I love Dunkin Donuts. I know it’s just a chain of low-end Doughnut shops, but I go to Dunkin Donuts every day. The baked goods and food are not so great, but I do enjoy the coffee. When I moved, downsized, left the marital home, whatever you want to call it — I began a relationship with Dunkin’ Donuts that was very personal.
When the old house sold, the new “old” house was still being remodeled. “Remodeling” makes it sound so pretty and exciting — so HGTV-like. It wasn’t. It was more a combination of Hoarders, Clean House, DIY’s Renovation Realities and Jerry Springer. Oh, it was an adventure, but it wasn’t pretty. Some of the details of the renovation will be in other posts, but for this you need to know that the kitchen had already been demolished to the studs, see Toilet or Kitchen Sink — Who Can Tell? and the home’s only bathroom was under construction to allow for an over the tub shower and for my boy to be able to stand in front of the toilet — like a man. The tub and sink had previously been removed, only the toilet remained, temporarily, which looked like this: Did you notice the duct tape on the toilet seat? Did ya? Can you imagine the germ fest going on there? Although at least one of the prior owners wasn’t even using the toilet regularly, see Piss Puke and Porn, . . . that toilet was more than nasty. It was a bio-hazard. This picture was taken almost a year before I moved in, when the prior owners were still living there. Yet when I moved in, the same duct tape was still on the toilet, now covered in plaster dust and construction dirt which had stuck to the urine stains on the commode like a weird kind of sand art. Ew!!
We moved into this mess – in Summer — and it was hot. Wait for it . . . we moved into a true
. . . wait for it. . . hot mess!
But at least we had a toilet to flush, assuming we could use it without touching it. I kept a bottle of hand sanitizer on a bucket in the “bathroom.” This held us over until we could use the hose — outside. Oh yes, and I forgot to mention that since the bathroom ceiling and roof were being raised, there was no overhead light. A desk lamp plugged into the one working outlet gave us some light — because you need to see in order to use a toilet without touching it. You need to see — but not too much, not too much, not in that house. We were seriously roughing it.
Two days after we moved in the disgusting toilet was removed. I was slightly relieved, not realizing that a simple plumbing fixture could actually scare me so much. But this left us with no indoor plumbing at all. Huh. But when the toilet was taken outside and I saw it in the light of day? Well, no indoor plumbing became suddenly acceptable, preferable, actually.
Still, I wasn’t alone. I do have five children. One kid was thankfully going on vacation with another family for a week. That left four. Four kids with nowhere to wash themselves, wash clothes or prepare food. And the four kids left were girls, so going behind a tree — not so easy.
I schlepped the girls to and from Grandma and Grandpa’s house, along with our laundry. But my elderly parents also have only one bathroom as well and were quite distraught over our living conditions. They were distraught? Imagine how I felt. I had to downplay the situation to keep my parents (who are Olympic level worriers) and my kids calm. I pretended this was not that big a deal. I deserve an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. I don’t want a SAG award, because I can’t get over the sound of that . . . but I digress.
Of course the bathroom construction was behind, though I was given reassurances to the contrary. And, let’s just say my funds were not liquid at the moment, which severely limited my options. (This may be subject of another post.)
While the kids were at the grandparents or other activities (which I kept them in, so as to maintain normalcy and give them a place to go — literally — ha!) I stayed and worked at the house. Professionals were doing the bathroom but I needed to be around to supervise, and continue my round the clock cleaning and painting, see That Hoarder’s Smell, and also try to organize our belongings —which were stored in stacks of boxes that could not yet be unpacked. Of course, there was no need to unpack the kitchen because, well, we didn’t have one. In addition, the house was not yet secure — broken locks and doors — someone needed to be around.
My morning routine was as follows:
I would get up, roll into my clothes or keep on whatever I’d slept in (because so very few of my clothes were accessible to me) and head to Dunkin Donuts.
Walking in quickly and giving the very hip “up” nod to the workers, who knew me as a regular, I would head directly to the bathroom where, in addition to the normal thing to do, I would wash my face, dry it with a paper towel, grab the toothbrush and paste stashed in my purse, and brush my teeth. When I emerged my coffee was ready for me. The largely Pakistani staff expected me, remembered my order, and never gave me a hard time about my frequent and prolonged bathroom visits — even when I had the kids with me and we did it as a group, waiting our turn, usually at night, which brings me to—
The night-time routine:
“Okay, kids we need to go and use the bathroom for the last time before bed. Get in the car.”
And we went to . . . Dunkin’ Donuts. The folks there would often give us free doughnuts, too! Plus I made friends with one worker even though there was a huge language barrier and I later helped her with a very personal issue — again something for another post.
I almost forgot that at one point there was a “Potty in the Basement” provided by the plumbers — really it was like an adult-sized training potty, except with chemicals. Yeah, that didn’t work too well either, partly because there was no light down there in the oil stained, crumbling stone basement, and partly because the contents of that potty needed to be dumped– not after every use because of the chemicals, but regularly. This meant carrying it up broken basement stairs, through the house and outside (walking a plank which extended from the back door four feet down to the ground, no deck or stairs yet) and then dumping it into the sewer line.
That potty overflowed once in the house. Ew. I just shuddered a little, thinking about it. Ew.
Damn, I’ve been through some shit, literally, shit . . . but I digress . . . and this post is getting long.
Realizing the bathroom remodel was going to take longer than expected, and when I finally had funds available (back child support was finally paid, on the very last day listed on the court order), I arranged for a port-a-potty to be installed in the back yard. After all, it was a construction site.
Oh the Port-A-Potty — it gave us another round of adventures . . . since it was Summer and my children were and are very afraid of bugs and the dark . . .
Anyway, this is how my love affair with Dunkin’ Donuts happened, it wasn’t just about the coffee.
Just Me With . . . a fully functional bathroom — now — though I still enjoy my morning coffee from my friends at Dunkin’ Donuts.
“Time to make the . . . Doughnuts?”
See, “She Asked For My Help” for the issue with my Pakistani friend.
On every home makeover show, every real estate show, they talk about how everyone loves the open floor plan. It’s the new black. Homeowners are forever busting through walls to open the kitchen to the family room and eliminating the dining room altogether.
There are two main reasons why the open floor plan is so so popular:
1. It is great for entertaining. People always end up in the kitchen anyway, right? This allows the cook to be in the kitchen puttering around and interact with guests.
2. It is great for parents of young children. It allows the parent to be in the kitchen and still keep an eye on the little ones in the family room. No more baby in a playpen or high chair in the kitchen while you make dinner.
Do you see the theme?
“STAY IN THE KITCHEN!“
The open floor plan negates any reason to actually leave the kitchen.
But there is a third reason: knocking out walls creates space, or at least an illusion of space within the same square footage.
When you think about it, the open floor plan has been common in apartments for years. Walk into an apartment and you can see everything except the bedroom. It was supposed to be a move up for an apartment dweller to buy a house and actually have separate rooms. This new open floor plan trend has essentially turned high-end palace homes into nothing but super-sized apartments, with a second floor.
For those of you who don’t have the open floor plan, before you take out all the walls in your house, and before you feel badly because you have a wall that you can’t take down, consider this:
1. Your children won’t be toddlers forever.
Children tend to grow. And there will come a time where you don’t want to and don’t have to watch every move they make.
2. Yes, you can see your toddlers, but your toddlers can see you, too.
My husband and I used to go into the laundry room to shove a snack into our faces so that the babies wouldn’t see and start wailing for some. Sometimes, I’d drop down behind the island like I’d heard sudden gunfire in order to have a cookie.
3. You can see your school-age, tween and teen kids, but they can see you, too.
With an open floor plan, you can forget coming down to sneak a snack over the counter in your jammies late at night, or reading the paper at the kitchen counter/table in the morning before your shower. There’s nothing like hearing, “Hi. Mrs. Peterson!” when you’re bra-less in a vintage tee and boxers drinking coffee in your kitchen. And if you dare talk on the phone while cooking or cleaning, you will be shushed by someone — or perhaps worse, a child will be listening in on every word. And it is a truism, a simple fact of life, that as kids grow, parents spend a fair amount of time hiding from them. The open floor plan is antithetical to the natural course of child-rearing in this respect.
4. Your kitchen must always be spotless . . .
There’s no door to close. When unexpected guests pop in — yours or your children’s — and you haven’t unloaded and reloaded your dishwasher — everyone can see it. Suddenly you’re a slob. The rest of your house could be spotless, but under these floor plans, no one ever sees the rest of your house.
5. Your family (TV) room includes a kitchen– a noisy, smelly kitchen.
Imagine sitting down in a darkened room, ready to watch a great emotional or talky movie and — oh hello, there’s your kid or spouse or whatever, in the kitchen, talking on the phone, repeatedly opening the fridge, making bacon, arguing with someone. Go ahead and click pause, because you can’t hear whatever George Clooney is saying, not that you need to . . . . but I digress. Your quiet moment has been ruined.
6. Children’s Programming/Teen programming/Sports/News — Anything you don’t want to watch at any given time.
Your little kid is watching Dora. Again, and again, and again. You can’t get away from it. iCarly? I get it, but I’ve had enough. People are enjoying the big game, snacking, yelling at the screen, having a good old time. You are wiping the counter after having loaded the dishwasher and setting out food for them. Worse, you can’t even mutter to yourself or roll your eyes at the unfairness of it all, because you are on display.
Essentially, the open floor plan allows you to be in the kitchen and watch — other people watch TV. Humph.
7. “Oh my gosh I dropped the chicken!”
In a perfect world, no one would know. Open floor plan? Well, it’ll be tweeted in minutes.
8. When entertaining, sometimes you need a minute.
Your mother-in-law is driving you crazy, your boss is bored, your husband/wife is saying something he/she shouldn’t, you need yet another drink, you just said something really, really stupid. With an open floor plan, THERE’S NO PLACE TO GO!!! I love all the classic TV shows where people could say, “Can I see you in the kitchen” or “I’m going to check on the food,” followed quickly by, “I’ll help you.” (This is all code for “We need to talk.” ) With an open floor plan I guess you have to hide in the bathroom, and that’s just plain icky.
One big room is fine, it can even be intimate when you are alone or coupled up. But once there are people of different ages, interests and responsibilities, well let’s just say that all this open living can be downright oppressive.
I speak from experience.
I knocked out a kitchen wall in my old house and built a family room addition. Instead of looking out my kitchen window and seeing trees, I created a view of my family room. I had young children at the time. I fell for the “I can be in the kitchen and see the kids” trap. Well, the children grew, the husband left, and I downsized to a much smaller fixer-upper home.
When it was time to do the kitchen, the contractor asked,
“You gonna knock out this wall?”
I said, “No. I want my wall. I need my wall.”
Truth is, I need some division in my life.
Sometimes I watch a little TV or listen to music while cleaning or cooking. Sometimes I sit at the kitchen table on my laptop or the phone while my kids are in the family room watching something that literally makes me ill. I’ve even been known to channel my inner Beyoncé and dance to my heart’s content in my kitchen. With my wall intact, I can be unseen but close by, and still opt in or out of the children’s entertainment at will.
It’s the little things . . . Sometimes a wall is a good little thing.
Just Me With . . . a divided floor plan and a bit of, well — if not sanity — at least a bit of privacy.
How to Get Rid of That Hoarder’s Smell
I’ve talked about the crap I’ve had to deal with in my new house, well not crap, piss, actually, see Piss, Puke and Porn, but my old house had been a fixer upper, too. There were a lot of jobs that didn’t get finished, what with kids that started coming two at a time and then the husband walking out and all. But I had decided to sell and I had to do cosmetic changes quickly to make the house more appealing.
I needed to get carpet on the stairway and upstairs hallway. Not a job I could do myself. Even the most avid DIY-ers will call in the pros for carpet installation, especially stairs. So I got a quote from one of those next day installation companies since the house was already on the market and I needed a quick turnaround. Didn’t like the sales guy that came by hours late — said he couldn’t find my house and when he did, there were no cars in the driveway so he thought I was out. Wrong. But again, I needed a quick turnaround so I went ahead and booked a time for neutral colored carpet to be installed next day.
For staging purposes, I had already moved one of my dressers from my bedroom to another room to make my bedroom appear larger. (This was a big house , but it was an old house so we didn’t have the huge walk in closets, etc., just a lot of rooms). So my dresser, containing my bras and panties and pajamas, was in the room (formerly and traditionally, a nursery) adjacent to the master bedroom at the top of the stairs. I sometimes keep important documents in my panty drawer (anyone else do that?) so I had been looking in there for a credit card I don’t usually use to pay for the carpet. I admit that I may have left the drawer slightly ajar — cracked, but not completely open.
Sitting with the supervisor downstairs I completed the paperwork and made the down payment. While we were doing this the workers came in to prepare for installation. This much must be understood: this was a hallway carpet installation, the previous carpet had already been removed. In other words, there was no furniture to move out of the way and no bedrooms were getting new carpet. After the paperwork was finalized, I checked on the workers.
I walked upstairs to find a man in the extra room with his hand in the now open underwear drawer, gazing at and fingering my panties. My good, lace, hoping I’ll get lucky — underpants. Ew. (Ladies, you just crossed you legs, didn’t you?) As soon as he saw me he dropped them, removed his hand, looking like a kid caught with his hand in the candy jar — or more accurately — looking like a man caught with his hand in my panty drawer!
Nothing was missing from my drawer. But in my mind my panties would never be the same. I complained to the supervisor who spoke to the workers — in Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish. I complained to the corporate offices in writing. I got a call saying that they had investigated and the worker said the drawer probably fell open while they were moving furniture, and of course I countered,
THE WORKERS DIDN’T HAVE TO MOVE ANY FURNITURE TO INSTALL HALLWAY CARPET! THEY HAD NO TO REASON TO BE IN THAT ROOM AT ALL, LET ALONE IN MY UNDERWEAR DRAWER!
Now, I understand that any company can get a bad worker, but not only did they offer me nothing for my experience, but I even got the subsequent follow-up marketing calls, you know, the “How did you like our service?” calls. It was funny, because I would calmly respond, “The carpet is fine, but one of your workers played with my panties and that kinda of ruined it for me. So, no, I can’t recommend your company to anyone.” Ha! Oh, the stutters I would get from the unknowing telemarketer!!! But really, what kind of company would keep me on the call list after I’d complained in writing?
This is a national carpet company — and to this day when I hear their ads with their catchy jingle, I sing a little ditty — “They’ll install carpet and feel up your panties — today.”
Just Me With . . . panties that get more action than I do.
I was in the midst of a nasty divorce and remodeling a nasty house. (See Piss, Puke, and Porn). I was learning how to do so many construction type things by myself. I went almost daily to the Home Improvement Store.
Sometimes I bought what I needed.
Sometimes I’d just stare at items and plan my next project.
Sometimes . . . I would just stare.
I had decided I would learn about electrical work (dangerous, I know). My thinking was that carpentry is all good but it requires a fair amount of strength – man strength that I just don’t have, and I’d often need help for those projects anyway, same with plumbing. I was looking to learn how to do things I can do my own damn self. So electrical work– nothing big– more like just being able to trouble shoot and maybe one day being able to replace a receptacle or put in a light fixture — could be a skill I could use by myself. It doesn’t take a whole lot of strength, and it seemed like something about which I could at least try to develop a working knowledge. So I bought a book and was standing in the electrical aisle — you know, just looking.
(As an aside, if you like the work boots kinda guy, it’s fun to look at the home improvement store customers early in the morning during the week if you can get there. Weekends, not so much, unless you want to ogle married guys with their wives and kids in tow.)
Anyway, a nice gentleman working there asked if he could help me. He was okay cute, well-spoken, friendly — impressed when I told him about my projects but not condescending. The conversation turned personal and I found out he was divorced with grown kids (he must have married young), and he owned his home. I told him I was getting divorced too, hence my move to the fixer home (my Hoarders dump).
I started to think: Well, this is The Perfect Man. Based on his store discount alone I could justify falling for him. Plus — bonus, he actually had skills, electrical skills, construction skills — and a nice smile. This man could teach me things. (I was still mid-divorce nastiness, not dating but trying to be open to it.) I started to fantasize about power tools and having someone to hold the other end of the tape measure. Ahhh “Maybe I should go out with this guy,” I thought. “What can it hurt?” So when he finally got around to asking if he could give me his number (very gentlemanly I thought), I just said, “Sure.” At the time, this was a huge step for me. Though my husband and I had been separated for a while, I did not feel very single yet and was not ready to be “out there.” (Sadly, some of that has not changed.) Anyway, he got some paper, scribbled his name and number and handed it to me.
His name? —- SAME FREAKIN’ NAME AS MY ESTRANGED HUSBAND!!!!
What the . . . ?
I kept his number for a while, but I couldn’t bring myself to call. I knew I’d never be able to say his name. Never. Ever.
My Home Improvement Store Guy Fantasy was over.
Just Me With . . . the digits of a guy with the same name as my husband.
The Snowman — another chance meeting
As I noted in Piss, Puke and Porn after I bought my new old house I allowed the prior owners to rent it back from me for a number of months while my marital home was on the market. During this time I worked mostly on the outside of the house.
It needed it.
When it got closer to move-in time I did do some work/planning inside the house.
It needed it.
One fine day I was in the kitchen measuring, trying to come up with a plan to remodel the kitchen which, again, was nasty –I mean it had stained, smelly carpet — IN THE KITCHEN! Once white ceiling tiles which were brown from cigarette smoke and water damage, and the kitchen boasted a lovely exposed toilet pipe, etc. But I was financially challenged and wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to afford all the home renovations needed at one time. I briefly considered trying to live with the kitchen “as is’ for a while. (Of course, after removing the carpet and massive cleaning and disinfecting.)
During the rental period, the matriarch of the family, bless her heart, had become ill. She was staying in a hospital bed in the front room (the hallway was too small to get a bed upstairs). Her common law daughter-in-law (the one living upstairs with Piss Man) was her primary caretaker. See What Happened In My House? Murder? The daughter-in-law seemed to want to befriend me. I can talk to anybody, really, so we were chatting it up. Mind you, this was before the discovery of The Piss Collection.
But then something happened.
Piss Man’s Girlfriend had gone to check on the Matriarch. I stayed in the kitchen, pondering — what to do with this mess? Then, Piss Man’s Girlfriend returned with a full bed pan and proceeded to empty it — into the kitchen sink — INTO THE KITCHEN SINK !!!!
She did this right in front of me!!!
My hopes of my family using the existing kitchen for a while and thus staggering the home renovations were dashed, or should I say splashed down the kitchen sink. A kitchen sink currently being used and surrounded by dishes and food.
When the family moved out of my new old house, the entire kitchen — including the kitchen sink — was demolished by a friend and I — within days. We lived for four months with no kitchen at all. But I’d rather have no kitchen at all than —-
Just Me With . . . The Ever Popular “Toilet — Kitchen Sink Combination.”
Related: What Happened in My House, Murder?