Men With Tools


Just lately, I can’t walk from one end of my house to the other without tripping over a strapping guy with a tool. Sadly, the situation is not as hot as it sounds. We’re having some work done. Well, a lot of work done. The whole thing started out, innocently enough, with a stripped diverter in the master bath. Simple fix, right? Not so fast. Two different plumbers advised us the part we needed couldn’t be found anywhere in the free world – or at least not anywhere on the Internet – which meant we could either: A) become a one shower household; or B) replace all the hardware in the master bath. Our addiction to constant, simultaneous hot running water guided us to option B. Because the original designer of the bathroom apparently never heard of an access panel, option B involved taking down a wall in the shower. Once we got our heads around that, it sort of seemed stupid not to go ahead and update the tile, change out the jetted tub I never liked in the first place and then, you know, wouldn’t a seamless, glass shower enclosure look way better than the sliding glass doors? The master bath promised to be a showplace, the contractor we discussed the project with assured us. What a shame the other bathroom – the one guests actually see – wouldn’t get the same treatment.

So anyway, now that we’re remodeling two bathrooms, adding architectural detail to the ceiling in our entryway, putting in a little closet-slash-laundry area, and, oh yeah, fixing the diverter, the whole house is torn up and there are these dudes walking around the place from seven-thirty in the morning until three-thirty in the afternoon. This has impacted my habits ever-so-slightly.

First off, I have to be showered and dressed by seven-thirty most mornings. By “showered,” I mean brushed my teeth, and by “dressed,” I mean pulled a sweatshirt over my t-shirt and flannel Hello Kitty sleep pants (gift). Yeah, technically, the seven-thirty part constitutes the only true change in my routine – eight-thirty being my normal BICHOK time … okay, nine-thirty … ten-thirty at the absolute outside. I think you get the picture. I handle the seven-thirty wake-up call with slightly more grace than, say, Dracula.

Next, I have to write in the kitchen, because my actual writing cave is: A) the bathroom; or B) a built-in desk located in our entryway. Both of these areas are construction zones at the moment, so now I’m in the kitchen. This puts me unpardonably close to the fridge. That diet killbox just sits there, whispering to me, constantly. Samaaaanthe? Remember the cheesy potatoes from last night? They were so goood, and I’ve got them right heeerrreee! I’m going to weigh five hundred pounds by the time this project ends. I won’t even fit into either of our beautifully revamped bathrooms.

Finally, these workmen, sweet and respectful as they are, have completely thrown off my writing. I know I’m supposed to be a professional writer, with serious discipline and dedication to my art, not a jumpy teenager guiltily penning fantasies about the cute guy from Chem Lab in her diary. I should have a little focus, for God’s sake. I owe my Entangled editor a manuscript by the beginning of next week. But I’m telling you, it’s distracting to have Everest Construction’s finest interrupt with questions about interior door widths, or drawer pulls, right when my heroine shoves my hero into a supply closet and wishes him the kind of Merry Christmas, that, if written correctly, ought to come with a parental warning label attached. In the current version of the scene, I fear my heroine is a little too focused on the polished oak panel door and brushed d nickel hardware. My Mommy Porn is starting to read like a Restoration Hardware catalog.

My editor is going to be disappointed, unless she too is remodeling, in which case, she may understand … perfectly.

Distractions ever threaten to hijack your work – or derail it completely? How do you retrieve your focus? Do tell.