Change the channel.

Husband and I have knack for making life complicated. We’re accident prone, the two of us, together and separately. We both like to take the long way, the back roads, with the windows rolled down even if it’s raining a little.

We like to make things from scratch, like noodles and pies and soup, even if we don’t have a recipe or a professional at hand. We like to mix our drinks strong. We like to make big plans and then take our time getting there.

We like to do things ourselves. Like, you know, finishing houses.

I think we drive our families crazy.

We must. We drive ourselves crazy. I mean, we’ve only moved six times in the last six years of marriage. We’re only on our third major home renovation/construction.

We’re only, almost, almost, almost done.

railing 2

But not quite, despite the fact that it’s all we’ve been doing for the last two months: get up, clean up the dishes from the night before, get dressed, go to work, come home, put on work clothes, find a project, tile something, varnish something, sweep something, move something, put carpet on something, saw something, paint something, look at the clock and say “damn, it’s 10 already,” and then wonder out loud what to have for supper while you pour a bowl of cereal and pull the popsicles from the freezer.

Needless to say, we’re kind of tired. And between the dreary weather, our less than adequate diet, all the mud being tracked in on the floor and the saw dust in the air, I’m not surprised to find we’re slipping a bit.

laying carpetA few weeks ago Husband called me while I was on the road to a photo shoot. He had to tell me he just got out of the bathroom to discover that he had been walking around all day with a pair of my pink underwear shoved up the sleeve of his shirt, a result of a quick attempt at finishing the laundry.

I wondered out loud if they were my pretty pink underwear or my raggedy, embarrassing pink underwear.

He said it didn’t matter, his wife’s underwear up his sleeve at work was embarrassing, pretty or not.

And now I’ve gone and put it on the internet, which I guess, is probably even more embarrassing.

But whatever. It’s funny. I laughed hysterically at the thought. So did my friend in the passenger seat of the car as I relayed the sad story of what our lives have  become.

Now, I don’t know if I’ve shared this here or not, but in the time we’ve been living back at the ranch we’ve been approached by a few different production companies about following us around for a reality show. One in particular wanted to fly Husband to Georgia to try out for a deep fat frying cooking competition. They said they like how he looks and like what he deep fat fries.

What?

I guess that’s what happens when you put your life on the internet, but a reality show on the two of us is a ridiculous idea. We’re not as pretty as the Kardashians and we don’t have enough free time to manage as many redneck adventures as the guys on Duck Dynasty. The only thing that would be entertaining about following us around with a camera would be watching all the ways I manage to screw up during the day and hearing all of the one-liners Husband manages to deliver at my expense.

Cut to last Friday where a late and very sick Jessie attempts to make it to a doctors appointment in the pouring rain only to find that her way is blocked by a semi jack-knifed and stuck across her parents’ approach and the road leading to the highway, forcing her to turn around and brave the monsoon on ten miles of muddy, deteriorating, pot-holey, all around shitty road.

Listen to her cuss as she drives a little too fast and defies the ditch and her death.

See her wave her arms at the sky and plead for the rain to stop.

Watch as she explains the situation to the receptionist at the clinic right before she gets diagnosed with bronchitis and a sinus infection and heads out to the pharmacy to load up on $150 worth of medication. Notice that she didn’t pick up her inhaler thingy, but she won’t realize it until she gets home in the monsoon.

But before she can get home Jessie needs gas. Now watch her overflow her gas tank at the local Cenex in the pouring rain while a trucker at the neighboring pump munches on a candy bar and declares it six gallons of environmental hazard.

Watch her face clench as she contemplates calling him an environmental hazard.

Cut to Jessie at home attempting to make a rhubarb cake without a cake pan for a party starting in approximately 35 minutes. Listen as she sweetly asks her husband to go borrow one from her momma.

Now watch as she puts together a dip she’s made for years with cream cheese instead of sour cream. Now look at that, she just dropped an entire container of cherry tomatoes on the floor. She’s cleaning them up now as her husband walks in, but it looks like she missed a few hanging out in the bottom of the fridge. Hope she doesn’t close the…oh, look at that, she closed the door.

See the tomatoes squish.

Watch her fling her body face first on the bed as her husband tells her she needs to pay attention.

So that would be one episode.

Seriously.

I mean, if I had a dollar for every time my dearly beloved stood above me as I am sprawled out on the floor, shaking his head and wishing out loud that I would just “pay attention”, I would be rich enough to hire someone to finish building this house for crying out loud.

That’s one way I could avoid falling into bucket of grout water.

Uff. Da. Our reality show would make you all feel better about your organized, saw dustless, home renovation-less,  mud-free, squished-tomato-free,underwear-up-your-sleeve-free life.

Some days I wish I could change the channel.

Horse frustration

Prom Day, thirteen years later…

It’s prom season and on Saturday young couples in Boomtown spent the day dressing up, pinning on corsages, posing for photographs in front of the mantle, eating a fancy dinner, laughing and dancing the night away.

In honor of the season and happy memories, I’d like to take this moment to cue up a flashback:

Yes. There we are back in the year 2000, back before Garth Brooks retired, before bedazzled flip-flops were cool, every teenager on the planet owned a data plan and before I knew what I was getting myself into.

If only we could have seen into the future.

If only someone would have warned us that thirteen years later these gangly, innocent, teenagers who single-handedly kept Suave hair gel on the shelves and were so convinced they were in love would find themselves un-showered and un-filtered, wearing overalls and saggy work jeans, crammed ass to ass in an unfinished bathroom in an almost finished house arguing about what iPod mix to listen to while in the middle of another argument about how someone is hovering and someone else doesn’t understand the importance of cleaning the mortar off the trowel between tiling projects.

Thirteen years ago the plan would have been to get a job where you make enough money to hire someone to tile the damn bathroom.

Thirteen years ago we would have been listening to Garth Brooks and there would be no argument.

Thirteen years ago we would have been pretty excited about the whole iPod thing.

If only we would’ve known. Perhaps we could have avoided this situation all together. I could have suggested that my future husband, the one standing so coiffed, cute and confident next to that girl in the bedazzled flip-flops, just go ahead and become a trapper/mountain man like he dreamed of as a boy and I would just go on to marry a man who wears khakis and doesn’t own a table saw or a wet saw or a hand saw or any other kind of saw that would give him the idea that maybe, perhaps, he should build an entire bathroom from scratch, and then spend a good three to four days with his dearly beloved tiling the damn thing, from floor to ceiling.

I would have missed that mountain man, but as I pick the mortar from under my fingernails and behind my ears, I think maybe I could have gotten used to the khakis.

Why manicures don’t work on me…

I mean, did you know endless hours of mixing mortar, scraping it on the walls, cleaning it from the floors, accidentally splashing it into your eyeball and spraining your wrist while operating the high powered drill necessary to mix the stuff can turn you into the worst possible version of yourself?

Did you know that you can sprain your wrist operating a drill?

Me neither. But it’s true.

Turns out that forty-thousand trips up and down two flights of stairs to get to the wet saw does something weird to your right butt cheek too.

It’s true.

Just ask Husband.

Oh, now you might be thinking to yourself ,”Well, a couple that can survive building a house together can survive anything.” And the two of us might agree, but only under the condition that the house doesn’t have a single tile in it.

Because tiling sucks. It is hard and it is messy and it makes perfectly sweet and well-intentioned wives really mouthy and equally well-intentioned husbands really annoying.

And that, I fear, might be the only thing my dear husband and I agree on when it comes to the project that consumed our weekend.

But oh, I love this man, I do.

I love that he is capable and handy and looks good in those overalls. But our lives would be so much easier if he would just let me pick the soundtrack for the project.

And if he would stop with the suggestions on how I should hold the trowel, even if it might help me avoid getting so much mortar on my pants that not even tightening my belt can save him from the sight of my plumber’s crack.

I don’t need his suggestions. I mean, doesn’t twenty straight minutes of tiling make me an expert?

And don’t you think when your wife screams out in agony, drops the drill, grabs her wrist and falls to the floor that a husband should come running to her side and ask her what’s wrong instead of calmly assuming she’s overreacting to another injury, waiting for her wails to turn to whimpers before asking her sarcastically if she needs to go to the hospital?

I mean, that like, really hurt.

I’m ok. It’s fine. But still.

Somehow I don’t think Sunday morning motivational home construction pep talks that include promises of foot rubs,  negotiations on who will make the coffee and a vow not to get pissy with one another today is the future prom-goers in Boomtown imagined as they walked arm in arm with their dates at the grand march last Saturday.

But maybe it should be. I mean, if I have to tile a bathroom at least it’s a result of my own brilliant idea that our bathroom be covered in tiles.

And at least I get to do it with a man who’s willing to do what it takes to give me everything I want, even if it means spraining his right butt cheek from forty-seven thousand trips to the basement while putting up with the whining coming from his wife and the music on her iPod mix.

And if I have to tile a bathroom at least I get to do it with a boy who took me on a date to Bonanza when I had purple rubber bands on my braces and still thought I was presentable enough to pass as a prom date.

Which proves he has just the right amounts of delusion and optimism to survive a tiling project and, consequently, a marriage to me.

At least I hope so. I guess we’re not quite done yet…maybe it wouldn’t hurt to compromise a bit on the music selection…

Oh the price you pay for a pretty place to pee.

Improving my home improvement attitude…

I married a man who knows where he can get a surplus of washing machine motors in case of a clothes-washing emergency. I fell in love with a guy who has hauled a broken down three-wheeler to all five of the places we’ve moved in the last six years with the intention of making the thing run when he has a spare moment (or twenty-thousand).

I am living with a person who has seventy-five Tupperware containers full of drill bits, little pieces of wire, nails and screws of various sizes, scraps of leather, broken saw blades, old speaker cords, empty shotgun shells, half-used rolls of tape, weird shaped things made of metal, something that looks like an electrical box, loose change from years of emptying pockets and a partridge in a pear tree because he might need it someday.

He’s a handyman, a carpenter, a Jack of all trades.

He’s a man who once spent the summer of his sixteenth birthday helping his father build a garage so that the next summer they could use it as a space to rebuild a tiny wooden boat from when Jesus was born into sleek and shiny yellow watercraft complete with a motor made to propel them around the big lake at speeds safe for a boat of a much bigger size.

He’s ambitious, a visionary, a guy with a tool for everything and a “why pay someone else to do it when you can do it yourself…and do a much better job…” attitude.


I am none of those things.

In fact one could argue that I’m the exact opposite. Where Husband has the impressive ability to breathe life into objects that belong on the bottom of a junk pile, I am the culprit who sent that thing to its grave in the first place.

I break things.

But it’s not my fault. Like Husband inherited his skills and interest in nailing things together, I was born to find a way to break them apart.

See, we’re neck-deep in working on the finishing touches it’s going to take to get us living in our new house. It’s an exciting time for a man who has been planning this home in the blueprints of his mind for years.

It’s a frightening time for a woman who once saw her life flash before her eyes when she got her head stuck in a ladder in her attempt at house painting.

But I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit around and make sandwiches while my husband is measuring and cutting and making sawdust fly.

Nope.

I’m gonna help.

But before I could strap on my tool belt and suspenders that look like rulers,  I was sent with Pops to go get supplies.

And when I say supplies, I mean, hook up the giant trailer, grab your coffee and be ready to set up camp in the store for a good  five to six hours…because the man’s got a list…

And he wrote on both sides.

Shit.

Fast forward through the part where Pops and I  got a flat tire and had to pull over on the highway to change it only to discover that the spare was a little skimpy on air as well.

Then skip the next part where I had a mental breakdown in the plumbing section trying to explain Husband’s hand-drawn diagram of a small piece he needed with a male end that connects to another piece with a female end that needs to be threaded and bedazzled with rhinestones and copper and is a 1/2 inch wide (or is that 1/3?) with metal studs while Pops mastered the art of sleeping while standing up.

Then zip on through the fourteen hours it took the two of us to load 750 square feet of hardwood flooring, 300 slate tiles, three bags of mortar, two bags of grout, a nailer, 20 pieces of sheet rock, six oak doors, a bag of painting supplies, electrical boxes, a roll of wire for something,  thirty-seven thousand plumbing parts and a bag of licorice onto the trailer, covering it with a giant tarp while the wind blew the thunderheads in.

I don’t want to talk about the monsoon that tore through that tarp on the way home in the dark or the fact that Pops may or may not have hit a small tree with a trailer full of soggy supplies as he slid sideways in the sticky mud outside the garage and proceeded to get stuck up to the floorboards.

I won’t mention the words he used to explain his emotions or the fact that we had to get the tractor to lift the trailer away from the tree and then hook it up to the front of the pickup to pull it out of the mud.

We don’t want to talk about it.

And I don’t want to talk about the grumbling that occurred the next day when I was sent to town again because there was a missing piece in the bag of 3,000 plumbing supplies we picked up in our life-altering journey.

Nope.

I won’t go there.

But I do want to tell you that when our supplies were accounted for and we got line out, after I painted the ceiling and the walls, organized our area and brought over some beer and snacks, someone did give me a tool.

A hammer.

And I was elated to be thought capable enough to help lay the wood floor.

So excited that in approximately 3.4 minutes of weilding that hammer, I forgot about moving my thumb out of the way.

And I do want to tell you that even though my thumb print is forever altered, Husband gave me a second chance and trusted me to learn the art of tiling.

And I thought I was doing ok, really. I mean, after two full days of being left alone to mix mud, haul and cut heavy tiles, space them out and skip the parts where I actually had to use math skills to measure, I still had a few places on my body that weren’t completely crusted in mortar.

I was focused, I was sweaty, I was becoming a tiling expert intent on getting the project complete in a timely manner. There was no time for breaks, no rest for wicked and apparently no room for manners, which I quickly learned was something that remains important in my handyman’s world no matter the time constraints and focus placed on the project.

Because when he came to check on my progress at the end of two days of laying tile he took one look at this woman with sweat dripping down her back, wild hair escaping from her two-day pony tail and arms and legs covered in mortar only to be greeted with an order to go get her a rag.

Apparently there was something about my request that didn’t sit well with my husband. Perhaps it was the tone of voice, or the fact that I didn’t look him in the eye or use the words or any form of synonym for “please” or “thank you”. Whatever it was, Husband couldn’t contain his disdain for this version of his wife morphed into some kind of intense and ragged construction obsessed animal.  He couldn’t understand why she wasn’t the calm, cool and collected species he becomes in this sawdust and testosterone infused environment.

He was confused.

He had to express himself.

I glared up at him from my place among the tiles and wet mortar.

“Where’s my rag? I need my rag? I’m almost done!!! Did you hear me?!!!”

He took two steps backwards, looked down and pointed at me, wagging his finger up and down to emphasize his disappointment as he said…

“Look at you. You’re bossy, you’re a mess and I don’t know if I like working with you…”

He took two more steps backward and stood still for a moment waiting for my reaction.

I looked down at my jeans, unrecognizable at this point as anything but pants made out of mortar. I ran my dirty hand through my hair and pulled out a glob of crusted mud.

Sweat trickled down my back and into my butt crack as I took in the words this kind and patient man has never before uttered to me.

I took a deep breath as the stress and worry of the past two weeks came unglued from my insides and out of my lungs in a fit of laughter that I couldn’t contain.

Husband stared at me as I worked to apologize through my giggles and belly laugh.

He shook his head and lifted his cap up to run his fingers through his hair, his lips curled up in a reassuring smile as he turned on his boot heel and left the crumpled, ornery and unnecessarily intense version of his wife to consider improving her home improvement attitude.


And I was left with the conclusion that I’d better shape up, because for the next few weeks while we finish this house I’m living in this man’s world, and if I ever want to cook a meal in this kitchen in our lifetime, I’d better whistle while I try to avoid hammering my arm to the wall and do what I can to keep him around…

Because I break things.

And he fixes them…