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“Martha Stewart Is a Pain in the Ass”

(Photo: “I’m not a sponge exactly, but I find that something I look at is a great opportunity for ideas.” – M. Stewart. Credit: Looper.)

The title, words to live by from Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, decorator extraordinaire and founder of the wildly popular Apartment Therapy blogs. I heard those words on Thursday night, when Maxwell was in Hogtown to celebrate AT’s Fall Colors Contest at an invitation-only reception hosted by CB2 on North Avenue.

Mind you, my level of coolness is nowhere near that required to get invited to such an event. But my boyfriend’s is. The reputation for talent of Devyn’s Looper photoblog tends to precede him in the local blogosphere, and I–as you might imagine–am more than happy to follow along on the big D’s coattails. Especially to any event where wine and stuffed potato skins might be involved.

Besides, we both are big (as in huge) fans of the local Apartment Therapy blog, AT: Chicago, and I really wanted to get to meet co-editors Heather and Janel.

However, I fretted greatly over the inspiration Devyn was likely to draw from the event. See, Devyn is not first a photoblogger. He’s a classically self-tortured artist, finding each day more ways to let out the creativity that’s in his head than most people have ideas in a week. Primary among those ways: maintaining a keen sense of personal style.

Especially at home. The home where a five-foot tall, fully stocked rolling toolchest in the bedroom takes the place of a chest of drawers. Where drywall and light fixtures, paint and floor padding all were applied by a single pair of hands. Where many a weekend’s consternation arises from the question, “Oh crap! Did I lend out my conduit bender again?”

Conceiving of life with Devyn without the threat of an impending home makeover hanging pregnant in the air would be like trying in your mind to disassociate David Hasselhoff from plastic surgery. A mad and impossible task.

So you can imagine my anxiety when Maxwell began to speak for half an hour on the need to stay true to your heart when choosing the appropriate colors for your home. Dammit, Maxwell, didn’t know Devyn was right there, 15-feet away, listening intently? Couldn’t you see that enraptured look on his face? How could you not feel him hanging on your every word? Fie on you, oh evil God of decorating smarts.

Earlier in the evening, I could already sense where Devyn’s mind was heading. Hanging out with Janel and her hubby, Allard, Devyn went into his dance about his latest decorating challenge: painting his admittedly in-need-of-it masonry walls white. It did not help matters when, remembering him from a previous AT event, Maxwell walked right up to Devyn and asked him how he’d been.

Oh, glory.

I tried to buy some time by downplaying both my boyfriend’s efforts and my general puppy-dog demeanor whenever I’m around him. “It’s so white–I loved the old brick and now it’s just so white,” I complained, hoping to head Devyn off at the decorating pass, and finding some evidence of success as Allard agreed with me about the inherent moral turpitude of off-red masonry.

But Janel wasn’t having it. “Mike, I’ve read the stories, I know how you met. You’re living your life in public.” Between the lines: so get over it, you giddy, limerant fool, you’re his and you know it, lock, stock, and dropcloth.

Don’t I. But a blog entry here and there about an 18-month romance can’t help but miss a few details. Bumps along the road to forever after. The missed messages. The crossed communications. The unintended malaprops that add to the by turns joyful and confusing process of learning about your loved one.

The fear that, try valiantly as you might to learn how to read each other, someday you’ll end up in spite of yourselves at what turns out to have been the long foregone conclusion that you simply suck at it. Show me a blog that opines on that for 18 months and I’ll show you one brave blogger. Braver than Devyn and I.

But not possibly more in love. And that’s been perhaps the most important lesson of the past year and a half: learning the words of love. To figure them out. Decipher them. Sometimes feeling like you’d need to be a United Nations interpreter to truly make any sense out of each other’s calls to passion.

In this regard, coming to accept the full person with whom you’re smitten is of great assistance. Sometimes, just sometimes, words of passion are fungible across different realms. I realized this with clarion certainty when, as we exited CB2 on Thursday evening, Devyn leaned into me and asked:

“Wanna help me paint this weekend?”

Honey, I’m all yours.

Categories: Love

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Mike Doyle

I’m an #OpenlyAutistic gay, Hispanic, urbanist, Disney World fan, New York native, politically independent, Jewish blogger in Chicago. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I write words and raise money for nonprofits. I’ve written this blog since 2005. And counting...

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