house, interrupted

There comes a time when you need to rinse blueberries. This happens to almost everyone, unless you are blueberry-averse, or maybe you just have a fear of turning into Violet Beauregarde.

Maybe you have already had the blueberries for a full week, and you are doing them no favors by waiting any longer to jam them down your maw. So you trudge upstairs with the little carton in your hand and you commence to running them under bathroom sink tap and gently setting them, a few at a time, atop a paper towel that is resting on the lid of the toilet tank. You are not thinking about how this is kind of gross, even though it is definitely kind of gross. What you are thinking about is how it’s rather unfortunate that the tank lid is rounded, because blueberries are prone to rolling, and some of them do, straight onto the bathroom floor tile. And with that kind of momentum they are prone to scattering helter skelter across the room in a furious competition for distance. Some of them you will never ever find until you do find them, later, mashed onto the sole of your bare foot.

It is really not your first choice to be drying blueberries onto the back of your toilet but you have surveyed your options and 1) there are none and also 2) there also are none. You have a tiny pedestal sink that is just a basin and nothing else, no corners; you cannot even set a hand soap dispenser on it without knocking the thing over with a clatter when you turn the handle. The only other flat surfaces, besides the floor, is the toilet and the bottom of the clawfoot tub. 

It’s times like these that not having a kitchen becomes less of an endearing adventure-novelty and more of a giant insurmountable pain in the ass. There’s a certain pride in washing your dishes in the bathtub, sure, until maybe the third time you are washing dishes in your bathtub, and then you are simply left feeling frustrated and sad and you also have a backache.

Additionally, you realize you have been talking about yourself in the third person for paragraphs and you wonder why it’s come to this.

No, really truly, I am happy we get to make this place “ours,” so to speak — putting aside the whole possession is nine tenths of the law thing — but the regular day-to-day living is a killer. When you’re prepping food in the living room and you have to slog up and down the stairs every time you need to rinse your hands, or when you need something and have no idea what floor/room/box it’s in, or when all the things you just cleaned now have a thick layer of plaster dust over them, you just have to flare your nostrils and clench your jaw and frown mightily and resist the urge to lie down on the floor, because honestly the floor is pretty gross and shredded in that spot.

Why am I back on the whole third person gambit again?

It’s chaos, I tell you, it’s chaos, but you already knew that. Honestly, I thought things would be more “together” than they are now; that at this point in time we mostly wouldn’t be living inside the wooden skeleton of a house with its wiring and HVAC and plumbing organs exposed and dangling all over the place. In hindsight those were the thoughts of a complete buffoon. Did I learn nothing from those years of watching home renovation shows where things go off the rails on the regular? No, no I did not.

I am so much older and wiser now, friends. I look at the world with different eyes.

HERE is what’s been happening since we moved in almost a month ago:

  • We finished the demo! Here’s a fun fact: when we were pulling down the plaster in the dining room area a bar of soap fell out of the ceiling. Mystery! Intrigue! How long was it there for? Other finds: peanut shells in a wall, piss-poor prior home improvement “fixes”, a disappearing chimney, a built-in that maybe used to be a doorway, horrid vinyl flooring and painted hardwood and drywall slapped over plaster on the wall. Basically, one hundred and seventeen years of People Seriously Fucking Up.
  • Because of the extent of the work we had to get the city involved, and the city is basically our new girlfriend/boyfriend who is jealous and controlling and manipulative. We have plans with our friends tonight but the city just stands in the doorway and indignantly asks us questions: Where are you going? What are you doing? Who’s going to be there? What time will you be back? Why didn’t you personally invite me? Then when we take the time to be thoughtful, maybe make a grand gesture with some flowers or maybe an official permit application, the city freezes us out. Cold as ice! It’s gonna take more than just the permit fee to get back in the city’s pants, you had better buh-LIEVE, and then of course afterward the city’s never gonna let us hear the end of it. It’s the doghouse for us tonight, bro! Wait, I think we need a permit for that…
  • Imagine, IF YOU WILL, cresting a mountaintop after a long hard haul up a steep rocky trail in Glacier National Park, Montana, when your cell phone — which doesn’t get service in that area — suddenly starts ringing from inside your pack and it’s eerie and thrilling, like when a phone rings in an abandoned booth in the middle of the desert, so you dig it out and sort of fumble around with it in a confused haze as your heart races and when you finally breathlessly answer on the last possible ring, instead of it being the president calling to ask you to defend Earth against an alien invasion or some special agent delivering a coded message like the situation warrants, it’s your contractor and he’s calling to tell you there is asbestos in your house and you need to get rid of it before any work can happen. Oh. Shit. Yes. We’ll get right on that, sir. And so last Friday three asbestos-wrapped air ducts got the ol’ heave-ho to the tune of LOTS-A-DOUGH, and now maybe some real remodeling will be happening soon. Like maybe by Christmas, or when we are dead of old age.

Or, you know, we could just scratch that and continue living in one room of our house indefinitely. I’ll ask the blueberries how they feel about it first.


Here is one of the ducts that got ripped out, heyyyyy duct mmmm chile those asbestos fibers be lookin' fine

5 Responses to “house, interrupted”

  1. Those blueberries, man. They’re worth it.

    I’m sorry about the asbestos, why that word has ‘best’ in the middle of it I have no idea.

  2. A+ for this essay. You engaged the reader, followed the rubric, and creatively intertwined first and third person throughout the piece.

    The house is barely passing muster with a C, so it will need to get its shit together by the end of the quarter if it wants to go on the field trip.


    more like.

    My waste-averse thrifty soul would be straight up using nothing but disposable plates and eating takeout every night if I were in this situation. Ugh. Remember, there are no good stories if everything goes as planned.

  4. That reminds me….I really should eat the strawberries lingering in the fridge…

    I’m sorry the process is at that discouraging stage where it probably feels like it will never ever ever be over.

    But it will….someday…. Good luck til then?? I hope there are no more asbestos-caliber surprised… 🙁

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