Allergic To Domestic Life


Have any of you started a project that you thought would take ten minutes to complete, only to find that the project has morphed into a huge and tangled event that has taken over your entire life? I am trapped in the middle of such a project right now.
[Image source: Half the deck].


This project started when I decided to buy one sheet rock screw so I could rehang the little metal shelf in my bathroom above the toilet (after the ceiling caved in a few months ago, I had to remove everything from the bathroom, and this little shelf was one of those items. In the process, one of the screws was lost). Since I am slowly regaining the use of my broken shoulder and arm, I thought that this little project would be good physical therapy for me. You know, nothing too heavy or demanding …
So I went to the local hardware store yesterday, looking for one screw. While I was there, I also found a few other items I need; a toilet brush and a soap holder and then .. I saw the thing I’ve wanted for years; a metal wire shelf that is meant to go into a closet to hold your clothes. Well, I don’t have a closet, and the flimsy but expensive little cloth “closet” that I bought years ago has long ago broken, so I can’t hang anything up any more — quite a problem for a person who also doesn’t own an iron! So I hang my clothes from my shower rod to keep them wrinkle-free (I do have to be careful when showering).
Despite its expense, I decided to get this shelf so I could screw it into a bedroom wall and finally be able to hang up my clothes (and put my blankets on top, instead of stacking them on my futon, where I also sleep).
So now, a day and a half later, I am caught up in a battle as I try to rearrange my apartment so I can fit this one shelf on one wall in my bedroom. Somehow, the entire place has become torn apart in the process (although my bathroom has finally been restored, whew). In the midst of this growing disaster, my parrots are looking at and chewing on boxes of teaching materials that I finally am discarding (yeah!), and boxes of textbooks and extra review copies of books that I plan to sell (on ebay? well, somewhere, so I can pay for this shelf!) — all because I want to fit this one shelf on my bedroom wall!
And of course, the temperatures and humidity in NYC have soared to barf-inspiring levels, and because I don’t have air conditioning, I have to rely on a couple fans to blow hot humid air at me while sweat trickling down my spine as I sit in one place, writing my blog. Unfortunately, the blowing air triggers my allergies and asthma horribly, despite taking three times the recommended dosage of antihistamines. I was really worried last night when the resulting congestion became so bad that my left eardrum threatened to rupture: it took awhile to get to sleep because of the sharp knifelike pain in that ear that I had to endure.
And worse, the shelf fell off the wall early this morning, dumping blankets, clothes and stuffed animals all over the floor, and ripping holes in the wall. Grrr! So now the mess is even worse than it was before, which I didn’t think was possible.
And the exterminator (HOPEFULLY!!) is coming tomorrow, to kill the cockroaches that are moving in again and to kill that damned mouse that sits about three feet away from me watching while I write! I wonder what the exterminator will think about the place, now that I’ve nearly destroyed it? Fortunately, I do have a door on my bedroom so I can hide some of the mess, and both the kitchen and bathroom (where he likes to spray) are clean and orderly.
But all in all, I wish I had never started this project, but now I am stuck: I have to finish it. But I really wish I had never gone looking for that one sheet rock screw.

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About GrrlScientist

grrlscientist is the pseudonym of an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who writes about evolution, ethology, and ecology, especially in birds. After earning a degree in microbiology (thesis focus: virology) and working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she earned her PhD in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied the molecular correlates of testosterone and behaviour in white-crowned sparrows. She then worked a Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she studied the speciation and distribution of lories and other parrots throughout the South Pacific Islands. A discarded scientist, she returned to her roots: writing. Formerly hosted by The Guardian (UK), she now writes about science for Forbes and for the non-profit think tank, the Evolution Institute and she writes podcasts for BirdNote Radio. An avid lifelong birder and aviculturist, she lives with a flock of songbirds and parrots somewhere in Germany.
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0 Responses to Allergic To Domestic Life

  1. arby says:

    You’ve just nailed the reason I don’t do anything. Too complicated.
    I hope the heat breaks, and the ear doesn’t, rb

  2. themadlolscientist says:

    YOICKS!!!!!!!!111!!1! Been there, done that – but without the broken shoulder, thanks be to Ceiling Cat……… I don’t get clogged up the way you do, but I get an uncontrollable postnasal “drip” (more like a small flood, actually) that makes me cough and gag until I’m ready to throw up.
    Next time you hit the hardware store, the first item on your list has to be dust masks. They’re cheap (keep an eye out – sometimes you can get a package of 5 in a dollar store) and they can save you from a whole lot of respiratory hell on earth. If you don’t have a mask handy, a damp bandana “bandit mask” works pretty well. (The dampness is what makes it work; the water swells the fibers and also makes the dust and stuff stick to them.)
    A good hardware store will also carry HEPA masks, in case the cheap ones don’t do the trick. Expensive but worth it if you’re really sensitive.

  3. face masks are a good idea. i originally passed them by when i was picking up all that other stuff at the hardware store because i felt .. weird .. using those while cleaning my place. almost like my apartment is a biohazard. although, i guess it IS a biohazard — for me!

  4. Barn Owl says:

    Two inexpensive things I’d recommend for allergy symptoms, whether postnasal drip or stuffy nose: 1) Xylitol nasal wash (Xlear is a good brand) 2) a neti pot with plain ol’ warm saline.
    The neti pot may be a bit weird and messy to get used to, and it sounds like total yogic woo, but I found that it really helps relieve nasal congestion. I know a couple of ENT docs who recommend the neti pot, or the saline nasal spray (more expensive). I can’t take most over-the-counter decongestants for more than a day or two without getting gruesome nosebleeds, and the neti pot is a gentle alternative.

  5. Vireom says:

    As a former single woman, I can resonate with your experience. An idea: why not list the books you’d like to sell here on the blog? I bet some of us would be interested in buying some of them. Maybe that isn’t legal. I don’t know blog rules. But just thought it sounded like a good idea.

  6. Tziporah says:

    What are you going to do with the birds while the exterminator is in the apartment/

  7. well, unfortunately, i have to leave the birds where they are. i do close the bathroom door while leaving the windows open to air it out, and close a curtain that separates the kitchen from the rest of the place, again, while leaving the windows open to air out the place. the exterminator is also very aware to use only minimal amounts of spray to prevent the birds from being harmed.

  8. Art says:

    Take a couple of hints from a tradesman.
    N-95 masks are good for allergies. Spend the money and get a couple with two straps and an extra flap at the nose as they make the mask fit and seal better. And if you intend to use it in warm, humid conditions spend a little more and buy ones with an exhaust valve. These are a lot more comfortable in the heat. Expect to pay $4 to $7 per mask. The good news is that high quality masks can stand long and hard use without turning to mush.
    Also, if your fastening things to drywall, you don’t want to use drywall screws. Drywall screws might work well enough if you hit a stud behind the drywall but if you hanging things off the drywall alone they won’t do you much good.
    The best advice, not knowing the particulars, is to go to a hardware store and ask about a few options. Those being ‘toggle bolts’, ‘molly’ anchors and screw-in plastic drywall anchors. The later being the easiest to use.
    To use them you preposition the object to be hung and mark the wall where you want anchors. Then, using a philips-head screwdriver, you screw in the plastic anchors. You then reposition the object and land a sheet metal screw into the plastic anchor. They typically are good for 40 to 60 pounds each in 1/2″ drywall. More in the fiberglass fortified, X-type fire rated drywall.
    Mollies are also good and not much more complicated. just make sure that you know the thickness of the wallboard before you buy them so you get the right ones.
    Any decent hardware store can give you the 411. Mounting things to drywall is a pretty common question. Your likely to get better service from mom-and-pop hardware stores than the ‘home centers’.

  9. Pat Silver says:

    You may like this piece of writing by a friend of mine, describing the results of having one left-over egg white.
    http://www.valerieking.com/cfm/articlesdisplay.cfm?recordid=22