Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Righting the Redneckery Part 2

So many people have been asking me how our bathroom remodel is going (okay like 1 of my friends asked because she had a dream she was helping us, which I greatly wish was reality...) that I felt compelled to give an update.

It's going super-swell. Our bathroom now looks like this:

So much better, right???
Actually, it's going pretty well. Thus far Dylan has finished the demo, except for scraping up the linoleum, because I asked him not to do that until the last possible second so I can use our washer and dryer as long as possible and not have to hang out with the toothless crackheads at the laundromat on the corner near our house (but, seriously, if you're in the market for a home in Knoxville circa May/June 2013, this is a great neighborhood! Our crackheads are the friendly grab-you-by-the-arm and mutter gibberish at you kind, not the shank you for the 67 cents and pocket lint you're carrying kind).

Yesterday he moved the register from its former insane position to a new less annoying position. Insert Uncle McShoddy saying, "Hey, Bubba, make sure you put that cheap-ass plastic register you bought at the Wal-Marts right in front of the toilet. But do it right, man, 'cause it also has to be right in front of the shower. Maximize the possibility for naked Yankees fallin' down the airhole and breakin' their legs. Then, they'll have to call 911 and Cousin Larry the paramedic can take pictures and we'll post 'em on the Internets!"


Mmkay, so, you'll notice I wrote "He moved the register". Perhaps that was an oversight. I was also involved in this process in a multitude of useful ways. For example, after Dylan did all that important measuring stuff and cut a new hole in our floor (who knew you could just cut a hole in your floor?! Just decide, "Hey, I'm going to cut a hole in the floor" and then do it? It's so ballsy! I mean that's your FLOOR...yeah so anyway...), he went under the house to attach the new ducts to the hole (!) he put in the floor. I was instructed to stand at the mouth of the hole and tell him when the ducty thing was in the right place and then tape it (with duct tape, had a little revelation there, folks) so it would stay in place until he could come up and screw it or nail it or whatever sexual euphemism he employed to keep cats from being able to jump down the hole and destroy our entire air-conditioning-delivery system (oh yeah, in case you don't read my Facebook statuses, our dumbass cat did that in the old airhole last week).

Anywho, so he shoved the metal ducty thing up into the hole with much grunting and other manly noises and then yelled up,

"Is it flush?"


"Flush! Is it flush with the floor?"

"Define flush," I said as he struggled to hold an enormous amount of ductwork in place over his head.

"You know, is the edge of the (insert name of ducty thing here, I've forgotten it) meeting the edge of the floor?"

"Which part of the floor? I mean this part in this one corner is kinda poking up a little bit, but this other part looks right."

"Which corner?"

"Um...the left one."

"My left or your left?"

"Mine...no wait, yours...no, it's mine. I always get so confused when someone asks me that. Do you know how long it took me to learn left from right? And then your left and right is different from other people's left and right! Totally confusing, right? I mean correct, not right. That's also confusing. Like when you're giving someone directions, you can't say right unless you mean right because --"



Perhaps this would have been a good time to mention to him that when I took the Multiple Intelligences test in the 11th grade, I scored a 0 in the spatial component. 0. I literally don't know my ass from a hole in the ground. Well, okay, I do, but if you asked me how far it was from my ass to said hole in the ground, I might reply, "Er...eleventy-hundred inches?" And all those problems you get in math class where you have to rotate a shape in your head and then pick what the shape would look like from another viewpoint? Yeah...that stuff blows my mind. If I try to think about that, my brain freezes like a DVD with a scratch in it. Can't go any farther, better go back to the menu and skip ahead a few chapters.

It also may have been a good time to mention that in 9th grade Geometry, we were supposed to build models of famous landmarks or buildings. Lacking an awareness of my own shortcomings, I chose Monticello (perhaps if I had taken the Multiple Intelligences test a few years earlier...). Yep, couldn't have chosen the Washington Monument (I mean, the likelihood of me being able to cut anything in straight lines is still pretty slim, but it would have been in a ball park like around the corner from me instead of a ball park on the Moon), I chose a mansion. I really wish I had taken a picture of my finished model. I stayed up all night working on it and that raggedy piece of crap fell apart before I even made it to class. Sadly my teacher did not go for my explanation of, "It's abstract! It makes you really re-think what Monticello meant. I mean, who was Thomas Jefferson? It's deeeeeep, right?"

Of course, it wasn't actually a good time to mention any of this, so I just said, "Oh yeah, looks good, babe," stuck a piece of tape on it and left him to come upstairs and discover how stupid I am for himself.

Later on, when he was under the house again putting floor (!) where the old register hole was (again, you can just put floor anywhere! Why does no one else realize how Godlike this is?!), I happened to walk by the bathroom and notice the light from his headlamp was glowing red through the old register hole. So, of course, I had to yell down to my cursing, sweating husband,

"Whoa! It's like the gates to Mordor!"

"What? We don't need more doors! Where would we put them?"

"No. Mordor. You know. Although, I guess really it's like the inside of Mt. Doom because not all of Mordor was on fire."


"Ooh, or like the final season of Buffy when they find that entrance to Hell under the high school and Spike's living down there all crazy and much less hot than he usually is because he got his soul back. Remember? It's like you're plugging up the hole to Hell! I guess you're Buffy in this scenario. Hehehehe."

"Woman. Would you please shut up? I'm trying to work."

See? I've been all kinds of helpful. And yet, despite all my help, Dylan has actually managed to make some progress. Today he's moving some pipes around or something. And if he finishes that, he'll start to tile the floor. I kinda want to help with that part because it seems like good squishy fun, but I suspect I might need to make things "flush" or "square" and well...Monticello...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Righting the Redneckery

The D-R circus is going to be packing up our big tent and performing monkeys and moving on to another town in about a year when Dylan finally captures that doctorate (an elusive and enigmatic beast, that doctorate). So, we've been looking around our little yellow castle and seeing what needs sprucing up so we can fleece some poor unsuspecting folks into paying way too much for this pile o' sticks.

Our search for a spruceable space was very short. There was only one option as to where to begin sprucing: our master (hellhole/pit of despair/health dept. citation waiting to happen) bathroom. See, our house is a 3/2, but it was built in 1945 as a 2/1. The main part of the house has good bones and the general run-of-the-mill old house problems - cracks in the ceiling, old, narrow cast-iron pipes, that sort of thing.

The addition, on the other hand, consisting of our master bed and bath, is a hodge-podge of pure half-assed redneckery (and if you think whole-assed redneckery is bad...). Basically the nitwit who bought the house from the previous owner (we like to call him Uncle McShoddy) was like, "Hey Bubba, I bet we can flip this daggone house with about $35 and that ol' toilet yer mama has sittin' on her back porch and we can trick some fancified Yankee into payin' way too much money for it," which is exactly what happened. Props to Bubba and Uncle McShoddy.

Being the green, naive, fresh-faced first-time homebuyers we were and facing a market filled with homes displaying various obvious signs of redneckery (anyone looking for a place with a window looking from the kitchen into the master bedroom? Because I know where you can find one...), we chose what we felt was the least 'necky option. Unfortunately, our house is like an undercover redneck. It's like a redneck with some learnin' at a fancy party. He's got a nice suit on and he knows how to pronounce the "g" at the end of "-ing" words, but get a couple of drinks in him and he's shooting empty beer cans off the balcony in two seconds flat.

In our house's case, it took about three weeks in our new house to discover that something was very, very wrong. For one thing, as inexperienced as we were, we were pretty sure the water's supposed to stay in the shower when you're showering. For another, we were also pretty sure that the water from the washing machine isn't supposed to back up into the shower and cover your feet with lint and cold water while you're showering. Also...erm...the toilet's not supposed to leak all over the floor...right? And hey...is that medicine cabinet installed upside down? It is! It's upside down!

We dealt with this problem by ignoring it. We stopped using the shower and did most of our bathroom-type activities in the other bathroom. And then the hot water heater exploded (no, literally, it exploded) and flooded our crawl space and yard and we discovered that much of the "plumbing" in the addition was actually refrigerator tubing. In case you were wondering, refrigerator tubing is not an acceptable substitute for, you know, pipes.

A real honest-to-goodness plumber came out and fixed that problem and replaced the refrigerator tubing and did what he could to right the snarled-up mess of back-ass-wards "plumbing" under the house, but as we looked around a few weeks ago, it was pretty clear that we needed to do some major work on the bathroom before we could hope to scam another fancified Yankee.

Yay! Water damage! And hey, Bubba, go grab you the cheapest plastic piece-of-shit register you can find on sale at the Wal-Marts and don't bother installing it properly or anythin', 'cause then the Yankees' dog can't sit her fat butt on it and break it.

More water damage! 'Cause y'all know, you don't need to make sure the floor under the toilet is level or anything...

You know what would be fun, Bubba? Let's put the toilet paper holder waaaaaaay far away from the toilet. Make them Yankees stand up to reach it. Ha!

So, we called contractors. We spent two months looking for contractors. One of them finally called us back. We set up three separate appointments with him and he stood us up each time. Once he did bother to call 10 minutes before he was supposed to be there and say he couldn't make it. Once we called him and he said his cat was sick. The last time, he just didn't show and we didn't call. I still haven't heard from him, but I halfway expect him to show up some evening, smash a hole in our bathroom wall and ask for $2000.

After that last time I spent two hours deep-cleaning the hellhole for NO ONE, I'd had it. Dylan and I looked at each other and said, almost in unison, "What if we just did it ourselves?"

And thus, we have embarked upon our first DIY journey as a couple. We are almost certainly insane, but every time we discover a new piece of wrong, wrong redneckery during our bathroom demo, one of us says, "Well, we can't do worse than this!"

And...it's not like one of us has shattered the glass shower door all over ourselves while trying to remove it or anything...because we have far too many college degrees between us to whack the crap out of the metal trim of the door with a chisel trying to remove it without realizing it would almost certainly result in sharp, glassy death...yeah...that's my story and I'm sticking to it!
There were more fun surprises after we finished the demo:

See those pipes? They shouldn't be there...but what fun would it be to put them in the wall where they belong?
Yay mold! You don't have to take the shims out before you put the baseboards on. Life is more fun when you share your bathroom with a possibly toxic lower life form!

The biggest surprise of all? The dorky poses he gleefully struck with his new tools. And yet I still love him...

Honestly, though, we bought a lot of books and we're doing a lot of careful research and I think we're going to be just fine...if I can remember to stop going into the bathroom at night and falling on my groggy butt when I try to sit on the toilet that's no longer there...

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Post

I've been trying to write a post about losing the baby weight as I just came up on my 1 year anniversary of beginning to get back in shape, but I've been having a lot of trouble with it. First of all, I hate the pressure new moms get from our culture in general to drop any pregnancy weight they gained 5 minutes after they drop the kid. We're all, "Look at Beyonce! Girlfriend is dancing onstage in a sparkly leotard with her epidural IV still attached! She's amazing! Now that's a woman!"


As the average new mom could tell you, we've got much bigger fish to fry than worrying about wearing our pre-pregnancy jeans to our newborn's 1 week check-up. I do not want to encourage that kind of thinking at all. The pace at which you lose your baby weight or whether you decide to lose it at all has absolutely no bearing on the quality of mother, woman, or human being you are. Period.

Secondly, I didn't want to sound like a Braggy McBraggerson and no matter how you slice it, posting before and after pictures of yourself on the Internet is braggy. And really, I mean, it's not like I climbed Mt. Everest without an oxygen tank or discovered the cure for AIDS. I lost 50-something pounds. People do it every day. It's kind of a petty and shallow thing to brag about.

But then I realized I want to be petty and shallow. I want to brag. I want very badly to rub this shallow, petty, superficial, relatively meaningless victory in the face of one specific person:

 The person who told me I couldn't do it.

Since I have no idea where she is now as she's moved away, y'all will have to suffer through a ridiculously self-indulgent open letter. You're welcome.

Dear Midwife-Who-I-Mostly-Loved,

Hi! How's it going? Hope you're having fun midwifing and such wherever you are now. As I stated in the greeting above, I mostly loved you. You were funny and sharp. You listened to my concerns and answered my questions. You tolerated my distinctly odd 2 year old spinning circles in the corner while singing, "La la la". You also tolerated him opening all your cabinet doors and pulling out important medical instruments. You furthermore tolerated him burying his head in your stomach and pinching your thighs. Like I said, you were pretty awesome.

You want to know what wasn't awesome, though? Your constant harping on my pregnancy weight gain. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know we're all supposed to gain 25-35 lbs. and, in your defense, I did look like this at the end of my pregnancy:


If that image isn't the very definition of the term "cautionary whale", I don't know what is.

But, as you watched those scale numbers steadily climb upward, perhaps you should have paused your one-size-fits-all judgment parade to consider who I was as an individual. Perhaps you should have considered the diet and exercise log I brought you per your request that showed I was eating a very sensible 2000-2200 calories of balanced, healthy whole foods every day and exercising at a moderate pace 3-4 times a week. Perhaps you should have taken into account the fact that I repeatedly reminded you I dropped all 40 lbs. I gained with my first pregnancy within 3 months after my son was born. Perhaps you should have thought about the fact that my blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol were all perfect at every stage of my pregnancy.

Most of all, though, you shouldn't have done this: Do you remember that moment when you looked up from my chart after noting that I had gained 6 lbs. over the past month and you said, "You need to put the brakes on the weight gain. It's just going to make it harder for you after the baby's born. There's a good chance you won't be able to lose all this weight"?

You should not have said that.

I conceded then and concede now that as my medical professional you (and you alone, take note non-pregnant world) had the right to comment on my weight gain, but what in my medical history or present made you think that I couldn't lose any weight I gained? And what would have made that the worst possible thing to ever happen to a woman in the world, as your horrified tone implied it would be?

Not cool.

But then again, thank you, because a year ago, I looked like this:

And today, thanks to a lot of hard work, I look like this:


Every time I wanted to quit a tough workout or eat an extra brownie, I would hear your voice in my head, telling me I couldn't do it. Nobody tells me I can't do something (well, except the police and, you know, Sir Isaac Newton, but you know what I mean). So, I guess you get some credit for my current state of fitness.

But you know what? How about you leave the poor pregnant ladies alone? Unless you have reason to believe that gaining a few extra pounds will be significantly medically detrimental for them, or you know they're subsisting entirely on a diet of AM/PM cheeseburgers, smudge that bottom line a little bit and let the lovely ladies you work with relax and enjoy a very special time in their lives instead of fretting about the scale. I'm pretty sure the anxiety induced by weight-shaming is as bad for the baby as gaining a few more pounds than that perfect average American woman-who-doesn't-exist is supposed to gain.

Seriously, knock it off. Because out of all the awesome times we had together, that one moment is what I remember, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.


A Formerly Happily-Fat Pregnant and Currently Happily-Fit Not-Pregnant Woman

P.S. I'm not kidding. And I have muscles now.