| St. Augustine Record
Some people rave about “staycations.” Taking a week off at home where you can do any number of things like a tourist in your own town. Even enjoy the pluses of your home like you’re a visitor, not the custodian.
I took a week off this past week with just such an idea in mind. Chill out. Read a book with some tea. Go to the beach. Get that worry-free brain that comes standard on vacation. Have not a care in the world.
Do a few house projects.
Do … a … few … house … projects!
And that is when the whole staycation idea fell apart. RIP! BOOM! SPLAT!
Maybe not for everyone. Some, I’m sure, can walk about their house and tune out the little projects and problems and perplexities staring them in the face. Can see their house not as a maintenance mountain, but a relaxing, restful respite to take them away from their troubles.
But I am a tinkerer. A putterer. A Mr. Semi-Fix-It who is a bit to OCD to chill when there is stuff to repair. The kind of guy who says, “I’m going to take my tea and this good book and … WAIT … WHY IS THE FAN MAKING THAT CLICKING NOISE!?! I better get up there and disassemble it.”
So goes the week …
You know you’ve hit rock bottom when you get a package from Amazon, your child screams with delight and says, “Is it something good?” and you reply: “Yep! A lawnmower air filter.” And you mean it.
Living the dream, my boy.
Here’s a summary of my time off: Worked on the lawnmower. Wanted to also replace the starter chord before it broke. Figured, sure, that will be easy. Don’t need to read the instructions. Don’t need to study it. Just start unscrewing pieces off the top and removing covers and … BOINGGG!!! – a grease-coated, tightly-coiled spring erupted out of the housing and nearly took my eye out!
Most people like to watch YouTube videos BEFORE they start a project. I, however, like to watch them AFTER I’ve already started the project and am neck deep in the problems I’ve created, which have now rendered my machine totally inoperable. You can’t even search for instructions on the original problem. Now you have to type with greasy fingers: “Fix idiot mistake while replacing lawnmower pull chord and didn’t read instructions idiot!”
YouTube knows exactly which video you need and offers up something titled: “I’m an idiot! Didn’t read instructions and pull chord spring now lodged in my face.”
I love these kinds of videos. It’s some yahoo in even more dire straights than me offering worthless advice on how to rectify the quickly worsening situation. I hang on bated breath, watching this “expert” explain to me the DIY repair steps when … BAM! … there’s gore everywhere. “WO!” he screams, never thinking to edit this part out before posting. “Look at all that blood. Cut myself on the sheet metal. You see that? Must have hit an artery. OK, now let me show you how to stitch that up with oil-coated hands and a pair of rusty pliers.”
You name the project and I’ve done it this week. I’ve cleaned out a file drawer. I plastered some spots in my front room that wouldn’t have needed plastering if I had done them right the first time. I sealed some holes in the lattice where the dog was getting under my house. I RE-sealed some holes in the lattice where the dog was STILL getting under my house. I ordered a fancy seat cushion for my home office. I went to the hardware store. I went to a different hardware store because the first one didn’t have what I needed. I went to the liquor store to drown away my hardware store failures. I started replacing a shower drain screw that had fallen down the drain, realized I bought the wrong size screw, and then promptly dropped the new one down the drain, too. I looked at some hurricane charts. I panicked at what I saw and then spent the rest of the day organizing my tins of canned fruit and chicken by expiration date. (That was easy. All had expired.)
Then at some point – desperate and tired, despondent and broken – I said, “Forget this!” and decided to grab a cup of tea and a book. I put on some music, flopped down into a comfortable chair and tuned it all out. All the little projects calling to me. All the little imperfections of my house. All the things that keep me on edge, and that you go on vacation to get away from. I shut it out. Let it go and finally found the peace to unwind. To relax. To “staycate.” And it felt good. Really, really good.
Right up to the point where my daughter ran in and yelled, “The dog went under the house again and now she’s stuck half way through the hole!”
Ah, vacation at home.
Brian Thompson is a former Record staffer and currently is director of news and information at Flagler College.