Dumpsters Filled: Two
Trash: Endless
Plaster: Also Endless
Wiring Run: Infinite
Plague Furniture Removed: Three
Parlor Organs Dismembered: One
Hours Worked: What Is the Meaning of Time Anyhow?
Exhaustion: Perpetual
Progress: Made

These last few months have been a slowly-accelerating slide into blurry mania. All my markers of time: prayer at the beginning of each work day, the blessing every time I enter the house, the meticulously-kept time sheet, the blog posts at the end of the day; smeared away into smudgy recollections of endless trash bags and wiring, sore muscles, needy children, short nights of sleep; and constant renegotiation with myself about when I’d *finally* be able to stop.

There are a few scenes that shine for me from the foggy rubble of these last few month’s memory:

First: I rather thought demo was that Thing You Did With SledgeHammers While Nordic Heavy Metal Plays Loudly in the Background, but if you’d like a house to enjoy after your demolition, it has required a combination of crowbars, screwdrivers, reciprocating saws, with some judiciously deployed profanity and subsequent grunts of triumph when your foe (foe, thy name is over-excellently installed Kitchen Cabinetry) comes tumbling to the ground.

Second: My declining mental capacities were almost certainly the greatest ongoing threat to this project and my sanity I’ve dropped my letter grade from B+ to C- in my electrical tutelage, frequently outright missing verbal directions, making stupid mistakes, and learning things at a pace that I often find tremendously frustrating, as it feels like my brain is wading through deep sludge.

I kept losing things: my earbuds, my best hammer (I’m now down to one small, largely symbolic around-the-house hammer, which makes a demure “tink tink” every time I slam it onto a nail), multiple masks multiple times (they keep turning up and disappearing), writing implements, and one glove, which apparently I had absent mindedly mowed and now lies in a tattered ruin at the bottom of my truck.

It’s all made doubly difficult by the fact that I’ve never done ANY of this EVER before; and so I have no vaguely remembered, demi-internalized skills from when I was twelve , no frame of reference from which to deduce correct decisions, and therefore labor under the constant feeling that I’m about to make a Stupid Mistake (which I quite frequently am.)

That, combined with my grandmother passing, the world’s news, our government’s aggressively idiotic response to this pandemic, and I’m pretty sure that it’s a miracle that I could still put on my shoes in the morning and get to work without an accident (although there was a near miss with a tree last month, when I briefly drifted off into daydream land on my way home. Sorry mom!)

Third: And yet somehow, rather in spite of me, and through the offices of Best Friend Ever John Flint, who, despite being the least morning person I’ve ever met, has dragged himself out of bed at ungodly hours to help me, Electric Sensei Kim, Specs, Polly, Alden and Olivia (known as our Island Family), Dave Campbell’s bushog, our future next door neighbors who gave us their old washer, Jonathan and Ehrhardt, who helped demolish a filthy plastered room, and the other people who I’m definitely forgetting, we’re making it.

The basement is cleaned out and has been bleached twice. John is in the cabin, if your given value of “in” does not involve drinkable water, a workable stove, or a thunderstorm-proof roof (all of which should get fixed momentarily.) We’ve filled TWO huge dumpsters to the brim and then some. The lawn is mowed. The most disgusting rooms in the house have been gutted to the studs, and the parlor organ, generational home to a truly staggering number of mice, has been dismembered with a reciprocating saw and sent to its eternal rest.

Do I feel triumphant? Honestly, not really. Triumph is a feeling that belongs only to the energetic. We’re resting at my parents’ house for a couple weeks (after proper quarantining and whatnot), and the days have been defined by sleeping and, well, sleeping.

I do, however, feel relieved. Almost all of the most time sensitive items have been taken care of. The hump, (or at least A hump) has been gotten over. The house project can hopefully now take on reasonable proportions rather than That Monster That Eats Up All My Time Because I’m Paying For That Damn Dumpster Just to Lie There and John Will Soon Have to Live in A Tent.

This is good, because, of course, it never stops. Soon we will be home; where the daycare is still closed, where I now have a new job, and where our island still needs careful love and tending (a task which my utterly heroic wife has been engaged in since this all began.)

Hopefully, this next season will be, if not easy, at least a little less frenetic.

And involve less trash.


  1. Loved reading this, Ben! Get some well deserved rest and give my love to your parents!

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