[about the author]
i actually like speaking in front of large crowds. freakish,
i work crossword puzzles in ink.
i am the american nigella lawson. or maybe the american eddie
izzard. can't decide, really.
i would be a really good mom, but i'm cool with being a really
i am sometimes more perceptive than i would like to be.
i am fiercely loyal. sometimes, stupidly so.
i never play dumb. never.
i am way too hard on myself.
i am a change agent.
i sometimes cross that fine line between assertive and aggressive.
i am not afraid to tell people that i love them.
i am militantly pro-choice.
i am pro-adoption.
i know a little bit about alot of things.
i typically enjoy the company of men more than women.
i am capable of being really mean and nasty, but i fight it.
i am a lifelong cubs fan. do not laugh.
i have been known to hold a grudge.
i have hips.
i am not my sister.
i am lousy at forgiving myself.
i am an indoor kind of gal.
i am a bargain shopper. to the point of obsession.
i am 32 flavors. and then some.
i bet bob vila never would have thought of that
when i got divorced, i fought really hard to keep my house. really hard. stupidly hard. i mean, my ex-husband was the overwhelming majority of the marital income. and our mortgage was the overwhelming majority of the marital debt. the math didn’t add up, but i would not be dissuaded.
approximately twelve minutes after the ink was dry on the divorce decree, everything that was breakable in any way broke at my house.
the roof started leaking.
as did the hot water tank.
the garbage disposal? not disposing.
and, of course, the ceiling fan dropped about four inches out of the kitchen ceiling. for no apparent reason at all.
i couldn’t even imagine where to start. i had no idea what to do. not to mention that i had no tools, courtesy of my ex-husband. seriously…no tools. except one hammer. it was his favorite hammer, and i kept it out of spite and pettiness. well, spite, pettiness and a real honest-to-god need for a hammer. in retrospect, i have no idea how i ever ended up married to someone who actually professed to have a favorite hammer. but, that's a whole other ball of wax.
i called my mom to see if she would ask my dad to come and fix all the broken stuff at my house. i have no idea how so many of us end up with this dynamic – calling our mothers to ask our fathers something. why can’t i just call my father? it's simply not done.
my dad is a guy full of good intentions. let’s just say that right off the bat. really good intentions. however, he’s a bit lacking on the follow-through. i mean, he's not exactly timely.
“your father will be over tomorrow to take a look at things,” my mother said.
i could hear him in the background.
“i don’t know shit about hot water tanks. better tell her that. or garbage disposals either.”
“mom? tell him to be sure and bring tools. seriously, if he thinks we’ll need anything more than a really nice hammer and some duct tape to fix this shit, he’s gonna have to bring some tools.”
so, the next evening, i waited for my father to show up.
and, as i waited, i thought about my situation. waiting for a man to come and fix my stuff. and i wondered why i couldn’t just fix it myself. my house. my broken stuff. sure, i didn’t know the first thing about how to fix the broken stuff, but it sounded like my dad didn’t know, either, so what the hell.
i rummaged through my car until i found a few screwdrivers. stumbled onto a pair of pliers in a kitchen drawer -- no idea what they were doing there, but there they were. and, i dragged out an old reader’s digest guide to how to fix all the broken shit in your house book that my mom had given me years ago.
it was pretty clear that i wasn’t going to fix a leaky roof that night. probably not the hot water tank, either. that left the garbage disposal and the ceiling fan. being a total novice, i reasoned that working with electricity would somehow be safer than the prospect of grinding off my hand, so i decided that i would fix the ceiling fan.
after reading -- okay, skimming -- the section on working with electrical wiring, i felt sure that i could address the problem at hand.
first order of business: turn off the power. actually, first order of business was to find the freaking box where you turn off the power.
then, to my utter surprise, after i turned off the electricity, it was dark. clearly, i had not thought this through. so, i turned the power back on, and began what i was sure would be a futile search for flashlights.
i was thrilled when i found two flashlights -- and they actually seemed to be working. while i was sure they would provide plenty of light, i soon realized that i had yet another problem: i could not hold the flashlights with one hand and try and do the electrical work with the other.
i tried positioning them on the countertops. they rolled off.
i tried propping them up on books. they fell down.
now i was pissed. but, i would not be deterred.
some time later, i heard my front door open.
“dad? i’m in the kitchen.”
“why is it dark in here? how come the lights don’t work?”
“the power’s off – i’m working on the ceiling fan.”
“dammit, i told you i was coming out to take a look at it.”
“i think i almost have it, dad.”
i heard him make his way through the house, bumping into things, cursing under his breath. finally, i heard him set down his toolbox at the kitchen door.
“okay, now…what in the world? oh…oh….”
i heard him back up and bump into the dining room table.
“dad? watch out over there….”
“uh…” he stammered as he tripped over the toolbox on the floor.
“oh, dad, come on….”
“i’m going outside. i’ll be out there…i mean, i’m going outside.”
i heard the front door slam.
and what was it that had sent my dad scurrying for the door? well, i guess it was me…and his overdeveloped sense of modesty.
see, in what i thought was a brilliant stroke of ingenuity, i had found a way to free up both hands while still getting the lighting i needed to do the repairs: i simply took off my shirt and stuffed a flashlight in each cup of my bra. when i moved, the lighting moved with me. is this not genius!?! i mean, seriously, how come they never show you this kind of shit on hgtv?
in all fairness, though, i guess the last thing my dad expected to see was his grown daughter half-naked like that. with electrified boobs.
i totally fixed the ceiling fan, though.
and, two days later, i fixed the garbage disposal, too. the hot water tank was a lost cause, though, and the roof couldn’t be properly repaired until spring.
when i called my mom to ask her to ask my dad if he would come over to patch the roof, i could hear him in the background again.
“yes. i will come over and fix it. but you tell her that she better have all of her clothes on when i get there, or i’m leaving and she can pay somebody to come fix it. i’m serious as a heart attack.”
“oh, fine. honey, your dad says he’ll come over, but please don’t be naked or anything when he gets there. i swear to god, i think he’s permanently scarred from that last incident.”
“jesus, he’s such a tightass about stuff like that.”
“i know, honey, but just make sure you’re not naked, okay?”
"and, it's not like it was some skanky bra or something. it was one of the really nice, sexy ones. all lacy and stuff."
"well, honey, i'm not sure because your father will not talk about it, but it could be that the fact that it was a sexy, lacy bra was part of the problem."
"oh. so, should i wear the unattractive cotton stuff next time?"
"do you want your roof repaired or not?"
while “permanently scarred” might have been an overstatement, it was an entire year before my dad would come into my house without first sticking his head in the door and yelling, “you’re not naked in here are you?”
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