Friday, October 26, 2007

The Devil Room in our House

I've been telling people for about a month that I'd post some pictures of the new house. Here are some:

There are three things to note in this picture. First, the wood paneling. It's gorgeous. It's really thick, heavy paneling. Some would call it knotty pine, though I'm not in the know about lumber, so I have no idea. Knotty pine? Probably. We ripped it out. Second, the enormous hole in the wall. Would you say that's CRT television size? It is. This is the red-neck flat panel TV. The back half of the TV comes out in the bathroom closet. Oh, and the holes in the wall (there's another one by the back door)? Yeah, they were covered by the previous owner's furniture. The first time we saw them was in the final walkthrough. Third, yes, that is BLACK carpet. Lovely, isn't it? You can see Stoker gathering up the pink carpet from the hallway (pink and black carpet. Who comes up with this crap?). We ripped that out too.

There were black and white vinyl tiles underneath the black carpet. Apparently these kind of tiles may have had asbestos in them, a possibility that we were totally unaware of, as you can see from the photograph. Stoker isn't wearing a respirator or anything (but he IS wearing flip flops. They're great for working on the house). I think the little spots in the photo are absestos floating around (these spots don't show up in the other rooms). Or evil spirits. Honestly, it's always been difficult to take pictures in this room, every image shows up with spots in it. We call this room the devil room. It has a thing for being black (so we're going to paint it white. Or yellow. Take that, you devil room!) and gloomy (the paneling really sucks up the light).

Notice that underneath the vinyl tiles, the floor is completely black. We think that was tar. Underneath the tar was the most perfect hardwood floor ever. It was unbelievable. No dents or scratches. It was immaculate once we sanded the tar up (but since then, as Stoker has been rewiring and dropping tools, it has gotten dented). During the sanding stage we wore masks. But I'm sure the damage was already done to our lungs at that point. The problem with the tile and everything was that the day after we closed, we stopped by the house to see how it looked. Stoker thought he'd dig right in and start tearing everything up. We didn't have a plan and we hadn't consulted anyone about how to do things, so we didn't know that it was a good idea to wear a respirator. But you'll be glad to hear that we wore them when we tore down the hideous acoustic ceiling tiles in the devil room.

Here, you can sort of see the floor underneath the tar. It might have been a good idea to use a paint scraper to get the tar up, but at that point, we were so tired from scraping the paint and glue up in the OTHER two rooms. I think if we could do it over, we would use the drum sander because it's a tougher sanding machine, or so they say. We went through a lot of sandpaper. The worst part about this was that the tar turned into a dust that settled on our hair and skin. Also, the floor took forever to sand. It was very demoralizing.

So all the pictures have Stoker in them. But I worked too, I promise. We took turns sanding and I was the one thinking about pictures, I guess. This room is almost finished. We've already stained it and coated it with polyurethane. The walls have been stripped and rewired, plus we added a wall to split this room. We made a utility room where the back door is, and where it joins the kitchen. Now we just need to put up the drywall.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sleeping at Work

I could fall asleep right now. I'm sitting at my desk at work and I can barely keep my eyes open. It's very difficult to stay awake while sitting in front of a computer, motionless, reading manuscripts. It's even difficult, lately, when I'm reading the news.

Can you believe the news? When I was a kid, I thought the news had clout. I believed it was The News. But now I see behind the news and it's just the news. Am I the only one who blames Ted Turner and his stupid idea for a 24-hour news channel?

Maybe I'm not eating enough protein in the morning. You've heard, of course, that the experts say that if you want to be alert in the morning, eat protein. They have, and I usually do. Eat protein, that is. But lately the cottage cheese and pineapple hasn't been getting the job done (are there any Texans in the room? They might be able to help) and instead of being alert, it's like I've been tranquilized.

Even now, as I write this sentence, my eyes are closed. But, like I need my eyes open to know that I'm writing the most beautiful words you've ever read. This is the next Great American Novel. The Sleep Chronicles. Yeah, that's a beautiful title. My eyes are now open and I'm re-reading the past four sentences with a smug grin. Gorgeous. I'm very pleased. Perfect wording. Mark Twain would be proud.

Oh man, I just had a dream, it was a soap opera of sorts, the leading lady and her male counterpart were arguing. All I got was this conversation: Him: "Yes, I do." Her: "No you don't." Him: "Yes I do." Her: "NO, you don't." I'm not sure what they were arguing about, but he was standing in the parlor with his hand on the door knob, like he was about to storm out, or maybe leave quietly. It was a dramatic moment. A very pivotal argument. Maybe it's part of The Sleep Chronicles.

I don't know why I'm dreaming soap operas, as far as I know I've never ever gotten through an entire episode in real life. I think my record is two minutes, then I change the channel or turn off the television in disgust. The news is better than a soap opera. A game show re-run is better than a soap opera.

Well, I'm going back to sleep. In a few moments I'll wake up and realize I sleep-posted, that's the blogging equivalent of sleep-walking. And then I'll be tempted to delete it. But I won't. I promise.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Like Unto Insomnia, though Not

I can't sleep. It's not that I have insomnia, it's that I feel like crap. For those who know me, they know I NEVER, EVER, NEVER, EVER, NERVER, never feel like crap. I'm basically a bucket of laughs, a bottle of bubbles, a stick of cotton candy. I'm a very cheerful person. It's just my nature. I'm round and jovial. They call me tons of fun.

So when I come to you like this, at 11:14 pm (so late!), and I tell you that I feel like crap, you must know, instinctively that something is dreadfully wrong. What is wrong is that my spine is on fire and my ear drums are about to implode. Or explode. They're doing both and I have no control of it, as anyone with ears will tell you.

Eustachian tube dysfunction my ass. Well, OK, that must be what it is because I realize my Eustachian tubes are to blame. Where's the Benadryl? I never have any Benadryl when I really need it. I'm not supposed to take it -- a rule imposed by me -- because it turns me into Mr. Hyde the next day. The first day it turns me into a sleepwalker. I'd rather be sleepwalking right now. I wish I had a bumper sticker that read "I'd rather be sleepwalking." It wouldn't be very funny, at least, not as funny as the "I'd rather be goldmining" bumper sticker I once saw. Classic.

The problem is, and I've resigned myself to this, the ears are never going to get better. Apparently the only thing that could really help them is the b.s. allergy shots. Remember the allergy racket post? Turns out, I was right about that! Either the insurance company or the allergist is cheating me. I can't figure out who because they both stick to their stories and their guns and their lies. I tried to strong arm the allergist by sticking to my guns and saying I'd only pay half of the bill they gave me, but they said they don't like that. They don't like that deal.

I haven't the energy to fight back. Is it really worth it? Over what will essentially add up to $140? I have two lawyers in my family, but I seem to have offended one into silence and the other simply told me UHC sucks. So anyway, stupid allergist. I could tell you the whole story but I'm sick of the story. It's exhausted me. Maybe tomorrow. The point is, I'm in the right. So I haven't returned for the allergy shots which aren't really free (there's the rub). I'd have to pay a co-pay every visit! In the long run is it really worth upwards of $2,000? Tonight it feels like it would be. But when this ear-hell episode passes, I'll think otherwise.

Even with all the lies and the cheating and the corruption of insurance companies (bastards!) and the greedy, lying doctors and specialists (bastards!), I still prefer it over socialized health care (commies!).

I just wanted to go one day without passing up the opportunity to use the word commie in a sentence. Sigh. Now I'll be able to sleep.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Al Gore: Phony, or Really Good Guy? And What about that Peace Prize?

Yeah, I think Al Gore is a bit of a phony. He's the toughest kind of phony to really pindown because he's kind of naive about stuff. Like when he said he created the internet (for a full run down on that, see Snopes). Plus he's really great at pretending to be sweet, and nice and all gentlemanly. Or maybe he is really sweet. Either way, the sweetness screams phony to me.

Isn't he just using the platform of climate change as a way to remain in the spotlight? He could have picked any subject, but he chose one that's deliberately impossible to prove with absolute certainty one way or the other, but which has global ramifications. Had he chosen a campaign to save the baiji, the only country immediately affected by it would have been China. That's too small. Though I think it would have done more good than the climate change battle.

I get the feeling that Al Gore really believes people have the power to damage the Earth, and I don't argue with that (though on what scale, we disagree). I think he chose an issue that has united people from all over the world -- so in that sense, he's created a kind of peace, a unity of cause. But there is also a lot of dissension that has been silenced by the easy responses of the "experts" and the "scientists." So Nobel Peace Prize? Maybe. I guess I buy that. But while they're expanding the definition of long established awards, they ought to broaden the scope of literature and include my blog in the running for the Nobel Prize in Literature. I'd even settle for a Pulitzer.

If the climate change theory is a tool that's being used to cause change in human consumption of resources and that alone, fine. Someone should admit that. But if drastic measures are going to be taken that have the potential to cause permanent damage, such as the measures that were proposed during the 1970s global cooling scare, I think Al Gore has unleashed a dangerous fury on humanity. I can't say that I think his motives are altruistic, either, and I guess that's the real reason he strikes me as phony.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sleep, Read, or Watch T.V.?

Why can't I go to bed earlier? All my life I've been a night person and I really suffer in the mornings, like right now, when I can barely keep my eyes open. I curse the TV. On a nightly basis, Stoker gets home and wants to watch a quick episode of the Simpsons or Futurama, to wind down. The problem is that he falls asleep while watching it, and I'm wide awake laughing.

So then, I'm like, "Wake up! Drink your tea," and he's like, leave me alone. And then we have a comical little tiff wherein he blames me for keeping him awake. Ha ha. So then he goes into the bedroom and I brush my teeth in the bathroom. He sprawls on the bed and falls asleep again. "Did you brush your teeth?" I ask, because really, he might have brushed them an hour ago without me noticing. But now he's asleep again, and this question has woken him. He growls at me.

And then I say real sweetly, "Well, maybe you should just get in bed." And he tells me that he's just going to start going to bed when he's tired. Only he says it like it's a threat, and it'll ruin my life because I always want to watch the Simpsons, every night. By now he's in the bathroom brushing his teeth and his eyes are totally bloodshot from being pried open several times by my rousing conversation.

At this point in the night, after he's fallen asleep everywhere but in bed, under the covers, he's really just sleepwalking*. So I don't hold the childish fit against him, I've been known to have my own bursts of indescribable rage at being woken from my after school nap**. I respond to his "I'll just go to bed when I'm tired" jab with, "Great! I don't care if I don't watch television all night before bed."

Because I really don't. I love Futurama and the Simpsons, but moderation, people. Whatever happened to reading books? I miss books. I try to read a book and it's like pulling teeth. Stoker and I don't keep the same work schedule. Usually I'm home before him. But instead of reading, I run around like mad straightening up the apartment, or as my cousins used to call it, doing my chores. The new habit is to have the television*** on when I'm there alone. It's like a Ray Bradbury book. I have my fake family chattering away in the background and I don't feel so lonely.

How can a book even compete with free television? I can't clean out the cat litter while I'm reading a book, and that's part of the problem. And hey, what's wrong with being alone? Why can't I just enjoy the silence? What's with this dependence on noise?

I don't know. I guess it's habits. It's what you get used to. For so long I was used to being alone. I lived in Salt Lake in a house on a busy street, in a kind of slummy area (Sugar House, the greatest area in Salt Lake City) and I was alone at night quite often. It never bothered me. I used to walk down the street at night to the bookstore or the coffee shop, alone. I had no fear. But HERE, in Nashville, if I'm alone in the apartment and I hear a loud noise, I wish I had a gun.

Anyway, I'd like to read a book instead of watching television. Scrubs is entertaining, for sure, but I can feel my mind melting. Sitcoms do nothing for my intellect. Thousands of words I had learned from my years of bookishness have been replaced by obnoxious buzzwords and rude sitcom banter. That's no way to interact with people—as though you're in a sitcom. Honestly, has anyone else noticed what an effect sitcoms have on their interpersonal relationships?

Lifelong goal: become a morning person. The kind of thoughtful early-riser who sips delicious Celestial Seasonings tea and watches the sunrise color the sky (haven't you always wanted to be THAT person? Like in the coffee commercials, onlyI prefer tea). This WILL take a lifetime, for me.

Immediate goals: go to bed earlier and read books again. Is this possible?

*Remember, he falls asleep ON the bed, without brushing his teeth—and he needs to brush them, we just went to the dentist and they counseled him on not brushing his teeth into oblivion, and yes, floss more.

**"You BITCH." My poor sisters. I was ASLEEP! It's like being held accountable for your dreams. Plus, hello! It was high school. And because it was high school, I got into trouble. Double-dutch trouble, as they say. By the way, Anji, I'm still sorry about that.

*** It's free, like we'd pay for cable, and by free I mean we get about eight stations. Two of them are televangelists.