Family Room Project Stat Sheet

Start Time 8am
End Time 8pm
Feet of Chair Rail 64
Feet of lost chair rail from botched cuts Around 4
Number of successfully hammered
finishing nails
Around 30
Number of bent finishing nails Around 50
Number of expletives yelled 84
Number of Red Bulls 2
Number of Rum and Cokes A lot more than 2
Number of times blood was shed 2
Movies watched Christmas Vacation
Die Hard
Die Hard 2
Fight Club

About two weeks ago, I was hiding from Meg in the family room, which as I’ve said before, is where I spend most of my time. Not surprisingly, the room looks like hell. Since moving in, we left the room painted builder’s white. For the non-homeowners, builder’s paint is practically chalkboard, as merely walking too close to the walls will create marks. I realized that since I spent so much time down there, it’d be nice to ditch the ghetto just-out-of-college-feel in favor of something more warm and homey. Motivation was planted, and plans were in motion for Thanksgiving weekend.

I had a pretty good idea of what colors I wanted, but since it’s a big room I wanted to do a little more. Meg came up with the idea of installing chair rail around the room as well. After googling to find out just what the hell chair rail is, I realized I was going to have to use a saw, hammer, and nails for this.

I immediately enlisted help. I’m a really good painter, but outside of that I’m pretty much into uncharted territory. I’m also not that bright, since instead of trying to get my brother-in-law or dad to help, I ask someone as equally handyman-challenged as myself. With promises of rum and Perkins the next morning, JJ was in.

What JJ and I lack in general handyman skills we made up for in spatial, geometric, and trigonometric proficiencies. In other words, it was two geeks attacking a problem that was largely measurements and angles. You may not believe it, but we did a kick ass job too. It took a bit to get the hang of the miter box, which required us to redo the math in degrees instead of radians, but after that we only botched two cuts. On one cut I got lazy and tried to snap off a hanging piece of wood. I still don’t know how this happened, but it splintered the board a good 8 inches. The other cut that was botched was, ironically enough, a memory issue. I read the sheet of measurements, precisely measured 10 5/8″, and made an exact cut. The problem was, the sheet said 15 5/8″. Somehow, it got lost in my head. That’s when I popped Red Bull #2.

Once again blood was shed in a home project, and once again it was mine. I tried to get fancy and use finishing nails in place of an awl. That really sucks as a strategy, since I bent a shitload of nails and really pegged the expletive count in the process. On one occasion I had to get a pair of pliers to pull out the bent nail. The nail was deep in there, so I had to apply quite a bit of force in dislodging it. Once it finally came loose, however, I ended up launching myself a good distance across the room, with said nail taking a nice chunk out of my arm in the process. I’m not sure where the other wound came from, but my opposite arm had a nice gash taken out as well.

Thanks to JJ for waking up so early on a 4 day weekend to help out; we did pretty good for two computer programmers working with tools. Somehow, I resisted the urge to apply the chair rail’s white paint to the palm of my hand and slap his bald head, even with the awesome Lord of the Rings white hand of Saruman reference it would have made. While he wouldn’t have seen that coming, he did take a few steps back and put on a face of panic each time I picked up the saw. And a quick thanks to my dad too, who talked me through an overview of what I’d have to do a few nights earlier.

In the end, I’m really happy with the way it came out. Most readers will see it on New Years. I’ll get some pictures up if my camera decides it wants to let the batteries last for longer than 3 minutes before draining them completely.

I just got off the phone with a telemarketer. As usual, they asked for Meg when I first answer. I get to say “She’s at work” and hope they give up. And every time I say it, I feel the need to explain that I work from home, have a real career, and am not just sitting here like a parasite living off of Meg. That actually makes me more depressed, once I realized I find the need to justify myself to a damn telemarketer.

Working from home isn’t necessarily as quiet and peaceful as you might think. The constant barrage of telemarketers, coupled with the fact that I usually have to go tearing around the house looking for a phone with a charged battery when they call, is almost as bad as the random drive by cubicle meetings I’d face in the office.

Surprisingly, it’s not the telemarketers that bother me so much as that asshole in the ice cream truck. I started this job in July and have only recently, which is to say within the last two weeks, finally been spared another iteration of the creepy ice cream man theme. At 5:30 every day prior to my new found relief, he would come around the neighborhood. I can’t say that I ever saw anyone buy anything, but that didn’t stop him from finding the need to invest 10 minutes of his day on our block. I literally had to postpone conference calls because my coworkers could not hear me amidst the chaos.

I sometimes wonder if Meg is more conniving than I give her credit for. We started the whole house hunting process right about when I started this job. After a few months of me working from home, she suddenly decides that we may not have to move.

So where’s the scheme? Having the house on the market meant I had to keep it not just clean, but presentable. That meant making the bed in the morning, not leaving dishes in the sink (or for that matter, glasses scattered at various places around the house– no mom and dad, I haven’t outgrown that yet), and making sure the laundry pile didn’t build up to mountain range proportions. On days where we had a showing, I’d run around the house that morning restoring the house to a pristine, unnatural condition.

In other words, I don’t think Meg ever intended to move. I think it was her way of making sure I wouldn’t drag the house into the 8th circle of hell while I was at home all day. It actually worked too, short of the coffee-stain breadcrumb trail Meg could use to figure out not only where I went in the house, but the frequency at which I crossed those areas and my average caffeine intake at the time. For some reason, I do not possess the ability to carry a mug of coffee from the kitchen on the second floor, up one flight of stairs, and into my office without managing to splatter, drip, and otherwise coat the walls, floors, and doors. If anyone is looking for Christmas present ideas for Meg, I suggest buying me the tallest mug you can find. Yes, it’s a present for Meg, since she’s the one that gets pissed off at the dynamic spot decorations I am applying to the house.

Still, I can’t bitch too much. I’m sure most of the readers would get fired if they spent an entire work day in their pajamas.