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|Melissa Carter: Not quite home improvement|
|by Melissa Carter|
|March 02, 2012 00:00|
When you own an older home, improvement projects come with the territory. Theoretically, these occasional updates to your dwelling should be fun. But for me, they are a source of high anxiety.
The reason is because the woman I live with is determined to complete as many of these projects as possible all on her own even though she has no qualifications whatsoever to be doing construction work, plumbing work, electrical work, flooring installation, etc. The result is that I have to stay at the house while these little projects are being undertaken, prepared at any minute to call 911.
For example, Katie decided months ago she no longer wanted a ceiling fan in our bedroom, so she took it down. Those wires protruding through the ceiling seemed to wave in jest at us each morning until last weekend, when Katie found a new light fixture and decided it was time to fix the problem.
So my Saturday was spent standing on our bed, spotting her as she tried desperately to hang the light fixture such that it was actually straight. It was also my job to jump down and retrieve fallen screws and nuts that began to tap dance across the floor as her arms got tired.
When the fateful moment came for her to test the light, I brought a fire extinguisher. When I questioned why the entire fixture seemed a little shaky, she assured me that it was fine — as long as we never had an earthquake.
The other reality of life with a can do’er is that nothing ever gets done when you think it will. When it came time to replace the floor in my home office, no contractors were called. That’s because Katie was going to take care of it. So we purchased the new flooring, and stacked it in the hallway outside the room.
And there it remained, for months. Once the stacks of flooring started to gather dust, I pleaded with her to call a flooring guy and save herself the trouble. No luck. The next day, she took out some tools and removed the old carpet in the office. And then waited another month before she started again.
Not only do these projects put our lives in danger, but our friends lives as well. Last year when I was still on the Bert Show, Jenn Hobby and her husband, Grant, gave me a ride home after work in their 4 x 4 during a snow storm.
When we arrived at my house, Katie wanted to build a fire for our guests, but we were out of firewood. No problem. Katie grabbed a chainsaw and headed outside to make her own firewood. Fascinated, and a bit concerned, Grant followed her in the snow and helped secure the logs from fallen limbs in the back yard. We did get our fire.
A relationship with anyone requires a certain resilience to that person’s oddities and unique traits. And in the grand scheme of things, her predilection for do-it-yourself projects is not that big of a deal. Unless, of course, it one day results in stitches, mild electrocutions or falls through the ceiling.
The hard part is knowing how to balance the dance of not being too demeaning when she talks about knocking the wall out to make the closet bigger. In my mind, I am saying, “Are you f****ing crazy?” But outwardly, I choose my words more carefully, “Don’t you think that would occupy our whole weekend? I would rather hire someone so we can go out of town.”
The truth is that we do get things accomplished around the house cheaper than we would otherwise. But I never completely let go of the image of myself driving up to our home with the Fire Department there waiting on me. And God help us if we ever sell this house and have to hire an inspector to review her work.
That meeting will be one project where I happily leave and let Katie handle that one all on her own.
Melissa Carter is also a writer for Huffington Post. She broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in Atlanta and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter
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