April 27, 2012

The World's Slowest Remodel

Back in July of last year, one morning, I pulled the bathroom door open and caused an explosion.

Termite pellets! Wood dust! Paint chips! Oh my!

Bonus, I was naked at the time (dis-gus-ting).

We did what you'd expect.  Oh, I mean what you'd expect from us, and not what you'd expect from normal, sane people.

Did we call the termite inspectors immediately?  Uh, no.  I yelled to wake up E and claim that we had termites who had eaten everything except the paint on our bathroom door jamb, he woke, insisted it was *dry rot* and went back to bed. 

Then, I took a shower, and we stayed busy and totally ignored it except to show off the party trick that E discovered where you could tap on the wall and cause the soldier termites to bang their heads against the wall to sound the alarm. (It sounds like Rice Krispies in milk.)

About 3 months later, once the dryness caused by the explosive intrusion to their massive mud-tube had killed the ability of the termites to perform the party trick, we finally got around to having the termite inspector come out.  The news was not good.  They recommended opening up the bathroom floor and doing all sorts of inspections plus pouring poison into holes they drilled in the slab. Immediately.

Yup, we ignored that too.

About 4 months after that, we finally got around to scheduling the demolition of the bathroom floor.  We admitted that we'd never take care of it unless the bathroom was literally destroyed.  So, we paid someone to do that for us.

I'm disappointed that we didn't at least enjoy doing the demo ourselves.  I feel like that could have been cathartic.

Eventually, we hired some contractors to come give us estimates and one of them confirmed that the owner prior to us had some questionable DIY skillz:

Normally, I don't take on things this ugly. It never turns out well in the end. There's always something else I discover that's been done with cut corners that's fucked up and needs to be fixed and the homeowners are never happy to learn of it.

Thankfully, one of the estimates was easier on the pocketbook (and came personally recommended). He was happy to take a week off to let the termite people do their poisonous thing. E reported that the termite treatment guy said, "Don't worry. I put a *ton* of poison down those holes." Ummm... Thanks? 

The drawback?  The General Contractor we hired, while reasonably priced, has *tons* of other projects.  So, we're getting a deal, but we're definitely being treated accordingly.

Today, he was scheduled to stop by at 11:30 AM to pick up a large check, and he couldn't even be bothered to do that.  You can imagine how quickly things are progressing when there's actual work to be done.  Of course, we are so busy that we don't really follow-up or push the timeline either.

Despite the almost complete lack of momentum on our part, all that's left is the final door installation and some trim clean-up. 

And, we love it.  It has a fan (a bathroom with a fan, imagine that!).  We picked out tile we like and fixtures and a bigger window and overall, it looks great, it's constructed to code (what a luxury!) and is a huge improvement over the poor excuse for a master bathroom our handy-previous-owner sold to us.

So, knock on replaced wood, it looks like we will be done with the teensy-tiny bathroom remodel just shy of the 1 year anniversary of the original destruction.

At this rate, we could complete the full house remodel in a little more than a decade!  Onward!

April 25, 2012

Not my lucky day

I did not win anything in the Largest Mega Millions Jackpot Ever.

Last night, someone who was not me won the Nenana Ice Classic (although I did predict an evening break-up!).

And, today, I did not win a spot in the lottery to compete in the NYC Marathon.

What's more, the NYC Marathon has changed its policies so there's no longer guaranteed entry if you don't win the lottery 3 years in a row.  I guess if I really want to do NYC, I may have to suck it up and pick a charity.

April 24, 2012

A Very Enjoyable Evening

My work todo list had 15 items on it before Monday AM.  Not a good way to end the weekend.

But, if I'm honest, I had 15 items on it on Friday PM, which was not a good way to end the week, either.

Thanks to emotional burn-out, coupled with literal electricity blow-out, I had reason to take some time off this weekend.  So, in a welcome change of pace, Monday AM wasn't so bad (when viewed in context).

After today's lunch (aka almost mid-week), I was down to 13 items on the todo list, which, though it appears to be a small decrease, is actually awesome.  This includes the 5 new items that arrived on my queue since Monday AM, plus several minute items that didn't quite make the list but took tons of quick response time, nonetheless.

In other words? I have evidence of forward progress! I love it.

Today, at 4 PM, I met my running buddy for speed intervals.  Okay, technically, I hit traffic and showed up at 4:08, but you know what I mean.

Even if you suck and are a late arrival, a running buddy is still good for forcing you to commit to something you should do.

So, H and I basked in the gorgeous California weather and probably didn't push enough but very much enjoyed a ladder of sprints in amounts of 2, 3, 4, 4, 3, 2 minutes with recovery between each one plus a nice warm up and cool down all along the San Francisco Bay trail.

Sure, speed intervals hurt (LIKE CRAZY), but the recovery time is some of the best bonding time available for friends.  H and I share things we'd never otherwise share simply because we don't have enough oxygen to know better.  We may err on the side of recovery, physically.  But, emotionally?  Psychologically?  It just feels like the right thing to do.

Once the intervals were done, I raced home, showered, finished some work, and crammed for Mandarin night.  I had to review my last two lessons and ensure that I hadn't lost too much vocabulary since my last lesson (always a danger).

Upon arrival, LittleL clapped with joy when he saw me and ran up to give me a high 5. He was so excited to see me since the last time (likely a month or so ago) he couldn't stop dancing around.  A few minutes later, we high-fived all the way to 70.  How fun!

Add in a delicious night of perfectly spiced yidali miàn (Spaghetti) with niúròu (Beef Sauce) prepared by HotMamaL before and after an awesome Mandarin lesson night with my 2 teachers and good friends, plus giving voice to the travel plans for China in 2013 that are in the process of solidifying?

I'm feeling down-right well-balanced.

(Thirteen work todos? Shmirteen.  Please.)

April 23, 2012

Fireside Chats

Our electricity went out on Saturday night.

We immediately stood up and walked into the street, wine glasses in hand.

Very rarely do we hang out with our neighbors. We all live busy Silicon Valley lives. But, one of the great things about our neighborhood is that it has this unspoken rule that when the electricity goes out, we all walk into the street and catch up.

Sure enough, our pause for wine meant we were one of the later folks to join the crowd across the street. Beers were in hand and introductions were being made -- it was an instant social occasion.

As it became darker, one neighbor built a bonfire. I ran into our pitch-black house and, with the help of the mag light that we leave by the front door, easily found the marshmallows.

It's amazing how much the simple act of sharing marshmallows, fire, and the darkness can bond you to folks.

The fire (and marshmallows) attracted other neighbors like moths and we met new folks, caught up with others, and just generally enjoyed the change of pace and scenery. I called brother and left him a voicemail, telling him that I missed having him here to make us laugh around the neighbor's bonfire in the dark.

Sometimes, it's nice not to have the modern conveniences (especially when you know they are a bike ride away and the electricity comes back on in time for you to get ready for bed).

April 19, 2012


I didn't win the MegaMillions, but I'm still waiting to hear about 2 open contests:

1. Whether I got in to the New York Marathon

2. Whether Arvay and I won the Nenana Ice Classic.

I find out about the Marathon on April 23rd and the Ice Classic in the evening of April 25th.

Wish me luck!

April 16, 2012

Feeling Left Out

I've always been told that there's a feminine clock and that one day, I'd really, strongly, *want* nay *need* my own baby. It would appear that my clock is broken.

Pushing closer to 40 than 30, I have to admit that while I love my two nieces and one nephew, and, in fact, I love kids in small doses, I've never felt an honest longing for my own child.

Quite the opposite, in fact. I love the week I spend with my oldest niece each year (and I recognize how lucky I am that her parents let her visit us). But I relish my free time alone with my husband when she leaves.

I figure I'll arrange for 2-3 weeks per year for the family and friend kids we want to sponsor. Even if oldest niece decides we're not her gig as she gets older, I'll still be back-up babysitter and Auntie for other family and the local friends' kids we love and adore.

You'd think the time I spend with others' kids should trigger something, but I still don't yearn for my own child. Lately, though, I feel completely left out of the whole kid thing. Conversations turn the kid corner and they don't return. The obvious aloneness that I've chosen for myself hurts, so by some rights, I guess there is a building feeling of something for a kid.

Given my mother-in-law's offer to come to California and live near us for a year if we have a kid, coupled with all of my close friends' pregnancies, miscarriages, toddler dramas, etc, [OH AND THE REALITY THAT I AM PUSHING 40] -- I'm feeling strong pressure to get pregnant.

When I look at it, it's not the biological drive to propagate my genetics. I feel fairly confident that my siblings and cousins are bound to manage that one without my help.

And it's not that I actually want to be pregnant or raise a child.

Nope, this one is all about social ostracism.

And, as a female on the later side of child bearing age who is happily married, my husband's and my choice to not have children feels like I have intentionally chosen to be removed from a very important portion of the normal social dynamics of my cohort. Which, of course, sucks.

This weekend, at a wedding in Savannah (which with 28 weddings on Saturday, was essentially the stereotypical wedding capital of the U.S.), we were not the kids partying 'til 3 AM and unable to remember the night, but we were also not the families who left at 10 PM to remove their screeching babies or to relieve their babysitters.

We probably answered the "Do you have kids?" or "When are you having kids?" question at least 20 times. Usually to very confused faces.

As the majority of our friends start to enter the family phase of their lives, they want to share their experiences with others who are going through the same thing. This makes perfect sense.

I, too, would like to share my current experiences with others who are going through the same thing. The difference is, there really aren't very many people I know who are in my boat.

When I look at successful professional women, most of them have children as well. A majority of their professional conversations about being a woman are all about balancing their children with their career.

I can't deny that the miracle of life is a fascinating thing and the fact that women can have children is definitely one of the more cool things about being a woman. But, I'm also pretty sure having a kid because I feel left out is not a very good reason.

I'm putting this out there because, lately, I do feel the pressure of time with respect to getting pregnant. Not in the biological clock, "Oh my goodness, I might not be able to have a child which I desperately want" sense, but rather in the, "You are slowly losing your opportunity to be what the majority of society thinks is a true woman" sense.

I'm not sure what to think about that, but I do want to think it through while I still have time.

April 8, 2012

Over 4,000

As promised, IQ84 and REAMDE were on the reading list for this year.

The big surprise for me is that I put off the big books thinking they would slow me down and prohibit me from reaching my arbitrary goal of 30 books for last year.

This year, here were are, about 1/4 in, and I've cleared 12 books, including REAMDE and IQ84.

This puts me at 12/30 (for the historical book-based goal) or 4,164/9,000 for my page goal, with slightly less than 75% of the year to go.

Not bad on either scale.

Of course, IQ84 was on vacation and REAMDE has been an exercise in recovering from the close of the quarter which resulted in me altering my workout schedules so I could read during cardio. This was really only possible because I'm not training for anything.

In short, I'm impressed with where I am and have enjoyed this year's reading, but I doubt it's sustainable if I want to live my life on all axes.

That being said, REAMDE was awesomely distracting, entertaining, and worth the work-out re-alignment if you're looking for a great (long) book.

As my workout modifications suggest, it was one of the most addictive books I've read in ages. I substituted much more time on the recumbant bike and stairclimber than originally planned so I could turn these pages. This is no doubt due in part to the author's commitment to linguistics (if you just started studying Mandarin, this book has tantalizing bits to taunt you), and his commitment to the 2nd Amendment Gun-Nut Pacific Northwest culture, which I probably almost understand inherently due to my California 2nd-amendment-friendly family, but recently, experienced first hand during our 2011 tour of the Pacific Northwest (including Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming).

In other news, I'm ordering Stephenson's Baroque Cycle trilogy, soon.