Monday, September 5, 2016

Making progress

My daughter offered to help with the remodeling today. But she was disappointed that I wasn't ready to paint yet. To be honest, I am, too. I am so ready to be ready to paint. But I have most of another day of prep ahead.

However, I'm definitely making progress. I've washed the ceiling (with a roller on a long handle) and bagged up the fans and taped off the center beam, so I actually am ready to paint that tomorrow. I only got about 1/4 of the walls washed and patched, but I spend a lot of the day spot-patching and peeling tape off the window sills (from those plastic winterizing kits), so I have quite a lot done. Plus I got enough done that I could let my daughter paint primer on the banister. She was happy about that - both getting to paint and not having to be on the "scary" ladder. So - progress.

This is the banister "before". The blue will be a darker blue that matches the window shades. (Oh, yeah, I took down the shades and their brackets.) The white parts might remain white, or we may make them blue, too.'

Meanwhile, on the cork wall from hell: After scraping and sanding for several days, it still looks like this, but it does feel pretty smooth.

After applying a thin coat of spackling to every uneven spot, then sanding, we're down to this:

This might work out yet, but holy cats, it's been a lot of work.

My adventures in ceiling "popcorn" patching, however, turned out pretty well.

The textures match up -- I'm eager to see it when it's all one color.

Still no luck getting any of the duck wallpaper to peel off. I wanted to frame a length of it as a memento, but it's super-duper stuck to the wall. This is the only reason I'm making an exception to my "never ever ever paint over wallpaper" rule. (We had rooms downstairs where there were so many paper/paint layers it was like peeling cardboard off the walls.)

And the big giant (not really all that giant) hole I had to patch is covering well. I love this spackling compound -- it's pink when you put it on and turned white when it dries. Takes the guess-work out. Which is always a bonus. 

I am exhausted. All my muscles hurt. I am covered with minor bruises. But I am making progress! 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Cursing in the general direction of the previous owners

Day one of the great remodel went well. I got 90% of everything moved out/sorted/donated. It was surprisingly sad. All these video games that my kids wanted "so bad, just this one thing, please please please ..." now in a box, untouched for years. Same with the Lego sets. Lots of memories. I can't help remembering all the times I had to say "no" because we just didn't have the money. And the times I said "yes" and then skimped at the grocery store or skipped lunches or whatever to make it work.

And the times I was too busy to play board games with my son.

It's been tough.

But -- progress got made, anyhow.

Once upon a time, before we owned this house, someone decided that it would be really cool to make a bulletin board by gluing square cork tiles directly to the wall. I don't know what the hell kind of glue they used, but I can report that it is still going strong. The only way it comes off is with the paint. Ugh.

Starting point

After an hour with a scraper

After the cork is gone, the glue remains. 
I'm almost tempted to varnish over it and call it art.
But ... no. 

This is the outside of the closet door. It's lovely.

This is the inside of that door. The photo does not capture the true horror of the color. 
I don't know why the door is this color.
I'm afraid that at one time the entire room was this color.

This is the biggest of the holes I need to patch ... as far as I know. Except for the one the dog chewed.
I haven't uncovered that one yet. I'm afraid. 

The ceiling in the stairway has been patched. Tomorrow I'm going to see if I can
match the "popcorn" pattern. 

Also a big of water damage here. It's old, not an ongoing issue.
Going to popcorn it, too.

So -- lots of work done, lots and lots still to do. Tomorrow is patching and priming day. And possibly prying the baseboard off. Everything needs to get washed down. 

Well begun is half done, right? 


Friday, September 2, 2016

Okay, where was I?

So. After a month of getting fired twice and a week of agonizing, I'm back to where I as before. I still have a day job and I can work from home after the first of the year. I have some assurance that I'll have this arrangement for at least a year. And I can bring home whatever office furniture I have room for.

I have room for a lot of office furniture.

I have Monday off for Labor Day, and I took Tuesday and Wednesday as vacation days. My plan for the looooong weekend is to get my soon-to-be-office painted. I imagine this would be a 1-day job for a lot of people, but ... I'm slow. That's okay. It's going to be fun. Even if it kills me.

I went out and bought paint tonight. Oh, and painting supplies, because my oldest son apparently absconded with all of ours when he moved out. Also lots of things to repair walls. I even found stuff that will fix the popcorn ceiling. It's ugly, but not ugly enough to motivate me to try to scrape it all down. There are two spots where it got water-damaged and patched that are weirdly smooth. So more popcorning. (Wow, that sounds dirty!)

Here's what I'm starting with:

North end of the room

South end of the room

Bannister to the back stairs. I predict this will be the easiest or the biggest pain in the butt.
(I'm hoping I can be persuaded to "let" my daughter paint this.)


The back stairs. There are also front stairs, so no one needs to go tromping through my office. 
They will anyhow, though.

This door is in the center of the room. It leads to a hallway to the rest of the upstairs.

 So. The blue trim is going to be white. The white walls are going to be pale blue. The dark blue shades stay. The dark blue couch goes. (It's not really very comfortable.) The other couch stays, but moves to the north end, at least for now. The floor will eventually be carpeted, and the ceiling fans will be replaced. But those are projects for other weekends. Except that I have to pull off all the baseboards. (At least I can take them outside and paint them standing up.) Also there's a big hole in one wall where a long-ago dog chewed through it. We put a couch in front of it and forgot about it until now. Ugh!

I'm thinking about $1,000 for this whole project. I'm $204. into paint and supplies so far. I should have enough ceiling paint to do my daughter's room, too. Oh, did I mention that she asked to paint her room "while I was at it"? <head-desk>

Five days.

I'm excited.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Now in Limbo

Well, this sucks. (Completely whiny post ahead.)

On Thursday I got "let go" -- downsized, laid off, fired. I've worked for this company for 20 years. I understand that they need to downsize. Last month the boss' son told us that we were all fired, and his dad (the boss) immediately told us that no, that wasn't happening and we would all be okay. We could work from home (to save office rent), we might have to cut our hours (which we agreed to) but we would all keep our jobs. Then they looked at the numbers. Nope.They're letting me go, they're asking the other two to cut their hours, and they still thinks the same work will get done. Because the shiny new accounting system the son found will make that all possible, no problem.




On the bright side, the boss is a really good guy. He's already arranged for me to interview for a job with a firm literally right across the hall from where I'm working now. They are good friends of his, they know me, and they're very interested. Of course, this shoots my "working from home" plan in the ass. But it's a job, and I'll probably take it if it's offered.


Buuuuuuuttttt -- here's where things get interesting:

My other co-worker saw the blood in the water after the first time we all got fired and applied for a new job that's very attractive to her. She had a phone interview the same day, a second interview on Friday, and has a third on Monday. She loves almost everything about the job. She has less tolerance for uncertainty than I do. She will probably get the job, and she will probably take it. (And I have no doubt she will be amazing at it.)

Which means there's a very good chance that next Tuesday my boss will ask me to stay at the job he just fired me from.

But I've been fired twice in a month. So I'm more than a little gun-shy. And the boss' son, who is the root of all problems, will still be involved. So do I stay, make the desired transition to work from home, and hope for the best? Or do I keep looking for a new job, which would totally screw them?

Twenty years. Fired twice in a month. Probably about to be re-offered my job. Work from home. Have to deal with the son.

I just want to curl up in the back of my closet and never come out.


I think I have a plan. I think that if my co-worker takes the new job and I am offered the job I just got fired from, I will take it on the following conditions:

1)   That I get a promise IN WRITING that I will be employed (or at least paid) through all of 2017, plus the 3 months of severance I was promised, plus any vacation and sick days I have left. With my insurance paid for all of that time. This takes most of the Crazy Son aspect out of the arrangement.

2) That it is perfectly clear I will ONLY be doing accounting functions, not any administrative support. Basically, that the son will not call and assign me one of his wild-goose-chase research projects, or anything else that does not involve cutting a check or creating a financial report.

I'm not sure the boss will go for this. I'm absolutely certain the son will hate it. But I feel like it's the only way I can protect my own sanity and personal finances going forward. Otherwise I'll search for a new job and they'll have to figure out how to hire and train someone new in this crazy set-up.


Of course, I have nearly three more days to stew about this.

Going back to the closet now.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

My brain had a message for me - and used Lin-Manual Miranda to deliver it

Still lots of chaos and confusion at the day job. Basically, we had a good discussion about how we could all work from home and keep our jobs -- three weeks ago -- and then the boss made some other comments that made it sound like h was just shutting down the company, but maybe not -- and then his wife got quite sick and we had some unrelated pressing issues come up and he really hasn't had time to get back to it. So all of us are in Limbo.

At this point I would rather KNOW that I'm going to be unemployed, so I could start taking some actual steps, than be in this state of uncertainty.

And in that framework ... last night I had a dream about Lin-Manuel Miranda. (Have I mentioned how much I love "Hamilton" yet? No? Well, I do. And I'm not even going to try to explain it to you Just got listen to it. Try this sample. Hamilton at the White House  Almost all of you will be hooked. I promise. ) Anyhow -- quick history, Lin-Manual Miranda is a writer and actor who created "Hamilton",  a cultural phenomenon and the hottest ticket on Broadway. He made our first Secretary of the Treasury interesting and compelling. And he tweets the most wonderful, affirming things every day.

Anyhow, in my dream I was on a beach near New York City and Lin-Manual Miranda came staggering up out of the surf. Literally staggering, sunburned, dehydrated, disoriented. There were lots of people around, but no one seemed to notice him, so I went and held him up, helped him to a bench and got him a bottle of water. He said that he'd been on his sailboard and got swept out to sea, and he'd been out there he thought two days. He was very confused and vague. He said that he had some bruises and jellyfish stings, but he didn't think that he'd been bitten by any sharks -- but he wasn't sure. I wanted to call an ambulance, but he didn't want anyone to make a fuss over him. He was sure ti would be a big deal in the press. So I offered to call his wife or a friend for him, but he'd lost his phone and wallet and couldn't remember any of the phone numbers. He kept insisting I not call 911; he just wanted me to drive him home. I explained several times that I didn't have a car and didn't know where he lived, but I couldn't seem to get through to him.

There was a little library branch just across from the beach. I  decided to haul LMM there, because it would be cooler inside. I asked if I could use their Yellow Pages to look up the number to the theatre, but they told me they didn't have phone books any more. The librarian looked at him and said, "Oh, that's Lin-Manual Miranda." I confirmed that, and she said, "Oh, he was just in here the other day and made a nice donation to the library. He left his pen. We kept it, in case he wanted it back."

I really just wanted to find a friend or relative who could come and get him, and maybe get him to go to a hospital, because he was really incoherent, but the librarian insisted on getting the pen. They had put it in a safe that was concealed under the floorboards. It was just an ordinary drugstore-type pen, but a little thicker than most,

The minute I put the pen in LMM's hand, his eyes began to clear. He pretty quickly knew where he was, and what had happened to him, and where he lived. The librarian smiled and said, "See, you put a pen in his hand and he knows himself again!"

Then my alarm clock went off.

The minute I woke up, I knew the dream wasn't about Lin-Manual Miranda. He was my icon for The Writer I Currently Admire Most. And the message from my subconscious was loud and annoyingly clear: Stop wallowing around in all this worry and confusion, Pick up your pen, Let it remind who you are. The day job will be there or it won't, but you are a Writer and no one can take that away from you. Your Writing is kept safe for you. Go get it, and let it cut through the fog in your head.

I kinda hate it that part of my brain sometimes has to hit the other parts of my brain with a brick to get the message through. But I also kinda love that it's so good at telling me the story I need to hear.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Beginning again, from the beginning

(Title from a quote by Lewis Carroll)

I'm a writer. Like most writers, I have a day job.

I've been a bookkeeper at a small company for nearly 15 years. It's a wonderful job. Plus it gives our family health insurance. (A big deal.) But now, due to some business changes, we are facing a major transition.

Specifically, if all goes as planned, my co-workers and I will be working remotely after the end of the year.

(There is still some small chance that this will fall apart and we will all be unemployed after the end of the year -- but I am not thinking about that right now!)

Now that I've had a little time to think about this, I've come to this conclusion: This is great!

I won't have to drive in the worst of the winter. I won't have to bundle up and go out in the cold. I just have to put on my slippers and trot down the hall to my office. I don't have to buy dress clothes any more. Or dress shoes. I have basically been gifted an extra 90 minutes every day, the time I will not spend getting dressed or commuting. I am really, really excited about this.

On the other hand ... this means I have zero excuses left to not be completely serious about my writing career. I will have the time. I will have the equipment. My youngest child will be in high school -- which is half a block away, so I won't need to drive her anywhere. If I do writing work during day-job hours, there will be no one looking over my shoulder. I can make phone calls with no chance of being overheard. There's just no reason I can't get my ass in gear and get some serious writing done.

It's wonderful. And it's terrifying. And damn it, I'm going to do it!


Step one is to set up the home office. As it happens, we have a "play room" at the back of the house. It is huge. It can, and has, slept six teenagers. Well, not slept, exactly, but accommodated them while they played video games all night. (They have a lovely smell by morning, by the way. Like a bears' den after a long winter.) All my teens that used the play room have moved out; my daughter doesn't want it and never uses it. So there's lots of space. I can have my own home office.

I can have my own home office.

I am so excited about this I could scream. (I did, actually.) I can give this room a fresh coat of paint and possibly a new carpet, and I can set it up any way I want. I can have houseplants if I can keep them alive. (I generally fail miserably at that.) I have five big windows, two ceiling fans, lots of outlets. I can (probably) bring furniture home from the office, and equipment. I can have my space, my way, and I even can write it off my taxes.

I can have my own home office.

Between now and New Years, I have a ton of work to do. So starting tomorrow I'm going to take and post pictures and share the transition from playroom to office. And then, if all goes well, I'll start the adventure of being a deliberate and dedicated writer.

Ready? Let's go!.