How Not to Strip Wallpaper: Part One

A picture is worth 800 words, but I’ll do the words anyway.

Trepidation. Never used a wallpaper-steamer-offer machine. Trek to truly valuable hardware store to rent one. What emerges from the back is incomprehensible and unclean. Sorry. Head to Big Box Chain home store. Rent cleaner machine. Nice guy at paint department finds little tool to “score” wallpaper first. Warns against pushing too hard, resulting in little pinpricks all over wall. Ha, these walls are plaster, no worries.

Haul machine upstairs. You should have filled machine with hose outside on porch first, but that would make machine too heavy to haul. Review instructions. Main point: don’t burn yourself.  Got it.

Attempt to fill machine using round plastic container retained from grocery store soup purchase, to fill machine. Filled floor instead. Move machine from puddle. Wipe up.

Deploy long-nosed watering can to fill machine. After six or eight fills and pours, screw top back on. Tight enough? Do not over tighten? Plug in. Wait. Fill time by “scoring” walls with pinprick thingee.

Twenty minutes. Shouldn’t steam be coming out of the rod in the middle of the plastic rectangle paddle thingee you’re supposed to put against the wallpaper? Examine plastic hose. Identify severe kink. Attempt to unkink. Ow! Hot! DON’T BURN YOURSELF. Obtain small towel from hall closet to use as hot pad. Hose reluctant to unkink and uncurl. Drape portion of hose over door handle to maintain unkink-ness. Observe that to keep reluctant hose over door handle requires hose to wrap around step ladder. Addendum to “don’t burn yourself:” “don’t trip over hose and fall off step ladder.” Got it.

Steam now schvitzing vigorously. Steam one section while scraping another.  Instructions say ten seconds.  First try, not long enough to make paper scrape off easily.  Repeat.  Hold, steam, scrape. Discover optimum time to hold paddle against wall about three-quarters of the way around the room, after realizing that holding it too long causes vinyl patterned part of paper to scrape off easily, while leaving behind a brown mush of paper backing that smears, doesn’t scrape, all over three-quarters of the room.

Hey, suddenly easier? Drywall, covering an inset for a long-removed medicine cabinet. What are those little pinpricks? Oh. Oh, right. Don’t press too hard with pinprick-roller-scoring tool thingee. Got it. Next bathroom, all drywall. Remember to be gentle. Scrape, scrape, scrape.

Hey, stop biting my ankle, bug! Wait, not an insect – hot plastic hose between your feet that you are not to trip on is burning your ankle that you were to remember not to burn. Readjust hose. Steam, scrape. Steam, scrape. Made it all around.

Observe mess.  Scoop up paper and mush. Place in garbage bag you remembered to bring upstairs for that purpose. Clever you! Step back and observe. Hmm.

Decide that remaining bits of mush on the wall will lend the textured, antique ambiance of a Tuscan villa when painted over with ivory color.  Walls need to dry before paint. Lunch break.

Paint. Hard to reach corner. Ivory paint smear, white ceiling. Charm. Mushy paper bits come off when painted.  Leave some anyway. Texture.

Paint must dry. Use time to assemble clever over-toilet standing cabinet, purchased for the express purpose of not having to drill into plaster wall.

Damn, this thing is rickety, how is it ever going to stand on its own over toilet?  Consult instructions. Discover cabinet must be anchored to wall with supplied brackets. GRRRR.  Set assembled cabinet with brackets attached over toilet. Realize that wainscotting and baseboard make it impossible to get cabinet flush to the wall to anchor. Cabinet is also so low to toilet that if repair inside tank is necessary, unit that can’t be screwed to the wall anyway would have to be UNSCREWED FROM THE WALL. WHAT IDIOT DESIGNED THIS THING? DO YOU MEAN TO TELL ME I JUST SPENT FOUR HOURS OF A GORGEOUS AFTERNOON ASSEMBLING THIS RICKETY PIECE OF SHIT AND NOW I WON’T HAVE TIME TO STEAM THE DOWNSTAIRS BATHROOM AND I’LL HAVE TO BUY A DIFFERENT CABINET TO DRILL INTO THE WALL ANYWAY AND PAY TO RENT THE MACHINE A SECOND TIME??? SHIIIIIIIIIT!

“Mom, are you ok?”

“I’m fine, sweetheart. Want to go shopping?”

Retrieve packaging, including box and mass quantities of styrofoam from recycling bins. Pile these and rickety piece of shit debris into Subaru. Proceed to bedroom-bathroom store. Pile all into cart from cart corral and march to returns desk, prepared for battle.

No battle necessary. Nice lady at bedroom bathroom store sees the problem. Refund.

Proceed to other Big Box Home store, to pick up replacement cabinet that will have to be drilled into wall. Note that store is immaculate, even in aisles with bales of hay. Resolve to apply for job here, ASAP.

Composing Part Two of bathroom cabinet saga and heading off to job apply, I remain,

Your getting-sick-of-do-it-yourself-jobs-but-pleased-enough-with-results-to-carry-on,

Ridiculouswoman

Floor Games

I can lose three pounds in ten seconds playing floor games.

I can gain or lose three pounds within ten seconds. All I have to do is move the scale to a different spot on the bathroom floor. Then, of course, instead of taking the average of the various results, I elect to believe the lowest of whatever numbers come up. Because that must be the correct result.

I had the unprecedented experience recently of having the doctor’s office scale match the lowest of my floor-game results. Doctor’s office scales are evil, sentient beings that know exactly how many pounds to add to your morning result to knock the wind out of your sails and send you directly to the ice cream aisle. But this time, its battery was dying and it just didn’t have the energy to lie. So that locks in my theory that no matter how often I have to move that scale around, and wait ten seconds before I get back on it, the lowest number it comes up with will be the correct one. Because it just is, OK? Is what I choose to believe.

Which is ridiculous anyway, because even though I’ve been working my ass off with eight pound dumbbells and have gone from “are you f..ing kidding me?” to “yes, Amy, I can do that plank, row, twist and raise that (5 lb, in this case) dumbbell up toward the ceiling, and repeat six or eight time on each side,” I HAVE BEEN LOSING AND REGAINING THE SAME THREE POUNDS FOR TWELVE WEEKS.

At this stage the only reason to get on the scale at all is to make sure I’m not gaining weight (any more than that damn three pounds, which is the top end of the 24 I gained back stuffing my face with chocolate in a fit of depression over Easter). But hey, I got all jolly when I turned sixty and decided that I wasn’t going to worry about this anymore, right?

I take it back. I care. I have clothes I love that fit but don’t look as good as they used to. I have jeans I adore and I still think that for a woman my age my ass looks pretty fine (if you are an appreciator of the larger, rounder variety) in them, but they’re wearing out and predictably I can’t find my size in the same brand anywhere (what’s so hard about making jeans short enough for a five-foot-tall woman, I ask you?)

And I miss male companionship, which is apparently awarded only to the slender and the young. Or “the lucky and the strong” (from the song, “The Rose“), I guess.  I’m strong, but not lucky in the sense of “getting.” You know what I mean. Bah!

I’m on a roll with my writing, at least insofar as I have now actually submitted two pieces to lit mags and I’m saving new opportunities daily on Submittable. But that means planting my butt on a chair in front of my laptop for several hours at a time and it seems there is no amount of deprivation or water guzzling or sweating-with-dumbbells or primal-meat-gorging that can counteract the effect of the sedentary arts. ARGH!

My hair is growing out because I can’t afford a haircut. It’s all I can do to get one job application submitted a day while also trying to write something to submit on Submittable while also trying to give at least some attention to Angelic Daughter. I have three minutes left to write before the moment I promised her we’d go out to get her some tacos before I have to go to my three-hour chorus rehearsal.

I guess I can try tweaking the hours of my “window,” which is the eight hours out of twenty-four the intermittent fasting folks say you can eat. My brother has taken this to ridiculous extremes, fasting for 36 hours at a time, TWICE A WEEK. He is disappearing.

There will be treats at rehearsal. It is very likely I will consume some, unless I can find some primal meat to gorge on before I leave. Nothing like a meat-breather next to you in a tightly packed chorus of over 100 singers. Note to self: brush teeth and gargle before rehearsal. I think there’s some shrimp in the freezer I could boil. Doesn’t seem quite primal enough but it will have to do.

Tomorrow more Kondo-ing in the house to find crap forgotten treasures I can sell on eBay or Facebook or at Half Price Books. Workout, shower, write something and then sally forth to face down the evil doctor’s office scale again (the scale is evil, the doctor is really nice). Routine, cautionary look-see, no worries.

After that, plan Fall Excursion, subsidized by Kondo-ing sales, I hope. Until then, I remain,

Your running out of shrimp boiling time,

Ridiculouswoman