Rougie: June 2010 Archives

It started a week ago Sunday - Father's Day - when The Kaiser, The Hawk and Sumo arrived Chez Rougie at 10am sharp. It ended 7 days and I've lost track of how many trips to Lowe's later when the last tool was finally put away, the last tchotchke artfully arranged, the last of the touch-up paint carefully applied and the new tile floor was vacuumed, Swiffered and finally mopped.

It's a kitchen. No big deal. And yet as I sit here and try to write about the last week, I am overwhelmed - to the point of tears. I walk into my kitchen and I catch my breath. Tears spring to my eyes. The happy kind but still - tears.  Because I have friends who care about me that much. Who are willing to give me their time, their energy, their know-how without asking for anything in return.  Because I am THAT capable. Because apparently I am something of a DIYer.  Because suddenly I am starting to feel like I live in a home, not just a house.

As I said - I am overwhelmed and I am struggling to write even the basics.  Hopefully within a few days you get a little bit more. Like my views on grout. And the fact that I now go out and inspect tile work down to the joint alignment, joint spacing and grout work.  Or how I walk into Lowes and no less than 5 people know me by name. But for now, you get photos. Lots and lots of photos.

 

Old Kitchen .JPG

This is the old kitchen right when I moved in. You can see the wall colors. And the dark (and crooked) molding. The wallpaper border. You can see the linoleum floor. And the fucking duct tape. You can even see a hint of the old blue & white curtains. What you can't see is the paint. I am shitty at before & afters so my cabinets and windows and trim and doors kind of look the same in both because, well - they're white. But just imagine in the befores that they are a dull, flat white and chipped within in an inch of their lives and in the afters they are a nice semi gloss and nary a chip in sight!

 

Old wall stripped of molding.JPG

This is a close up of one wall after I'd stripped the molding but before I'd stripped the wallpaper.  I am spatially challenged but even I can tell how crooked that paneling on the lower half of the wall is.  That also meant that the molding was crooked because it ran along the top border.

 

Border and over the stove.JPG  

This is a close up of the wallpaper border above the stove. Also? That round thing is a plate plugging a hole that used to be where some kind of pipe or chimney or something ran out from the old stove. 

 

What's behind Wall #1.JPG

One of the many surprises I discovered after stripping the wallpaper.

 

Redneck paint job.JPG

I call this a Redneck Paint Job. You see once upon a time there was a countertop hot water heater.  It sat in the corner and apparently painting behind it was a challenge. The thing is, the hot water heater 1) leaked and rotted out part of the floor (more on that shortly) and 2) eventually disappeared and the thing that took its place (the old microwave cart) was not built in so you could see the Redneck Paint Job pretty easily by the time I showed up.

 

Ripping up linoleum.JPG 

My pitiful attempts at ripping up linoleum.

 

Behind the stove.JPG 

Even scarier behind the stove on account of the 30 year old grease embedded in the linoleum. the old asbestos tiles AND.....

 

Rotted out floor.JPG

...the rotted out floor. AWESOME.

 

Now on to the good stuff.  

 

New Kitchen Floor 1.JPG

That's The Hawk laying the first tile.  And let me just say - while tile work is normally supposed to start in the exact center of the room and work outwards, Hawk put his architecture background (and some fancy schmancy software) to work and started where he did instead. The result is that even all of the specialty cuts along the edges are of equal size and there are no slivers.

 

I lay the last tile.JPG 

And here I am (in Umbros from 1987) laying the last tile.

 

And done! Not really.JPG 

That's me, giving The Kaiser my best "We're done!!" face only, we weren't done. The upcoming post on grout (and oh yes - there's one coming) might actually give you some sense of why.

 

My New Kitchen .JPG

One view of my new kitchen: emphasis on new floor and fresh paint since most everything else stayed the same.

 

My New Kitchen 2.JPG

Second view of the new kitchen. Does the white paint look a little brighter? Do my Glazed Pear walls look a little cleaner? (no comment on the cord from the microwave which is DRIVING ME CRAZY!)

 

New floor and register.JPG 

For those who have never actually been Chez Rougie, this won't mean that much. But for those that have and who once upon a time saw the filth-laden, rusted-out registers that used to sit in my kitchen floor, hopefully you'll appreciate.  And while part of me wishes I had better documented the "before," part of me is glad I'll never have to look at those filth-laden, rusted-out registers again.

 

My New Floor.JPG

A close-up of the floor because, really, this is what it was all about.

 

Little Shelves.JPG

A close-up of the shelves underneath one of the cabinets.  Once I put everything back it looked the same as before except for the paint.  Part of me wishes I had captured the chipped up, dull, flat paint on camera.

 

Kitchen Window.JPG

And finally, a look out my kitchen windows and the cute little shelves that line them.  What you don't know is that once upon a time there was a dirty old mirror tacked up on that beam between the 2 windows and above the sink.

In some ways it's not much. A coat or 2 of paint. Some new molding. Some tile.  But in many ways, it's so much more. So much more.  

Comments ( 11 )

Pictures of the new kitchen are coming. I swear. Just as soon as me and my OCD put every little last thing away in it's proper spot and then mop the new floor until it sparkles.  I will say this: my new kitchen is a thing if beauty and I want to weep with happy every time I walk in. Seriously. 

In the meantime....here's a little sliver of what to expect.

So when I moved into my wee little house, I inherited this gargantuan microwave and this piece of shit microwave cart:

Old Microwave and Stand.JPG

Really - can you see how big it is? It is to current day microwaves what brick cell phones are to Blackberrys. But because the rest of my kitchen was sort of outdated and ugly, it never really bothered me.

But when I rolled that sucker into my SHINY HAPPY NEW kitchen yesterday, I said: "Nope. That's gotta go."

So today I picked up a microwave that wasn't made in the 1970s and a white kitchen cart with a butcher block top.

Here's what the cart looked like when I took it out of the box:

New Microwave cart in pieces.JPG

It was in a bazillion pieces.

Here's what the instructions said:

2 people required.JPG

Assembly will require 2 people my ass. Assembly required 1 girl, 1 screwdriver and nothing else.

About 2-1/2 hours later, here's what I rolled into my kitchen:

New microwave and cart.JPG

Much better no?

Comments ( 7 )

Some Stupid Shit I've Done Recently - Example 1:

Remember my shiny, new bathroom, Xanadu? Remember my pretty new bathmat?

 9 New bathmat.JPG

My pristine, white bathmat which is no longer pristine because oh yeah it's ON THE FLOOR and not only is it ON THE FLOOR but it takes up most of the space where I walk whenever I enter my bathroom (as in to pee, to wash my hands, to shower, etc,). My no longer pristine, now slightly dingy grey-brown bathmat which HAS TO BE HANDWASHED because while sequins are sparkly and pretty, they are not functional. Do you know how difficult it is to handwash a bathmat? And how long it takes to dry which means that for at least 3 days a week I have something else spread out over the floor serving as a makeshift bathmat? And because I spent OMG obscene amounts of money on said bathmat, I refuse to stick it in a drawer and get something more functional. Sigh.

Some Stupid Shit I've Done Recently - Example 2:

I bought pizza-flavored hummus. And before you get all Baron Von Judgenstein on me it's essentially hummus flavored with tomato so it's not really pizza hummus - it's more like tomato hummus. Only - it's as disgusting as it sounds so really - go ahead and give me your most Baron Von Judgenstein withering glare.

Some Stupid Shit I've Done Recently - Example 3:

Remember that time I went shopping while I was out at a bar? You think I would have learned my lesson and packed a small, stylish overnight bag (think of the Mark Cross bag that Grace Kelly shows Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window) to keep in my car in case I am having too much fun and decide to have one or more drinks of emergency. You know: a toothbrush, clean underwear, a t-shirt to sleep in, a dress to throw on the next day.  The basics. Well it happened. Again.  I was having so much fun at the martini party I attended on Friday night which was a big welcome home for Ciel and The Professor, that I wound up staying with our gracious hostess and host, The Actress and Dr. Doolitle. Which was not a huge deal because the next day was Saturday and nobody at the Bojangles drive through judged me for being in a sparkly dress and Jimmy Choos but still: I know me. I need that Mark Cross overnight bag stat. PS The NOT STUPID thing I do is decide not to drive.

Some Stupid Shit I've Done Recently - Example 4:   

I lost my sunglasses in a tubing incident. My precious, beloved, most perfect shape/style/size Ralph Lauren sunglasses are now sitting on the bottom of Lake Norman somewhere and I am pretty pissed about the whole thing mainly because - NO ONE TOLD ME THAT TUBING WITH SUNGLASSES WAS A STUPID FUCKING IDEA. Although in my defense, this was the tube:

Big Mabel 1.jpg

Big Mable.  Very much like a bed where you can sit upright, rest your back/head, and even hold onto a frosty beverage as you get towed around the lake.  Unless you have a kamikaze driver who is intent on making you capsize in which case when you get violently thrown from the tube and plummet several feet under water you will mainly be grateful that you are wearing a life vest and the fact that your precious, beloved, most perfect shape/style/size Ralph Lauren sunglasses now belong to a fish will temporarily not bother you.  But then it will bother you tremendously and it's less about the money and more about the fact that really good sunglasses are impossible to find and those were perfect. But then a few hours later another girl will get tossed from Big Mable only she will clunk heads with the other rider and wind up with a giant blue lump above her right eye and that will finally give you some much needed perspective because if you had to choose between losing your sunglasses or getting a concussion you'll take what's behind Door Number 1 Monty.

Comments ( 6 )

My house is in a total state of disarray. 

The stove is in the laundry room.

The fridge is in my bedroom wedged in between my bed and my dresser at just the right angle so that I can still open refrigerator doors (barely) as well as get to my dresser. 

My bed in turn is pushed up against my night stand which is also home to the drawer that houses my delicate and lacy underthings and let's just say that the angle of my bed is not as forgiving as the angle of my fridge i.e. I can't get any clean underwear.

Getting my fridge into my bedroom was pretty much a small miracle seeing as my wee little house was built in the 1940s when everything (including appliances) was wee and my fridge was manufactured some time in the current century and is gargantuan relative to my wee little door frames. 

There is a layer of dust over EVERYTHING because this is what happens when you use a Skilsaw to cut through cement backing board in your house. 

Doors have been left open on and off all day which means the cool air that my a/c is trying to churn out is leaking out and insects are creeping in.

Speaking of insects: my entire body is covered in itchy red welts because apparently a mosquito or 7 decided that I would make for a tasty meal.

And yet...as much as I hate feeling discombobulated, dirty and itchy, it is all worth it because this ugly kitchen floor..

Old Kitchen Floor 1.JPG

This ugly, dirty, outdated, held-together-with-Duct-tape-in-places floor...

Old Kitchen Floor 2.JPG   

That floor is gone. It has been ripped up and hauled off never to make me cringe again.

It's being replaced by Sahara beige tile purchased on sale at Lowe's for 57 cents/square foot and being laid selflessly by The Kaiser, Sumo and The Hawk. 

Here's Hawk laying the ceremonial first tile:

New Kitchen Floor 1.JPG 

And here's a section that's already been completed:

New Kitchen Floor 2.JPG

This so-clean-you-could-eat-off-of-it, modern, neutrally shaded tile floor that is devoid of Duct tape is worth it.

Comments ( 5 )

This is possibly my most favorite picture of me and my father ever:

Me and Dad2.jpg

And some 30-odd years after it was taken, it is still an accurate depiction of how I feel about the man who gave me half of my DNA. 

My father inspires me. He makes me smile. Hell the man makes me laugh out loud most days. I am in awe of who he is and how much he has accomplished. 

So Happy Father's Day to my father, my hero.

I love you and I have no idea where I'd be without you. But I wouldn't be here, I know that.

All of my love,

Rougie

Comments ( 4 )

"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly."

I don't know who said that quote but I have always loved it because it's about perspective.  How do you look at a caterpillar's metamorphosis into a butterfly? Is it the end of the caterpillar? Or the beginning of the butterfly.  I'd like to think it's about beginnings. About fresh starts. And potential. And beautiful, brightly colored wings that carry the butterfly to new heights it never could have reached as a caterpillar.

Today I spread my wings. Although I didn't mean to. Or rather, I didn't plan to. 

Work has been great. It's always been great but recently it's been even better and anybody who talks to me about my professional life hears nothing but how exciting it is and the opportunities and blah blah blah. It's all good. Beyond good. 

And yet in the course of meeting with our president today, I let slip a casual suggestion. A hypothetical what if.  Not because it was something I was necessarily interested in but because there was a problem and this was a solution. One of many, but a solution nonetheless. I didn't think he would take me seriously. I didn't think that this unplanned idea which randomly popped into my head in the car this morning would hold any weight. I was wrong.

Our president was so excited by my suggestion that my hypothetical is looking less like a hypothetical and more like a reality.  It means shedding my cocoon and stepping outside of my comfort zone into a totally new role.

And if you want a true sense of how much I enjoy my cocoon, I once maintained the exact same routine for 6 months straight. Woke up at the same time every day. Made the same thing for breakfast, Went to the gym.  Stopped at Starbucks. Home. Shower. Work. Lunch - which was the same thing every day. Work some more. 20 minute cat nap. Work some more.  Anything that took me away from the familiarity of my routine threw me for a loop.  I like my comfort zone. Alot. It's warm and cozy and safe. Most importantly, it's familiar. 

But this new opportunity being presented to me means using skills that aren't yet honed. It means facing situations where I won't have all of the answers.  It means learning a new language and setting new goals.  It's terrifying.

But it's thrilling too.  It's thrilling because it means more opportunity and more upside than I would ever have in my current role.  It's thrilling because it's a challenge and I am no shrinking violet.  It's thrilling because people who matter have the utmost confidence in me. Most importantly? I have confidence in me.

So today I took a sharp left and turned down another road.  I am walking away from a role that is safe and that I do well to take on a role where I may very well fail. I am stepping outside of my comfort zone. I am shedding my cocoon.  And I am spreading my wings and becoming the butterfly that someone somewhere always knew I would become.

Today I am soaring.

Comments ( 7 )

This weekend unexpectedly became the "Quick! You're Getting a New Kitchen Floor In A Week So All That Other Crap You've Put Off Like Stripping Wallpaper and Painting Needs to Get Done Pronto!" weekend and so I spent Saturday night stripping wallpaper and Sunday getting high off of toxic primer painting and here's a bunch of crap I learned in the last 48 hours:  

* My technique for puttying cracks is highly technical in that I technically slap an assload of putty in the crack and let it dry. Feathering gently is for sissies.

* One day someone will need to teach me how to sand a ceiling so as to avoid the shower of dust falling into my eyes/mouth/nose.  Seriously, sanding ceilings *might* be worse than painting them.

* NEVER EVER EVER EVER install wallpaper. Wait? Do you install wallpaper? I can't even think right now. Whatever. Wallpaper is a negative. Seriously. Unless you plan to live in the house for eternity, eventually, someone else will move in and they will not want wallpaper.  I don't even care if it's the gorgeous hand-painted wallpaper from Farrow & Ball. They will not want it and then they will have to strip it and stripping wallpaper sucks and is a giant, sticky mess. Period.

* Stripping wallpaper is not as much fun the second time around. (See also: above)

* You can never have too much sandpaper or too many razor blades.

* There is no need for oil based paint. Ever. Latex paint has been mass marketed since 1948 and anyone who uses oil based paint for anything is nothing short of a paint douche.

* Not all Killz is created equal. I am familiar with Killz. I have to be because a paint douche painted my house and so every time I want repaint a room, I need to coat it with Killz first otherwise the oil based paint on the walls rejects the latex paint on my roller and then I lose my ever loving shit. Up until this weekend, I have always bought my Killz at Wal-Mart and I have just grabbed the all purpose white interior Killz because it seemed easy and basic. And it's worked. Well, on Saturday, I bought Killz at Lowe's with the assistance of the lovely Kathy (who was very helpful in the paint department) and I wound up buying some kind of highly toxic, oil based primer that was not the Killz I was used to. I knew this instantly because I pretty much got a contact high as soon as I opened the can yesterday morning.  Also? This Killz was sticky and splattered and did I mention it splattered? Despite being viscous? Yeah - I wound up with that shit ALL OVER ME and the only way to try to remove it was to take a Silkwood style shower. I scrubbed myself so hard y'all that I burst my blood vessels and gave myself road rash. AWESOME. (PS I tried to take photos but I couldn't get the camera to focus but trust me: I did some serious scrubbing damage.)

* Never move your stove. Ever. Your inner OCD will thank you for the chance to clean but your inner germophobe will die 1000 slow and miserable deaths because there are no words to describe the horror that builds up underneath and behind a stove after 25 years.  

* Do you think the fact that I developed blisters before the first coat of paint was done is a sign that I grip my roller too hard? In fact when I met Sumo later in the day I showed him my blister, a sign of all of the hard labor I had done. His reply? "Girl - no one should grip ANYTHING that hard." Ahem.

* The only thing consistent about my painting technique is that I make a mess. And it was kind of awesome that I could be messy and not care since my kitchen floor is being ripped up and replaced in about a week. Although it might have been a good idea to be a little more careful around the counters and sinks (which are not being replaced) but that's why God invented razor blades. Or at least one reason.

* I get why painters drink. I cracked my first beer at 11:23am.

* Had anyone randomly knocked on my door between 11:23am and 12:08pm they would have found me clutching my roller in one hand, beer in the other, covered in paint, and singing along with David Allen Coe. And when I say singing along with, I mean BELTING OUT LOUD AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS.

* Despite all of the above, I am actually pretty competent. The Angel stopped by yesterday afternoon all set to help and she was shocked to discover that the walls had all been stripped, primed and painted not just once, but twice.  It's possible there will be a third coat, and I still have to paint the cabinets and the doors and the trim, but given that I had no plans to work on my kitchen this weekend, I sure as hell accomplished a shitload.

Comments ( 7 )

I am in the middle of redoing my kitchen. So far today I have made 2 trips to Lowes, spent more money than I care to admit and I have spent the last several hours stripping wallpaper and puttying cracks.  One more section of wall and I can call it a day.

This wasn't my plan. At least...not so soon after the Great Bathroom Remodel. I had planned to take a few weeks, maybe even a month or two, and catch my breath. Replenish my bank account. Regain my sanity.  But when you find kitchen tile on sale for 57 cents a square foot and the 2 friends who have offered to lay it for you out of the goodness of their hearts happen to have the time to do it, you jump in. Or at least I did.       

And so now my kitchen is in a complete and utter state of disarray. I am covered in an unfortunate combination of adhesive remnants and white powder from sanding the putty. And I am overwhelmed thinking about the sheer quantity of painting that needs to get done - including the mothereffing ceiling. 

These are short term inconveniences and within the next 2 weeks, my kitchen will look shiny and new.  I will no longer have to wince at the beige walls, the crooked molding, the cracked ceiling, and the ugly wall paper border.  There will be no more holes in the door frame from where a board was once nailed up. The chipped, peeling paint on the cabinets and windows will be smooth and uniform.  I will never again have to step foot on the hideous green linoleum floor that is so dirty it is literally beyond cleaning and that is rotted out in one section and held together by duct tape in others.  The only thing I may not have is a new stove and frankly, I am not sure that I am going to buy one.

The thing that I have been thinking about all day is that I am not doing this for me.  I am doing this for the future owner of this house.  I am investing copious amounts of time, energy and to a lesser degree money and it is all for someone else's benefit. And while I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment for every DIY project that I take on and tackle successfully, I also feel just the slightest bit of disappointment knowing that I don't get to truly enjoy the benefits of my efforts. 

I am also wondering why I didn't do this sooner. Why didn't I create a home for myself when I first moved in? But I suppose I knew on some level when I moved in here last summer that this was temporary. A roof over my head. A place to sleep. And not much more.  There was no need to rip up the ugly flooring or repaint the walls.  This was just a house. It was never going to be my home. 

Comments ( 4 )

How is it possible that my 30,000 mile service is scheduled for tomorrow given that when I bought my car at the end of September, it only had 9,889 miles on it?

How is it possible that I have like, 3 free weekends, between now and Labor Day? Seriously - I spent half of yesterday morning trying to plan a trip to Iowa to visit ModernMatriarch and her clan and I am finally, 17 texts later, officially holding a weekend in OCTOBER. That's. Just. Crazy.

How is it possible that I have such awesome friends? Wednesday morning on my way out of town I stopped by my P.O. Box and got an early morning surprise from the lovely Cass:

DSC03273.JPG  

My first pair of Lulus, a cute little gym bag (imprinted with tons of important reminders), and what has to be one of the sweetest cards I have ever received. And to think that I only met her for the first time in January.

How is it possible that the State STILL has not paid my tax refund despite the fact that I filed in March?

How is possible that I keep thinking there is an acceptable substitute for sugar-free chocolate pudding? Sugar-free Jell-O chocolate pudding is the perfect 60-calorie treat when you need something sweet and creamy and chocolaty. Only the last 2 times I've bought pudding, I have kidded myself into thinking that something else will be equal or possibly better, and I blame Cinnabon. Partially. Because the memory of the scent of Cinnabon invading my nostrils every time I walk through a mall/airport made me think that sugar-free Jell-O cinnamon roll pudding would taste very much like my memory of that smell or even an actual Cinnabon which was nothing short of delusional. In fact, the pudding tasted so much like chemical stank ass toejam that I had to throw 4 of the 6 cups away because unless I was starving and that was the last food on Earth, there was no way I was ever going to eat it. (See also: the things that make real chocolate mousse so tasty - eggs, heavy cream, sugar, real chocolate - are all MIA in the sugar-free Jell-O chocolate mousse which tastes like cocoa-powder dusted hair mousse.)

How is it possible that this is my 97th entry? And that I haven't frightened all of my readers off yet?

How is it possible that sometimes, despite everything going on around me, I still manage to feel so damn lucky?  

Comments ( 5 )

Sometimes I amaze myself with my level of assholiness.  First of all, I missed my father's birthday. I mean, I didn't miss it IRL (I am not that big of an asshole) but usually I like to take a little time to celebrate my loved ones here on their special days. Not that they ask me to. It's my choice.  Although really, I don't need to tell you all how awesome my dad is. I think most of you know that by now and for those who don't, hopefully Father's Day, which is coming up soon, gives me a chance to reduce my asshole factor by about 20. Or at the very least post an awesome picture.

In the meantime, I've had so much to talk about this week (some of it important, some of it ridiculous, and some of it flat out terrifying) that I have not talked about a big, giant, humongous deal, momentous occasion:

Dad's fourth Lomax & Biggs novel was just published! Can I hear a HOLLLLLLLLAAAHHHH from the crowd?

Seriously y'all: could I be any prouder? My father has been a writer his entire life but he didn't become a published novelist until much later in life (ok...not *that* late but well after almost 35 which is where I am now) and so when I think about the things I'd like to still accomplish in this world (write a book, get it published, send a copy to Oprah, she reads it, falls in love, I become an overnight success and Isla Fisher plays me in the movie version of my life), I look at my father as the perfect example of the fact that dreams can come true at any age.  So what if I haven't done everything by almost-35?  I still have a lot of years left to make my dreams come true.  So thanks dad...for being a constant inspiration.

And see? Asshole alert because suddenly this post is all about me (curse of being a Leo) and not dad's book.

SO BUY MY FATHER'S NEW BOOK HERE OR HERE

DOWNLOAD FOR THE KINDLE HERE.

DOWNLOAD FOR THE NOOK HERE.

Just buy it - ok? And read it. Seriously - I think it's my favorite of all of the books he's written.  And it's funny. Like laugh-out-loud funny. Like snort-Diet-Coke-through-your-nose funny. Like maybe-pee-your-pants-just-a-little-bit funny. 

Although it is #4 in a series so if you haven't read books 1, 2, or 3 I suggest maybe you start with those. I mean - you won't be totally confused and lost if you start with #4, but you will miss out on all of the fantastic character development and storylines that were created in the first 3 books and really, you don't want to miss out because my dad? He's one helluva writer.

PS If you don't believe me or think I am biased, then read this review. Esther Schindler is not only NOT related to Dad, she happens to be one of the top reviewers on Amazon so when she says 5 Stars and "Perfect, PERFECT escapist mystery reading," it's a pretty huge deal.  

Comments ( 8 )

Most of the time, I can handle being alone. In fact, most times I actually like it. It's a test of strength. Of capability. It forces me to be independent.  To take care of myself.  I don't have to compromise or adjust to meet someone else's needs. It's all about me, which as a Leo who is ruled by the sun and enjoys being the center of attention almost always, is a good thing.

But sometimes, being alone is bad. For example...when I am in bed sound asleep and suddenly a very loud rattle rattle thump clonk thump emanates from my kitchen and startles me awake. Then being alone sucks especially because....it's 11:45pm and who the hell can I call at that hour to come over and investigate?

So yeah. Last night. 11:45pm. Rattle rattle thump clonk thump. So I did what any overly neurotic, tightly wound, freaked out single girl who had just been jerked unceremoniously from slumber would do and I Tweeted lay in bed PANICKING with my heart pounding, praying that the noise would not repeat itself so I could go back to sleep and not actually have to face the source of the rattle rattle thump clonk thump which I was fairly certain was actually coming out of my DRAIN. I know. What the fuck goes rattle rattle thump clonk thump in a drain?

Alas after a blissfully silent minute, there was another loud rattle rattle thump clonk thump - clearly emanating from somewhere beneath my kitchen sink (1) my bedroom is off the kitchen which is why I could hear this all so well and 2) usually when I run my washing machine something happens in my plumbing and I can usually hear a gurgle gurgle plonk gurgle in my kitchen drain so I specifically know what noises coming out of my kitchen drain sound like.) and so I was forced to get out of bed to check it out.

I grabbed the oversized flashlight that I keep bedside, poked my head into the kitchen and shined the light, expecting to see a ROUS scurrying around somewhere because I still couldn't wrap my sleep-befuddled brain around the fact that something was rattling around in my drain. No ROUSes so I crawled back into bed only to be disturbed by another rattle rattle thump clonk thump at which point I may have uttered a string of expletives because Holy Hell I was tired and OMFG I had to be up at the asscrack of dawn the following day for a 250 mile road trip and for the love of my occasionally fraying sanity did this really have to happen LATE AT NIGHT WHEN THE ENTIRE WORLD WAS ASLEEP? I enjoy showing my tough side as much as the next badass, but sometimes? Sometimes I am a fucking girl and late night noises in my kitchen drain are one of the times. 

The second time I got out of bed I actually ventured into the kitchen and turned the light on and scanned every corner and surface for something that looked like it might be the source of all these damn rattles and clonks and thumps.  I even opened the kitchen cabinets under the sink and looked to see what might be hiding there.  Nothing. And while I was proud of myself for being brave enough to actually get close to whatever it was that was turning into me a sleep-deprived crankypants, I was also a quivering wreck. Still, a thorough inspection yielded nothing, and after hanging out for a few minutes listening for more panic-provoking noises and not hearing any, I turned out the light and crawled into bed.

Only to hear rattle rattle thump clonk thump. Well motherfuck me. And at this point I may have forgotten about being scared shitless and then I think I just got mad because HELLO: I don't do well on little to no sleep and it's impossible to sleep when you've got ROUSes going at it like bunnies in your plumbing. And if it wasn't an ROUS, I was fairly certain that Oda Nobunaga's family was planning their retaliation on me and that they planned on storming Chez Rougie through my kitchen sink.

This time I didn't venture into the kitchen. This time I fucking stormed it. I turned on every light, made as much noise as I could to seem scary and big and capable of DEATH, and then I turned on the water in the sink because I have no idea what the fuck was actually in my drain, but I was pretty sure it didn't know how to swim.  

As it turns out, I was right on a few levels. Whatever was making the noise was in my drain and did not survive the flood because after I turned the water off, there was no more noise.  I drifted back off to sleep and was not disturbed for the rest of the night. Nor did I hear anything this morning while I was getting ready although I ran the water for a while just to be safe.  Where I screwed up was apparently I was supposed to put something heavy over the drain opening because there was the possibility that when I flushed the fucker out, he (or she) might have been pissed and tried to escape out the other way into my kitchen. Thanks Lilsaej - for the redneck home safety tip. I'll keep that in mind for next time. 

Also? I am seriously considering firearms.

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Last night I met The Banker, The Realtor and The Golf Diva for dinner and drinks and as soon as I sat down I was like: CRAP. Because guess who had an 8am breakfast in The Big City this morning  and guess who was planning on hanging out in The Big City with the girls and guess who didn't pack an overnight bag? Go on. GUESS.

And it wasn't a huge deal because I am used to the commute and I wasn't going to stay *that* late and we did actually drink, eat and pay and then the Golf Diva left and the rest of us were all set to leave and then long story short: we didn't leave. We stayed. And then I was like: well - if we're staying I am spending the night and oh yeah by the way I need clothes for tomorrow and since The Realtor and I aren't the same size she picked up her iPhone and called the personal shopping department at Nordstrom's (conveniently located across the street) and told them I needed a dress for work the next day, gave them my size and my price range and my credit card and BAM: a half hour later Anisha showed up AT THE RESTAURANT with a dress and it was gorgous.  And it fit. And it was ON SALE.

And so yeah. Apparently I am ridiculous. Also? I have pretty new dress.

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When I was a little girl, I couldn't wait to grow up. I'd dress up in my mom's clothes, put on her jewelry, dab lipstick on my lips, put on my plastic high heels and I would pretend that I was an adult. Because when I was a kid, the whole notion of being an adult basically came down to 3 things: being able to wear high heels, being able to wear make-up and being able to stay up as late as I wanted. Of course I couldn't wait to grow up because being a grown-up was fun and glamorous. 

What no one told the 6yo me, was that being a grown up is really about responsibility and that responsibility is not always fun. 

In 2 months, I will be turning 35 and it feels like a significant birthday: halfway through my 30s, that much closer to 40. Am I where I thought I would be at 35? I don't know. I don't think so. But it doesn't mean I don't love my life. And I am not one of those people who fears getting older. Since I turned 30 I have welcomed each birthday with open arms because as I get older, I keep getting better. I am getting smarter. And wiser.  I am more independent. Have more self-confidence.  I won't say that I want 40 to hurry up and get here...but I am not afraid either. 

At almost-35, I have felt like a grown-up for some time now. I am a home-owner. I have established credit. I bought a car.  I have a wonderful job and my title includes Director of.  I make choices each and every day about how to spend money, where to go, what to do, and how to treat myself and I have been doing these things for some time.

But last week I did 2 things that hammered home just how grown up I am becoming.

Number one, I scheduled my first mammogram.  When I had my well woman exam back in January my Ob-Gyn and I agreed that at almost-35, it was time. It's not like I have a history of breast cancer in my family. And it's not like I am suffering from any symptoms.  It's just the right time to start monitoring and while some doctors tell you to wait until you're 40, we saw no reason to delay.  Especially seeing as I have excellent medical coverage and the procedure would be covered in full.

However, you'll notice that it took me 6 months to schedule the appointment.  For 6 months I pulled a classic Scarlett O'Hara ("I'll just think about it tomorrow") because seriously...who gets excited about having their breasts squeezed in a vice-like grip for even a minute let alone 10?  Not to mention as I've already said, I have no symptoms. No history.  No reason to really be worried. 

But this week I rifled through my filing cabinet, found the referral slip, and made the call. 

The second truly adult thing I did this week was start to do some legal planning.  You take it for granted when you are married that there is someone automatically designated to inherit your money and to make decisions in your best interest should you become incapable of making them for yourself.  And while at almost-35, I am not exactly on death watch you never know when someone can swerve over the middle line and push your car into a guard rail. Or when a parking deck you're driving in will collapse. Or when a brick will fall off a building and hit you on the head.  At almost-35, I am not thinking about death, but the truth is that unexpected things happen every single day and right now, I have nothing in place to protect me or my family should something happen.

So I am talking to attorneys about things like healthcare proxies and living wills. I am determining who my beneficiaries are.  I am having frank and serious discussions with family members about decisions they will have to make in case I can't make them for myself. And it's scary. And unpleasant. And depressing. But I am doing it because I am an adult and this is what adults do. We take responsibility. We make tough choices. 

And in the end, every tough choice I make, I know will benefit me in the long run.  Do I want to feel like a Mack truck is running over my breasts and pressing down with all 15 tons of weight? No. But I want to know that my breasts are healthy. And if they're not? I want to know that too so I can do whatever I can to fight a disease that claims the lives of over 40,000 women annually.

Do I want to look at my own mortality and think about whether or not I want to be kept alive in a vegetative state? Not really. But I also don't want to be Terry Schiavo. Or Nancy Cruzan. I want my family and friends to have the necessary legal recourse to make the choices that are best for me based on choices I can make now as a coherent, lucid, functioning adult.

So I make the tough choices. I have the difficult conversations. I think about things that I'd rather not think about.  But it's only for a brief while, and then it's behind me. Then I move on to more of the fun stuff.  Because while being a grown-up is hard, it's also a lot of fun. My 6yo self didn't have it all wrong...

 Sarah at 6.jpg   

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A long time ago, I figured out why I had a thing for shoes: because no matter how crappy I felt about myself, no matter how much weight I had gained or water I was retaining, shoes always fit.  Shopping for bathing suits? Only after a stomach virus. Trying on jeans? I'd rather get a root canal. But shoe shopping is always fun and never makes me feel like crap and for the most part, shoes are so, so, so, so pretty.

So I have shoes. A lot of shoes. And not crappy shoes. I have a lot of nice, expensive shoes because apparently when I was in my early 20s I thought I was entitled to Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahniks and Sigerson Morrisons and so on and so forth.  And a lot of those nice, expensive shoes are stilettos because, well, because I lived in NYC and my best friend worked at Conde Nast and because I was young and stupid and not only did I spend a lot of money I had no business spending on shoes, I spent that money on shoes that were not exactly made for walking. 

And then I grew up. And I stopped buying stilettos because I discovered they weren't practical. And I stopped buying Jimmy Choos because $800 for a pair of heels is a wee bit ridiculous (although when I was buying Jimmy Choos they were much more reasonably priced). And then I moved from NYC to NC and there weren't a whole lot of occasions to bust out my metallic green Siggy Mo mules.  And so with 1 or 2 exceptions, at least a dozen pairs of shoes have been sitting in the closet, languishing, waiting to be worn.

And then last Thursday I had my Really Big Work meeting.  And I was getting dressed in my new Eileen Fisher Twinkle Linen Cami (if you click Zoom you can sort of see the silver threads woven into the linen and you'll finally understand how I could have indeed worn a sparkly dress to a non-Las Vegas related work gig), and I was having a REALLY good hair day and I had done such a good job with my smoky eyes and I was feeling all fired up and BOLD and SASSYPANTS and CONFIDENT and ready to pretty much take on the world, but something was missing.  

And in an instant I knew.  So I went upstairs, grabbed a pair of black Jimmy Choo sandals that I haven't worn in so long I don't even remember the last time I actually wore them, and slipped them on and then everything was perfect. 

All day as I walked - nay strutted - in my stilettos, I felt FAB-U-LOUS.  And I wondered why I didn't wear them more often.  It's not like I do a whole lot of walking. I walk from my house to my car. My car to the office. I walk from my office to the kitchen or the bathroom 2 3 6 times a day.   I walk back to my car. Maybe I walk into a bar or a restaurant. But it's not like living in NYC where you may wind up walking a mile before you can find a taxi or you wind up standing on the 6 train because it's crowded.  And so at the end of the day, instead of retiring the Jimmy Choos back to their dark corner upstairs, I left them out.  And I wore them again. And again.

And I realized that I have a lot of pretty shoes that get no airtime and so I am now rethinking my entire approach to footwear. In fact, while getting dressed yesterday I decided I needed a pair of strappy white sandals for summer to go with some of the new dresses I've purchased as of late. And not just strappy white sandals but strappy white STILETTO sandals so yesterday afternoon, after wrapping up a 5.5 hour meeting, I cut out of the office early, went to the mall and went shoe shopping.

My first observation is that everyone designing shoes these days is following the same trend which is butt ass fugly.  Seriously, it was like: fugly, fuglier and fugliest.

Secondly, I think Aldo's target market is strippers because every shoe is at least 4 inches high with an additional platform. That said, I found and purchased these:

27_cembura_70_2.jpg  

 

They are a little on the whore side and I am not totally convinced. In fact, now I am thinking I ought to search Zappos, but I really wanted the shoes for my girls night out tonight with The Banker and The Realtor since I plan to wear this dress 

DKNY2.jpg

and wouldn't strappy white sandals look super cute with it?

Whatever.  I clearly need more caffeine this morning. Also? Given this recent attitude change, it's clear that I shall be marching to my sassypants sparkle destiny in really high heels.

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I won't lie. This last week has been beyond good.  I have felt amazing. Proud. Strong.  Capable. Independent.

I listened to Cass and Ciel and everyone else who said to let go....and I did. I let go. And you know what? I floated. 

Fear. Fear is the siren's song and it beckons. It's easy. It's safe.  It sings a familiar song. But I chose faith over fear. I took that leap and discovered that I didn't actually fall off a cliff.

Last Thursday I put on a sparkly dress, killer stilettos, and a lot of attitude and I walked into the most important meeting of my year and I kicked its ass. And yes - the sparkly dress in question was totally work appropriate. And no - I don't work in Vegas.

Friday night, I kept my promise and took myself out for a nice dinner. And I didn't just order a salad. I ordered steak frites and ate every last bite of steak and every single frites and you know what? I actually enjoyed it rather than sitting there and wondering just where on my ass those frites were going to appear.   

This weekend I remodeled my bathroom. BY MYSELF. Ok. Fine. I had help from The Angel and The Fire Chief but whatever. I did 90% BY MYSELF and I am beyond proud because even though I know how to use a power drill, that doesn't mean I get off on it.

So yeah. This week has been beyond good. And yet...

Some things are still hard.

Some questions still have no answers.

Some times I still cry.

Last night I picked up The Messiah's Handbook, randomly opened it, and came upon the following:

"Destiny doesn't push you where you don't want to go. You're the one who chooses. Destiny's up to you." 

It was an appropriate reminder that my life? My life is not pre-determined. My future? It is still wide open and I am the one who controls it.  This last week has been beyond good because I have made the right choices. I have chosen me.  So it's how I will continue to push ahead because I like how I've felt this last week and it's how I'd like to feel always. 

I don't know what my destiny is yet...but I am determined to make it damn fabulous and full of sassypants sparkle.

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The previous tenant of the wee, little country house I moved into last summer was a bachelor who drove a truck for a living so you can imagine that the decor was not exactly worthy of Better Homes & Gardens. Above and beyond the fact that the house hadn't seen a woman's touch in a really, really, really long time, it also hadn't seen soap and water, so I spent the better part of the pre-move-in week scrubbing with so much Clorox and Lysol that I 1) burned my hands raw and 2) I was basically high from the fumes for 5 days. Awesome. 

At the time, scrubbing off the grime was all that I could handle. That and painting my bedroom. But beyond that, the notion of fixing up my fixer-upper of a house gave me a massive headache and so I figured that some well placed knick-knacks and throw pillows (and occasionally lots of wine) would distract visitors from the cracked paint, the crooked molding, and the ugly linoleum floor in the kitchen that is so dirty I could probably sit on my ass with a bucket of Clorox and a toothbrush and scrub every single individual tile for 20 minutes apiece and still not make any progress. Also? I'd probably have a sore ass and feel like the world's biggest asshole. 

As it turns out, I was right and a few well-placed knick knacks did the trick because when people come to visit, they see the quaint and cozy home that I have created despite some glaring cosmetic flaws.

But here's the problem.  The cosmetic flaws are starting to wear on me, and unfortunately, I am not much of a DIYer. I would rather watch Bones or NCIS or a Beverly Hills 90210 marathon on SoapNet then flip on HGTV (although I did try to watch it for a few days at the request of my dear friend The Hawk, who along with The Kaiser and Sumo, is going to install a new kitchen floor for me!).  My friend Sara? She rips up carpeting just for fun. I actually need to rip carpeting out of the entire upstairs and the staircase and while I love the feel of a Wonder Bar in my hands....the idea of ripping up hundreds of square feet of hideous blue shag carpeting and then yanking out tack track and then pulling up staples out of the hardwoods one by one by one by one.....yes - could somebody please pour me a drink before I impale myself on a Wonder Bar? 

The thing is, the quantity of work that this house requires has been bearing down on me with tremendous force as of late and so a few weeks ago, I decided to tackle my bathroom over Memorial Day weekend.  I figured it was small and mainly stuff I knew how to do (like paint) and that if it went well, it would inspire me to tackle bigger rooms and bigger projects. So I skipped a few days drinking beer on the lake with Lilsaej and instead channeled my inner Bob Vila. Wait - is he still even relevant?   

If I told you the entire weekend start to finish I'd have the War & Peace of blog posts, so here's a brief-ish summary in bullets:

* All in, the project took 3-1/2 days and included 3 trips to Lowes, 3 trips to Wal-Mart and 2 trips to Bed, Bath & Beyond. I'd like to point out that both trips to Bed Bath & Beyond (which is 25 miles away) were in blinding monsoon-like rain which just goes to show what a girl will do for a sparkly shower curtain and a pretty box to deal with her tissue issues. 

* All bathrooms should be white. Period. This is the second bathroom I have painted Ultra White and I see no reason to have a bathroom any other color ever again. It is pristine. It is bright. It is perfect.

* It was very empowering to rip the molding off with my bare hands - although it denied me the chance to actually purchase my own Wonder Bar. 

* I'll go out on a limb and say that stripping wall paper is fun.  I'll also say that I had it pretty damn easy and that I only had 1 layer of wall paper to contend with, it was peeling off in a lot of places already, and that it responded well to a combination of non-toxic wallpaper remover mixed with hot water in a spray bottle and a putty knife. 

* I suck at puttying and sanding. In fact, one of the primary goals of the Great Bathroom Remodel of 2010 was to fix the crack in my bathroom ceiling. So yeah. You can still kind of see it. Although I totally blame the guy at Lowe's who told me to get the insta-dry, lightweight spackle.  I think I needed the heavy duty stuff. So actually - I don't suck at puttying and sanding at all. The guy at Lowe's is just a bad salesman.  

* I have a love-hate relationship with painting.  On the one hand, I can do it (kind of) and I find it mildly soothing in small doses. Although I am messy. And I will probably be cleaning up paint drops and spills and whatnot for the next 6 months. Also? I perpetually see the flaws - the spots that need to be touched up, the areas that need to be patched. No one else sees them but I know they're there and it drives me BATTY.

* Oil based paint sucks and if you ever think of using it - DON'T.  I discovered this last summer when we attempted to paint the bedroom and the latex paint I had purchased started bubbling up and not sticking to the walls and I had the world's BIGGEST MELTDOWN in the history of all meltdowns mainly because I was functioning on 2 hours of sleep (not my fault - my slumber was interrupted) but also because I hated the house I was moving into and I felt like the paint debacle was some kind of sign. Like a sign that I needed to check into The Four Seasons for 2 weeks.  

* The solution to oil based paint is to coat it with a layer of Killz first and then the latex paint will stick. However I forgot this when I was working on my bathroom this weekend. I mean, I did it for the walls but then I started to Killz the ceiling and OMFG - have any of you ever painted a ceiling? Damn that shit is hard. I had my step stool in my bathtub and my neck arched and paint was dripping in my eye and I couldn't figure out where I had put the Killz since, you know, it was all white and so I was like FUCK IT.

* The moral of that story is 1) I will never, ever paint another ceiling as long as I live and 2) once I finally did paint my ceiling with the Ultra White latex paint, it started to bubble and peel in a handful of places and I had a mild panic attack but not a major one and so I am fairly sure that this is a sign that I am maturing. Also? I still need to fix my ceiling.

* Also? This is why the notion of painting my entire house reduces me to a blubbering heap. Killz, paint, paint plus trim and molding? JEE-ZUS.  

* Here is where I make a formal apology to The Kaiser.  A few weeks ago, The Kaiser did some painting at his house, and the next few times I saw him, he had paint remnants here and there. On his leg. On his arm. On his hands.  I mean granted - he's furry and a lot of crap gets stuck in his coat - but I was all: "Dude - do you BATHE?" because isn't latex paint water based and isn't it supposed to wash right off? So um yeah....after Round 1 of painting on Saturday I took a shower. I scrubbed. I loofahed. I exfoliated. I basically sandblasted myself in the shower and yet I still headed out to dinner with paint on my arm.  So apparently latex paint is not all that easy to remove from one's skin and apparently The Kaiser bathes. I think.

* Spray paint is awesome. It is cheap. It is easy. And the fumes make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

* I now own a hand saw with a clamping mitre box, but I have no idea how it works.

* I also own a stud finder, but for $10 you shouldn't be surprised that it told me my entire wall was bangable.

* Having all of my tools out these last few days and all the trips to Lowes made me feel all handy and shit and so I finally got an organizer for my tools. It's not a tool box - but it's pretty damn close. 

* I prefer to caulk with a Q-tip even though I am pretty sure that's not how you're supposed to do it. Also? I suck at caulking. Maybe it's because I use a Q-tip.

* As much of this as I did on my own, I had invaluable help from The Angel and her boyfriend The Fire Chief.  They arrived at around 8pm on Sunday and left a little after 11pm.  In that time we got the recessed medicine cabinet crammed in inserted and mounted, we got the toilet topper up, and The Fire Chief made good use of my clamping mitre box to cut and mount my molding.  As much as I love to do it on my own, I also know when I need help and I feel lucky to have such good friends to rely on.

* That said, I hung the towel bar on my own bitches! AND it's level. AND I have 2 honest-to-God giant blisters in the middle of my right palm from gripping the screwdriver to drive the wall anchors into the sheetrock. Go on. Say it. I am a badass!

* I derive way too much pleasure from organizing toiletries.

So it didn't involve a lake or getting a suntan or going to a cookout or drinking beer with Lilsaej or anything else that you'd think about when you think of the first 3-day weekend of the summer, but it was an awesome and fulfilling weekend all the same and now I have a gorgeous bathroom. Also? I totally feel more confident about taking on bigger home improvement projects although I do think it will take 6 people, 2 gallons of vodka, and 1 prescription for Xanax to get me through my kitchen renovations. 

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