Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Writing Shed, Part One

Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! AAGGHHH!

Ever had that feeling that life is snowplowing right over you? The old to-do list is getting pretty long. It brings to mind a British phrase I’ve come to know and love: “Ambitious, but rubbish.” If things keep up like this, that’s precisely what it’ll be.

I’ve been trying to build an outdoor fireplace now for a little while. Like, two years. It’s not only not done, but also there have been other little projects added in the meantime… you know, while I procrastinated. Like the cabinet my wife procured that needs to be sanded, painted, and installed somewhere. A big picture frame from three years ago; same story. I’ve told my boys that I’m going to build them a loft bed in their room, so they can have more room to play (truthfully, the design behind this idea is to keep them from leaving Legos out to ambush me barefooted in the living room, but I know it won’t solve anything; I understand the Law of Unintended Consequences).

And now this: A massive pile of reclaimed lumber. It’s for another project altogether, of course. See, a while back I got this crazy idea that I could build a storage shed that’s mostly not a storage shed. Mostly, it would be my home office. There would be room to store stuff on one side, sure, but there would be a double wall dividing the two spaces. My office space would be insulated and air conditioned and heated. Sure, it’s crazy, but I can do crazy in my sleep. Trust me.

Where did it all come from, you may ask. It started with a random phone call from my brother, who started the conversation by asking me what I was doing. I told him, “Writing. At the coffee shop (which is where I normally work because I don’t have a writing shed yet).” He replied with, “You dog,” whereupon I gave as good as I got. But it turned out he needed some help with demolition at one of his jobs. There was a small forest of 2x4s, 2x8s, and headers, oh, my. The stuff was just going to go into a dumpster anyway, so I quickly volunteered to help him take it down, thinking to myself, self, this is probably going to cost you a bottle of Laphroaig’s finest. Happily.

The problem is, reclaimed lumber is a little like fresh produce. It won’t keep forever, especially out in the weather. Further, my projects tend lately to outlast reality itself. I have really got to get cracking on this shed, then. Have you ever considered the irony of a man who needs somewhere to keep the materials for the shed he wants to build, and how a shed would be the perfect place to keep all that stuff but how there is no shed yet because it hasn't been built? Chicken or egg. A Frenchman would shrug, turn away, and light a cigarette, saying C'est la vie, and it would fit well.

That pile looks big, doesn’t it?

Yes, yes it does.

But I’ve counted up the studs and the joists—there’s not enough there to complete the shed I’ve designed. It’s not a complaint; just an observation. What it means is that I’ll have to go out and buy more materials. More studs. More sheathing, for sure. Shingles, paint, caulk, nails, hardware for the doors, and so on. I’ve got to go get a second-hand sliding glass door, too. And a heater. And an air conditioner. You see where this is going, right? I’ll need conduit, wiring, j-boxes, some railroad ties, and probably more than a few sixers of cold beer.

It’s dangerous, that’s what it is. Dangerous. Because I have more excuses than ever now. And if there’s one thing I don’t want to do, it’s procrastinate this lumber pack into an unusable pile. Though life threatens to plow me under, I shall stand atop victorious, hammer in one hand and empty beer in the other, roundly belching my defiance into the face of circumstance. I will shout from the gambrel roof of my writing shed that I Have Overcome. Soon. Ish. Like, maybe, I dunno, late August-early September. Meh, October…possibly.

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