When my Tuesday began, my mood was malleable. Post-coffee: unclear. By halfway through, it had gelled into the category of Irritable. It wasn’t exactly a Jean-Paul Sartre Day (the days on which “Hell is other people”), but it was close.

I started the day by having to get out of bed not because I wanted or needed to, but because various things hurt and lying there any longer was becoming implausible. I’m beginning to find this patently offensive. Unless I become the Bionic Woman and/or receive some sort of modern medical injection of Healing And Repairing Stuff (and not just cortisone and lidocaine – done that, three times, didn’t work), I am in some serious trouble for my twilight years. And when you have to get out of bed due to pain, chances are you didn’t sleep very well to begin with. Which I didn’t.

But that doesn’t necessarily make it different from most other days, so whatever. The Mood was still completely undetermined.

I wanted to hang my energy-efficient living room curtains before I went to work. I was sort of excited about it, and when I get like that, I want to do that about which I’m excited immediately. Blessedly, I realized I had to drink a cup of coffee first. You don’t want me going off half-cocked with a power tool.

Coffee ingested, I began the arduous process of hanging these damned curtains, and the concurrent process of recognizing some of my many weaknesses as a human being.

I don’t have a ladder. I live in an apartment, so a ladder is silly. But it means that I have to stand on a kitchen chair when I want to do something like hang curtains. My windows are basically floor-to-ceiling – there’s maybe six inches of wall between the window and the ceiling. All this combines to mean I can’t get to eye level with where I need to install the curtain rods. Eye level (or, even better: shoulder level), you see, would be great, because then I could have better leverage and a better ergonomic (read: less painful) situation.

I needed the leverage because without that, you can’t get the force behind the drill to get a screw through a pressurized 2×4 that frames the windows in most residences and therefore supplies reinforcing strength to the wall.

However, I was raised in a brotherless family by a father who’s quite handy and passed along certain awarenesses to his daughters. So at least I knew what I was going to be up against.

Like my father, though, I also have a short fuse when it comes to DIY work.

The drill had plenty of power, but since I was practically holding it over my head, and since I have pitifully weak arms, I couldn’t get my weight behind it to drive the screws into the pressurized wood.

I knew this would happen. I knew because it happened when I hung my bedroom curtains. But that was only one curtain rod over one span of windows. This is three curtain rods over three spans of windows. That was six screws. This is 14.

Primary result: every blessed one of the 14 anchoring screws that secure the curtain rod brackets to the wall is at least 1/4″ from being flush with said wall.

My finger is touching the screw head. Awesome.

Secondary result: lots of swearing. Which I don’t normally do. At least, not out loud.

And it’s not like I could make it consistent, so that each and every screw would be 1/4″ out from the wall. As my DIY work progressed, the screws got more varied in their depths, and the swearing got more intense.

Not helping matters was the fact that there is an impractical amount of space to work in, as provided by the brackets for the curtain rods. The hole through which the screw must go is a fraction of an inch from the piece that juts out to connect with the brace that will cradle the rod.

1" between holes. So, what, 1/4" between the hole and the part that sticks out? Yeah, that's plenty of room for the drill. NOT.

That means no appreciable room for the drill. Which means drilling at an angle. Which means stripping the head of the screw.

Chewed it up just enough to make it impossible to get a grip.

At least, that’s what it means when I do it.


I fetched my manual screw drivers and tried to use those to push the screws farther into the wall, but only succeeded marginally. Say… 1/8″, tops.

It took more than an hour to install all the anchoring brackets at varying spacial relationships to the wall. I was left with seven wiggly brackets.

$&%*. $&%* .$&%*. $&%*.

You know what? Fine. Fine. There are screws that will secure the brace in the bracket and screws that will secure the rod in the brace, so I can compensate. As long as the ineptly drilled anchor brackets don’t pull free from the wall, it’ll be fine.

I’m impatient about this kind of stuff. Besides, redoing the anchor brackets would have been useless; there was no way those screws were going any farther into the wall. I’d have to live with it.


(There’s a reason my mother used to call that “the other four-letter F word.” I spit it out with a great deal of vitriol.)

At this point, by the way, I was starting to smell. And I had nearly fallen off the chair twice.

I had minor arguments with the screws that secure the braces in the brackets and the rods in the braces. I hate these things anyway; they make the finished product look half-assed even when you’ve gone whole-ass, because they always stick out.

Half-assed look.

And they’re really easy to thread wrong the first, oh, four times you try to get them secured in those (usually undersized) holes. Which made it especially awesome when I dropped one and it plunked right into the HVAC register in the floor.


Fine. I have extra.

With all braces, brackets and screws more or less installed, it was time to actually hang the curtains. Sweet.

I guided them onto their respective rods: one on one rod, two on the middle one (for the window that’s doubly wide), one on the third. I carefully adjusted the rods’ lengths to the appropriate dimension and then gently laid them into the braces, tightening the appropriate corresponding screws.

I managed to do all of these right in the first attempt, except one, which I accidentally tried to hang backward: energy-efficient light-blocking panel facing in. Duh. But I flipped it around without knocking anything over or breaking anything. Win.

Finally finished, sweating and stinking, I got down from the chair for the last time and stepped back to admire my work.

The curtains are not wide enough.

Are you kidding me right now?


$&%*. $&%*. $&%*. $&%*. $&%*!


Oh, I had measured. I had made sure I bought the right width. But what I had failed to realize is that because of the rings on which they hang, which are built into the curtains themselves, there’s an unavoidable accordion effect.

This was the point at which my downward-spiraling attitude hit bottom as far as the curtains were concerned.

“$&%* it,” I spat. “They were $40 per panel, they’re the right length, they’re the right colors, they’re energy-efficient… they’re staying.”


I took a shower, which was shorter than my various aching parts wanted, got dressed based on what I didn’t have to iron, and went to work.

Several people drove entirely too slow (as in: below the speed limit), and/or rode their brakes. Several construction sites had sprouted up in the last 24 hours, enhancing the obstacle course that is my commute.

At work, I discovered that various people had decided to disregard their duties to some degree, all of which threatened the success of the day and completion of the project. I tried a couple methods of compensatory actions, but when my boss told me, 15 minutes before the first deadline, that he would take care of it and I needed to “dial down” my urgency, I decided I was done trying.

You Don’t Care? I Don’t Care. is my new motto.

I also discovered that my grand plan for spending Friday with Jack had fallen apart because Jack can’t get the day off work. He’s giving up one of his two full-time jobs because he’s (finally) realized it’s slowly killing him, or at least sucking his will to live. Friday is his last day at that job, and we had schemed for him to take off from the other job too, so we could spend the day celebrating. But his co-worker at the other job is already on vacation and therefore he has to work.

He told me in an email that he’s so looking forward to having entire days off when he can eventually get them scheduled. I asked if he was planning on going away or staying in town. He didn’t answer, and I knew it was because he was out of the office, but still, it prompted an imaginary exchange in my head, wherein he told me he was planning on going away, and I asked if anyone would be joining him, and he said yes.

Which means now I’m pissed at him in real life for something that hasn’t happened.

I recognize the insanity here, but you see, there was a particularly intense exchange between us the other night that has me wondering if the indescribable nature of our relationship has changed. So the imaginary conversation was inevitable. (He did respond, when he got back to the office, that his plans are far from solid and that his father and his father’s wife had considered coming to visit, so he was thinking about that. Which at least halfway negated my imaginary exchange.)

After the first work deadline, I ate a salad and a chocolate chunk cookie the size of my face, and thought about the bottle of sauv blanc waiting for me in my refrigerator.

It helped.

The rest of the night was relatively irritation-free. The sauv blanc was deliciously refreshing. Today has been better so far.

But now that the mercury has soared again, so help me God, if I get home and the temperature in my apartment is I mean even ah degree above where I’ve set the thermostat, I will lose. My. $%^&.


8 thoughts on “$&%*.

  1. I never thought of it before, but your Mom’s right. Fine is the other 4-letter F word that is often spit out with swear-word intensity.
    Your drapes look great! Just bunch them more toward the center and leave the ends a teeny bit bare.

    • Yeah… she had it right. As for the drapes… yeah, I’m toying with them. I’m trying to let them “fall” a bit… before I decide whether I want to actually iron them or not. I’m also experimenting with positions (oh my!) to figure out the most effective way not to spend entirely too much money on A/C-related electric bills. So you don’t think they look ridiculous? I feel like they look ridiculous, but I might just have DIY-related self-esteem issues.

  2. I think they look great – I’d agree with the “design experimentation” to find just the right hanging arrangement for them!
    And just this last week I was ticked with my guy for something he didn’t do, but I could totally see him saying/doing it in my head. Even though he didn’t end up doing/saying it, and he probably wouldn’t do/say it in real life anyway. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone. Makes me feel like it’s a normal thing to be ticked off with things that don’t happen. 🙂

  3. “You don’t want me going off half-cocked with a power tool.” Amen, sister, amen. You are hilarious, as always, and I feel your pain. But Ima tell you two things you must buy. Yes, must. 1) short step ladder. It will probably run you $65. Yes, I know you live in an apartment. Yes, I know it’s silly and there’s no place to put it. You can put frickin’ plants or books or goddamn knick-knacks on it and decorate with it, but a ladder is power. Sheer power. 2) a long ass screw driver bit for your drill. Think five inches, at least. It clears everything. No curtain hardware manufacturer will screw you again, leastways not like that. Now, I think the curtains look nice like they are, with a sheer behind them, but if they were in my bedroom I’d be hitting the wine again. Great post.

    • Thanking you. Sigh. I have a mini-step ladder. I guess I need a macro-step ladder. As to the drill bits, well… I should probably buy a drill first. I borrowed the one I used for this venture. But that is an excellent tip for when I actually do buy one! (Dear All Men Who Read This: I’m sure you already knew about the longer drill bits. Shut it. Or get over here and do some DIY stuff for me. Fondly, thesinglecell)

  4. Hey! accidentalstepmom took my answers! I was going to suggest the small stepladder, too. I just have one of those fold-up, two step deals that gets me as tall as I generally need to be (I’m only 5’3″ to start with). I was also going to suggest the drill extension. Those help a lot.

    The other suggestion I had was to drill a hole before you do the actual screws, if you’re screwing something into the stud. You use a smaller drill bit than the size of the screws, obviously (1/3, no more than 1/2 the diameter of the screw you will be using), so the screw still has enough wood to grip. You pre-drill the hole, then when you actually start screwing in the screws for your project, you don’t get the resistence in the stud, and the screw goes in all the way.

    I think they look great, though! And I felt your pain – I’ve had so many projects that took on the same tone as yours. At a certain point, there’s nothing left to say but the F-word. Fine, I mean. 🙂

  5. accidentalstepmom’s pretty brilliant. You gotta bring it if you comment after her. 🙂 But I love your stuff too, skippingstones! And that suggestion to pre-drill is golden! (Dear All Men Who Read This: See my previous reply, above. Or below. Or wherever it is.)

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