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Blowing gaskets over shower valves

I’ve always thought being involved in other people’s remodels & design processes is much akin to being a marriage counselor. Many a marriages have nearly broken up over building/improving a house together. They don’t exactly tell you how to deal with that in Architecture school. Heck, they barely teach you how the building actually goes together, let alone how to use CAD. But who councils us when we are simultaneously designers, project managers, builders & users? Most of what we are doing on this house has been rolling around in our heads for the past 3 years. We’ve gone through thousands of new, different and modified renditions of what is being actualized. It’s the epitome of design-build, things are fluid and subject to change even after they are installed (like the sink in the Girls’ bathroom). For the most part, the design & detail decisions are being made together. In beautiful agreement and utopian unity.

Yea, right.

Let’s be really clear here- we have two heads. I’d like to think after nearly 8 years of marriage we have made some headway on this whole Oneness thing. But I realize that is so not the case in some areas. We are very much two in how & what we think, how we process and how much we assume the other just gets it. Until the other person stares at you blankly like they don’t get it at all (or rather, like you just don’t get it at all). Most of the ‘design’ (in the fluffy aesthetic, borderline decorating sense) is in MY head. Most of the details, construction, project managing, working out all the problems we unearth– that’s in HIS head. Which is fine, and it works out great because those are areas we are each very strong in. Until we have to attempt this oneness thing and make things in our heads happen in real life, actually work, be affordable and both be happy about the decision. I call it ‘being on the same page’ and think we need to get to that point of consensus within our decision making. It’s ridiculous really. I think somehow he is supposed to be able to download his ideas & solutions so I can upload, process and dialogue back to a point of warm, fuzzy, happy agreement. And visa versa. But there is this little thing called communication. Sometimes it seems like the AirPort signal strength of our Capital ‘C’ Communication is constantly struggling to get a good enough connection. I think we assume other people share the same point of view and agree with us, until it is exposed they don’t agree at all. In Natalie world, through Natalie’s lens, it’s going to look like this, and work like this, and be installed like this. And Matt totally gets that all and thinks the same way and wants all that too. All the other parts of the house I’m working on now– well, not actually working but planning in my mind– are exciting and awesome until that breakdown in communication is flushed out by the part where me and Matt don’t get each other and we’re fighting over the stupid showerhead. Because obviously we aren’t on the same page at all when he is yelling at me that he really doesn’t care and would be fine taking a shower out of a plastic bag in the woods and I’m yelling back at him that he’s ridiculous and has to have an opinion on the difference between shower head flow strengths as strong as mine. Yea. Obviously we have differing ideas of what a Master Walk-in Shower should be like. He says “Rain Shower System” and what comes to my mind is something totally different than what is in his mind. He assumes what we talked about doing is X, because we were only talking about the shower head that squirts water out, so he has the shower plumbed for X, which is a basic valve to turn water on and off to the shower head. When in my mind we are doing Y, because he was talking about a system, which includes features like thermostatic, pressure control valves, dual flow, multiple features and a hand sprayer that can all squirt water at the same time. And now the copper piping in there isn’t plumbed correctly because the plumber dudes assumed we weren’t doing anything fancy because no one told them otherwise. And don’t get me started on the fact the drain in plumbed in the MIDDLE of the shower. And how could he NOT know about my phobia of stepping on drains?

Ridiculous. (I say that with all the Jim Gaffigan I can muster)

I’m thankful that I can look back and jest at myself. Showerheads are not hills to die on and I don’t mean to dwell on an episode of our marriage and this project I’d rather not remember that fondly. Good to know to friends who have been working here on the house got to hear the whole thing. You can berate me for being a quarrelsome wife, because I am. I’m stubborn and opinionated and want to be heard, even if that means I lash out at other people. The showerhead was simply an object that served as a detonator to the fact we have been simply missing the mark with each other and having a communication breakdown, exasperated by stresses surrounding the fact our house is currently in shambles AND our car broke down over the weekend to top off the level of craziness that is our life right now. This is just overall a really hard season. It’s a sign we both crossed the line into the ‘I’m over it’ phase of remodeling. It happens usually twice in a project- right in the Slow Going middle where things get hung up a little through mistakes and oversights being exposed, then once again in the final finishing phase where it seems the project is never going to be ‘really’ done. Congratulations, we may have just gotten through that first major low point. Though I have to say I did wake up this morning not only refreshed with a better outlook on the whole project and very glad to have worked through the whole shower issue having decided on a more robust system (sadly will include a bit of re-plumbing) so thankful finally we agree on what to do (and it’s not just me getting my way). Also I woke up really wanting to bake Cookies & go all gung-ho decorating the house for Christmas, two things which are nearly impossible with no kitchen & very little ability to actually decorate anything, given the entire kitchen, dining room & living room are in the same space. Likely that is a tendency to want escape from Crazy Life, like perhaps the false savior of Gingerbread is going to make it all better. However, reality is I’m not exactly sure where we would even put a tree, let alone any other silly ‘decor’ items I could acquire. Across the boards we just need to modify a bit & make some compromises. It’s tempting to just get a small, tabletop fake (preferably vintage white) Christmas Tree for this year, giving up the big hoopla of tromping through the woods to cut one down. Maybe it’s just not realistic to accomplish everything to the extreme my perfectionist tendencies would like. I’m learning how to be more flexible than I am naturally inclined to be, and situational stresses which oppose my desires & expectations are perfect breeding grounds for growth & change. I did break down and ordered a wreath with my Amazon Fresh this morning as well as dream about how awesome it will be to take a shower in the new Master Bath when it’s done.

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