The mad scramble to put the house back together and get it into a passable state of functionality by the time Chi came home from his three-week trip to Cuba to take a percussion seminar in July 2011. 

Listen while you read to “Liar” a track from the EP “Neo”, the first project Chi and I recorded together when we began our collaboration in Tokyo in 1998.

July 23-24, 2011

 By the time I finished restoring the office floor, I found myself confronted with the most incredible household mess I’ve ever encountered to this day, and a hopelessly inadequate amount of time to deal with it!  It was now Friday evening, July 22 (I don’t have use of the daytime when I’m at my day job), and Chi was scheduled to arrive back at LAX from his three-week musical research trip to Cuba around 4:00 PM on Sunday the 24th.  I surveyed the monumental task facing me and my stomach sank like a stone.  It sank even further when I went online to check the status of my bank account and realized that I had spent nearly $900 I didn’t have on this operation, rent was due the next week, and I simply had no idea how I was going to pull this rabbit out of my hat.  Chi would be absolutely fit to be tied (and justifiably so this time) if he ever finds out about this.  (UPDATE: What I ended up doing was pay the rent a week late and blow off several hundred $$$ worth of household and personal bills, which left a toxic vapor trail that plagued me for the entire rest of the year.)

Anyhoo, I soldiered on and spent Friday evening cleaning more stuff and purging the huge crate of paper junk from the office of complete trash (which it was full of) since I would not be able to move any of the furniture back into the office until the varnish on the floor had cured to a reasonable extent.  The recommended duration is 72 hours, but I was going to have to make it work at about 36.

On Saturday morning I got up as early as I could manage to drag myself out of bed, fetched a breakfast burrito from the Mexican joint around the corner, and braced myself for a desperate race against the clock.  The landlord came by to help me install a couple new light fixtures I had bought (a ceiling fan with halogen light for the main bedroom and an overhead light for the bathroom), and although I was apprehensive about his reaction, he was very favorably surprised and impressed by the results of my efforts over the past three weeks and astonished that I had done all the work by myself.  We’d had a conversation some time ago about my distaste for wall-to-wall carpeting, and he said I was on my own if I wanted to get rid of it, so as far as I was concerned, that constituted permission for me to redo the floors.

With my judgment critically impaired from my desperately sleep-deprived, fatigued, toxic chemical-crazed state, I was momentarily torn between wanting to take advantage of Chi being gone to spend the day getting the garden cleared out and prepped for fall planting, and staying on track with the clean-up/ disaster recovery effort.  As it was, by this point I was going to have to absolutely pedal the metal for the next 30 hours straight if I were to stand any possibility whatsoever of getting the house back into an even minimally functional condition by the time I had to leave to pick Chi up at the airport on Sunday afternoon since the scale of the wreckage was so enormous.  It so happened that a couple very dear friends were in L.A. that weekend and stopped by briefly to catch up.  Thankfully their words of wisdom prevailed: “Chi can still function even with the garden in the state it’s in.  However, if he cannot navigate his house, that will be a major problem.”

There were a couple garden tasks I simply had to do though.  A neighbor had given me a couple seedlings of a winter squash plant in the spring, which had grown to be enormous in the intervening months and had breached the fence and were spilling out onto the sidewalk, as well as making large areas of the garden impassable.  I had to get those plants under control and also tie back the citrus trees that were growing like crazy and obstructing the driveway, which drives Chi mad, and I’m sure our neighbors who live in the other half of the duplex don’t particularly care for that either.  The small area of the garden that I had spent a few hours clearing of weeds the day after Chi left was now all weedy again, but I just left it and got back to the indoor clean-up.  I kept cleaning and cleaning and schlepping tools and construction materials out of the house downstairs and doing laundry, but the mess did not seem to be visibly improving.  I eventually gave up and went to bed to catch a few direly-needed hours of sleep before beginning the epic mad scramble to put the office back together before I had to go fetch Chi at LAX on Sunday.

Sunday was a total panic.  I set straight to work dragging and pushing and wrangling large, heavy pieces of furniture back into the office (scratching the hell out of the wood floor I had just restored in the living room in the process!) and clearing out the rest of the displaced stuff I’d put in Chi’s room and moving it to wherever it would fit without critically obstructing the functionality of the house.

The kitchen floor was still a hideously filthy mess since I never ended up having the hours available that I needed to be able to scrub it all down with Krud Kutter or Fast 505 to get all the black grunge and construction debris off the floor and all the disgusting greasy shit the entire the space is chronically caked with off, and then hose it down to remove the chemical residue that could be toxic to the cats (and people).  The refrigerator and wine chiller (that we also use to store some food that we don’t want quite as cold as the regular refrigerator) were still absolutely pestilential and in desperate need of deep cleaning, and I also had no time (or money!) to re-stock the house with food, which we were completely out of by this point.  I knew that would be a calamity, but that would be the easiest thing to deal with once he was back home.

When it was well past the time when I should have left for the airport, I finally dropped what I was doing (probably trying to get the computer hooked back up and running again so I could check the status of Chi’s flight, which I may well not have been able to finish doing), grabbed my handbag and ran out the door, jumped in our truck and after warming up the engine since it hadn’t been driven in several days, flew like a bat out of hell down the freeway to LAX, praying fervently that the traffic gods would be on my side.  They were, and just as I was sitting in the queue to get into the arrivals section, he called me to say that his flight ran a little late but he’d just landed and had to get through customs.  Whew!  The first thing he asked me once he got in the car and I got back on the freeway to head back home was how much my floor job had cost.  I couldn’t tell the truth or he would have had an absolute hissy so I greatly minimised it, and I knew he was going to have a hissy anyway when we got home and he found out that there wasn’t a single, readily edible thing in the whole house either, especially since he went on to tell me how ravenous he was since none of the operators of the series of several-hour flights he’d just taken had seen fit to feed the passengers, and he didn’t have time during the layover in Texas to get anything to eat either.  Shit….

Well, we got home and after sincerely complimenting my efforts and expressing surprise and appreciation that I had done it all by myself and hadn’t hired a professional to help me, he then laid into me with a big, hysterical diatribe about there being no food in the house when he got home exhausted and starving from his long trip, and how could I be so selfish and neglectful that I didn’t have a big, fancy dinner all ready and waiting for him as soon as he came in the door, etc., etc., yada-yada-yada.  Business as usual!

I don’t even remember what we ended up doing for dinner, and then the final insult to injury was that the dryer up and died just as he put in a load of three weeks’ worth of dirty laundry he had just emptied out of his suitcase and washed.  That thing had been working flawlessly for me all weekend, and thankfully I’d been able to do most of the massive amount of laundry that had piled up during those three weeks.  Yet another disaster to have to manage….