Friday, August 5, 2011


Take a moment.  Give yourself a pat on the back.   Go ahead.  

Why?  Because no matter who you are, you are more successful at social interaction than I am.  Simple small talk?  Errrr...I, awkward.  Chit-chat in a store or at a restaurant?  I DON'T WANT TO TALK, JUST SELL ME THE SHOES/CLOTHES/DINNER.  Relationships?  All kinds of relationships, routinely, I fail.  

You are also, no matter who you are, most likely better at decision making than I am.  Here is a rough guide to my decision-making process:
  1. Hem
  2. Haw
  3. Hem-Haw
  4. Wonder to myself: Did I hem?
  5. Hem
  6. Wonder to myself: I'm not sure I hawed enough.
  7. Haw--hard-- so I'll be sure to remember that I HAWED.
  8. Wonder if there's any way to put off the decision.
  9. Ask my family/friends what they think.
  10. Think to myself: Well, 2 months have gone by.  I guess I could either hem, or I could haw.
The current decision I face is the worst of all possible kinds for me, because it involves social interaction.  Like most homeowners, I need a handyman, or a handyperson.  I need to start and build a sustainable relationship with someone who is handy enough to help me shape up the Frankenstein House.  

So far, I've had 3 handypersons come.  Handyman #1 was Gladhand Ed, who came with ESL Sidekick.  Handyman #2 was actually a Handy Lady, which I thought was kind of awesome.  I showed her some of the handytasks to be done, and she seemed up for the job and gave me a rough estimate.  Handyman #3 was a really nice guy.  A really nice, well-qualified guy.  Reeeeally nice.  So, so nice.  His socks were very white, so I'll call him White Sox.  Came to the Frankenstein House to go over the handytasks, and then sent me an estimate and responded to a few questions.

Handy Lady? White Sox?  White Sox?  Handy Lady?  Handy Lady is more affordable, no question.  She also comes highly recommended, and is available sooner than White Sox.

But how can I tell White Sox that even though he came, and even though he sent me an estimate-- I think I won' asking him over again?  Not anytime soon, anyway?

I mean, I just...I really...I have no words.  And words are exactly what I need right now.

See, I bet you would know what to do in this situation.  Give yourself a pat on the back.  Or, let me give you a high five through the internets.

Here is where I would like to, as my brother says, high-five it out with White Sox.  As in: No hard feelings, thanks for your time!   I appreciate that you came, and you seem nice and good at your job, so high five, man!  High five that you're good at your job and nice, and even if I don't use you right now, I might want to contact you in the future.  Would that be OK?  Yes?  OK, awesome.  High five.  Leave on good terms, high-five it out.

But, ugh--for someone as socially awkward and decisionally-challenged as I am, that is sooo much easier said than done.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Have you ever thought about your knobs?

I’ve thought about mine, a little bit.  The ones in the kitchen. The knobs on my kitchen cabinets now are pretty standard. Not offensive, but not anything special.  They look like this:

Nothing horrifying, right?  Just hanging out, unobtrusive.  Ready whenever you are to open this drawer or cabinet door.

I don’t mind this knob, but I do mind how bland my kitchen feels right now.  I’m trying to think of ways to make my kitchen feel aesthetically purposeful, without actually spending a lot of money.   We painted some of the walls yellow, which helped.   I thought another cheapish way to style the kitchen would be to seek out knobs with a bit more personality.

To find out more about knob options, I went to the Oracle at Mount Google and made a sacrifice of 20 minutes on the altar of my computer.  I am happy to report that the Gods of Search heard my plea.  Knobs come in an absolutely staggering variety of options. Apparently, if you can dream it, it can be knobbed.  These results are all from a website called—and I am not making this up—   We’ll start with least bizarre, and go from there.

Basically Normal Knobs
Maybe your knobs are the same basic shape as mine, but a different color. But some folks like a bit fancier knob.  Right?  Maybe when it comes to knobs, you get really crazy with the cheese whiz, and you put on knobs like this:

Which, OK. You like a Celtic knob. Great! Let’s continue.

Maybe you have a Mediterranean kitchen, and this is just what you need?
No problem with this.  Moving on.

Whimsical Knobs
‘Whimsical’ is an actual category on; however, I would define this category slightly differently than they do.  In this category, I would include all knobs shaped like food or plants.  Kitsch knobs.  There are many knobs like this.  These are the knobs for the country kitchens or themed rooms or...maybe very specific businesses?

for a cabinet,
in a company that makes mushrooms

Some of these are kind of cute, in some contexts!  
But, not for me.
for people who want to confuse bees

Children’s and Animal Knobs
This is where things start to get a bit more interesting.  There are a lot of animal-shaped knobs, and many are intended for use in children’s rooms.  There are also children-shaped knobs, apparently also intended for use in children’s rooms?  Children of America, wake up to the diversity of knobs that your country provides!

1 dolphin.  Maybe you will always be alone.
2 dolphins! Maybe you are a kid with friends!

Maybe you have really strong feelings about live shrimp,
and want your dresser drawers to reflect that

Maybe you are a girl, and shaped like a triangle!

Maybe you are a boy, and won't mind 
how much your friends will tease you about this.

Maybe you...should not buy a knob that is a BABY’S HEAD.

Which brings us to...

Body Knobs (leeeetle bit NSFW.  barely.)
This is what it sounds like—knobs, shaped like body parts. Parts of all kinds, as we will see.  Parts innocuous:

Lend me your ears.

Can I give you a hand?

By a nose!

...and parts...uninnocuous. Parts nocuous. Allow me to present the buttocks knob:

I like knob butts and I cannot lie.

Let me also be the one to introduce you to the boob knob:


I almost want to go into knob sales now, because I feel like I’d learn so much about each customer based on their choice in knob.  Where are you from, Baby Knob Head Buyer?  What did your dad do for a living, Ear Knob Buyer?  What toppings do you like on pizza, Boob Knob Buyer?  Tell me your stories; leave nothing out.  What brought you to this knob decision?  Give me the details!  I want to know.  


Thank you for contacting the Wrecks-N-Effect Administration.  All we wanna do is zooma zoomzoomzoom, and also, a-boom-boom.  Please shake your rump.  Our first goal is to assist homeowners in obtaining information about what living through a home re-do is like.  Our second goal is to lower expectations for how the Frankenstein House will look once the re-making is over.  Because, as Wrecks-N-Effect Administration's mom recently pointed out, HGTV shows the before and after-- someone else needs to show what's in between.

To wit, here are before/in-between shots of several of the rooms that have been painted, but are far from being totally put together.

Dining room, before:

actually not that bad.  just really, really red.
like eating dinner in a tube of lipstick.

Dining room, in between:

ah. the comfort of grey walls.
and lightbulbs that are not exposed.

 Living room, before:
yeah, I mean, this doesn't actually look that bad.
i wonder how they got the floors so shiny?
this is the mustard yellow paint I killed with my blood, sweat, and tears.

Living room, in between:

so yeah, the color is different!  than it was before!  now it's light grey!
to go with the darker grey in the dining room!  i swear, it makes sense...
the pictures might not show..well...sigh.

Kitchen, before:
OK, I know this looks sort of cute.
But, that brown wall at the back!  What?!

Kitchen, in between:
in person, it's a very lovely yellow.  it's a yellow hug.

Bedroom, before:
sistine chapel ceiling that I wasn't sure I could/should paint over,
with rococo rocket-launcher light fixture.
also, while I like grey, this was pretty dark, and this bedroom is 8'x8'.

(why yes, that is cardboard in the window.)

Bedroom, in between:
sistine chapel ceiling is no more.  sort of sad!
but also makes the house feel more like it's mine.

wall color is just meant to be a neutral as a base
 for more color and texture in the stuff in the room.

That was a lot of caption-based explanation.  Here at the Wrecks-N-Effect Administration, we believe in giving you explanation of our choices, regardless of whether you need or want such explanations.  We believe you may be thinking, 'wow, it all looked really cute before-- why did you mess with it?'  If this is the case, we have successfully achieved our strategic goal of lowering expectations.  The Wrecks-N-Effect Administration will post additional expectation-lowering images in the weeks to come.  Zoomazoomzoomzoom and a-boomboom.  Please shake your rump.  Thank you.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


In the very first days I lived in the Frankenstein House, I was completely out of sorts.  Even though I liked the house, it all felt very alien and different.  Not me, not mine.  

On one level, I knew: yes, this is the house I've just financed quite a bit of money to 'own,' so it makes sense that I live here.  On a deeper level, I felt: what I am doing here?  This isn't where I live.  I should get back to my apartment.  I don't even know my way around this part of town, and I miss my old neighborhood, and waaaaaaaaaaah!  I wanna go home!

The process of resetting my idea of 'home' to this house has been funny.  Not funny ha-ha, but more Cristina-are-you-OK? funny.   I've spent these first few weeks in the house being veeeery suspicious of totally irrational things.  Observe:

  • For the first four days, I was convinced that someone was squatting in the attic.  I knew they moved in while the house was in escrow.  Someone was LIVING UP THERE, just waiting for the right moment.  To come down and kill me!  Or, more likely, come down and make very mean remarks.  HAHA, YOU BOUGHT THIS HOUSE, HAHA.
  •  For three weeks, I have ignored the washer/dryer in the kitchen; I have been afraid to use it.   A washer/dryer that takes no quarters, you say?  A machine that is just mine, that I do not share with strangers?    I'm sure there's something wrong with it, that water will flood the kitchen when I attempt to use it.   Luckily, Ross Dress for Less sells underwear for cheap.   

My dog has also had quite a bit of trouble adjusting to life in the Frankenstein House.

"oh, is this picture going on that blaaaaahg of yours? pffft. bark."

I thought she'd enjoy having a backyard.  But no-- she's so used to apartment life that she has no idea what to do with the yard.  She is accustomed to walks 3 times a day; when I put her in the backyard at walk time, she plops down by the door and patiently waits to be let back in.  Last night, ever the optimist, I put her out in the back and closed the door.

A few seconds later, I heard a soft...*jinglejingle* noise.  

My dog's tags clinking together.  I looked down.  There was my dog, standing next to me, looking up at me expectantly.

Instantly, in my mind's eye, I saw my dog stand upright on her hind legs and grow opposable thumbs to open the door.  I put her outside, now she is inside-- this can only mean she has  special human powers.

"DO YOU?"  I accused her.  "Do you have special human powers?  If you have special human powers, NOW IS THE TIME TO TELL ME ABOUT THAT."

Her tail, which had been wagging, stopped.  She cocked her head to the side, wondering about my tone of voice.  Part of me was surprised that she did not speak up and say: well, I always meant to tell you, but I wasn't sure how you'd take it.

In the end, I guess it's just waiting.  Waiting for time to go by so you feel yourself to be more of a 'homeowner' than an easily-disoriented guest in someone else's house.   Today, I  tried out the washer/dryer.
still life with washer and dryer

It worked beautifully.  Why did I wait so long to find out the washer/dryer works?  I love them, both washer and dryer.  Ah, it is wonderful to launder.  I plan to launder with abandon now that I know I can.