27 April 2007

Bathtub Before and After


And my lungs are still intact.

19 April 2007

Bathtub Lungs

I refinished the bathtub. Incredible that they now make porcelain that comes in a can. Unbelievable. However, the "porcelain" material is completely evil. It is made out of 900 known carcinogens, is banned in california, etc, etc.
The bathtub looks freaking awesome, though, if I do say so myself. Nice and white and glossy. I think someone might actually want to take a bath in there.
So, the story of the bathtub is that two years ago Billy and I found it on cleanup week. It was very dirty and somewhat rusty on the outside, but I could *see* the potential. I am very good at seeing potential--it is one of my gifts (and also a curse, I think Billy would argue). So, the two of us, with some unknown incredible hulkish amount of strength managed to haul the incredibly heavy tub into the back of our pick up. It felt like Christmas! It was so exciting.
Aside: incidentally, our friends, Matt and Dana, also found an antique piano that same night for free which was also Christmasish. Except now that don't want the piano anymore. That's cleanup week for you--hard to turn down junk that's free and full of "potential."
Anyway, the tub lived in our backyard through a winter where it continued to rust. It was a sad tub, feeling all abandoned in its new home, being jumped on by one small, white dog, and ignored by the homeowners. Until one day, the tub went to live at the sandblaster's.
The sandblaster, if you remember from the tales of our home remodel, horded said bathtub for 3 months, promising every week that he "would get to it next." And what would have been a 10-minute tasks for him turned into a 3 month long agonizing wait for me.
In the meantime, Billy and Gion managed to haul out the disgusting hulk of the tub that was in our heretofore completely disgusting bathroom.
Eventually, we wrestled and conned our bathtub back from the sandblaster to the tune of $10. We spend about $20 on primer and spray paint for the outside. And Billy also cleaned up the claw feet (that's a funny thing to say--claw feet). In the end, we had a really cute, practically free copper tub.
I was thinking I could get the stains out of the porcelain, so we didn't bother to have that refinished. I have tried every cleaning product known to man, and a lot of elbow grease, and I could not get off whatever was on the thing.
After many months, I finally gave up. And I decided to spend an additional $29.99 on a kit to refinish the bathtub.
And tah-dah, it is done. So, when it is all said and done, we paid around $60 for a tub that is "practically" brand new. At least, it is definately good enough for the average person to wash in.
The thing is, the porcelain-in-a-can is like hell-for-your-lungs. The directions did say to wear a respirator/ventilator thingy when you used the stuff. But, to be frank, everything has excessive warnings these days due to people being so sue-happy, so I decided to ignore it, thinking it couldn't be much worse than spray paint.
Oh yes, it could.
It was the worst smell I could ever tell you about. A combination of garbage and oil and chemicals. And it had a stickiness--even in the air, that immediately got into my lungs.
I am a paranoid person. Everyone knows this. I am afraid of being abducted by aliens (yes, I am onto that again....see www.crowdedskies.com)
Anyway, after the entire ordeal of the first coat of the porcelain evilness, I was lying in bed, wondering how long it would be before the porcelain started to harden, my lungs would crack, and I would die. I lay there--for literally hours--imagining what it would be like to die like that--how much it was going to hurt, and that I couldn't die until at least Billy was home so that he could at least attempt to take me to MeritCare. I could imagine the porcelain lining the inside of my nose, my throat, all the way down into my poor little delicate lung sacks. I imagined all of the chemicals leaching into my bloodstream, being stored in fatty deposits, giving me instantaneous cancer. I imaged my future children (none planned or wanted, by the way) having two heads. It was bad. When I am tired, I have a way of talking myself into these types of hysterical episodes.
In the end, the porcelain did not crack my lungs, I am still alive, and the bathroom looks amazing, though I would recommend to anyone else willing to try this that you HAVE to wear some kind of respiratory protection.
I will post pictures of the bathtub once it is done going through the five-day "curing process" (by the way, what is this--sausage? It has to cure??!!)
In other news I actually did get my official acceptance letter from NDSU's graduate program a few days ago. The only thing I have yet to hear about is if I was offerred a graduate assistantship. Hopefully I will hear something soon because all of this waiting is literally getting close to killing me b/c I am enduring the waiting by doing projects--and we can all see how that is going by the last few posts.

17 April 2007

April 16th: Day of Disaster

In addition to the amazingly horrifying college shootings yesterday, Billy and I had our own versions (though not nearly so bad, but nearly as dangerous).
The first near-disaster was the compost pile. On Sunday Billy and I spent the afternoon cleaning up the yard. I spent three full hours cleaning up dog poop from the winter. Meanwhile, he spent the same amount of time burning wood scraps and bark left over from the winter. He had a bunch of ash left over, so yesterday morning he dutifully added it to the compost pile. He swears it was cool when he put it in the compost. Then he went to the store. When he came back, he saw this huge plume of smoke rising into the air near our house. When he pulled into the alley, he saw: 1) the compost pile on fire 2) our neighbor, contractor Bob Kearn, fighting the fire with our pitchfork. Much cursing and flailing ensued. Bob Kearn, with the pitchfork, beat the fire. Billy meanwhile drug buckets full of pond water and muck to throw on the fire. Eventually they got it out. Normally Bob Kearn's fleet of trucks, vans, cars, etc in front of his house every day really annoys me, but yesterday I was actually glad for Bob Kearn being around. And I am also glad that the garage and house and entire neighborhood didn't burn down.
I was not immune to the disasters. I have been in limbo waiting for various decisions to come down the pipeline in my life the past few weeks, and I am going stir crazy. I have cleaned every possible surface in my home, so it was time for me to do some projects. I decided to refinish the tub. They make kits for everything now, and this is one of them. So, with the kit, you also have to buy all sorts of scary sounding chemicals. So, I was driving my cart around home depot with all of these supplies and chemicals. I went to the self checkout and was putting my things through the scanner when I realized that one of the chemicals, the tri-sodium phosphate, had actually exploded all over my items, and was melting--yes, melting--the paint off of all of the spray cans, the labels off of my drop clothes, and pretty much everything else. I kind of freaked out because I hate chemicals anyway, and this was not only all over my items, but all over my hands! I begged one of the checkout girls to help me. She "read" the bottle and told me it didn't seem like it would be harmful. When I got home, I found out otherwise. Turns out you are never supposed to let that stuff get on your skin b/c it causes birth defects and about 20 different kinds of cancer. Nice.
After that, I decided maybe that yesterday wasn't the day to start the tub refinishing project after all. So, I decided to do a simpler project--I decided to repaint the inside of the medicine cabinet. I began by removing all of the items and then sanding down the insides with a piece of sturdy steel wool. The next thing I know, the steel wool is a flaming, metallic orb of death in my hands, and I am getting zapped. Yes, that's right, I got a little electrocuted. The top of my head was really, really hot, and the wool was still aflame in my hands until I finally realized that maybe I should drop it. The weird thing was that neither my hand nor my head show any signs of damage. Maybe it was the previous inadvertent absorbtion of trisodium phosphate. I don't know. Either way, I gave up on both projects and just decided to watch TV for awhile until the string of near-death experiences was over. I am hoping the little jolt that I received will make me a genius or, better yet, give me psychic abilities.
One pieces of joyful news from yesterday: I am an aunt again. My sister in law had her third little girl yesterday--6 pounds 9 oz--who they *think* they are going to name Georgia.
Happy Birthday Georgia!

03 April 2007

What's really been going on...and why I haven't posted in awhile

This first part is for my dad's benefit.
Weather report:
Today in Fargo it is blizzarding wildly. Visibility is about one click at best, snow is piling up. I would measure it's depth by saying in most places it nearly covers the tops of my red Italian leather shoes. The temperature is: windy and cold. It is April 3 and feels like January 1st. It is bad and no one likes it. The entire town is in chaos. Events, school, and work are cancelled for most {i.e. not me}. It is the worst blizzardish weather I have seen since '97.
For everyone else--begin reading blog here***
You may wonder why I have no been all that verbose lately, given my history of lengthy and frequent blog posts. I have been blaming it on seasonal depression publicly, but that's not really why. I have not been posting because I have been processing a major thing.
2007 is the Year of Recovery (self-declared). To that end, I began a 12-week process of creative recovery on the 1st of January entitled "The Artist's Way." I have been saying for a long time that I needed counseling for singers, and while I never did find that, this book has done the trick for me. There's a lot I could say about realizations I have come to in the past three months, the things that I have had to face emotionally, spiritually, financially, and all of that. But truthfully, it hasn't been that bad. This has been a very joyful time for me. And because of that, I have been very protective of my process (something the artist's way recommends and that I agreed with). This recovery is my own. I am doing it in my own way. This is not to please anyone else, this is for me, and something that I need to do.
Furthermore, the things I need to recover from, and the decisions I make hence and because of this recovery, I should not have to justify to just anyone. These are my decisions, between myself, God, and my husband, and that is enough.
So, all of that to say, that I have been protective of this process.
A few major things came to light as a result of this process of recovery. The first was that I have put aside my music making for too long. The second was that I was not going to start music making again without fixing up my very deep and very bad wounds from bad people and bad experiences in college and since. The third was that I needed to know if I really wanted to do music--instead of doing it because I could, because someone wanted me to, because I didn't want to disappoint someone, or because I didn't know what else to do. The fourth was that I am finally at a point in my life where the things like money or my husband being in school are no longer hindrances to my deciding what to finally do about my singing.
So, I began to take some very huge risks. Granted, they may not seem like huge risks to you, but to me, having completely given up the hope of ever doing anything musical in my life again, having resigned myself to life behind a desk in the bland banking world, this was a big deal. I started taking voice lessons again. I actually found a voice teacher--someone who was willing to work with me--and started working again. And, surprisingly, I found that it was NOT traumatizing (for the first time ever) to work on my voice. This teacher was not sabotaging me. This teacher could help me through my technical issues--and I was finding success. In the past three months I have not cried once during a practice session (compare this to college when crying was an every day thing for me, and, I might add, totally out of character).
Simultaneously, I began to realize that I wanted to go back to grad school. So, I wrote a few emails to a few contacts at NDSU, and within two days, I had a voice teacher (see above), a grad school application, and an almost-sure acceptance into the graduate program at NDSU.
I am going to grad school. For singing. This fall.
And, what is more, I have already applied, auditioned, and been accepted. The final stage of this process is yet to come--that is to see if I will be granted a teaching assitantship which will guarantee me a tuition waiver--which will fully secure my place in the ranks of students in the fall.
Three months ago I was not even remotely thinking about any of this stuff. But the Artists Way book--it gives you tasks that you have to complete every day. And one of those is writing "morning pages." These are a glorified journal where you get to write whatever you want as soon as you wake up in the morning. It can be your list of things to do, it can be how annoyed you are that everyone at work still tries to visit with you in the morning even though they know you aren't a morning person (the majority of my morning pages are of this version) the point being, it is a place where you don't have to judge yourself--but you can just let everything go.
Through this I really started to feel free to process. I didn't have anyone outwardly examining me, seeing if I was thinking "correctly," giving me the third degree to make sure I was making the right decision. I just got to think for myself, by myself.
And within three days I was writing volumes about how I wanted to go back to grad school, how I wanted to figure out what was wrong with me and why I couldn't move forward with my singing, why my experience in college was sooooooooooooo bad, and how legitimate the criticisms I've received in the past really were.
Most of the feedback I received from two teachers in particular in college was complete bullshit from people who were either purposefully (in one case) and non-purposefully (maybe in the other) trying to sabotage me for their own reasons. Looking back, I can see now what was going on politically in the department, to an extent, that caused this. Partly, I can't see what caused it. I even had a teacher at the time who pointed it out to me, but I refused to acknowledge that I wasn't completely in control of the situation. Mostly though I am sure that my sharpest critic was just intimidated by the fact that I was a confident woman who wasn't afraid to get in his face, and he was unwilling to deal with that or something, so he tried to bring me down as much as possible. Well, he did his damage. But he can go to hell now, because I will not allow this to hold me back any longer. The truth is, by and large, I have really had nothing but good things said about my singing. Yes, there are issues with my voice--there are issues with everyone's voice. I had to let go of the few negative things said by this little man in my past so that I could move on.
It's funny, too, how once this ball got rolling--this creative recovery come quest for grad school, that everything really came together in just a matter of a few weeks.
So, that's it. It's pretty much a done deal. This is a decision I am making for me. And it is the right decision, the right time, the right situation, and the right frame of mind. I don't need to hear any naysaying or rationalizing or a third degree from anyone thinking I'm ruining my life or anything. I'm quite alright just the way I am.
Viva la Recovery!