If there is anything I’m tired of hearing myself say, it’s “Sorry I haven’t called/texted/remembered your birthday/been a decent friend, I’ve just been really busy.” Which is unfortunate, since it has become my personal mantra the last few months. I find myself constantly looking forward to “next week” like a beacon of hope, as though all I need to do is get through to the next few days and then I’ll have time to get organized/make a meal plan/return phone calls/write blog posts/look like I have my shit together. I have been waiting on this magical “next week” is since last fall, and it has stood me up like a bad date.
This video may have come at the perfect time, and made me realize that instead of resisting the constant, unending flow of life, perhaps it’s time I started to embrace it. I may never be the person who keeps her kitchen spotlessly clean at all times, or has all her meals planned out weeks in advance with a corresponding grocery list, and I am almost certainly going to be late with a few more birthday gifts. But maybe it’s in the pursuit of this unattainable goals that I can find my best self, even if it is less than perfect. And that may be just fine after all.
Living in a house that is constantly under some form of renovation has provided me an all new set of anxieties when company comes to visit. In a normal, fully furnished, painted and plastered home, the pre-company To Do List is fairly short:
1) Vacuum carpet
2) Put clean sheets on guest bed
3) Buy milk
When people come to visit your home that is being remodeled, there are a few additions to this list:
1) Go into rooms you haven’t looked at in 4 months and desperately try to air out the musty smell.
2) Decide if you’re going to organize that pile of junk sitting in the living room, or simply close the door and tell guests it’s only a linen closet.
3) Paint a room. Any room. Just do something that makes it look like you’ve been doing work and haven’t become entirely complacent.
There is also an unique phenomenon that happens with 100% of house guests that are visiting a home being remodeled: they feel it is their right, no, their duty, to tell you exactly what should be changed in every single room. Think about it, when was the last time you went to a friend’s house and proceeded to list off everything you would change about their furniture, flooring, decor, etc? At least, when was the last time you did this and weren’t immediately escorted off the property? Chase and I, on the other hand, live in a world where before a guest has even put both feet inside the threshold, they have begun listing off their likes and dislikes. AND – we simply accept this.
To be fair, many of our guests’ suggestions have been instrumental in some of our bigger renovating decisions, and most have lifted a hammer or paintbrush while staying with us, so I suppose that enduring some opinions for a few minutes is worth the free labor. But I do fantasize about one day reaching a point in our re-decorating that I can hang a friendly sign outside the door reminding anyone who steps through, “No unsolicited opinions necessary. Please and thank you.”
My friends got together and sent me this plant when my mother passed away. It is perhaps the most beautiful piece of foliage that has ever been given to me, and I am consumed with fear of killing it. Because really, I should not be trusted with plants. My mother was an extraordinary green thumb, but that is not a trait she passed to me. The annoying habit of mouthing my words when I’m lost in thought? Yeah, I got that one, but plants wither at the mere sight of me.
When this first arrived, I thought it was absolutely lovely and then proceeded to not water it or put it in sunlight for about 2 weeks. Because grieving or not, I just don’t ever think about those kinds of things, until the leaves turn a frightening shade of yellow. So, I dumped water on the plant and set it on my deck hoping and praying it will be healed by the sun. At least this way if it dies, I can just blame it on Mother Nature instead. I mean, she can be kind of a bitch.
In addition to dealing with the aftermath of losing my mother and trying to catch up on work, I spent the last couple of weeks fending off an itchy rash that managed to be more distracting than anything else combined. See, I got poison ivy while weeding my garden in shorts and a tank top, and while the excuse of, “I’m grieving,” has been getting me a lot of perks and out of a lot of social requirements, poisin ivy was the first thing to basically say, “f*ck you and your grief, I’m still gonna give you a rash.” Leave it to those oily green leaves to teach me that yes, you can be grieving, but you still need to act like a normal human being and make wise decisions. Poison ivy doesn’t give a shit about your personal problems, so put some damn pants on.
Side note – the other day I actually texted Chase that I wish someone would take away my period cramps and poison ivy rash. Now really, don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?
Well, the little red demon bumps on my arms and legs have finally started to retreat, which means I can concentrate on other things in my life, like answering emails, mopping my floors or willfully ignoring all those thank-you cards that I should be writing. I desperately need to get back into my kitchen and work on new recipes, since I know that Chase is tired of eating grilled cheese and omelets 3 meals a day, and I’ve got some renovation updates to share here.
When we first moved into this house, our days were filled with constant discussion of all the changes we were envisioning. We walked through each room and commented on what colors we would paint, where we would replace carpet with hardwood, if they would become offices or bedrooms, etc. After a few months of living through the hard work and stress that such transformations take, those discussions have tapered off. I’ve realized that the only way we’re making it out of this intact is to focus on one project at a time. Now we don’t mention installing blinds unless the sun is actually in our eyes. Anything that isn’t an immediate concern is tuned out completely.
I had envisioned myself posting lots of cute tutorials on home improvement, documenting all the work that Chase and I were putting into the house and sharing our knowledge. You know, like this couple. I have learned that there are some people that can take on home improvement projects and make them seem easy, even fun. We are not that couple. The truth is that we daily feel like we’re just keeping our heads above water, and the thought of trying to take artful photos seems completely out of reach, as does writing an intelligent post on our thought process. After a week of stress and arguments, the last thing I want to do is re-live how many Youtube videos and conflicting opinions we consulted on how to stain our concrete floor before I finally just told Chase that I would do whatever he felt was best and tried to take my hands off it.
Remodeling has created a cyclical pattern in our relationship. We begin by looking ahead to the next project and excitedly talk about how great it will look. We are naively optimistic on the amount of work and money our vision will require. When it comes time to make choices we begin to bicker and try to force the final decision on each other since neither of us wants to be the one taking blame if something goes wrong, or if our money is wasted. It’s exhausting, not just physically but emotionally.
At some point…we hit a breakthrough. Whether it’s because things actually start to work out the way we hoped, or because we finally accept that it doesn’t matter whether or not that paint color is the exact shade we envisioned, there is always a moment of relief when we let out the breath we realize we’ve been holding the entire time. And we remember that together we’re building a home, our home, a forever place, and it really is going to be amazing.
If I was a more poetic writer I would make an artful comparison of the sharp knives next to the soft flowers. Maybe I would compare them to the difficulties we’ve faced in this move and the joys it has brought us. But I am not one of those writers. Instead, I’m going to tell you why this picture makes me happy:
1) My knives, which have been sitting on a towel on our counter with no place to go, are finally in their own little spot. Organization, people! This is what I live for.
2) I finally have been able to get my head above water long enough to do something trivial, like put those flowers into cute little bottles. I mean, they’re just going to die in a week and I’ll have to do this all over again, but adding that little task to my list is no longer enough to induce anxiety attacks. This is progress. And it only took five months.
Well, we’ve moved on from the kitchen and are now focusing all of our energy here, which we’re hoping to make our entertainment room. When we moved in this room had a pale pink carpet with a tile entryway. We ripped both of them up and have been prepping the concrete floor underneath in hopes of staining it. I say, “we” but really mean, “only Chase,” who has spent the better part of the last three weeks chipping tile, grinding off carpet glue and patching holes in the floor. As a result, I have conceded that for the duration of football season he gets first pick of using the room. The Real Housewives and I will have to wait.
Chase and I have fallen into a rhythm for dealing with renovation issues as they come up. He hits a snag in our plan, tells me about it, and we proceed to yell at each other because we don’t know what we’re doing and oh my god can this just be over already?? Then we calm down, apologize, and like rational adults, Google the answer.
I’m not sure why this quote became the posting of choice after the tragic Boston Marathon bombings. I’m not even 100% sure that Fred Rogers actually said this, but I love it nonetheless. In times of tragedy that cannot be explained, it is nice to find comfort where you can, and if there is at all a silver lining to the bombings, it is witnessing that the number helpers on the scene far outweighed the evildoers.
Are outside my window. As much as I love them, I’m more excited to see the green leaves poking through the buds. It means that the lush, green summer is coming, and winter is far behind.
If you haven’t listened to the episode of This American Life called, “Trends with Benefits,” you should. In fact, you NEED to listen to this. I thought their investigation of why the amount of people on disability insurance is rapidly rising would basically boil down to people cheating the system, but I was wrong. Instead, this story changed the way I view our country’s entire economy. This is worth an hour of your life. Promise.
I couldn’t put it down. If you’re looking for a captivating story to suck you in, get this one.
Don’t get me wrong – I love our new washer/dryer. The fact that they are located inside my house where I can change out laundry in my underwear and socks brings a joy I haven’t felt since my wedding day. But this is the actual song that plays every time I take clothes out of the dryer. After about the second chorus even the kids from “It’s A Small World After All” are like, “Dude, knock it off already.”