About three months ago, we discovered toxic black mold underneath our kitchen sink. Two weeks after that, Anne and I packed up some bags and moved ourselves and our dogs out of our house, while a team of hazardous materials removal dudes tore apart our kitchen and made our house look like Breaking Bad.
A month after we moved out, we were able to come back into our house, because the mold (which originally appeared to be a few square feet, and ended up being much, much worse) had been successfully removed. The only problem with getting back into our house was our kitchen remained (and remains) torn up. Our refrigerator is in the middle of our living room. Our dishwasher is on our patio. We have no sink, so there’s no running water, so we can’t cook.
It’s all a real pain in the ass, and it’s made this entire summer feel like something we are enduring, rather than living.
It’s important to me that I keep and maintain perspective. Starting at the very beginning of this, with the toxic black mold: nobody got sick, and we discovered it just before it spread into the walls in a way that would force us to literally tear our house down.
Insurance denied our claim for reasons that I think are bullshit. We tried and failed to fight their denial, and while it’s infuriating that they got away with it, we’re very grateful and very lucky that the whole thing didn’t cost as much as we feared, and we’re grateful and lucky that we can afford to pay for it out of pocket.
We had to be out of our house for over a month, but our friends let us stay in their home (they were out of the country), so we didn’t have to endure the cost and weirdness of living in a hotel for thirty days. We got to take our dogs with us, and we were in such a quiet and unfamiliar location, it gave me the solitude I needed to focus and finish the manuscript of the novel I was writing.
Did I bury the lede on that? My novel is currently with my editor, and even though I still need to do some work on it, it’s that much closer to being finished and published. That’s kind of a big deal for me.
Our same friends offered us their house in Hana if we wanted to get out of town for a little bit, and Anne used points and miles to get us an unexpected vacation in Hawaii for less than the cost of a single plane ticket. I’m grateful for that.
After we got back from Hana, we were able to move back into our house, even though the kitchen was (and is) all torn apart. We’ve had to eat out for every meal, which has not been awesome, but I’m grateful that we can afford that, and that we live in a place that has lots of healthy and affordable options to feed ourselves. I’ve been joking that we’re sort of like college students who eat out of take away containers, but with a fancy budget.
When we got back into our house about a month ago, we expected to live in the chaos for about five days, before everything was finished and restored to the way it was before … but everything takes longer than expected, and as of this morning, my refrigerator is still in the middle of my living room.
I’m grateful that this summer has been, in perspective, a series of mild inconveniences that haven’t wrecked our lives. I’m grateful that Anne found someone who could replace our hardwood floor with an exact match, even though the boards in our house haven’t been made since the 1940s. I’m grateful that they matched the floors perfectly. I’m grateful that they were able to rebuild our cabinets and save our countertops so perfectly, you can’t even tell that they’re new. I’m grateful that the people who have done all this work on our home have been kind, honest, hard workers (who my dogs love, which is important. If your dogs don’t like someone, respect that, because dogs seem to have good instincts about people for some reason.) I’m grateful that, when this is all finished, I don’t think we’ll be able to tell that anything ever happened, because everything is matching close to perfectly.
I haven’t spent this summer making things, like I wanted to. I haven’t started writing anything new. I haven’t spent any time on my blog since June, and though it feels weird, I haven’t really missed it. I feel like I am in this part of my creative cycle where I absorb and consume and get inspired by other people’s creations, so I am nourished and ready for the output part of my creative cycle, whenever it decides to arrive.
I’ve spent this summer reading lots of books, and watching almost one movie a day. I know that sounds like goofing off and fucking around, but for me, it’s a fundamental part of my creative life and my creative self. I get inspired by good things and bad things, and I’ve consumed a lot of both this summer. I have found the same kind of comfort and familiarity in a book that I had when I was a kid: no matter where I am or what’s going on, I can open a book and lose myself in it. I’ve found so much happiness and comfort in the books I’ve read this summer, it’s inspired me to dedicate myself to finishing my novel asap, so I can maybe give people who read it the same escape and happiness I’m getting.
For my novel, I needed to find a slasher movie from pre-83 that wasn’t Friday the 13th or Halloween. It needed to be something that the kids in my story would have rented at the video store, and even though I could have gotten away with using one of those popular and well-known films, I wanted to find something different for reasons I’ll get into when I start writing my “here’s how I did it” posts about the novel, in the run up to its release. The upshot of this is that I’ve watched a TON of early 80s slasher movies this year, and holy shit am I primed to write and make one of my own, because I understand them at a granular level I didn’t think was possible, and I want to see what happens when I make my version of that kind of thing, even if it’s just a short script.
I’m grateful for the time I’ve had to do that level of research (some of them have been fun to watch, others are just terrible, but it’s always been worth it), and I wouldn’t have made the time if my house hadn’t been torn apart. Maybe I’ll even work an unfinished kitchen into the story, as an homage to this whole shitshow.
So. It’s been a summer of mild inconveniences, and I’m grateful and lucky that it isn’t so much worse. I’m grateful for the life I have, and for the people I get to share it with, especially my best friend and wife, Anne. I hope that, wherever you are and whatever your personal circumstances are, you get to share your life with someone who is as special to you as Anne is to me. I hope that you have the privilege (like I do) of looking at bummer things that happen, and finding some perspective that makes them feel less frustrating and annoying than they could be.
This is the first post I’ve written since I deactivated my Twitter. I wonder if anyone will see it? I wonder if I’m wrong about Twitter not making any difference in blog traffic or book sales. I’m going to feel really silly if I am. Anyway, I hope you’re having a good summer, and I hope that any inconveniences you have encountered have been mild.
Thanks for listening.