I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a “tribe” or a “crew” or anything of the sort. Until now that is. Let me tell you, it’s a little overwhelming at times, but in a very good way. I’ve always been a “Do It Yourself” kind of guy. Whatever it is, whatever needs doing, I do it myself. I don’t ask for help very often because it’s not something I’m used to getting much of. I need something done, I do it myself.
I bring this up because a few weeks ago I made the momentous decision to <gulp> sell my house. I love this house. I love the house, the property, the location, the neighborhood, the neighbors (well, those that are still speaking to me anyway) and everything about it. I said for years that the only way I was leaving this house was in a box. I’ve poured my heart, to say nothing of a lot of blood and sweat, into this house. But it’s time to move on. It took me a year to come to this decision, but once I finally made it, I looked around and saw the unholy amount of work to be done in order to get it ready to sell.
The front yard — newly landscaped only 4 years ago — was a disaster. The back yard, torn to shreds by the installation of the geothermal heating/AC unit 3 years ago, needs to be completely redone. The entire inside needs to be repainted (all 5100 square feet of it!). It needed new carpeting in all the carpeted areas. Tons of work. I was instantly overwhelmed. There was no way. It would take me a year.
Then a funny thing happened. While I was on a business trip to the god-forsaken land of Texas (Digression: Austin is lovely, but Houston would make a great landfill) this new tribe suddenly rallied to my cause. I came home to find the front yard almost entirely weeded, pruned and cleaned up. We added 12 cubic yards of mulch and it looks like a million bucks. I rented a Bobcat and leveled out the back yard and it’s ready for sod. And for the past week, my Girlfriend, her best friend (and her entire family!) and my girlfriend’s parents have been over here weeding, raking, moving furniture and painting. The main floor is about 1/3 painted already. We could be done with paint in a week or two. Julie arranged to have the carpet installers come give me an estimate today. (Digression: I need 2500 square feet of new carpet. That means I’ve laid 2500 square feet of tile in this house. By. Myself.)
These people, whom I have only known for less than a year, have descended on my home and given up their time, their weekends, their evenings, and even sacrificed some clothing (Steph poured paint all over her clothes, which was hilarious) to pitch in and help me. And here’s the thing: I didn’t ask them to. Julie took over the project management of the whole operation because she could clearly see how overwhelmed I was with kids, work, and the mountain of tasks to complete. She rallied her troops and they came to my aid.
I am overwhelmed. I am filled with gratitude and in awe of their kindness and support. There’s still a ton of stuff to do — like take down, paint, and rehang, with new hardware, all 34 doors in this house! — but I am no longer overwhelmed with the enormity of it all. I’m still not used to it, and I will also say that I’m still not entirely comfortable with it all because it is all so foreign to me, but I know that we can get it done. Notice I said ‘we’ there. Not I. We. That’s the change. That’s the part that is uncomfortable and foreign to me I guess. It takes me a while to get used to changes. Especially changes this big. But I’ve made bigger changes in my life, both internal and external ones. I’m just getting to make some simultaneously right now. The last 2 years have been all about big changes for me, and this is just one or two more. I’m ready.
The house goes on the market soon, so stay tuned for the next chapter(s).
As you may know, last year was a bit of a challenge for me. I got divorced. I was homeless for a while. I lost my job. So just a bit of a challenge you could say.
Then I got my house back. Then I got a new job. I was just minding my own business, enjoying being single and being a dad and then this happened:
Amazing. Remarkable. Magical. Truly. It shows me that as long as I keep showing up for life, no matter what life throws at me, things change. Things get better. And miracles happen.
I watch a lot of TED Talks on Netflix. And I do mean a lot. If you were to look at my instant queue, you’d see a preponderance of TED Talks there. More than anything else, really. I watch on subjects from Art & Fashion to Robotics to Nutrition and Food (I recently basically went vegan for some reason) and everything in between.
I watching last night I came across this talk by Jill Bolte Taylor. When I first started watching it, I have to admit to being a tad judgmental about her delivery style, etc. Typical cerebral scientist, blah, blah, blah. By the end I was in tears, as it appears most of the audience at the time was.
I encourage you to watch the whole thing and listen to the powerful message that this woman has to deliver.
Presented without commentary, a few pictures from my otherwise awesome day:
Today has been … well, surreal. The kitchen looks like there was some sort of war between the ingredients going on. Epic. Disaster. We started by making waffles, which is messy, but I got the kitchen sparkling clean after that. Then came the adventure into making paper. Which quickly descended into experimental territory.
We’ve always made paper by unloading the paper shredder into a blender full of hot water, then adding all sorts of other things to it, blah blah blah … That was before The Tot … Jesus Cristo con frijoles!! That child! So that was the start of the mess. Then we decided to take some of the exotic wood sawdust/shavings from wood-lathe land (caution: when your woodshop and your kitchen collide, get out of the way FAST!) and add that to the paper-making.
So we started a huge pot of water and Osage Orange (or maybe it was yellow heart) boiling on the stove. No idea why. Then we decided it would be a good idea (probably because the costco sized bag was sitting RIGHT. THERE. since I had been using it to deodorize the rug since my STBX had just decided to let the dogs pee all over it for the past 6 months … let’s not go down that road, shall we?) Anyway … so we started dumping handfuls of baking soda into the pot. Interesting … it was like adding it to a pot of boiling vinegar! Foaming all over the place! and all over the stove. Nice. Boiling baking soda and wood pulp. That should be easy to clean up!
That was now officially my son’s experiment — he took over after it became obvious that it was really weird and cool and messy. The Tot decided she needed to do her OWN experiment. So I got her a small mixing bowl. She got out her “ingrediments” which consisted of double-acting baking powder and vanilla extract. That’s how it started anyway. Wait, did I ever even finish making paper? Yeah, I was finishing that up while the experimenting was going on.
The son got bored with the boiling pot of foaming wood pulp and wandered back to the woodshop to make more bowls — someone please go buy one before I go broke! http://www.etsy.com/people/randysimmons1 Ok, my OT is going OT, not a good sign.
While I finished with the paper, The Tot continued her experiment. She was most of the way through the can of baking powder when I switched her to baking soda (since I have eleventy million pounds of the stuff). Then I turned my sights to replacing the under-cabinet lights. (Why did I decide that now would be a good time? Point out the part where I said I was sane. Go on. Just try. ) They are all Xenon and get too hot, plus there’s 360 watts worth. So I replaced 4 (240 watts) with 3 LED light bars (30 watts) and … well, maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention to the Tot’s experiment. She had self-graduated to the largest mixing bowl in the kitchen, added flour, raw barley, dried black beans, brown rice, shredded paper, yellow-heart sawdust and red heart sawdust to her list of ingredients and was threatening to use it like paper mache to “make a bolcano” with. Clearly this had gone on too long. Rather than carry the flour, sawdust and shredded paper containers to the site of the experiment, she had just been carrying handfuls back and forth, so there was now a trail of each across the floor. And the table was … wait, is there still a table under there? Dunno. I’ll look for it later.
Great, now it’s dinner time … So we did that (on what little of the table we could find). And now the Tot is INSISTING on making the paper mache volcano. So we get out the next-largest mixing bowl and start THAT project. On the floor. Wouldn’t you know it but Murray Dog decides to play hoover about now and look amongst the shredded paper, sawdust and who knows what else for tidbits to eat. Pickles, the large cat sleeping on the chair, takes offense to this plan, and swats Murray Dog, who jumps, and lands … wait for it … IN THE BOWL OF PAPER MACHE!!! Then runs off through the house. Somebody shoot me. Mess officially no longer confined to the kitchen.
Meanwhile Lilly has decided that the now-fresh smelling rug is *too* fresh smelling and decides to pee on it. The deck is just not high enough to jump off of at this point. Did I mention that we got 2 new cats this weekend who are sequestered in the master bath, making Pickles edgy and Murray all giddy at the prospect of fresh kitties to bounce? Yeah, so add that. Or multiply by that. I forget the exact math on these things.
It is now 10:30. I have wiped down the counters, and re-oiled them, since paper-making will take the shine off a soapstone countertop. I have cleaned up most of the paper mache mess, other than the stuff littering the floor. I still haven’t the first clue what to do with this 40-pound bowl full of 5-year-old’s experimental ‘cooking’ results. And now I have to (once again) figure out where everyone (of the critters) is sleeping tonight. Murray Dog gets very upset if he can’t sleep in the room with me. The new cats, needless to say, are not thrilled with this sleeping arrangement. Plus it’s raining, which makes Murray Dog all nutty since he’s convinced there will be thunder and lightening and the world will end in calamity.
If anyone is in the neighborhood and would like to stop by and shoot me, that would be a big help.
If you read this far, well, you obviously don’t have enough to do, so get over here and take this giant bowl of godknowswhat off my hands. And clean my floors.
I am starting the process of rebuilding my life. A life by myself — except for my kids and animals. There is a lot to do. I have to rebuild myself first, but I have been diligently working on that project for months now. Now that I am no longer homeless, and am back in my own house, it seems that I need to begin rebuilding the house and most of its contents as well.
Many rooms in the house look as if I have been robbed. The dining room has no table or chairs and doesn’t even have a light fixture. Thanks to the slate floors I installed a few years ago, it echoes with the sound of emptiness in there. I’ve actually already begun the process of rebuilding in that room in the form of a new dining room table. I’m making it myself out of cherry, inlaid with Padauk and Walnut. When I finish it it’ll be gorgeous but for now there is just the echo.
The walls, once so covered in signs of love and life and family are now bare. Virtually everything that was hanging on them is now gone. It’s time to put the images of my new life up, but right now I don’t know what those images are. Yet. But my eyes are wide open to life and possibilities and new beauty, so who knows what will end up there.
I do know that one thing that left seemed so minor, but was, apparently, very important. The chalkboard in the kitchen. We used it to record grocery lists, messages, little drawings by my daughter and the occasional misunderstood message. We called the women that designed our kitchen “the girls” and for a few months there was a message on the board that said “Call Girls.” Until the neighbor raised an eyebrow and asked if there was anything we needed to talk about.
The blank spot on that wall needed to be filled. I needed to fill it. Simply writing on the wall wasn’t going to be an option, so I got to work yesterday. Remember up there I said I was making a new table out of cherry? Well, I have a lot of pieces that can’t be used in the table, so I made myself a chalkboard frame to match my kitchen. Only took a few hours, and now I have someplace to write my grocery lists. Small as they may be now.
And I made it myself. Of course the moment I hung it I thought “it needs to have something on it. I can’t have it be blank!” but of course my mind went blank and I couldn’t think of anything to write, anything I needed from the grocery store. So I smiled instead.
It’ll do for now. I may even leave it there to remind myself to smile, even when I don’t feel like it. To remember that my life is not empty, even if the walls of my house are. That there is always something to smile about, if I look for it.
After 7 long months, I am (finally) no longer homeless. You want to have some fun? Try caring for 3 kids (even part time) without a real, permanent place to live. I can tell you from experience that it is not easy, but it can be done.
Last Friday I moved back in to my own house. It looks as if it has been robbed at this point, but I have enough furniture and household items to make a go of it. Hopefully I’ll be able to afford to re-stock the house and make it look like a home again soon.
I’m home. I’m happy. I’m single. I’m a father. Certainly not in that order. I’m also happy. For the first time in a very long time.
What’s your point of view?
Thanks to my friend Roger for finding this. Makes you think about what your point of view is on everyday things vs. what … well, what the other person/thing’s point of view might be.
It’s always good to look at things from another point of view.
I freely admit to being a Grammar Geek and a bit of a stickler for spelling. Yeah, we all make typos, and most people rely too much on spell checkers to keep our spelling in-line. Read through this blog (and you won’t have to go very far) and you’ll find spelling errors for sure. No one’s perfect.
That being said, I do have a few serious pet-peeves around spelling. Lucky for me The Oatmeal has many of the same ones, and provided me with exactly what I needed.
So let’s start out with a few of them.
These may not be in the same order as they were on The Oatmeal, but I’m doing my own thing here. Deal.
This one’s easy to do, if you are relying on a spell-checker, since spell check won’t catch this one. They are both perfectly valid words. So be careful. I am one of those that will over-look it the first time, but when you keep doing it every time then it’s not a spelling error.
I know, it’s spelled weird. That whole “i before e” rule can be troublesome if the only part of it you learned and committed to memory was “i before e.” Best to study up on the whole rule, and commit it to memory.
Now on to some of the more annoying ones.
I like that rule. Don’t be an A-hole. Don’t put an A in definitely. It doesn’t belong there.
Admittedly this next one is a tough one, but still, if you want to appear to be an educated and fully literate person, you should learn it.
And of course oatmeal’s rule is an easy one to remember. Just don’t eat your children to test it out. It works.
Now, the 3 that really REALLY annoy me to no end.
Deal with it. “Alot” is just not a word. It isn’t. It never was. Stop pretending that it is.
And this one:
Seriously. This one’s not that hard. It really isn’t. writing ‘your’ all the time, in every situation, may make you right some of the time, but only in the way that a broken clock is right twice a day. It doesn’t make it right. So stop telling me “your an idiot” and the like. Because I will just ask my “My an idiot? That makes no sense.”
Finally, my biggest pet peeve:
Those two words do not mean the same thing. Again, just writing “then” all the time only makes you right sometimes. “I’d rather poke needles in my eyes then go shopping” is funny. Stupid funny. And I’ll ask you “you want to poke needles in your eyes before you go shopping? Why? Shopping is painful enough as it is.”
Look, I listen to people read out loud every day of the week. Don’t ask. The stuff I listen to them read was written at an 8th grade level. And most of them can’t read it very well. Our educational system fails. We no longer teach people to read. Or write. The number of college-educated people I see writing “then” when they mean “than” or “your” when they mean “you’re” is astonishing. You shouldn’t even get out of elementary school until you can do that right, consistently. Yet people graduate high school and college every day that never seem to have learned these simple things.
If I call you out on these things it’s your own damned fault. And your former teachers for never teaching you them, and for passing you when you didn’t learn them.
It really is time to just slow down.
Yes, it’s 20 minutes out of your life that you will never get back, but that’s sort of the whole point. You don’t need to get it back if you enjoy it the first time around.