Monday, August 17, 2009

No Man's Land

I suck at being a Real Man.

Oh sure, I used to be able to put away the brew and suck down a pack of Marlboro like the rest of 'em, but I don't mean that type of Real Man. I'm talking about the type of man who does home repair, fixes their own car, has a garage with peg board on it with all kinds of tools, does their own know, a guy who does things that most guys can do.

I guess you are destined to have certain skill sets and paths.

I can draw, I can design, I can paint.

I can use a computer, some basic cooking, organizational stuff and junk like that. But when it comes to the get your hands dirty kind of stuff, I suck. This used to bug me, not so much anymore, though it does creep in from time to time, like when I see my neighbor's house with all this beautiful work they did to it recently and we still haven't even laid down any mulch at all this year.

Now granted, this year, we get a pass. All the neighbors recognize that this summer we are NOT focused on any sort of lawn beautification projects. Our yard is sort of the blight of the surrounding houses, Blight might be too strong a word, I keep it mowed and it has bare minimum landscaping, but others go apeshit with theirs, so ours just looks ho-hum.

I found myself apologizing a while back to my next door neighbor for it, he very politely said Don't worry about it you have something much bigger to worry about. He is a teacher for Special Needs kids. He knows some of what we are into, and though his own kids are not SN, he does get 'it' more than some others.

But still, I know that the reason it is not being done (in addition to our distractions) is also my own fear of tackling projects of this sort. I fear what I do not know how to do well, and I do not know how to do that stuff well. Never been taught, never taught myself.

Are there 'Man Classes'? Like basic junk? Probably not.

We have this eyesore of a sewer access thingie in our yard. County never took care of it, which they should have, so we are sort of stuck with it. Been thinking about some possible solutions, and we actually have one, and while I can take a photo of the area, go in to the computer, play with it and show what I want to have done, I don't actually know much about how to DO the real work.

Gonna maybe put a fake rock over it. The plan was to do it this year, but the whole Bennett thing puts that on hold. They are NOT cheap at a good one is maybe several hundred, and our out of pocket is just too big this year. That and the fact that we'll also need to spend some dough on bushes, mulch, tools and junk, maybe a tree, to really get the area to look right.

Of course, one of my biggest fears is that my two boys are going to be even MORE lost than I am when it comes to this stuff. I don't know how to even teach them when I don't have the skills.

One thing about the pressure of even feeling this way is a direct result of living in a traditional 'neighborhood'. It is something I really did not want to do, but circumstances kind of played out to where we bought this house, this monster sized beast of a house, when we shouldn't have. Long story. But we did it, and now I would give anything, ANYTHING, to be able to sell this monster. If I could just get out of it without owing anything. If we could break even and get into a smaller, more reasonable home, a lot more secluded, I'd do it in a SECOND.

Now don't get me wrong, it's a very lovely, very beautiful home. I am grateful I get to live in a house like this. I just want something that is...I don't know...more basic. Simpler. Smaller. Something more matched to our personalities. And secluded.

Of course, no time to investigate that as a possibility and the market just isn't there, but maybe someday. One thing at a time...gotta figure out the Kid situation and how all that will play out before any OTHER 'Life' decisions can really be explored.


  1. They have "man classes" at my local park district. I'm planning on taking one since I'm useless at home stuff and my husband is worse. So "man class 101" here I come. You could make a nice bed of native grasses there that would cover it up. The problem is scale. Big yards are difficult cause you can't just do one thing.

    We have a matchbox yard out back with five big old trees. Three need to be removed and two need to be trimmed. OUr fence blew over at the start of the summer. We have been getting quotes for the trees $6K thank you very much. But no one will cut them till the dead of winter. And the fence has to stay down so they can drive their truck into our yard. So now we have over grown trees threatening our house and our neighbors houses, a fence that blew over that now has weeds growing through it and grass that is dying from the lack of light. With the surgery I could not give a shit about what it looked like but I have bemoaned my catholicism on occasion. You see catholics don't really help each other out - they just light candles and bring lasagna. Were I living in an episode of "Seventh Heaven" Annie Camden would be out in my back yard with a hammer fixing my fence. But I guess if I lived in a fictional world the last thing I would care about is my fence.................................

  2. When it comes to house projects, you have to be brave and just do it and NOT be afraid to fail. My husband comes from a line of "not real men", but he's determined to do everything himself. The problem is he's also a perfectionist so it takes A LONG TIME to get anything accomplished. I finally broke down and installed molding myself because I got sick of waiting.

    Of course, you get a pass for this summer. Handle Bennett first, then worry about everything else.

  3. Jonathan picked up his man-skills in Tanzania. Maybe you could try that?

    There are some nice secluded areas in our neck of the woods. With beach access too!


  4. That is a beast in the yard! It's tough to do stuff in that kind of neighborhood for your front yard. THANKFULLY you've got an understanding neighbor.

    And from personal experience, sometimes having the skills and big dreams turns out stupidly expensive. Hence the two jobs :(

  5. I totally agree with Sinead, just some landscaping will do....if you have to add bushes and and a tree anyway, why not just use those to camouflage it? But I have lived in a neighborhood like that the last two houses we owned....and I know, there is the pressure to keep up.

    Luckily both my hubby and I have man-skills. In fact this weekend, I built my dog a ramp and installed a doggie door in our screened porch. Prissy old lady that she is, she wouldn't use my not 100% stable ramp, so I built her a set of stairs.

    I had to develop man-skills during Brandon's first deployment to Iraq when I flushed something (a really expensive jar of bath gel)down my toilet which lodged forever in the toilet drain. After renting a pipe-snake to no avail, I had to replace the whole toilet. Then I realized it was so simple, I might as well tile the bathroom floor. Then I hung crown molding.

    My husband would die laughing each time he called and I would ask if he cared if I bought a nail gun, a laser miter saw, a tile saw.....It kept me busy. Luckily, I had no real job at the time, and I had one of Bran's friends to show me the ropes. But I realized that you can learn to do almost anything on the internet.

    Any project is doable, if you have the time. I actually find that kind of stuff to be a good getaway from counting seizures. Since moving in the new house, I keep coming up with projects to keep us busy.

    But if it is not an escape for you, let it wait. Bigger fish to fry and all that....

  6. lol thanks for the laugh. This post had me crackin up this morning. BTW...if you find any Chicago based "man classes" let me know ok? I could use some of those kinda skills. Got a few projects here that I have to tackle soon and I have no f'n clue...


  7. We have never bothered much with landscaping. We will trim and remove, but we rarely add or plant. Neither of us have a green thumb nor the desire! But, I guess it's not as critical when you live out in the country where we do. My husband is the poster boy for the do-it-yourselfers. To the point where he's always outside fixing, tinkering, or building on something. I kind of wish he was more of the inside type myself. We'd have much more family time. But, he's a product of his environment. Born and raised in the country where learning those "man skills" was a part of everyday life.

    But he never got any lessons on home remodels. He learned every bit himself out of necessity. When our home flooded (and we were under-insured), we had no choice but to do it ourselves. We just took it a little at a time and learned through trial and error. Now, we both have lots of new man-skills under our belt!!

    But, even he has put a lot of his projects with our newer house on hold because of our situation with Austin. Time and money have completely halted our renovations and yard projects.

    My advice? Take on one small project at a time (when your situation permits). Anything is possible -I'm proof of that! Who knew I could tape, float, sand, and texture sheetrock??!!

  8. KC's Mama - the "man classes" are in the park district of Oak Park, IL. You can attend from out of district. They call them "home maintenance" classes.....

  9. Hey Sinead...thank you so much!! I never realized such a thing existed. Oak Park is pretty local for me too. I will for sure check that out.

    Thanks Again!!


  10. You need to combine what you are GOOD at (ART/painting), other things you love (like TV shows) with the manhole project.

    Here's what I'm thinking.

    Sneak out there in the dead of night... and paint a BIG "Dharma Initiative" Logo on the top of it. Maybe the Swan or the Hydra... you choose.

    Problem solved. Manhole looks nicer and you'll giggle to yourself every time you see it.

  11. I am about to take my first step out into the land of gardening with - wait for it - parsley. Yep. And I'm actually petrified.

    Never mind that sometime I have to learn to control/help the pomegranate tree and rosebush that despite all the odds are still alive.
    I have to reiterate what someone above me said, though - there really is everything on the internet. I unclogged a drain recently via the wonder of the Web.

  12. Phil should start giving a class on how to be a home improvement man. He's so butch he even lost the tip of a finger to a power tool! lol

    Are you still neighbors with the "water queen"?

    It's nice to see a more "relaxed" post from you.

  13. You have a BEAUTIFUL home! I know you are proud of it...But I understand how hard it is to get anything done....Without any men in the house and the seizures, etc. w/Colby, I'm lucky to get dishes in the d'washer and a bit of dusting done at night! Thank goodness my mom likes to "piddle" in my yard...

    Anyway, LOVE the home, LOVE the yard, and LOVE the family that lives there....

    That other stuff can wait!



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