Behind

Well, I have to say I don’t feel like writing right now, but I’m trying to stick with this ten minutes thing. So here we go.

As if I don’t have enough stuff going on right now, yesterday a giant fork lift crashed into my car as I was driving out of our garage area and towards the main street in our community. It was the kind of fork lift that can haul masonry supplies up to the fourth level of our building for the ongoing repairs. Who the bleep gets hit by a giant fork lift? Yeah, me. Seriously.

Fortunately, I wasn’t hurt and my car doesn’t appear to be that damaged, but it was startling and it’s a hassle. I think it was one of its giant tires that actually impacted. Those tires are almost bigger than my car. Apparently, the driver was talking to somebody while he was relocating the fork lift. There were witnesses. I’d almost cleared the giant orange monstrosity when I felt a thud. Almost past and then no! Good thing I wasn’t a little kid!

I need to take the car to a shop to have it looked at. I’m hoping the scuff marks can be buffed out. One of the many advantages of Saturn cars were the polymer panels and doors. I’d have a big dent if it weren’t for that. As it is there’s also a small crack in the rear side panel and the gas lid (the outer part) is very slightly askew. Really, a fork lift?

I don’t even know how much longer I’ll keep this car. It has a lot of miles, but it’s been phenomenally dependable. Sigh.

Still behind on Writing 101 posts, but I’m really trying to stick with the ten minutes pledge.

And my daughter was just sitting on the couch with wet hair. She got up and left behind a giant wet spot that looks almost exactly like a Batman symbol! That’s pretty cool. Not a bad way to end the evening.

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All These Repairs, Writing 101, Day Six

Our Writing 101, Day Six assignment asks who is the most interesting person or people we met in 2014. The twist is to turn this into a character study. Day seven’s twist is to write dialog and, as I’m still working on seven, I included some dialog here too.

Life is pretty much work, mom stuff, daughter’s school & activity stuff, laundry, feed family, and struggle to make time to see people we already know and … repeat. I’ve not met many new people in 2014.

Thinking through the new people I did manage to meet, I realized that, aside from the most random of store clerks, every one of them has had something to do with repairs.

I had car trouble last week. A fellow commuter stopped to assist. I did not get his name, but he drove a silver vehicle and wasn’t afraid to open the hood to my steaming engine. He had lovely blue eyes which I probably shouldn’t have noticed. We topped off my coolant since I carry extra in the trunk and went on our way.

Once I got my car into a shop, a man named, Al, helped me with my car repairs. Later, Jeremy, at the same car repair shop, talked to me for a bit without actually giving me any info on my car because Al had all that info, and he’d gone for the day to pick up his kids.

Al was very by-the-book as far as repairs went. Replace broken part with same part. Not much creativity or love for working mechanics to find better solutions. Probably a good thing for new cars, but my older car often benefits from some creativity. The plastic coolant section of the intake manifold is a weak spot on some Saturns so many folks have used a more durable metal repair and been happy with it. Even the parts supplier that Al’s shop uses carries the more durable metal fix. Al is doing his job.

The other guy at the repair shop, Jeremy, was fairly interesting to talk with and I learned that he used to work in finance “telling rich people what to do with their money.” First working in a BMW repair shop, he found the world of car repair more exciting.

Jeremy also mentioned that not long ago he changed his eating habits and lost a lot of weight – he wanted to be healthier for his kids. His dark frame was trim. Bananas hung from a holder on his desk and beyond that a bag of gummy bears. He said that gave up all other sugar. He held up the bag – only genuine Haribo bears for him. He used to live in Germany.

Jeremy might have been open to exploring a better way to repair my car than Al. But Al got my car got fixed and for a fairly hefty price. I can actually drive my car now without spewing coolant all over the place. That’s a good thing, so I’ll take it.

I met a new doctor in 2014. Doctors do repair work of sorts, but I know nothing about her other than where she works.

If we’re going by the rule of most interesting person I met in 2014, it would be the Repair Liaison for our condominium community.

Repairs have been ongoing for around two years and are very necessary in our community. Our home owners’ association is now on its fourth Repair Liaison. Yep, four. It can be stressful.

Homeowners have a lot of pent up anger at having to undergo the repairs – the builder’s fault – but the Repair Liaison is the messenger. And we all know how that can turn out. I’m pretty sure the folks who are doing the actual repairs alert him to absolutely nothing until the last minute. So the Liaison, Mr. Edwards, is left to deal with homeowners who become even more upset when they get little notice that, by-the-way, we’ll be covering all your windows and temporarily blocking off one or two hundred square feet from your home. “How’s tomorrow work for ya?”

When I first spoke with him on the phone I’d pictured a gnarled construction type in his 40s or 50s with brown hair. But when I met him his hair was totally white. Hopefully dealing with homeowners for a month didn’t do that to him.

He seemed like a grandfather who’d just come out of retirement and is still learning the smart phone he inherited from his many predecessors.

So far, one of his most endearing qualities is that he seems to be able to keep track of virtually nothing as far as our home’s state of repair. You might think I’m kidding. But truly it is comical and hard to be mad at him when he’s trying yet somehow manages to get it all wrong.

In one of our first exchanges with him he said, “workers need to get into your unit to take down your security walls.” We had no temporary security walls at that point.

He said he “doesn’t have it in his notes” whether our home is getting temporary walls installed or if they’re coming down, but, “it’s one of those.” If you have temporary walls up they’re coming down. No walls? They need to put them up. “It really needs to be done by Wednesday. Thank you for scheduling this. Some people refuse to let us inside. That only delays everything.” Poor guy.

In later conversation he phoned us, “The plumber is coming up, and he’ll tap on your window in just a minute.”

“We don’t have any windows right now.”

“He’ll tap on your balcony door then.”

“Nope, don’t have one of those now either. No windows. No balcony door. We only have the pink temporary walls.”

“Okay then, I’ll radio him that he needs to come to your front door.”

“Thank you.”

He has a sweet, raspy voice that manages to sound genuinely helpful and appreciative, yet he’s not afraid to leave an urgent note on your door when work must get done and you didn’t yet manage to return his call. And most important he is still our Repair Liaison. It’s going on six months now, and he hasn’t run away screaming. There’s something to be said for that.

Like Removing a Band-aid

Generally, it’s better to remove a Band-aid with one big, swift tug and be done with it. Sure it stings, but it only gets better from there (unless you accidentally pulled the scab off). But there’s often that urge to pull it off slowly as if it will hurt less that way. Inevitably, though, it hurts with the first millimeter and every little one after. That’s kind of how getting out of bed feels. To some extent it has always been like that, but now it is especially so since it is darn near pitch black in our home 24/7.

After my daughter was born more than 11 years ago, unless I was sick with plague, I’ve been waking at the crack of dawn or earlier. I’ve had almost no need for an alarm clock — I’d just get a ping from my internal clock and, BAM, be awake.

Now as repairs continue on our home and windows are completely covered, it’s dark inside when I get home from work and dark when I awake to a gently blaring alarm clock in the morning. My body feels like it should be hibernating. So not only do I often need an alarm right now, I’m having a painful time getting up once it rings. The “snooze” button has become an evil and seductive friend. It’s not any easier to get up to after hitting snooze four times than it would be if I got up in one swift movement. And it only prolongs the pain. But there’s that little voice saying, “it won’t hurt so much if you do it slowly.” I hit the button. I know it’s a lie. Then I get the challenge of waking my daughter.

And Then There Were None

No windows at all now. I knew, when I saw the scaffolding go up outside my daughter’s window, there was a chance the workers would put up a temporary “security” wall in her room too. But I was really hoping we could avoid that. We had not had the same obvious and extreme long-term problems with leaks in her room as we had on other parts of the condo. But we knew that what we saw was probably only a small piece of the whole. So it happened. There are enough problems in her room too to warrant the walls. All of our windows have now been replaced with temporary pink walls of gloom. Made of 2x4s, pink household insulation, and clear plastic on the inside with plywood on the outside, they block out nearly all daylight and a good chunk of our living space. We feel like the walls are closing in on us. And they are. We wake up in near total darkness. My biological clock is not running smoothly. It’s like living in a cave or maybe a submarine. Perhaps I should try to make it fun and think of it as a bat cave and get some high-tech crime-fighting equipment. We really do feel kind of batty. It’s as if we’re encased in a strange and surreal cocoon. I’m hoping for some stunning wings when all this is done.

Less Here

With condo repairs still ongoing, I’m both getting used to our windowless, pink fluffy walls and feeling more depressed and oppressed. They keep us in the dark — literally and figuratively. The construction organizers almost never tell us the schedule, if there even is one, and when they do it’s generally 72 hours notice.

Some mornings I hear the workers on the other side of the pink fluffiness — probably two feet away from me — as they cut, saw, destroy or build, and they sing and yell in Spanish. All the while I may be half naked and stumbling in the dark to get ready for work. I kind of like the singing, but it’s all very surreal and I wonder if I’m not stuck in a pink cotton candy sequel to Killer Clowns from Outer Space only with less action.

When we originally signed the contract to purchase this place, I choice a floorplan with lots of windows and a sunny exposure —South and East. I liked the overall floorplan for a slightly larger unit better — especially the bathrooms and kitchen. But I once lived in a basement apartment with a northern exposure and I said no more to that. I need my sunlight! My internal clock keeps trying to reset itself so I feel kind of like I’m free-floating, ungrounded.

We’ve had the pink walls for over five weeks. And now scaffolding is going up outside my daughter’s window. These are the only windows currently allowing daylight into our home. Since the workers have not communicated anything to us, we have no idea if or when we’ll lose those windows too. (And no, it’s not really just a matter of asking.)

The nice part of it all is that work is getting done. And we have some lovely restaurants within walking distance. So we are getting outside. Aimless walks are a welcome thing. More outside. Less here.

While we have way less light we’re also going through all our stuff and there is less of that now too. Less space has motivated us. I just wish this place felt less like a basement.

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