Vegas: Robbed

Spent last week at CES in Vegas. For those of you who don’t know, the letters CES stand for 35 Football Fields Of Flat Screens and/or Mobile Accessories. Actually, I really enjoy CES, but that’s a different post. For all intents and purposes, it was an entirely uneventful trip to Vegas: I ate and drank WAY too much, I slept almost none, and I came home with less cash than I left with. Soooooo, totally normal.

This story, however, is about what happened after I got home from CES.

Leaving Vegas, I was … beat. I spent the entire flight home having visions of being in bed by 9PM at the latest. Upon arriving home, the Geester had different plans. My mother had unexpectedly signed up to take Matty overnight, and Gia was ready to hang. So, visions of a 3rd grade bed time quickly exploded into dominos and Rock Band with a house full until after midnight. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast, but it wasn’t what I had planned, nor what my body was equipped for.

My head hit the pillow shortly after 1AM.

I startled awake for an unknown reason a few minutes before 2AM. Once awake, I noticed the motion-detector driveway light was on (likely because it lights up the bedroom like a movie premier). Now, the driveway light is frequently tripped by cats and dogs cruising around, so the fact that it was on was not itself a reason to be alarmed. For some reason, despite wanting nothing more than to crawl under my pillow to block the light, I was compelled to get out of bed and take a look around.

This is why I will always spend up to the model with the moonroof. At first glance, I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Then I picked up some motion between our cars. I rubbed my so-so-tired eyes like a cartoon character and focused harder. From my view down through the moonroof of the Ridgeline (I’m one story above the driveway), it quickly became clear there was someone rummaging through the car, having entered from the passenger side.

My first instinct was to pound the window and shout. Then I thought that would just confuse him, because he is rifling through my car, which means he is a FUCKING MORON. My next thought (and this will be clearer for those who are familiar with the Tall Brown floor plan) was to run through the master bathroom out onto the deck where I could shout horribly insensitive threats from the safety of stairless Wide Brown.

Here is where parenthood might have saved my life. I had already taken a step toward the back door when my imagination said, “Hey. Tony. What if that guy has a gun and a mental disorder? Wouldn’t you rather watch him drive off in your Honda than, you know, those other things that keep you up at night?” I suddenly realized how glad I was that Matty was 35 miles away at my parents’ house.

So, I stood at the window for a second in my underwear, watching, in real time, as an intruder of uncertain sex or ethnicity decides what in my car is worthy to … simply claim as their own.

As quickly as I had come upon the situation, though, it ended. The perp stood up, silently closed the passenger door, and walked quickly up the driveway toward the cul de sac. I ran from the bed to the front of the house, but when I peered out the front window, there was nothing. I remember thinking, “Well, at least I’m getting hit by criminals who know how to stay the fuck out of sight.”

The next few minutes were a struggle. Once I was confident that the perp had moved on and the perimeter was secure, I casually got back into bed. Yeah, I know. My brain:

“I just … I just want to go to sleep. That’s all I’ve wanted since, like, Thursday. And here I am in my own bed, and my wonderful son is with his wonderful grandparents, which means I get to sleep until a lot later than if my wonderful son were here at the house. And that guy (or girl) was clearly just poking around for valuables, of which there are none in either car, I can assure you, so, joke’s on you, criminal scum! Anyway, if I call the police, I’m going to have to stay awake until they show up, then I’m going to have to stay awake while they’re here, and then, after they leave, I’m going to have to bring myself back down to where I can fall asleep. It’s after 2 now, shit, it could be 5AM before the cops get all their paperwork done and let me go. Frankly, I would trade a burgled car for 10-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep.”

I laid there for a few minutes, staring at the ceiling, feeble brain turning things over like a Kitchenaid mixer set to Don’t Offend, when, thankfully, reason came to the rescue.

“Tony, what if one of your neighbors witnessed one of their cars being robbed and didn’t say anything? What if this person is in the neighborhood for the next hour and eventually finds a laptop or a weapon or something that is used to make someone else’s life much, much worse and you could have prevented it by getting off your lazy ass and making a phone call? Better yet, picture the conversation with Gia in the morning. ‘Honey, I saw someone breaking into one of our cars last night.’ ‘… Uh … did you call the police?’ ‘Yeah, no, I was SUPER tired. Besides, I – ”

I got out of bed and called 911. I told the operator what [had] happened and he peppered me with several questions. When he was finished he told me that officers were already on their way and that I could stay on the line with him until they arrived or I could call him back if I saw a mouse or got shot or anything in between. He didn’t actually say that. He did tell me to stay inside and not to touch the car.

When I hung up the phone, I could hear police sirens, which was impressive. I was expecting to have to wait a long time given the lack of urgency of my call. “Let me get this straight, there is a man going through the CDs in your car and … judging you? WE’RE ON OUR WAY.” I placed the call at 2:07AM. A police cruiser drove by my house at 2:14AM. Color my tax dollars well spent.

The cop made a full lap of the neighborhood and then pulled in our driveway. He told me that petty vehicle thefts have been a big issue in the area for a couple months. The good news is that they seem to simply be lifting handles checking for unlocked cars and pilfering whatever they can get. There is almost never any damage to the car. There was no damage to my car, and the only [apparent] item removed was a cheap, aftermarket iPhone charger. The officer said several cars recently have had guns and laptops stolen.

I will not reveal the reason why our car was unlocked because I am a gentleman.

I chatted with the cop for a minute and then he bailed, presumably because this was all too boring for him, even by suburban Atlanta standards. Total time from 911 call to being back in bed: 39 minutes. Yet another reason Smyrna is a great place to live.

Get plenty of sleep and lock your car. Not necessarily in that order.

146 Days Later

Russ arrived at 9 o’clock Saturday morning. As I had done nearly every single weekend since March, and Russ probably a dozen or more times himself, we set about working on the deck. It started out just like so many deck-building days before it: drag tools out of the garage, review goals for the day, laugh mightily at naive ambition, reduce goals by 70%, commence sweating.

Over the course of this project, we learned it is best to accomplish as much work as possible before 1PM. The reason for this should be fairly obvious. The rear of Tall Brown faces East and is heavily wooded. During the morning, it is actually quite pleasant in the backyard. However, at approximately 1PM during the summer, the sun comes over the trees, and you suddenly realize how all of those poor ants and G.I. Joes felt under the terror of your magnifying glass.

I started this project in early March (March 6th, but who’s counting) specifically so it would be finished before the weather became Georgiarific. I thought it would probably take all of March and a couple weekends in April. Rather than have me do all of the work for you, please look at today’s date on a calendar and insert your own joke about my life. I’ll wait.

Seriously, it has been so hot out there I just want to crawl into a storm sewer and weep softly. Many days I wore only gym shorts and shoes while I worked. Yes, gross. This was my routine while installing the actual deck boards:

  • Install a row of 3 16-foot boards, drink a pint of water
  • Install a row of boards, drink a pint of water
  • Install a row of boards, drink a pint of water, re-apply sunscreen to my spare tire
  • Install a row of boards, drink a pint of water
  • Install a row of boards, drink a pint of sunscreen, wonder aloud whether ’tis wiser to simply burn the house down than continue putting my friends and family through this parade of retarded
  • Install a row of boards, drink a pint of water
  • And so on

    Armed with this knowledge, Russ and I hit it hard right when he arrived. The job for the day was to install the 2×2 balusters on the railing. There were a helluva lot of them (204 total, but who’s counting), and, while I wanted to get them all installed that day, I also knew this step could drag into the following day. You know, just like every single step before it.

    We worked hard (and smart), and around 11:30AM, something very strange happened.

    The deck was finished.

    Wait, what? I mean, I know the system we designed for measuring, cutting, spacing, and attaching the balusters was genius, and it allowed us to knock out one baluster every ten seconds or so, but that’s it? Just like that?

    The finish line kind of came out of nowhere, and it’s passing was actually rather anticlimactic. Russ held the last baluster in place against our brilliantly designed spacing mechanism (a 2×4), I fired the final two nails–POP! sssss POP! sssss, and all of a sudden it was like, Oh, hey, the deck’s done. Huh, I guess you’re right. Neat.

    Naturally, there is a list of outstanding tasks that still need to be completed before I can really get to work burying this project deep in my subconscious, but the construction part is OVER and not a day too soon. Next Saturday, August 6th, would have marked the 5-month anniversary of demolishing the old deck. Turns out I am more sensitive about this than even I might have realized. Earlier today, Gia was saying something about something, probably using the really low, dumb voice she uses to impersonate me, and she finished a comment about the deck with, “Yeah, and now it’s August,” to which I snapped, “IT IS NOT AUGUST. IT IS JULY. TODAY IS JULY 31st.”

    Leave it on the court, Tony.

    [Name To Be Revealed Later]

    Let’s quit screwing around and pick this pig up where we left off three years (!!!) ago, which is talking about the GHAT DAMN deck I have been building nonstop since my last meaningful post. You knew that was why I quit updating the blog, right? Oh, you thought it was because I got busy at work or had a kid? No no. I have been building a deck every day for the past 37 months. I was fired from my job back in 2008 after not showing up for several weeks. That red-headed kid in all the pictures on my Facebook whom many of you have met? Yeah, we’ve been borrowing him from an orphanage here in Smyrna just to keep up appearances. Sweet kid.

    Well it certainly feels like I’ve been building the deck that long. And I’m sure it’s felt that way for the numerous friends who have donated entire Saturdays and Sundays to risk heat exhaustion and slipped disks only so that I can have ~1000 ft² of pressure-treated lumber to pee off of late at night. And during the day.

    So, following the sink hole rodeo from our last episode, I fell out of attack mode and into a spiral of uncertainty. Did I really solve the problem? What happens if I spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on a new deck only to have it fall into a hole in my yard? What if the solution costs hundreds of millions of dollars? I might have to get a loan for that kind of cheddar!

    The Summer of 2008 came and went. I changed jobs in the fall, which was demanding, but, let’s be honest, ain’t nobody building shit during football season, not because of the football games, but because somehow it’s always like, “HURR, AUTUMN, WHAT DID YOU DO WITH ALL MY WEEKENDS?!!” To my credit, however, I did install bamboo floors on the entire first floor of our house that fall. By myself. Like a boss. All day. Real talk.

    Then the holidays.

    Oh, is it 2009 already? Oh, is your wife pregnant? Sounds like a FINE time to forego nesting and spend your time hammering together a tree house for the grill. Good luck with that. Despite the CIIIRRRRRRRCLE OF LIIIIFE disruption, there was one notable deck development in the summer of ’09. Since the original sink hole project a year earlier, I noticed a couple spots had settled, meaning I was inevitably going to need to get out the big(ger) guns if I wanted this problem solved. In June, I rented an excavator, and Danny and I spent an afternoon trying to figure out how to stop almost killing each other. We also managed to move some dirt. Look, there’s a [bad] video:

    We dug out the hole until it felt like solid clay on all sides and the bottom; much, much more than I had done by myself the previous summer. After replacing all the dirt (kill me), everything seemed pretty solid, albeit compressed slightly. (Lest it seem like this is foreshadowing, I’ll go ahead and tell you everything has remained stable since the excavator exercise. Exhale.)

    In September, Mattias was born, which was rad. I showed Matty off to the deck project, and the deck was cool about it, but I could tell he was more than a little resentful. I even caught a couple off-handed comments over the following months. “Hey. What’s up? Just chillin’ in the back yard like, uh, every day. Listen, I thought, maybe if you weren’t busy this weekend, you could maybe, I don’t know, it seems like it would be pretty easy to start the demoli–oh, right, you did already tell me about that. No, I mean, of course you should. Kids these days certainly can’t like raise themselves or whatever. I guess I’ll still be in the yard if you need me. Fuckin’ kid huh? What? I didn’t say anything. Yeah sure, later.”

    So Matty was born in the Fall, and we’ve already covered what Fall is like. So … THEN THE HOLIDAYS!

    I’d like to pause and reflect on how cavalier I am about my life going past me like a bullet train. I should probably take some time to sit down and wri-ONWARD!!!

    Let’s see … 2010. Two Thousand and Ten. I don’t remember a god damned thing about 2010.

    So here we are in sunny 2011. At some point during the winter, my inner monologue convinced me to quit agonizing over every little detail and just start the stupid piece of crap. There was a slow clap and everything. How does the saying go? A journey of a thousand miles begins with numerous, confidence-draining false starts?

    So start we did. On Sunday, March 6th, a little hungover, we (Russ, John, Dave, Keith, and Garrett) tore the old deck off of Tall Brown.

    I guess I should pause and tell you why I am replacing the old deck to begin with …

    Premature deck announcement (aka – SINKHOLIO)

    So … we’re going to put a new deck on our house. I originally planned a big announcement (which really just means a long blog post with lots of capital letters), but I’ve come to realize if I try to plan something to completion, I will spend the rest of my life in the planning phase. It’s best to just start whatever needs starting and figure it out as I go. SO HERE WE ARE.

    I mentioned the deck plan a couple months ago, and since then, I’ve done quite a bit of research and talked to a handful of professionals. My original plan was to have a contractor do the entire project. It’s going to be a very large job and as I tried to wrap my brain around it, I convinced myself that it would be worth a couple (THOUSAND) extra dollars to just have the pros come in and knock it out.

    After having no less than three contractors take a look at the project and give me high level estimates, I realized that I had underestimated the market by about two-thirds. We could have purchased a nice automobile for the money this was going to cost. The options we were left with were A) pretend we live in a high-rise condo with no deck or yard, or B) build the damn thing ourselves. I found as I socialized the project that my friends and family tended to agree with whatever my plan was.

    “We’re going to build a new deck.”

    “Awesome! Deckbuilding is fun. I will help.”

    “Actually, I think I’m going to have professionals do it. It’s a huge job.”

    “You should totally have professionals do it! Your time is worth too much to spend all your weekends building a deck.”

    “I talked to some professionals, and I think I’m going to do the whole job myself.”

    “You should totally do it yourself. Deckbuilding is fun. I will help.”

    I’ve been reading books (including this one put out by the Forest Products Society — highly recommended), talking to people, and creeping around friends’ houses looking at the underlying support structure(s) of their various outdoor leisure areas. Mostly, I’ve been preparing myself mentally for the project, which will doubtlessly gobble vastly more time and resources than I have ever invested in a home improvement project to date. It’s going to be a huge job. Like, retarded huge.

    And we’ve already hit our first significant speed bump!

    Two weekends ago, I was in the back yard outlining the proposed new deck with string to help visualize the project. As I was anchoring a pole where one of the new deck posts would be located, my foot sank into the ground. And it wasn’t like sinking into soft dirt or mud. It was like the top 2 inches of clay gave way and a hole about a foot deep opened up underneath me.

    Oh. Great. A sinkhole. Right there. Where the deck … of course. Where else would a sinkhole … SENSATIONAL!!

    I grabbed a shovel and quickly unearthed a problem area. A hole like this should take more than 10 minutes to dig:

    After the existential freakout subsided, I contacted several of my landscape architect friends (Note to self: Why the hell do I know so many landscape architects?) Their initial diagnoses were identical: It’s an old construction bury pit and I would need to “over-excavate” the area and re-pack the dirt. So that’s what I did last Sunday. I wish there was a more entertaining story to tell, but I don’t know what to say about me digging a hole and then filling it right back up. Living the dream, indeed.

    Photo set of me moving thousands of pounds of dirt with a spade shovel.

    Let there be light

    This is part of the Home Improvening series.

    Several weeks ago, we purchased a new light for our entryway to replace the 1980s smoked-glass-and-brass nightmare that had been hanging there since, well, the 1980s. My plan last week was to devote all of Saturday to “opening the yard,” wherein I mow, edge, weed (and feed), rake, thatch, prune, and plant for the first time of the year. Mother Nature had a different idea, so I was restricted to indoor activities.

    The daunting thing about hanging the light was not the act itself of replacing a light. That stuff is easy. The challenge was the location of the light, anchored into the high, angled ceiling and positioned directly over stairs. There isn’t a way to convey the scale of the light’s position in one photograph, so here’s two:

    That’s one sexy accessory, no? Awww yeah. Originally, I thought I would have to build some sort of platform over the stairs onto which I could position a regular ladder, and this explains why the new light had been sitting in the garage for over a month. Since I was trapped in the house on Saturday, I decided to make with the trial and error, starting with a weird ladder on indefinite loan to me from Gia’s dad. It’s a knockoff of a Little Giant; same design but smaller and with fewer features. It has four sections. I set three of them straight and angled the top one to essentially reach over the stairs from the floor. Next stop, Cirqu du Soleil:

    I can’t articulate the exact physics behind it, but adding an elbow in the ladder like that makes it, how you say, really fucking unstable. I looked like Chubby Checker up there throughout the entire process.

    Long story short, there were a few tense moments, several swear words, a modest amount of sweating, and my arms and feet went numb, but the process only took about an hour and could have been much much worse. Doneski:

    Surprise Bender

    Ever find yourself on an accidental bender? Not a planned bender like a bachelor party, or a music festival, or even an out of town wedding weekend. No, I’m talking about a random series of parties / events / personal influences that arrange themselves, almost cosmically, in such a way that you suddenly find yourself saying, “Holy crap. I’ve been drunk for like four days.” It doesn’t happen often–maybe once every 12-18 months–and once I realize what’s going on, pulling out of the tailspin is a pretty straightforward endeavor. But that moment of realization is one of stark self-loathing. It usually involves a slow survey of the surroundings, a mental replay of the previous days’ events, some moderate shuddering, and an inner monologue to the effect of, “Wait just a cotton picking minute. I feel absolutely terrible. Why in god’s name is there a full beer in my hand? I feel like I’ve been embalmed. With dumpster water.”

    That’s how I’m beginning to feel about this election cycle. Not about any candidate in particular, but about the whole thing. I still had a lingering national politics hangover from 2004 when this election lurched into motion, so that’s where the bender analogy comes from. Actually, it might be national news in general that is beating me about the head and neck with the circus of primaries simply leading the charge. Hearing the sound bites from all the voters who have been inadvertently granted more influence over the election process than myself followed by sound bites from Boeing employees / supporters complaining that, despite losing five out of five criteria in the bidding process, the $35 billion aerial refueling contract should be awarded to Boeing because MY TAXES AIN’T PAYING FOR NO FAUX FRENCH PLANE makes me want to calmly convey from the rooftops, “Damnit, America, you suck. Shut the fuck up.” During the drive to work yesterday, I involuntarily moaned loudly at some nondescript doomsday news story and stabbed the CD button on the stereo with a violently thrusting digit.

    AAAAaaaaaaaaaaanyway, the beer tasting last night was super duper. For those of you who have been longing to know the relationship between lupulin glands, Alpha Acids, and isohumulones, last night was your chance and you blew it. One of these days you will learn. Actually, I don’t think there were any empty seats so never mind. Next week: yeast.

    I’ve delayed reporting on the gutters until after some rainfall, which we received this morning. They were installed while we were at work on Wednesday and they look great. As for performance, I didn’t see any glaring problems during a cursory inspection this morning, but they did make some design changes that I’m not totally sold on yet. I’ll wait for a torrential downpour for final judgment. A quasi-humorous aside regarding customer service: I called several gutter companies requesting estimates last week. One company (Company A) seemed particularly skilled and they said they would call me back later that day. No call. The next day, I called them again because I was interested in hearing their price. They again said they would have someone contact me that day. They never called, so I gave their website the finger and selected a different vendor (Company B). Company B said they would send their crew out on Wednesday. On Wednesday morning I get a call from someone who says, “Hey I just wanted to call and let you know we’ll be out there to do that estimate today.”

    “Well that’s great, but you’re supposed to do the actual work today.”

    “Right, the estimate.”

    “No, Phil did the estimate last week. You’re supposed to install the gutters today.”

    “There’s no one named Phil working here.”

    “Who did you say you’re with?”

    “Company A.”

    “Oh, my bad. Yeah, I called you guys twice last week. Company B is coming out to do the work today because you suck at life.”

    Like I said, only quasi-humorous, but satisfying nonetheless.

    Tomorrow: Wood chipper.

    Pre-gutter-installation: a footnote

    Do you like how Gia and I are scheduled to get new gutters tomorrow? Do you like how Georgia will likely get just under five thousand inches of rain the day before tomorrow? DO YOU LIKE IT?!

    I know, I know. Georgia needs rain more than Atlanta needs public transportation. I’d like to think Gia and I are doing our part to ensure Georgia gets as much precipitation as possible, no matter how inconvenient for us. In fact, the more inconvenient for us, the better for Georgia. You’re welcome, Georgia, you hideous, cranky, bitch-dragon.

    [Insert photo of me standing in the front yard this morning, wearing my fake North Face jacket in the torrential downpour, shaking my fist at the gutter that has come loose approximately 750 feet high and is pouring a solid stream of water, like a drill, into the ground a couple feet from the foundation.]

    Fat garbage

    On Saturday, I came very close to completing the front redecking project. It looks … marginal. It was a quick fix (despite the 14 month turnaround) for a quickly deteriorating portion of our house, and I accomplished my main goal, which was to reinforce the rickety steps. But, as with any home improvement project, it had the potential to spiral wildly out of control, quickly shattering all initial estimates of time, budget, and sanity, so I maintained laser aim on keeping things as simple as possible. Unfortunately, oversimplification can be construed as poor craftsmanship. It could also bee that I am just a poor craftsmanshipper.

    Upon reaching a stopping point on Saturday, I decided it was time to purge the old deck wood from my driveway. I loaded it all into the truck and lumbered (HA!) over to the dump. Ah, yes. Saturday afternoon at the dump. In the Georgia heat. Living the dream, indeed.

    As I approached the gates to the municipal solid waste facility, things seemed oddly still. with one finger pointed through my open window, I warned, “This bitch better not be closed.” A little closer, I noticed a steady stream of loaded trucks pulling up to the gate, reading a posted sign, and pulling away. Upon my turn, I confirmed that the sign read, “This bitch is closed, bitch. Will reopen Tuesday at 7am. Bitch.” Long story still long, I left the truck loaded down and planned on returning to the dump at the next available moment … this morning at 7:00am.

    I couldn’t remember if the dump was cash only or not, so just to be safe I took all the cash out of Gia’s purse. It was $7 total. Coupled with the $2 I had in my wallet, I could afford to dump $9 worth of garbage. Because that’s how I roll.

    I arrived at the dump at 7:02am and there were already a dozen or so trucks ahead of me. The sun rose menacingly behind the complex of steel buildings and mountains of garbage, as if to say, “Y’all are probably gonna want to get in and get out, because I’m about to light this fucker up.”

    The first 400lbs of garbage costs $7.00 to dump. Anything over 400lbs costs $35.00 per ton, or $0.0175 per pound (35 / 2000). I pulled up onto the scale and the clerk asked me if I was paying by cash or check. “I have nine dollars, what do you suggest?” The clerk squinted at my load and rubbed his chin. “Well, we’ll give it a shot.” If I had to guess, I would say my load was probably between 600 and 700 pounds. He handed me a sheet indicating my total weight: 4750lbs.

    I made my weigh (HA!) over to the giant metal trash warehouse and assumed my spot before the mountain of filth. For those of you who have only been to the dump on Saturday afternoon, you owe it to yourself to go check it out on a Monday or Tuesday morning. Most of the trucks there are full-sized garbage trucks with three man crews, each creating their own formidable dunes of household refuse. I was merely tossing old 2 x 6 lumber into the pile, and on either side of me, there are essentially dumptrucks emptying all kinds of crap all over the place. If you stop paying attention, you can easily end up at the bottom of the pile.

    Upon releasing my load (HA!), I made my way to the checkout scale. My total came to $11.20. “Um … I only have nine dollars.” Without missing a beat, the clerk glanced around her office and said, quietly, “Go stand next to your truck.” I thought, oh great, this is the part where she takes my picture with my truck and then mails it to every liquor store in Cobb County to be hung next to the bad checks and fake IDs. Because I am a college graduate, it only took me several seconds to figure out that “next to my truck” was secret dump code for “on the scale, jackass.” See, the more the truck weighs when I leave, the less garbage I left at the dump. My only thought was, “If me standing on a truck scale lowers my fee by more than $2.20, I am the fattest fatass in the entire enchanted forest of fatasses.”

    “That will be $7.75.”

    Unbelievable. 7:00am on a Tuesday after a long weekend, and a clerk at the dump is telling me that I am worth $3.45 in garbage. I guess it can only get better from here. I was impressed, however, by this lady’s shrewd ability to shave three bucks off my total and keep the line moving. I wish more service sector employees operated with that level of efficiency.

    When I got to work, I did some math (I didn’t actually figure out that $35.00 divided by 2000 is $.0175 until I got to my desk). Turns out, $3.45 / $.0175 actually equals a little over 197lbs, which is slightly less than my actual weight. Nice work, truck scale.

    Two weeks of silence, and that’s all I’ve got. I bring shame to the internets.

    What is it called when you have ADHD, but you're also criminally lazy?

    What is it with starting projects and letting them fester for a year before completion? Painting my office took me over three months. Painting the closet doors from said office took me almost two years. Just a couple weekends ago I went through the last couple boxes of junk in the garage that were put there when we moved in two and a half years ago. And when I say “junk” I mean there were things in there that I’ve been looking for. I write about it in a comical tone, but inside I quietly weep like a widow in a courtroom whose grown son has just been convicted of child molestation.

    After a gluttonous trip to our nation’s back fat last week, I spent this past Sunday making progress on another year-old project as part of a weekend-long regimen of punishing myself physically. On Saturday, I went to the gym, then took some measurements for the project in question, went to Dumb Depot and spent $250 on about 850lbs of lumber, mowed the grass, and started splitting the second round of oak I inherited from the Duke’s neighbor.

    Continue reading

    Cluttercide!

    So, Paul2k, Benyenyen and I trekked far into the woods on Saturday, burned a bunch of stuff, ate a phallic meat dinner, and made fun of each other for about twelve hours straight. The Geester’s uncle has a bunch land outside of Ellijay and he was nice enough to let use use it, so we were miles from the next closest human–the way camping should be. No white-hot bits of metal touched anyone’s skin, which is good I guess. I took a bunch of pictures and I will post them as soon as … don’t hold your breath.

    I started feeling a little anxious on the drive home yesterday morning. Right now is that time of year when everyone gets manic. The weather gets nice and all of a sudden everyone’s expectations go through the roof. During the winter, when it’s all cold a dreary, it perfectly acceptable to spend the entire weekend in a bourbon haze, watching TV show collections on DVD, and listening to the sound of your own arteries hardening. But as soon as the temperature ticks above 65°F, people on dog walks start pausing in front of your house to point and comment to each other on the various 16-inch high weed clusters and wild flowers growing all over what is supposed to be lawn. And that’s just the part of the house they can see form the outside.

    What I’m saying is, Tall Brown and the land it sits on were in disarray and it was starting to stress me out. Plus, even though we didn’t get totally shellacked in the woods, we did manage to stay awake until almost three in the morning and then get up at 7:30am, so I was considerably foggy and uncomfortable.

    I got home and allowed my hardwired, nice-weather mania to propel me through the rest of the day. I was filthy enough from camping that, before working in the yard, I took a shower. It felt great. Next, it was off to the Big Orange Debt Factory for some supplies.

    (Quick side story: In December ’04, one of the flourescent ballasts in my man hole went bad and I replaced it. Read about it here. Since the new ballast was identical to the old ballast, I put the old, broken ballast in the new ballast box and set it aside to be returned. I even taped the receipt to the front of the box so I would know where it is. I feel no shame whatsoever returning stuff to the Depot. Eff those rich jerks. Well, I just got around to returning the old ballast yesterday. The clerk looked at the 15-month-old, dusty, yellowed receipt and then asked me, “Are you fucking serious,” with her eyeballs. My eyeballs replied, “What, is there a problem?” I got store credit. Score!)

    I wanted to begin resurrecting the lawn, which meant I needed to get the composter in shape to start processing this year’s clippings. With my store credit, I acquired some weed ‘n feed, and a large poop fork, which will be officially intriduced to the internet at a later date. With the poop fork, I moved the whole of last year’s compost into a large pile next to the composter. I don’t maintain the compost properly, and it smelled positively horrifying last year. The couple of times I stirred it, it released hot, menacing fumes not unlike boiling cattle diarrhea and swampy, rotting flesh. As such, I was dreading the transfer. Thankfully, the winter seems to have chilled everything out and I now have a cubic yard of crumbly, black composty goodness with no odor whatsoever. Gardening tip: if you don’t have a poop fork with which to maneuver your compost, you are living in the frigging dark ages.

    Following the manure maneuver, I tackled the man hole. The winter has caused much mess and disorganization in the man hole, and, in a frantic attempt to assuage some of the depression it is causing me, I spent the bulk of yesterday afternoon kicking the garage square in the neck. The Geester has expressed intrest in using half of the man hole to store one of our vehicles (hers) when not being driven. Interesting concept. I capitalized on this opportunity to put some marriage capital into savings, so, in addition to a unapologetic ethnic cleansing of all the clutter, making room for the Maxima was one of the planned outcomes. I cranked up a mix tape that B, Heglund made for me in 1996 and went absolutely barking mad. Breaking glass, hurting feelings, hasty reorganization, gnashing teeth, moderate blood loss, clouds of smoke, cultural generalizations, using the leaf blower indoors, and lots of recycling ensued. There’s a small mountain range headed to goodwill next Saturday, and a two story tower of cardboard at the curb for recycling today. The Maxima can fit into the garage, and I have finally … FINALLY finished processing all of the boxes of stuff that we moved into the garage when we bought the house two and half years ago.

    I slept very well last night.