Sunday, May 23, 2010

Losing It

I had a weird little week, almost all of it unrelated to the house until today.

Tuesday: Blew a tire on 101 while driving to work. End up being towed back to Salinas. No, I don't have a spare tire. It's a Mini-there's no place to put a spare.

Wednesday: Mostly normal until 5 p.m., when I got an invite from Gov. Schwarzenegger's office to attend the launch of the Green Products Institute the next morning at the Googleplex.

Thursday: Drive to Google. Trying to find parking when the driver of the Jeep in front of me stops, throws it into reverse and slams in to my car while trying to snag a parking spot of his own. It really was a slam, because his bumper rode up on my hood. (That sounds sort of dirty, doesn't it?)

Thursday, 15 minutes later: Go into initiative launch. YouTube founder Chad Hurley is adorably nervous introducing the Governator. What's Rosario Dawson doing on stage, besides looking chic? Google is like heaven, with dogs everywhere, bicycles everywhere, sand volleyball courts and free food. Green products, yay, green certification, yay, and then Arnold drops the bombshell that Toyota is going into business with Tesla to make Electric Vehicles in California. For the next 10 hours, I do nothing but that story.

Friday: Take the Mini to the shop to get the estimate from the guy's insurance company. As an aside, GEICO? I've never met a more on top of it company. They set me up with a rental. I head out, stop at Safeway to grab lunch and go back to the office. Somewhere between the grocery store and the office, my purse disappears, with my new driver's license, two credit cards and my new camera in it. Geico calls, $3 k in damage and they mostly have to replace the front end.

Saturday: Make a critical error in judgement in agreeing to see Magruber. Not only the worst movie I've ever seen, but possibly the worst movie ever made.

Sunday: Husband goes to the house and finds out that one of the contractor's guys has forgotten to lock the door, someone has broken in and thrown around a bunch of construction materials. I go to the Salinas PD to file a report and am told my the cadet at the desk that I can't file a report because I don't have ID. I tell him I don't have ID because my purse was stolen. He suggests that maybe I should call my husband. I suggest instead that I call the watch commander. Which I do. Extra patrols at night until we move in and the promise that the cadet will never do something that stupid again are forthcoming.


The watch commander sent over a patrol car. We were over there weeding and planting some berry bushes. The officer asked when we bought the house and whether we were going to have offices there. It's the second time this week that someone asked if we were planning on having offices there (because the previous owner was going to turn it into an office building) and it was the second time someone seemed perplexed that we were planning on living there.

I think there's a supposition that if you're a white professional living in Salinas, you're going to choose to live somewhere not Old Town. (Not true.) There's a supposition that if you're white, you probably think Old Town is dangerous (not true). If you think Old Town is dangerous, I believe you've never lived anywhere dangerous.

Salinas is a funny place. It's deeply screwed up, but it knows it's deeply screwed up. That's a mindset I can get behind.

Berkeley? Deeply screwed up and never really wanted to admit it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Meet Al

Originally uploaded by Mary Duan
This is Al.

Al is our contractor. And the fact that he is standing in my front yard means one thing: work has begun.

When we last left off, it was May 4 and we had just found out that our permit was approved. It meant that Todd the Barista could stop threatening the permit department with sudden denial of caffeine. It meant that I could stop crocheting a voodoo doll that looked strangely like the head of the planning department. It meant that work could start.

But Al had a job to finish in San Something or Other. San Rafael, maybe. I'm not sure. He came down last week to pay for the permit, purchase his Salinas business license and start figuring out the job site. (One thing he figured out almost immediately: his foreman would be sleeping at the house during the week so all of their tools wouldn't get ripped off. Some little rat bastards broke in a few weeks ago before we put new locks on the doors and broke a window and damaged most of the screens.)

Mike the Sprinkler Guy started installing sprinklers in the basement this morning, and plans to finish installation for the whole house by Monday. Al and his guys started working on installing the new water main today, and called for the rough plumbing and electrical inspection for tomorrow. He doesn't expect to pass; he is, gasp, an out-of-town contractor, and a city usually likes to flex their muscles a little bit with the new guys. (Do not make me start crocheting again, Rob the Planner.) Once the rough inspection is complete, I get to have walls--hopefully sometime next week--and shortly thereafter, I get to live with my family again. In the basement.

In the basement, because this permit is for the basement work only. Before we get the permit for the rest of the house, we have to finish the site plan inspection. We had to hire a civil engineer (I'm referring to him by his last name in the same tone of voice Seinfeld used to say "Newman!) for the parking area and curb work, and his plans just came in today.

Friday, we will hit IKEA to buy cabinets for the basement, and order the tile. The strawberry plants are doing well, as is Sam's corn, and the lemon and lime trees are full of buds. One of the pomegranate bushes also is thriving, but I'm not yet sure about the other two.

(As to why we chose a, gasp, out-of-town contractor: I needed one qualified and certified to do an FHA 203k project, and when we started this process, I couldn't find one in Salinas. There is one now, but his website just launched this year.) So for every Salinas resident who is a winner of the lucky sperm lottery (meaning your grandparent's grandparents came here 150 years ago and bought all the land, leaving their offspring with a grandiose sense of entitlement and very little ambition) and has shot me a look or questioned why we're using a, gasp, out of town contractor?

Now you know.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


After six weeks of begging and raging and begging and raging, as of this morning, we have a building permit.

Thanks to my housemate Todd, who as owner of the Cherry Bean Coffeehouse in Salinas has reminded the permit people every morning for the past week that if they want to continue enjoying their caffeine, they should move faster.

Expanded post to come later.