Sunday, June 24, 2012

no faith in yourself.

"there's nowhere you can be / that isn't where you're meant to be"
(John Lennon)

True, maybe. But how does that play out when you're outside your apartment building on a cold December night, and a deranged fan approaches you from behind?

I'm supposed to believe, per my essential self, that it's all heading somewhere, for some reason. No, even more than that - that I'm not so much headed in a specific direction as I am already there. Faith like that is elusive these days. I didn't believe I could emerge intact after this past work week - the first week of summer camp, where I'm the co-director. We had an epically terrible first couple days, though, thankfully, I don't think any of our consumers would agree with that. Details are details, but Monday especially left me broken. Like, crying-uncontrollably-all-night-on-the-couch broken. It got better throughout the week, but I'm left with what feels like proof that I'm not cut out for the position I (accidentally/by default) have. Trust me...it's not a good feeling.

And obviously I made it through the week, but what now? What to do with the terrible realizations that flooded me? How do I make sense of where I failed, where I pulled through, and where I need delegate and/or accept responsibility? How do I make sure it doesn't happen this way again - both in the broader sense of offering high-quality programming, and in the deeply personal sense of staying consistently connected with what nourishes me? And what do I do with the dawning dread that, a week and a half ago, I may have squandered an incredible opportunity for personal change?

Whatever. It's the same old existential angst that I thought was claimed and conquered during my teenage years. But, no, it's my default setting, coming back to haunt me. Made for some mortifyingly awesome, moony high-school-lit-mag poetry, but it's not really so conducive to adult life.

All of this had me thinking, over and over, that I need to check back in with my therapist for a few sessions. I can't tell you how much that feels like a failure. Initiating therapy never felt like a failure for me, even though I know it's common for perfectionists in particular to feel that way. Now, though? It's just - I did the therapy bit, and I know what she's going to say, right? So it's my own fault and failure if I have to go back. Yet...I kind of want to pay her to say it all to me again, anyway. Because when the crazy creeps in, it's difficult to figure out how to help myself. I haven't called her yet, though. Denial, avoidance, self-flagellation...they're the results of the anxiety, and they are so very good at blocking the healing. 

This upcoming work week promises to be just as tricky as last week, but in different ways. I need to be in two places at once, and while I may be giving 110% wherever I am, it means I'm giving nothing wherever I'm not. (Another reflection of my poor/absent/under-developed leadership skills?) I mostly want to give up and hide under my covers. I'm trying hard to believe that this is all for a reason, that it's all meant to be, that the journey is the destination - but, o me of little faith: in the short run, it's easier to run away than it is to pursue the dream.

In more important news (yeah), my countertop estimate came in. $4,735 for materials alone. $5200 with installation and removal of the old countertop. HARDYHARHAR, my budget for the entire KITCHEN is $5,000! Time for Plan B, which is...get a new plan?

But you're so pretttttty, Zodiaq Minera Pearl! :(

Yeah. Time for Plan B.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

electrify yourself.

Hey, it's better than electrocute yourself.

We finally had an electrician over to assess the kitchen and fix/relocate a few things. First was the refrigerator.

Per its original location, the outlet for the fridge was, reasonably, right behind it. Apparently refrigerators need to be on individual circuits (i.e., you can't just plug a fridge into any old outlet. Who knew? [Spoiler: The electricians, both of them, knew. J.J.'s dad also knew.]). (Uh, side note: Check out the awesome pile-up of probably incorrect punctuation at the end of that sentence. Sweet.)

So...circuits. Yeah. With the refrigerator in its new location...

...it needed a new circuit. You might think, like I once did when I was a young'un (i.e., about a month ago), that one could simply scoot an existing unique outlet over to a new location - or that one could use a different outlet, conveniently located adjacent to the fridge surround (behind the trash can in the picture above). You would be wrong. Two electricians confirmed that it would really be best to create a new circuit in the new location. And so it was done.

Step two was addressing the range plug. Again, with the range in a new location, I figured we could have the outlet (which is a super mega major floor outlet specially designed to handle the heavy electrical load of a range) scooted over to the new location. And, again, I was wrong (seeing a pattern? It's been repeated in my professional life lately, too). And to create a new circuit would cost about $450. Which, by the by, is about $450 more than I had budgeted for electrical work. YEAH. So much for that. The electrician offered an alternative solution, which was to cut some holes through the bases of the cabinetry between the original outlet and the new range location and snake the plug through them. You might think that sounds super janky, and how in the world would people access the plug when needed? Well, (a) I'm totally down with janky but safe and cheap solutions (sorry, future owners of this Pink House), and (b) our Ikea Hack makes it accidentally accessible.

There's about eight inches of space between the back end of the Ikea dresser that we're using as cabinetry and the wall, and the drawers are (as you can see above) removable. See the black outlet where the floor meets the wall back there? That's the range outlet. And if you squint, you can see the hole we sawed through the base of the trash cabinet. We had to buy a new, longer range cord (~$20), but it was totes cheaper than doing a new range outlet. Screw that (and, again, apologies to the folks who buy our home one day). Step two complete.

Step three (in this wildly out-of-sequence tale) had already been addressed: the microwave outlet. When we removed the old range hood, we capped off the wires and left them exposed, figuring we could have them turned into an outlet.

Old range, backsplash, cabinets, and range hood.

Out-of-focus pic of the exposed wires.

When we first had an electrician come out for an estimate (in late March), he said he could easily install an outlet where those wires were - for $225. Why the high cost? Well, we planned to build our microwave shelf there, and the electrician said he needed to furnish (wait for it...) a new freakin' circuit for that. Uh, negative, Ghost Rider. We ran our huge, hulking microwave off a random kitchen outlet for almost three years without an issue. Our new microwave is way tinier and, more to the point, just no. That's dumb.

J.J.'s dad to the rescue again.

He mounted a box to the stud and installed an outlet using the existing wires. After he repaired the back wall, I painted it and installed a "floating" shelf, which created...

...our new microwave shelf!

Don't get too attached to the new toaster on the counter. It made
a ticking noise the whole time it was on - the timer counting down
- that was unacceptable. BACK TO THE STORE WITH YOU.
Sooo loving the new shelf. And the fact that reallocating the range hood wiring for the microwave outlet was free, thanks to Mr. J.J.

At this point, the fridge, the range, and the microwave were all set - which left the new range hood. The story of ordering the range hood is a long, sordid one, full of false promises, rapidly diminishing hope, and a yet-to-be determined ending. Nevertheless, while the range hood itself is still M.I.A., the wiring for the hood is good to go. I asked the first electrician who came out to the house if we could use the original refrigerator circuit wires for the new range hood, since they're so physically close to one another. He said sure!...for the low, low cost of a jillion dollars. The second electrician (whom our inspector recommended) did it for $30. Word.

The gaping hole in the wall above the range is where the original refrigerator outlet was. The second electrician cut that out and was able to pull the wires through a new hole below the upper cabinets. The nice thing about this project is that the range hood is (GOODY SURPRISE) supposed to be on its own circuit, and this was already a unique circuit, having been originally designated for the refrigerator. Make sense? Now all we need to do is patch the lower hole...and wait for our range hood to arrive so we can install it.

The other fun surprise that arose from all this was that both electricians said they needed to repair some janky wiring (apparently that's the official electrical term of the day: janky) in the basement that the previous owners had done. It appears they had re-routed some wiring in a manner that was, shall we say, not to code. Sketchy. (Janky.) So Electrician #2, a.k.a. Mr. Reasonable Electric, fixed the open joints in the romex wiring in the basement. (I don't know what that sentence means, either. There won't be a quiz, don't worry. Unless the quiz is, "Why did Cathy's basement explode in a fiery fireball?")

Anyway, the basement sketchiness was annoying, it cost money, it was stupid - but it's fixed. And the electrical work is done. I wanted to add an outlet underneath the microwave shelf, since we'll have a new expanse of countertop there and it would be great to have a place to plug in small appliances like the mixer or the food processor...but the first electrician estimated that to cost $250, and I forgot to ask Mr. Reasonable Electric (doy), so it's not there. For now.

All in all, we spent $350 to:

  • Furnish and install a new refrigerator circuit and receptacle
  • Buy a longer range cord and saw holes through the cabinet bases
  • Turn the old range hood wires into an outlet for the microwave
  • Turn the old refrigerator outlet into open wiring for the new range hood
  • Fix the janky joists in the basement
More than my previous allotment of $0, but not too shabby considering our first estimate - $1,550. HAHAHA. No. The electrician also approved the new light fixture for over the sink (it was called into question because the manual said something to the effect of "only use this if your house was built after 1980, or else risk a fiery death"), so the next electrical step is to install that (after we have a painter come and fix the ceiling over the sink - yeah, it's that bad) and to replace the two boob lights in the ceiling (with what fixtures?!). Still deciding if it's worth having Mr. Reasonable Electric furnish an outlet by the new counter space, but I think that's going to depend on the cost of the counter itself. I had someone over today to take measurements for a countertop estimate, and it looks like that might be wayyy more than I had originally intended. The unforeseen need for an undermount sink and new faucet, along with the fact that the installers are going to have to level out the new base cabinets, might do us in. So, we'll see.

As usual, there are lots of tiny fixes to attend to (fixing the toe kicks of two base cabinets, leveling and screwing in the fridge surround, creating blocks from which the range hood will hang, patching the wall hole), as well as the final big projects (countertop, flooring, backsplash, cabinet crown moulding, pantry). The countertop will be a huge, awesome step...that won't actually happen for about a month. Step by step, baby! Sigh.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

lose yourself.

I didn't do the laundry. You know, the pile of darks that's been sitting on the basement floor accumulating centipedes since Saturday.

I didn't take advantage of the nice weather and go for a walk, or a run, or a bike ride, or an anything.

I didn't plant the flowers (now wilting) that my sister gave me a week and a half ago.

I didn't articulate myself the way I wanted to.

I didn't follow my own advice.

I didn't want to be misunderstood, and yet, somehow, I keep promoting the misrepresentation.

I didn't live up to my potential.

I didn't follow through.

I DIDN'T MEAN TO BE HERE. But then, I never planned to be anywhere specific, so wherever I happen to be right now - here, there, anywhere - would be a place I never planned to be.


My six-month follow-up dermatology appointment is tomorrow. You know, the one to check on "the progress of the lymphoma." Which is a crappy way to phrase it, because doesn't that imply that I HAVE lymphoma? 


...And I don't, right?


Mamatots introduced me to a new blog. Amalah. I'm in love, slash jealous as all get-out at her trajectory. Then again, you can't really be a mommy-blogger if you're not a mommy. So there's that.


I have a new yellow sweatshirt. It's sunshine yellow, summer yellow, the color of my family room walls. Obnoxious, in-your-face, Big Bird yellow. Actually, I bought new clothes for the first time in a few years. Every once in a while, I'll grab a new shirt from Target or the secondhand store, but I really hate clothes shopping. I do it all online, and I hadn't for years (laziness? Clothes budget diverted to house? I don't know). Turns out, it's hard to dress myself when I feel like I've lost myself and who I know myself to be. Is it appropriate for the program director to wear T-shirts designed for 22-year-olds? Is that an appropriate dress length for someone my age? Is it inappropriate to wear the same yellow sweatshirt (sunshine via fabric though it may be) for days on end, though it accumulates the Boogers of Many Small Children Who Are Not My Own? They say you're supposed to dress for the job you want to have, but I feel like it's not okay for me to go to work dressed as a reclusive writer ("eskimo vagrant"?) with frosting on my face.


The right-click option on my mouse is malfunctioning, which makes copying URLs for blog links supremely annoying. Also annoying? J.J.'s TV laugh. Also annoying? EVERYTHING, thanks to consecutive nights of weirdo insomnia, wherein I fall asleep reading around 11:24, then wake up and stare at the darkness (you know I'd link to some good old-fashioned Kim Jong-Il Looking At Things right now if my mouse weren't being a bitch) for an indeterminate amount of time. While staring, I actively avoid picking up my book again - even though I fell asleep reading it, like, six minutes ago - because I fear it'll wake me up more. Then my legs get restless and hot and itchy, and I move them and massage them and take my socks off and put them back  on and take my pants off and lose them in the comforter and then I'm freezing. Then I'm pissed at my brain for mistaking six minutes of sleep for a full night of sleep (WRONG, BRAIN, YOU'RE WRONG). Then my mattress turns into a lumpy rock of doom and porcupines poke through my pillow. Then my clock takes three hours to change from 12:54 to 12:55. Then a robber definitely breaks into my house and sets my snake loose. Then I fall into a vortex of anxiety nightmares (the oldie but goodie "I-need-to-dial-911-but-my-fingers-keep-slipping-on-the-phone" is back). Then it's 5:02, and every single morning, there's one damn bird squawking in the tree outside my window. Then it's 5:16, and J.J. furiously leaps out bed and slams the window shut. The bird is all, "Dang, man, I was just singing. Someone furiously leapt out of the wrong side of the bed." Then it's 5:18 and the bird starts squawking again. Then, like every cliched insomnia story ends, I drift off to sleep as my alarm sounds.

Then I am sad all day about the resurgence of unbidden (unwarranted?) anxiety. But I hold it together and deal with All the Problems (through a combo of CBT mantras and blessed denial optimism, and the self-flagellating reminder that my "problems" are so...nothing, compared with the real problems of the people I'm around). Then I come home and melt into the couch like the sad sack of accidental grown-up that I am, and it's only then that I remember how tired I am, and then I fall asleep for an hour, which might contribute to the midnight wakings, genius.

(And OMGGGG I knowww this is what every night as a parent is like and three hours of sleep is enviabllle until your child is of drinking age so if I don't like this I shouldn't become a parent everrr and everything will suck foreverrr when I dooooo, suckerrr!)

(And OMGGGG, that isn't meant to diminish how hard it is when your damn kid won't sleep...that's just me leaking my frustration at all the negativity about parenting out there. It's getting increasingly hard for me to validate the difficulties of parenting when I'm looking for some sign - any sign - that reproducing is worth it. HINT: The Interwebs are not the place to research positive parenting anecdotes. Or? Hope regarding cutaneous T-cell lymphoma symptoms and prognosis. Or? Hope.)


Wait, wait. And the funny part is? I'm actually in a pretty good mood right now. Mmm, mood stability. An important part of this balanced breakfast. (A breakfast that shall be eaten in a kitchen that reeks of progress and caulk...updates soon.)


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