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Cleaning House

The holidays were a convenient time to bring order to the house, or condo, as it were. Rachel and I redecorated the half bath downstairs, from towel bar to border. She went home on New Year's Day, and no further progress has been made to this day, with the exception of installing the new toilet paper roller while sitting on the toilet, as I was soon to be in need of its dispensing services.

The half bath is slightly larger than 7.5 feet by 5.5 feet. While by no means bank-busting, the redecorating costs took me by surprise, like going to Jiffy Lube for an oil change and being upsold to replace the air filter, windshield wipers, and head gasket.

Let us assess the impact of American vanity and consumerism in my 7.5' x 5.5' half bathroom, rounding to the nearest dollar:

  • 1 Gallon Behr Premium Acrylic Semi-Gloss Interior Paint, Color "Ostara": $20
  • Painting Supplies (tray, brush, roller, corner brush, masking tape, spackling): $27
  • 30 Feet of Wall Border, Rainier Pattern: $30
  • Towel Rack, Towel Ring, and Toilet Paper: $30
  • 1 Wastebasket, Rainier Pattern: $40
  • 1 Liquid Soap/Lotion Dispenser, Rainier Pattern: $16
  • 1 Switchplate for Two Switches, Rainier Pattern: $13
  • 1 Hand Towel, Rainier Pattern: $13
  • 1 Fingertip Towel, Rainier Pattern: $9

Grand Total (including 6% Kentucky Sales Tax): $210

  • Bryan's estimated total redecorating budget before consultation with girlfriend: $75
  • Cost per square foot: $5
  • Cost to redecorate all 1,325 square feet of Bryan's condo as a half bathroom using Croscill's Rainier motifed style: $6,625

After taking time to reflect wistfully on the project, a few valuable morsels of wisdom became apparent. First, it's fortunate I never went into finance, both for my own benefit and the financial well-being of my employer, because my budgeting skills are hopelessly flawed. Second, I'm screwed if ever duped into buying a home, or anything, for that matter, described as a "fixer upper." Third, owning a $40 Croscill Rainier plaster wastebasket from Bed, Bath & Beyond prompted the stunning realization I had been relegated to defecating and urinating in relative squalor since I had previously always accessorized with plastic wastebaskets.

If you picked up on a hint of sarcasm in my words, don't take it for thinly guised disapproval or loathing. Every day I'm intentionally making choices to transform my lifestyle into something more domestic, settled, and family-like. At one time I considered such behavior conformist, indicative of herd-like mentality, and would have labeled those engaging in it lemmings and drones. After indulging myself in an obligatory stint defending myself from commitments and embracing an independent mindset whenever it suited my whims, I realized that for me, at least, fierce independence was a romantized concept and not the key to my happiness. I can be happy living that way, but I can also be miserable. Having an independent mindset sometimes means having to stand alone, and while I don't surround myself with the company of countless others, I do get lonely.

The basic qualities we seek from life - happiness, security, and purpose to name a few - are moving targets. We recognize this wisdom only with the passage of time. We spend a significant portion of our precious lives playing "Hunt the Wumpus" before realizing the Wumpus moves. Like the itch on your back that moves when you try to scratch it, the new streak you leave behind on the glass after wiping away the old one, the last line of dirt you can never sweep into the dustpan, or the decorative styles of a bathroom over the years, our goals in life are often elusive, always dynamic and ever-changing.

:: Bryan Travis :: 01/25/2003 @ 17:07 :: [link] ::