Monday, December 21, 2009

You can do it. We can help... you load it into your car, at least.

OK, this just in, in case you weren't aware. It is now a mere FIVE DAYS until Christmas. I'm not exactly sure how that happened, but I remain convinced that my house is riddled with worm holes or some such thing. Frequent stumbles into time warps are the only explanation for what on earth happened to large chunks of 2009. On a related note, it seems the Internet does not stop just because I'm too busy working, making Christmas treats, or obsessing about bathroom tile. No, I just clicked over to Bloglines for the first time in over a week, and the rest of you have still been busy writing away... It reminds me of that episode of Growing Pains where Mike stayed home from school for a day and had a really obvious epiphany that the programming on television goes on even when he turns the set off, and the day at school went on as normal even though he was not there. It's an obscure reference, I realize, but the Internet taught me that I'm not the only one who thinks of Tom Hanks as Elyse Keaton's alcoholic brother every time I use vanilla extract, so you never know, I guess. Incidentally, I also think of Mike Seaver seeing his dead relative jogging through the kitchen in the middle of the night every time I need to buy buttermilk. (Anyone? No? Moving on then.) My point is I will catch up eventually. I have very little planned socially in the week following Christmas, so I suspect it will be me cozied up with the Internet for at least a few nights there. See you then.

So. What have I been up to lately? Well, I successfully finished on time all but two of the hand-made gifts I'd planned for friends this Christmas. Here are three of them, modeled by their lovely recipients last night.

That picture was taken at my pal Lisa's Christmas party, for which she promised prizes in various holiday spirit categories, much like the Ugly Sweater parties that have become so popular in recent years. Lisa added a similar challenge to the Evite for her last Christmas party, in 2007, and several attendees stepped up to the plate. If you're the sort of person who somehow manages to remember everything I write, perhaps that rings a bell. If not, again, here is the photographic evidence from that event. Me in a ridiculous outfit? Check. But alone in the ridiculousness? Hardly.

Contestant panel

(I hate that picture of myself, by the way. Unfortunately, it's the only one I have that serves the purpose at hand.) 

This year, however? This year I was THE ONLY ONE TO PARTICIPATE. Apparently in two short years my friends have all gotten too busy or dignified for such nonsense. People, I was just following instructions. The invitation called for holiday flair, and I brought it. I planned ahead, even. I went to freaking eBay, and I bought these silly, festive tights from a shop that I'm pretty sure deals mostly in stripper wear and "I'm a sexy [insert any occupation or person-noun here]" supplies. I bought those tights, and I wore this ridiculous outfit, like I was bound directly for my part-time job at Santa's photo booth at the mall.


I wore that outfit, and I went to the party, and I was THE ONLY ONE not in normal Saturday night gathering attire. (No, red and white striped tights do not fall under the category of "Normal Saturday Night Gathering Attire" for me. Thanks for wondering, though.) It was not unlike the year in college when my friend Sarah had a Halloween party on November 1. It was a mere DAY after Halloween, which was presumably a very logical night for a Halloween party, given that it was a Friday, and Halloween itself did not fall on a weekend. And yet, when we went out to the bars, all the usual Friday night bar-goers in their usual Friday night outfits looked at us as confused and appalled as if we had walked in wearing Halloween costumes in the middle of May. I am prone to finding myself unknowingly inappropriately dressed and out of place, it seems. Perhaps that explains a lot. On the upside, obviously I won a prize last night, given that the competition was so slim. I now have two pretty new bottles of lovely-smelling hand soap to eventually use in my soon-to-be lovely remodeled bathroom. So there is that, anyway.

Speaking of my bathroom, I bought tile today! Lots of tile. So much tile that the helpful young man loading it into my car asked, "How far are you driving with this? I'm thinking maybe you should make two trips." It turns out it's not enough to know confidently that everything you're piling onto the wheeled flatbed cart will easily fit in your compact Saturn SL2. Apparently one needs to consider the total weight of what you're piling on the flatbed cart as well. And apparently a small bathroom's worth of wall and floor tile weighs significantly more than I anticipated, because as we loaded it up, my car was riding lower than if I'd had Gilbert Grape's mother and two clones of her riding in all my passenger seats. Live and learn. Load capacity matters. Who knew? (Well, most of you, I presume.)

Incidentally, can I just say, since I fear I mention companies by name only when I have an angry bone to pick with them (I'm looking at YOU, TCF Bank; you're still ON NOTICE, as our friend Stephen Colbert would say!!) that in my humble experience, the orange-aproned personnel at Home Depot have been a bit unfairly maligned? Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the Home Depot off Johnson in Minneapolis is a rare bastion of friendliness in an otherwise cold, cruel, orange-aproned world. Still. I have never gone there and not had at least two employees ask me, in a strangely sincere and earnest tone, if there was anything they could help me figure out or find. True, half the time it is a male employee who is hovering precariously on the delicate line between congenial customer service and creepy, inappropriate and awkward flirting. But today it was a 20-something woman who went above and beyond what I would ever expect an orange-aproned employee to do for me. She was the one who crawled into the cave of scaffolding to retrieve 13 packages of white ceramic subway tile for me, and she was the one to whom I first asked, "Do you think this is too much to try to haul in my car?" And instead of giving me a blank look that said, "Why are you asking me that? My job is to sell you the tile; how you get it home is your business," she replied, "What kind of car do you have? I could go Google the load capacity to find out..." Unfortunately, for once Google wasn't all-knowing, and the call she put out on her walkie-talkie ("Does anyone know the load capacity of a Saturn sedan?") didn't yield any solid answers either, and our seemingly sound math of "That's probably not more than 800 pounds of tile, and surely you could cart around four 200-pound humans without any worries" didn't exactly pan out, so I ended up leaving half my tile at the service counter and making a second trip to pick it up. But still! Helpful employees! At Home Depot! In this day and age! You may say it's a Christmas miracle, but I'm telling you, strangely it's somehow par for the course for me.

I would like to think that pleasant experiences like this bode well for the overall spirit of this project and serve as a sign that all will go fast and smooth, according to plan. I am sticking my fingers in my ears and saying "La-la-la, I can't hear you!" every time anyone tells me about their bathroom remodeling nightmares, because I am already dreading the period during which I'll be bathroom-less and I am possibly in denial, truly hoping that period will last for no longer than a week. The end result will be worth the inconvenience, and perhaps living like a resident of a third-world country will be a valuable, humbling experience for me. The baby Jesus didn't have a shower either, did he, but did that stop him from carrying out his duties as Son of Man? It's been a while since Catholic school, but I'm gonna say no.


NGS said...

1) Those tights are regular Saturday night wear for me. But I have a sock thing.

2) I have never had anything but bad luck with that EXACT same Home Depot and their nonexistent "help." Maybe I need you to come with me for all my home repair buying?

3) I don't get the Growing Pains reference, but I just gotta say, as long as we keep on givin' we can take anything that comes our way.

nancypearlwannabe said...

Okay, Home Depot is on my list of stores that I only enter if in extreme dire need because every time I do it's like a customer service nightmare. Compounded with the fact that I have no idea where anything is or how to use any of it and it becomes my worst nightmare pretty quickly.

But! Yay for a new bathroom!

lizgwiz said...

I did once have a very helpful orange-aproned employee cut some plywood into strips for me. But I think she was a lesbian who thought I was cute. And, for the record, I will flirt with anyone if it gets my wood cut correctly. (Hee.)

That whole "living without a functional bathroom" is what's keeping me from suggesting to my landlord that it might be time to retile the shower. Grr.

Jess said...

I just hope that instead of being embarrassed, you were PROUD of your outfit. Because... well, just LOOK at it. You SHOULD be proud.

Allie said...

Oh wow. I got ALL of those TV references (although, I think maybe it was Alex P. Keaton with the buttermilk). And I totally think of drunk uncle Tom Hanks every time I use vanilla extract too. Seriously!

I will keep my mouth shut about our bathroom, okay? :)

courtney said...

Oh no! What are you going to do without a bathroom? Go outside? Use a bucket? Run to the neighbor's house? I MUST KNOW.

Stefanie said...

NGS--What would we do, baby, without us? (Wait. That's Family Ties. Eh.)

NPW--I didn't say I knew how to use most of what's in that store. I'm entirely out of my element much of the time. Maybe I look like it, and that's why the orange aprons are so eager to help.

Liz--Or anyone who'll show you his ferret? Hee.

Jess--Thank you. I did feel ridiculous, but I just had to keep reminding myself that *I* was the one who followed instructions! :-)

Allie--Nope, it's definitely Mike Seaver I'm thinking of. Maybe there was a buttermilk incident on Family Ties too?? Look how awesome the Internet is, though. Here is the full script of the episode with the buttermilk:
I LOVE that you got the TV references, though. So glad I'm not the only one storing useless trivia like that seemingly indefinitely.

Courtney--I'm hoping the toilet will remain in place and usable for the majority of the project, and I can go shower at friends' houses or the gym. If it turns out it's completely uninhabitable here after all, I'll pack a bag and stay elsewhere. I've got options. :-) Let's hope none of those options is a bucket!

flurrious said...

You do look like one of Santa's helpers! I was going to say I can't believe no one else dressed up, but I would probably not dress up either, so there's no reason for me to be surprised.

Since you have a friend doing your bathroom instead of a contractor/stranger, it will probably get done on time. If you hire someone, they won't finish on time even if they can. I think it's some sort of unholy agreement among home improvement people.

At any rate, Merry Christmas! Hope you got to shower this morning!