Tuesday, January 20, 2015

ModLodge Probs

Welcome to the ModLodge, where it's Christmas all year round! Or until I take down the white, glitter-dusted tree I bought as sort of a joke last year but has since become my favorite decoration.

But Christmas isn't the only event that's gotten off schedule. My wallpapering project has, well...it's hit a wall. And it's not just because the baby only sleeps for 15 minutes at a time (though that's not helping). We're experiencing two problems.

Problem 1: I ordered wallpaper from another dimension 

After finally deciding I don't care about anyone's opinions but my own, I ordered the teal grasscloth wallpaper a few days before Thanksgiving. By December 22nd, it still had not arrived and so I emailed to find out the status. I received this response:

I just spoke with the vendor and they have a new date of the 2nd week of January. I apologize this was not brought to my attention until now. Grasscloth is all imported to the United States by a slow boat from the Orient and unfortunately they just give us estimates on the best guess of how long to arrive. 

That's right. A slow boat from the Orient.

It did finally arrive as promised at the very end of the second week of January, having been delivered to my doorstep, I can only imagine, via rickshaw.

I should now consider this problem solved, but I do worry that if it turns out that I didn't order enough to cover the wall (I am horrible at figuring out correct square footage), it will take another time-sucking voyage to the far east to procure additional rolls.

Problem 2: The stupid wood trim 

One of the features that I love about our house is the natural wood in every room. The hardwood floors, the vaulted ceiling with beams, the paneling on the walls, and the trim along the windows and doors. I'm so glad that over the years and however many owners, no one painted over all of this. Even that jerk who painted every other surface, including the baseboards, yellow.

Unfortunately, though, someone did decide to change out all of the trim in the ModLodge and install white, lightweight, fall aparty trim that matches zero other rooms in the house. You can see in this picture the contrast between the ModLodge doorway, and the one in the background which looks like every other doorway in the house.

I certainly have to fix this at some point. So I'm presented with the following options.

1. Ignore it for now and leave it as it, but risk damaging the wallpaper when we do make the switch to natural wood trim.
2. Paint over the white trim, like someone did on the baseboards that touch the breakfast bar. This, surprisingly, works from a distance but when you really take a good look at it, bleh.

3. Hire a contractor to replace it all. It shouldn't be too expensive, but with me out on maternity leave we aren't exactly making it rain these days.
4. Figure out how to do it myself.

It probably pleases you all greatly to know that I am, however foolishly, leaning toward option #4. If I can figure out how to do this task, I am no longer limited to painting and redecorating to fix up my house. I will be unstoppable! And it will come in handy because we have to replace all of the baseboards and trim eventually. They're all looking pretty beat up.

I just want to pause for a minute here to say that sometimes I feel a little strange getting so particular about the way my house looks. Like I should be happy I have anything at all. I think I'm especially sensitive about this because I've been watching so much HGTV and 70% of their programs revolve around couples bitching their way through every house on the market, acting like they'd rather die than live someplace with brass light fixtures. I have this idea for a new spin on one of these shows where the house hunting couple also brings along Flavio, the 14-year-old Ecuadorian boy I sponsor for $25 a month through Children International. That should really shake things up. "This house has indoor plumbing AND electricity? Sounds perfect. Who needs anything more than that, right Flavio? Uh...in fact, why bother moving at all? The house we have is more than adequate...can we be done now?"

It's honorable to take pride in home ownership. But you know keep it in perspective, people. Perspective.

Anyway, my rolls of wallpaper are just sitting in the box, waiting for me to make up my mind about how to handle the wood trim situation. So please vote on options 1 through 4. Thank you.

Monday, January 12, 2015

New Year's Whatevers

It's that time of year again. A time when I reflect on how I did not achieve my goals set forth last January, pretend there was some good reason for this without specifically identifying it, and then set new, even less obtainable goals for the year ahead. And I'm not alone in this self-punishing, futile exercise. It's like we all enjoy setting ourselves up for failure. Who started this tradition?

For 2015, I debated if I should even make a resolution. Or, really, resolutions, plural. I like to set more of them to increase my odds of success. I thought maybe I could find a loophole in the system by claiming that I was going to let myself off the hook this year, thereby making a resolution of a different sort. I resolve not to make a resolution. Yeah, sounds like bullshit to me too.

Then, while I was in New York over the holidays, I was struck by a tiny jolt of inspiration. Devin and I went to a small day spa to get massages because, since the baby's been born, our backs have gotten completely out of whack from all the hunched over cradling of the baby. Then throw in the various sleeping surfaces we'd endured while bouncing around between relatives' houses around Christmastime, and we'd basically become stuck at 90 degree angles.

Before being led to the massage tables, we sat in the lobby filling out consent forms which asked entirely too many questions. One of them was:

What is your daily stress level? (circle one)
  • Low
  • Medium 
  • High 

I hovered my pencil over High, then Medium, then High again, then thought, "Okay, I'm not like a hostage negotiator or anything," then went back to Medium. And then I looked up at Devin, who was standing up, having already completed his questionnaire because he was aware that it was just a bit of obligatory nonsense paperwork that zero people would ever read and not cause for inflection. I asked him if my life was Medium or High stress. When he responded with Medium, I felt a twinge of defensiveness, like he was insulting me somehow. Why doesn't he think my life is stressful? Is he calling me lazy?

I circled Medium, returned my clipboard to the front desk, and got on with it.

Of course I realize the irony of a woman who is able to go get a massage debating how high stress her life really is. So shut up. In fact, that's the whole point. Stress is all pretty much perceived, isn't it? And Low, Medium and High are defined by each person individually. For example, have you ever seen a delivery truck driver backing up into a tiny 7-11 parking lot? He's like 2 inches from hitting a row of cars, and the whole front half of the truck is still sticking out into the street, holding up traffic with a bunch of people honking at him. You see this and think that looks like the most stressful job ever, but he's just yapping away into his cellphone, steering one handed and probably thinking about what he's gonna have for lunch. Or conversely, you see someone like Jennifer Lawrence on a late night talk show, lamenting about how stressful it is to be on an awards show red carpet. You shout obscenities at your TV because you would just love to wear a quarter million dollars worth of diamond jewelry, exchange knowing "aren't publicists assholes" glances with Matt Damon, drink free actual Champagne from Champagne (not sparkling wine), and call yourself "stressed." I mean, come on!

Oh, whoa I just blacked out there for a second. Now, where was I?

Right, so one person's High stress is another person's Low. There's no set barometer for stress levels. Which means, I hope, that it's all totally controllable. It's all in my head. And it's often something I unwittingly seek out. For some reason I, like many other people, am trained to associate stress with hard work, accomplishment, and the feeling of being needed. So we get used to saying how stressed we are, how busy, how we just can't even deal. And this is supposed to make people respect us, I guess?

But if I think about when someone tells me how stressed out they are, I just feel bad for them. On the other hand, when I encounter the rare breed of human who lives by a kind of "no worries" principle, I am always impressed. So how is it that I've wasted so much time emulating the behavior of people I pity instead of people I admire?

Anyway that's where my head is at for 2015. By December, I want to go to a day spa, fill out a first time customer form, and circle Low on the question about daily stress levels. And if this spa doesn't have that question on their form I'll write it in. And if the receptionist gives me a funny look it won't stress me out in the slightest.