You really don’t realize how crappy your house is or how much crap you have until you decide to move. Evidently, the standards or thresholds regarding the level of filth or chaos or crap that you’re willing to live in or put up is set when you’re in college. Because we live in a dorm. A two-story dorm with a finished basement and an attached two car garage.
We have a lot of crap. For example, our current house also serves as a recycling center for paper. Here’s how it works – the girls bring something home, we may or may not read it, look at it or pay attention to it. Most of the time we don’t want it but some of the time we actually need it. Its nearly impossible to distinguish one type of paper item from another. It’s like watching a Ted Cruz speech. It all looks like fake crap. But it gets placed on the kitchen counter or the kitchen table and then, as sometimes happens, we become busy with other things. The aforementioned stuff piles up. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It only ends when you either buy a flamethrower or move out of your house. We chose to move. Flamethrowers aren’t widely available for home improvement use.
The other thing is you’d be surprised at the sheer volume of small things that need to be fixed in your house before you can sell it. Or maybe you aren’t. Maybe you’re handy and just fix the little stuff as it happens. Or maybe you don’t care about that stuff because you’re living in a dorm and who gives a crap about it anyway. Or, and follow me here, you do care but you’re not all that handy and you are always just really, really tired and when you have extra time the last freaking thing you want to do is patch a hole in the f’ing wall because your freaking kids keep tearing the towel racks out of the drywall in their bathroom that you just spent thousands of dollars to update just a few years ago.
Just to be clear, we’ve already taken care of all the big stuff because, stupidly, I thought we’d be staying in the house for a little bit longer. Siding, roof, windows, new high-efficiency furnace and AC unit, built vents in the attic so the bathroom fans vent directly to the outside and a brand new patched and sealed garage floor – all done. Which by the way is really, really gorgeous. Beautiful. Like the first time you saw Lynda Carter in that Wonder Woman costume. That magnificent. It was all kind of unexpected because I’ve never really cared about my garage before but now it just looks great. You want to keep it clean. When all that dirty snow melts off leaving that wet sludge on the floor, well, it makes you sad. Anyway, here’s the thing, not only is there a lot of little stuff that needs to be fixed, but we decided, really through sheer apathy, that its okay to live in it. Hole in the bathroom wall? Meh. Drywall tape peeling in one corner? Barely visible. Ceiling vent in the basement hasn’t been covered in 15 years and really is just rectangle hole? Whatever.
But now that we’ve gone through the month long process of prettying up the place, I kinda sit there and wonder – out loud sometimes – why in the freaking hell did we ignore all the stuff? We have jobs and college degrees. We own cleaning supplies. We have a rudimentary knowledge of how to fix things. We don’t live in a van down by the river. This isn’t a grass hut during monsoon season in Bangladesh.
Now don’t get me wrong. We’re not “dead broke” like Hillary and Bill toughing it out with a seven bedroom $2.85 million house in DC, or $12 million in speaking fees, or almost $3 million in book royalties. Although I’m hoping this blog really catches fire…
But we did have to do some work. Paint. Replace faucets. Replace a toilet. Paint. Patch drywall. Paint. Wash and stain kitchen cabinets. New hardware for kitchen cabinets. Paint. And remove all evidence that gold or brass was ever in your house. Gold and brass to homebuyers is like Donald Trump to the Republican elites living inside the Beltway.
We also stripped the wallpaper off the walls in the office. FYI, don’t do this if you can avoid it. Wallpaper is terrible invention. Why? Well regardless of what you choose to put up, the next person who lives there is going to think you were smoking crack. Like a dump truck full of crack and the dump truck is made out of crack. Nobody likes somebody else’s wallpaper. And that means you have to take it down. This involves spraying your walls with a water/vinegar mixture. Letting it soak in…and then scraping it off. This is messy and takes a while. Like a whole weekend. Sometimes while scraping it off you’ll lose concentration and take a chunk out of the drywall. This means you now have to patch the divot. You only become aware of massive amount of divots when you take a look at the wall. Patching means sanding. This is more messy than the scraping. Once the sanding is done, you need to clean up all the leftover dust. Then you paint. Two coats. This is when you realize how much you want to invent time travel and kill the person who invented wallpaper.
One of the last things I had to figure out was the uncovered ceiling vent. I wasn’t kidding when I said it had been that way for about 15 years. We kinda screwed up when we cut the hole in the drywall and made it too big so there wasn’t anything to secure the vent cover to. Glue also didn’t work. Ended up deciding that indifference was a good solution. But with the pressure of moving bearing down on me, I ended up using small door springs to kinda macgyver it. So far so good. Been up for a couple weeks now.
Mom and the girls also took a trip to the dump. Like I said, we have a lot of crap. In weight, I’d guess it was roughly a crap ton. Or a shitload. Mostly because we disposed of a 1934 piano. Tried to sell it. Tried to give it away. Not a big market. So we took it apart and with the help of our neighbors loaded it into the back of my truck. It was a million pounds. Mostly kidding, but good googly moogly that thing was built like a Sherman Tank and weighed the same. But now we have less stuff. And that’s good. I guess living simply is the thing now. But really, its just less stuff to move.