The house shakes as portions of a concrete wall come tumbling down, leaving gaping holes for future doors and windows. Upstairs, plastic sheeting covers a new patio door that will lead out onto a deck. The back yard is one big pile of dirt. The vegetable garden is a way station for stacks of pipe. Welcome to the wonderful world of remodeling.
The first few weeks, hubby and I left the house to escape the noise, but I’m tired of taking refuge in a coffee shop. I like to break up my writing tasks with exercise or housework in between, so I’m learning to ignore the sounds of electric saws and forklifts beeping in favor of keeping a regular routine. Yesterday I did an exercise DVD, and hubby didn’t even know it. I had squirreled myself away in a spare bedroom and turned the iPad up loud enough to hear over the banging and clanging.
I don’t like to complain. After all, once the work is done, I will have a home with
plenty of room for overnight guests and entertaining. One side of the basement will have spectacular water views, and we are creating a wonderful, restful refuge for friends and family. My yard will no longer be an unusable slope, but instead a set of terraces with flowers, shrubs, and stone. I’m darned lucky and darned grateful. These are the kinds of problems people dream of having.
Still, it’s unsettling. As I write this, a radio blares downstairs so that the workers can whistle while they work. It’s hard to concentrate, since I normally write in silence. And there is something odd about seeing the basement stripped of walls, ceiling, and floor, and fireplace brick nothing but a pile of rubble. I tread carefully to avoid tripping over electrical cords and temporary drainage pipes, all extra hazards to an already-challenging set of downward stone steps to the garden.
I feel a bit like the work in progress that is my home. New to this part of the country, I am learning to garden all over again as I adapt to a new climate. I’m meeting new people and learning a culture that’s community oriented, as opposed to rugged Texas individualism. Once anonymous in a city, I am now exposed in a small town. These are the adjustments I wanted, but they are adjustments nonetheless.
As the book industry continues to roil and shift, I’m having to adapt, studying the craft of marketing and sales as well as writing. Despite having three books under my belt, it all feels brand new. Every aspect of life calls for patience, which is hardly my strong suit. I do a lot of deep breathing, and sometimes I just need a good sob to discharge discomfort.
Still, the strawberries are ripening, and so far the broccoli and onions look sturdy. The leaves of potato plants are spreading in one of the beds, and beets and tomatoes are making tentative progress. I’ve planted herbs in pots to sit on my living room windowsill. One of the terrace walls is basically done, and the guys have started work on the second. We’re turning the corner, moving from destruction to rebuilding. Amidst the cacophony of construction, progress reveals itself, bit by bit. My paradise may be under construction, but it’s paradise nonetheless.
I’m 50 pages into the first draft of a new novel, and I’m revising Blood & Loam one more time. I’ve just signed up for Joel Friedlander’s Self-Publishing Roadmap course, starting from scratch to construct a better foundation for producing and marketing my books. Over time, this will mean more changes: the look of the blog, where and how I sell my books, and the way I roll out new work.
I know that nothing is ever finished. We are never “there.” The destination remains a moving target, and there’s always something to learn, something to fix, something to discover, something to revise. There are always new ideas, and life, including publishing, will always be in flux. All we can do is take the journey, enjoy what we’ve built, and, if necessary, tear it down again.
You write beautifully. Your husband is one lucky dude. But it’s time he go mow the lawn.
Not only do I have a hubby who mows the lawn without prompting, but he also reads my blog! How lucky can a girl get?
Nadine, You do write beautifully, and your husband is one lucky dude (love his comment above!).
I love the analogy you draw between the work in progress that is your home and the work in progress that you are. I love to see people continuing to learn and grow. One of my mottoes is “there’s always something new to learn”–it makes life continue to be exciting and meaningful to me.
Hubby cracks me up. He also did a nice job on the lawn!
I think when I was younger, I thought I would have things figured out by now, but all I’ve learned is that I’ll keep learning for the rest of my life! These are the things no one tells us when we’re young…or maybe they did, but I wasn’t listening!
What a wonderful post. It just leaves me exhausted. My husband and I want to start major renovations later this year. We may actually rent an apartment because we’re assuming at least a year of work. We did this years ago and tried to stay in the house. I don’t think I want that chaos again.
Julie, I think an apartment is a great idea. You can take your basic stuff and keep your daily routine. This is all supposed to be done in about six more weeks, and I figure we’ll start getting excited when we see new walls and so forth getting done. They’ve started working four ten-hour days, so Fridays are quiet, at least!
Nadine, remodeling is not for the faint of heart. Hence, you have all my admiration for keeping your sanity. That said, imagine how beautiful and cozy your lovely home will be when everything is finished! I hope you’ll post “after” shots in a future post, as well as some of the new garden! 🙂
Yes, I will definitely post more pics! It’s going to be amazing, and it makes the discomfort worthwhile. We have a lot of cultural events in our small community, including writers’ conference, jazz and blues festivals, and film festival, and we’re hoping to host guests for these events in our home. We will also have room for small community discussions, and I’m envisioning some wonderful evenings with lots of people around!