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??