It’s daunting, tackling this build. It’s brought up a mountain of uncertainty and a whole avalanche of clowns in my head.
And it’s only the first day of the build.
I started with cutting down the long pieces of wood I got for free on Craigslist. It’s enough to frame out the entire trailer. Along with that, a store that I frequent and teach at, Geeky Teas and Games in Burbank, was getting rid of a small stage in their store and it’s exactly the amount of plywood I need to build the platform to sit on top of the utility trailer. I got all of that as well.
My friend, Barry, who I think of as my “build consultant”, let me use his circular saw and also broke down the stage so I could bring it home. My friend, Patty, lent me her truck so I could haul everything home.
All of that is great.
I’ve built a ton of sets during my thirty years as a theater director. I have wielded my fair share of power tools and am unafraid of using a drill. I know you measure twice, cut once. I did all of that – laid out all the wood, double-checked my diagram, asked Barry a few questions, then sat down to cut the wood.
Picking up the circular saw, I suddenly was overwhelmed with uncertainty.
What the hell was I doing? Building a stupid trailer to drive across the stupid country because … why? And building it yourself? What the fuck are you thinking? You can’t do that. You can barely hold your life together, you really think doing this is going to help? Go inside, grab Barry and make him do all of this. After all, he’s done it a lot and knows what he’s doing. You don’t. Stop. Just stop now before you make a fool of yourself.
Yeah, the clowns in my head were really loud.
I know this is what makes us fail. We hear all the reasons why we shouldn’t do something and we accept them. We let ourselves give into fear over something new and daunting. We back away from anything that might lead to failure because we don’t want to fail. We don’t want to be embarrassed if we try something huge and don’t succeed.
I sat on the ground, staring at the wood, letting the clowns run wild. I have learned that if I try to shut them up, the clowns get louder. So I let them stamp their feet, cry, wave their little clown hands in the air, rant and rave.
Then I picked up the circular saw.
Okay, so my cuts aren’t perfect. I struggled to hold the saw and the metal guide Barry had given me to use at the same time. I dropped things. At one point, I went in to ask Barry about the way I had planned the platform and he pointed out a better way I could do it. Luckily, it was about halfway through so I hadn’t cut everything yet. It was difficult and I felt stupid because it was difficult. But I’m not used to using a circular saw for an extended period of time. And, yes, I’m not in the best of shape.
I hauled everything home, struggled to get the heavy plywood out of the truck and on to the ground. I dropped multiple things on the big toe of my left foot. I piled up all the wood in some sort of organized manner so I wouldn’t confuse the cut wood with the scrap wood.
Then I took a nap. Well, put my feet up and closed my eyes for a bit.
I went back down and tried to start building the platform. It seemed simple – put the ends of two planks together and screw them together.
This is where my inexperience at doing something alone came in.
My drill didn’t seem strong enough to do the job. I struggled for a while, then finally stopped. I felt like I was giving up, but then realized I just needed some help figuring out the best way to do this. Most of the builds I’ve done have been with a dozen people around, so if something didn’t work, there were others around to ask.
I talked with David, the male half of the couple I live with (they’re a wonderful couple and I don’t know what I would do without David and Colleen). He pointed out that I had the drill on the wrong setting and then explained to me how to pre-drill holes to make things easier.
I went to bed, feeling ready to tackle things in the morning.
After the clowns quieted down, I began to understand that what I need to take away from today is that I know what I’m doing, I just need to ask for help when I need it. The people around me – Barry, Patty, David, Colleen – all trust that I know what I’m doing. Not a single one of them has made me question that I can do this. They know I can.
Now I just need to know I can.
Here’s a video of the build itself.