Friday, March 11, 2011

Homo habilis robinicus - Part I

I have long wanted to be one of those capable people who could assess a situation, ask for a Phillips screwdriver, a bucket of propwash, and a left-handed Fallopian tube, set to work, and put everything to rights.  I have wanted this ability not just to impress my fellow humans ("Look, guys! Opposable thumbs work!") but because a practical ability - any practical ability stood a 100% chance of making my life better.

Except, I keep forgetting: this is me we're talking about.

The project at hand is one that has been waiting for completion for at least one calendar year. You see, not quite a year and a half ago, I moved in with my parents - primarily to help take care of my dad, whose health is fragile, and secondarily to get caught up economically. I do have a bedroom to call my own, but the hundred square foot room has certain drawbacks. The first of which is that it's only one hundred square feet.

So I painted it green. Doesn't change the size, but it's certainly a nice departure from "cheap apartment white" and the icky floral border at the top of the wall. I also put a new doorknob on my bedroom door - quite swank if I do say so myself. Satin brushed nickel in something of a art nouveau design. Emboldened by my success - there had been no trips to the ER, no leftover parts, and no police stopping by the house to make sure everything was okay - I considered another project.

The closet!

It had stood there, a tiny, pathetic space, with the same sad plank shelf and wooden dowel hanging rod it had started life with some 25 years ago. Sad. Very sad. It was also stuffed to the gills, I couldn't find anything I needed, and the doors were yucky. I hated the doors. They had to die.

So, from my yearly tax refund, I bought a name brand "closet organizing system". I took down the yucky doors and carried them to their doom like a cheerfully rampaging Viking. I took a hammer and beat the bejeezus out of the plank shelf and knocked it out. The hanging rod took but a moment longer. Hmmm, demolition is fun, I thought. Who knew? Well, guys in the construction industry know, and I'll just bet they've been keeping it secret. Get paid to break stuff with hammers? Oh, yeah. If I were in on it, I'd keep it a secret.

I should have taken pictures of the whole process, but there are three problems:
  1. I never remember.
  2. I'm always by myself doing this stuff.
  3. I never realize just how cool what I'm doing is until it's too late.
So, no pics, but in the course of two days, I installed the name brand "closet organizing system", and joy of joys, rapture of rapture, all my stuff fit into it.

Except, now, I had no closet doors.

It took me a few more weeks, but I did buy actual closet doors. The louvered bifold kind that I so much prefer. I even bought cute little brushed satin almost art nouveau style round handles to go on them. I even painted the doors with a shade of white that matched the green the rest of the room had become. I went so far as to bring the doors up to my room and prop them beside the closet.

Where they stayed for an entire year. A year that saw the arrival of a new puppy, the purchase of a new mattress, and the death of an old kitty. They stayed in that spot for so long, when I finally moved them today, they pulled up little spots of paint from the wall where they made contact. I guess I should be glad that I saved my green paint.

So . . . doors placed across the bed. What next?

And here's where I begin to run into issues. There were, by the way, plenty of issues with the room painting and the installation of the "closet organization system". It's just, that was long enough ago, that the details have blurred to a pleasant background memory of "I solved problems! I am handy!".

First, being one of the adult poster children for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - Predominantly Inattentive, my life can be summed up in two phrases: "What was that?" and "Let's go!". During the "Let's Go" phase, little practicalities like planning, gathering supplies, and plotting out the order of events tend to go out the window.

Second, I no longer live by myself or even in a house where I can do stuff like start a home improvement project with no one noticing. This house is small. The framing is wimpy, the insulation is nonexistent, and my father - stone deaf under most social circumstances - can hear me scratch my ankle when he's downstairs and my bedroom door is closed.

But, Dad was out for lunch, so start I could. And what better place to start than to put the way cool satin brushed art nouveau style nickel handles on the doors. Even though the instructions for the doors said that was something like (checking bag) Step 6. Of course, the instructions also said that there were pre-drilled holes for the handles, but those hadn't survived the painting even if they had existed, and the handles the manufacturer sent were extraordinarily gacky.

So, the doors are lying across my bed. They are covered in dust and dust bunnies. Hmmm.

Get a cloth - NO, a microfiber cloth - to clean them off. Hmm, the tracks are dirty too. Never mind that they're at least three hours from being handled, clean them too. Handles? Handles . . . where are the handles? Oh, my gosh, I found them in a logical place - in the closet on one of the shelves. My goodness, that "closet organization system" really is paying off!

What now?

Hmm. The screws that attach the handles are not pointy. Therefore, I cannot screw them directly into the door. I need to drill a hole for each screw. This means electrical hand tools! Muahahahahaha.

Trip downstairs to the garage to find my Dremel box that my brother gave me for Christmas several years after I swooned and drooled over one. I've used it perhaps six or seven times, but each use makes me a better human being. I am even able to locate the correct bit for drilling a proper hole. I am even able to remember how to loosen and tighten the chuck so that I can install the correct drill bit. I even remember that it's a chuck! I am Superior Handy Woman!

I stare at the doors. Hmmm. "Let's go!" screams my brain, but some weak semblance of a frontal lobe cautions me that just drilling holes into the door might be a bad idea. Perhaps . . . perhaps I should determine where the holes will go before I drill them.


I even, would you believe, use a measuring tape to determine the center of the midboard where the handles will go and mark it in pencil on both sides. I am a GODDESS!

I coordinate myself, the Dremel, the door, the marking, and begin to drill a hole for the handle screw. Hmmm. Not difficult at all. I just have to make sure that I go straight down at a 90 degree angle. The paint does not chip on entry, the wood carves away very easily. Aaaaand . . . what is that white puffy stuff coming out?

It's not paint. I'm already through the paint. It's not sawdust, as sawdust wouldn't float through the air in such a manner. Sure does smell nice though, and there's more of it. In fact it reminds me of throwing hickory chips on the barbe- uh, I think it's smoke.

Should my door be smoking while I'm drilling a hole in it? I'm pretty sure not, but I don't remember ever seeing this covered in This Old House. I blow the smoke away twice, figuring, hey, I'm almost through. Clearly, the friction of the bit carving through the wood has provided enough friction to cause a teensy eensy amount of combustion within the drill hole. Aaaaand now there's more smoke.

Hmmm. Friction . . . and by blowing away the smoke, I just provided it with more air. Really, all it needs to go "FWOOMF!" is a spark. But before I can worry further, I have drilled all the way through the wood. Woohoo! I turn the door over to inspect.

Hmmm, the wood on this side did chip a little when the drill bit emerged. I'm pretty sure they did cover that on This Old House but I can't remember what the fix was. Oh, and the hole is charred, and there's a bunch of burnt sawdust on my bed. Hmmm.

The worst part of this is, the "Let's Go!" part of my brain is doing a Beavis and Butthead chuckle and saying "That was cool! Fire! Heh! Let's do it again!" And I shrug and think "sure, why not." So I drill the hole on the other door. Yep. There's still smoke. It still smells like a really good barbecue fire, and the far side of the wood where the bit emerges is a bit crispy.

However! I did not officially set anything on fire. Smoldering does not count. So, I win this round.

I even got the handles screwed into place, and they look very nice.

Then Dad got home.

It's not that he thinks I'm incompetent or dangerous. I mean, he might, but he's never said it out loud. It's just that my projects have a tendency to make him nervous. Especially when I start making trips downstairs at eleven o'clock at night for Ziplocs, garbage bags, and thick gloves. Also, again, while stone deaf in social circumstances, he has preternaturally sharp hearing when he's trying to nap - which is what he's currently doing. I'm astonished he hasn't come up and asked me to stop typing so loudly.

So, I must pause, at least until the father is up and about again, and I can't stand it! I am in full "Let's Go!" mode. Sitting at the computer typing sometimes satisfied the "Let's Go!" part of my brain, but really, there are power tools available, and I have a year old project to finish. Typing barely holds a candle to that.

One thing I could do is repaint the patches the doors took off when I moved them. I could also paint the top of the closet doorway green, as it's still "cheap apartment white", because I could never figure out how to get the aluminum rail for the gacky doors off. It fell off on its own several months ago.

But . . . if I paint (which, admittedly, is usually a quiet activity), it will take time for the paint to dry before I could put the tracks for the doors up. Hours. Maybe even a day or more! Then what will I do?!

I supposed I could hang some pictures. It would involve wielding a hammer. It's not a power tool, but it gives me an excuse to use the stud finder and make my usual bad joke about it.

Decisions, decision, decisions.

1 comment:

  1. Nice!!! Have you thought about standup comeday??? We were just watching Ron White, and hey, this sounds a bit like him! :)