Despair, Denial and No Ketchup

The strangest thing happened yesterday.

A truck pulled up to the house.  Filled with construction guys.  To work on my basement.  The basement that is almost complete.  But only in an alternate universe where “almost complete” means total lack of progress for four consecutive weeks.

Potato, potahto.

So it turns out I can cancel that APB  I was about to put out on my General Contractor (clearly I watch too many crime/forensics shows).  And the handmade “Missing” flyer that I considered posting on my local utility poles.   You know, complete with little fringy tabs with my phone number across the bottom — and a photo of me giving the finger.

But it seems, after the strange appearance of the truck, we can call off the dogs.  At least for now.

How did we get here?  I get this question a lot.  Actually, the question I get more often is “What the hell is going on with your basement? ”

And the honest answer is that I’ve lost track how we got here (which is nowhere, for the record) at this point.  I know this much is true:

–We made a decision to drop the basement floor down to give us more headroom.

–This decision exposed parts of the foundation on our 100 year-old house that needed to be reinforced.  As in, there were piles of rocks in their original 1909 formation, a la Blair Witch Project.  These piles may or may not continue to hold up the house over the long term now that we have dropped the floor down.

–As a result, new plans and inspections were required in terms of how the foundation work would be accomplished.

–As best as I can recall, it was right about here that weeks of finger pointing between the architect, the town’s building inspectors, the mason and the contractors ensued.  Just when you thought one person was holding us up, that person would tell us it was someone else.  And so on.

–Four weeks passed like this.  With an insufficiently secure foundation.  Which has resulted in floors buckling, door frames shifting and walls cracking.  While we waited for the Finger Pointing Tournament to reach the next round.  Or for the house to fall.

I recently broke down and begged my husband to go batshit crazy on have a reasonable discussion with our General Contractor.

Because, remember, while fingers were being pointed and floors buckled, our heat was also not restored to some rooms, and the work has left an exposed hole from the house to the elements.  (For the calendar and weather-challenged folks out there:  It’s almost November in New Jersey, aka we’re screwed).  And I continue to forbid my kids from using any condiments on their food because we have no laundry machines.  They’ve been eating very bland meals since August 22.

And they miss ketchup, my kids.  A lot.  Also, I’m kind of weirded out by the fact that I’m considering adding the laundromat manager to my Christmas card list at this point.

So.  At my urging, my husband tried to go batshit crazy have a reasonable conversation with our GC.  But.  His voice mail box was full.

Every day.

Where does one go from here?

Well, I got some good suggestions from people about next steps.  Like call one of those Consumer Action reporters.  Or even the HGTV Holmes on Homes dude (who I may or may not have a renovation crush on).  Or get meds to keep my frail remnants of sanity intact.  Oh, and I got some great leads on space heaters.

It was right about then that our GC returned from the missing and got back on his game.  It seems.

So the work has resumed and our five-week summer/early fall project may wrap up before 2012.

In related news, I no longer give a shit.  That’s the sad truth.  I’ve gone from rage and frustration to total detachment and apathy.  I am ignoring it.  I’m burying my head in my pile of outsourced laundry and pretending the whole damn basement no longer exists.  I don’t care anymore.

As you can imagine, this is a problematic approach for several reasons.  The biggest of which is the fact that some major decisions still have to be made.

My husband knows I’m at my limit.  Tonight, he suggested, as a joke, that we can roll with my whole denial approach and then I can have the Big Reveal Moment at the end.  A la HGTV.  I then suggested we take it up a notch.  Let’s take the pressure off of him with the remaining decisions — we could have the blog readers vote on options and make the final choices.

On my second glass of wine at the end of another long week without condiments, the Big Reveal/Let the Blogosphere Decide option seems pretty compelling.  Maybe I should pitch this somewhere.

Or.  You guys could just do me a favor:  Adopt a vigilante/mob mentality and break my GC’s knees.  Or at least restore his voice mail box.



Separately, a huge thanks to all of you who have commented on the post about my Aunt Debbie to help raise $100 for the Susan G Komen Foundation.  You guys rock.  If you haven’t commented, it’s not too late — October 31 is the deadline.  And I will nag you all until the bitter end.

I’m about 30% there.  Spread the word!


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  1. Markus says:

    This shouldn’t be entertaining for us on the receiving end of the blog, should it? I was actually eating breakfast today thinking to myself “when is the next Pimp my Basement update coming???”.

    Riveting dramedy! Love it!!!

  2. Erica says:

    Any construction guys/handymen in the family who could help out? =\

    • fordeville says:

      Hi Erica — Yes, all hands on deck at this point. But we’re dealing with pretty specialized masonry/foundation work, so that leaves us at the mercy of the professionals if there’s any hope of the house standing when this is over.

  3. Ignoring the whole mess might not be a bad idea. Because worrying about it every day probably isn’t getting you very far…
    I’m glad the GC is back in action. Hopefully that’s a good sign!
    And if he disappears again I’m telling you we gotta call Arnold Diaz!

  4. thank you for making me suddenly love my unfinished piece of sh&t basement.

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