Not firing on all cylinders


It started with the tell-tale tickle in the throat.

By Friday morning, I was a sniffling, sneezing, coughing, wheezing mess. I came into work long enough to finish a project and be sent back out the door by my boss and grossed-out coworkers, and then I crashed hard for the rest of the day.

Court shows.
Medical dramas.
Reality TV.
Cooking programs.
Trashy talk shows.

I watched them all.

I watched TV for twelve hours. Half a day. Though I love a good show and our DVR is always full, it’s rare for me to plunk down on the couch to while away an entire afternoon.

In fact, I never do that.

I grew up with active parents — parents who knew there was “always something to do.” In our busy household of four, we were constantly doing laundry, dishes, chores . . . playing with the dog, making meals, going shopping. We didn’t sit. And like many kids, if we complained of being “bored”? Well.

Don’t get me wrong: my sister and I had plenty of time to play, and my mom and dad weren’t exactly running a child labor camp. I have incredibly fond memories of all the epic goofing around we did. But when it came to keeping up the house, everyone was expected to contribute — and we did.

Now that Spence and I have our own home, all those buried memories of chores have been flooding back to me. With the house about 60 percent unpacked, I can’t help looking around at everything there is to do. Spence and I do relax in the evenings, but it’s usually after we’ve been working on a series of projects after work . . . running around until we’re too tired to do anything but collapse with the Food Network.

So Friday was unusual. Very unusual. Even though I felt too exhausted to do more than lift my head, I couldn’t fight this sensation that I should be doing something. Piles of laundry. Kitchen organization. Fridge cleaning. The sink of dishes. How do two adults dirty so many dishes?

Of course, I also felt the urge to read . . . and suddenly had uninterrupted hours in which to do so. But in the usual cruel twist of fate, I could barely concentrate on the text. I did finish Cristina Henriquez’s The Book of Unknown Americans, which was great and very emotional, but I only had 50-ish pages to go when that happened. So.

While I was going through an entire box of tissues and drinking too much coffee, my husband and a friend were laying our hardwood floor in the hallway. They started around 9 a.m. with a last-minute trip to Lowe’s, then worked until nearly midnight.

Nothing to make you feel sick and lazy like two men transforming your entire upstairs through sheer determination, sweat and lots of sawdust. And nails.

Not that I could have fired a nail gun . . . even if I had been firing on all cylinders.

Probably better that I stayed downstairs. For all of us.

Brave new floor

Spence with floor

Spence. He is le tired.

I know I promised a home tour, and . . . it’s coming. I really, really promise! But I just can’t muster the strength to show you our new homestead still filled with boxes, crumpled newspaper and a fireplace covered to protect us from bees (bees. I can’t).

We chip away a bit more at our epic “to do” list each night, and we are leaps and bounds ahead of where we were just two weeks ago. My mother- and father-in-law were here to help us with the big move last week, and they were such a tremendous help. It felt strange when they were gone, actually, because we hadn’t spent a night there without them.

To be honest? It was sort of nice to feel like a “kid” again. With Spence’s parents here to help, we had ready assistance and other folks to help with decision-making. Though I’ll be 29 next week, I’m still not used to being an adult in the house. That probably won’t change until we bring a child home ourselves.

I just don’t feel grown-up to own property. Call it arrested development or fear or uncertainty, but part of me still expects to wake up in my childhood bedroom with my ‘NSYNC pillow propped in the corner. I slept in a canopy bed until eight months ago, and I’m not ashamed to tell you that. It just was what it was. I was a 28-year-old who still fell asleep with sock monkeys, and all this? It’s . . . challenging.

Exciting. But tough.

For the most part, though, I think Spence and I are settling in pretty nicely! It still feels strange to open my eyes in the woods and not our bustling apartment building (or the aforementioned canopy bed), but I’m getting familiar with my new surroundings and slowly unpacking all that needs to be unpacked. We have a spare bedroom across the hall that’s currently filled with the contents of our future closet (the one we’re working on at top), so I dig through trash bags for beloved shoes or work tops or accessories and eventually find what I’m looking for.


Our biggest stride to date — and I use “our” loosely, given my handy husband has been putting in most of the sweat equity — is in finishing the floor in the closet. The house came with large built-ins in the walk-in closet, but the carpet was stained, buckling and generally gross. An unattractive mirror was cemented to one side; the walls were builder’s grade white with scuffs and discoloration throughout.

It looks different now.

My mother- and father-in-law were kind enough to patch the busted walls and paint the closet last week, and we tore up all the carpet to expose the plank sub-floor underneath. A fortuitous find at Lowe’s had us coming home with three boxes of laminate flooring for about $40 after two trips. At a time of terrifying financial undertakings, that was a major score.

Spence finished putting down the last of the laminate on Tuesday night, then caulked around the baseboards to seal it off. We just need help reinstalling all the cabinetry (it’s super heavy) and we will be finished, and my clothes will no longer be strewn haphazardly throughout the upstairs.

I can’t wait.

I lack decent photos to demonstrate the scope of the change, but here is a tiny before-and-after while we’re still working:

floor progress

Great strides! Great strides.

Lest I take credit where credit isn’t deserved, my help was limited to bringing Spencer tools he needed (after he described them by color) and making sure he always had a drink in the hot room. I did help hold down portions of the floor while we snapped it together and carried boards down to the garage for cutting, but . . . yeah. My assistance typically revolved around doing a mountain of laundry down the hall.

I hate to be a female stereotype, but I was mostly in the way. I fully intend to pitch in on all sorts of other home projects (and have been cleaning like crazy), but Spence worked faster when I wasn’t hovering in the cramped room. I think.

And every little bit helps, right?

Also, I know what baseboards and sub-floor are now — and can talk about them without sounding completely ridiculous. We’re all winners here.