Sean Beckwith: Fixing those loose screws |

Sean Beckwith: Fixing those loose screws

So Zoom and FaceTime were fun for about two weeks. The novelty lasted about as long as a toy from a kid’s meal. Is that still a thing? Remember toys in the bottom of the box of cereal? I wish we could get rid of face-to-face phone calls as easily as our parents threw out those promo trinkets.

I don’t have a standing call with friends or family every Thursday, I’m halfway through a book, I haven’t played nearly as many video games as I thought and my binge of ’90s action movies and comedies has gotten so low that I’m strongly considering watching “Bio-Dome.”

What have I been doing, though? A lot of amateur handyman tasks. I’ve spackled, sanded and painted walls; hung drapes, pictures and a mirror (sometimes successfully, sometimes not); used my body as a human vice while putting together shelves; successfully cleared a drain (second drain pending); moved beds, packed and repacked storage units; somewhat figured out how to use ratchet straps; and tried to repair multiple objects with superglue.

It’s amazing how much you can f— with a curtain rod when you have a debilitating mix of perfectionism and OCD. I bought a level with a laser on it but not until after semi-successfully hanging a mirror.

The first attempt looked like a funhouse mirror, it was so crooked. While the second attempt went much better, it could still be a tad straighter. There will not be third attempt. There’s nothing charming about doing something three times.

I found the stud the previous handyman couldn’t when trying to rehang the drapes. It’s kind of hard to secure anything to a wall when you use eyeglass screws. Turns out I didn’t need that anchor, just a longer screw. But I still forced the anchor into the wall like a small child hammering a round block into the square hole.

My patchwork with spackling and painting went a lot smoother than my attempts at hanging things with a cellphone level. Fill the holes, sand them, paint them. However, when you use a brush to touch up small holes on a wall that’s been painted with a roller, you’re able to see where the repairs were made due to the texture difference. I found that out by looking at the wall in the perfect light at the right angle. Thankfully, that was not my house or I’d be buying a roller.

I considered undertaking a similar project at my place but at this point I’ll live with the plethora of blatantly painted-over anchors for a bit before unleashing my OCD again. That and I haven’t quite yet finished pulling the previous tenant’s hairs out of her paint job in the bathroom, which I’m told is a weird thing to notice let alone do.

If you think that’s bad, my little sister got me a 4,600-plus piece Lego-type replica of Memorial Stadium for my birthday and I applied the decals with a deft touch normally reserved for bomb squad technicians disarming C4.

The only reason the newspaper gets sent out before I can adjust every text and photo box to sit perfectly on its gridline is because of deadline. So when I helped put together some cubbies for my closet, it was infuriating that the pieces didn’t slide together like the blocks of the pyramids. C’mon, Target. The Egyptians didn’t even have a laser level, but it takes two people and my entire body weight to screw in the final peg?

I don’t even want to think about putting together this grill I ordered — though I do think about the grill itself a lot. Get your s— straight, WayFair*. Packing up and moving out of an apartment shouldn’t take as long as it does to ship my order — and I spent a good two hours watching YouTube tutorials on ratchet straps while untangling them.

It is rewarding finishing DIY handy work, but it’s equally frustrating when you can’t fix a seemingly easy problem, like a slow-draining sink, so I won’t get into that. If I can’t correct a plumbing issue with a plunger and some Drain-O, it’s time for an expert.

That’s why I’ve moved on to the home and garden portion of my coronavirus checklist. The good thing about plants is they don’t require a ton of upkeep … right?

*I understand some packages are more important than others during a pandemic but there doesn’t seem to be any defined hierarchy. Cocktails cherries in two days but a month for a laser level?

Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at

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