Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Not gonna lie

I feel like a bit of a badass. Broken drawer? No worries, I have clamps and wood glue. Maybe it doesn't work but it bides me time.

Unfortunately my back wall is deteriorating and I need work done.

Being a badass means knowing when to grab a clamp and when to grab a carpenter. I should learn to do most things myself, but not right now.

Monday, May 22, 2017


The Young Man texted this morning to say he happened to be working nearby.  I happened to be coming home at 3 pm to deal with termite inspection (that didn't happen really because of not being under contract).  And Ziggy adores him. 

So she mauled him.  And he was a good sport about it. 

And then we went to my other house and he helped me fix a doorknob that would have taken me an hour to figure out and only took him a minute because he's smart like that.  And some other things, and gave lots of mold advice (he remediates that for a living), and promises to change out my taillight replacement for me.

He shows up like a knight in shining armor a whole lot of the time.  He's really helpful and sweet, and have I mentioned how well hung he is? 

But he's like a bee pollinating a flower - he buzzes in, he buzzes out.  It makes me weary.  And I know that we can't be in an actual relationship but this on-off thing isn't me anymore.  So I guess we need to talk about that.  I offered to make him dinner but we can't mesh our schedules enough for that.  Work, school, and now he lives in another town.


My friend S. says she can't be around sweets at all, can't have one little bite because it can make her eat a whole cake.  That works for her, to avoid it.  And I'm kind of like that with The Young Man.  It's easier to just not see him.  Because when I do, I want more.  I want consistency and availability. 

We kiss in public.  It seems strange to me, but we kiss in greeting on the street. On the lips, where people can see, and it seems evident to me that we're lovers by how we greet and say goodbye.  And not like HNIC and I would hug and kiss in public, which could be perceived as two very close friends happy to see each other.  Which we were.  God I miss him and the thought of never seeing him again slays me. 

And I don't want to lose the Young Man altogether.  I like our chats, his visits with the dog, our drinks.  I of course like how much he helps me.  I just don't know that I want to keep having sex with him. It kind of throws me off my equilibrium. 

At one point, Ziggy took a break from kissing him all over to run to me and kiss me all over.  I was like: no worries, dog, I'm not jealous.  She loves him more than a frozen banana stuffed kong, and she loves me more than him even though she doesn't jump on me. 

Very nearly done with the house.  A bit more cleaning, And caulk.  And then done!  Yay! 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

good neighbors

Yesterday I caught my neighbor on his way to work and asked if he could give me a hand with a project at my other house - the bathtub dilemma (the front-of-tub drywall had rotted out and needed replacement).

Today he rang the doorbell half hour earlier than we had agreed to and I asked for five minutes and when I came out he was machateing along the fence where his grass grows through and I need to weedwhack and ohmygod my front yard is such a mess I'm about to get cited and that takes A LOT in this laissez faire city.

WE went and looked and he said that while the greenboard (which is actually purpleboard now) would work, fiberglass would be better because of the humidity issues.  And while I agreed with him, they don't sell that at Lowe's and the nicer places are closed today.  We talked it through and went to Lowe's together and he said: wait, what about vinyl sheets like what surrounds the tub?

Brilliant.  So he silicone-affixed to the plaster and drove in nails and installed new molding and BOOM it's done.  Well, not really because I have to go back tomorrow and paint and caulk more and he kept saying: are you sure you don't want to just finish? And honestly, no.  I like to take time between coats of things.  The compound he used is best not messed with for 12 hours.  I *could* paint on it, but so much better when we can take time.

And then I'll clean that bathroom thoroughly and then also the kitchen and then haul paint cans to the attic, wash out paint brushes, haul gear and tools to my truck, sweep and mop floors, and I am DONE. I could make myself crazy with more chores to do with it but I won't.  Unless the tenant - whom I'm meeting tomorrow along with the roofer and termite inspector - sees something urgent, we're done. 

I said to my neighbor as he was finishing up: "What is your hourly rate?"  "No, this was a small job.  How about $20?" 

It was just under 2.5 hours since we had left our houses and I usually pay carpenters $25/hour and I said, "Oh no.  LIsten: if you don't let me pay you properly, I can't ask you to do things for me and we both lose."  "OK, how about $20?"  "How about $70?"  "No, too much.  How about $25?" 

And so it went.  We landed at $50.  Which I still think is a deal for me because his solution was genius.  And when this tenant rolls over, we'll probably do a more extensive renovation and retile it all again.  I had to take out the tile when we renovated a few years ago because it was in poor condition, and I didn't replace it at the time.  Now I know it's a better option.  Live and learn. 

He said he does all aspects of carpentry in new construction, which is good to know.  But the company he works for is selling them for upwards of $600K so that's outside my price range.  By a long shot.  But hopefully he can help me with repair of soffits and fascia and replacement of my carport.  We should move on that.  He's just cautious because he wants to make sure I'm on board with the decisions and it takes time. 

Now I need to cancel the carpenter I have lined up for Thursday.  They were dragging their heels, feeling no real urgency, and it was stressing me out.  And they still haven't gotten me an estimate but I'm sure it would be over $200.  Maybe even more.  Guess I'll never know.

Today I got some money back on the chicken coop (damaged when I received it).  And I took time finally to packing up two things to return so I'll get money back then, too.  And, rent coming in again for June.  I'll be ok.  I was born under lucky stars. 

texts with my godson reveal underlying wishes

Yesterday I got a good amount done at the house.  I just merrily moved from one chore to the next - painting and cleaning and such.  My godson started texting midway through and he was chatty.  Specific things like what's my favorite food here, to more specific to him if I ever get bored (how can I get bored?  I have too much to do).  I said I was in the middle of painting and he said: "Oh, for work?"  "I wish!"

I do wish.  While it's physically exhausting, there is such reward in the completion of tasks like this.  The walls I painted look great (same color, but the tint was different so couldn't just touch up).  I think I got rid of the mouse urine smell in the laundry room.  The tub is ready for a new bead of caulk as soon as the surround is fixed.  And so on. 

Probably I would be annoyed if this were my full-time gig, but I'm only really annoyed when I have to do it after a long day at the job that I hate, when I have to be away from home too long.  I like being home, especially because Ziggy Stardust is there and she makes everything better with this face.
So, in that vein - I came up with an ideal future.  It involves a partner, which is not because I emotionally particularly need that but because logistically.  Which was of course the way of the world since the beginning of time, so who am I to judge marriages of convenience? 

Move to a farm preferably near-ish to New Orleans (and I keep a pied de terre here).  Work the farm with animals and plants - diversification for interest and sustainability sake, but not overextension.  In this fantasy world, the chickens and dog will become friends and roam the property with whatever other animals the partner has.  We work hard physically and rest well, and come to New Orleans maybe twice a week to sell products and make groceries and other errands. 

And when the farmwork is not at full frenzy (it's a cyclical life), spend time on research and writing.  A la Wendell Berry or even Henry David Thoreau or I think that's the life Barbara Kingsolver is living now. 

A combination of lives blending together. 

This wouldn't have to be in and around New Orleans, though I can absolutely picture it here.  Other places nearish an urban center for access to the luxuries I like so much.  (My current house would be perfect for the pied de terre since it has the studio apartment attached and I could rent out the main house for income to cover mortgage.) 

There are many lives that I can live as a single person, as I like.  But I cannot live a life between two places like this.  There are just too many details such as animal and plant care.  But also: I am not a laid-back person about home details and I need somebody else living there to take care of things appropriately, not favors from a neighbor.  Someone who knows how to snuggle with Ziggy and tell her what a good dog she is, and preferably take her on rounds of the farm (Ziggy is the kind of dog who loves a job but also takes serious responsibility for grounds maintenance - anytime me or the tenant bring something in, she must investigate it thoroughly.  Whenever the tenant lets Ziggy inside to visit, she immediately inspects the entire apartment to ensure that nothing has been moved or is missing.  To have a whole farm to inspect like that would definitely keep her busy.)  

So how do I meet this farmer person?  How do I make this future happen?  I don't have the technical expertise to run a farm in so many ways.  I can research and learn a lot, but there is so much that takes time to learn well.  Like right now my tomato plants are yellowing and I look it up and there could be any one of 37 reasons for this and I need more time growing tomatoes in the South to understand this.  Or whatever leafcutters are destroying so many plants - is it ants?  What do I do?  The internet throws up its hands without a solution.  Or the vine borers that wiped out some zucchini - according to the internet those shouldn't be coming around until end of June, so why are they taking me out now?  These are things I just don't know here because i haven't gardened enough.  And this is a hobby - the stress that would happen if I were to try to farm without having that knowledge?  Yikes.

And of course there are all sorts of problems with this plan, such as student loans.  But there could be ways round it like forming a non-profit to pay me for farm work?  I don't know.  But it seems there could be a way to make things work. 

So, universe: time to actualize!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

millennial communication patterns

Every time my godson - the sullen, suicidally-depressed one - and I text, I am startled at how delightful and communicative he is.  He says how excited he is to come spend time with me, how he's nervous about coming to a new city.

In person, this is not him.  And a lot of that may be a conflict between him and his father and how masculinity is manifested and defined.  Maybe here he can feel free to not be constrained to patterns of grunting and rage.  They have many generations of father-son conflict haunting them, and sometimes it's just really best to pull away from that.

He's sweet and sensitive, which I've always known but ... honestly, my mind falls into gender traps.  While I think women can do and be anything, I forget that men can, too.  That our notions of masculinity can lead to as much unhappiness for men as it does for women. 

And so every time we communicate - this time it was to tell him to bring one nice outfit as we'll likely go to at least one nice place, but otherwise to be prepared for warm weather - I look forward even more to his visit.  I talked it through with my BFF who is also their friend (she and my godson's mother and I lived together happily many years ago) and she thinks this could be really helpful for him, to get away. She remembers her fear at his age about the future and it was kind of a similar situation, not knowing what to do as none of the paths she knows of click for her.  She struggled in schooling probably because of some pretty serious undiagnosed dyslexia and other learning disabilities, and she didn't want to follow her driven attorney brother and artist sister.  She knew that wasn't the path for her, and she struggled with her sexuality and drugs and various other things.  She's definitely found herself and did decades ago, and I think he will too.  The issues are different but they both require a good deal of understanding.  I think our world right now is really scary to an 18-year-old who doesn't necessarily have a lot of resilience.  He fears making mistakes - and is he wrong when that could lead to massive student loan debt he can't get out from underneath? 

In our criminal justice system we no longer allow many kids to do stupid kid things that they will grow out of - we are so heavily punitive and ruin rather than rehabilitate them.  As a whole though, the world is more onerous than it was when I was 18.  Social media makes things permanent. 

So I'm not the most understanding person (understatement), and this reality isn't mine.  When I was not much older than him, I decided to just move to Germany on my own.  The thought of being nervous of being in a strange country without a real plan never even occurred to me.  I got a backpack, got rid of everything that wouldn't fit, and bought a one-way ticket.  I just do shit like that and it usually works out fine.  

He isn't bold.  His mother is bold, and so she doesn't really get his make-up anymore than I do on any kind of visceral level.  She can take any situation and turn it around to work fine - she is so hard-working and motivated and just willing to do whatever it takes.  She's one of the strongest people I know, able to go through things that are harrowing and emerge just dusting off her knees a little.  Her son doesn't have that.  He is more careful, more measured. And those are good qualities too - and they are likely because she wanted to provide him a safe world in which to grow up. 

But now he needs space to figure things out.  Make some mistakes.  Chart his path. 

And first, he needs to fucking finish high school and stop skipping.  He used to be such a good student and then not so much.  He should have great academic scholarships, but they put all the eggs in the basket of a sports scholarship but then he got a really serious concussion and it was very poorly handled and he refused to play anymore (wise choice). 

Anyway, we'll see what happens and if I play a role. For now, I'm planning where all we'll eat when he arrives.  I should probably plan things that aren't food, too, but that's a little harder since I don't know his interests well.  Neither does he.  We'll figure it out.  Some music, some art, some outdoors.  And lots of food. 

Summer will be hard for me financially, with the things I want to do with him.  Plus, books for my new dissertation topic.  Dropping almost $300 this morning, and there will be more.  I need to buy more shelves, too. 

Friday, May 19, 2017


The guy I bought the house from was an asshole.  I knew that, and I knew I could change the house energy, which I have.

But his assholery comes to haunt me.  LIke the rotten soffits he just told somebody to paint over to hide the damage, which I now have to get fixed.

And today I got a call from my termite company except that he never paid the $1100 as in the purchase agreement, so I am not under contract.  Which fucking sucks.  That's a lot of damn money that I shouldn't have to pay.

I emailed my realtor to see if there's anything to do, but I'm sure there's not.  He moved to Miami with a super common Cuban name so he'd be nearly impossible to find without a serious search.  And then what - sue him?  He doesn't care.  He knows he'll die without ever paying a penny.

What an asshole. 

If there's nothing to do the realtor way, maybe I'll try to talk the termite company down a bit.  They know I'm not to blame and feel bad for me, so they're coming on Monday as previously arranged, before they realized the bill was never paid for this property.  Some money may be better than none. 

These are the things to look out for when dealing with assholes. 

progress forward

Today I went to talk to a professor who may become my advisor.  My dissertation research interest is somewhat related to his field - not exactly the same, but much closer than anyone and my previous topic. 

He was engaging and interested.  I think that based on today's conversation he's ready to become my advisor. And I think that he would probably be a good choice for me - he seems like quality faculty and also we could riff.  We talked about a lot of restaurants (I have a list of places to explore with my godson) and other things like Katrina refrigerators.  He gave me things to read, asked questions about my interest and focus.  It was a pretty good conversation - much better than I'd expected as I'd had to run out of work to get my water turned on and that kind of thing throws me these days. 

The interesting part is that he asks questions that normal people ask - like what I do and my background, and it makes me remember yet again that I'm a pretty well-rounded person.  With a lot of education and life experience.  I've done interesting and challenging things and been successful.  Just because I'm in a job now where they don't understand that I am so much more capable is no reflection on me. 

Today I saw the woman who caused me grief earlier this week and we're both pretending it's all fine.  We found a common enemy so focused on that. 

OK, I have to go mow the backyard and I hvae a shit ton of work to do in the front but we'll see how my energy lasts.  I have probably 10 more hours of work to do at my other house and I need to power it out.  There's a qi gong class starting on Sunday that I'd like to go to - I've not done it much but I prefer it to tai chi.