Pink Fluffy Walls, From the Top

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt for July 19, 2014 is From the Top. It beckons:

Today, write about any topic you feel like — but you must reuse your opening line (at least) two more times in the course of your post.

We are still living behind the fluffy, pink walls. It almost sounds like fun, but these odd, temporary structures were built to facilitate repairs on our building. The crew can work on the outside while residents remain living inside.

I’m not sure how much I feel like writing about our cotton candy walls, but I’m hoping we can look back on this someday and say, “whew, we made it through!” There’s a lot of tragedy in the world right now. Our stuff seems pretty minor. But it’s our stuff.

These repairs are needed to fix faulty construction and the resulting conditions. Previous attempts did virtually nothing. Now that our buildings have practically turned into oatmeal, this is what’s necessary to really truly make our buildings sound. Put simply, the outside 25% of our home is being demolished and rebuilt. Some neighbors have not taken well to the repairs. They add angry, sometimes even comical, notes to public message boards.

It has been a long, drawn-out process. This mess shouldn’t ‘t happen in modern days of county building inspectors. But it did.

When the temporary “security walls” went up in early April, folks asked us how long it would take. The standard notification put the rough estimate at 2-5 weeks. I said I wouldn’t be surprised if it took two months.

And here we are. It has been over three and a half months. We are still living behind the fluffy, pink walls. The smell of freshly sawn wood has subsided, but it’s still pretty strange.

There’s near total darkness in our living room no matter what time of day. Is it 2:00 in the afternoon or 2:00 in the morning? We check a clock and turn on lamps.

Our “walls” are made of 2x4s, clear plastic sheeting, and pink household insulation. They have become like a fourth resident – a guest who has overstayed a visit.

Repairs are getting done. That’s good!

And an unexpected bright spot in all of this has been the workers. They sometimes sing and yell in Spanish or even play music. If I’m home I can hear them as if they’re in the same room. They kind of are in the same room. It’s quite surreal and usually makes me smile amid the chaos.

But I miss the windows. The natural light. I’ll think I’m fine and then one morning the darkness will feel heavy again like a blob from outer space.

We try to get out when we can. We need our sunlight and vitamin D. And we try to keep suitably occupied while indoors using a few of our light-emitting window-shaped devices.

A recent Daily Prompt, suggested we name our favorite procrastination destination. We have a new one. We started watching, Under the Dome.

Under the Dome is a TV miniseries based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. I’m not normally much of a Stephen King fan, and don’t normally watch much television.

It was the middle of the night. I was awake and too tired to do much else, so I thought I might stream some Firefly on Amazon. That’s when I saw the gleaming bubble on the artwork for Under the Dome.

I got hooked. King is certainly good at that.

I watched a little during the day, and then my daughter saw a bit of it. “What’s that, Mom?” I wondered if it was age appropriate for her, but I let her watch some.

She thought it was creepy. She’s right. Then, a couple of days later she wanted to watch more. So did I.

We had just watched another episode when I looked up at our pink, fluffy walls and said, “I kind of feel like we’re living under a dome with these walls.”

My daughter replied, “Yeah, I was just thinking that same thing!”

At least the dome let’s the light in. And well, we’re not trapped inside to the point that we can’t get out, so that’s good. Really good even.

But there is a strange fluffy presence looming over us from floor to ceiling. Much like the residents of Chester’s Mill, we don’t know when this barrier will go away. We are still living behind the fluffy, pink walls. It’s a process and maybe a strange little adventure.

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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.