days of irritation

I know I normally like to keep this a sunny, feel-good, effervescent, ultra-optimistic space, but today I’ve got some stuff that’s grating mighty vigorously on my nerves.


– Having a house –

Even though we handed over the bulk of the work to the contractors after Labor Day, there’s still a lot we need to do. Picture, if you will, the two of us in the backyard on a Friday night, pitch black save for a work lamp, scraping and sanding door trim and involuntarily shivering as snowflakes whirl around us. You know what that is? That’s devotion, my friends. That’s also delusion, if we’re being honest. Why don’t we just chuck the old trim and get new to save the work of restoring it? Oh, because we want to keep the character of the house, and character is apparently worth the risk of frostbite.

Honestly, I’m glad we’re doing what we’re doing. It’s good work, and it’s worthy work. But it just keeps on coming. The list of stuff to do is constant and immediate. We’re always just a blink and a half-step ahead of the contractors, scrambling not to slow them down. The beau’s been at the house every single weeknight, sometimes until 11:00 pm. We’re both being worn down to nubs.

We found this drawn on the bathroom wall, probably not a good sign right?


– Not having a house –

We were initially told we would be back in our house at the end of September, but boy was that estimate wrong. Then we were told October 10, but sure enough, we were wrong about that, too. Now the contractors are saying maybe the end of October. Are you KIDDING ME WITH THIS.

All I want is to go home. I want to pee with the door open. Maybe nuke a burrito without having to make small talk about it. I want to have a couch and a television and I want to sit on that couch and watch whatever I want on that television. I want to curse and I want to walk around nude and I want to leave a bottle of booze sitting right there on the countertop. I want to put eye makeup on my husband without having to answer anyone’s baffled questions, is that so wrong? Actually I have never put eye makeup on my husband but this is something I dream about every day. We have a deal where one day he is going to let me do it but I’m probably going to have to get him fairly liquored up in advance.

The DOUBLE TRIPLE SUPER ULTRA irritating thing about sharing a strangers’ home is dealing with those strangers. Our hosts are actually really sweet, and outside of general this is not my beautiful house feelings of displacement I can’t complain about them. But there’s an endless parade of people who come through the basement rooms, and some of them are easier to get along with than others. The most recent was a couple who claimed to be here for a week on vacation. They never left the house. I tried not to make judgments — maybe they both have high-stress, high-travel jobs! — but I cannot fathom who in the world would ever turn to his or her companion and exclaim, “Honey, let’s book a couple of tickets to Denver and spend a week in a stranger’s basement watching television!” I took to hiding in our bedroom the whole day, because WHAT.

– Paying for things to look shoddy –

Our contractors, I just don’t know. Our definitions about what passes for acceptable work seems to vary. I could sit you down in front of a projector and give you an hour-long presentation about our gripes, but I will simply give you these two examples instead:

  1. Our upstairs bathroom is not square. Given that the house is 117 years old and the bathroom was indelicately gouged out of a space that was presumably a closet in a past life, this is understandable. However, what isn’t understandable is why they didn’t tell us that one end of the bathroom is two inches wider than the other, and that this would subsequently cause everything they built inside the room to be considerably skewed. The shower pan? A line of hexagon tile starts neatly in one corner and by the point where the shower ends, one and a half more lines of tile have suddenly grown out of the wall. This is one of those things I’d normally chalk up to “character,” but we had the room stripped down to studs — couldn’t we have DONE SOMETHING TO ADDRESS THE SQUARENESS OF THE ROOM THEN?! By the time we saw just how warped it was all the tile had been laid, and it was too late to cmd-alt-delete.
  2. They just began installing cabinets last week, and the back door? Hits where the dishwasher would be. The door doesn’t open all the way. We have about 21 max inches of space to get through the goddamned back door. WHAT IN THE FUCKING NAME OF FUCKSHIT. The cabinet subcontractor is technically the one at fault here, because he’s the one who measured everything out while we stood there and looked on. This is where I feel like I’m going nutty as an Almond Joy, you dig? Because we had all these weeks — weeks and weeks! — to quintuple-check the cabinet drawings, remeasure them, and make sure that everything was all kosher. But we didn’t because we just assumed that the door swing was accounted for. I mean, I stood there and watched the dude measure it. And now even if we pitch a tantrum and demand for it to be fixed — which is tricky territory because the beau works with the main contractors — we’re still out some measure of money, because everything on that side of the kitchen wall would have to be reconfigured.

NIGHTMARES. Nothing galls quite so much than to have to pay for stuff that’s not done right. And to know you have to live with it for the next several years, and that it’s going to eat at you every day like chronic heartburn.

We have learned so much about remodeling a house way too late, and I guess the main takeaway here can be ripped straight from the X-Files tagline: Trust No One. Ever. Measure it yourself, 18 times in a row. Make bald threats. Quit your job and stand there every day, looking over your various subcontractors’ shoulders, and snorting derisively for good measure. Even better, spend a decade studying to become a craftsman and do the whole shebang yourself, foundation to roofline.


– Space –

I have absolutely reached my limit on our general lack of space. Calvin’s dad would tell me that this sort of experience builds character but I’m well past the character-building stage and on to the borderline hysteria stage.

The room we’re staying in is an obstacle course. One side is taken up by bags of food and booze, leaving a narrow path around the bed. To get to the closet I have to circumnavigate the beau’s suitcase, on top of which is stacked 17 tile samples for the house, on top of which is a pile of the beau’s clothes, because he apparently can’t get inside his suitcase for some reason. Once I’m in the closet I have to crouch like a primitive human in a cave, involuntarily grunting because my legs are falling asleep, whilst I rummage wildly through my belongs on the floor. The other day the top of my suitcase wouldn’t stay open so in irritation I banged it back with force, and a box of kitchen stuff upturned and the contents came raining down and before you know it I was picking a hundred loose Ziploc sandwich bags out of my underwear and actively trying not to weep.

I can recall a time when our stuff was organized by type in its own cabinets and drawers in wholly separate rooms and not in the same jumbled heap, but that seems like a scene from a long-ago-read novel or a wispy remnant of a strange dream.

– The beau’s car –

A week ago the beau’s car’s timing belt went out and took the valves with it, all to the jazzy tune of THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS. We had it towed back to the house because we will never have three thousand dollars ever again in our lives. So now we are indefinitely a one-car fambly, which is okay except for my car’s all-slide drive in wintery conditions. That thing handles snow and ice like a writhing, gindrunk eel. Who gave that eel gin in the first place? Seems pretty irresponsible if you ask me.

– The radio –

I am one of those self-satisfied schmucks who stopped listening to the radio in 2003 and hasn’t missed it since. But recently the FM transmitter I used to play mp3s in my car stopped working, and the beau’s did, too. And then I bought two new ones for us and neither of those worked, either. So it’s been some long and arduous weeks, driving back and forth to our house from the temporary digs, listening to “Scan” all the way.

Do you know what’s on the radio these days? I do. I know all about it. And as far as I can tell, there are only three songs in rotation:

  • Some song about being Safe and Sound, which the Internet informs me is by a band named Capital Cities. I actually don’t mind this song but I’ve only ever heard the last 30 seconds of it. I seem to have a preternatural ability to sense when that song is almost over and find it on the radio, similar to how twenty years ago I knew to turn on the radio just as Whitney Houston hit the opening notes of “I Will Always Love You.” In retrospect this ability isn’t nearly as remarkable as I thought given the fact that that song was played approximately 1569 times per hour for the entirety of 1993.
  • A song about royals or something, you know the one. Places I have heard this song recently include the tile supply store, the gas station, and the moon. I cannot escape this song. You cannot escape this song. So we just have to give in and let the lyrics take over our brains with tiny pitchforks and torches. I think it goes something like this:

But everybody’s like french toast, lace fronts, sippin’ on a Pimm’s Cup
Sweat stains, toupees, smokin’ on a night train
We don’t care, we’re snarfing down Krispy Kremes
But everybody’s like cameltoe, May Queen, decaf in your bad dreams
Burlap, frayed rope, Burt Reynolds in your high beams
We don’t care, you can’t take us to your county fair

  • “Blurred Lines” which I’ve never actually heard all the way through but after having read about it on the Internet all summer I cannot listen ON PRINCIPLE.

– This post –

Seriously, when will this stupid thing be done?

– And more! –

I have so many more things I’m irritated about but those will have to be put in a paper boat and sent downriver because JESUS CHRIST LADY.

11 Responses to “days of irritation”

  1. Oh dear. I really hope they’ll be done soon.

    That sucks about the Beau’s car – well, all of this sucks really (except that I like Lorde).

    Renovations are hell. I worked for a company that used to organise renos for people and I was in charge of all the contractors – that was a crazy 8 months. I would always feel so bad for people when they went wrong, as they inevitably did and wish I could fix it for them.

  2. Oh my god, Lyn. What a rotten run 🙁 I’m gonna keep on “sending good vibes into the universe for you,” (I’m not really sure anymore what that means, but I hear it works) that this house will ultimately fulfill all your hopes and dreams, but in the meantime, I’m going to go hug my apartment and make sure it knows I never want to leave…

  3. Hi hello in the interest of leaving this perfect post without my dribbling gloss, I must say that being a long-term houseguest is soul-tiring (lol my parents kicked me out of my room the summer after I graduated high school, long story..) and I love that Royals song but prefer your version.

    • “Soul-tiring” is exactly right, Evie. I rented a professor’s son’s (tiny) former bedroom for 3 months when B and I had to be long distance right after we got married. It sucked, hardcore… not even so much the distance, but feeling like I didn’t really have any space to call my own. I would dash into the bathroom at night, dash back into the bedroom and hole myself up in there the entire evening. I never quite felt at ease, like I could breathe and relax, and it’s hard to live with that feeling for weeks at a time.

      Btw, Lyn, I hope things begin progressing faster with the renovations, ugh… you’ve successfully quelled my house-lust.

  4. First, solidarity and sympathy – what a run of bad luck. Second, this made me laugh. A lot. But I still hope you get to move home soon!

  5. chewin’ on a jelly roll?

  6. Please start writing pop songs.

    I go slowly insane when I have to talk to people, so I’m feeling for you hardcore.

  7. I am seriously hoping things can turn around for you asap. I don’t know how you are handling all of this. I’d break into tears constantly.

  8. Yes, please, what Jo said.

    When we were reno-ing our condo we paid to have the floors in our living laid TWICE, both times wrong and ended up pulling them up and re-doing them ourselves. Which is to say, I feel your pain. Here’s hoping things turn around soon for you both.

  9. GAHHHHH! This post has officially kept me from attempting to remodel anything. Even painting our house reminded me that NOTHING IS SIMPLE EVER– the paint chip looks one way, and then the wall looks another, and then I remember that I married a super opinionated dude… At least I know that we’ll always get contractors involved– I mean Ben attempted to put up a curtain rod and managed to take a chunk of wood trim off. (Also: good luck!)

  10. I am sorry that this is such a rough stretch. And not having a home to come home to and be able to live in is hard…. Everything in life is harder when you don’t have that place to come back to and let your guard down and recharge.

    I hope this phase is over SOON and that the contractors finish up (and finish right). And if I ever own a house and hire contractors…I will take your advice to trust no one and double check. I can’t imagine how terribly frustrating all that must be….

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