“Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situation.” – Edward R. Murrow
I have lived in my house for 164 days and in that time I have done the following things:
- Unpacked 3 boxes
- Created a pile of “tool-like things” in the corner of my kitchen and then left it there
- Started a lint bin for my dryer lint that I have yet to empty
- Got my arm stuck behind the couch and then freaked the hell out
- Got super depressed over the emotional and physical well-being of my birdies
- Lost my ever-lovin’ shit when The Cat started peeing on the basement wall
- Almost (but not really) burned myself to a crisp when the breaker decided to melt
- Froze my tookus off from countless drafts and faulty windows
- Wondered why my heat pump sucks so much and blows so little
- Shoveled a metric ton of snow
- Planned innumerable home improvement projects
- Started zero home improvement projects
- And instead borrowed a friend’s PS3 and played 74 hours of my favorite game, Fallout: New Vegas
I will cut myself a little slack on the non-improvement status of my home improvement projects by saying that several of those projects require professional help. Like replacing my windows. I need a certified window-replacer to do that, even though my father insists that it’s super easy and we can bust it out in over three beers and under an hour.
My other major project is replacing the flooring. Right now there is this horrible low quality carpeting that mats down when you walk on it and perfectly hides bird poop. One might think that hiding bird poop is a good thing when one owns birds who like to poop on the floor, but I am here to assure you that IT IS NOT. There is nothing worse than stepping barefoot in a warm puddle of poo that camouflaged expertly into the mottled browns of the carpet.
I want to replace the floors, but there are other things I need to do first because those things will affect where the floor is laid. For example, I eventually want to replace the vanity in the main floor bathroom with one that has legs (not the traditional cabinet style), which means that the new flooring will have to extend beneath it. Therefore, I must first remove the existing vanity so that I can lay the floor and then put the new vanity on top of it.
Similarly, I want to figure out WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING WITH MY STAIRS, and I believe that will affect the flooring as well.
My stairs. They have… something weird going on with them. There are the stairs, and then running up the right side of the stair (where the banister should be) is a 6″ board that my nephews like to slide down, and then next to that is a knee wall. I don’t understand the purpose of the 6″ board and in fact believe that it serves no purpose at all and therefore I want to get rid of it.
Only that presents a problem with the knee wall.
Okay, knock down the knee wall. I want to put in traditional banisters anyway.
Only the knee wall meets up with a regular wall and that regular wall extends up the stairwell to the ceiling. If I knock down the wall and put in a banister, I’m going to have a weird sticky-out piece of wall and ceiling where the stairs turn at the landing. Um… Ooooooookay. I could, um, build out the existing second floor wall so that it meets the new banister line so that there aren’t weird sticky-out pieces, but something about that doesn’t look right in my head.
This is suspiciously looking like math and physics and I do not like either of those things.
The more I contemplate this problem of banister-wall-ceiling-WTF, the more confused I get. I can’t get the pieces to line up and it’s boggling the hell out of my brain. I want to call in some sort of construction expert to tell me what to do, but my self-respect insists that I can do this on my own if I just sketch it out. Or spend more than 20 seconds at a time thinking about it.
Still, it’s annoying. A lot like the game Flux that Mr. Mystery used to try and make me play, a game in which the rules would change just as you achieved a winning hand. Just when I think I have this stair-wall-banister thing figured out, everything goes floopy and I find that the Milk and Cookies card isn’t going to end the insanity and make everything line up the way I want.
If you’re confused by that last sentence, then welcome. You’re my kind of non-Flux-playing people. And if you’re not confused? I hate you and your never-ending card game.
I also hate math and physics and my stupid stairwell and its stupid 6″ board of no purpose.
“By blood a king, in heart a clown.” – Alfred, Lord Tennyson
I AM: SEEING the most terrifying clown head in a local thrift shop
“By persisting in your path, though you forfeit the little, you gain the great.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I AM: SEEING an unexpected path, found on an unexpected trip
“Electricity is really just organized lightening.” – George Carlin
Living alone makes you acutely aware of the world around you and the things in it that can kill you. (Or maybe that’s just me.) Now that I have my own place, I often envision the multitude of ways my house could bump me off. (Again, could just be me.) I think up ways in which my own stupidity works against the house and I suffer as a result, like getting my arm stuck behind the couch, falling down the stairs, or slipping in the bathtub. Not really the house’s fault; it’s just the tool in which I bring about my own demise.
Knowing that, never did I dream that my end would come from the house itself and in the form of fire.
Having said that, you’re probably worried that I died in a house fire and am now blogging posthumously. Be not worried, my kind readers, for I am alive. And the fire didn’t actually happen. But I’ll get to that part in a moment. For now, be ye on pins and needles for this a terrifying tale of not-dying in a not-fire.
Somewhat anticlimactic, that.
Electricity is one of those things that I refuse to touch. I like having light, heat, and television so I applaud Edison and thank all those people who tend wires and install switches and make my life brighter and easier. But that’s as far as my interaction goes. I don’t want to touch wires, see wires, or even think about them much. To me, any wire could be a live wire, regardless of whether it’s appropriately covered and completely intact.
I see a wire, I am wary of it.
So imagine my dismay when one evening I came home to an odd smell. It was the smell of technology and something chemical, and I knew in my gut that it wasn’t good. I sniffed my way to the source of the smell: the creepy metal breaker box in my basement.
Crap. The breaker is the culmination of ALL THE WIRES in the house. It is the place where electrical lightening would strike me dead, if it were to happen.
I stared at the box. I sniffed the box. I listened to the box. I even went so far as to touch the box. I learned that the box smelled. It was buzzing loudly. And it was HOT.
Smelly, loud, and hot meant bad things. I didn’t need my father or my neighbor – both of whom I called upon for help – to tell me that. (Though that’s exactly what they both told me.) When touching the switches elicited flickering lights and louder buzzing, I not-so-calmly flipped off all of the breakers and then blinked in the sudden silence.
I spent that night in utter blackness and quiet, holding onto The Cat in an effort to keep us both warm. (No power meant no heat, and P.S. this was during the Polar Vortex of Cold-Ass Hell.) The next morning my emergency electricians came out and looked at the box, forever hereafter referred to as “The Box.”
They both let out low whistles. One even said, “Oh goodness.”
This is what they found:
They told me that I had essentially saved my life by flipping off the breaker, because what I was smelling, hearing, and feeling was THE APPROACH OF DEATH by way of an electrical fire. Aka: junked up wiring was searing through the breakers like a hot knife through butter. Things were a-burnin’.
Those wonderful electricians replaced my breaker and all of the bits within in, so now I have a non-smelling, non-noise-making, non-hot, and non-going-to-kill-me breaker in my cold, cold basement. God bless you, electricity men.
Sometimes, despite my fear of wires, I go to the new box and pet it lovingly, just because I know it won’t try and kill me in my sleep. And for me? That’s kind of important. I have those stairs and slippery tub to watch out for.
“My evil genius Procrastination has whispered me to tarry ’til a more convenient season.” – Mary Todd Lincoln
Here’s the thing: I’ve learned that there are many tasks that, if left long enough, resolve themselves or become obsolete, thus rendering them irrelevant. This sometimes happens at work with projects that are presented with zeal but then peter out with time and consideration. Projects like, “Let’s build a scratch-and-sniff website!”* I know these projects, given a moment’s thought about their relevancy and plausibility, will be put aside for other more feasible things.
As you can imagine, this truth has only fed my tendency towards procrastination.
Every so often, though, one of the things that I have been putting off and putting off and putting off some more rears its ugly head and bites me in the ass. Like balancing my checkbook, filing my taxes, and finishing college.
Ah, college. How I hate you so. You have been dogging my steps for more than a third of my life, taunting me with your stupid degree and the promise of a better future, all the while taking my time and money. You, dear sir, are not my friend.
Early in my career, my lack of a degree caused me an inordinate amount of distress. I felt inferior to the people around me, and avoided networking events where people would ask – as they always seem to do in this area – where I had gone to school and what I had majored in. Sure, I had been to a “real” college – a very large out-of-state university – and had even made Dean’s List while there. But then I came home and started community college, having determined that the $30K I had just spent for a year of sleepless nights, a degrading work-study job, and a year’s worth of Milwaukee’s Best wasn’t worth it.
And thus began my plodding college career.
I have always been smart – I don’t say that to brag, but to explain my poor performance in school – and I found my studies to be tedious instead of interesting. I was studying something that I was innately good at, but didn’t love. My studies centered around work I was already doing in life, so it would be assumed that there would be crossover. One would even say good crossover, but when I had to sit in a classroom from 7pm to 10pm learning how to write a press release when I had spent the previous hours of 8am to 6pm already writing numerous press releases – ones that would actually be released to the press – that crossover became the kerosene to my simmering annoyance.
After three semesters of community college, I was aflame with aggravation.
I trudged along in this way for years – YEARS – until I one day realized that my undergraduate degree wasn’t going to advance my career. I had already advanced and those final 6 credits wouldn’t teach me something I didn’t know or increase my salary. So I unofficially quit. As in just stopped going to school and I just stopped thinking about it.
And yes, I said 6 credits. As in two classes until graduation. When I do something idiotic, I like to do it big.
The total dumbness of that decision has been rolling around my noggin for the past few months, for reasons I won’t go into. Tired of thinking about it, I decided to just go and take those last two classes. Be done with it. Have it done with. Be all around done. Just. DONE.
Only I couldn’t.
Because it had been more than two years since I had last attended, so I have to REAPPLY.
Which means that I will be at the mercy of the NEW DEGREE REQUIREMENTS.
Which means that my final 6 credits may stretch to eternity and I could feasibly be in school for another decade.
Procrastination, you evil genius, you tarried until a most inconvenient season and now I will have to hurt you.
*I have never been asked to build a scratch-and-sniff website. It’s an impossible technology, but wouldn’t it be AWESOME?! I would spend whole days with my nose pressed to the monitor, smelling new cars, Twinkies, and all of the little gems on Candy Crush.
I AM: LEARNING that when you have only 6 credits left in your degree, YOU SHOULD JUST FREAKIN’ TAKE THEM.