Day 4: Friday, September 24
I was asleep by nine last night, after two hours of audible yawns. It turns out that remodeling a kitchen, even when my only physical labor has been to peel back the painter’s tape and take a look, is exhausting. Or at least, living life around it is exhausting.
A feature of my back-on-campus life is that I have to leave early--before six a.m. early--to make the drive to Merced and greet my bleary-eyed 7:30 students. Since the dogs can’t be there during the remodel (other dogs, better behaved dogs, maybe your dogs could, but mine can’t), this means an in-the-dark doggie transfer two mornings a week. My mom, in the running for sainthood for sure, has been showing up at my house at 5:45, her little white Fit ghostly at the curb, and I meet her there with two leashed-up, sleepy-eyed terriers.
At the end of my work day, after checking in with the contractor at my house, I make the twenty-minute drive across town, where the pups are waiting for the trip in reverse, and then it’s back to the rustling painter’s plastic and the strange left-behind scents of workers who have eaten lunch on the patio.
And then, for an hour at least, the three of us do nothing but sit on the couch, dazed. Sometimes we do this while eating cheese.
My best feature, which is also probably my worst, is that I’m a very structured individual. I make lists with a type of devotion that can best be called religious (and worst, anal). I have not just a rough outline of what needs to be done, but I often write down time markers (7:15-start load of towels; 8:30-post office) and so my day unfolds. I AM PRECISELY THIS KIND OF FUN, BUT I CAN’T HELP IT. This kind of rigid scheduling for the boring-but-necessary bits allows the rest of my life to happen--the midweek birthday party for my husband, the tickets to a play on the weekend. I don’t like to scramble. I don’t like to dig through a pile of laundry at the last minute to find the pants I want to wear.
These habits, cultivated in childhood, mostly shelved in college, attended to haphazardly early in my teaching career, have become solidified during the pandemic, when I lived the same day, day after day, differentiated only by a few markers. Street sweeper on Tuesday. Trash pickup on Thursday. Groceries on Saturday.
I’ve tried, y’all. But I’m 45 now, and we may as well all acknowledge that I’m this person.
And so yesterday, after some gentle (?) urging, the contractor gave me a schedule that covers the work for the next eight weeks. Rough plumbing… rough electrical… inspection… and so on. I appreciate this schedule. I have it taped to the inside of the front door where it will not only be handy but also, hopefully, serve as a kind of talisman.
“Well, it won’t look like this for the entire eight weeks,” my husband said last night, a rare glum note creeping into his voice. We were looking at the temporary framing, the bare floor boards, the painter’s plastic rustling in the breeze from the air conditioner. (It’s September 24 but still 95 degrees, and with a hole cut in the ceiling, there’s not much to stop the hot air from seeping down.)
No, I thought. It won’t.
Because we have a schedule.
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Paula Treick DeBoard