April 17, 2006

No Zen in DIY

We're trying to sell our house so we can move to California. For the past two days, I've been working on the house to get it in good shape. Yesterday, my dad and I put in a laminate floor in the spare bedroom, after The Wife and I ripped out the old carpet. We didn't have enough quarter round to complete the task, so this morning The Wife and I went to Home Depot and used a gift card we had left over from our wedding to help buy more quarter round, a threshold, chair rail, and new fan blades for one of the overhead fans. It's quarter to seven now and I haven't got a lick of real work done because I've been running around all damn day getting the house in shape for showing.

Along the way, tensions ran high. The Wife is wound up tighter than a snare drum about this whole affair. The way she normally vents stress is by cleaning. When having things be clean is what she is stressing about, it can get difficult for me to cope. She wants to be involved in and have a hand in doing everything. Maybe that comes from watching so many home improvement shows where it only takes half an hour to completely transform a shabby house into a beautifully-decorated one. But either way, it's hard for her to let go of control of this process, and let events take their natural course.

So, although I didn't think we really needed to do it, we steam-cleaned the carpet today at her insistence. The steam-cleaning didn't do a thing about the spots she was concerned with. The new chair rail and the new laminate floor look great. I still need to solve the threshold problem, because no store sells thresholds low enough and with wide enough grooves to fit our laminate floor.

So, when we got home tonight from allowing the real estate agent and the prospective buyers to complete their view of the house, she wanted to call our real estate agent immediately -- we hadn't even been home five minutes and she wanted to call. I'm content to wait until tomorrow.

Not everything is going to go smoothly in a process like this. I realize that, and so does The Wife -- but we seem to have different reactions to the speed bumps life throws at us. The threshold still doesn't fit -- what should we do about that? Eventually, I wind up just doing what she wants whether I think it's a good idea or not just to end the conflict when we have a dispute like that. That's probably not a great thing for a litigator to admit he does, but it's the truth; at some point I wind up weighing the stakes (having The Wife pissed off at me for hours, if not days, over a dispute about finishing a DIY project) with the value of winning. Later, I remember that she probably wasn't really mad at me and I wasn't really mad at her. But it's not a good time.

Things got heated like that more than once today -- I nearly lost it with her on more than one occasion; the fact that my knees and shoulders are very sore from all the DIY work involved in selling the house, and at this point it hurts to sneeze doesn't help. I also need to create a new online class that is supposed to start tomorrow. I try to be patient and mostly I succeed, and I know that she's occasionally upset with me, too. That, more than anything else, makes this process unpleasant for both of us.

I know there isn't much I can do to stop her from freaking out about this process. So I very much want the house to be sold -- so that The Wife can put this stress behind her. That's both self-interested (it's no fun to be me when The Wife is stressed out) and selfless (I don't want her to be stressed out; I'd like her to be happy and comfortable with what's going on).

I'm exhausted on every level -- mentally, physically, and emotionally. And now -- now I get to start doing my real work. Yay.


Anonymous said...

Didn't the realtor say the house didn't need any work to sell?

When I'm tense, I blow off steam by drinking in front of the television. I can't drink lately, and with Salsola's dad visiting for a month, the TV's not the best option. But I'm still not desperate enough to clean.

Anonymous said...

P.S. That last place we bought had carpet that smelled of dog pee, and they didn't even bother to clean the toilets before they left. They got the same amount of money.

Anonymous said...

P.P.S. I don't even know what chair rail is.

Man, I'm scared to have you guys over now.

Burt Likko said...

Just for you, Nancy, I'll make another post with a photograph of the fruits of our labors so you can see what a chair rail looks like.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Spungen and Salsola,
We're interested in seeing YOU not your house cleaning abilities. Don't worry about such silly things. I do cause as TL will tell you I'm a freak.

Anonymous said...

The realtor said the house was fine and that we didn't need to do anything - except that which we had said we were going to complete that weekend: the laminate floor and the chair rail and the screen door - which is still needs to be done. It just took us a bit longer than we expected, but now that it's over it was very much worth it. At least I think so. TL will probably just agree so that I don't start cleaning again.

Becky said...

Have we met TL? "The Wife is wound up tighter than a snare drum about this whole affair." Huh? This is news to you? Darling when have I NOT been wound up about the house? I agree, I'm probably more "excited" (not wound) than normal, but the stakes are high now. It's not just about having a nice, cleam home, it's about selling a nice, clean home.

This is TN and thus we must act accordingly. In CA most houses will sell - and above the asking price. In TN that's just not the case. Thus I am eager and excited to get this place sold so we can get out of Dodge dude!

Also, TL you have done an outstanding job at the various DIY projects around the home. I know your level of excitement and energy for such things does not compare to mine. However, you still have done a super job handling the power tools, measuring twice and cutting once, etc. I'm very proud of you. I know you'd rather play on the computer than hang a chair rail. I know you'd rather drink a beer than lay quarter round. But all the same, you've been really great about taking it all in stride.

It'll be worth it when we're in CA hanging out with friends... eating REAL Mexican food... enjoying fresh sushi... shopping at Trader Joes... and wine tasting in Los Olivos!