Thursday, July 17, 2014

Handy Man

Husband can fix anything.

Apparently as a child, he had a fondness for taking apart various electronics in his house and reassembling them.  His parents didn't always notice - though they caught him in the act of taking apart the phone one time. 

The slow progress of the Buick restoration notwithstanding, Husband is really incredible.  For example, there was awhile during law school when my car wouldn't start.  Husband went out and tried starting it a few times, came back in and read the Internet for fifteen minutes, went back outside, and I heard the car start.

Liz:  How did you do that?  What did you do?
Husband:  Well, the solenoid is getting jammed when the engine cools off and so you just need to knock on it a bit to get it to start.
Liz:  The what?  Where?

Husband showed me in the engine where to knock and gave me a screwdriver to knock it with until we could get it fixed.  So I had a week or two where I felt very cool and mechanically inclined; if I was going to drive someone and my car wouldn't start, I'd just casually remark, "Oh, it's probably just the solenoid, let me take care of that," grab the screwdriver, pop the hood, and handle it.  No one could ever see that I was literally just banging on a piece of the engine with the screwdriver, so I looked cool.
Aside:  I used to play the excellent video game The Sims* all of the time, and occasionally they would need to fix an item in their house, and the way they would do so would be to wham on the item with a hammer.  So you'd see the Sim sitting there, just banging the screen of her TV with a hammer for a few hours of her time, and then her TV would be fixed.  Based on this and my experience with the solenoid, the only way I know how to fix anything is to wham on it with some sort of blunt tool.  
A week later, Husband took the car into the shop.  He came back not very long later.

Liz:  Did they fix it?
Husband:  They wanted A THOUSAND DOLLARS to fix it.
Liz:  Is my car worth a thousand dollars?
Husband:  No.
Liz:  What are we going to do?
Husband:  I'm going to fix it.

Husband went on, bought a part for $45, and two days later spent twenty minutes installing it.  The car was fixed perfectly.

When we hired a monthly  housecleaner in our old house on a trial basis because we were living in squalor (in my defense, I was commuting for three hours a day) and she proceeded to yank our entire showerhead out of the wall in the process of cleaning the shower (?!?!????) and Husband found water literally leaking into the wall, he was able to fix the problem with the pipes until a plumber could get out the next day.  

In our new house, Husband installed a dimmer switch when I wanted one for the chandelier in the family room - a chandelier which he had wired in after I bought it on craigslist.  He installed the new oven.  He crawled under the house to figure out why a few boards in the dining room floor were squeaking  and reinforced the subfloor so they wouldn't.  He replaced the rain gutter on the front of the house (because the old one only went 30% of the way across the roof, and then stopped abruptly, creating a fountainous stream of water shooting out over the porch).  He installed a proper downspout.  

He also makes a mean pie.

Blackberry.  From scratch.  I know, too dreamy.

In short, Husband is entirely the functional adult I will probably never be, and I am so thankful that my best friend just happens to also be the most competent person I know.

*  The Sims was the first video game ever to sell more copies to women than to men.  It was also the best selling video game ever for a long time (until, I think, one of the Calls of Duty finally bumped it).  Not a coincidence.

Monday, July 14, 2014

We're okay, iPhone...

Like my fellow Millennials (bleh, that name), I'm quasi-apathetic when it comes to my privacy - I tried deleting my Facebook account once but brought it back to life within a few months.  But I got kind of horked off when I was making a list of movies I want to watch later in the "Notes" app.  I added 22 Jump Street because, whatever, take your foreign cinema and start a restaurant named after it.  When I closed out, I saw that the app had highlighted and underlined 22 Jump Street.  Are you kidding me?  You're going to turn a note I made into an ad for a movie?  Are you actually somehow giving Fandango access to my Notes app?

I clicked the link out of rage and just like I thought, my iphone opened up the app for...


It thought I was typing in an address and might need to find it.


I can't stay mad at you, C3PO, when you do cute stuff like that.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

American Planes

Flying on a plane is always wonderful.

When we went to visit my cousin Bebop for his high school graduation last month, there was a man on the plane successfully executing the loudest snoring I had personally experienced being generated by a human being.  I could hear this guy snoring from several rows away over the roaring of the jet engines.  This was the kind of snoring that illuminates for you where the turn of phrase "sawing logs" came from.  And then you realize that the expression came from the days of manual saws, and in fact this is more like a "chainsaw" kind of log-sawing sound, or a "coordinated orchestra where all of the instruments have been replaced with buzzsaws" kind of sound, or perhaps an "entire paper mill processing a tree into pulp in under a minute" kind of sound.  That's the kind of loud snoring this guy was producing.

On the way home from that trip, out of revenge and a sense of wanting to enhance the suitability of the plane's name, I proceeded to conk out for the entire four hour flight back on the dreamliner (while Husband patiently tried to type on his laptop despite having me sprawled out into his seatspace).

Even knowing that no one could ever snore louder than the guy I heard on that one flight, the latest flight I took was destined to be terrible.  We flew last Thursday night - the night before the Day of Independence miraculously and wonderfully fell on a Friday.

like it specifies in Article III.
But that had its consequences, which were primarily consequences to the sanity of those waiting in line for security at the airport.

Specifically, the lines were insanely long and insanely unfair.  We had a moment where one of the TSA agents was going to shuffle us into either the teal line or the red line.  (Of course we couldn't go in the green line because that was the TSA pre-check line and of course I can't GET pre-check because the waiting time for an interview is currently, literally, five months.)  And though maybe I'm not illustrating this quite right, you can see that the teal line is three times as long as the red line.

It's not a great picture, but it's better than the rage-versions I drew on the back of a blank page of a brief while on the plane.

You can guess which line we ended up in.

Of course, the gray line hadn't even started when we got in line: they opened it up once we were a little bit into the red line and just stuck there.  In sum, we had plenty of time to ponder the gross unfairness of the line system.  It was both unjust and inefficient, which is like a double whammy to an attorney with an econ degree.

Once we were on the plane, Husband and I didn't get to sit together, which was meh but okay since I had some work to do.  I watched out the window a bit, half-listening to a small British child discussing with her mother the merits of buses while realizing I forgot my earplugs.  When we reached cruising altitude, I (with great resignation) pulled out my stack of papers to read and BAM -

the girl in front of me reclines DIRECTLY into my face.

Here is a public service announcement for the people of the earth: if you are not SLEEPING on the plane, don't recline!  Spare your posture and sit the heck up.  You will also be sparing yourself my undying loathing to the extent that interests you.

I am trying to work with the seat in front of me three inches from my face, realizing I can't look up any cases because airplane wifi is $19 and essentially worthless anyway, when the girl in front of me starts watching a movie.  Out loud.  With no earphones.

Which is, in more orderly societies, punishable by 18 months hard labor cleaning TSA rubbermaid bins with nothing but a toothbrush MOISTENED BY YOUR OWN SALIVA AND...

and then I saw the sunset throwing magenta light against a mountain glowing against a lavender twilight.  I glimpsed my own profile cast in sharp relief on the cabin wall by the orange sunset fire from the opposite window.

It was very instagrammable.

And I then noticed that the girl in front of me was taking a photo out the window too.  While her movie still played on out loud.  As she ignored it.

Sunset or no, it was lucky that we landed soon after.  Lucky for her, that is.  

Thursday, July 3, 2014

So Expensive: Part 3

Part 3:  Install New Garage Doors

(read part 1 and part 2 of our adventures in expensive house fix-ups)

As is fairly established by now, Husband likes spending time in the garage taking a certain vehicle apart.  The new house has a stand-alone garage.  The old house had a connected garage, and the washer and dryer were in the garage, so I would go into the garage on occasion (and inevitably manage to bash my arm on a tailpipe suspended, improbably, four and a half feet in the air).  But the new one is all on its own and literally jammed to the brim with the Old Car.  I never go in there.

Haunted by rusty ghosts.  Really, just rust.
But Husband is in there all the time.  He shimmies around the edges in the narrow path he's made to get to whatever rusty part of the Old Car he is disassembling at any given moment and doesn't even look like he minds it.  When he isn't working, or sleeping or baking pies, or hanging out with me discussing plot inconsistencies in the Transformers franchise, he's out in the garage working on his car.

Husband:  I think we need a new garage door.
Liz:  Why?  What's wrong with the old one?
Husband:  The springs are really old, and the door is really heavy, and I'm worried the garage door is going to collapse on me and kill me.
Liz:  We're getting a new garage door.

He wasn't delusional: the old garage door had no automatic lift and was made out of solid wood, and every time Husband lifted it, it made a terrifying dying-badger sound.  It was just that a) I knew it would probably be a bunch of money and b) after the heinous floor experience, I didn't know if we were ready to deal with another upgrade.  But Husband's life was at stake this time, so it had to be done.

Miraculously, this time, finding a service provider was easy: Husband found a guy on Yelp and called some people, and one of them was remarkable:
  1. He actually replied
  2. He seemed reasonable on the phone
  3. He was willing to come out the very next day to give a quote...
  4. ...even though the next day was Sunday.
It was amazing.

He came out on Sunday and brought a brochure of doors we could pick from.  He showed us the one he suggested, which was one of the cheapest ones, and a very good door as well, because it's really just a garage door and who needs...

Liz:  I want that other one.
Garage Door Man:  Oh.  Well, that one is a fair amount more money... 
Liz:  I don't care.  I want that one.

The Garage Door Man seemed baffled that I was willing to spend more money to have a better-looking garage door.  Or maybe he was trying to be sensitive: on the weekends, I generally dress like a twelve-year-old and I'm not old enough looking that when I'm dressed like a twelve-year-old that people can see, ahem, another sixteen years past that.  
Aside:  One time, right after I had taken the bar exam, I sat on a plane next to a director at a company I really like and chatted very intelligently with him about the directions his industry was taking (as I'd done a 120-page paper on that industry my last term of law school).  Mr. Director kept doing double takes / expressing incredulity that I had a JD - because I was wearing jean shorts and an old t-shirt from a mock trial tournament.  Whatever!  It was summer!  I had just taken the bar exam.  I'm not some person insistent on throwing back to the 60s by dressing up to sit on a sweaty Southwest flight.   
Machine washable clothes save the world, too.  Down with dry cleaning.
So the Garage Door Man probably through we were stone cold broke and I was some sort of 18-year-old bride.  Instead of what I actually am, which is a stubborn lady who intends to buy new garage doors only once in the rest of her existence and is thus going to get attractive ones that look like carriage doors.

(Which Husband also wanted.  I'm not some kind of garage door tyrant wife.  Which is going to be the title of my next blog.)

The Garage Door Man nicely acquiesced, and began telling us about his nine (nine!) children and beloved wife while he went to inspect the current door.  Which was the best part, because our garage door was no regular garage door.  As you can see, within the door was another, regular-style door, complete with glass panes and a locking doorknob, though you have to step up over the ledge to enter through it.  Also, the garage door had in it a separate cat door.

This was part of the reason it was so heavy and why Husband and I were genuinely concerned he could get smushed under it.

Garage Door Man, admiringly:  You know, I've seen doors in a garage door before, but I've never seen a cat door in the garage door before.  Two doors within the door.  That's a first.

We were pretty proud to have a garage door unlike any the Garage Door Man had seen before.

We agreed on a price and signed the contract.  After he left, though:

Husband:  I'm sorry - I forgot to negotiate with him at ALL.
Liz:  Don't worry about that - he has like a million children to feed.  I don't want to negotiate with that guy.  

The very next day, Garage Door Man sent the oldest of his million children over to install the new garage door, which did require Husband to roll part of the disassembled Old Car out of the garage.

But other than that, the garage installation was easy and quick - the guy worked outside on it for half a day, and by 5 p.m. we had a brand-new garage door that went up and down by itself and had a nice keypad on the outside.  Just like regular people do.  No cat door.

Which is really a loss in case Husband ever trains a cat to help him put the Old Car back together.

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Functional Adult Goes Running: A Second Time?

Amount of time spent generating really kickass playlist to inspire exercise times and uploading said playlist onto severely antiquated iPod shuffle:  28 minutes

Amount of time spend running / walking:  22 minutes, or, in other measurements, eternity.

After the 22 minutes I absolutely had to stop because I had to get inside and make Husband some chicken for dinner.  And by "to get inside and make Husband some chicken for dinner," I mean "a simultaneous side cramp and asthma attack, as well as ear coldness event, which meant I would have collapsed if I tried to go farther."

In unrelated news, my neighbors, who I do not know very well, have been looking at me funny this week.

So Expensive: Part 2

Part 2:  Install new floors.

[read part 1 and part 3 on how our new house is proving so expensive to fix up]

The old floors in the kitchen and family room were insane tile of the brownish-shape-pattern variety. It was not a good look.

If you look closely, you can see that the pattern is repeating perpendicular dog bones.

The rest of the downstairs had hardwood floor, so we decided to get hardwoods to match. We knew it would cost, but would be worth it in the long run. So all we had to do was find someone to do it. Easy enough right?

WRONG. It is unimaginably hard to pay someone to install a new floor for you.

I dont’ know if there is a profession-wide state of willful insouciance amongst floorpersons, or if floor installers are just rolling in the dough and don’t need work, or if they all just dislike Husband and I personally. But it was nigh impossible to get someone to do hardwood floors in our house. Here is a flowchart of how our process with hiring these guys went:

Finally, we hired someone, which after all of that felt like a miracle. Floor Guy had the excellent credentials of "being the first person to have answered his phone." Our standards were low.

We bought the wood from the guy.  That meant waiting for the wood to ship, which took a couple weeks.  And then once the wood arrived, we had to leave it to "cure" in the house. Apparently wood is moody and needs to get used to the ambiaaaaaaance before you install it.

That would have been just fine. We didn't mind having a ton of planks of wood in the family room - we didn't have any furniture to put in there anyway. It was fine having planks of wood around for Husband's birthday party.

What wasn't fine was that by the time the wood had cured, the floor guy had vanished. He wouldn't answer calls or e-mails. Oh, had I mentioned?  This guy didn't have a website.  He wasn't actually on yelp.  All we had of him was a phone number, that he wouldn't answer, and an e-mail address, that apparently meant nothing to him.

It was like he had been a figment of our imaginations, except for the pile of red oak he had left.  Which meant that we restarted the process:

Finally, one of the earlier non-answerers picked up and agreed to come install the floor. When he came by, he made a big fuss that we had ordered waaaaayyy more wood than we needed. Waaaayyyy more. Husband ignored Floor Guy #2's histrionics and firmly said, "Okay, fine, we will be glad to have the extra for spare then."

We set up a schedule with Floor Guy #2 to install the floor.  But this meant first that Husband and I had to manage to move the entire refrigerator through various narrow passages in our house out of the kitchen.  We were going to put the fridge in the laundry room.  Except it turns out our fridge is wider than the door to the laundry room, or to the bedroom next to the kitchen, or to anywhere but the back door.

So onto the back porch it went.  I wish I had a picture of how our back porch now looked like we were trying some avant-garde experimental kitchen project.  No, wait, it just looked weird.  And was very inconvenient to have to go outside.  In the winter.  To get milk.

Did I mention it was the winter?  Everything in the refrigerator doors froze.

Floor Guy #2 got to installing the floor.  Which you'd think is a fairly simple process.  But it wasn't at all; it was instead days and days of process:

  1. FG2 comes to remove the old tiles from the floor.
  2. FG2 comes the next day to sand down the gunk from under the old tiles.
  3. FG2 comes to install the new wood.
  4. FG2 comes to install the pegs and the wood filler on the wood.
  5. The wood filler cures endlessly.
  6. FG2 comes to sand the floor.

All of the above was complicated by the fact that he was incapable of showing up when he had said he would, or of informing us when he would show up.  So Husband would leave work early to wait around for the floor guy to show up, when he wouldn't; I would be at home on a conference call and answer the door to find, unexpectedly, that today was evidently Sanding Day.

Once he got the wood down, at long last, it looked nice, but pretty raw.

raw floor in kitchen

raw floor

And for blah blah blah reasons, he couldn't stain and finish the floor (which itself was a multi-day process) for another x number of days because he probably enjoyed making our lives difficult. Don't tell me it wasn't intentional.  He could see the fridge out on the back porch.

So for another week or two we stepped very gingerly and carefully on the unfinished floor on our way out to the back porch to the refrigerator.

The floor guy finally stained the floor after Husband signed a BLOOD CONTRACT that the stain was in fact the stain we wanted.  And Husband has a good eye, because it looked awesome:

We were enjoying the finished product until we had a near-simultaneous recollection of a conversation that had happened approximately 300 trips to an outdoor refrigerator ago.

Liz: "Where's all the extra wood he said we would have?"
Husband: "Maybe it's in the garage?"

It wasn't in the garage. It was nowhere.

When we called Floor Guy #2 to ask him where he had taken the rest of our wood, he played dumb. I don't think it was a tough act for him. But he wasn't prepared to deal with two disgruntled homeowners, one of whom was a cranky lawyer with experience in litigating over home construction cases. And if there's one thing you learn in law school, it's that the one still holding the money has the power.

After writing a series of terse letters to Floor Guy #2 (i.e. Stealy McStealerson) that featured the charm of a young litigator and the lyrical elegance of an engineer, we finally agreed to pay Floor Guy #2 a certain amount, which was less than he had quoted us, to compensate for the disappearing wood.

A slightly less aggravating detail of this was that the new flooring also involved removing the old wood-burning stove that was in one corner of the room, which took up a lot of space and made little sense in a place with central heating.

Husband wanted to keep it because it was old.  I pointed out that we had plenty of old stuff around already and that the entire garage was, in fact, full of something old.  He agreed.  We replaced the large black eyesore of a stove...

with a large black eyesore of a really old TV.

But the stove didn't show me episodes of Chopped while I wash dishes, so this is definitely a net improvement.  Though the downside of the TV is it also shows me HGTV, including episodes of shows where people effortlessly install hardwood floors in a single day, and there's no flowchart I can draw to show how enraging that is after all of these shenanigans.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

So Expensive: Part 1

"Fixing up our new house is so expensive."

"How expensive is it?"

"It's so expensive Jay-Z raps about fixing up our new house."
"It's so expensive it's becoming suggested as a comparable alternative to law school."
 "It's so expensive they sell it exclusively at Whole Foods."
"It's so expensive Kim and Kanye made it a part of their wedding."

In addition to re-painting the cabinets, which was well worth it to eliminate the pumpkin color scheme, there were a few more necessary things to do to the new house... all of which were expensive.

Part 1: Installing a new oven

The old oven was a double oven, which is great for if you want to bake a ton of stuff, which, ahem, I always do!  But it was really old.  You just looked at it and knew it was really old.  The clock/timer had analog roll-y numbers on it, which is practically Pleistocene.

I mean... come on.

The black oven and orange cabinets have a nice Halloween look.
In addition, there was no built in microwave, and I didn't want to bring our crappy old countertop microwave, which had lived for many years under Husband's dorm room bed (that was the place one kept a microwave in our dorms. they were small.)  So we decided to get a new oven, which was a microwave on top (that could also be a small convection oven) and the oven on the bottom.

Getting a new oven was especially feasible because I got a discount on appliances because someone at my law firm either once sued someone or defended against a suit from someone on behalf of an appliance manufacturer.  I was pretty jazzed about getting a discount, because I love a good sale.  But it was terrifying how much appliances cost even WITH a discount.  Who decided refrigerators are a four-figure operation?  How did this oven cost twice as much as my 3D plasma TV?  Either there is some shady oven cartel happening or TV manufacturers are getting a raw deal.

Once I was over my sticker shock with ovens, I bit the bullet and bought a new one, strengthened by the thought of how ugly the old one was.

The game was afoot.  The first task was to remove the old oven.  Neither of us had previously pondered what one should do once one has removed an enormously heavy oven from a wall.  The solution we settled on was to set it on a milk crate as if we were on  MythBusters testing the load-bearing capacity of milk crates.

Ready, steady...
Answer: A milk crate can support at least one oven.  
Once the oven was out, we discovered that there was a different shade of green paint underneath the orange paint on the cabinets.  How deep did the conspiracy go???

Look above the cooktop and to the right of the ovenspace.
Because this would be shorter than the old double oven, we got a contractor to build a space for a new drawer on the bottom (and in the meantime the painting occurred). 

Husband got excited for me to blog about the oven because, in his words:

  •   It was really heavy to move the old oven out and the new one in
  •   It took forever to install the new oven
  •   He has a bunch of pictures of the installation process.

Unfortunately, I think he forgot the main obstacle to me blogging about it, which was.... I totally left him to do all of the work and didn't help at all.  Everything was too heavy!  The Brothers were over to help with the lifting!  I .... am horrible and selfish and didn't want to deal with it and don't have experience hardwiring appliances or ANYTHING ELSE and... had important iPad games to play.  I only helped a tiny bit at the very end to side in the new oven once they had it installed.

I know.  I am a terrible person.  Unlike Husband, who is a brilliant person who can fix literally anything.  It's very impressive.

What I can tell you is that this oven BARELY fits onto the wall.  It has like half a millimeter of clearance on either side.  If we put too many coats of paint on  the wall, it won't fit anymore.

It also has a digital display because this is America.

But I do remember this.  Once the new oven was installed, we were waiting on the new drawer to come for the space beneath the new oven.  Husband came in to the house holding a drawer.

Liz:  Did the contractor drop that off?
Husband:  No, I just found this in the garage?

Husband experimentally tried the drawer in the hole in the wall - the hole that, keep in mind, the contractor had JUST BUILT and built expressly to fit our new oven.

The drawer fit perfectly.

We were both baffled.

Liz:  But he's already building the new drawer.
Husband:  Well, now we have this one as a spare, I guess?

It was HIGHLY improbable.  But I guess with all of the money we paid the contractor to build and for the new oven, it was nice to find something - however duplicative - for free.

return next week for parts 2 and 3 of the saga in "Home ownership is expensive, no duh Liz, everyone knows that"!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Functional Adult Goes to Zumba Again

I went with Kas to Zumba again.  I'm no longer speaking to her.  Even if I wanted to, I couldn't - the most I could do would be to wheeze at her.  I tried to ask Siri to call someone for me because I was too tired to use my arms and she couldn't understand me and started condescendingly giving me her stupid tutorial about things she could do, none of which were apparently to UNDERSTAND ME when I need to CALL HUSBAND because of my IMMINENT DEATH BY LATIN MUSIC EXERCISE.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Functional Adult Goes to Zumba

My friend Kas finally convinced me that my excuses for avoiding the gym were no longer valid:

1.  "Gym allergy" does not come up as a real thing on Wikipedia
2.  I couldn't complain about a lack of proper outfit for the gym since my mom bought me a cute new workout shirt for my birthday
3.  Kas could personally attest that the gym had not, in fact, "probably burned down" in the last few months

Not only were we going to the gym, we were going to an organized class, which would involve other people against which I would necessarily have to compare my wheezing self.  And we were going... to...


I had never been to zumba before.  Zumba combines two things I am not great at: Latin movement and aerobic exercise.  I've danced before, but it was more of the waltz-Broadway-ballet variety, which is to say that when I try, for example, salsa, the chilly stiffness of my Norwegian ancestors seems to triumph over any instruction.  I mostly prefer to dance at weddings, where most possible spectators are kind of drunk and thus unduly impressed by any move I execute.

Kas, on the other hand, speaks Spanish fluently and can shake it like the San Andreas Fault.  I was intimidated.

But there is one thing I like: anything that can distract me from the fact that I'm exercising.  So I gamely accompanied Kas to zumba.

The first song wasn't so bad!  We stepped forward and back and side to side and I could follow the instructor's moves reasonably well.  It was a little distressing to see quite so many women over 60 who were there and in FAR better shape than I am, but I'm kind of used to that.  (I'm in terrible shape and our gym is full of old people.)

It turned out that was the warmup.

Halfway through the second song, I was DYING.  The song was a fast-paced Latin hip hop song.  THe moves made me feel like a time traveler from the 1890s with lungs full of consumption and an inability to coordinate the movements of my hands with my legs.  

Me, to Kas, while wheezing: "This is the most aerobic exercise I have done in literally a year."

As the pace of the music continued unabated, my coorination decreased.  I tripped over my own foot at one point, almost rolling my ankle, to the alarm of the young woman dancercizing next to me.  But I made it through without dying, despite the fact that my movements looked positively lethargic.  And despite the fact that I was unable to catch enough breath to join in the enthusiastic whooping of the rest of the class.  And despite the fact that I was forced to realize that a bunch of late-middle-aged women were destroying me at zumba.

In fact, when I got home, I felt really good - it was almost like Elle Woods was on to something when she said exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy.

I felt good until this morning, when what I felt instead was literally every muscle in my body objecting.  My calves were protesting that I had both used them yesterday and was now forcing them to walk in high heels.   My back was loudly commenting that it doesn't usually do things other than hunching over a keyboard.  My abs were just seething hotly.  And I spent the entire day starving to death, like I hadn't eaten in a year.

I'm going back next week.

Monday, June 2, 2014

How to Feel Grownup

Hang around a bunch of graduating high school seniors, none of whom look old enough to possess a locker, much less vote.

Some things that have made me feel old:

  • I joked to one of them that I was 39 and she politely told me that I looked good for my age
  • They don't know any of the classic YouTube videos
  • The toddler that I used to haul around in my arms and play blocks with is now really tall and can pick me up
  • The teens are all so intensely concerned with what other people think is cool and I realized I have almost entirely forgotten how to even analyze that (was never good at it anyway)
But most notably...
  • When I try to talk to them, they all do that awkward eyes-glaze-over stare while responding robotically that I used to do to adults
What has happened??

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Work Clothes

It’s a sad truth that a lot of my decision to become a lawyer was motivated by Legally Blonde.*  Wearing pink, practicing law, and teaching everyone about gender discrimination: that was the dream.

For awhile I was pretty pleased to be at least 1 for 3 on that - practicing law.  And the truth is, I don't have the fashion stamina of our fictional friend Elle.  I didn't go to class in law school in designer dresses; I went in yoga clothes regardless of whether I was going to pretend to do yoga that day.

In sum, I like style but I’m horribly inattentive to it. I generally treat it about the same as my high school boyfriend treated me - sometimes I spend time on it but other times I completely forget about it because I’m off playing laser tag with my friends.  (This is the most accurate metaphor I’ve ever created, and I was a poetry major.)

So I go through these swings, particularly at work. I’ll have times when the only thing I wear to work is the work pants I bought because while being cut like work pants, they are actually pretty much made out of black sweatpants fabric. I have a similar skirt that I bought at Costco for $12 which is, again, made of sweatpants fabric.  Maybe literally, though I'm not sure.  Okay, okay, I actually have two sweatpants-skirts: one in gray and one in black. I wear them a lot. I have five plain white blouses. I have some long-sleeved t-shirts with just enough detail on them for me to I call them "work shirts" and wear them to work, silently daring anyone to call me on it.

At some point in the last year (and after having spent my first year out of school wearing a boring suit every day) I decided to switch it up. So now there are select times when I decide to wear very impractical things that I stubbornly decided are what a lawyer should look like, mixed in with the fact that I actually hate how boring lawyers look.

N.B. Most of my coworkers are dudes and you can’t tell them apart other than by hair color/quantity because they are all wearing the same grey pants and blue or white work shirt. They actually get kind of mad when I point out when two or more of them are wearing the exact same outfit on any given day. "Hey, you guys match!" It’s a fun game for me.  
Question:  If you line up three in a row of them wearing the same outfit, will they explode into points of light, vanish, and award points like in the jewel game on my phone?

Whether I’m dressing stylishly or not is, I think, inversely proportionate to the number of billable hours I worked three days before.

And when I do decide to hang out with style, I go in unique directions. For instance, my new work pants are awesome wide-legged white pants with pockets (a la Veronica Corningstone)...

which I recently wore with a baby-pink ruffled shirt and a beige lace cardigan and a belt with a bow on it. I looked a little like Louis Quatorze via 1973:

 Yesterday I dressed like I was going to a Republican summer picnic campaign fundraiser - ie red sleeveless dress under a white linen blouse with tan sandals. I have a pink, blue, and green flowered blouse with a black sequined collar; several enormous statement necklaces I wear like ties (and occasionally I will just jack Husband’s actual ties and wear those, since they’re very cute and he never wears them); varying dresses in teal, hot pink, and patterns.

This whole situation is aided and abetted by my grandma, who is a very stylish former model who likes to buy clothes that are too big for her and then give them to me. It’s from her I got my leopard-print silk blouse and the red sleeveless dress and the bright yellow blazer.

I think it’s my one rebellion against the severe gray-panted, white-walled, blond-wood office aesthetic I live in where we get e-mails from the office manager instructing us to put plastic lids on our ceramic coffee mugs to keep from spilling coffee on the coffee-colored carpet. If I’m going to wear heels to work, they are going to be my hot-pink patent leather ones.**

...or my beige 4-inch-heeled Mary Janes. Or the gray Cuban heels. I have black pumps (also with four inch heels - heh) but those are only for court, and no one ever takes me to court. So there.

The net result of my swings in style is that I alternate between excessively boring and functional and borderline caricature of a lady lawyer. So I dress, on average, like a usual attorney - the standard deviation’s just higher than you’d expect.

* It came out when I was in 8th grade.  Like that's an excuse.

** Sassy came to visit last week and when she drove up she looked at my outfit (black blouse, black mesh eyelet overskirt over a hot pink underskirt, hot pink heels), she marveled, “Did you wear that to work today? Wearing pink and lawyering? You are living the dream!” Sassy always makes me feel better about my life decisions.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Working on Memorial Day

If you have to do it, this is the way to go. Happy Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Narrator

I love generating narratives.

For example, I have always wanted to buy a Roomba and a Scooba, and program the Roomba to vacuum the carpet parts of the floor, and the Scooba to wash the hard parts of the floor, and then name the Roomba Romeo and the Scooba Juliet and they could have this forbidden love, divided by the invisible boundary and their neverending task to clean only their own parts of the floor.

their love is so beautiful and doomed. and helpful around the house.

And of course I love scripted TV (other people generate good narratives too!) but I like reality TV for the opportunity it gives me to impose my own narratives on what I’m seeing. Reality TV editors are somewhat constrained - they have to pick and choose from the material they get from the participants. Often, this means more narrative suggestion rather than being INFORMED OF FACTS LOUDLY BY THE SCRIPT. This is a barely-exaggerated example from a TV show I actually quite like:

Bad Agent: Why are you so mad at me?
Good Agent: You are HYDRA! Which, in case you haven’t been watching the show or the tie-in movies or reading the comic book series, is an EVIL organization that was founded by Nazis! Including [insert name of Nazi character here]! So I am mad at you due to that! National Socialism not cool!
Bad Agent: But I want to kiss you. Due to my romantic feelings I have. For you, I should specify.

With reality TV having no explicit script, I have the opportunity to imagine and project onto these hapless figures on my TV screen.

Case in point: I became obsessed with Dancing with the Stars* this season, which I started watching because a) dancing rules and b) they did a Disney episode, so I had to watch it. But I kept watching for the narrative I got to project onto it, which was that a certain supermodel-dating male dance professional had unexpectedly fallen in love with a certain lady Olympian ice dancer and could not figure out to manage his feelings other than to 1) stare at her intensely, 2) give fierce interviews about how she is the best dancer in the competition and everyone must know it, and 3) choreograph insanely torrid dance numbers about problematic love stories.

Liz: “Look at him! Look at how he is staring at her like he is the Phantom of the Opera and he wants to marry her and lock her away forever in his dungeon palace underneath Paris!”
Husband: “mmhmm.” clicks on e-mail
Liz: “Are you even watching this with me right now?”

three minutes later

Liz: “Look at how she is like the only thing that soothes him when he starts raging about their samba scores?”
Husband: “Hrmmm.”
Liz: “Your e-mails canNOT be this interesting.”

Thus when the finale of Dancing aired on Tuesday night, I was definitely interested to see if Said Olympian and Said Danceman won** (because they were unquestionably the best dancers) but I was MORE interested to see if my imposed narrative would prevail: if he would be forced to acknowledge that, even though she wasn’t a leggy blonde, that the tiny fairylike ice princess had completely stolen his evil Russian heart.

Incidentally, there is so little adjustment needed to make this story a feature-length musical.

Perhaps I’m relying on shipping reality TV participants for narrative fix these day because now that I’m older and out of school, I get less of this material from the people in my own life. At school there’s always a good chance that someone has a story going on - when there are enough people thrown together for long enough, someone is going to fall in unrequited love with someone, or develop a deep animosity to someone, or have a secret about someone that they can’t admit. There’s something going on. But my own personal life has become, for the most part, very uninterestingly happy (it’s why the fairy tale doesn’t bother describing in detail the “happily ever after” bit). My conflicts these days are largely internal:

  • Liz vs. Liz’s Desire to Eat Cookie Dough For Dinner
  • Liz’s Budget vs. Liz’s Preoccupation With “Free” With Purchase Makeup Samples
  • Liz’s Job vs. Liz’s Wish She Was a Sitcom Writer, or, While We’re Wishing, Sitcom Star
  • Etc.
And my friends are all very mature people with children and careers and other qualities that make me a highly unsuitable companion for them and make it difficult to craft short-term narratives about their lives. (Without them getting mad at me for fabricating things. Heh.)

This is why my favorite time of year at work is the summer when we get a bunch of interns who are still in school. Let me tell you that the narrative potential of all my coworkers is LOW. We are an extremely boring bunch. A good percentage a married; an even higher percentage are married to their work; and if anyone is dating each other, they are keeping it entirely secret, which would make sense in light of the fact that lawyers are very careful about sexual harassment. It’s terrible. No material at all.

But the interns! They are still young and in school and there is always the potential that two of them will start dating each other, and even if they try to keep it secret they will fail. Or one of them will develop a crush on another one, and that one will like a different one. Really, that any of them might do anything human at all would be a huge ramp up. Ideally, something like this would happen:

so much drama

The odds are low based on demographics alone - and even fledgling lawyers have a much higher-than-average ability to rein it in and act professional - but a bored gal can dream. At least until I can afford two expensive cleaning robots and a seamstress to sew tiny Elizabethan outfits for them, I need something to narrate about.

*Huh, isn’t ABC doing very poorly in the network ratings these days? I may be single-handedly keeping them afloat with my viewing habits.

**Of course they won. Because they were the best. And because I voted for them 10 times like a crazed teenybopper watching The Voice. I have no shame.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Nearly Unmoved: In Which Superman Fails to Help

How do you move a six-thousand pound car that’s split into several large pieces and has no wheels?
A.  Put it back together
B.  The murder weapon was a giant icicle
C.  It represents mankind
D.  To get to the other side!
E.  A lot of hamburgers

If you selected choice E, you’re correct, and yet likely still confused.  

This story begins almost seven years ago.  I was a senior in college and becoming essentially too cool for school, insofar as I was dating a very sophisticated older man with a job.  That sophisticated older man is, of course, the gent you know as Husband.  And that man had meaningful disposable income for the first time in his life.

I’m not one to begrudge someone a few indulgent purchases upon entry to the real world and the drudgery of work - I myself made some pretty ridiculous purchases upon law school graduation.  So when Husband bought stuff like a backyard hammock complete with stand, or $250 cowboy boots (? seriously, ?), I didn’t say anything. 

But then he bought the Buick.

To be precise, he bought a 1956 Buick with enormous fins, an airplane hood decoration, and such serious rust damage that you could watch the asphalt rush by underneath your feet as you drove it.  It literally had holes in the floor.  Like a Flintstones car.  Seriously.

It wasn’t going to be the first car he had restored; he’d restored an old mustang in high school.  But I was still skeptical when Husband brought the Buick back to the house that he was then sharing with two other dudes (before the mold was known).  I had questions.

Liz:  I mean, how long is it going to take you to finish restoring this car?
Husband:  I don’t know, like a few years probably.
Liz:  A few YEARS?  Are you kidding me?  That’s forever!
Husband:  No more than four, I mean.
Liz:  FOUR YEARS?!?!?

Flash forward to six years later.  The Buick was not done.  The Buick was not only not done, it was not, in any meaningful sense, ASSEMBLED.  I had unwittingly enabled this state of being when I helped husband build two work benches.  He used those work benches to set the body of the car on after he removed the body from the frame.  I had never personally realized that you could take the body of a car off the frame, but you can, and I was reminded of this afresh whenever I went to the garage to do laundry and rammed my arm into a tailpipe hovering five feet in the air. 

THAT state of being had been achieved by bribing fifteen of our friends to come over and pick the body up off the frame and move it six feet to the left on to the tables.  The bribe had been a barbeque.  

This strategy had evidently worked not wisely but too well, because now, when it came time to move the entirety of the vehicle, Husband was of the opinion that all we needed was our friends to pick it up.

To move an entire two thousand pound car, which notably did not have wheels attached to it in any sense whatsoever.

I thought we should rent a crane, or commission an army of sherpas, or perhaps sell the entire vehicle piecemeal on Craigslist before we moved.  But apparently none of that was an option.

Husband sent out an e-mail to literally everyone we know who still lives in the area, and some who (as husband knows perfectly well) live several time zones away.  In exchange for helping to dead lift an entire automobile, carry it onto an auto trailer, carry it off an auto trailer, and up a driveway into a garage, we offered... burgers.  Including veggie burgers for those inclined.

I did not think that was a particular attractive option.  I thought we would have no takers.

But our friends are all spectacularly giving and wonderful people - so much so that I felt even worse about how we were abusing them.  When the appointed day came, we had around 20 people show up to lift.  

The first task was to back the car trailer onto the driveway in a suitable fashion.  I did not think that was an achievable goal: it was a 20 foot long trailer, the wheels of which were nto controlled by a steeing wheel, and the only way to back it was by pushing it with the car it was attached to.

Husband assured me that he was "good at backing things up."  I gave him a look that attempted to convey my lack of certainty that that was a thing.  At all.  That anyone was good at.  

But it turns out even after seven years in a relationship with someone, he can still surprise you.  It turns out that Husband is actually really good at backing things up.  He navigated that trailer backwards into the driveway perfectly.  It was truly impressive.  Everyone applauded.

We then crammed everyone into the garage as best as possible and tried to figure out how to lift something that was designed to be picked up only by tow trucks and machinery in factories.

"Okay, let's get enough people on each side."
"But we need someone to direct!"
"Okay, Jam can direct and guide, and everyone else lift on one side."
"We need someone on the back!"
"Two people on the back.  The rest lift."
"Do we have any more gloves?"
"No, but use these rags?"
"Do we have any more rags?"
"Well, here's a shirt of Husband's that I don't like anymore, no, it has holes in it, stop looking at me like that."
"Okay, does everyone have gloves, or a rag, or a shirt?"
"Let's lift on three."
"Lift on three, or lift on one-two-three THEN lift?"
"One-two-three lift."
"Should we do a practice lift?"
"No.  It's time to lift.  Jam?"
"Ready everyone?  Here we go - One.  Two.  Three.  LIFT!"

It's now that I should mention that our garage wasn't exactly spacious: there was the frame of the car, the washer and dryer, Husband's workbench, a bunch of boxes, etc.  So the grunting and narrative shouting that ensued as 22 people tried to move in concert while carrying the heaviest thing imaginable was NOTEWORTHY.  

Spectacular, in fact.

By which I mean we caused a spectacle in the neighborhood.  The neighbors - many of whom we still had never met - all came out of the house to stare as we awkwardly waddled this car onto the trailer. 

Then it was merely a simple task of driving the trailer to the new house and unloading it into the new garage.  And that couldn't be any harder than getting out, right?  

One, two, three, lift, carry up the driveway, lift to set on the work tables and...

Husband:  "Uh, okay, everyone set it back down on the driveway."

The work tables that had been the right height for the car body to fit in the old garage were not the right height for the new garage, which we discovered was in fact shorter than the old garage.

When Husband and some other individuals broke out the saw to start cutting the tables down, I gave up and started getting the burgers ready.

We eventually did get the car lifted and into the garage, and we did get the burgers on the grill, and we MAY get our friends to forgive us someday.  But I told Husband that if we move again, either the car drives to the new place or it doesn't go at all.  We don't have enough friends to get an entirely separate batch to lift the car again.

We did find one upside the next day to having a giant auto trailer at our disposal, though:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Better tips for people who would like to talk to women

Dear people thinking of listening to pickup artists: this doesn't work, and as further disincentive to being a jerk to women, keep in mind that this (or worse) might happen to you.  I am an actual woman who has successfully conversed with many human beings, so I am qualified to give you advice.  If you want to talk to women, try any of the following tips instead:
  • "Hey!"
  • Smile at her and ask her what her name is.
  • Try having an interest, and then asking her if she would like to discuss that interest with you
  • If not, ask her if she has an interest.  If so, discuss it with her.
  • "What are your thoughts on the current political situation?"
  • Jokingly complain about something moderately unpleasant about the environment, e.g., "Yikes, this jukebox is pretty loud!"  "It's crowded here tonight!"  "I didn't expect quite so much Miley Cyrus to be playing here, but you take what you get, I guess..."
  • Compliment her hair or earrings.
  • Ask her how she feels about the current weather pattern and/or level of atmospheric pressure.
  • Discuss the most recent victory or loss of a local sports team.
  • Literally anything other words or mouth noises than negging.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Not Unmoved: A Tale of Packing

When I was in college, I moved every.  Single.  Year.  It was no mean feat, either - when I first rolled up to college, I did so in a uHaul packed with my possessions.  I overheard whispers of awe as I hauled all of my dorm necessities up the stairs.*  And everything when back down the stairs nine months later and into a storage bin, out of which it came three months later, up a different set of stairs, and so on.  I lived in a different dorm all four years of college.  I thought it was a luxury when I lived in one of those dorms for 12 straight months rather than 9.

Of course, after college, due to a specific confluence of circumstances I ended up moving everything out, back to my childhood home a thousand miles away, and then back to the exact same school again three months later.  If I ever want to plead insanity, I will have plenty of people to testify that I actually did this.  

Twelve months later, I moved again.  

So in five years of my life, I had moved all of my earthly possessions a total of nine times while stubbornly refusing to reduce the quantity of said possessions.  Despite the moving.  Despite unsolicited suggestions as to the appropriate quantity of shoes required for existence as a student.  Despite the trauma to certain groomsmen called upon to move my couch while still recovering from and dressed for our nuptial celebrations.

After that ninth time of moving, I was of the opinion that moving could SHUT UP.

Fortunately, that last time was moving in with Husband after our wedding.  We successfully snookered various members of the bridal party into doing at least the final heavy lifting while we were on our honeymoon in Hawaii.  (Apparently we have a habit of going to Hawaii during housing transitions.)

And then we didn't move again for a long time - five glorious years of no moving.  But we bought our house!  Which was very exciting!  Until the initial elation faded and we realized what it meant.

We had to move.  Again.  And moving makes your place look like this:

As Husband can attest, I don't even like packing for a short trip.  It's one of my least favorite activities.  I did not greet the task of packing our entire life up with tremendous enthusiasm.  SOME person I MAY OR MAY NOT be married to may have described my demeanor as "sulky."  Perhaps it was: starting to move required confronting three very serious things I had henceforth largely been able to ignore:

1.  The exponential increase in stuff-accumulation that happens the longer you don't move
2.  The mold
3.  The entirely disassembled elderly vehicle in our garage.

Point the First:  Stuff Accumulation

I have modeled below the Liz Functional Theorem of Stuff Accumulation:

Current stuff = ((starting amount of stuff + major gift-receiving life events) * number of closets) ^ (years in residence)

In our case, the theorem proved chillingly accurate.  (OK, I can't really quantify it, but close enough.)  Neither Husband nor I are particularly inclined to throw things away.  We have "reference" files full of papers that include his resume as of his senior year of high school, or a job offer I got for a summer internship halfway through college.  We have a full costume box.  We have a selection of sheets for XL-twin beds that haven't fit any bed since we left behind the crappy dorm ones.  I have enough bottles of half-used hair products that, if dumped into the bathtub, could drown small rodents.  

When you move, you at least confront the more egregious items that need to go.  The shirt that is really affirmatively torn.  The box of cards received on your last birthday.  The pens that are out of ink.

I wasn't used to having stayed in the same place for five whole years AND having had the use of all the closets in the house.  So when we started packing, I started finding some next-level crazy stuff:

  •  A bunch of broken vases.  
  • A plastic box containing:  
  1. an empty box sunglasses had some in; 
  2. a pink feather boa; 
  3. a bunch of save-the-dates for our wedding; 
  4. a fanny pack; 
  5. a worn-out black leather belt.
  • Twelve billion wire hangers
When did I decide that was an important selection of items to store together in the guest room closet?  

The most notable find was my dried-out wedding bouquet:

Which led to this inconclusive** text message exchange with Sassy:

Point the Second:  The Mold

We knew our house had mold.  You can't get a house for cheap rent in a VSREM just on good looks.  We also knew from the fact that for a long time, whenever it rained, the roof would leak and one of the walls would actually swell up with water and be kind of squishy if you poked it.  The landlord eventually repaired the roof, but our battle with mold had been ongoing.  We scrubbed the walls with bleach frequently.  We once painted a couple walls with mold-resistant primer stuff.  None of it seemed to do much good -- the house was damp and poorly insulated and it kept coming back.

We just hadn't realized how much. 

When you take the furniture out of rooms, the room looks pretty sad:

But when you take furniture out of rooms and find a ton of mold, that makes YOU look pretty sad.

Husband sprang into action.  He was DONE with mold and did not want to bring a single spore of it to our new home.  So... amazingly... we actually threw a lot of stuff away.  If we felt it was too mold-contaminated, in the trash it went.  All of the furnitures was thoroughly scrubbed and left outside on bright sunny days to kill the mold.  Items that had been in the room with the worst mold were cleaned and then sealed in airtight ziploc bags for a period of no less than two months.  We were zealous.

Friend:  "Your new house smells a lot ... fresher? than your old one?"
Husband:  nods knowingly

The rest of the move was fairly standard, with only the minor glitch when my mom and decided we absolutely needed to remove gross shelf paper from the shelved in the new house before we could put anything in that closet, so that had to happen immediately for obvious reasons:

There was also the issue that Husband really didn't want to move our old TV because it is ridiculously big and heavy.  It has a giant screen but is NOT a giant flat screen - it's an old projection TV and thus weighs twelve million pounds.  Husband, sensibly, wanted to sell the TV on Craigslist before we moved a buy a new one.  I, stubbornly, did not want to admit I had already bought Husband a new TV for his upcoming birthday.  The TV got moved.  

Astute readers will have noticed I never reached Point the Third:  Enormous Disassembled Elderly Automobile.  That's another story for another day, bien sur.  You will stay tuned, non, mes petits cheres?

* In justification of taking a uHaul to college: I was moving from a state without sales tax to a state with ridiculous sales tax!  I had attempted to buy everything I would ever need for the rest of my life before I left.  

** I currently cannot remember if I threw my spooky, Miss Havisham wedding bouquet out or if I hid it in the new garage.  Hmmm.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Functionally hitched

For someone who talks a big game about not being a functional adult, I do have one impressive qualification of the mature: Husband and I have been married almost half a decade. Though it’s far more a reflection of his infinite patience than anything I do - he still puts up with me even though I’m a screwup - it’s still pretty good. Compared to, say, famous celebrities, we have been through:
  • 14 Bradley Cooper / Jennifer Esposito marriages
  • 16 Nicholas Cage / Lisa Marie Presley marriages
  • 31 Kim Kardashian / Kris Humphries marriages
  • 191 Dennis Rodman / Carmen Electra marriages
  • 718 Britney Spears / Jason Alexander marriages
(thanks, Time Magazine, for this helpful information!  Way to be a serious news source covering the Issues of the Day!)

You might think comparing your marriage length to celebrities isn’t fair; it’s like laughing at a dachshund for not being able to reach something on a high shelf. But lawyers generally aren’t all that much better at lasting marriages, so I still think some credit is due - I haven’t yet nitpicked Husband to distraction, so that counts for something!

Now lest you begin to think I’m going to have to retitle my blog to Smug Mature Person Brags About Her Marriage, let me state immediately that the very fact of our marriage was seen by many as Highly Irresponsible. Because we got married young, son - not stereotypes-of-the-Deep-South young, but young enough that the minister who hitched us felt the need to comment during the ceremony that he had worried about us because we were so young.

Everyone thought we were CRAZY. Which had its upsides: none of our friends had ever been to a wedding before, so there was no wedding-planning pressure and they were all just really excited to come celebrate. (And, bless its digital heart, Pinterest hadn’t been invented yet, for which I am so thankful.)

We weren’t old enough to be ridiculously set in our ways, and we didn’t each already have a bunch of nice furniture that conflicted. The main thing we had duplicates of was spices, and somehow we have yet to shake this? Like how much dried tarragon does one household need?

Everyone was, of course, correct that we were crazy. But one great thing about getting married young is you get to work on your timing. Because my conclusion about marriage is that it’s like a comedy routine. Actually, it’s not like a comedy routine. It is a comedy routine. And the longer you’re together, the more you get your timing right.

We have a couple of routines we do, really without thinking about it. For example, there are the ones where I’m the straight man and it’s Wacky Husband Doing Wacky Things. So I roll my eyes about [Topic] and set him up for the good punch lines. This one is usually about his unending car restoration or fondness for old trains and rusty buckets or whatever. But then we’ll switch at other times: he’s the patient exasperated one and I’m the wacky linedancer/overemotional suitcase packer/ indignant moviewatcher objecting to legal inaccuracies in the film.

I think a lot of couples do this: you know each other’s stories and so you can either get bored by them or you can take the fun option and inhabit them. You learn where the slow spots are and help your esposo steer through them; you make it funnier by providing a contrast, or a pseudo-conflict, or a commentator. And you get better at it with time - we leave ‘em in stitches, Husband and me. (Sometimes we even make them laugh! Wait, no, too soon for an actual stitches joke?)

Though I wonder sometimes if unmarried people think married people spend their times alone with each other rolling their eyes at each other and exchanging barbs. Like they live in this horrible, real-life version of the parents’ marriage from Home Improvement.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ll tell you this: when it’s just us, we are often just laughing at the squirrels in our yard. You guys, those squirrels are hilarious. The eye rolls are all for your benefit. Just like my inexplicable wedding-planning pins on Pinterest: just because I’m never having a wedding again doesn’t mean I won’t pin for your wedding. You’re welcome.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Fifty Shades of White

Our new house needed, ahem, some work. I had sold myself on the idea that the funky yellow-and-burgundy tile plus creamsicle-orange sink and bathtub of the downstairs bathroom was…. retro. The toilet that isn’t on a perpendicular axis to the wall of the powder room? Quirky and still decidedly… usable! The pink paint on the room off the kitchen? Barely noticeable… very pale pink indeed.

But I really couldn’t deal with a few things: the orange-and-green cabinets, the janky old oven that was fresh out of 1981, and the tile floor in the kitchen.

I knew kitchen renovations were expensive. But my favorite home improvement bloggers have taught me that paint is magic. So I decided the first thing we needed to do was to paint the orange and green cabinets. And by “paint” I mean “pay someone to paint.” Husband didn’t trust me with a paintbrush anymore, and cabinets seemed harder than walls, so I acquiesced.

But first, I needed to pick a shade of white.

Last time I painted, I was pretty chill about shade-picking. I grabbed a couple of the paint-color-sheet-thingies at Home Depot, looked at them a bit at home, said “Dolphin Gray it is!” and bought the paint.

This time I lost my mind over paint selection.

I first decided that we needed to get Fancy Paint. There was a time in my life when I didn’t realize that different brands of paint had different levels of fanciness.  That was a time in the past, from before I started reading home improvement blogs.  And once I learned that there were different fancinesses of paint, I knew that for our kitchen cabinets of the very first home we owned, we were going to get some DANGED fancy paint.

I quickly ran into the first problem with Fancy Paint. Your Regular Paint is sold at Home Depot, which is open whenever, and I know where it is and I just wander in and get paint and no one looks at me funny for wearing my paint pants and an old Mock Trial t-shirt covered in drops of Dolphin Gray. Fancy Paint is sold at Fancy Specialty Paint Stores, which have hours like 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the week of the month where the moon is waning. Painters must work at ridiculous times of day.

Not being an anthropomorphized Disney songbird, I don’t wake up with the dawn and I don’t wake up early enough to leave any spare time before work. So with all of the Fancy Paint Shoppes closed by the time I left work, lunch was the only time I could go get paint chips. So I drove into town to the Fancy Paint Shoppe.

I walked in and wandered to the paint chips section, where I proceeded to spend forty minutes staring blankly at a selection of approximately two frillion colors of white. It was mesmerizing. No, paralyzing. A woman offered to help me several times and I declined in mumbles. Finally I snapped out of it, grabbed every paint chip with something white on it, and bought three tiny sample pots of white paint.

a million white paint chips
the madness

The next few days I was a menace to all around me.

Liz: “Vanilla milkshake is definitely out, because it’s way too gray. I’m really going back and forth between Bavarian Cream and White Chocolate. I want something warm, but Mayonnaise is too yellowy.”

My coworker: “I’m starving. Do you want to get lunch?”

[the next day]

Liz: “I've tried a bunch... but I feel like Oxford White is the white I want, but none of the stores have it, even though it's listed on the paint company website!  And I feel like it is the IDEAL white!”

Mom: “Didn’t you say that about Mountain Peak White yesterday?”

[the next day]

Husband: “You promised you wouldn’t buy any more paint samples.”

Liz: “Well, technically I didn’t - they didn’t have this one in samples so I had to buy a quart of the actual paint. But I have a really good feeling about this one! It’s crisp linen!”

Husband: “Wasn’t the LAST one Crisp Linen?”

Liz: “No, that was Linen White! Totally different!”

[the next day]

Liz: “Did you get my text?”

Dad: “I did but… what am I even looking at, here?”


I finally settled on a shade of white: Cream Froth. It looked a lot like Mountain Peak White. It also looked a lot like Crisp Linen. But Cream Froth it was, and I was pleased to have selected one of the delicious-sounding ones.

We were finally a go with the painter.

It was so exciting the day we saw all the doors get de-orangified:

And it looked SO MUCH better when it was done….

In case you had forgotten how it looked orange…

Then all that was left was the installation of the new oven.  Poor Husband.  But that's another story.

Hopefully the improved cabinetry is worth all the paint-shade-madness I inflicted on everyone around me. I’ve hidden all of the leftover paint samples in the garage so Husband will hopefully forget about how I went crazy. And I had almost forgotten, too, until we went to Home Depot yesterday to look at some blinds* for the house. We had identified the kind we wanted when the guy asked us which color we wanted...

There was white white. Pure white. Silk white. Optic white. Chantilly. I started seeing spots in front of my eyes…

Husband: “Silk white.”

Liz (whispered): “Thank you.”

*None of the following should surprise you given what I have told you about this house:  There were blinds on the house originally, but they were tan-colored rusting metal mini-blinds.  The realtors apparently threw a fit about them and made the owners take them off before showing the home.  We found them in the garage after we moved in.  They were pretty gross.