Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Secret Lessons in Home Improvement

When my husband and I bought our first place, it, like pretty much any place, needed some work. Most glaringly, the bathroom needed to be updated. Unless you have a special fondness for 1980s track lighting and tie-dyed tiles and then, this bathroom, would've been, like, the coolest bathroom ever.

The realtor had raised a casual eyebrow and said something innocuous like, "Updating the bathroom is an obvious way to increase the re-sale value of this place." Since I don't have a thing for track lighting and tie-dyed tiles (note: this may not actually be what they're called but it's descriptive), I immediately seized upon the carrot she was dangling and thought, "Oh YES. This will be the very first thing I do! I will improve the re-sale value and I will enjoy the lack of track lighting and tie-dyed tiles in the interim!" Ah, the sweet hopefulness of first-time buyers.

Of course, this never happened. We lived there for six and a half years and it bothered me...oh, approximately everyday. But we never got around to fixing it.

Cut to buying our new place. It too came with a long list of "...obvious ways to increase the resale value." You know, things like the bathroom door not closing. And actually no other door actually closing either. And a hole in the wall that let cold air in all winter. Small things like that.

But this time, I was actually going to do it. I was going to carpe diem, carpe momentum, carpe whatever I can to fix whatever I couldn't live with. Life is just too short to live with something that could be easily fixed that bothers you everyday. (Note that the key part of this is that it's easily fixed.)

And so concludes a week-long sojourn of a home under construction and a thousand little niggly projects completed.

And now the bathroom door--and all the doors--actually close. All the way. HOORAY! (OK, I know these are small joys. But it's amazing how much they mean.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Yet Another Brush with Crazy

Let's be honest: I've had my fair share of brushes with crazy. Sometimes crazy is kind of funny. Sometimes crazy is neutral. And, this morning, I learned that sometimes crazy is just downright mean.

While taking tiny Pelu for her morning walk, she bounded up to say hello to a man walking past us. Or at least she tried to bound up and say hello. Still working on her puppy manners, I yanked her back with a sharp, "No!"

In spite of the fact that 1. she is clearly just a sweet little 11-pound puppy and 2. due to my interception, she was nowhere near him, this total stranger viciously kicked at her. Thankfully, he missed.

Clenching my jaw, I kept walking. Let it go, I told myself.

"Next time I'm going to kick your little dog right in the face, sweetheart! Right in the kisser, baby!! YEAH! I'm gonna kick her like a football right across the street!!!"

OK. I'm only human. I couldn't let that go. Who even THINKS of kicking sweet little puppies?! Clearly, this man was a monster. "Maybe I'll kick you in the face!" I yelled back.

He was still screaming. "You better put that thing in a muzzle! I swear I'm gonna kick her in the face next time!"

"Someone should put YOU in a muzzle!" I yelled back. That'll show him!

What this really taught me (aside of the obvious fact that some puppy-kicking monsters masquerade as average-looking humans) is that man! I really need to work on my comebacks! If all I can think of is to repeat whatever insult/threat he's lodged against sweet little Pelu, it's sad times. Sad times, indeed.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Magetic Pull of Marathons

It's 87-sweltering degrees today. I was in a full sweat just taking Pelu for her morning walk. She was panting the whole way, a tiny ball of determined furry fury pulling with all her might toward a treat at the other end. It feels like the first hot day of summer (and it's not even summer yet). It's an aberration of New England weather. Unfortunately, for thousands of runners, today is also the Boston Marathon.

I'm not a runner. Never have been. But there's something about watching the winner cross the finish line that makes even this non-runner get goosebumps and weepy. What is that Triumph of the human spirit? Humans overcoming inhumane heat and distance? Athletic accomplishment? The miracle of what bodies can do--run under a 5-minute mile men/6-minute mile women for 26.2 grueling miles??!!

Maybe it's all of these, maybe it's something else intangible. But whatever it is, it's captivating.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Location, Location, Location! Where Does an Aspiring Writer Write?

Until very recently, my husband, our puppy, and I lived in a tiny two-room city apartment. There was no "home office" for either of us. There also wasn't a dining room, living room, kitchen, family room, or guest room. There was the bedroom and the everything else room. And in the latter, all cooking, dining, living, working, TV-watching, and visiting took place. My writing, consulting, and private yoga sessions also took place there.

And for those seven years, I longed for the time that I would one day have a home office. My very own SPACE.

Then we moved into a larger apartment, and finally I have my very own designated office. True, it is technically tiny--the width of one window--BUT it is mine. All mine. Heaven!

Drunk on the thrill of having a room entirely dedicated to my liking, I immediately became fixated on painting it orange.

Why, you ask? Because orange is the color of creativity, energy, passion. Buzz! All qualities I wanted to incorporate into my writing. I love orange! I became obsessed with orange. I thought incessantly about the many virtues of orange. So I found the perfect shade and I painted over the sage green the last owners had...and it looked kind of muddy-greeny-orange-y. So I painted six more layers. And finally I had my glorious orange office.

...But for some reason, I found I could not work in the orange office.

My sister said it reminded her of a taqueria. And not in a good way.

My husband said he felt like he was inside a glowing, florescent pumpkin.

My friend the interior decorator clutched his head, pronounced that only Andy Warhol could love me. He tossed his designer cashmere scarf over one shoulder and insisted that this must be my "naughty room."

I don't know what that means and I hope I never find out.

So...I re-painted. Four coats of cheerful, pretty yellow. Why, you ask? Because yellow is energy! Fun! Creativity! I love yellow.

...But I found I could not work in the yellow office. It was distracting. It was too bright. It just wasn't right.

Cursing the paint gods, I capitulated and realized I would have to paint a third time. With a sigh that could be heard in Alaska, I rolled up my sleeves, girded my loins, and  deferred to the expert, my friend the interior designer. We ended up with  a beautiful, warm, sandy shade of beige. Together with the bright white trim around my one window, and the addition of a curvy-legged desk, I finally have an office that I can work in.

What about you? Where do you work? Cafes? Home office? Top secret other location?