Slow and Steady but Mostly Just Slow.

Thus far, it has taken me roughly two months to redo the horrendous caulk job in my bathroom. What should have taken no more than a few hours has been stretched into a drawn-out, casual sort of affair, with long periods of rest punctuated by short, manic spurts of activity. So far I’ve succeeded in scraping away and replacing all the caulk around the top of the tub, but have been unsuccessful at working my way down to the floor. Don’t even bring up that spot between the sink and the wall or you’re dead to me.

I don’t know where this year is going, but I’m fairly certain that science has found a way to speed time while simultaneously slowing my mental processes and emptying my bank account. This might also just be an indication that I’ve been really busy and taking on any major project (or, let’s face it, even most minor projects) just seems totally out of the question and overwhelming. Hence, the caulk situation. Luckily school ends in a week.

As such, I’ve been trying to take this as an opportunity take care of some of those smaller items on my to-do list that tend to fall by the wayside in the excitement of things that are…way more exciting. It’s miserable shit, but it’s also teaching me lofty concepts like “following through” and “responsibility.”

Here is our original living room light fixture. I’ll just say it was probably one of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen and leave it at that. You don’t even want to know the horrors on top of that circle of glass.

BOOM, new light. New light that is actually old, seeing as I bought it off Craigslist back in AUGUST. Take that in for a second. AUGUST.

It’s a Kartell FL/Y Suspension Lamp. It’s huge and plastic and gives off nice light and retails for like $300 but I bought it for $60. Even though Max has all but outlawed the use of overhead lights, I like knowing it’s up there. Waiting. Ready for service in the rare moments when I can get away with it.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL.

A long time ago, right after I painted the living room, I made the super crappy mistake of trying to pretend I liked curtains. This was a bad idea, seeing as I do not like curtains. Not for myself, anyway, or maybe only these curtains hung in this horrible way. I’m all about curtains for other people. I’m sure yours look great, for example, because you’re perfect. You know how to hang a curtain.

Yes, this was the best picture I could scrounge up of the curtain fiasco of 2011-early ’12. Apologies.

God, I hated those curtains. Because they were “temporary,” I decided I didn’t care that the panels were too wide, so the windows could only accommodate one panel each. Sure, I could have cut them in half lengthwise to make two skinnier panels like normal curtain-loving folk might do, but they were “temporary” and…too much effort. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Here’s a close-up. RITVA curtains from IKEA on an ugly IKEA curtain rod that seems to have been discontinued. That RITVA fabric is actually really nice, by the way, it just looked awful in my windows.

This entire curtain nightmare was brought on by IKEA’s choice to discontinue the fabulous and perfect and beautiful light of my life, fire of my loins that was the ENJE roller blind. Sensing the remote possibility that such an earth-shattering decision might be made by my favorite Swedish furniture manufacturer, I had hoarded all of my ENJE shades from my last apartment, but these two living room windows were too big for those salvaged sloppy seconds. So I had to wait. And wait. And wait. I heard all of this was brought on because the pull-chain constituted a possible strangling hazard for toddlers or something, but honestly? I’m not a huge fan of most kids, but I was a huge fan of those blinds. You see where I’m going here.

Oh joyous day when the ENJE returned to IKEA, but of course they went and bastardized a perfectly good child-repellent design with a new spring-loaded suspension system instead of a pull-chain, which seems like it would be infinitely more hazardous. So I bought two, brimming with excitement to go home and immediately rip down the curtains and throw up my new shades.

A good three or four months later, I finally got around to cutting them to size and actually hanging them in my windows.

Why is it so hard for me to take a decent photo on a sunny day? Point is, you can kind of make out where the shade ends, about six inches short of the actual bottom of the window. IKEA, you sneaky little bitch. While the ENJE was undergoing its flashy redesign, IKEA also decided to shorten the shades to a mere 64 inches, from what had previously been about 6,000 inches. What, IKEA, no more love for big-ass pre-war windows? Like, seriously, could my life be any harder?

Fuck that noise, even too-short ENJE blinds are better than the curtain disaster. Who needs those last 6 inches? IT TOTALLY DOESN”T DRIVE ME CRAZY!!! I SWEAR!!!

It drives me fucking insane.

Here’s a picture to hopefully convey how great the fabric is on these things, diffusing just the right amount of light and obscuring just enough of the outside world for you to both see it when you want to and pretend it isn’t there when you want to be naked.

Oh, and because I like to think of myself as a rebel first and a responsible consumer second, I totally harvested all the pull-chain pieces and brackets from my old too-small shades and used them on the new shades, discarding the weird spring-loaded system that I couldn’t get used to. Sticking it to the man!!!

I don’t really know why I’m explaining the intricate minutia of the differences between two versions of the same IKEA products and my basically n0n-replicable means of addressing my disappointment, but the real takeaway here is this: toddlers, stay out of my apartment. You have been warned.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL.

Here’s something I know we can all rally around.

Shopping!!!

Craigslist. $75. It’s way more comfortable than the Bertoia, which leaves butts looking like belgian waffles.

The finish on the wood is kind of chipped up, so I might try to fix that at some point. Maybe. Probably never but I’ll add it to the list.

OOOOOOOMMMMMMMGGGGGGGG

HOLY CRAP IT HAPPENED. IT ALL HAPPENED.

I won Small Cool. As in, I am a victorious winner who wins things like contests and money and Apple store gift cards so I can buy things like hookers and blow and Apple store geniuses.

Mekko was all:

Thank you, thank you, thank you to anybody and everybody who took the time to go vote, or registered an account to go vote, or thought about voting and actually didn’t but totally meant to. I already feel mushy and warm and fuzzy that anybody would even want to read this site in the first place,  but that so many people thought my apartment deserved an awesome award with an awesome prize is just totally amazing. Thank you, thank you, and thank you some more.

Shout-out to the other finalists—JoAnn, Beth, and my incredibly talented friends Lauren and Kyle of Chezerbey (one of my very favorite blogs)—for making this whole thing super fun and super stressful with their super beautiful spaces. They didn’t make it easy, so for that I both love and hate them.

Again, from the very bottom of my heart, thank you. Now let’s have some fun.

Apartment / Life
Tagged:

GIMME THE (SMALL COOL) LOOT.

I know I sound like a broken record here, constantly soliciting for your votes, but I swear it’ll all be over soon. Because guess what, mothertruckers? We made it to the top of the Apartment Therapy Small Cool Contest semi-finals, and now it’s the FINAL ROUND. This is where the big money happens. And I need you to go vote.

We racked up over 1,400 votes in 12 days in the semi-finals, and I cannot thank you enough for clicking, signing in, signing up, and clicking that little “favorite” button. It means the world to me, really and truly. If you voted in the semi-finals, you need to go vote again in the final round. Need to.

There’s a lot of money at play here. Like, $5,000 a lot. And if you’ve been paying attention to this blog, you know I can make that money work. You won’t be sorry, because you get to watch it happen.

So GIVE ME ALL THE PRIZES. How will I ever feel validated without constant accolades and cash monies?! Think about it.

In case you’re new here, or you found your way here from Apartment Therapy, here’s the best reason I have for you to go vote for me: I fucking deserve it.

Check out this shit. I did that.

Oh what’s that now? I did that too. Oh yes I did.

Hallway sneak peek! Guess who did that? Me. I did. Wait until you see the other part, you’ll crap your pants.

I even renovated this side of my kitchen. Want to see the other side undergo some crazy amazing makeover magic that I have all the plans for and no money to make happen? Well, you can do something about that. Just go over to Apartment Therapy and vote. 

Here’s how: If you have an account, hooray! You’re halfway there! Go you! Just click here and vote for “Daniel’s Amazing Bones.”

If you don’t have an account, don’t stress. Just click here and make an account. It take like 2 seconds and they won’t even send you any emails. Win-win.

SO GO VOTE. RIGHT NOW. IT’S GO TIME.

If you need more convincing, let Biggie inspire you.

Apartment / Life
Tagged:

Growth.

In my last post, when I was shamelessly campaigning for votes in the Small Cool contest (THANK YOU everyone! We made the finals, SO GO VOTE YOUR HEART OUT STARTING NOW!!!), I mentioned that our “circumstances” had changed slightly. When somebody asked me in the comments what I meant by that ominous statement, I told them that it was about my doggy, Mekko. I didn’t mean to cause anybody to panic, it was just a very scary time when I had very little information, but the information I did have was less than pretty. I don’t want to keep anyone in suspense, so I’ll lead by saying that she’s a-okay now, which is the most important part. For those who like the longer version (+ scavenging!), here is my saga:

Where health is concerned, I am the type of person who generally thinks that something is probably nothing. Max is the sort who is convinced that nothing is definitely something. Something that could kill you, usually. To Max, anything stray, wild, or feral has rabies, and at any given moment, one of the three of us is probably dying of something horrific.

So when Max took Mekko to the vet a couple of weeks ago because she seemed itchy (poor baby has so many allergies), he mentioned that he was going to have the vet look at a little bump we’d noticed the day before on her shoulder. I told him it was a good idea, but also that it was probably just a mosquito bite or something that would disappear in a couple of days.

The vet took a test of the bump and sent Max home with some allergy medication for the itching, and said she’d call in a few days with the test results.

The call came first thing in the morning last Saturday. Max and I had left for California on Thursday night and wouldn’t be back until Monday morning, and my friend Kate was staying with Mekko at our apartment. The pathology report had come back on the bump, and—though those tests aren’t 100% accurate—it had tested positive for spindle-cell sarcoma. Malignant. Cancer.

Cancer. There are a lot of terrible words in the english language—bile, moist, mood board, for instance—but Cancer is one of the worst. It’s the kind of word that sticks in your mind and festers there, bringing with it confusion, anger, and all manner of terrible thoughts for the future. Our 2 year old dog. Who we’ve had for less than three months. Cancer.

The surgery was scheduled for Tuesday morning last week. When I called, I asked to speak to the doctor and was told that she couldn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. Mekko was also going to have her teeth cleaned, and the vet also planned to extract one of her canines because it’s broken. All of her canines are chipped and damaged, probably from chewing the bars of her cage in the shelter (if that doesn’t break your heart, you don’t have one), but one is apparently especially bad and it needed to go. And, of course, the lump and surrounding tissue would be removed, hopefully eliminating the cancer.

We flew home as planned, landing at 7 am Monday morning. Max went off to class uptown, and I rushed home to spend the day with my dog. I skipped class. I called out of work. We cuddled and went for a few long walks, and when Max got home we went to the dog park and let her stay until it got dark and freezing, hoping she’d get her ya-ya’s out before she’d be out of commission for at least a few weeks.

And then I got a call—the vet wanted to reschedule the surgery, pushing it to Wednesday. I agreed and hung up.

I barely slept Monday night due to both nerves and schoolwork, so I didn’t totally trust myself when, on Tuesday, I started to get immeasurably anxious about the whole situation. Everything about the whole experience just felt wrong. Why hadn’t I spoken to a doctor (not for lack of effort)? Why didn’t I have more information? Weren’t there options? What was the best case scenario? What was the worst? I barely even knew what she’d been diagnosed with, or what exactly they were planning to do about it in surgery. I did know that I’d heard some not-so-flattering things about this vet at the dog park. At this point, I’d read some not-so-flattering reviews, too. But mostly, it just didn’t feel right. But nothing felt right—cancel the surgery and waste precious time, or stick to the plan and hope for the best?

On Wednesday morning, I called the vet as soon as they opened and cancelled. Then I made an appointment with another vet, who came highly recommended by a close friend.

So we got in the car and drove to the new vet, and as soon as I met her, I felt better. She was patient and kind and answered my questions and took the time to think critically about each concern, no matter what the previous doctor had said. About the tooth, she warned that the extraction procedure was both invasive and possibly unnecessary, and she performed a pressure sensitivity test on the tooth in question and found that Mekko didn’t seem to give a shit one way or the other. About the lump, she raised the option of removing it that day, in the office, with a local anesthetic, after which the entire mass could be sent to the lab to be analyzed, giving us a clearer picture of the severity of the cancer. Low-grade and she might not even need another procedure, at least not right away, higher-grade and she would need surgery, the amount of tissue removed dependent on the severity of the cancer.

A while later (and a cool $800 or so less than the quote for the surgery we had planned for that morning), Mekko and I left the vet, a little patch on her shoulder shaved and three sutures holding together a small incision wound. Walking out the door, I spotted some paintings piled in the trash from the building next door. Because nothing can stop my scavenging ways, I checked them out for a second. Out of the pile (mostly amateur portraits, and not in a good way), a weird old abstract-expressionist canvas caught my eye and I quickly threw it in the trunk of my car without a second thought.

On Friday, I got another call. The test results were in, and the news was, surprisingly, good. Benign. Not only was the tumor not high-grade, but it wasn’t even low-grade. It wasn’t malignant or even really scary, just a weird collection of weird cells having some weird party on my dog’s shoulder, not bothering anyone. Benign.

While Mekko seemed unfazed by the entire thing, I was a mess all of last week. On Saturday, I did nothing except spend time around friends, Max, and Mekko (and clean, but that counts as recreation in my world), and it was amazing. Then on Sunday I dug that painting out of my trunk and into the apartment and finally got a good look at the thing.

It’s kind of ugly? It’s kind of amazing? I think I kind of love it? Yes I do. Max loves it. I guess we love it.

On the back, it still has the original provenance just barely holding on with two pieces of crusty masking tape. It’s super cool to know the name of the artist and where and when it came from, but what struck me was the title—”Growth (A).”

Growth. A growth was something I found on my dog that sounded scary but turned out not to be. Perhaps it was something like that, excised and viewed under a microscope, that resembled my new painting. But growth was something else, too—us as dog owners, for instance. It wasn’t easy to make that decision based, essentially, only on a bad feeling, but I’m growing to trust myself more in that department. It wasn’t easy for Max to support me and my bad feeling, but we talked it out and I think we grew a little, too. I grew to trust and respect a new person—our new, fabulous vet—and sadly I grew to be a bit more wary of authority than I naturally am as a full-time asshole. I grew more serious about saving up for if/when something truly bad happens. I hope it’s a long time before we ever have to consider our lives without our dog, not only because this little episode scared the shit out of us, but also because I think it made both Max and I realize how lucky we are to have her.

Thank you to Nobuko Otsuki and the avid spring cleaner/dead tenant who left that painting on the street, to remind me of all that crap every time I look over to the corner of my living room.

We love you, Mekko, and we’re so glad you’re here with us and that you’re OK.

Credenza + Small Cool

I think it’s pretty clear at this point that I’m not the sort of person to get super uptight about modifying a piece of furniture to fit my needs. Remember my desk? Remember my chair? The way I see it, if it’s your furniture, do your thing and don’t let anyone stop you. Stain it. Paint it. Chop it up and use it for kindling. See if I give a shit.

I don’t give a shit. I’m full of controversy. Just chock-fucking-full of it.

Take my credenza. Yes, I call it a credenza because I’m fancy. Some people call these bureaus? Buffets? They’re not as fancy as I am, evidently. Ignore the horrible red paint situation and the weird temporary collection of crap I threw on top.

I got this thing for $90 in a thrift store, and spent about 10 minutes cleaning it up and trying to disguise some of the scratches and gauges in the wood veneer with Minwax touch-up pens. It’s never been my favorite thing, but it’s well-made and good-looking enough, holds a ton of stuff (including all of our electronic bits and bobs, it’s like a space station behind those tambour doors), and is perfectly sized for that space next to the fireplace.

Still, I found myself daydreaming about finding something better at some point, but nicer credenzas can get really expensive and they’re a total pain in the ass to move. So, given that the kind of credenzas I really want aren’t exactly falling from the sky in my price range, my crazy brain thought to itself hey, you can fix this. 

The problem mostly had to do with the legs. For starters, it always felt too high given that we use it to hold a TV and as a buffet or bar when we have parties. Also, the back leg had broken during my move from Manhattan. Oh, and too many goddamn tapered mid-century wooden legs happening in this room.

So what’d I go and do? I hacked that shit off. I think I saved the legs because I’m a hoarder and they’re small. But the point is, they’re no longer on this piece of furniture.

DEAL. WITH. IT.

How’d I do that?

Magic.

Also, IKEA.

Now, for a while IKEA made this snazzy chrome underframe for their KARLSTAD series of sofas and armchairs, but now I can’t find them on their US website? WTF, IKEA? Why dost thou giveth, only to taketh away? Surely there’s some logical explanation for this.

I chose the underframe made for the chaise lounge, since it was the closest in size to my credenza. Obviously it wasn’t going to be an exact match, but I figured—hey, this is IKEA. Everything comes in pieces.

Sorry for these laughably illegible “process” shots, apparently I was playing fast and loose that day and just not giving a shit about anything, including how I would later blog about this. My b.

After cutting the pieces down with my chop saw (this could potentially just be done with a hacksaw, but it wouldn’t be nearly so fast-paced and exciting, which is how I like to roll), I drilled a couple new holes in each corner brace for the screws and just attached the whole thing to the bottom of the cabinet.

Done-zo.

Oh what’s that now? Look at that credenza. Take it in.

Lowering the whole thing has really made all the difference with making it feel like an integrated part of the room and scaled properly with that big fireplace right next door. Also, because I was in the mood to really customize the crap out of it, I made the back legs a full 3/4″ shorter than the front to account for the slope in our floor (120 year old building, y’all), and now it actually sits level, like a proper credenza should. It’s a credenza miracle.

Don’t think I didn’t see you eyeing my jacks, you sick sonofabitch. Vintage George Nelson Jacks bookends. Very fake, I think. eBay. I’d been eyeing these babes forever and finally found a pair that weren’t a million dollars. God, my life is thrilling.

NOW, ON TO BUSINESS.

Apartment Therapy is currently hosting a little something called the Small Cool Contest. And you know I entered my ass in that. 

Now, I know the Homie Awards wound is still fresh and all. So why am I exposing myself to more potential momentary anguish and quickly dissipating heartbreak? What am I, some kind of masochist freak?

No I am not. But unlike the Homie’s, Small Cool pays. It pays fucking $5,000; that’s how much it pays.

Please give it to me. I will tile my kitchen for your reading enjoyment and also fix my windows and show you how? And more! Please? I’m not too big on talking about *personal finances*, but let’s just say that a few recent changes in circumstances have made that money look really good right about now. Pity me.

Right now it’s the semi-finals round, and if we can make it to the top of my category (“Little”), we’ll move into the finals. Winning the finals is where the money magic happens, duh.

SO PLEASE, GO OVER TO APARTMENT THERAPY AND FAVORITE ME. There are new pictures of the apartment (taken by Max!) , including lots of things I haven’t talked about on the blog yet!

You might have to make an account. Do it, you’ll feel better, as explained by this formula I made up on Twitter: More Money = More Projects = More Blogging = Happier YOU. Live it, love it, learn it.

VOTE.

 

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