My Summer Vacation

Beach with palm tree and cocktail
Hah! I wish. No, my summer was pretty much the opposite of this.

OK, so I know I’ve been absent for a while, and I’m truly sorry for any frustration that may have caused. But before you read me the riot act, let me just say one thing (and this is the first and last time I’ll say this, because y’all know I absolutely adore you):

I don’t wanna hear it.

It’s not anything you’ve done, and I’m not dealing with any life-shattering tragedy or anything. It’s simply been a long, arduous summer. The past couple months were just a series of complicated, expensive, urgent problems. Here, allow me to list a few:

Summer 2017: A Comedy of Errors

  • As you know, my dog had to have surgery for several tumors, one of which was cancer. That was quite an ordeal, as was her recovery with the Cone of Shame.
  • I realized a few weeks ago that I had made a very, very, very serious mistake with my homeowner’s insurance last year, and I basically spent significantly more than I was supposed to. I was able to get some of the money back, but only after a lot of headaches and regret. And a sizeable chunk of the money is gone forever. That was a real kick in the gut.
  • Short version: I began work on a drainage issue on my property that was causing damage to my house’s foundation. Over the course of the past few months, I’ve done a ton of the physical labor myself–I have moved literally about 15 tons of material with nothing but a shovel and a wheelbarrow. Why? Because there’s no physical way to get heavy machinery into my backyard. Anyway, the issue turned out to be more complicated than we at first thought, and right when the project was almost finished, I realized that someone (not me!) had made a huge mistake, and a lot of the work needed to be torn out and redone. Cue almost two weeks of the runaround. Then it flooded, thereby making the problem so much worse.

    Think about the situation this way: Imagine you’re having your roof repaired. Something goes wrong, and there’s a delay, and your roof is temporarily left half-done. Then it rains. And since your roof is mid-repair, it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do (keep rain out of your house). That’s a pretty good analogy, I think. Oh, and guess what?
  • It’s not just an analogy–that also happened. Yay!
  • At some point, while doing tons of physical labor, I chipped a tooth. I then proceeded to have an amazing dinner at Antoine’s, where I was treated to probably the best wine I’ve ever had in my life. Red wine. Which, ya know, stains. My dentist was not happy with me. I REGRET NOTHING.
  • That flood I mentioned? Yeah, it was nothing compared to the one that happened August 5th. And yes, I had flood damage to my home. Thankfully, only one room had damage–a small room that’s not elevated like the rest of the house. Too bad I was storing a ton of important stuff in that room. But I’m one of the lucky ones–many homes in the area were badly flooded. I’m grateful, but I’m also a little nervous about what’s to come.
  • On top of everything, my fence collapsed. Because I can’t afford to spend 4 grand on ~70 feet of fence, I’m building the damn thing myself. Digging new post holes is a nightmare, y’all.
Painting: The Hell - Hans Thomas
Okay FINE, it wasn’t that bad.

I’ll admit I brought a lot of this on myself. My New Year’s resolution for 2017 was to finish a few major projects on my house–things that needed to be done and really should have been done long before I even bought the house.

And I have a bit of an obsession with completing things I’ve started. If I begin a project, no matter how complicated it turns out to be, and no matter how harrowing (and expensive!) it becomes, I won’t stop. I won’t let it beat me. It’s the sunk cost fallacy, and it is absolutely irrational and stupid, and I am so, so, so guilty of it.

But! It wasn’t all bad. I’ve learned some pretty valuable lessons:

Lessons Learned Summer 2017

  • Can I drain my flooded backyard with nothing but a really long hose and a VERY basic knowledge of fluid dynamics? You’re damn right I can.
  • When I grow impatient with that method, can I then use three little fountain pumps and several feet of spliced-together old hose and pex and random tubing to quickly drain the rest of it? You betcha!
  • If you shovel literal tons of sand and gravel for a few weeks, your arms/shoulders will start looking pretty sweet.
  • If you shovel literal tons of sand and gravel for a few weeks, wear gloves, dumbass. Your hands will thank you.
  • Just because someone has experience doing something, that doesn’t mean they have experience doing it right. And if they don’t have experience doing it right, then congratulations! You just flushed money down the toilet, and now you have to dismantle their “work” and do it your damned self.
  • New things are scary. Construction is scary. But from now on, I will not be passive and deferential to people I have paid to work on my property. I’ve been in the habit of assuming that the “professional” I’ve hired always knows best, and I should just keep quiet. God forbid I’m seen as a “difficult” customer. But over the past couple months I’ve learned that there are “professionals” who either don’t know best, or they do, but they’ll take advantage of my reluctance to speak up.
  • I really need a f-ing Sawzall.
  • Last but not least: building things, home repairs, and manual labor are HARD WORK. It’s even harder when you’re doing it alone. And when you’re working alone and you’re impatient, you do stupid, dangerous things. But there’s no sense in getting angry that it just took half an hour to do something that would have taken 30 seconds if you had someone there to help. Slow and steady beats frustrated and sloppy every time–and you’ll have fewer smashed fingers in the end.

I’m tired of being dirty and sweaty and covered in bumps and bruises and scrapes and bad sunburns. I’m ready to get back to real life. I took the day off yesterday and had a good long soak in the tub, painted my nails, and didn’t touch a hammer, shovel, impact driver, post hole digger, or any tool whatsoever. I wore pretty lingerie and did my hair and makeup, just for the hell of it. Just for me. And it felt so damn good.

So, I’m back. The bulk of the work is done, but there’s still a substantial bit to go. But that’s OK. I may not finish it tomorrow, but I’ll finish it. In the meantime, there’s more to life than dirt and lumber and tools and literal blood, sweat, and (almost, a few times) tears. I’m just going to have to try something new: patience.

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