Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How To Turn Your Spare Bedroom Into A Walk-In Closet, in 437 Easy Steps (Part TWO!)


Step 5: Find out if you still have all those extension cords you thought you had.

Again, to the inexperienced craftsman, many of these steps might seem only tangentially related -- at best-- to making a walk-in closet out of an old, unused, potentially bat-infested bedroom, but to the inexperienced craftsman, "Cap'n Crunch" probably doesn't look like the kind of thing you could make Rice Krispie treats out of, so who are you going to listen to, him, or someone who narrowly avoided going into diabetic shock that one time?

We have many extension cords in our house, most of them existing in a nether world between dimensions and popping into existence in our locale only when they are unnecessary: if you are carrying a bunch of grocery bags filled with eggs and other valuables (Pop Tarts), or if you are carrying a heavy appliance, or if you are reading your Kindle and not paying attention to where you are walking, or if you are doing all of those things at once, you're guaranteed to trip over one of our 4,000 extension cords.  If, on the other hand, you are attempting to locate an extension cord so that you might be able to plug in your sons' television into another outlet in order to get back to the part of this project where you investigate whether your laundry room is on fire -- remember that! -- you're going to have to go get the giant, 100' long, bright green, only-slightly-nicked-in-the-one-part-where-once-you-kind-of-hit-it-with-the-hedge-trimmer extension cord.  Careful not to touch THAT part!

Step 6: Go out to the garage and shake your head ruefully at the garage door, which has not been replaced yet but at least looks like you live in a shack built out of houses that were abandoned. In the Okeefenokee swamp.

Remember how I've been mentioning, here and there, ALMOST CONSTANTLY, how my garage door blew up?  Literally exploded?

That happened.

But lucky for me, it happened on a day when Sweetie was really sick, so I was at home to see it/almost be killed by it!

Step 7:  Gather 'round the campfire, kids, while I tell you The Ballad of The Explodin' Garage Door.

*Cue Mandolin*

The fog settled down
Like the clothes of a clown
Tossed carelessly...

Yeah. I've got nothing.  I knew I should have sprung for that guest appearance by Mumford & Sons.  Stupid budget cuts.

About three weeks ago, I spent the day in Milwaukee, with The Boy, as an extra on the set of the soon-to-be-released movie Zombie Frat House, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend an entire day standing around with fake blood on my face and then go order hamburgers, and I returned home from that experience in high spirits (Get it? What do you mean zombies aren't spirits? They're all... never mind. You're just being difficult) to find Sweetie a bit worse for the wear, having taken care of the boys all day with what we'd thought was a pretty bad cold, only it wasn't a pretty bad cold.  It was... something else? I don't know.  I mean, seriously, you're reading an essay about how to build a walk-in closet, and you want medical information?  You'll be lucky if you get information about a walk-in closet out of this.

Anyway, Sweetie said that she was going to go up to bed and lay down because she didn't feel well, and so I was spending a bit of time with the boys, and eventually it was time for them to take their baths, and I got Mr F's all done, and he was in his room watching TV (this is in the past, remember, before all the electricity went out, etc.) and Mr Bunches was taking his bath and Sweetie suddenly barged in and said she had to bwah!

Step 8: What's a bwah?

Oh, right, that: That means throw up.  Back in the winter, Mr Bunches had the stomach flu and spent most of the day throwing up and then asking me if he was done ("I hope so," I told him, knowing mostly he wasn't) and then going back to sleep, and then repeating that about 14 times.

Earlier this summer, then, Mr Bunches wanted to play "spin" in the boys' swing in our living room, and so I twisted him up and spun him, about a zillion times, and after that he was dizzy enough that he said "no more" and then went and sat on the couch and announced "I have to bwah," and when we asked him what that was he pantomimed throwing up.

Which makes sense, if you think about it, since Mr Bunches has never been told what "throwing up" is and had to make up his own word for it.

Step 9: Where were we again?

Sweetie did not say she had to bwah, she just said "I have to... get out of the bathroom!" and pushed me aside and closed the door, so I was outside the bathroom and Mr Bunches, unfortunately for him, was inside the bathroom, so I heard the sounds of bwah-ing and I also heard Mr Bunches saying "You'll be okay, mommy," and when I thought things were okay for me to go in and help, I went in and saw Mr Bunches trying to sneak carefully past a nearly-prone Sweetie.

I helped Sweetie back to bed and got Mr Bunches squared away with pajamas and all, and then a few minutes later Sweetie was at it again, and then a few minutes after that, and then I noticed that Sweetie was pale and clammy and not able to stand up.

Here's the thing about Sweetie: About a year ago, everyone in the house, except me, got the flu and was bwah-ing like nobody's business.  I was in charge of everyone being sick and at the first sign of trouble, I stopped eating much and switched over to just eating some light toast and Popsicles and the other things you're supposed to eat when you're recovering from the flu, and as a result, while I got a little queasy later in the day, I never bwahed.

Sweetie listened to me telling that when she was all better, and twice since then when Sweetie has gotten the flu -- which we get at our house about every three days, probably owing to Mr F's love of public bubblers-- she has tried to avoid the worst of it by switching over to my flu diet, only Sweetie doesn't do it right and gets herself dehydrated, mostly because (I think) Sweetie switches over to that diet about a week before she actually gets sick.

What that means is that Sweetie has the last two times made the flu worse, and both times has required a trip to the ER to get fluids because she can't barely move, and that Sunday night, about 10:00 at night, I realized that was where she was, and we packed up the car to head to the ER, where I would be implicitly accused of beating her.

Step 10: Will we ever talk about walk-in closets again?

Very possibly, yes.

Click here for the next part.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How To Turn Your Spare Bedroom Into A Walk-In Closet, in 437 Easy Steps (Part ONE!)

As I have mentioned several times recently, our house is falling apart.  In the past 31 days, we have had our garage door explode, electrical problems, our washer broke down, and, worst of all, we are running low on pizza supplies.

I will explain all of this, in good time, but as I always mention, I like to focus on the positive, no matter how dismal or depressing the positive is, and/or no matter how many times someone slams their hand in their wife's car door after the third trip to the hardware store.

Anyway, I am beginning the explanation of the Amazing Disintegrating House with a how-to guide to let you, in the future, avoid troubles like this.  So join me as we learn How To Turn Your Spare Bedroom Into A Walk-In Closet, In 437 Easy Steps.

Step 1:  Have a spare bedroom.  It's hard to turn a spare bedroom into a walk-in closet without a spare bedroom.  Sure, you could go the easy way and have a walk-in closet that you decide to turn into a spare bedroom, and then retrofit it, but what kind of reality show pitch would that make? Not a very good one. I hope. You're not pitching that as a reality show, are you? Because I don't think you'd like the Hollywood lifestyle very much.  Leave this to me.

Luckily, we have lots and lots of spare bedrooms, jillions practically.  We have more bedrooms than we have any other rooms, depending on how you count.  I count the usual way: 1, 2, 3, etc. (although I don't really say etc I just say the next number in the sequence.)

We have the bedroom Sweetie and I use, and we have the bedroom Mr Bunches and Mr F share, and we have the bedroom that isn't really a bedroom because it's downstairs on the lower level and has a door leading to the outside, so even though it was billed as a spare bedroom it's more of a spare room, and is not pertinent to this how-to article.

We also have The Boy's old bedroom, which is currently being used as a "spare toy storage room," which is a room you don't find in many of your modern (i.e. having functional wiring and garage doors) houses, but which is absolutely necessary if you have invested heavily in Hot Wheel (TM!) sets and several Mousetrap (TM!) games as part of a plan to eventually own two or three of every single toy ever made, even the weird ones.  The Boy's old bedroom also smells a bit like onions.  We don't know why.  He moved out two years ago and he, himself, didn't particularly smell of onions so ...

...Moving on! We also have Middle Daughter's old bedroom which is the second-most converted room in our house, going from Middle Daughter's old bedroom to the boys' new bedroom (with Jungle Theme (TM!)) to unused bedroom to Mr Bunches' bedroom that he was going to use himself to the bedroom Mr Bunches and Mr F shared because even though it seemed like they didn't want to share a room they insisted on sharing a room, to unused bedroom when, three months later, we realized that if they were going to share a room we should put them back into the bigger bedroom they'd been sharing before we experimented with giving them their own rooms, to room with a cracked window we keep meaning to fix, to room where we thought the bat was hiding that one time there was a bat in the house that we never found and now that I think about it it might still be there, to room where we put a bunch of stuff we didn't have time to put anywhere else.

Middle Daughter's Old Bedroom is the room that's going to be the Walk-In Closet.

2.  Have your washing machine (maybe?) catch on fire on the same day that the wiring in your house blows.

This may seem like it is an extra or unnecessary step on the route to building a walk-in closet, but who are you going to listen to, me, or some expert who will claim that neither appliance fires nor electrical disasters are part of the room-conversion process?  I have over six hours in the closet-building business, many of them not spent wandering around a hardware store trying to figure out if my budget includes the ability to buy the power drill I know I'm going to need (SPOILER ALERT! It doesn't, but on the plus side I have 98% of my fingers still available for use!), and if I say this is a step, this is a step.

Here's the best possible way to integrate this step smoothly into the process:

A.  Be at work, minding your own business, probably trying to figure out your fantasy football team.
B. Have your wife call you.
C. Have her say "The washing machine is smoking and there's no power in half the house," and have her then
D. Pause long enough for you to say "What?!" and then
E. Have her add "Also, I can't get the Internet to work on the computer."

Say, because you are cool this way, "Those are several very different levels of problems."  Then leave work, telling the receptionist that you are going home early because:


That's how we did it, anyway, and it worked perfectly, "perfectly" being defined as "spending the rest of my Wednesday afternoon turning on various fuses and hearing how unsafe and dangerous my house is.'

I got home as quickly as I could, narrowly avoiding stopping off for a quick chocolate shake at McDonald's because it was hot, and when I got home I was relieved at first, and then disappointed, to see that there were no flames shooting out of our roof or fire engines standing on our street dampening the smoldering ashes of what used to be our house, while Sweetie and the boys were comforted by EMTs who looked nothing like Noah Wylie circa 1997.

The disappointment was because I had already realized that with the plethora* (*Latin for JESUS HOW MANY THINGS CAN GO WRONG IN A HOUSE?) of things that had gone wrong in our house in the past 2 weeks, I was going to have to move or remodel, and both of those things are expensive and time-consuming and require me to deal with bankers, who are among my least favorite people, so I had, while driving/not getting a chocolate shake because this was an emergency, come up with an alternate plan, which was to hope that Sweetie and the boys had gotten out before the fire that reduced our house to smoking rubble and then caused the insurance company to build us a nice, new house chock full of LED TVs and a couch that didn't have an outer layer made up entirely of cheese puffs.

Step 3:  Call an electrician.  Have him insult you for a while as you realize your house is a mess.

Arriving inside, I dealt with the problems in their order of seriousness, applying all of the skills I learned in law school.

"Where is the washer warranty?" I asked.  Look, I already knew I wasn't going to be able to fix the problems, or, likely, even tell what the problem was.  I would be lucky if I could correctly guess, in three tries, what room the problem was near.  But I have a particular skill, and that skill is to sue my way out of any trouble, so my first thought was "find the warranty and sue someone," and after locating our original washer paperwork, which was right on top of the start-up disks I got for a computer that burnt out four years ago (maybe I'll need to re-install the printer drivers on a desktop again someday?)

Having obtained the only thing I could really do something about, I then went downstairs and looked at the washer, the most immediate source of trouble, at least in my mind.

It was not the most immediate source of trouble in Mr Bunches' mind.  Mr Bunches had, from the moment I walked in the door, been informing me of the BIG problem:  the TV in his room was not working.  He had mentioned this to me about 17 times already, interspersed with "Dad, can you fix it?" about which: I have a policy that I try very very hard not to lie to the boys, and most of the lies I've told them in my life thus far have been limited to claiming that either Toys "R" Us or the big pool were closed, at 2 in the afternoon.  That's not a big lie, I figure, that will get me in trouble with God because if God wanted me to take Mr Bunches and Mr F to Toys R Us every time they asked us to go, He'd have given us a million dollars a day.  As it is, we already have a room devoted to storing the toys Mr Bunches is not currently playing with, but which do not fit in the other rooms devoted to storing toys.

Having his TV off makes Mr Bunches nervous, even frightened.  He keeps it running 24 hours a day, literally, and if you go in there and switch it off, Mr Bunches will begin crying and run out of the room until you get it turned on.  I know this because if Mr F doesn't like the movie they're watching, he will turn it off.  I have never turned Mr Bunches' TV off.  NEVER.  If you ever saw Mr Bunches cry, you'd know why.

So I was faced with a few problems, then.

1. Shouldn't I really look at the washing machine which maybe was on fire because smoke doesn't usually come out of a machine whose sole purpose is to get things wet?

2.  What good would I do if I did look at the washing machine? I'm a lawyer, and you can't sue a fire. (Yet.)

3.  Maybe if I didn't look at the washing machine it would continue burning and we could all get out, saving only the papers we'd need to get the house rebuilt quickly and with better stuff?

4.  Should I lie to Mr Bunches and tell him yes, Dad can fix it, when Dad doesn't even know what it is, yet?

I looked Mr Bunches square in the eye and said "Don't worry buddy, I will fix it."  Then I turned to go upstairs and look at his TV first, bumping my head into the door that had swung  a little shut behind me.

Step 4:  Make sure the door is propped open!


Monday, August 26, 2013