I was at work the other day when I got the near-traditional 2:30 pm text or call. Someone wants to go home early, or wants to know what’s for dinner or… who knows. But many afternoons I hear from my kids.
I clicked through the link, my brain still 98% occupied with the work I was then being paid to do.
WHAT THE HECK?
Suddenly 100% of my brain is locked on “13 year old asking for tattoo ink”.
When I pressed for details, his schema emerged more sound than I’d feared. The ink could be used – like henna – to create non-permanent drawn on tattoos. He has a friend who’s really an excellent artist who would be doing the work. He’d put it on his calf. Yes, I could see a picture of it first. Yes, he remembers that his principal does not understand geek culture references and it was going to be something that could not be misinterpreted. No, he promised no skin would be pierced during this process.
So Saturday I dropped him and his (gulp) tattoo ink off at his friends house and picked him up a few hours later. “It takes 24 to 48 hours to show”.
The end result isn’t so bad, for a first time tattoo artist and recipient. I think the design is pretty decent. Perhaps some different shading choices could be made. But I’ve seen worse – and some of those permanent.
For a first tattoo, it’s not so bad. May they all be so easily outlived if no longer wanted!
If you’d gotten a real tattoo at 13, what would currently be forever marked on your body? Would you be glad you got it, or are you glad you waited/didn’t make that decision at 13? Steven Universe is a great show, but it’s unclear whether it will last the test of time!
I was probably four years old – we were living with my grandparents – and it was Christmas. My parents constructed this cardboard fireplace and mantle for Santa’s sake. And there in my stocking was this little puzzle. It had nine slots for eight sliding blocks in order to make a picture. (I have a vague memory of it being an elephant? Perhaps?) I eagerly scrambled the picture. But for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to unscramble it. I probably asked my dad to fix it for me 20 times that Christmas. I was amazed at his ability to see this magical solution completely opaque to me. Grownups are so magical.
To this day I have never successfully completed one of those puzzles, although in fairness to me I probably haven’t tried in (cough) thirty years. In the deep depths of my mind I suspect my belief that I’m not particularly good at spatial reasoning puzzles goes back to that sliding, scrambled elephant.
But lately, I’ve felt like I’m in a mega version of that puzzle. We all remember the triumph of the attic renovation. It was the great effort of the past year. But as our new space was finally finished and ordered, it set in motion of a series of cascading effects that are still eating up my weekends.
The laundry room was the biggest one of these. While the attic was the bulk of our project, we also got this idea to convert a second floor linen closet into a laundry room. We carefully measured width & of depth we had plenty. It was certainly tall enough, although not excessively so. We tiled it, plumbed it and put in a gas fixture so we could stack our existing washer and dryer into the space. We hired movers to move it and a plumber to connect the gas. They got the washer in, but couldn’t stack the dryer.
It could not be done. See, there was room for the washer and dryer. But there was no room for a human being to connect said washer and dryer plumbing-wise, and emerge again. The stack couldn’t be pushed back intact because it has a floor drain. You can’t crawl over it, regardless of size. We contemplated opening walls, using flexible hoses, creating ladders to climb out – but finally realized that based on the location of the drain and connections an adult would still be unable to connect everything. We thought of sending Thane in, but the sobering realization the plumbing inspector would need to be able to see the gas line connection to sign off on it was the death knell. There was, alas, no way that we could move our existing stack in. I researched new washers and dryers to see what might possibly fit. There were none. Trust me, we thought through every possible angle.
Well, ok. There was one. If we went with a European-style ventless washer-and-dryer all in one combo, it might work. That meant that the venting, the gas line, the high powered electric line (yes, we put in both) were absolutely useless. Plus, it was expensive. We were terribly afraid that it wouldn’t actually dry. The first one we ordered the installers told us that it was impossible to remove the washer without terrible damage. But it didn’t matter anyway since the washer/dryer on the truck was badly damaged. We got a second one, and I made a call to the installation HQ begging them to send me the *good* team. They did (the team not only had no problem with the installation or move, they were incredibly fast – I tipped them well). And wonder of wonders, it works amazingly. It’s hell on the electric bill (between that and the electric car and heated floors in the attic we went from “more efficient than your neighbors” to “holy handgrenades, what are you doing in there?”). But now it’s SO MUCH EASIER to drop in a load of laundry on my way to work and by the time I get home it’s dry. I’ve even started making the kids do their own laundry.
But see, we had plans for the old laundry room. We were going to put a treadmill down there so we had a good exercise option for the winters – and a thing to tell the kids to go do when they needed some exercise in bad weather. We got the tv installed. After careful consideration, we figured if we moved the freezer next to the washer and dryer and got rid of the horrific particle-board cabinet, we would have plenty of space for the treadmill (if it’s not too tall – finger’s crossed).
But to get rid of the cabinet, we needed to move the linens from the downstairs shelves to their eventual destination in our new linen closet. And that required the building of the linen closet. During the holidays, Adam and I dragged the kids to a hardware store and bought gigantic sheets of plywood that we desperately tied to the top of the car in bitter cold. (OK, ADAM tied. I stayed in the car.) Over the next weekend or two, they were carefully measured, cut, and placed into the closet – all by my handy husband. Once the paint had dried, the remaining work fell to me. I cleaned out the closet in what had been our bedroom (now the study) and the basement linens – so we could proceed with the basement.
But that brings me to the study. It needed old furniture removed (and I wanted to get it to someone who would use it, not just trash it). Lots of junk needed to be cleaned out. And new furniture (a new standing desk, new chair and new couch) acquired and assembled. I posted free stuff on Facebook and dealt with no-shows. I carefully disassembled old Ikea furniture with Thane’s most excellent help and carried it to the porch.
Finally, yesterday, I finished completing all the dependencies for the study. The old stuff was cleared out. The new ordered and assembled. I’m thoroughly enjoying writing from the new sleeper sofa.
You’d think we’re almost done. All we have to do is get the treadmill in the basement and we’re done, right? WRONG! Next up is a hardwood floor in the second and first floors. Once that’s done, we’ll need to repaint the hallway, and then build built in bookcases to replace the particle-board ones we inherited when we were first married and then….
Right. If only I could get my dad to finish this puzzle for me, I swear I’d stop rescrambling it! And if you believe that….
I often thing of that ultimate defeat of being on weekends like this. See, on rare occasions I spend my weekends fighting entropy. At heart, most of what we humans do is to expend the energy given to us by our sun to create order from disorder. Case in point: my breakfast of Cheerios this morning was (mostly) converted by me into energy. That energy went into turning my house from a pit of chaos and disorder into a pit of slightly less chaos and disorder. Meanwhile, as I unwound the dissolution of my homestead, my steady washer and drying (well, both of them actually) separated dirt from clothes, and then water from clothes, in order to create the state of “clean clothes”. Remarkable. Even though I know that my great enemy entropy, will ensure those self-same clothes will require this to happen not just once again, but over and over until the warp and the weft of that long-ago cotton bush push apart, lose their vibrant dyes and become thinned through friction and even that self-same washing.
So what did I do this weekend to take the store of strength given to me and convert it to order?
Yesterday was Ikea day. For Christmas, Thane really wanted this huge glass display case with serious Nuka Cola overtones. I told him in October, as we were shopping for massive amounts of furniture for our attic, that maybe he could get that stuff for Christmas. I should’ve remember to whom I spoke. That child does not forget. So when his grandmother asked what he wanted for Christmas, the answer was money for Ikea furniture. The money came (coincidentally *just* enough for his longed for display cabinet). Then we had to actually go to Ikea. Originally I thought I’d buy a sleeper sofa from Ikea on the trip, but upon review of the offerings I was underwhelmed. I ended up buying a sofa from Wayfair online. We’ll see how it works. Anyway, without that massive piece of furniture I figured I could do the trip without the “taller than me” contingent, and Thane and I went alone.
We bought many things. There was a standing desk for the office, and a chair. There was his beloved display (intended to preserve his Legos from depredations). His brother had also gotten a rather nice treat earlier, so I got him an inexpensive desk and desk chair (for the building of the Legos to be preserved). I got a sitting/standing desk for our study. There were two chairs that needed acquiring. Plus the many jars of pickled herring my friends need for an upcoming party.
I came home a conquering hero. Assembling Ikea furniture is Thane’s great delight (seriously, if any of you local folks ever want to hire him, he’s excellent). So he put together his cabinet and I my standing desk while Adam made dinner. Then we had some quality family time fighting virtual entropy by farming the wilds of Stardew Valley together.
As the rain and night fell together, I ended up reading late in my beautiful bathtub, candlelight flickering at my feet. (“A href=”https://www.amazon.com/Educated-Memoir-Tara-Westover/dp/0399590501”>Educated” by Tara Westover, which I thought might be familiar given my red neck upbringing, but instead showed just how cushy and civilized my young life was. I may have gone to a two room schoolhouse, but I went to school!)
Today was a litany of small things. I updated my to do list. There was the partial planning of the summer vacation. (We have three possible itineraries: Greece, France or Norway. I was trying to flesh them out for decisioning.) I did dishes. I did laundry. (I haven’t told you all of the saga of the laundry room. Enough time might soon have passed for it to go from painful to funny.) I took the boys to get their hairs cut. I put paper in the new linen closet and filled it with linens and in the process created a ginormous pile of linens which are no longer needed. Thane I and spent hours in his room going through his clothes so he has enough room to put away the laundry he’s supposed to be doing himself, and cleaning out his closet. I made meals.
And here I am writing blog posts that will endure to the far reaches of time. Or, ya know, for a few years.
There’s no great accomplishment in all of this. Nothing I’ll remember in a few weeks, never mind a few years. Time with my sons, time in my home. A time with good, healthy food and bills that are paid. A time when my body was healthy, and strong enough to do whatever I want to do. A time when my friends live at a quick glance out my window, and I can always find company when I’m lonely. A time when my parents are doing interesting fun things, when my siblings are thriving. A time when one the soundtrack of Louis Armstrong (Grey) and Sarah McLachlan (Thane) wafts through the house, following the siren call of “OK Google”.
You know. The best times in the whole world. Take that, heat death of the universe. It’s not the end of the universe that counts. It’s the middle.