I’ve been off the grid for a while, busy “home improving.” The thinking was, since my resume continues to ward off prospective employers more effectively than a crucifix repels vampires, the least I could do was invest my free time and a little elbow-grease in the crib and try to build some equity, while at the same time ridding ourselves of the 80s time-capsule in which we live.
When will I learn?
Like most “do-it-yourselfers,” I first took on the challenge of home repair and renovation out of necessity. Money was tight early on and so it only made sense to try and save a few bucks. Now I just do it out of some deep-seated self-loathing and a need to punish myself for all my bad deeds. In fact, those who know me can tell you that I enjoy “rehabbing” almost as much as I enjoy cooking…they are actually the top two activities on my list of Things Over Which I Would Prefer Taking A Sharp Stick In The Eye.
Yet here I am, working on my third “fixer-upper” house, which should qualify me for my own renovation show on HGTV by now. I already have a few names in mind – maybe Flip Off This House, or better yet, something that more closely speaks to my level of expertise, Caulk Hides Everything. Or Can’t you just…, which is my wife’s favorite phrase. As in, “Can’t you just turn the staircase the other way?” or “Can’t you just move the septic tank somewhere else?” No, but I could just touch a match to the place and dance naked around the ensuing conflagration.
This time it started simply enough, with a little landscaping out front. Then, before I knew it I was tearing out the old, tired beige carpet infused with soil samples dating back to the Reagan administration and installing dark hardwood flooring, or at least something that looks like dark hardwood (hey, I’m still unemployed…we’re on a budget here). But now those new dark floors clashed with the medium oak doors and trim everywhere, so that all had to go, too. As did the outdated tile in the entryways. And so, as long as I was doing the tile at the back door, I might as well tear out the crappy vinyl flooring in the adjacent bathroom and laundry room, and run that new tile throughout. And since I would have to remove the old, high capacity toilet (the one that apparently causes boats to run aground in the reservoir outside of town every time you flush) in order to tile the bathroom, I might as well replace it with a new, low-volume model so at least I can feel good about lessening my impact on the environment while I’m busy plunging. And since we decided to go with white trim, that made the off-white walls look merely dirty and so they had to be painted a contrasting color. Oh, and the oak vanity in the bathroom also had to be painted (and new pulls attached), along with the laundry room cabinets that had just recently been painted a different hue but were now deemed unacceptable with the new color scheme. All you reluctant renovators know the drill.
And that’s only phase one – I haven’t even made my way to the upstairs bedrooms yet. But now it looks like I may not get that far. Apparently the world has gone to Hell in a handcart while I was busy deciding between “Sahara dune” and “Sunset wheat” in the laundry room. If unchecked contagions don’t get us, religious zealotry surely will, the breathless news anchors assure me. Throw in the spiraling feces-fest that is the looming mid-term elections and the trifecta of terror is complete. I don’t know whether to shout end-of-the-world lamentations from the rooftops like the ‘Get-Ready Man’ or tell everyone that “All is well” like Kevin Bacon in Animal House, even as I’m being trampled underfoot by a herd of panicked humanity.
And then, while reaching for the hose to chase yet another canvasser off my porch, a solution presented itself. By at least one estimate, as much as $8.3 billion will be spent on political ads this election. And for what? After November 4th we’ll still have the same ol’ dysfunctional government we have right now. So let’s just scrap the campaign ads and re-purpose all that money. Not only will it spare us the endless turd-slinging from these tiresome hucksters, but that kind of cash would go a long way toward finding a cure for Ebola (or at the very least, buy each of us our own hazmat suit) with enough left over to pay for some tolerance courses for those who want to bathe us in our own blood.
You can thank me later…now, where’d I leave that nail gun?