beer college reuions home remodeling mayhem in our absence

This Gives Me Even Greater License to Drink, Right?

I’m at my 20-year college reunion right now, so typing time is tight. I’ll simply say the beauty of attending such an event is this: I am assured I’m not the only one my age with a paunch and thinning hair. However, to my credit, and unlike many of my peers, I have not chosen to grow facial hair as a counterbalance to the loss of head-top hair.

In other news: the contractors working on the kitchen remodel have lost the plans–you know, the ones that were full of hand-written notes about small changes; as well, even though they filed for a building permit three weeks ago, it hasn’t come through yet, so they’ve been working without one now for two weeks. Any steps of the process that require inspection, such as some work on the heating pipes they did, cannot happen until the permit comes through; thus, progress has slowed. Also, the architect feels pretty sure the bathroom he designed is fine (we’re adding in a half-bath, too), but he’d feel even better if it were measured one more time…so in the interim, that means the cabinet-maker can’t start making the cabinets, as any change in bathroom size will affect cabinet size.

In short, the remodel, with its various derailments, seems right on track, ja?

And all of this means I should drink a whole lot of Surly Beer at the class of 1989’s social hour tonight, right?

Help me with my rationalizations here, people.

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home remodeling kitchen making the best sucking

Bread and Pez

As is the case with most households, we pretty much live in the kitchen. Food happens there, of course, but so do soul-baring, cross-word puzzling, game-playing, homework-doing, robot-building, friend-entertaining, and mind-numbing-boozing. We spend a good part of every day in that room; it is, quite clichedly, the heart of the house.

Yet our kitchen sucks big donkey dicks. Dark, dated, baneful, and nonsensical (what is that nutty little hallway that cuts a swathe through any sense of “flow”?), our kitchen is Suck packed into four walls, dusted with oil-drenched and groaning appliances, topped off with a cherry of dropped ceiling and atrocious light fixtures.

The kitchen is, essentially, made out of All Things Poo.

Literally, before people enter our house for the first time, I stop them in the foyer to apologize for the kitchen. I know they will want to shower after walking through it, and some may find they want to up their doses of anti-depressants.

Kitchen must die.

While we’ve been planning its ultimate demise for a few years now (awaiting an estate payout that would finance the remodel), we haven’t quite gotten around to an orchestrated euthanasia yet. In the absence of our taking action, Kitchen seems to be taking matters into her own, um, faux-granite counters. Kitchen is getting suicidal.

First, she started purposefully hemorrhaghing linoleum tiles, causing them to stick to the bottoms of our feet as we carried tea from stove-top to table. Trying to save her from herself, we peeled up the remaining linoleum, inasmuch as possible (a few tiles remain under the fridge and radiator, where they artfully catch marbles, barrettes, and fridge magnets, and generally look like masses of Poo holding marbles, barrettes, and magnets), and in the process, we discovered a lovely old hardwood floor that will one day be refinished.

Next, Kitchen hacked up a microwave door handle, snapping it off one day and leaving us with a wall-mounted (above the stove) microwave that could only be opened by inserting one’s fingernails into the slot between the body of the microwave and its door. With a tough, sometimes nail-damaging, yank, we could ease fraying tempers by warming up a comforting bowl of Campbell’s Dora the Explorer chicken noodle soup.

Sure, some people would cave and get a new microwave.

However, we are made of firmer stuff. We know full well that if we bought a new microwave, when we do finally remodel the joint some months down the line, we’d end up planning the entire remodel around “the microwave we bought last Fall” which, invariably, would fit nowhere and would clash with all desired color schemes. Our fingernails would just have to bear the brunt of our parsimoniousness.

But then, suddenly last week, Kitchen urged Microwave to take a stand. Microwave was no longer satisfied with the Handle Challenge. Nope. He wanted our complete attention. Taking a cue from his cousin, Fridge, he set his fan to moaning and grigging and whooping, until finally Groom was compelled to tape the thing shut with a long line of masking tape reading “Do Not Use.” Of course, since I’m the only other person in the house with the might to open the thing, I was pretty sure that obvious face-smacker of a message was personal.

With tit needing tat, I then taped a message across Groom’s nostrils reading, “Do Not Snore.” The masking tape approximates a Breathe Rite strip amazingly well.

Just a little FYI in the midst of all this DIY.

Anyhoodle, Kitchen’s health has clearly been spiraling downwards for some time. Kitchen is a wanker.

And yet.

Out of a downward spiral can come a flash of unexpected creativity and warmth. Just as Kitchen’s shenanigans edged us towards a broil, Groom realized we needed to embrace the demise. We hated the monstrosity that was the microwave, just as we’d hated the linoleum on the floor. So, hell, why not toss the beast out? Why not remove that strangely-placed kitchen accessory (it hung very low over the stovetop) and make it possible to actually stir a pot of stew this winter?

And as long as a few feet of wall were getting opened up there, why not toss a whimsical painting onto that space? In a few months, the room will get a full-body makeover, and anything we do know will be nullified, anyhow. So why not do it up?

After a family brainstorm of possible mini-murals…during which we gently rejected the kids’ rainbow- and Pokemon-inspired scenarios…this is what Groomeo pulled off with a few hours’ work:

Such a modified wall space lifts my heart everytime I enter the kitchen to dig another handful of chocolate chips out of the bag, and that’s frequently. It makes my spirits sing as I pour granola into my yogurt. It makes my eyes twinkle as I pull the cork out of the wine. More honestly, it makes my eyes twinkle as I unscrew the cap on the wine.

As I love up the new wallspace, I’m considering starting to hate other parts of the house, just so Groomeo can paint over them and create unexpected and capricious little scenes.

Come to think of it, I strongly dislike the bare plain that is our toilet seat. Wouldn’t it benefit from a picture of Pikachu lounging under a rainbow?

When fun idea meets with competent execution, any house project can become glamorous, ja?

Just look at what The Master and his Wee Niblet Apprentice cranked out a few weeks ago, with little more inspiration than the words, “Daddy, we should make a haunted house out of shoe boxes.”

I dig my “anything-is-possible” boys.

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home remodeling microderm abrasion Susan Lucci


My good friend Susan Lucci, having suffered an awe-inducing number of losses in the Daytime Emmys (okay, so she won once…just enough to keep her contract-renewal negotiations interesting) is multi-talented. Or perhaps she’s greedy. All I know is that, in recent years, she’s resorted to hawking a variety of beauty products to supplement her household’s soap-operatic coffers. Without her line of QVC hair products, I fear her children would never have been able to attend college. But still, despite her healthy cash flow, does she ever call and invite me to Tavern on the Green?

The bitch.

No matter what she’s pushing, though, Erica Kane Martin Brent Cudahy Chandler Roy Montgomery Montgomery Chandler Marick Marick Montgomery does it with great panache. She may be diminutive, but her passion–along with her big melon–fill the television screen and make viewers want to buy, buy, buy.

Indeed, whatever she’s selling, it is always






So you can imagine my goosebumps some weeks back when I was a privileged late-night viewer of her new infomercial for Youthful Essence, a ground-breaking micro-derm abrasion system, available to me, if I ordered within the next 20 minutes, for a single-installment payment of $39.95.

I sat, rapt, on the futon couch in front of my television. The children slept. My groom slept. But Susan, she is the star that twinkles through the night. If not for her ’round-the-clock efforts, I might never have known that there is layer-upon-layer of dead skin on my face, each deposit of misbegotten skin cells holding me back from greater life achievements. If only I would take the plunge and purchase the emminently-affordable and completely-painless system, my pores…and my soul…could undergo an envigorating sloughing that would open them to a wondrous new world, a brighter future.

In case I had my doubts, Susan also had a roundtable discussion with several of her closest friends (I’m pretty sure she left me a message, asking me to participate, too, but our answering machine went on the blink a few months ago, so I must have missed it). Former All My Children colleagues, themselves devotees of the the miraculous opportunities afforded by home microderm abrasion, were more than happy to sit with La Lucci and attest to the heretofore-unbeheld powers of small crystals (mined by intrepid elves) which, when applied to the face and decolletage no more than twice a week, can restore the skin to adolescent dewiness. I only wondered momentarily, therefore, why–if their skin looks so good–the camera lens for the infomercial had been rubbed with Vaseline, the lighting was gently and purposefully “atmospheric,” and they all had been Botoxed to the point that their foreheads could express no emotion. Could it be…might it have been..that the Youthful Essence didn’t completely change their outer (and therefore inner) selves?

Banish the thought. They all wore their spaghetti-strapped blouses with confidence and held their lacquered faces high. And of course their visible essences of youth were entirely attributable to this astonishing product, brought to them only through their association with the Size Zero bobblehead that is Ms. Lucci.

I was lucky that night, and not just because I stumbled across their enthusiastic testimonials. Nae, I was lucky because I got off without making a frantic phone call to 1-800-ROUGHUPMYSKINSOITLOOKSPERTY and tossing 40 bucks towards a new birkhin for Susan. Because I am fundamentally pragmatic, I took a moment to gaze into the mirror, as I headed towards the telephone, to check my need for exfoliation. Fortunately, doing this helped me remember that all the ice-coating salt that is poured onto the streets during the wintery months has, of late, been airborne in the gusty spring breezes, and so my skin has been sufficiently pelted and invigorated. I don’t look a day over 27 (+ 13).

The phone stayed in its cradle.

However, to imply that Susan’s vigorous endorsement of concerted renewal left me untouched would be misleading. All of Susan’s best work, from the time her character drove a forklift to her acceptance of her soap daughter’s sexual orientation as a lesbian, is inspirational (I work weekends in a warehouse now, moving pallets, and my seven-year-old Girl must grow up and love a woman, for I am spilling over with anticipatory tolerance).

Specifically, the inspiration I took from Youthful Essence was had nothing to do with my skin. Rather, it was this: it is time to peel back the layers of our 95-year-old house and return it to its original glow. To that end, last weekend saw several layers of linoleum lifted off the kitchen floor, a process that put our feet back on the very hardwood boards treaded by the house’s first pre-influenza, pre-World War I inhabitants:

And, in a slightly-more-toxic abrasion (but beauty is so worth the risk), we have started the laborious process of restoring the original woodwork. Check back with us in ten years to see how it has turned out:

So thank you, you Best Actress in a Daytime Drama winner, for reminding me of one of life’s greatest lessons: everything shines a little brighter once those pesky superficial layers are scrubbed into oblivion.

Just don’t tell the writers of your show, okay? Because then they might start aiming for genuine depth, and I just couldn’t bear it if I had to believe your next marriage might endure.

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