Compromise: just say no.

Note the quotations... yup.

Note the quotations... yup.

While i would love to be lecturing you about how to not compromise and stay in a relationship, I am not. Mostly because I am not in a relationship, nor have I ever been in one that I felt needed me to compromise. Today, children, I am talking about a different kind of compromise. Now gather around while Aunty Lauren tells you about how to not put off building a bike even though you live in a shitty apartment that you’re fixing up. 

    Once upon a time, in a land some 600 km away, there lived a girl named Lauren. Who, of course, is of no relation to me. Lauren had recently moved out to a place which may or may not still be a part of Canada (while some would argue it never was), Montreal, the one glimmering hope in the back hole of bilingualism known as Quebec. Lauren, in her infinite naivety, decided that a vintage apartment was the way to go. Much like a growing majority of her wardrobe, Lauren enjoyed vintage things very much. Aside from her vintage apartment and vintage wardrobe, Lauren loved vintage road bikes. Silly, silly, Lauren! 

    One morning, after assembling a bed Lauren purchased from IKEA, she thought so herself “golly gosh! This place could use a lick of paint!” Despite the fact that the above quote makes you think she is extremely intelligent, even a person of such a higher thought process can, apparently, be led down the winding road of home renovations.

     But Lauren was spunky, savvy, and was already not being challenged at school, so she decided to fix a thing of two. The list of to-do’s soon took over pages in her notebooks, and hours of her precious teenagedom. Despite all odds, Lauren persevered. Sanding down walls, putting in holes, stripping paint and waxing floors until her dream was nearly realized. But during this period of betterment, Lauren’s vintage road bike sat. With no wheels, no seat post, no saddle, and cranks which still needed to be de-threaded. How could her poor road bike be cast aside? Especially with it’s new paint job, rust-free frame, and new grip tape? Nobody knew. And as winter approaches, and bike shops became weary of inquiries into cheap deep v’s on Miche high flange hubs, Lauren was in a bind.

    “I can’t ride a freewheel in winter,” she thought to herself, “for I know the winters here are harsh, and that brake cables often fall victim to the sub zero temperatures. Inhibiting my ability to stop properly for all those stop lights, stop signs, and pedestrians which I always stop at because I am a law abiding citizen with all the time in the world.” Then, after reflecting on such a thought, she proclaimed “I will put my reno on hold!” Silly, silly, Lauren! You can’t use paint stripper in the cold, and you’re not about to sand off infinite layers of paint by hand. You can’t put off your reno, either!

    And there the story ends, kids. It seems our protagonist, the infinitely naive but well-meaning Lauren, is in a bit of a bind. I, er, she, has yet to figure out how to free herself from this bind. However, I, as a third party, would suggest that Lauren take up something less strenuous, like making friends, which do not come with temperature restrictions or seasonal hours.

[ First posted: 20/09/08 ]

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Fixer-upper logic

Clearly, the worst of my woes is the enormous animated "bow tie of confusion"

Clearly, the worst of my woes is the enormous animated "bow tie of confusion"

Removing paint is a messy job. Sanding down wood, and sanding off paint, is also a messy job. In all honesty, I’m starting to realize that there is nothing clean about DIY. I’m also starting to realize that some of the things I’m doing are so far out of my league. I picked up this eco paint remover today, and while I definitely prefer the paint stripper to sanding everything down, I have ruined a table, infinite containers, scrubbers, scrapers, speckled my floors, and dropped my glasses in a mound of goopy, probably 100 year-old paint scrapings. Today, friends, has not been pretty. 

    But in defense of the DIY method, I feel as if I’m learning something. And everyone knows how much I love learning. That’s why I’m taking journalism, after all. But I digress, the great part about this apartment is not that it keeps me busy, but more so that it allows me to do what I want. When I first got the place, it was one of those ‘nowhere to go but up’ sort of places. I found the place charming, the price right, and the landlord hilarious, and really, that’s all that mattered when I chose this place. I like to think that I have the Midas touch when it comes to this place, even thought I know I’m in way over my head. 

    Recently, I’ve realized that I: a) hate paying for labour and b) have this sudden urge to learn how to do things with my hands, that I’ve never had before. I grew up in an environment which never really made me think I had to do anything on my own. We have people for that. That was my train of thought. And coming to university, I thought I had myself all figured out. I thought that I had already defined who I was in high school, and that I was only here to find like minded people. I was the hardcore vegan, indie rock, treehugging, skinny jean-wearing, literary-minded, hipster of questionable sexuality. Now, of course, I am as out as can be. But that’s really all that’s changed. 

     I thought that was all that’s changed.

    Nowadays, things don’t really add up with me. I’ve realized that I have become, or at least, I am becoming, exactly what my parents raised me not to be. The irony of that is that it is widely accepted among my dad’s side of the family, as well as my immediate family, that I was the only one to really flourish in the family. Overcoming situation after situation which I would never wish upon anyone. To become the gay, vegan, alternative lifestyle poster child daughter of an overly religious mother and an absentee father. I’m starting to think, or more so, I’m starting to understand that the best way to be a part of this family is to distance myself from it. And I’m realizing that I have become my own person, granted that person is a bit of a recluse these days, I am still my own person. I’m sure my independence will come back to haunt me at one point or another, but for now, I’m embracing the new me.

[ First posted: 16/09/08 ]

It’s Tuesday, & I’m still uploading from Starbucks

I stood up on milk crates in front of a huge window dressed like that. My neighbours? They love me.

I stood up on milk crates in front of a huge window dressed like that. My neighbours? They love me.

Surprise! Bell Canada has yet to set up my internet, again. This is the third deadline they’ve missed. This past Thursday I was assured that today would be “the absolute final day”, while that gave me momentary hopes, I have been let down. What the hell is up with that? Don’t they realize that I’m drowning here? 

    Today was an unfortunate deadline, because it’s Tuesday. And everyone knows that Tuesday is so busy for me that I cannot even deal. I’m at school from 8:30 this morning (although classes start at 9:15, I have a habit of not doing my work. And time constraints make me read faster, it seems) until 5:30 pm. For those of you following at home, that’s 9 hours. 9 hours! I mean, it’s a good thing I’ve started eating breakfast, because I could definitely hurt someone by the end of the day. If I have any energy left, that is. 

    On the upside, well, arguably an upside, I have found new cranks and a new saddle for my bike. It’s become a little bit of a money pit, but it’s not like I’m spending money on stupid things, like Tamagotchis, or something. I’ve also found out, due to the fact that I just got of out a computer class, where Home Depot is, and that they have environmentally-friendly paint stripper. So tonight, in between readings that I’ll probably do, I’m going to be finishing up my windowsills. And, if it’s quick, we’ll move on to the moldings. How exciting! My reno is a little bit rushed recently, because my friend Matthew is coming down on the 26th, and I would like it if he was pleasantly surprised by my housing arrangements. Plus, I just want to get it all over with. 

    I took some “before” photos a couple days ago, so when the place is done, I’ll post them and then take new “after” shots. Just to reward you all for listening to me ramble incessantly about priming, sanding, and the like.

    As for the website, well, it’s all dependent on the Internet connection being set up right now. As I am not yet prepared to pay $8 an hour at Starbucks while I configure everything.  

[ First posted: 16/09/08 ]

Laundromat-virginity lost

I don't know what I was thinking.

I don't know what I was thinking.

After running out of sweatpants yesterday, a tragedy, I assure you, I figured that I would need to venture out and wash my clothes. Right now, I’m on my second trip over. 

    I took a different route to my favourite news stand this morning, and actually found a place to wash my clothes on the way. Which is, by all accounts, far better than the washing facilities in my building, and cheaper, too. But that’s beside the point. I’ve never been to a laundromat before, you see. I grew up in a land of laundry rooms and dishwashers, and only this year have such luxuries been taken from me. I’m coping pretty well. The whole no dishwasher in a cramped kitchen thing will take a little bit of getting used to, sure, but I will survive. 

    The laundromat is full of ‘interesting’ people. While I’ve been shot down, and some woman tried to poach my machine, I remain optimistic. However, I think that the fact that I’m the only one here who brings out a MacBook is probably not a good sign. One of these days, I will get mugged, at least that’s what I’m told. When I used to pull out my laptop on the TTC, people assured me that I would wind up at gun point. I tempt fate like that, I suppose. 

    A quick update pertaining to the state of my apartment. Well, she’s holding up. I am almost done sanding down my windowsills, and I hope to be done by the end of tonight. Tomorrow, it’s on to the moldings, which have been totally butchered by whomever lived there before me. Like all other things in that apartment. I will be so glad when it is over, or at least when my room is done. That’s what I’m really concentrating on right now, I like to go to bed in a serene place, you know? And tiptoeing over drop sheets, sandpaper, and different scraping tools on the way to my bed doesn’t exactly scream zen. I’ve decided on a colour for my room. Grey. I know, ‘how gloomy, Lauren! Are you going to keep your curtains up with a series of nooses too?” No, I am not going to keep my curtains up with nooses. And the grey is going to be nice, really dark, kind of industrial. And I’m going to change all the light switch and power outlet covers to brushed steel, just so everything meshes. I’m currently in the market for a small, vintage, chandelier, because right now I just have two bare CFLS. And I’m going to get nice, sheer white curtains. It’s going to look good, okay? I will post infinite pictures once I’m done.

    As far as the blog reno, I need to figure out how to keep the mask and incorporate songs. Either that or there will be a little speaker icon somewhere visible for you to click on. We’re working on it. Until then, bare with me, I trust in your music taste, anyways.

(First posted: 14/09/08)

Who lived here, really?

 

Looks like someone got into "The Big Lesbian Tool Closet"

Looks like someone got into "The Big Lesbian Tool Closet"

Brakeless has eluded me once again. But I did get a fair bit of cycling in today. Actually, I got lost on the way to Canadian Tire and ended up on the highway, and I had to do the walk of shame back to the city road, it was embarrassing. However, it was not a trip I regret, the roadie in me says “way to pile on the junk miles, Lauren.” the fixed gear freestyler in me says “if you don’t ditch the hybrid soon, I give up on you ever being cool,” but the new Montrealer in me says “Zut! J’aime mon velo beacoup, parce que je veux aller tres vite!” The good old Lauren in me says, “what the fuck?” and I think that my former self wins. I ended up on the wrong side of a river, in old Montreal, in China town, in The Village, and finally I found my way home. So at least I kind of, sort of, know where things are. And I know my directions now too, that’s really all I need to know. I also did a 12 km round trip to pick up some exorbitantly expensive groceries, so I’d say I clocked a minimum of 30 km today, not too shabby.

    When I arrived home with my groceries, I made myself some food, and I came to the realization that I bought the wrong size of socket. So it’s back to the drawing board for me. And by drawing board, I mean it’s back to the road, so I can try to find Canadian Tire again. With nothing left to do on my bike with the tools I had, I turned to my apartment. I wish I owned the place, simply because I seem to be doing a whole lot of spiffing-up, and well, I don’t want to leave it once I finally have it perfect. But I digress, the person who used to live here before me was a crazy person.

     How do I know this? He had a minimum of three Bob Marley posters in each room, with the exception of the bathroom. Wouldn’t want one of those babies to curl with the steam, obviously. And unlike normal people, who use thumb tacks, or sticky tack, he used nails. Really long nails. And they were everywhere. So I stacked up three milk crates, and got to removing the nails. When I realized that my window frames, which I still need to install drapes on, had four different, but equally useless, rod holders for drapes. So I’ve spent my day unscrewing, leveraging, and just plain old removing nails, screws, bolts, those little plastic things you put inside holes in walls for nails, sticky tack hangers, and everything within that general category. I have to ask myself though, who just nails something to a wall, or a sill, or a frame, without removing whatever is already there? More so, who just decides to paint over absolutely everything, making even more work for me? Really? Who paints over wall mounted sticky tack tooth brush holders? The guy who lived here before me. That’s who.

    In light of the now hole-filled state of my apartment, I’m going to fill in all the holes, and then I will paint. But before I paint I’m going to sand, and clean and all those lovely things. Why? Because I am a DIY-aholic. I must have something to do or else I go crazy. Literally, I would have cabin fever by now. Actually, I’m sure some would argue that I already do have cabin fever, as I’ve been making holes in the walls all afternoon. To them, I say ‘you try living like this buddy.’

    So the projects I take on continue, be it my bicycle, my apartment, IKEA furniture; I think I have a serious addiction. Today I even pondered redoing the floors in my place. It’s a frigging rental for christ’s sake! And I want to redo the floors?! I think I may have lost it. But as I sit on my floor, and I look at the crown moldings, I realize that there is a little bit too much paint drip on there for my liking, I’m going to be buying a whole lot of sandpaper.

    I thought university was supposed to be one of those things that take up all your time, until you find yourself living on Ramen, sleeping on dirty sheets, floors covered in different articles you’ve printed off. I thought that I would have my hands full with higher education. But no, I have my hands full of tools. On the upside, when I do get my own place, I will have the nicest place ever. And I will never pay labour. So I will have an equally nice looking Visa balance. 

(First posted: 07/09/08)