Quite a hump to get over.

This week, in a nutshell:

And it’s only Wednesday.

Dragging a little today, to be sure. Kate returned from spring break very very early this morning, having gotten a lesson in the downside of super-cheap travel: While the outbound legs — and it’s always legs, plural, never leg — are an adventure because whee we’re on vacation and it’s so cheap! the ride home is a four-legged bitch. Of course she got sick along the way, so I picked up her and her companion from the Greyhound station at 6 a.m. to drive them back to Ann Arbor. The ride home was Budapest > Reykjavik > Chicago > Detroit, the last leg via bus and with many many layover hours between the other ones. I just hope whatever she brought home isn’t TB or something, because she was coughing pitifully all the way. However, she remembered to pick up a bottle of her parents’ favorite Japanese whiskey in the duty-free in Iceland, so I’m counting that as a parenting win.

They liked the old world, even though they stayed in “the only hostel in Budapest that welcomes alcoholics,” she said, and I gather the atmosphere was a little…tiring. The proprietors and guests were imbibing full-time, another idea that seems fun at first and becomes less so when all you want is a nap.

I’ll get a fuller debrief when the throat misery dies down, I hope.

Meanwhile, I was sitting outside the Greyhound station before sunrise, snow falling, bogarting the taxi lane because there was only one taxi even going for it, listening to NPR and scrolling Twitter, when an old man rolled his suitcase into the station and up to a line of chairs. Beard, black coat, black hat. He took off the hat, revealing a yarmulke underneath so OK, Orthodox here. Then he opened one of his bags and removed a prayer shawl and his tefillin, wrapped the former around his shoulders and the latter around arm and forehead, and proceeded to daven into his morning prayers. I don’t know if he was embarking on a trip or if this was a regular stop in some sort of quasi-missionary work or what, only that it was an odd sight to see on a cold morning, in a building where nine out of 10 occupants are African-American and bundled in layers of puffy coats and wool hats. A little surreal.

And then there was my coughing baby, so we set off for the west before the traffic got too heavy.

“There’s an old Jewish guy in there praying,” I said as she buckled her seat belt. Cough-cough-cough. Probably not the weirdest thing she saw in the last week.

So Richard Spencer was in Michigan this week, as part of his Let Me Speak So Fox News Can Get B-Roll of the Protests to Use in Their Campaign Against Higher Education tour. He was at Michigan State, which was on spring break, and booked into some ag building way over on the ag campus. Nevertheless, the usual suspects showed up, and there were the usual skirmishes, and there were arrests, and at the end of it all was this tweet:

Estimates of the crowd he drew to hear him speak range from 11 to 30. Free speech on campus will live another day. Here’s a dispatch from a local journalist for the gay alt-weekly. No autoplaying video, nice guy. He uses the word “melee” twice, but don’t hold that against him.

Time to get back to work and consider a shower. Or a nap.

Posted at 12:10 pm in Current events | 71 Comments
 

Warming up.

My new stove has a warming drawer. It’s genius. The drawer under the oven? Where you probably throw your pot lids and broiler pan and other hard-to-store items? The new thing now is to put a heating element on the bottom and lo, a warming drawer. I can find another place to store my pot lids, but I will give up this warming drawer when you pry it from my perfectly warm fingers.

Last night I was making dinner when Alan texted to say he wouldn’t be leaving the office until 8. That means he won’t be home until 8:40. I have to eat by 8 or I sleep badly.

That’s why we have a warming drawer, I replied. And I plated Alan’s chicken, rice and asparagus, put foil over it and stuck it in the warming drawer, on low, where it stayed for nearly an hour. Alan reports everything was delicious, and even the asparagus failed to shrivel.

People talk about when they felt they were truly an adult, or rich, or whatever. I always say that nothing made me feel that I was movin’ on up in the world like my first washer/dryer. Farewell, Solar Sudser laundromat, eater of one evening out of 10. Although I will say, it was the best people-watching in Fort Wayne. The clerk had trichotillomania (a compulsive disorder that caused her to pull out her hair) and a life that was a continuing series of disasters. I know because she discussed each one on the phone, loudly, while I sat eight feet away trying to read my new Spy or Vanity Fair.

I have a feeling my warming drawer will be another big lifestyle upgrade. I’m a simple woman, easy to please.

Friday: An ode to my incredibly quiet dishwasher, which shines a light on the floor to tell you it’s running, because you can barely hear it.

Not really.

Back when I was an equestrian, I boarded my horse at a barn with a fox hunter, a lawyer who basically lived for the sport — he didn’t work Tuesdays, because his hunt rode out twice a week, Saturdays and Tuesdays, and he didn’t miss. One day he debriefed me on their practices, and later on, when animal-rights groups made fox hunting a focus, and successfully banned it in England, of all places, I knew how much shit they were talking. Among the things I learned from my co-boarder:

The fox almost always “wins” the hunt, by going to ground (its burrow) before the hounds catch it. In the olden days, when fox were hunted because they were decimating the neighborhood henhouses, that’s when the terrier handlers would send in the Jack Russells, but no one does that anymore, because in the tradition of intelligent modern hunting, the hunter husbands the prey. Trout Unlimited and Ducks Unlimited, with memberships primarily comprised of anglers and hunters, do more for habitat preservation than many environmental groups, because no habitat? No trout or ducks. There is no Fox Unlimited, but fox hunters go to great lengths to make sure they have fox to hunt. They lose far more hounds in the course of a season — to cars, of course — than fox; one or two (fox) a year was a typical casualty list. They only hunt in winter, because spring and summer is when the prey are raising kits. And so on.

Have I bored you to death yet? No? Well then, you might enjoy this lavishly illustrated Washington Post feature on modern fox hunting in the D.C. area, which is probably the center of the sport in the U.S. It’s such a beautiful sport, and every piece of that fancy clothing has a specific purpose. Especially the flask, ha ha.

What else? Hmm. Are self-driving cars on your local radar the way they are in Michigan? Perhaps not, but the technology is galloping ahead like a field of fox hunters, and as a lot of the research and testing is being done by the domestic auto industry, we’re seeing a certain amount of it here. There’s a driverless van shuttling around the University of Michigan north campus, and a big proving ground out that way. A lot of people — including the organization I work for — is trying to see into the future, because man, when self-driving reaches critical mass, there is going to be a revolution in the economy. Job loss, job creation, winners and losers and things we haven’t even thought about. Bloomberg hazards a scan of just a few things that will change as a result.

I like driving, except when I hate it.

Of course, there are a few bugs to be worked out. Contains shriek-worthy dash cam video of the crash in question.

Time to put the nose to the old grindstone. Happy Wednesday.

Posted at 9:58 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 69 Comments
 

Anger and fear.

Alex and I know a lot of the same people in Fort Wayne, and every so often we talk about them. “Why is X so angry?” a typical exchange might go, where X is a well-known right-wing – no, far right-wing – conservative. “They have everything they ever wanted — GOP supermajorities in the state legislature, control in both houses of Congress, a replacement for Scalia who’s even more hard-line and young enough he might sit on the Supreme Court for another generation. They have a president who’s only held back by his increasingly desperate staff, and Mike Pence warming up in the bullpen. And yet, they’re furious pretty much all the time.”

We rarely have an answer. This is just how we email and text back and forth.

I was thinking about this over the weekend, doing the drudgery of reassembling the kitchen and cleaning up the construction dust. And I thought about a woman I once knew a little, an online acquaintance, who said there were two primary emotions that drive us, love and fear, and she tried to choose love whenever possible. I made a case for anger, and she countered that anger was just a different form of fear. I thought she was full of shit, but now I think she was on to something. The debate over guns is shaping up to be a big fear festival.

Speaking of Indiana, here’s a typical story from the northernmost southern state, about an older gentleman, self-identified as a veteran and a member of something called the Oath Keepers, who has parked his heavily armed self outside one Fort Wayne high school, handgun and AR-15 at the ready, to keep the students safe. The school district knows he’s there, but he’s not on school grounds and there’s nothing they can do about him.

I don’t think it’s a wild stretch to speculate that this gentleman thinks of himself as a “sheepdog,” and in fact, when you google “oath keepers” + sheepdog, look what turns up? Yes, the O.K.s think of themselves as protectors of we dumb ol’ sheep, who think that going around unarmed is a sensible way to live your life.

So who lives in fear? Who spreads fear? I know lots of people like to refer to firearms as penis proxies, and maybe they are, but when the NRA talks about “hardening” American schools, they’re using fear to sell guns (which is maybe the only reason to buy a gun, when you think about it), and if its corollary, anger, works, then why not?

I don’t fear a mass shooting, except abstractly, the way I fear being flattened by a wrong-way driver on the freeway. I ride my bike through neighborhoods in Detroit that some of these Oath Keeper pussies wouldn’t enter in an armored car, and I’ve never felt threatened.

No wonder they’re angry all the time. Of course, they’re getting old, too. Nothing like the damp breath of the grave to send a chill down one’s spine. Especially when so many young people are showing no sign of giving a shit about you and your sheepdog posturing, so that you’re reduced to shaking your cane at them:

Very amusing, both of those. These kids will have their hearts broken by the pace of political change sooner or later, but they’ll still be trying.

So, what’s the bloggage?

Mona Charen, as rigid a right-winger as you could ask for, is booed at CPAC and leaves the hall with security. Why? Because she criticized the president.

CPAC was crazy top to bottom, but you guys have already been over that.

Alan is calling me downstairs for a consult on shelf placement in one of the three closets he rehabbed this weekend. The work just keeps on coming.

Good Monday, all.

Posted at 4:14 pm in Current events | 57 Comments
 

Who are these people?

If the aim of the Russian election interference was to sow chaos, to widen the gaps in American culture, to make us dislike and distrust one another even more than we already do, is it playing into their hands to believe the evidence in front of one’s own eyes? Just asking. I read David Brooks, oh boy:

So if you want to stop school shootings it’s not enough just to vent and march. It’s necessary to let people from Red America lead the way, and to show respect to gun owners at all points. There has to be trust and respect first. Then we can strike a compromise on guns as guns, and not some sacred cross in the culture war.

O, rly? Why do I have to show respect for gun owners who defend armor-piercing bullets, extra-capacity magazines, plastic guns? Who is being unreasonable here, anyway?

The people who defend gun rights believe that snobbish elites look down on their morals and want to destroy their culture. If we end up telling such people that they and their guns are despicable, they will just despise us back and dig in their heels.

If defending teflon-tipped bullets isn’t despicable, what is it? I’m seriously baffled. The rest of the column goes on to describe a program called Better Angels, aimed at bringing “red and blue tribes” together. But guess who’s the real tribe with the Sadz?

Doherty says that the Reds feel shamed by the Blues to a much greater degree than the Blues realize. Reds are very reluctant to enter into a conversation with Blues, for fear of further shaming, but they often come to the table when they are told that this will be a chance to “de-monsterize” themselves.

At that session one Blue said she was really grateful to hear a Red acknowledge the Republican history on race. When Blues are asked about the stereotypes thrown at them, they tend to list “against religion and morality,” “unpatriotic” and “against personal responsibility” among their responses. They, too, relish the chance to clear the air.

I have to put this stuff aside because it makes me crazy to think about it too deeply. It’s the ultimate both-sidesing and it can make a reasonable person feel like they’re being gaslit. I’m happy to de-monsterize anyone, but I’m not willing to ignore the evidence in front of my eyes. And…

Oh, well. Can’t do this now. Here, have a kitchen picture.

We’re in the homestretch now. They put in the backsplash yesterday.

Grout today, then the new appliances, then lights and finishing touches. All told, three weeks. Then I can start eating vegetables made by my own little hands. I’m hoping my abdominal bloat from three weeks’ worth of pizza and sandwiches will go down shortly thereafter.

Work meeting, then editing. Congrats to Sherri, our commenting-community celebrity of the week. Great story.

Posted at 9:05 am in Current events | 59 Comments
 

Meatballs for lunch.

For those of you who own Aeron chairs, a tip: Those mesh seats allow dust to fall through, and one day you will drop a pencil, bend down to pick it up and be so consumed with shame at the sight of its undercarriage caked in dust that you must stop what you’re doing this instant and clean that shit up.

I hate finding long-hidden dirt. When we took down the framed artwork in the kitchen, there were dust bunnies behind the frames. But who the hell cleans behind pictures? And needless to say, when we pulled the fridge out, there were horrors lying in wait.

No dead mice or anything, though. We are told that we’ll have a functioning kitchen by the end of the week. I’ll settle for a stove and running water. Alan has a plan to refit two closets, so most of Saturday was consumed with a trip to Ikea.

“The best thing about a trip to Ikea?” I said as we got into the car. “Swedish meatballs for lunch.”

And that was, indeed, the best thing about driving 45 minutes each way to get to goddamn Ikea — bland meat orbs in a powder-based gravy. That’s because they were out of the shelving we wanted, even though the website said they had nine sets in stock. “Uh, I guess the website hasn’t caught up,” the apologetic warehouse worker offered. We also got some silverware trays for our new kitchen drawers, but once we got them home, found they didn’t quite fit. So really, the meatballs were the best part of the day.

But lunch for two only cost $18. And we even split a dessert.

Hope springs eternal, and today Alan cobbled together another configuration of shelving, Ikea promised it was in stock, and he headed back out to get it, ill-fitting silverware trays in tow. I stayed home and cleaned up construction dust to the best of my ability.

To better weekends, once this is over.

In the meantime, there was some bloggage:

I am shocked, shocked to learn that Australians were involved in this:

A violent brawl that broke out on a Carnival Cruise Lines ship bound for Melbourne, forcing the vessel to dock early in NSW, may have been sparked by a dispute over a thong.

(That’s a flip-flop to some of you. We called them thongs when I was a kid.)

(A fellow passenger) said she believed the violence had all been instigated by one large family group of at least 20 people who “came onto the boat wanting to fight people” and were using any excuse to start trouble.

Travelling with her partner and another couple, she said their group became targeted two days ago after one member accidentally brushed past a member of the “violent” family.

I’ve known people like that, but they usually confine themselves to local taverns. The captain of the ship was quoted in another publication saying to a passenger who wanted the group put off the ship, “What do you want me to do? Throw them overboard?” In this case, I think that would have been a splendid remedy. And quite entertaining to watch.

In public discussions of higher ed, the comments swing wildly from “every child should have the opportunity to attend” to “not every child is suited for college, you know.” Both can be true, you know. Sarah Vowell strikes the right balance with this nice ode to Montana State, her alma mater, and land-grant colleges everywhere.

We are not fashion bloggers here, but we like fashion, so here’s a great shot of Helen Mirren, looking amazing.

Finally, I know the man is uncoachable, but can no one persuade him to stop doing this? Maybe by telling him it makes his hands look even smaller?

Onward into the week. Hope yours is great.

Posted at 5:42 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 97 Comments
 

Ten firehoses.

Another Friday, another late post. Well, there’s always the weekend ahead.

Truth be told, we’re even more confined to the second floor of the house as this kitchen project lurches on, although I hope it’s better this weekend. Yesterday was the absolute worst, with the appliances being delivered (one of them, anyway) along with the cabinets, which together filled every inch of space in the living and dining room. The cabinets are being built and hung today, so some of the footprint is reduced, but I have a stove in my living room and pretty much everything is filthy now.

And so I am not a very happy person. I need order. I have chaos. They tell me relief will come next week. We shall see.

This is what my chaos looks like, in the meantime.

Another reason I’ve not been motivated to write: The news just keeps coming. The portrait unveilings, subject of the last post, feel like they happened in 2012, now that they’ve been eclipsed by the school shooting, the Playboy Trump mistress and the Russia indictments, all in 48 hours. I read the Playboy-mistress story at 5:30 this morning, and the Russian indictments dropped during the lunch hour. I feel dizzy.

That’s not even counting ancillary stories, like Scott Pruitt flying around the country in first class because someone was mean to him the last time he sat in coach, “mean” being “told him to stop ruining the environment.”

Does it seem like something in the air has finally changed, though? I’m wary of epistemic closure, and I try to pay attention to the other side, I really do, but it does seem we’re in a different place now, public opinion-wise, than we were a year ago. Every parent I know with a school-age child is incandescent with rage. But I don’t get out nearly enough to qualify as a public-opinion expert.

In the meantime, even though Jolene posted this already, I want to bring it to your attention again: Just because you agree with a particular organization doesn’t mean they’re playing by the rules. In this case, it’s Everytown for Gun Safety, and their oft-quoted statistic that there have been 18 school shootings this year. No there hasn’t:

Everytown has long inflated its total by including incidents of gunfire that are not really school shootings. Take, for example, what it counts as the year’s first: On the afternoon of Jan. 3, a 31-year-old man who had parked outside a Michigan elementary school called police to say he was armed and suicidal. Several hours later, he killed himself. The school, however, had been closed for seven months. There were no teachers. There were no students.

Which makes it not a school shooting, in my mind. The organization I work for now has a hashtag: #FactsMatter. They really do. You can’t build good policy on a weak foundation. Keep that in mind the next time the news blows up, which will probably be in…about eight minutes.

Have a good weekend, all.

Posted at 5:46 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 55 Comments
 

Everyone’s a critic.

Not gonna lie — I’m amused by all the art critics in the world. Who knew, in a country with so few college degrees, that so many were qualified to pass judgment on a couple of portraits?

Of course, anyone can pass judgment on art, and you don’t need a college degree to do it. But a 100-level humanities class will probably cover the 1913 Armory Show, and the debate over traditional representational vs. nontraditional modern art. You could hear echoes of it in the many who said, “But that pitcher don’t look nothing like Michelle Obama.”

I am showing my cards here, not that they were ever in doubt. I loved Kehinde Wiley before he was announced as POTUS 44’s official portraitist, and I was willing to give Amy Sherald the benefit of the doubt on the FLOTUS portrait. I knew both paintings would be nontraditional, which would befit a nontraditional first couple. We all knew that once the drape was dropped, the usual suspects would find something, anything to hate about them, because that’s what they do. Their vinegary souls are fed in the dankest basements of the internet, and it sucks to be them because they are crabbed, broken people.

Long, elegant fingers.

I have my own disappointments. I wish Wiley had just walked out in his windowpane-check suit and said, “It’s yours now. Your meaning is your own,” instead of explaining the symbolism of the various flowers in the background. The world is full of sleuths who would have been comparing them to floral databases and have them named within the hour, and we would have at least have the pleasure of figuring it out for ourselves.

But the people whose opinions really chap my ass are the ones who say the paintings are somehow “lacking in dignity,” or some other bullshit. I was in the Michigan state capitol shooting photos a few weeks ago, and took a lap of the gubernatorial portraits. They had all the dignity these littlebrains want, the stuff they can explain to fourth-graders: “He’s looking out the window, which represents the future. And his hand is resting on a globe, because he was interested in foreign affairs. The stack of books on his desk shows his commitment to education…” And so on. Blech. All but one was utterly forgettable, a white man in a business suit and a tie. The one that wasn’t was remarkable only because it was of a white woman, and look, her hand is on a globe. Only this globe represents tax incentives. OK.

I notice some of the conservative “news” sites posted a composite of presidential portraits, including the newest one, asking “which one doesn’t belong?” Well, Obama’s, obvs, because it’s the one that actually qualifies as art instead of a wall-filler in some national museum.

At least in the opinion of this art critic.

There was a painter in Fort Wayne I wrote about once. Nice guy, very Catholic, extremely traditional. I forget what the angle was — he was trying to give an altarpiece to the Diocese, or something. He explained the panels to me: “Now this represents pro-life,” he said, pointing to a bunch of intertwined babies. Thanks for explaining that, because man that would have been impenetrable otherwise. I don’t know what he’s doing now. Maybe he morphed into this guy, who’ll surely be tapped to paint 45’s portrait.

There may be more to Michelle’s picture than you think, and it’s all in the dress.

What else? Louise Linton, Bond villainess of the current administration, explains herself. She lives at SoulCycle!

My best friend used to work at a magazine dedicated to the good ol’ days, almost all the content written and submitted by readers, who had one thing in common: Rose-colored glasses. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the good ol’ days really were swell, and in the course of her time there, the magazine published a book all about the Depression, which readers remembered quite fondly. I understand that one good thing about times that hard is that almost everyone is going through it together, and poverty isn’t so obvious and painful when your neighbors are in the same boat. But man, some of these old people were weird. They loved, loved their memories of public assistance, when you didn’t get food stamps or an EBT card or cash for clothing, but actually had to go to the local fairgrounds, stand in line and carry your allotment home in boxes. (You all remember government cheese, right? Like that, only all your groceries, not just cheese.) It was better this way, the old people all said. So I guess they’re going to love the new idea for a downmarket Blue Apron for the poor.

You know what was really weird about that Depression book? Some readers recalled that if you got “relief,” as it was called, you had to eventually pay it back, and oh that was just wonderful, when daddy made the last payment! Why don’t we do that now? And so on.

OK, have to walk Wendy and figure out what frozen dinner to make in the microwave. Man, I want this project to be capital-O Over.

Posted at 4:34 pm in Current events | 126 Comments
 

In my other life, I skate.

So what’s your parallel-destiny Olympic sport? The one you’d be playing if your life had taken a couple of different sliding-doors turns? Mine is speed skating – original-recipe speed skating, not short-track. (In the summer games, modern pentathlon.) There’s something about that Hans Brinker pose, the smooth crossovers, the blades biting into the ice – it’s mesmerizing. And a good use for my stocky-leg genetics. The hunky Scandinavians taking all the medals don’t hurt, either. I’d figure out a way to train with them.

Either that, or biathlon. Talk about a combination of two practical sports.

Elsewhere in South Korea, our vice president proved there is little this administration is incapable of screwing up. Olympics diplomacy? That’s the easiest one in the book — you show up, you applaud, you shake hands. You don’t get snitty. And now the gay athletes are doing the same to him. Another triumph!

As you can imagine, nine inches of snow, plus more on Saturday, plus freezing rain on Sunday, really made for a good weekend to stay close to home. But with no kitchen, we had to venture out, if only for food. I’m glad for the floor protection the workers put down, because otherwise the snowmelt would be ruining them. This has been a character-builder of a last few days. Heaps of snow everywhere. And coming midweek? A thaw. So the slush will not end anytime soon.

But with lots of time to read, of course I read this amazing puff piece on a person who has turned up here far more than I’d have ever imagined – Mary Cunningham, or rather, Mary Cunningham Agee, widow. Whatever shred of doubt I might have had about whether this woman is truly the bullshit artist I thought she was, it blew away when I read this. She tries to latch on to the #metoo movement, which is the sort of ballsy move only a real grifter would try. The story confirms what was hidden in plain sight in her husband’s obituary – they were separated at the end, which is the root of the dispute between Agee’s first family and his second wife.

I don’t often say, “read the comments,” but read the comments on that story. They’re great. One:

Those of us who lived through the horror of working for what was then called Morrison Knudsen, under Bill Agee, will wonder at this strange article. The real story that should be covered in detail in Business Day and every MBA school is how one man could destroy a thriving company and bamboozle a corporate board. I wouldn’t have believed it could happen if I hadn’t been forced to watch. Watching from below, Bill and Mary seemed like goofy cartoon characters who knew nothing about the business they were destroying. There were so many amazing and fascinating aspects to this story. As a much younger engineering program manager, fairly recently arrived to MK, I got to spend 15 min with Mr. Agee in a locomotive cab. I went home and told my wife, “We’re in big trouble,” and warned her to be ready for the worst. My worst fears all came true.

Two:

Those of us who met Mary Cunningham realized quickly she was a greedy con artist. We hired her to speak after her book was published and she acted like a female Trump. Demanding, dishonest, bizarre, like a spoiled rock star. Her hotel bill included an unauthorized fancy dinner for twelve friends with expensive champagne. We were a charity. She was rude to us, downright nasty, and her presentation was mediocre. She created a success persona that the press magnified. Bill Agee got what he deserved. With all that money he ended up in an assisted living facility separated from his children. If he was paranoid he certainly would have had reason to be.

And there are more.

One more piece of bloggage: What happens when you make your house as smart as it can be? It gets dumber:

It took at least two hours to get all of our Christmas lights plugged into smart plugs from WeMo and Sonoff, and then to get those plugs online with their apps, and then to get those apps to talk to the Alexa app. The first night I said, “Alexa, turn on the Christmas lights,” they all turned on in sparkly synchronicity and it was magical. But one day, Alexa stopped recognizing “Christmas lights” as a group, and I could not figure out how to fix it, so I had to ask Alexa each night to turn off the lights one-by-one. (“Turn off kitchen Christmas lights.” “Turn off living room Christmas lights.” “Turn off bookcase lights.”) This was way more annoying than turning them off manually. The fantasy of the smart home is that it will save us time and effort, but the friction involved in getting various devices from different companies to work together meant that many things took longer to do.

So, we now have a floor and grout and about half a paint job. The next time we meet here, I’m hoping we have cabinets. Me, I’m on the hunt for some decent takeout.

Posted at 5:43 pm in Current events | 86 Comments
 

Snowed in.

Two questions I am tired of:

Why don’t women speak up about these things? Here’s why. And also here.

Where do I want to eat? The answer is the same: Somewhere with vegetables, because we don’t have a kitchen, but we do have a floor:

It’s gray. The countertops will be gray, too, and the walls, a very pale gray. I’m worried about too much gray, but we’ll have white cabinets and white doors/woodwork, so I’m hoping it won’t remind us of a cement factory. If I were describing it in a real estate listing, I would call it a cool, urban gray. Neutral gray. Gray-not-greige. I am losing my shit here. We’re in the midst of a projected 5- to 9-inch snowstorm, I’ve been working my (taupe) bedroom for a week and either Alan or I have blown snow all but one day this week, but I’ll probably have to do it twice more today, so.

At least the guys are back at work on the kitchen, having slogged through the weather like it ain’t no thing. Man, what they say about immigrant labor is true. It’s particularly noticeable as I met a woman the other night who is in her first year of retirement from teaching. At 46 years old. Alan was not pleased to hear this. “Well, teaching is a demanding job,” I said, weakly, and he replied “I HAVE A FUCKING DEMANDING JOB.” Can’t argue with that. She said she began accruing seniority years while still in college, when she worked as a lifeguard at a public-school pool. That’s the old Michigan there, when the cotton was high and the good times went on and on. Over now.

Back to Rob Porter for a minute, the nice Mormon White House staff secretary who likes to abuse women. What is Hope Hicks doing with this loser? And before this, she was with Corey Lewandowski? You’d think a beautiful young woman with the world at her feet might choose more wisely. But of course, then she wouldn’t have the world at her feet. And she may yet end up learning legal terms like allocution and time served. So there’s that.

Sorry for this thin gruel today, but I am stir-crazy and should maybe write something else. Have a good weekend, everyone.

Posted at 9:45 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 78 Comments
 

Covered in dust.

One day you have a kitchen, an outdated and ugly one:

And the next day, you don’t:

Of course, the best thing about a kitchen renovation is kitchen archaeology. Wallpaper from days of yore:

Justlikethat, the process has begun. I worked at home Monday and Tuesday, while Wendy stayed close by my side, unnerved by the sounds of demolition downstairs. This crew works at a blistering pace. Monday: Demo. Tuesday: Subfloor. Today: Floor. Sas and his crew – Igor, Sergei and the other guy whose name I forget – are very nice. They speak Russian to one another all day but politely switch to English when I stick my head in. And of course it has snowed every night this week, and is snowing now, hard. I’ll go out and clear it once it stops. Three more inches coming Friday.

Thanks for all the advice. I’m trying to keep a semblance of normalcy, but it’s damn hard. I have the coffeemaker set up in the dining room, but am resigned to a lot of pizza and standup meals. It’s harder on Alan, but it’s like chair pose in yoga — it won’t last forever.

And now I have yet another day of work ahead. I was kind of looking forward to this project, if only because tile, cabinets and backsplashes probably stands the best chance of pushing you-know-what out of my head, but NOOOOOO. I am speaking, of course, of the military parade. Cadet Bone Spurs strikes again.

Have a good one, all.

Posted at 8:53 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 70 Comments