is a result of the fact that my husband and I are the first people to live in the unit; brand new floors, new walls, new sinks, and new appliances. Everything is shiny and perfect. Well…almost.

When you move into a never-before-lived-in space you expect everything to be shiny and perfect, but this, my friends, is not the case.

After we moved in we started finding all sorts of screwy things that no one had had a chance to discover yet. Things like the hot and cold lines being reversed in the washer, cupboard handles not being fully screwed into place, and a kitchen faucet neck that doesn’t swivel.

Most of the foibles were an easy fix. Some of the imperfections, though, were a result of labor working quickly rather than carefully and not taking the time to clean up after completing the job.

Sloppy workmanship is the bane of my existence. One of the thorns that persistently pokes into my side is our guest bathroom.

The dark grey tiles on the guest bathroom floor are splattered with white paint. For 20 months I’ve scrubbed away at the floors trying to lift off the spots. After minimal success I grudgingly conceded that I would have to live with floors that looked perpetually dirty.

And then last week it finally occurred to me to try a different tactic.

Instead of a sponge I took an Exacto knife and scraped away at the floor. To my delight the blobs of paint popped up easily without damaging the tile. After 10 minutes of sweat equity the floor looks 90% better – why hadn’t I tried using a knife before?

Simple. I assumed that because I tried to approach the problem one way, and hadn’t been successful, that the problem must not be fixable.

As I marveled at how easy the fix was – and how long I had lived with the frustration – I started to ponder, where was I making assumptions in other aspects of my life (because we humans are so freakin’ predictable that way)? How were these assumptions influencing my daily navigation through my life and my art practice?

One of the assumptions I’ve carried around since I moved to the U.S.A. is that no gallery here will want to give me a solo show because of the issues surrounding my immigration status. Because of this assumption I haven’t pursued looking into venues in New York where I might apply for a solo show, or tried talking to a gallery director, or even consulted other immigration lawyers for second and third opinions.

There’s a chance I’m totally correct in my assumption.

But, then again, there may be solutions I haven’t found yet because I’ve admitted defeat too soon and given up looking for alternate answers. How many solutions have I missed because I’ve been using a sponge when I needed to be using a knife?


Are there aspects in your life where you’ve been trying to use the wrong tool? What assumptions are you making that cause you to limit yourself? Please share in the comments below.

4 Responses to “Sponge vs. Knife”

  1. Deborah says:

    Lovely, Jody! Also, I’m looking at the paint & mystery blobs on my bathroom tiles differently now…which I’ve assaulted with a variety of emollients on a variety of occasions, each time falling back in defeat. Now, where is my exacto knife?…

  2. Ruth says:

    what a lovely and insightful story … brings a glimpse of spring to a rather drizzling and dark November afternoon. Thanks Jody!