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Mr. Fix-It

I was thinking that maybe today I will finally get around to screwing in that piece of drywall that has been sitting against the bare studs in the downstairs bathroom. I did not intend to let the task get away from me, but things have a way of piling up to the point where a person does not want to do them, even if they are minor things that only take a few minutes.  

I know where the screws are, and I think that they are the correct size for the job. It doesn’t matter if they’re a bit long, because there’s nothing behind those studs, just air, and it doesn’t matter if they are short, either. I don’t suspect either of us will be pulling on the drywall, trying to unseat it (can you imagine?). 

Eventually, we will sell this tiny house, and it will be up to the next person to figure out whether the drywall screws are the correct size. Fuck ‘em.

I haven’t wanted to run the drill during the day because you have been working late nights or going to the hospital, which leaves me alone. You are here, but I am still alone. You sleep endlessly, and while you are only unconscious for a normal number of hours (5-6), those are the hours when I am most capable of doing things like screwing in a piece of drywall that has been sitting against the bare studs in the downstairs bathroom for six months.

Last year, we bought this house, and we were not excited about it.

We looked at a half-dozen houses, the real estate agent preening about the laidback nature of the HOAs in the northern part of town or drawing our attention to the brand-new outlets that indicated that a particular home was move-in ready. 

“Look at this tuck pointing!” she said, and you asked me what tuck pointing was, and I shrugged and felt a little embarrassed because the real estate agent heard you. Then she explained it (and I still don’t really understand). 

Those homes were not for us. Not yet, anyway. We chose a semi-dilapidated house on the southern part of town that, in my overly ambitious estimation, was on the correct side of semi-dilapidated and capable of making us a quick buck. I would fix the home, and you would help when you could. You would work your nights, and we would be close to the hospital, which would be good for you and good for Julie. 

Is it clean enough, you asked. The doctor said… 

We’ll make it clean, is what I said. Cleaning is easy. Fixing walls is easy. What we’re going through, well, it isn’t easy, and some days I think that it’s harder for us than it is for her. I say that to myself, and it feels right, but I don’t know if it really is right. I can only speak from my own experience and sometimes it gets in the way.

For a few months, I think I did pretty well.

I did tile the bathroom like I said I would, even though I bought three separate tile cutters to get the job done. The first one was a piece of shit. It broke every single tile we fed through it. You blamed the tile I bought, but that tile wasn’t cheap — not like you said. And you gave up when the second tile cutter didn’t do any better, and you stopped helping, which was probably better for both of us.

I finally bought a wet saw and looked up videos online of people using it. They are all smiling people in nice houses that don’t really need new tiles. I pulled off each greasy piece of pull-and-stick laminate from our plywood floor, and I wondered whether I should put down some cement board, but then I looked at the clock and I heard Julie crying upstairs and I said fuck it, and I started laying down those tile. You came in and asked me if I had enough tile spacers. Yes, I said. Go see what she wants. 

She just wants more apple juice, but she can’t keep it down. 

I looked at the tile and I kept putting it down. It looks pretty good now, though I still need to seal it. And I replaced a few of the cabinets, enough of them for a functional kitchen. You’re embarrassed to have people over, but I keep telling you that they’ll understand. They’re unfinished, yes, but they don’t look that bad. They’re temporary. And shit, they hold the plates, don’t they? What else do we expect of our cabinets?

What about the office, you ask me, every time. Do they want you back yet.

The truth is (and I haven’t told you this) yes, they do want me back. They don’t need me, and I don’t really do much when I’m there. I didn’t do much before. I don’t think they know that, but they sure as hell aren’t looking over my shoulder now. 

When I do go in, once a month, I think I get more done than I used to get done all year. I just don’t like it anymore. Betty is always stopping by my desk and trying to talk about anything but that and it’s obvious what she’s doing, but I can’t tell her that. How would that even go? So we just talk about the house, because that’s what’s on my mind, and I just want to get back and start doing stuff. There’s so much to do.

I just need to get around to it.

I’m getting better about that. You should have seen the inside of that galvanized steel pipe I took out of the downstairs bathroom — I know you don’t want to look in it, I won’t make you — but the crud was so bad, it might explain the water pressure issue. I am going to put in the copper pipe to replace it. It’s just tough because I need to use a blowtorch to do it and I haven’t done that before. Fucking up is one thing, fucking up with fire seems a bit bigger.

You said it yourself, I am better at tearing things out than putting them together. Look at all of the rolls of carpet downstairs. That took weeks to pull out, and we found those wonderful hardwood floors hiding underneath the vomit-stained paisley prints. True, they’re not in the best condition, but clean them up, refinish them, and that should help the resale value. 

I also tore down that wall in the kitchen. It will be a nice, big, open space — you will be able to see right into the living room — I just need someone (cheap) to come in and tell me if I can take those studs down. They don’t look load-bearing. 

I know what you’re going to say, you don’t know what load-bearing looks like, I can hear you saying it. But the guy on YouTube explained that it’s just looking at the cross sections, seeing where the big boards are. That’s not hard. I’m pretty confident it’s fine, I just need someone to tell me for sure.

Here, I will say that I am sorry about the bedroom. I went overboard there. There was nothing wrong with the wall, and the ceiling probably could have been fixed, and — well, look, I didn’t know that the insulation gets everywhere when it drops down like that. Now I know, though, don’t I? Won’t make that mistake again. Not that I’ll be ripping out ceilings anytime soon, I learned my lesson.

The bedroom gets really hot now. I guess I don’t need to say that, but it’ll go back to normal when we get some drywall up. I really need my own truck. I’m sick of borrowing the neighbor’s F-150, and I think he’s sick of me borrowing it, too. 

Did we ever even figure out that guy’s name? It’s too late to ask, I probably drive his truck more than he does. Maybe you could invite your sister over (she’ll understand about the kitchen, I’m telling you) and I’ll introduce her to him and then he’ll have to say his name and we’ll know it, and I’ll write it down this time.

At least we don’t have much of a lawn to worry about.

I really think that our house has curb appeal. Don’t laugh, it does. Granted, that big window in the front needs to be replaced. I found a video that says it’s easier than you think, and after I get that wall up downstairs, I might take a hack at it. 

I’m sure I could at least get it out today, and then get the new one tomorrow. I’ll be committed to it this time, I know we can’t have a big open space where a window used to be. Although we could just put plastic sheeting in front of it — people do that. It doesn’t take much time to put up, obviously, and it actually insulates pretty well. Better than that shitty window, I’d bet.

How much do windows cost, do you thinky? I bet they’re more expensive than doors.I bet they’re easier to put in, though. The only reason I haven’t put the door back on the bathroom is that I think I’d fuck it up. I watched about six videos about putting a new frame on, and I’m almost ready to try it, but Jesus, there’s a lot of math involved. Not fun. Not that any of this is fun, but it needs to be done.

And I’ll do it, starting with the wall downstairs. The screws are down there, too. I just need to find the drill and that’ll be one more thing off the list. So I am sorry I don’t go with you to see her more but there’s a lot of stuff to do around here.

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