How to: Survive a Year

This morning I logged onto WordPress and one of their featured stories was “How To: Paint Kitchen Cabinets.”

And…I started to hyperventilate a little because the painting! You said I was finished with the painting! DID YOU LIE TO ME??? Oh. Sorry. You meant…this doesn’t actually have anything to do with me. People do actually paint their cabinets without death, tears, or cancer.


After I finished breathing into a paper bag, I began to think of what my “How To: Paint Kitchen Cabinets” post would go. Probably along the lines of this.

1.) Have a loved one die. A loved one whose cabinets need painting.

2.) Freak out about that.

3.) Take cabinet doors off and set up in open area to paint.

4.) Paint cabinet doors quickly, because you’re trying to minimize the tearfulness.

5.) Ignore drips of paint all over the cabinet doors.

6.) Realize you’ve managed to paint most of the carpet fibers into the doors, thus making them…fuzzy.

7.) Swear.

8.) Cry.

9.) Sand and repeat.

10.) Stare in horror at the bright pink insides of the cabinet.

11.) Tearfully call friends from the end of the driveway requesting help or booze or possibly both.

(The end of the driveway thing is really only because I don’t get service in the house. But it adds to the desperate air if you do it.)

12.) Buy what you think is latex paint.

13.) Give what you think is latex paint to friend to paint the inside of the cabinets with.

14.) Realize you’ve actually purchased oil paint.

15.) Feel nauseous. Literally.

16.) Take pictures of friend’s hair. Filled with oil paint.

17.) Post on Facebook.

18.) Put shelves back in the cabinets.

19.) Realize you have an extra shelf.  For no reason.

20.) Shove that extra shelf that spontaneously generated into the basement. Shh.

21.) Attempt to put the doors back on the cabinets. Realize they don’t fit.

22.) Freak out about that.

23.) Get cancer.

24.) Freak out about that.

(You may skip 23 and 24 if you are not looking to completely destroy your life. But again, it really does add to the whole situation.)

25.) Hire guy to put the cabinet doors back on.

26.) Wander around the house muttering to yourself for hours about how the guy is taking too damn long.

27.) Pay guy inordinate amounts of money to hang the doors.

28.) Freak out some more.

29.) Make out with the doors a little bit because you’re so happy they’re finished.

30.) Post the pictures on Facebook.

31.) Rent the house, which regrettably includes MY CABINETS.

32.) Freak out a little bit about that.

33.) Develop a disturbing dependence on the jugs of Carlo Rossi white zinfandel.

That was home repair with Kathleen- only thirty-three steps to emotional turmoil!

In other news, my desk survived a flood.

(It’s true. I moved one of the cabinets from Grandpa’s basement into my room as a desk. It was still dusty. Despite the flood. I…don’t know either.)

Well. If you’re still reading this, you’re definitely my friend. Or…I accepted your friend request and forgot about you, in which case I hope you’re not too creepy.

See, this morning they posted me as the TA for 102 on the online schedule. My reaction was three-fold.


2.) This screenshot must be my profile picture.

3. ) Oh, shit dagnabbit.

After I made the screenshot my profile picture (Look! I’m under “instructor”!), I had a mad scramble to make sure that my profile was locked down.

Because I’m not saying that I’m interesting enough to be stalked, or that I necessarily would be, or even that there’s anything terribly embarrassing on my page. (I mean, really. I’m friends with my mom and my priest.) But I do know that the first thing I do did upon finding out who was teaching any one of my classes was search for them on Facebook and proceed to stalk them. At least once, sometimes for the whole semester, generally commensurate with how well you graded me and how hot you were.

And…as my sister said, “You’d better take those car pictures down.”

Uh. Yeah. Probably.

This whole thing reached another level of irony about ten minutes ago when I received an email from the DGS announcing that there was a Facebook page for my grad program, and we should all like it so we could get to know each other!

Oh, fantastic. You know, except for those car pictures.

He knows us.

So remember last time? When my dead grandfather literally held back flood waters, ala Moses?

Yeah, well, he works with cars, too.

Today we were moving some more boxes out of his basement, and one of them ended up on the driveway behind the car. There was a vase in the box- a delicate, very sentimental vase.

I had to run an errand for them, and had no idea it was behind the car until I felt a crunch. Imagine my horror.

Yes, I backed my parents’ VAN over the box. The box is mangled. Literally. There are tire treads ON THE BOX.

The vase inside? Just fine. Not a chip.


Hey, we made CNN!

Two years ago this weekend, my grandpa passed away. And I still don’t really know how to write about it without sounding melodramatic or self-absorbed or whatever. Of course, if I try not to sound like those things, then it ends up sounding like we weren’t that close. But we were. He was like a parent to me (which is not to impugn my own parents’ parenting skills- this was not a my-mom-was-too-busy-spinning-around-a-pole-to-raise-me-so-Grandma-had-to-step-up situation.), and it was like losing a parent.

(Also? How many more times can I write the word “parent” in a sentence?)

So that happened. And it was (is) horrible.

In my head, there was a list of things I would be okay with doing this weekend. Drinking heavily was right up there. Attempting to sublimate my feelings with cheesecake- also a noble goal. Facebook would presumably also enter into the equation.

(I’ve heard people talk about this thing called exercise making you feel pretty good, but I’m waiting for more evidence.)

NOWHERE on the list was, “Dig through his waterlogged stuff.”

Apparently, God, or whatever decided to make it rain more than it has, oh, MY ENTIRE LIFE, thought differently.

After he died, we rented out the house. (Because my mother, bless her soul, harbors illusions that I will be gainfully employed one day and can live there.) But we kept a room in the basement filled with furniture and boxes and stuff that we simply couldn’t absorb into our house, but also really didn’t want to get rid of. Most of it was off the floor on bricks or something, and we figured, eh, it’ll be okay.

(By the end of that whole house process thing? I would have left my brother there and figured eh, he’ll be okay.)

Until last night. When the lady who is living there now called and told us that water was pouring in the first floor and was waist deep in the basement. That…oh, God.

Because we really needed that. THIS WEEKEND.

This morning we headed down there, pretty much expecting almost everything to be ruined.

(Well, first I stopped and bought these adorable boots because I am impractical and own exactly no shoes that are appropriate for flood situations.)

Okay. I’m not a big spiritual girl. I’ve got nothing against miracles, I just tend to be a teensy bit on the pragmatic side. But…this was a miracle. There was practically no water in the room with our stuff. One cardboard box had wicked water up about six inches, but the piece of furniture inside was completely dry. There was no damage. There was dust on most of the stuff.

The main basement was sopping. Which I learned really quickly when I helped carry the woman’s carpet upstairs and ended up with water (God, I hope it was just water) down my boots, down my shirt, on my face…everywhere.

But that room? With everything of his that we really, really wanted to keep, especially this weekend? Was completely safe.

So I guess that’s not a bad way to start this weekend.

Bernini never met me.

I went to Theology on Tap last night for the first time. Which is terribly surprising to me, given my propensity for all things Catholic and young adult-ish.

(I’m on a core team of a parish TO WHICH I DON’T EVEN BELONG. Top that.)

And the part that I enjoyed possibly more than the lecture? When we were talking  some pictures that have been posted and Emily said, “It’s like the Ecstasy of St. Teresa. But with your car.”

Turns out I am using that art history minor.

The talk was good and dude, I didn’t know there was going to be real food. It was lovely. But mostly it made me realize why I love lectures like these- either Theology on Tap or my young adult group or whatever. It’s very academic, but it’s very Catholic. And by studying history and religion at a state university, I spend most of  my life in a very secular place.

This isn’t necesarily a bad thing. I love the department, and I believe that they do a spectacular job of training historians in historical critical method. That’s fantastic. I love the historical critical method. But I really love when scholars can employ academic methods and still allow their faith to play a role.

Like, the Incarnation. They can say things like, “According to the Johannine tradition, it is through the Incarnation that we are saved.” Not just, “The historical Jesus of Nazareth was probably born in 4 BCE.”

I mean, that’s great, and certainly I’ve never had a professor say finish the thought with, “and you’re dumb if you believe that he was the Son of God.” In fact, I’m fairly certain that most of them actually hold beliefs similar to my own. But it’s a very different approach, and one that I really enjoy hearing occasionally. I think that’s why I enjoyed doing my thesis on my own and on the topic I chose- I was able to focus on my faith and my religion and not just my historical church, which is so often the case.

So that was pretty awesome. But, also, the St. Teresa thing.

Clearly, academia was the correct choice.

My junior year in college, I reached a crossroads. Throughout high school and the first few years of college, I had planned on going to law school.

(Well, I took a few months off to be a diplomat.)

But by junior year I was really into the history thing, and having serious doubts about my ability to be happy actually being a lawyer.

This led to near-constant breakdowns, and my mom, the attorney, got really, really sick of saying, “Honey. I did this. I know you. I taught you. You WILL NOT BE HAPPY DOING THIS.” over and over and over again.

(In her defense, she never really let it show. My daughter pulls any crap like this? I’ll be the first to scream, “YOU DON’T LIKE WORKING LATE YOU IGNORANT SLUT!” while throwing pillows at her head.)

Anyway. I ultimately decided that graduate school was the way to go. And I think it was a good choice. Because lawyers…work…during the summer. And I prefer…to not work during the summer.

For instance, here is a list of things I have accomplished today.

1.) Woke up. At 9:05.

2.) Knocked a spiderweb off my car with a stick (That I had to search for five minutes to find. How do I live in the country but there are no damn sticks around?) and then yelled at the spider because he was operating under the illusion that my car was his home and IT CERTAINLY WAS NOT.

3.) Drove to Starbucks because it’s totally close and thus makes lots of sense from a fuel economy perspective!

4.) Spent $4.38 on a latte.

5.) Grasped the irony of that situation.

6.) Started to cry when I realized the Center for Jewish Studies is getting a new director but it doesn’t matter because I’M NOT THERE ANYMORE WAHHH.

7.) Stopped crying when I realized how ridiculous that was.

8.) Sniffled a little.

9.) Googled “trifle recipes with alcohol.” Because I want to make a trifle this weekend and I have come to the disturbing conclusion that there are people out there making trifle with healthy stuff like the natural juices from fruit (!!!) and not brandy which, I’m sorry. Did we just become an anarchical society?

11.) Arranged my errands so I could go back and get more Starbucks this afternoon with my treat receipt. Because $2 is less than no dollars, right? If my receipt says so?

There were some things I did not do today, such as-

1.) Wake up at an appropriate hour.

2.) Work out. I was going to. Totally. But then Colleen came downstairs and, well, that jaunt to Starbucks just made so much financial sense I was helpless to refuse.

3.) Accomplished anything worthwhile.

So. While I know that I would really enjoy the law school part of being a lawyer, and I know I would be able to afford lattes all the time, I’m thinking I made the right choice.

Can I get you guys anything?

So I bought a car this weekend.

(First, I should say that the actual purchasing phase went fairly well. There were a few tense moments, like when the dealer literally turned around and ran back inside when he saw us coming, and when he alerted the financing guy to our presence by saying, “Um, they’re here…” But overall fairly painless.)

And I want to drive it. All the time.

During the semester, this wouldn’t be a problem. There are frequently days when I collapse facedown on my bed at 8:30 and think, “Did I honestly leave the house at 6:30 this morning? And drive back and forth to the east side three times?” By September 3rd I’ll probably be sick of it.

But it’s summer. And I have very little going on. So…I’m looking for places to drive. Like, the grocery store. If someone needs tampons in the middle of the night, I’m your girl.

Except I don’t really want to drive anywhere far because, um, guys? I don’t know if you noticed, but gas is really expensive? Like, I would put gas in the tank when I drove my parents’ cars, but never consistantly you’d-better-budget-for-this-every-week-for-the-rest-of-your-life sort. Which was significantly less painful. And while my car gets excellent gas mileage, it’s a little bit scary. On Saturday I had to fill it up before I drove home because a.) Watertown is in another state practically, and b.) they were kind enough to throw in a whole $ .75 worth of gas with the purchase.* After I finally maneuvered close enough to the pump to actually pump gas (HEY! It’s unfamiliar and on the other side and YOU KNOW WHAT I WAS STRESSED OKAY?) it just kept pumping and pumping and that “Total Sale” number got really high and I was all, “Um…how big is this damn tank?” to my mom and she just kind of smirked like, “Probably 20 gallons. Enjoy your purchase!”

(Oh, yeah. My mom was with me. Because I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to find my way home. Even though there was ONE TURN. Guess what? I was right. I almost ended up going west on 60.)

So if anyone has any errands to run in the Grafton area, I’m totally available.

Ooh, I know. Our coffee maker broke, and we’re stuck using the adorable but impractical for everyday-use travel mug one until someone goes to Target. I could totally go to Target. It’s on the corner.

*Oh, the perils of NOT working with Mueller Auto in Juneau. For all of your automotive needs.