Since I knew that I will soon be swamped with meetings, students, grading, preparing lectures, etc., etc., I wanted to get my little cottage in as good a state as possible before the semester starts. This involved purchasing and repotting a number of new houseplants (ones that Cat will not torture and make beg for their lives (the list of those varieties is quite small)). I also gave the place a good cleaning.
As we know, GayProf likes living in older places. Indeed, with one exception, every apartment or house where I have lived in my adult life was built before 1940 (The one exception was a temporary apartment selected because of other circumstances). Indeed, there seems to be a theme in my life as I also surround myself with material things created between 1900 and 1940 (dishes, furniture, etc.). My research projects usually focus on the period before 1940. Even my iTunes has a significant chunk of disc space devoted to music from this period.
It all makes one ponder if I was reincarnated. Maybe I lived some tragic, but very glamorous, life between 1900 and 1940. Perhaps that will manifest itself today. Maybe you will see GayProf wandering the streets in a grey wool suit muttering, “There is something I must do, there is something I must do.” Do fish me out of the bay when I fall into it.
The thing about reincarnation, though, is that everybody believes their former life was quite romantic. People imagine themselves as long lost knights or ladies of the manner. I can’t even tell you how many former Ladies-in-Waiting to Cleopatra I have met. Statistically, though, most people who were reincarnated would have had to have been serfs. You were more likely to have been the shlep who polished King Arthur’s Round Table than to have had a seat at it. Peasants had no armor and no pretty clothes. They just toiled hard in the soil and then dropped dead somewhere around the age of 30. Just once I want somebody who believes in reincarnation to claim that their former life was dreary, but unremarkable.
Whatever the reason, I seem to bristle at living someplace newer than 1940 (and downright cringe at living anywhere built between 1970 and 1989). My vision of hell would be an apartment built somewhere around 1975 with faux Tudor windows and orange counters. Hell isn't other people -- It's bad architecture and poor lighting.
Luckily, I have been very happy with my 1940 rental in Midwestern Funky Town. Indeed, my little cottage has been one of the best parts of moving here.
Living in older dwellings, though, sometimes requires one to take their [current] life in their hands. While it has actually been renovated fairly recently, my house still has some quirks that come with age. I have been struck by how many things are around that will potentially lead to my untimely demise. These include:
** A garbage disposal that sounds like it is grinding something metal. I have searched for something inside of it (including an unwise mission of shoving my hand around inside). Nothing has been found thus far. Yet, periodically, it jams after sounding like I had tossed an
** Older houses also usually have mature trees. In the case of my little cottage, there is a great Maple tree in the front lawn. I like the tree a great deal and appreciate its soothing shade. After all the rain a few weeks ago, however, I was certain that the tree was starting to lean towards the house. It will likely collapse and crash into my bedroom, killing me instantly. Or perhaps they only moved the tombstones and not the bodies when they built the house. Thus, the tree will come to life on a stormy night and just snatch me from my bed. Either way, I am certain that the tree will cause me to die.
** The house has a central fuse box. Until I moved into my cottage, I literally didn’t know any house still had a fuse box. I thought every dwelling in the U.S. had been switched to circuit breakers. How does one actually change a fuse? I am uncertain about the steps required for that. What does make me certain, though, is that my first attempt will result in me electrocuting myself and I will die.
** That fuse box is located in the basement. I will likely fall down the stairs and break my neck. That's not at all the house's fault. I am just clumsy. Even before being electrocuted, I will likely take a misstep and die.
** Speaking of being electrocuted, for mysterious reasons the electrical plug for the washing machine is positioned directly above the wash sink (where the washer also drains). Modern houses can’t put an electrical outlet within several feet of a water source. Back in the day, though, they apparently thought it was just dandy to shove an electrical cord directly in the path of running water. This struck me as a very bad hazard. It was made worse by the fact that the electrical cord from the washer didn’t even reach the plug. Thus, I had to add a power strip which I then balanced on a cardboard box to keep it off the floor. That box probably already saved my life as the washing hoses started leaking shortly after I moved into the house, covering the floor in water. That was lucky. At some point, though, I am certain that I will enter a flooded laundry room with a free flowing, though Downey© fresh, electrical current. One step in and I will die.
** Then there is electric mower that I bought. Granted, this has nothing to do with the age of the house. I wanted to select the mower option that was better for the environment. In Texas, the grass was simply too thick to even contemplate an electric mower. Here in the Midwest, though, the grass is delicate enough to consider buying a mower that doesn’t belt out a ton of pollution (Note: Electric mowers are better than gas mowers, this does not mean they are good for the environment). Nobody told me what a pain in the ass it is to drag around a giant electric cord as one mows. I am certain I will be careless, run over it, electrocute myself, and die.
** Perhaps I felt so inclined to think about the environment because my neighborhood seems disproportionately populated with Priuses (Prius? Priui?). Several times I have been out walking in the neighborhood and barely been aware that they were even there as they were in “quiet/recharge mode.” It is likely that one day I won’t be being attention and will be run over and die.
** Of course, I cared not at all about the environment when I discovered the nest of bees between the siding of the house. In that case, I called for an exterminator to slather the grounds and structures with profoundly toxic chemicals. Though the bees are dying, I am sure that the chemicals have also given me cancer and I will soon die. If not, I will be attacked by drug-resistant killer bees and die.
At least the advantage of renting is that my estate would not be not responsible for the repairs that would come about after my death. So, I can mostly sit back and enjoy the house. Besides, there is always the next life. Maybe I will come back as a pretty, pretty princess . . .