Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Event: Pavlov's Dog Experiences Night Sweats

I think it's fair to describe my current mental state as slightly fragile (but please pronounce it "FRAH-JEEL-AY," like in "Christmas Story" - it just sounds better that way).

Exhibit A:  On Tuesday, as I was helping the librarian move chairs back to tables after C's Whiz Quiz match, my phone vibrated.  I pulled it out of my pocket, and saw that I had a Microsoft Outlook calendar reminder:  "Junior League Meeting (Provisional) 6:30 pm, Junior League Headquarters."

[Expletive deleted.]  It was 6:15.

I explained the situation to my spouse (by "explained," I mean "shouted incoherently over my shoulder as I sprinted out of the room") and headed for the car, passing C's botany teacher and, basically, dissing him when he attempted to initate conversation:

"Gotta go.  Late for a meeting, LATE FOR A MEETING."

Apparently, I had a few brain cells left - that, or I am operating off of muscle memory - because I did manage to puzzle out the quickest route from the middle school to JL HQ.  And I made pretty good time; in fact, there was a good chance that I would get to the general environs of JL HQ by 6:30.  And that's when it would all go to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks, because JL HQ has the most woefully inadequate parking situation imaginable.  As in, the parking lot fills up in a nanosecond, and then the cars start lining up along the side street.  At 6:30, I would be looking at a three-block jog, in high heels.

So I decided to be smart and come in at the tail end of the side street, where I was likely to find a space.  Again, more evidence of some existing brain function!   I mentally awarded myself a back pat - and then, in a flash, as  I was proceeding into the University/White Settlement intersection, about three blocks away from the turn-off, it hit me:

Junior League provisional meetings are on Mondays.

It was Tuesday.

But . . . my phone told me that I had a meeting.

Right . . . because, at my secretary's urging, I put all of my extracurriculars into my calendar at work, which feeds into my phone . . . and, given that I'm currently bat-s*** crazy and all, CLEARLY I inputted at least one thing incorrectly.

But, perhaps, I should check.  So I drove up to the turn-off, looked to the right where the long line of cars should be - and, yep, nada.


Fast forward to Thursday.  The attorneys in my office - ALL of them - went to the Fort Worth Club for happy hour.  This happens, like, never.  Thus, I wasn't in a particular hurry to leave - although Parnell and I did have to be somewhere at 6:30.  I texted him to let him know that I planned to push things to the last second - and, before I could put my phone away, there it was:

"Junior League Meeting (General), 6:30 pm, Junior League Headquarters."

Not.  Again.

This time, I actually hesitated for a second.   I didn't remember seeing an e-mail reminder about the meeting, and they usually send those out.  And general meetings never fall during the first week of the month.  But, surely, I couldn't have screwed up twice.  Better do a drive-by just in case.  Shouted goodbyes, retrieved my car from the valets, and again managed to plot out the shortest distance between two points, completely on the fly.  Once again approached from the end of the side street, because the parking situation for general meetings is even more horrific than for provisional meetings.  I'd be lucky to find a parking place in the same time zone.  That is, if there actually was a meeting.

Got to the intersection, hung a right, and had no problem turning around in the JL HQ parking lot, because there wasn't a single car in it.  I believe that a tumbleweed drifted in front of me, but I can't be sure, because the howling of the lone coyote on the other side of the sand dune shimmering in the distance distracted me.  TOTAL.  FLIPPIN'.  GHOST.  TOWN.

Seriously?  TWICE?

Thinking of changing my name.  First name:  Pavlov's.  Second name:  Dog.  Ring that bell - or chime that calendar chime - and, evidently, I will respond.

I blame sleep deprivation.  And, in turn, I blame sleep deprivation on my kitchen.  We have spent the last few weeks trying to figure out how to reconfigure it.  Goals, in no particular order, are to maximize storage, provide for as logical a traffic flow as is possible in a small space, preserve the "work triangle," and, ideally, obviate the need to move windows and doorways.

Two weeks ago, I thought I had the general layout figured out.  Since, currently, there are no floors to speak of in the house (well, they left strips around the interior walls, so basically you hug the wall and crab walk to get from Point A to Point B), we decided that there was no better time to replace the pipes under the original portion of the house.  (Pipes in the addition were already copper, and now we have PEX pipes everywhere else - space-age, rodent-proof, can expand due to temperature up to ten times their usual diameter without cracking, and DID I MENTION THAT THEY ARE RODENT-PROOF?)  Plumber was instructed to put the line to the sink here, and the line to the dishwasher there.  The morning after the day that the lines were installed here and there, I woke up at oh-dark-thirty, JUMPED out of bed, fully awake, and screamed at my spouse:


I'll spare you the details of why the dishwasher had to be moved, but let me just tell you - there is no worse feeling than having an epiphany about where to put your dishwasher the day after you pay a plumber to put it somewhere else.

Did I mention that I'm a newbie at all of this home construction stuff?  Yeah, turns out that my freak-out was entirely for naught.  The line to the sink was the biggie - dishwasher line ties into that and can be routed to the right just as easily as to the left.  Nothing on that score had been set in stone.

Big sigh of relief.

Over the next week, armed with a chart showing all of my cabinet options by type, depth and width, I painstakingly planned out two walls' worth of kitchen.  Even drew an elevation, which, I am pleased to report, looked substantially similar to the one that my husband subsequently generated using a computerized kitchen planning tool.  I was so pleased with myself - particularly, with the facts that I had managed to work around all three kitchen windows and had perfectly centered sinks under two of them, with symmetrical cabinet arrangements on either side - that I took a short break from kitchen design.  Then our contractor requested a "come to Jesus" to finalize certain finish-out selections, and I knew that I couldn't stall any longer.  Broke out the graph paper, penciled in the refrigerator and ovens, drew in the island, and -


"What do you mean the island won't fit?"

"I mean, something won't fit if we put the island where we're thinking of putting it.  I mean, obviously, everything is going to fit.  WE JUST WON'T BE ABLE TO OPEN DOORS TO THINGS.  The oven and refrigerator, specifically.  I mean, they'll open, but there won't be a place for us to stand while we're opening them.  Aaaaaah - here, I'll just show you."

We spent the next half hour recreating door-opening scenarios in the apartment kitchen, using a stepladder to approximate where the island would be.  Many lines on graph paper were drawn and erased.  Clearly, the oven wall needs to go over HERE - and, if we move the island to the south, all of the appliance doors will clear.  Except, we can't move the oven wall THERE, because we won't have enough linear space after we move the doorway to the home office.  (At this point, we were resigned to the fact that a doorway was going to have to move, which would in turn involve moving an existing, albeit currently unused, electrical panel - the one that served as the breaker box before the addition was built and the box relocated.  Doorway had to move, in part, to enlarge 12 inches of wall space in the corner to 24 inches, so as to permit installation of lower cabinets and a counter-depth refrigerator.  All of this made me unhappy, because (1) moving the door would require relocation of a bookcase in the home office on the other side of the door frame and (2) I'm Stingy McStingerson, and moving doors and electrical costs money, people.)

Let's see . . . .  If we DON'T move the doorway,  then we can put the oven to the right, meaning when you take stuff out of the oven, you would put it WHERE?  [More horrible reenactments in the apartment kitchen.]  Okay, that would actually work.  But now you only have twelve inches of depth on the other side of the doorway.  Lower cabinets are 24 inches deep.

But . . . upper cabinets are 12 inches deep.

What followed was a frenzy of excited shouts and pencil scratches.  The refrigerator found a permanent home.  Next to it, in the shallow space running north to the home office doorway, a solid (floor-to-almost ceiling) wall o' storage, constructed entirely of lower cabinets, stacked one row on top of the other.  The aha moments just kept on coming:  "Hmm.  We still haven't established a place for cookbooks.  If we put a 12-inch high row of cabinets right here at eye level . . . most of my cookbooks are smaller than 12 inches square, right?  GO GET THE THREE COOKBOOKS THAT I ACTUALLY SAW FIT TO BRING TO THE APARTMENT AND MEASURE THEM WITH A TAPE MEASURE."  Cookbooks were measured.  Oven wall was assigned a home.  In front of the ugly existing electrical panel.  Which would now be completely obstructed from view by a floor-to-ceiling cabinet housing a convection microwave, oven and warming drawer.

Aha, aha, aha.

(Two days later, the electrician confirmed that said convection microwave, oven and warming drawer could be wired directly into the ugly existing electrical panel, without the necessity of adding a 220-volt power source.  Let's review:  doorway, not moved.  Ugly existing electrical panel, not moved, completely invisible and, for the first time in twelve flippin' years, actually useful.  AHA, AHA, AHA.  And, also, YAAAAAY.)

Did I mention that all of this conversating and kitchen sketching went down between 11:30 pm and 2 am? 

Yeah, like I said, a little sleep-deprived.

A couple of peaceful days passed.  Then, last night, as I was going to bed, I made the sort-of-mistake of asking my spouse:  "So, were the cabinet people really impressed with my drawing?'

[Half asleep] "Yup."

"They didn't have ANYTHING negative to say?"

"Well . . . they did mention that the oven/sink thing was going to be pretty tight.  But they didn't have a better suggestion."

Pride goeth before a fall, people.  I had to ask if I was really that awesome of a kitchen designer.  And, now, five minutes before my head hit the pillow, I was living a nightmare.

[Shaking spouse, whose head had hit the pillow, and who was attempting to sleep] "WAKE UP!  THEY'RE RIGHT!  WHAT DO WE DO NOW?!?"

"Umm . . . put the sink where the cooktop is and the cooktop where the sink is?"


I took a breath, and caught a grip.  Grabbed my graph paper rendition, realized that I had made the oven cabinet three inches too wide, penciled in a trim piece and three inches of extra countertop, ACTUALLY WENT INTO THE APARTMENT KITCHEN AND PRACTICED USING THE SINK, RUNNING THROUGH SEVERAL DIFFERENT SCENARIOS, and finally, breathed a sigh of relief.

McGlincheys 2, Duplicative Plumbing Work 0.

It was ten minutes until midnight.  Shook Spouse, reassured him that the sky was not falling, reported my conclusions and got a muttered "Thass good, umm," in response.  No, he did not remember the conversation - or my panic attack - the next day. 

Spouse:  not sleep deprived.  Me:  barely holding on.  And miles to go before we - um, sleep.

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