Home Improvement

I had every intention of painting those fucking bathroom cabinets, really.
Hideous chocolate brown.  Their very presence has haunted me for years.

Somehow you live with these type of things for years, ignoring them as you would a hidden skin tag.  Or simply not even seeing them any longer, the daily familiar becoming invisible as a broken banister or a middle child.
But if nothing else, this weird little timeout has brought every nagging little project back into focus.
The palm beds have been weeded and mulched, the carburetors on both bikes cleaned of the syrupy kiss of ethanol corrupted fuel.

Only the cabinets remain.

I have my Home Depot list in hand: TSP to clean, 150 grit paper to scuff.
Kilz primer, semi gloss the shade of dandelion fluff.
Pulls and hinges in brushed nickel, and hey—god willing?  some paper towels?

The car keys are in hand. a rare weight these days.  I have to put on the readers to check, as I can’t remember which button unlocks the doors with a chirping hiccup.

The dog looks at me, intrigued. You going out there?

But on the way out the door, I make the mistake of glancing at the flat screen, where the Firestick is now suggesting a few more music docs after last night’s Cadillac Tramps movie. 


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I went right from the sad tale of Johnny Thunders  to our hometown heroes’ heartbreaking rise and fall, Gabby passing just as it should’ve all come back together.
I surrender to bed then, no more movies tonight.
Fueled enough for the twisting night of dreams ahead, the missed opportunities and missed veins.


I actually am grateful for these movie recommendations, for I had no idea Amazon Prime possessed such quirky treasures.

That’s how it’s been these last few weeks, all these digital parasites becoming the most immediate virus of all. The invisible roommates, always there.

Alexa sits and listens, and after bitching about my aching joints the Facebook feed is nothing but knee braces and CBD gummies.
Kindle whispers to the Echo in the dark, gossiping about my fondness for The Band,
Suddenly It Makes No Difference is coming from somewhere in the house, bluetoothed from a hidden speaker.
Rick Danko’s plaintive cry like a wounded animal that must now be tracked and put out of misery.

Ah what the hell, I  surrender to the gravitational pull of the couch and click on the Fat Wreck flick  .
The dog jumps up next to me, satisfied that we are in place yet again.


It’s a worthy way to burn 90 minutes, and my respect for Propaghandi is renewed.
But more importantly, when I get up again another day is that much closer to being done.  And isn’t that what we’re doing here after all?
Hasn’t it become a waiting game, another sunset in this void bringing us that much closer to something?

I wander the paint aisle, socially distanced from the other shoppers disguised as bandits or interns on an archaeological dig.

A woman gives me hilariously wide berth as I pass by, hugging tight up against the cans of WD40 lest I invade her sanctuary of six feet.

At checkout, I stand on my appointed X, latex gloves snapped tight over my scalded hands.
My sunglasses, still on so I won’t commit the mortal sin of touching my eyeball, start to  fog from the breath diverted upward by my dust mask.
And these goddamn things, they tickle my nose.   I try to resist, I do.
But I finally have to surrender a satisfying sneeze.

People turn and look, shocked.  A Vietnamese couple simply drop their closet organizer kit and run for the door.
Shoppers give me double the distance now, backing away four meters, five, the orange buckets tumble in the chaos.
I expect the chant of  shame, shame!, feces hurled my way.

On the way home I take the mask off in the car.
At the stoplight an elderly lady pulls next to me, her face buried beneath N95  respirator and a plexiglass shield.
I turn and smile at her, my mouth naked and visible.
She flips me off.

No wonder the house is truly home now.
If haunted.
Connected by all these little electronic spirits, like fireflies dancing in the twilight, visible only by a single LED twinkle.  I am entranced, pulled close and comfortable, these guys know what I need after an exhausting adventure out there.

Amazon Prime suggests a study on Grant Hart’s final say.


And so it’s back to couch now, and I try to ignore the blue rolls of masking tape, just visible in the translucent shopping bags.
I absorb life in a van with Husker Du and the aftermath.
A life lived too short in Bob Mould’s shadow.

I get up now, stretch.  It’s past midnight again.
Maybe just take the doors off and unscrew the hinges, so shamefully painted over decades ago.  That will be a start.

But, what?
Hey, you didn’t tell me they also had that weird Replacements Movie,  that one with no Replacements music and no Replacements?

I sit back down, pat the spot next to me.
DeeDee rolls her eyes and curls up next to me on the couch, where we spend the next 2 hours watching our old pal Jack Rabid talk about a band bent on beautiful self destruction.
Trippy movie, the ultimate behind the music as the band doesn’t even bother to show up.


It’s late, feels almost a victory, another day passed.
The house is quiet excepting the occasional message chime from cell phone or a laptop blooping: new email.  We’ve become fluent in this new language, able to tell Instagram buzz from the tweet of a Tweet.

There is a synchronized vibration happening now, Ring tattles that there is motion at the front door.

Maybe that’s the most encouraging and terrifying alert of them all.
From out there?

I take a piss and brush my teeth, and a soft electronic chime pings from each device in the house, I imagine it’s just a soft goodnight.

I pause, toothbrush in mouth still.
A glance down at those cabinets at my knees, still brown.