rock n raise set

Rocky Start for Rock N’ Raise

My nose dripped snot as I pounded nails into a wooden frame. My spine ached from hunching and my fingers felt splintered. I was tired, cold, and hadn’t eaten a thing in hours, except for my words. “Just hand me a hammer and nails and I’ll make it happen,” I assured those who heard about the set design idea. 

Everybody expressed severe doubt when I explained what we were trying to build: wooden frames to resemble the shape of a doorway. I somehow needed to construct six of them. Even the male employees at Home Depot questioned us. It was as if women’s brains fell out of their heads as soon as they step foot into a home improvement store.

It was not that we didn’t need help. We just didn’t want any help. We wanted these sets to be amazing. Amazing and built by us. My producers and I headed toward the lumber section unaccompanied. We strutted past scattered men in bright orange vests and tool belts who looked at us with perplexed faces. The men were like lions ready to pounce at the sight of us, as if we were a feeble group of antelope. We snubbed their offer to assist and quickly found ourselves in aisle ten. 

We stared at the wall lined with two-by-fours pretending like we knew exactly what we were looking for. There was a man down the same aisle standing a few feet away from us. We resisted the urge to ask him if he knew what premium standard lumber meant. So we picked the cheapest one and grabbed nine of them.

Then we maneuvered our way to tools and hardware. We were faced with an entire aisle of metal. We needed to find nails that were large enough to withstand layers of strung yarn, but small enough not to split the wood. Unfortunately, we didn’t know a single thing about what we had already bought. So we caved and asked one of the men with an orange vest.

We waved over one of the guys standing at the register with no line. He wasn’t doing anything important. His name was Jon.

Jon walked over with a goofy smile and over one dozen customer service pins on his belt.

“So we’re trying to build frames, hammer nails around each frame, and string yarn back and forth to each end,” I explained. He placed his hands on his hips. “What is this for anyway?” he said looking confused. Here we go with the questions, I thought. “We’re building a set. A studio set.”

“Well alright. Why don’t you try these?” he said as he picked up a small box of 1inch steel sinker nails for $2.74. I grabbed the box from his hands and examined the nails inside. But before I could say anything, he was already handing me three other small boxes, each with different size nails inside. I began to feel overwhelmed. So I waited until he turned his back once more and decided to make a run for it.

We turned heads the rest of the afternoon collecting the necessary supplies for our project. By the time we checked out at the register, we felt a sense of relief, especially when Jon called across the store to wish us good luck and to offer his services for the hundredth time. This explains those customer service pins.

After all was said and done, our fingers were bruised and bloody but we had nailed frames. It didn’t matter what materials were used, it just mattered that the pieces were assembled. It was time to string yarn.

I began by tying one end of a string of yarn to the corner of the frame and triple knotting it. The last thing I wanted was the yarn to unravel. After securing the corner, I passed the ball of yarn to my fellow producer who sat directly opposite of me on the other end of the frame. The point was to string the yarn around two nails and pass it back and forth, creating an optical illusion effect. Staring at the pattern made me feel light-headed and like I had just lost my mind in a fun house or something. Each frame took just about an eternity to complete. But we couldn’t wait to see the end result.

The next day we strapped the frames to the roof of my car and drove to campus. I think the police might have been after us for endangering other drivers on the road but we didn’t stop. When we reached campus, we hauled the set pieces into the television studio and rigged them up to stirrups on the end of 15 foot poles. We clamped the frames to the aluminum contraption that hung from the ceiling and ran to the storage closet. 

Rummaging through the cables, speakers, and other electrical junk, I finally found the LED light strips. I stopped for a moment and held them up in the air like Rafiki held Simba in The Lion King. I plugged the strips into the nearest outlet and pointed magenta light up towards the wooden yarn structure. I nearly cried of happiness.

The lit piece looked like something you’d see on set at the Grammy’s. While I stared in awe at the amazing set piece we built, I heard something hit the ground. It sounded like a small screw. Before I could figure out what it was, my entire creation collapsed.

PHOTO TAKEN by Olivia Caruso