On Moving, Speckles, and Pushing around that Machine
Moving is never fun. In fact, unless I'm moving to another (warmer) state or moving out of the country, then I'm not interested in ever moving again.
But the house is starting to come together. Today, Bobby and I spent the first half of our day assembling the last of the new furniture for the living room, which--as is to be expected where furniture assembly is concerned--was a real bitch. So that is two whole rooms completed exactly as we would like them!
But it didn't start that way. Settlement Friday--right on the heels of the Jimmy Buffett Debacle--started smoothly enough. Bobby and I got up early to shove as much crap in the car as feasibly possible, including all of the remaining living creatures in our apartment. Alex was already over my parents' house, where we'd taken him for the Jimmy Buffett concert. Heh. But we had numerous houseplants and--funnest of all--a twenty-gallon fishtank. Well, we had two twenty-gallon fishtanks, but Maedhros the catfish sadly died a few days before we moved; Maglor the plecostomus had died an undetermined length of time earlier and was eaten by Maedhros. Gruesome, that. So we tossed Celegorm in the other tank, disassembled the first (which Bobby despised anyway), and put the whole works in the front seat of my car.
I successfully managed not to slosh a drop of water onto my upholstery until arriving at my parents' post-settlement to pick up Alex. As has been mentioned before, my parents are building a rather large addition on their house ... well, let's just say that our whole house could fit several times inside of their addition alone. So when I arrived, there was a cement truck in the driveway, and I had to park in the grass. At which point, a cupful of fishwater sloshed all over the seats, so my car smelled like rotten fishwater for about a week after.
Alex was ecstatic to see me. So I packed him into the car with the aquarium, the houseplants, and random other junk and took him to see his new home for the first time.
We had a schedule already planned out. Both sets of parents were coming to help Saturday through Tuesday; Wednesday was July 4th, so they were going to come over, do a little work, then we were going to have a cookout. Here was the schedule:
Friday: Pull up carpet in guest bedroom and study. Wax all hardwood floors. Clean basement carpet.
Saturday: Begin painting. (Living room, master bedroom, guest bedroom) Clean.
Sunday: Finish painting.
Monday: Moving Day 1! Move boxes and non-furniture items.
Tuesday: Moving Day 2! Meet movers to have furniture and heavy boxes moved.
That put us in a nice position to get everything put away and as we would like it during the end of the week and weekend.
Why do we even make schedules? This is like an announcement to Murphy: Hey! Come fuck with me!
Which he did. In profusion.
We did not anticipate the level of dirt--no, not dirt, filth--and minor disrepair in the house. It began on Friday. Bobby's dad drove up to help Bobby take out the carpet while I started polishing the floors. We figured taking out the carpet to be an easy task, and it should have been. But it was not. In the study, they had stapled the carpet to the floor with about three hundred heavy-duty staples that had to be wrenched out one by one. For the three of us to remove the staples and the tack strip took about three hours.
But the guest bedroom was worse. In here, they had glued the carpet directly to the hardwood floors beneath. This made removal easier, yes, but was a major part of the Ballad of the Hardwood Floors that followed.
So Friday, we got the carpet up, but the rooms were in no way ready to paint. I got the living room, dining area, master bedroom, and hallway waxed and polished.
Bobby had said back when this whole house-procurement process began that he was going to drink a whole bottle of rum on our first night there. I told him that, in interest of his health, I could not allow him to do that. Therefore, I must help him. We did indeed procure a bottle of Captain Morgan that night and did indeed drink almost the whole of it. Bobby got quite fucked up. I thought that my level of fucked-upedness was less; I didn't even feel buzzed, sitting in the backyard around the firepit that was one of the essential items we'd needed to bring that morning. But when I went back into the house to finish polishing the hardwood floors in the dining area and hallway, I discovered that I was more fucked up than I'd thought. Using the floor-waxing machine was a real treat while drunk. It would take off on its own, and I'd stumble after it and almost fall over. I polished the floors twice just to make sure that I didn't miss any spots, which surely I had, given my rather inebriated condition. This was only the second time in my life that I've been honestly drunk (buzzed many times--it only takes a glass of wine--but I avoid outright intoxication), and both times were on Captain Morgan. Hmmm ...
Saturday brought the family in droves. Everyone oohed and ahhed over my polished floors. Apparently I am good at "pushing around that machine," which was what Bobby's dad humorously called it when we went to Lonestar that first night and ate half of their food. Everyone then went into the guest bedroom and study and goggled.
You know, it hurts part of my soul to see good hardwood floors treated badly. I don't know why this is; maybe because I grew up in a home with hardwood floors and feared pain of death for leaving a wet bathing suit or towel on them. Or maybe because I generally abhor carpet, which seems more to me to exist as a trap for dust, dirt, and dog hair and so have always wanted hardwood floors in my own home. And the hardwood floors in this house weren't badly treated; they were mauled, molested, and near-death when we moved in here. It was heartbreaking because--'neath the abuse--they're beautiful floors.
The study was the worst. Besides all of the staple holes, someone had pissed all over the floor in numerous places, and the finish was off. There are big stains to this day, despite many days worth of work. My study has painted on the ceiling a cloudscape, which I've decided to leave--being somewhat whimsical and feeling that it suits the study of a fantasy author--and when they painted it, apparently, the floors were not yet carpeted, but they must have figured, "What the hell? Who needs something so passé as drop cloths? Not when we're going to put ugly bright green carpet on the floor anyway!" So they did not put down drop cloths, and the floors were covered in paint: big spots everywhere and (worst of the worst) millions of teeny-tiny speckles. I kid you not: millions. This was in both carpeted rooms but especially the study.
Between the two rooms, Mom and I spent about three whole days working together to clean and fix the floors. They're still not perfect. We took up the worst of the piss stains, removed several other suspect stains, filled in the holes and gouges with wood filler, scraped up the worst of the paint and Spackle, picked off the millions of speckles, and removed the glue from the floor in the guest bedroom. Two people; three days. All because someone couldn't take thirty damned seconds to put down a drop cloth.
My mother-in-law, meanwhile, started cleaning. The Dads and Bobby began taping and painting. Painting went well; Dad is an excellent painter, and the rooms we've finished look awesome. But the cleaning ... it was filthy. I am not kidding when I say that I don't think that the people who lived here before us ever actually cleaned. I mean more than wiping the surface. I do not claim to be a champion house cleaner; far from it! But when Mom was cleaning the closet in the guest bedroom, the dirt in the door tracks was so thick that ants had begun to nest in it. Every corner we turned, it seemed, brought more filth. I began to feel less bad for the many thousands of dollars in repairs we'd demanded from them (and got).
So we ended up way behind schedule, largely on account of the hardwood floors in the guestroom and study. Monday came, Moving Day 1. 40% of our promised help ended up not showing up, so it was Bobby, Terrell, and me moving boxes down three flights of stairs on a ninety-degree day. By this time, I could hear Murphy laughing maniacally as he tossed wrenches willy-nilly into our cogs. We took the U-Haul to my parents' house next to pick up the items that they were giving us or had been holding for us. Everything barely fit. It was hard to believe that we had once fit all of our possessions and furniture into a truck of this size, but then, that was three years ago and we were just out of school and very poor. When we got back to the house, we were all exhausted and did not feel like moving the furniture back out of the truck. It sat until about nine o'clock that night when everyone banded together and got the whole truck unloaded in about forty-five minutes and the boxes put into their proper rooms.
The next morning was another early day: drop off the U-Haul and wait for the movers at the apartment. This time around, we learned to hire movers for the big stuff, especially since we had to move our big-screen TV down three flights. The movers have insurance if they drop it; we do not. That peace of mind alone made it worthwhile. The movers we had were excellent and got everything done--loaded, moved, and unloaded--in less than four hours. RoomStore delivered our family room furniture this day, so the basement was all set up and ready to go but evening.
So by close of business on Tuesday, we had the floors finished, the house cleaned, and two rooms painted. The second room wasn't even one we'd intended to paint, but the walls of my study were so filthy--one could actually see the outline of where the child living there had slept--that we had to paint them. Yech.
We were a bit behind but not hopeless. Wednesday, we worked a bit, but we took the afternoon and evening for a cookout. Of course, it rained. It had been sunny all week; we had one day set aside for a cookout and steamed crabs, and it poured. People were dashing out between breaks in the rain to eat crabs, covering them when it started to pour again, and running back in.
But all was not in vain. We've made great progress on the house since moving in, despite our numerous setbacks. The painting we'd wanted to accomplish is finished in all but the guestroom. The floors are finished ... for now. They still need a lot of TLC, but at least I'm not walking across piss every time I need a book from the bookshelf. Most of the unpacking is done; all that is left is my study, which is only about a third unpacked. Yesterday, my parents brought over our new living room furniture; Mom and I put together the two endtables yesterday, and Bobby and I put together the coffee table and hall tree today. It looks awesome. (Yes, pictures will follow, probably next week.) We bought cabinets and an art table for my study, and that is all put together; Bobby and Dad hung the cabinets last week. Bobby has the family room--his sports palace, we call it, because it is his room to decorate like the study is mine--finished pending new acquisition of cool sports-related stuff. Like when the Ravens win the Super Bowl next year. ;) We bought a fifty-gallon aquarium to replace the two twenties, and that is set up with some new fish. Bobby painted the family room furniture--previously done in Eclectic Wood, i.e. nothing matched anything else--to match. He completely organized the basement. Dad and he built shelves for the pantry and the closet in my study. We hung up plants, windchimes, and birdfeeders outside, cut the grass, and edged the property (it was in desperate need, surprise surprise). The bathroom is hideous, so we've redone it to the best of our abilities until we can afford to tear it out completely and start again.
It makes me tired to think of it all. We've got a lot done ... but we've only just begun at the same time. Still, the house is livable, and we're at the point where we do a half-hour of work each night and creep towards goals. But we'll get there.
The time with our families was hard work but a lot of fun too. Everyone would come over early afternoon and stay till around eleven at night. We went out to dinner and rounded out each day of labor with coffee and dessert around the firepit. I have learned so much in the past few weeks. It's been exhausting ... but kind of fun and certainly rewarding at the same time.