Sunday, January 23, 2011

Writing and renovating

Where have you been? I hear you cry. (Don't I?). I've been writing and renovating. It would be hard to say which is the greater obstacle to blogging, but against their combined forces, I've had no chance at all.
What I was writing was a longish review of two recently published fashion books: The Dress Circle: New Zealand Fashion Design Since 1940 by Lucy Hammonds, Douglas Lloyd Jenkins and Claire Regnault (Godwit) and New Zealand Fashion Design by Angela Lassig (Te Papa Press). It took me much longer than it should have. Partly because it will be published in a journal that has never reviewed a fashion book before, and I wanted to be sure to get it right. Partly because writing is never finished, only abandoned in the face of a deadline, and since I'm co-editor of the journal in question, I kept giving myself generous extensions. And partly because of interruptions due to the afore-mentioned renovations.

This is - or rather, was - my bathroom.

And this, my bedroom.
As you can see, I'm camping in these parts of the house, rather than living in them. Only the toilet is functional, and if I need to use it during office hours, so to speak, I have to ask any number of builders, plumbers and electricians to vacate the room for a few minutes. The icy southerly is whistling up from the basement through several holes in the (ex) bathroom floor; I have no well-lit mirror in which to put on lipstick and insert my contacts; I've been scrounging off local friends for showers and, to avoid making even great inroads on their generosity and hot water, getting back ache by washing my hair in the kitchen sink.
In spite of all that, and the fact that I'm usually something of a neat freak, I love it. Others (I'm talking about you, N) might angst over the dust and mess and general inconvenience, but I find it almost cathartic.
Feeling down? Life not going your way? Want to seize back control? Knock down walls! 
When it's all over I shall have not one large bathroom containing all the facilities, outside the door of which a disorderly queue forms whenever there's more than just me in the house, but those splendidly bourgeois assets, a main bathroom and an en suite. To be honest, that last label induces a cringe; every time I utter it I feel as if I'm channeling a real estate agent. Still, it will have its uses.
Until then, the trademen keep needing decisions and supplies. Do I mind if the heaters have cords? Where do I want the heated towel rails and the power outlets? Shower curtain or door? What about lighting? I seem to be wandering the aisles at Bunnings several times a day, and returning mistaken purchases every other day.
No, I don't know if we're nearly there yet because I don't want to drive the nice builder mad by asking him. One thing I am sure of, though, is that renovation is far less stressful when you live alone. The last time I managed anything like this (only bigger), I also had to manage The X, whose pained expression and martyred sighs were a lot harder to bear than a few piles of rubble and hours of commercial radio every day.  

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