Shop Vac


Things accomplished today:

  1. Odd-colored patch under the light fixture we replaced in the kitchen: painted.
  2. Peeling ceiling paint in the bathroom: scraped and re-painted.
  3. Warping and de-laminating bathroom door: liquid-nails’ed back into shape.
  4. Slow drain in upstairs bathroom: de-slowified.

Things I learned:

  1. Popcorn ceiling is terrible, in that it’s basically impossible to match an old application with a new one, and thus, if it ever needs to be repaired in any way, you almost have to re-paint the entire ceiling in that room.
  2. Popcorn ceiling is kind of awesome, in that it hides imperfections in the underlying surface, so the previous ceiling paint I didn’t entirely scrape off just kinda disappears.
  3. How have I lived 36 years without knowing about liquid nails? That stuff could fix the holes in the Titanic, I’m pretty sure. Never going to be without some in the house again.
  4. Kids will stuff anything down an open drain, just for the curiosity of it.

Things I may or may not have shop-vac’d out of the kids’ (and my!) bathtub drain:

  1. Seven pounds of hair (interesting as I don’t have any)
  2. Two matchbox cars
  3. A collection of bathtub markers
  4. One missing cat (alive)
  5. One missing cat (deceased)
  6. A previously undiscovered Dead Sea Scroll
  7. Five dollars

Drums and Beats


The word for the day is March, and the only thing that came to mind was time marches on. Which is the annoyingly obvious sort of platitude that I both love and love to hate. I thought, well, I could write on that particular platitude, but it would turn into the meandering nothing that I’m trying, of late, to avoid around here.

Then I went for a run, and after my podcast ran out – which they tend to do when you run 7 miles – (Last Podcast on the Left’s recent offering on L Ron Hubbard, for the curious) I figured I’d crank some tunes, which, I’m pretty certain, is what the kids are saying these days. And as my feet pounded away, it struck me – there I was, kind of sort of marching to the beats of several drummers. AWOLnation. Flock of Seagulls. Fiona Apple. Glitch Mob. Lindsey Sterling. Radiohead. Ed Sheeran. Duran Duran. The Beastie Boys. Twenty One Pilots. Depeche Mode. Regina Spektor. The Foo Fighters. (What is a Foo anyway, and why does it need fighting? Or are they fighting for the Foo?)
And I thought to myself: once upon a time, I had a musical identity.

I could shop in just one aisle of the record shop (and there I feel time marching on again – I haven’t bought a physical cd at a physical record store in, I dunno, a decade? Two?) My musical tastes started and ended with hard rock  and heavy metal. Iron Maiden, Metallica, Guns ‘n Roses, Megadeth. I was that guy, in that group, listening to that music. Long hair, leather jacket. I listened to exactly one radio station. All this – music at the heart of all – was no small part of my identity.

These days? I have a dozen radio presets and it doesn’t feel like enough (though that’s an indictment more perhaps of the advertisement quotient). Dozens of Playlists and stations on Spotify and Pandora that I flip through like the pages of a well-loved book. Even in my personal collection – music I feel strongly enough about to pay for it (unheard of!) – there is no such thing as a favorite artist, favorite song. One day I can’t get enough of a track, the next I’m aggressively skipping it, impatient even at its opening notes.

Love it one day, hate it the next.

Which leaves me all the time marching to the beats of lots of different drummers.

Which is probably just as well; no sense in being the same way all the time. As Shakespeare said by way of Hamlet, “suit the action to the word, the word to the action… but use all gently.”

Use all gently. A little bit of everything when the time is right.

As time marches on.

This weekly remotivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every weekend, I use Linda G. Hill’s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results. This week? Maybe not so productive.


Fixer of Things


There is no satisfaction like the satisfaction you gain from taking on a task entirely foreign to you and mastering it.

Yesterday, found a leak under our sink. Today, it’s fixed. Not by a contractor, not by an expertly licensed and trained plumber with a truck full of tools and a belt that never quite seems to keep his pants up. By me.

So what if it took three hours and two trips to the Home Depot?

So what if my kitchen currently looks like a disaster area?

So what if I had to buy and learn to use two brand new tools that I may never use again?

So what if my face is going to be broken out for weeks from rubbing my mug against the underside of the sink?

So what if my back and shoulders may never be the same after cramming them into that tiny space?

I fixed a thing. And instead of the $300 it likely would have cost to call a “professional,” I’m out only $25, a few hours of work, and a small portion of my dignity (apparently the belt doesn’t hold my pants up on the job either).

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See that? That’s what a pipe looks like when it’s not leaking anymore. (Sidenote: I worked harder than I should have to get this picture, and it still looks like unmollified hell.)

Victory!


Can’t Complain


Short post today, but a thing I realized the other day. Things are pretty good, lately.

I mean, I’m stressed. I feel like I don’t have nearly enough time in the day to do all the things that need doing. But I have a hard time finding anything to complain at length about outside of the mild day-to-day annoyance. Things aren’t perfect, but I’ve learned not to chase after the perfect at the expense of the good.

In fact, I may have stumble into the perfect formula for living life as a happy man. Here it is.

  • A wife who puts up with about 70 percent of my particular brand of bullsharknado. (I don’t want to get away with everything.)
  • 2 kids who simultaneously drive me to my wits’ end and remind me about what really matters in this world.
  • A dog who occasionally makes me want to commit murder but is mostly chill and awesome. She runs with me three mornings a week and won’t let me slack, but won’t let me overdo it. She loves our kids and puts up with being poked and prodded and petted and, occasionally, ignored. She is the best dumb dog.
  • A gaggle of cats who remind me that occasionally, everybody has to clean up somebody else’s crap. (Generally a few times a week.)
  • A job where I am appreciated, respected, given a fair bit of creative license, and generally left to my own devices.
    • It doesn’t hurt that just about every morning I’m treated to a lovely sunrise over the hazy football field:
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  • A running habit that clears the mind and doesn’t allow the body to rot.
  • A creative spirit that won’t let me rest.

Combine all parts in a middle-aged guy with desperately thinning hair, mix thoroughly, and leave to thicken.

As Ferris Bueller said, regarding driving a Ferrari, if you have the means, I highly recommend it..It is so choice.

I mean, maybe my particular vehicle is more like a 2000 Camry — functionable and reliable rather than flashy and rigged to win races — but it’s sure as hell working out for me so far.

This weekly remotivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every weekend, I use Linda G. Hill’s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results. This week? Maybe not so productive.


Get Offa That Art Crap


I ran into a former student at the grocery this weekend. (This is a side effect of living close to where you work, something my father always recommended against. We lived within walking distance of the high school where he worked and where I was a student, and we couldn’t go anywhere without running into students [former and current], parents, co-workers, etc. I got used to sitting in the car and daydreaming for fifteen minutes after we’d gotten done shopping while he’d be stuck in conversation with somebody or other. The advent of the Game Boy was a boon to my childhood that can never be appreciated by the current generation. In my day, you sat and stewed and waited in your own thoughts.)

She has gone on from my humble literature classroom to a good in-state university, as I expected she would. What I didn’t expect was her choice of major: Geology.

Rocks.

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When I wrote her a letter of recommendation to the same university, it was for their music program. She was a chorus student. An artist, too. Talented on both counts. And now, she’ll be studying rocks.

Her dad was with her, and he jumped right in there while I was trying to puzzle that one out. “I’m so glad we got her offa that art crap to do something worthwhile.” Boastfully, he said this. With a big smile on his face and his hand on her back. She, meanwhile, had that half-hearted smile kids get when their parents are bragging on them for something they know is not a big deal. And (and I’m sure I didn’t just imagine this) — a little bit of sadness in her eyes.

It was obvious that she’d gone in the geology direction — or at least in the offa that art crap direction — at her dad’s urging. And it seemed to me that she was not entirely proud of making this announcement to me.

I have a few thoughts about this:

  1. On the one hand, it doesn’t much matter to me what she’s studying particularly — just the fact that she’s gone on to college is a good thing. Because too many students don’t — especially from her school, her community..
  2. On the other hand, yes it does matter to me because she had a passion, and if her parent turned her away from that passion, then that’s a bummer.
  3. On the other other hand, I totally get dad’s perspective. The likelihood of making a living with your art is unfortunately remote. We have to make a living in the meantime, and that means having more skills in the set, more tools in the box. So I’m not exactly blind to his desire to push his kid toward a more “serious” option.
  4. On the other other other hand … Geology? Is this a field with tons of career opportunities that I never heard about? If so, that rocks. I’m not even sorry.

I dunno. Unfortunately, I see both sides of this issue in sharp relief. Parents have to do their best to give their kids the best chance in this world, so maybe a parent has the unpleasant duty of delivering the harsh truth and pushing his kid off the path of rainbows and daisies. But then, aren’t parents also supposed to encourage their kids not to settle for what’s “sensible” and chase their dreams? And doesn’t that mean occasionally chasing after a pipe dream and getting a degree in something worthless like music or drama? (cough, cough.)

Ultimately, I’m not bothered by her decision. No such decision is easy, and surely they spent a lot of hours deciding what was best for her. And I guess I’m not particularly bothered by the dad’s feeling on the matter either — it makes sense, if it seems a bit cold.

What I take issue with is the self-satisfied, self-aggrandizing condescension. “We got her offa that art crap.”

Because art is a waste of time, right? Because nothing good comes of art, right? Because any endeavor that isn’t specifically geared toward putting more money in your pocket is fit only for the hippie unicorn-chasers, right?

No, sorry. Art matters.

If you trudge through your workday for the privilege of vegging out on the couch to watch the newest episode of your favorite TV show, art matters.

If you fantasize about getting high off of inhaling the crisp, fresh-smelling pages of a new book, art matters.

If you avoid water-cooler spoilers lest you have your favorite characters’ secrets revealed to you without the appropriate narrative foreplay, art matters.

If you turn on the radio or a podcast or an audiobook to save your soul from the monotony of your daily drive, art matters.

Art, in short, bloody well matters — it ain’t crap to be got off of. It may not always — or often — be financially rewarding. But in this life, there are other rewards than the ones and zeroes in your bank account. Art is the water of friggin’ life. And we could all use a drink.

I didn’t say this to him, of course. Polite society and all that. But I take a quiet pleasure in knowing that he will one day be figuratively eviscerated for his transgression against her creative spirit.

You know. Through her art.


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