with Karli Larson
The transition from stay-at-home mom to divorced-and-working-full-time mom can be challenging, and sometimes very lonely. Throw in a few cats, an ancient dog and one very brave boyfriend, and life gets downright crazy. Join me as I talk through my thoughts and struggles, my miscalculations and my triumphs. We're in this together, you and I.
When I'm not writing here you can find me over at work on the TisBest Philanthropy blog.
Just like I can’t seem to explain what anyone does for a living (”um, he…well…it’s kind of like…computers, sort of, but not, you know, the kind of person who knows, like, how to pronounce ‘Linux’” or, you know”), I am clueless about house stuff.
This is me being clueless about house stuff:
The state of Massachusetts sent a team of, um, you know, guys who check the things that burn, like, oil, or gas, or whatever, to my house. They were there to check the…the thingy. For, like, EFFICIENCY.
Always—but especially since the divorce—I am certain that any men who show up at my door (often including the ones I’ve dated) mean me no good, NO GOOD WHATSOEVER. Every time a serviceman shows up, I have the urge to ask him for five minutes so I can finish my will on LegalZoom.com and to then tell him I prefer a nice sharp quick stabbing with my own cleanish chef knives, as opposed to bludgeoning by unsanitary windowless-van serial-killer tools.
These guys, the heating efficiency guys, they had name tags sewn onto their shirts. My first thought was, “OH, THEIR MOTHERS ARE IN ON IT, TOO.”
Still, because I am gullible like that, I let them in. They asked me where my thingy was. The minute they said the word, which was not “thingy,” I forgot it. I spontaneously heard and forgot it. Because this is how I do. So I pointed mutely at the basement door, thinking they were likely to find whatever thingy they were looking for, and then some, in that haz-mat zone. It’s a very thingy-ful area of the house.
I relaxed when I was still alive after ten minutes. I heard crashing and thunking and swearing from the basement, which put me at ease as much as any noises coming from the basement can manage to make me feel at ease. I sat on the couch.
This was a mistake. The couch rests on a splintering set of floorboards one big sneeze from collapsing into the basement, where they were working. I could hear everything. I am insecure about my dilapidated old house as it is, and this was too much to handle, strange men in my cellar, TOUCHING STUFF AND LOOKING AT STUFF AND COMMENTING ON STUFF, stuff that a wise woman would have known to get fixed or get touched or looked at or commented on YEARS ago. You know, SMART MARRIED WOMEN.
Bang. Thunk. Clang. Their voices hit the bottom of the couch. Whatever they were looking at, they weren’t impressed. “That’s too bad. The top of the lip is still there. Blah blah blah and the target wall. A real mess.”
My face grew hot. I felt my stomach twist.
”Ah, yeah. It’s old. It’s really old. Like, at the limit. Look at that hole.”
I shifted uncomfortably on the couch and checked the cushions to make sure they weren’t looking up my skirt.
THUNK. CLUNK. “Aw, Jeez. THAT ain’t comin’ back. Nah. It’s done. It bleedin’ yet? Nah.”
I crossed my legs, then tucked them up underneath me. I don’t even want to host Book Club at my house. This was torture. Strange men digging around in the recesses of my elderly home.
A man-yelp of disgust. “Agggh! Get the vacuum cleaner. I don’t know what the hell that is. We gotta run a test on THAT sh*t. Jayzus, Mary and Joseph. Look at that! NASTY.”
Suddenly I thought, oh my God, they’re HEALTH INSPECTORS, sent to check on my personal hygiene, and they’re talking in CODE. Because, you know, I’m especially sane like that, when left alone with my imagination.
GRUNT. CLANK. “If she’s lucky, the state will just give her a new one.”
If I get a new one, I hope it arrives vajazzled and Brazilian, I thought. That would be a nice surprise from the government, even better than the Earned Income Child Credit or that other Tax Thingy.
THUMP WHOOSH. VOMMP. CHING. “It’s startin’ up again. Not bad for a dirty old broad. Looks about 30 years old. The thing I don’t get, what I don’t get, is why the squirrels were stuffin’ the twigs up there like that. Like the squirrels had garden shears, cut ‘em perfectly to fit all up in there.”
The image of squirrels busily nesting in my hoo-hoo yurt soothed me somehow. I felt safe enough to put my feet back on the floor. I decided—although mortified by whatever nastiness they had found in my actual basement—I would probably live.
BAM. BANG! “Whack it. Yeah. Whack it like that. This whole rigging, real questionable. Whack it harder. See what happens. Built funny for sure. I’m gonna put a tape measure in there, just for the hell of it.”
I snorted. Loudly. Quiet from down below for a moment. Then a TWANG TWING.
“Aw, no. Back up. It’s STILL there.”
MAN YELP. TOOL THUNK.
A hoot. “I wouldn’t touch that. It’s like it’s workin’ in reverse.”
It occurred to me that I should really figure out What Exactly Was So Nasty about my poor, maligned heating, uh, thingy.
I went downstairs. “Um, wow. Sounds really bad,” I said.
“Nah, not really,” they said in unison.
“Really? I heard you talking about squirrels and, like…you know. General nastiness.”
They looked at me like I was nuts. “Naw, are you kidding? We’ve seen worse,” said the bigger, younger guy.
“Huh,” I said. I resisted the urge to yell WHAT UP, DRAMA QUEENS.
“We have to give our recommendations. To the state. You might get a new boiler out of it,” said the older guy, all official, like.
BOILER. That’s a heating-y thingy word. I made a note to remember it. Boiler. BOILER. But…is that the same thing as a furnace? Recommendations for what?
I shut up. I sprinted back upstairs. I wasn’t about to keep these guys around any longer than I had to, with my questions, although that’s what a SMART PERSON MIGHT DO. My basement and I were happy to close up shop for the day. I’ll Google for “downstairs thingy” later, after I shower and have a glass of wine.
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