Monthly Archives: January 2016

High Five for Friday!

Five truths with which I have recently made peace:

  1. I will never finish Infinite Jest.
  2. “I am too old for that sh*t” is a perfectly acceptable reason.
  3. I do not care what anyone (except Jason) thinks of my parenting choices.
  4. Ditto my book choices.
  5. I do not Feel the Bern.

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When I first heard about #DryJanuary last year, I rolled my eyes. Oh, boy. Like we need another ascetic competition, along the lines of swearing off gluten for non-medical reasons, or replacing white sugar with tears.

I have never understood people who consciously make a choice to do X, then complain incessantly about doing X. “I’m going to the gym! Sweating is horrible!” “I gave up cheese for Lent! I’m miserable!” If your frivolous choice actually leads to misery, MAKE A DIFFERENT CHOICE.


As you know, the last year has been particularly stressful, and by December I became concerned about my drinking. I looked forward to having a glass of wine in the evening – but was I too eager for it? I had a drink almost every night – was that too frequently? I wasn’t terribly concerned about the amount of alcohol I was drinking, but I was a little worried that it was becoming too habitual. When the clock struck 6, I was like Pavlov’s alcoholic dog.

This January, Jason and I decided to take a real break from drinking. I told exactly one person about it, because of the reasons set forth in paragraph 2 above. I thought it would be a good chance for me to evaluate my relationship with alcohol. Secretly, I also hoped to lose five pounds and sleep better at night.

It’s been almost three weeks. I haven’t lost a pound, and I’m not sleeping any better. My skin didn’t magically clear up, either. But on the plus side, I don’t think a single person noticed – even the kids were surprised when I told them this morning.

Not drinking has been surprisingly easy. In the evenings I fix a tonic water with lime, or a cup of tea, just to get a break from water (which I drink all day). I was never really tempted to swan-dive off the wagon, and all our alcohol stayed in plain sight. I didn’t have a problem attending events where other people were drinking.

To celebrate our temporary sobriety, we re-did our wet bar last weekend.

When we bought our house, we envisioned using the sunroom as a place for the kids to hang out. But now, nearly five years after moving in, we’ve decided to repurpose the room as an office/creative space for Jason and me. And nothing says “work” or “crafts” like an awesome wet bar.

This is what the area looked like when we bought the house:


And in October 2015:


It was a functional space, but it didn’t thrill us. Here’s why:

  2. Cheap peeling laminate counter top.
  3. The upper cabinet was off-center and seemed like an afterthought.

We decided to paint the lower cabinet, fabricate a new counter top, and replace the upper cabinet with open shelves. Oh, and not spend a lot of dollars doing it.

We think it turned out fantastic.


First, we primed the cabinet box, drawer fronts and doors with Zinsser’s Cover Stain Primer, then painted them a pale blue-green we already had on hand. Jason constructed the counter top out of 1×4 boards, glued with construction adhesive to a thin sheet of plywood. The counter top is edged in 1×2 boards.


The upper shelves are 1×12 boards, and we made shelf supports out of plumbing supplies – 1/2″ flanges, 1/2 x 12 pipe nipples, and 1/2 caps. Each one is screwed into a stud for maximum stability and capacity.


We stained all the wood with some Bombay Mahogany left over from our bed, but I tried a new technique. I wanted the wood to look somewhat aged and distressed, without looking like something I just pulled out of a dumpster. Jason brushed the stain on, and I counted to five and wiped it off. Perfect. We sealed the shelves with one coat of satin-finish polyurethane, and put about five coats on the counter top.

I love the way the paint, wood, and brick go together:


This project cost right around $230. The priciest bit was the materials for the shelf supports – each one was $14, and we used eight. However, I could not find anything similar for less money online, and I adore the way they turned out.

I think we’ll be putting an end to our dry January in the next few days. I am relieved that it was such a non-event.


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Looking Back, Looking Forward

2015 was the most difficult year of my life.

That’s saying something. It’s been harder than the year my father died. It’s been harder than the year I got divorced. It’s been harder than the year our house burned up and Jason lost his job. 

I feel like I have had to be the bad guy most of this year. Tyler has struggled mightily with personal responsibility this semester, and our relationship is somewhat strained. I love him, but some days I find it hard to like him.

My mother tells me Tyler behaves this way because “he comes from a broken home.”

Which brings me to my mother.

I became her primary caregiver in May, and I’ve been her crutch and punching bag since then. She has never been a warm and fuzzy person, especially where I am concerned. She is intensely, weirdly secretive. The first thing she said when she found out she had a brain tumor was, “Don’t tell anyone.” 

She is angry about her situation, understandably so, but in her mind it’s my fault. I forced her from her home, I took away her checkbook, I destroyed her independence. She lashes out at me; she accuses me of stealing from her. She starts almost every phone call with, “Do you have my wallet?” She says I am throwing my brother to the wolves, because I put him on an allowance instead of continuing to let him live off of her. I’m the bad guy.

Because she was so private, learning to manage her household has involved an almost-vertical learning curve. I just now feel like I have a handle on it, and yet every week seems to bring some new minor emergency. 

To sum up, 2015 has left me emotionally exhausted and cranky as hell. 

2016 has to be better. Right? Let’s look forward.

My resolution for 2016 is to be more appreciative, and to demonstrate that appreciation. A small example occurred a couple of weeks ago, when a neighbor up the street repainted their front door an awesome shade of teal. I wrote them a note applauding their bold color choice and left it in their mailbox. It was such a simple thing to do. Last week I congratulated a woman at Publix for constructing a particularly delicious-looking custom sub. It seems silly and small, but over the last seven months the simple, small, silly kindnesses have made the biggest positive impact in my life. 

Happy New Year.


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