Again, I have no tales of gaming heroics (or, just as likely, mediocrity) with which to regale you. I haven’t sat at a computer since our last correspondence until this moment, when I’m stealing a little time at work after a meeting I had to attend. Instead, I’ve been working my body into pulp, slowly, like laying upon a grindstone and passing it over myself again and again.
I’m not made to work like this; I’ve worked – this is not exaggeration or hyperbole – 30+ hours in the last three days outside doing “strong man” manual labor. At one point I had to hold two 2″x8″x8′ boards laterally in front of me while I stood on a ladder for a long time – or so it felt. It was probably only 5-10 minutes, but by god it felt like more.
And the kneeling. I’ve never done some much physically exhausting work that I actually got a muscle cramp. You hear stories about people drowning and the like because their muscles seized up and they simply couldn’t continue. Sure, I’ve had sudden-onset charlie horses, but never something that would permanently immobilize me. Until this weekend. At lunch yesterday, my leg started to seize up in excruciating pain and I had to work to keep it straight, which is where the pain was the least. My “boss,” my father-in-law, told me to drink a lot of water and rest a bit – 30 minutes, mind you, not like half a day – and it would go away. It did, but the muscle still is sore as all get out.
In fact, sore is basically the story of my whole body. I’m taking 1000mg of acetaminophen every 4 hours and pounding back diet cokes for caffeine (as well as hydrating with water and gatorade) just to stay on my feet.
The crazy thing is the work he was brought up to do – the deck – wasn’t even started until yesterday. The first two days were completely other work that “needed” to be done. And it probably did need to be done, but I’m not going to be living in this house but for seven more weeks; let the next people do it.
But alas, my father-in-law’s standards are high; I can’t fault him too much for that. And I refuse to “stop” working or the like, even if I do sneak off to write to you, dear reader, when I get the chance.
Things I’ve done:
Pressure wash the whole house with a pump-action backpack pressure sprayer. I probably pumped the pump with the same arm 10,000 times. That is not likely an exaggeration, as it did it over the entirety of a day. A day. All the while I was covered in a mixture of bleach, laundry detergent, and water. I think I’m blonde now.
Lift an enormous amount of lumber at every possible angle physically manageable to the human body, and some that aren’t. In fact, at one point, I was standing with my arms by my side on a set of stairs while my father-in-law was bracing a piece of wood above his head – another 2x8x8. Then the bracing failed and the wood started to fall. At that moment, Bruce Lee’s disembodied spirit entered my body and compelled my hand to fly up and catch and enormously heavy (for me) piece of falling wood mid-air and steady it so it wouldn’t bash my father-in-law in the head and likely knock him off the ladder he was on. It was legitimately an impossible move made possible only by luck.
Unscrewed every screw and pulled every nail in the deck and replaced them all with new screws. We have used 8 pounds of 2 1/2″ decking screws so far to give you an idea of how many screws we’re talking about pulling and replacing. And when I say pulling, I mean it, as the old work was not done with treated screws so probably half of them broke off and had to be physically removed with force of one kind or another.
Climbed ladders – and I hate climbing ladders.
Washed all the wood on the deck – scrubbed it.
And there’s still work to be done.
What I’ve learned is this: like tax preparers, every single contractor thinks all the others’ work is done incorrectly and is inferior. Every one of them thinks they’re doing it properly, though.
I think today is the last day. God I hope so.
Stubborn (a prisoner in – or rather outside – his own house)