Breathe In, Breathe Out…

Do bad things really come in threes?

Nothing Important,


Right now, my world seems to be spinning and I am just trying to catch my breath.

An unlicensed driver lost control of the car she was driving and crashed into our new car. Her car ended up on the sidewalk, wedged between our fence and a utility pole.

David was laid off from his job last Friday.

On Monday, we were deeply hurt by a family member and have been left feeling betrayed.

I have white knuckled it through the past few days and tried to keep in mind how lucky I am, in so many ways. But, if the great universe is listening, I have had enough! Please, don’t send any more bad things my way for a while. Pretty please.

Comments { 8 } January 14, 2009

House Denied

...and other power struggles

TV & Movies,

David and I have been having the House Cleaning War. We aren’t very traditional when it comes to gender roles and usually share the cleaning responsibilities equally. But, lately David has been very busy with work and freelance projects. I have been less busy with work, so David felt I should be picking up more of the cleaning duties.

On the surface, this sounds perfectly reasonable. What I found objectionable was his approach, the way he expected me to clean. I don’t like being bossed around and decided not to not clean…at all…for the past 3 weeks. My decision has not been well recieved.

David would do a little cleaning here and there, getting angrier and angrier every step of the way. This made me want to clean even less, although, there really isn’t much less than nothing at all.

This impass may have continued indefinately except for a business card with “Please call regarding possible filming for TV show” written on the back, left on our front door by a location scout yesterday afternoon. I called the number on the card and set up a time for the production crew to do a walk through of our house today. Of course, I cleaned the house before they came. But, and here is the important thing, I did NOT clean because David ordered me to.

The production crew felt the scale of our house is wrong for their scene and they are looking for bedrooms on the ground floor. They took several pictures of our front door and may want to use it for a different scene. I felt a little sad that our house wasn’t picked. They are going to be filming in two houses on our street.

All minor power struggles in my marriage aside, thank God this TV thing came along. The mess was really starting to get to me.

Comments { 21 } August 16, 2007

Tales From The Hood

This Los Angeles Life, ,

On a warm summer afternoon David and I were doing the typically mundane task of unloading groceries from our car. A little black hatchback car erratically pulled up to the stop sign at the intersection catty corner to our house. I didn’t really pay much attention at first but soon heard a commotion coming from inside the vehicle. Suddenly, a fairly average looking man jumped out of the car and roughly pulled a woman out behind him. This instantly caught my attention. I was halted dead in my tracks by the words the man was yelling.

“I’m the pimp! You’re the ho! Give me my money bitch or I’m going to hurt you.”

The fight continued along these lines for several more minutes. Then there was something that I didn’t quite understand about being from East Los Angeles verses West Los Angeles. This man, the pimp, was apparently from West Los Angeles and because of this fact the woman was lucky. If he had been from East LA she would be dead, but, because he is from West LA, he is more compassionate. The woman did not appear to be intimidated by this information. On the contrary, she seemed angry and defiant. She mentioned seeking employment opportunities with a pimp who “hadn’t lost his mother (insert the mother of all expletives here)-ing mind.”

A neighbor’s sprinkler was watering his lawn, I could hear the sound of children’s voices playing in a yard up the street and in the distance I faintly heard an ice cream truck rattling it’s bell and playing “Pop Goes The Weasel.” In the middle of our tranquil summer setting was this absurd exchange straight out of a really bad made-for-tv movie. I stood in the yard, transfixed, mouth agape.

The pimp saw me standing in the middle of my yard staring at them. He pushed the woman back into the car, drove around the corner, parked and pulled the woman back out of the car to yell at her again. By this time David walked up to me and asked what was going on. After I told him he ran inside and dialed 911.

David waited on hold for 10 minutes before he reached an operator. The 911 operator said they couldn’t do anything since we didn’t have the car’s license plate number. She instructed us to get a license plate number the next time this occurred. David requested that a squad car be sent to our location anyway. By the time David hung up the phone with the police the pimp and ho had resolved their dispute and driven away. They were long gone by the time the police drove through our area 45 minutes later.

Comments { 9 } December 17, 2005

How Did I Get Here?

What it is really like to restore a house

Restoration Diary, ,

It’s 10:30 at night and I am lying underneath our house in a 3 foot crawl space, wedged beneath two large intersecting pipes, wearing a bra and blue jeans in the semi darkness. The washer and dryer aren’t hooked up yet because we are still working on the back porch. It is much easier for me to get dirty and take a bath then for my shirt to get dirty and need to be hauled across town to the laundromat.

Rocks and dirt are cutting into my back as I wait for David to push one of seven coaxial cables through a small hole where our cement foundation connects to a floor joist. My “job” is to reach my hand into the small hole, grab the cable and pull it through to hole.

D (yelling through the floor boards): Do you see the cable yet?

H (yelling back): No.

D: How about now?

H: No, I don’t see anything. Shine the flashlight in the hole. No, I still don’t see the cable.

I hear David pulling the cable back out of the hole and putting it back in at a different angle.

H: Ok! I see it. Stop! Stop! Stop, pushing the cable.

I finally grab the cable and pull it through. With one hand, I keep pulling…and pulling…and pulling the cable.

H: David. DAVID.

D: Yeah?

H: How much cable is there?

D: About 15 feet.

H: We are going to be here ALL night.

D: Keep pulling. Just keep on pulling. Keep on pulling. Ok, keep on pulling.

H: Stop. Saying. KEEP. ON. PULLING! What do you think I’m doing?!

D: Ok. That’s it. Stop pulling. Stop pulling!

H: Oh, thank God. David, you did put the cable through the hole in the wall stud before you put it through the hole in the floor, right? David?

I see the cable frantically moving back up through the hole in the floor.

H: David? DAVID?! David, tell me you are kidding.


Comments { 3 } October 19, 2004

House Color Commitment Issues

Having a hard time deciding what color to paint our bungalow

Paint, Restoration Diary,

All the different colors I’ve liked over the past months.

I used to believe I had trouble making up my mind until the day I read a magazine article about men who are commitment phobic. The article was accompanied by a checklist of sneaky symptoms to determine if your potential mate has closet commitment issues. Questions like “Does it take your man 15 minutes or longer to order from a restaurant menu that contains more than 10 items” or “Does your man change jobs suddenly and often because he loses interest” helped me to learn that my man is fine, but I’ve got some major commitment issues.

“Honey, do you think I have problems with commitment?”

“Heather, I had to propose to you 3 times before you said yes!”

“Well, one time was in a grocery store parking lot and that just doesn’t count.”

Lest you think my husband isn’t romantic, one of his proposals took place in a hot air balloon floating in the clouds over wine country. It was beautiful and romantic. Swept up in the moment I said yes. After my feet touched the ground again I had a panic attack and said, “No, I’ve changed my mind. I’m sorry.”

We did end up married, very happily married in fact. Once I make up my mind, I don’t have regrets and I don’t look back but getting to that point is a whole different story.

The two colors I like this week.

This leads me to the 8.5 month indecision over what color to paint the house. What is a commitment phobe to do?

Comments { 3 } May 18, 2004

Asbestos Shingles…Cry, Cry!

Asbestos Abatement Aftermath

Restoration Diary, ,

The front of our bungalow after the asbestos shingles were removed.

Oh, dear lord…the abatement guys knocked on my door after they were finished and said sorry. Sorry? The condition of our original clapboard siding looked pretty shabby to them. They know we are restoring the house and I think they feel sorry for us.

Odd hole cut into the side of our house.

There is a gaping hole in the side of our house next to our upstairs bathroom. Why? Maybe that is how someone got the original clawfoot bath tub out, other than that it is anyone’s guess?

I immediately went outside and started pulling the black paper off the house. The front and side of our house that faces the street look pretty good. Not great, but not in the sorry realm.

Termite damage

Although, the gaping hole in the South side of our house and bobbled back porch addition is pretty sorry. I am not prepared to deal with the condition of our wood any more today because I am afraid upon further inspection I will discover plenty to be sorry about. I keep wondering, “How much? How much is this going to cost us?”

Enclosed back porch. This doesn’t look pretty.

I have a work deadline that is due at the end of the day today, but am finding it difficult to concentrate. I support our house by doing freelance graphic design work. Our friend Jeff also stopped by and wanted me to touch up his acting photographs.

Meanwhile, I am on the phone with David, “No, there is a hole, a huge hole on the side of our house. What do you mean what type of hole? The type of hole with no wood over it! It looks like birds can fly into our house.”

All of our windows are missing a bottom piece of trim.

In the midst of all this Simon was left upstairs by himself and forgotten until I heard him tumbling down the stairs and landing at the bottom with a yip and a thud. Oh, the guilt! He was rushed to the vet. He has a sprained front leg but nothing is broken. I am supposed to keep him quiet for the next few days, easier said than done.

The area around the chimney obviously has some issues.

I thought I had prepared myself for whatever was waiting underneath the asbestos. I told everyone I was hoping for the best while preparing for the worst. Even though we have ended up somewhere in between, the eternal optimist in me feels disappointed, ok, crushed is more accurate.

My newly planted flowers didn’t fair well.

I am always hopeful that one project will go smoothly like it does on all those television home improvement shows. You know, the ones where they re-do a house in 4 days or something like that. We will be lucky to be finished 4 years!

Continued from Asbestos Shingles Bye-Bye!

Comments { 1 } April 19, 2004

Our First Fan…

Or house restoration comrade in arms

Nothing Important,

David: I just met your fan.

Heather: What?

D: I just met your fan.

H: I have a fan?

D: Yes, this guy recognized our house from the website and he stopped and talked to me.

H: Really? What did he say?

D: He said he was K from Echo Park.

H: OH, that’s not some guy. That’s K from Echo Park with the Craftsman 4-plex!

D: Do we know him?

H: David, remember we saw the pictures online of his house being moved through the streets of downtown Los Angeles?

D: Oh! That’s who that was?! He said he was looking at houses in Jefferson Park.

H: Is he looking to buy?

D: I didn’t ask. (You can see where this conversation is going)

H: Did he say how the restoration of his 4-plex is coming along?

D: I didn’t ask.

H: Did he want to see the work we have done on the house?

D: I didn’t ask…

Ok, so K from Echo Park is more of a restoration comrade in arms than a fan of our house. It is a strange thing how the internet allows people “know” each other even though they have never met. I often visit websites to watch the progress others make in restoring their homes and even though we have never met, I feel almost like they are friends…or they would be friends if we actually lived in the same neighborhood.

Comments { 5 } April 16, 2004

Restoration Burnout

Restoration Diary,

“What else do you do besides work on your house, I mean for fun?”

Wow! Good question. I was a little thrown the other day when I was asked. The sad truth is nothing. A better question might have been, “What do you do when you are tired of working on your house?”

I think I am facing Restoration Burnout. It occurred to me that other than working at my job, I am either working on the house or planning for work to be done on the house – which is still work. I can’t remember the last time David and I had a conversation where something about the house didn’t come up.

Our house is very needy and it has all these problems that can’t easily be ignored. But, I sometimes wonder what I am doing here? Why have I invested so much time and money into this house that has so many problems? I do love the house but it gets hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It gets hard to hold on to the image of how the house will be someday when you are living in the here and now and one more thing stops working or you find one more expensive thing wrong with the house.

I look into the mirror and wonder what happened? I used to be cute but I don’t recognize this person in sweatpants and a paint splotched tee shirt wearing flip flops, disheveled hair pulled up in a ponytail. All my cute clothes hang in the closet from days when we could afford to go out and I worked in an office. I could still wear them but it wouldn’t be practical to do home repairs in heels – although David might consider it an improvement.

Comments { 6 } March 24, 2004

My Child?

Restoration Diary, ,

When you are married, of a certain age and childless by choice a strange thing starts to happen. It sneaks up on you slowly, over time so that you don’t recognize what is happening to you.

Suddenly, it’s Christmas time and you find yourself also booking a ticket for the dog because it wouldn’t be fair for her to spend Christmas at the kennel. It is cold in Salt Lake City, of course, the dog will need a coat. It becomes a little clearer as you realize there isn’t enough room for your clothes because the dog’s Christmas presents and four different dog coats fill most of the suitcase. The dog almost has a different coat to wear for every day you will be on vacation.

You decide that blue is the dog’s color and get her a matching collar and leash in the shade of blue that will contrast best with her fur. The dog has a special dog seatbelt that will keep her safe in the car. The dog has a basket overflowing with toys that she never plays with. You rotate out the toys to better grab her interest.

You start taking her to dog parks so she can have playtime and become socialized with other dogs. You insist that your husband speak to her clearly and not in baby talk so that she can learn more words. You decide the dog needs a larger more comfortable dog bed and start searching online for one that is down filled.

It doesn’t dawn on you that maybe it is a little odd that your dog has a middle name and you use it when the dog is in trouble. “Lulu Bell Chiu, stop chasing that cat this instant!”

It becomes a little more obvious when your family starts sending you Christmas gifts for the dog, although you did send them her Christmas list. Once your Mom starts referring to the dog as her grandchild and has her photo up on the refrigerator next to pictures of her human grandchildren the truth is hard to avoid. Lulu has become a surrogate child. Lulu seems perfectly happy with the arrangement.

My conversations with friends and family usually include the inevitable question, “How’s Lulu?”

Looking down at the framed photo of Lulu and my husband on the desk, “She’s fine.”

“What has she been up to?”

I’ve come to terms with having a dog for a child but a house? We spend a lot of time planning and saving for our house’s future. We want to make sure the house reaches its full potential. We have taken numerous photos to document all the stages in the house’s development. When friends pass around photos of their children we pass around photos of our house.

Questions about Lulu have been replaced with questions about the house. “How’s the house?”

“The house is fine.”

“What has been going on with it?”

“We are thinking of giving it a middle name.”

Comments { 6 } February 25, 2004

In the Eye of the Beholder

Restoration Diary,

When other people see our home do they see lots of potential or do they see a disaster? I get very protective of our house and try to point out all of its positive attributes but I’m not sure if everyone else is convinced? It takes some imagination to appreciate our house.

The day we took possession of the house our friend Jeff came over to see it. As I proudly walked him through our new home, he turned to me in disbelief and said, “You are going to live here?”

“Oh, boy!” I thought to myself, “Not quite the reaction I was hoping for.”

I later questioned why he had said that. He explained that he couldn’t imagine someone like me, who likes everything pristine and perfect, living in a house that was, to put it nicely, in such bad shape – polite code for a complete dump. I struck him as too prissy to be a do-it-yourselfer. But Jeff didn’t know the farm girl inside me clamoring to grab a sledgehammer and start knocking out ugly circa 1970′s cabinets. I don’t think my husband was prepared for her either.

It was a shock for him to come home every day to see something else demolished, taken apart or gutted. David, being much more practical, decided that I needed to be contained. He begged me to focus my energies on one room at a time because he feared the whole house would be completely torn apart. He wondered when we’d get out of the destruction phase and start the restoration phase? All of my “improvements” seemed to be making things worse. When listening to reason didn’t work he began hiding the sledgehammer.

Comments { 1 } December 17, 2003