Barry Smith: Irrelativity |

Barry Smith: Irrelativity

Jordan Curet The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

It hurts me to write this. I mean physically. Ow. For some reason typing the word “physically” is especially painful.

I’m on the verge of starting a house remodeling project. I know that I’m woefully ill-equipped, but I’m starting to realize how woeful it really is.

We’ve got this 100-year-old house that’s in need of some repair. It’s a house in Paonia that Christina and I bought a dozen years ago, in anticipation of this day. Well, in anticipation of moving into it when we left Aspen. Which isn’t exactly “this day.” THIS day is more like standing inside of the house wondering what in the confounded blazes we’ve gotten ourselves into, and can we actually afford to make this house habitable. And I don’t mean Aspen habitable – like “oh, the media room’s projection system is last year’s, how can anyone live like this!?” – I mean normal habitable – like “I guess we’ll need heat, electricity, windows and, what the heck, a floor.”

Big project. Unqualified. Over my head. What have I done? Where will I live? Where did I go wrong? These are the happy thoughts that are going through my head as I’m climbing around in the dumpster that I’ve had delivered to my back yard. We’ve decided that the best way to save money on this project will be to do some of the work ourselves, and that currently means tearing stuff out of the house that needs to be torn out of the house. Like the makeshift fireplace mantle that I ripped off the wall and threw out last week. But now I’m having second thoughts about that mantle. Maybe I can reuse it. Save a few dollars. I’m in the dumpster trying desperately to pull it free from a week’s worth of debris. Desperately, and exasperatedly, and impatiently, and “pop.”

Did you hear that popping sound? That was my wrist, the one I broke falling off a trampoline when I was a kid. It feels funny from time to time, but the “popping,” that’s new.

Ow. By the next morning I can barely move my right hand. My wrist is wrapped up in a bandage and I’m out of commission, so I take the opportunity to do some computer work, even though using the laptop trackpad is a painful undertaking in my condition. Ow. I have some performances in Canada coming up soon, and lots of paperwork to do before that. In fact, here’s some that – wow – I’ve put this off way too long! This stuff really, really needs to go out in today’s mail!

I spend the day getting all the paperwork in order, and just as I’m about to head to the PO the phone rings. Ow. It hurts my wrist to fish the phone from my pocket. Ah, good, the guy I called last week is finally going to stop by to give me an estimate on leveling my foundation. Well, the house’s foundation.

But I have to get this stuff in the mail today, and the post office is about to close! Why did I wait so long to mail this out? Now I have to race to town and rush back and dammit I have to go NOW and I jump in the car start to remove the windshield sun blocker thing that we have to use because it’s so freakin’ hot in Paonia and I’m…

Hey… I just closed my fingers in the door.

No, really. I’ve closed three fingers of my left hand, the only hand that’s currently working well, in the door. Like IN the door. The door is closed, my fingers are in it. Wow.

Now, if you’re looking for a cold dose of reality, I’m going to have to recommend slamming your car door on your fingers. Suddenly all your little problems melt away. All that “gotta make a deadline” and “where will I live?” and “golly my wrist on my OTHER hand sure hurts” stuff all just dissipates into a thin wispy cloud of “AHHHHHH! FINGERS IN DOOR! AHHHHH!”

It actually hurt my wrist to reach across and open the door to free my fingers. Ow. And ow.

The remodel project hasn’t even really started yet, and I’m already out of hands.

My incompetence is not something that I’m proud of, so I suppose you could say that it hurts in more ways than one to write this – emotionally and physically. But mostly physically.


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