Friday, July 22, 2011
Home Remodeling Part 2: In which Laraine lauds the work of professionals
More than a few times, when I tell people I'm a writer or a writing teacher, I'll hear "I always wanted to write a book," or "I'm going to take a few weeks off work and write my story," or some semblance of that comment. I usually smile, but I'm gritting my teeth inside. Not because they want to write or tell their stories, but because they don't understand that there's a serious amount of work, craft, skill, and talent involved in writing. Yes, you might can sit down and write 10,000 words in a weekend, but that's not where it ends. That's not even close to the end. I say it every semester: You've got to respect the art. Respect the writing.
This is true with home improvement projects as well. Yes, Home Depot has the same supplies as the professionals. Yes, I can buy them cheaper there. Yes, I can watch a few do-it-yourself videos on YouTube and think that I am certainly capable of doing that. But the wealth of what I don't know because it's not what I do is stunning. This home improvement project had a variety of problems that aren't apparently uncommon, but would have stopped me from finishing, or at least finishing correctly. I will spend years on a manuscript, but not a hands-on project. We've all got our gifts. Acceptance is part of maturity. Ha.
Here's just a few of the things I learned during Professional Home Improvement Week.
1) Holes in the drywall. Professionals can patch walls and have them not look like wadded up tissue paper.
2) Strange wires that go nowhere. Professionals know how to cut them and not electrocute themselves or burn the house down.
3) Floors that are not level and would cause the new laminate flooring to crack. I would not have known that would be a problem, would not have known how to even measure it, and certainly would not have known how to fix it. Professionals mix things in big buckets, pour them onto floors and whistle. They have this big metal thing called a level that they place on the floor to check. Hmm.
4) Water damage to the bathroom ceiling from a roof leak three years ago. See # 1.
5) Masking and edging when painting. It's one thing to paint a wall a solid color. It's another thing to edge it. I lose patience. Good is good enough. I get tired, frustrated, and usually have the wrong kind of paint. Professionals know how to edge. They know what kind of paint to buy. They are not deterred.
6) Drywall that has come away from the stairs leaving gaps in the wall that the carpet won't fill. See #1.
7) Quartz crystals growing in my concrete floor in the kitchen. Did you know that quartz grows? Did you know that if quartz is in cement (it's not supposed to be) it will, over time, grow and crack your floor. Professionals know this, and are not fazed. They dig it out, sand it down, fill it in and finish laying your floor while you watch television. And oh yeah, they whistle.
8) Ladders. Simple. Professionals have the right ladders. And they're not afraid to step on them.
9) Fretsaws. Circle saws. Scary power saws on tables that make sparks when they cut through your floors. Yep. Pros have these. They even have the goggles.
10) Math. OK, I could probably have learned how to do the math at one point, but my math-window has closed. Pros. They can do math. And guess what. When you're calculating gallons of paint and how to cut the laminate so it all gets used and fits in the house, you're using math. And it matters.
11) Wallpaper from many decades ago that has apparently woven itself into the drywall. This delightfully patterned wallpaper was located behind a bathroom mirror we took down so we can put up new vanities when they're done. There may not be an app for this, but there's a chemical for it, and professionals have it.
12) "Hey, Laraine!" shouts the painter. "Come look at this." Never. Ever. What. You. Want. To. Hear. "For some reason, you don't actually have a wall here. Just a few pieces of cardboard." We're looking at the 'wall' where the awful paneling used to be. "You want we should make this a wall?"
Yes, you beautiful beautiful people. I want we should make this a wall.