Christian Ross

Listening to the Clackety Noise

Heeding Merlin Mann‘s advice, I decided tonight to listen to the clackety noise (NSFW language) and see what came of it. I think it’s true that my writing doesn’t really come to me unless I am actively doing it. Most of the things I produce in length don’t start anywhere but in a simple text editor or notebook. My thoughts and ramblings would probably end up more coherent if I started with an end in mind or with some sort of outline but just doesn’t seem to flow that way.

Been thinking for a while now that I might want to write a book. I have an idea in my mind but no real direction and no real place to start or finish. Maybe this is a start.

I have to think that my college experience isn’t anything out of the ordinary. But then again, I may be wrong. If it was normal then we’d all have a Craig. And a John. And a Trevor. And I’m almost positive you don’t have any of them much less all three under one roof.

For an extended period of time, the four of us shared residence in a loft apartment above a print shop in the downtown area of our alma mater’s city. If I had to guess it was 5000 sq/ft and combined we occupied about 1/4 of it. To say it was a bachelor’s pad would be an understatement. If I had to label it, I would lean towards calling it a bachelor’s paradise. We could do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted and never have to worry about bothering anybody but each other. Drive golf balls in the living room? Check. Drive golf balls off the roof down the street? Check. Music louder than a club at midnight? Check. We had full reign, we were the kings. We had the place everyone wanted to be at and if it wasn’t for Trevor, they probably would have been.

That’s not to say it didn’t have its faults. Our carpet consisted of about 4 rooms worth of hand-me-down pieces from all of our previous dorm rooms. And for honesty’s sake, we didn’t vacuum in college. Even once. We also didn’t have what any person in Texas should ever be without, an air conditioner. Trevor had one. In his room – at the back of the place. And we were fortunate enough for our landlord (and boss) to approve the purchase of an industrial-sized swamp cooler that we tried to make due with from May to October. But other than that, we sweated most evenings out until about 9pm when the sun was gone and the desert air cooled naturally.

There was also the issue with bathrooms. We had three. Sort of. We had one bathroom on the other side of the building that had a sink, a toilet and an upright plastic shower. A second facilities room was on our side of the apartment – sink, tub (no shower) and a toilet. Additionally, the laundry room was next over and it contained a sheet metal upright shower. The third bathroom wasn’t really a bathroom at all, more of a parts supply room for when upgrades were needed elsewhere.

The plastic shower was our original place of daily cleansing. Until someone broke the shower head. More than likely it was Craig. With plastic pipes and no ability to replace the shower head, the plastic shower quickly lost its place to help cleanse the body due to its power washer similarities.

Which leads us to Ol’ Rusty. I guess you could point out that we might have had two options left – a tub and a shower – but when you really think about it, there was really only one choice. Four college-aged dudes splitting time in the tub just wasn’t in the cards. Our only option was Ol’ Rusty. It really didn’t have a name at the time, but honestly I’m having a hard time describing the flimsy, tetanus-filled, semi-private corner we convinced ourselves would clean the daily grime off.

Shower shoes were a requirement. I’m pretty sure that was in the contract. And I, in my handy ways, even attempted to spruce it up one time. I had to. It hadn’t occurred the others that water spraying on a bare exterior wall could potentially have its ramifications. After a stint or two under the pressure washer, I was convinced anything else was better so I set out to the Home Depot for some shower remodeling materials. I filled my cart with some spray paint, bathroom caulk, nails, Liquid Nails and some laminated fiber boards that would also adorn the top of my sweet homemade 2*4 desk someday. I was set.

The fiber board went up, laminated side towards the water. The maker’s of Liquid Nails should be investigated for fraud because their product does not work as advertised. Luckily, I had real nails. Remember when I said we lived above a print shop? Ever try and nail a Sheetrock nail into a cinder-block? Pro tip: it doesn’t go well. If you do happen to get it driven into the block, it loses all ability to hold anything in place. I wasn’t going to let a little thing like that derail my plans at a new bath though, I got resourceful. I abused some nails to create the holes I needed, filled the non-useful holes with Liquid Nails and then tacked my board into place in the glue-filled holes. I win.

Two walls covered from the floor to the top of the shower were covered, glued, nail-glued and then sealed off with caulk. Nail holes and all. The third side of the shower wasn’t as easy. It was free standing, held the knobs and shower head and had a hole towards the bottom about 1 foot tall by 2 feet across that went straight through. Needless to say, you didn’t leave your towel on the other side while you showered.

I went ahead and cut a third piece of fiberboard out to cover the hole and used the last 7/8ths of the caulk to seal/glue it to the sheet metal. My final task was to figure a way to subdue the oxide (read: rust) problem on the shower floor. Couldn’t fiberboard it, thus my only choice was to paint it. Nothing a can of blue Rustoleum can’t handle. Done. Sign me up for a HGTV show, I’ve got skills. Except for the fact that laminated fiberboard isn’t exactly waterproof.

I’d be embarrassed to tell this story if it hadn’t worked out. But you know what? We showered in that thing for at least a year after that. It worked. And I’d bet that its still standing today, swelled in spots from the water it soaked in. The embarrassment of the story would come if I told you that after the other guys had graduated and moved out, I may or may not have subjected my newlywed wife to its horror the first six months of our marriage. Love is blind. And tetanus-vaccine booster’d.

So there’s my clackety for the evening. When I started I didn’t have a clue where I was headed. In fact, half-way through I completely changed stories I was going to tell. You were right Merlin, start typing and let the fingers do the rest.

Maybe a book wouldn’t be as hard as I make it out to be in my mind.

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