Helpful words of the day: ASK FOR HELP, DAMMIT.

So along with this new studio comes a rekindling of my relationship with Home Depot and Menard’s and the neighborhood corner hardware store—some days, I’ve made at least three trips to the DIY-havens and employees now recognize me by sight. I’m working hard to keep my expenses manageable and gratefully, my studio space doesn’t require major build-out (unlike the salon I had a lifetime ago). My landlord has a crew of handy-guys who’ve been able to help out with painting and other odd-jobs for me—a god-send, indeed—but a lot of the work I’m doing myself because I can and I have to, but it does take valuable time that could be better spent on things like promoting my new biz, updating my website, etc. #firstworldproblemsarestillrealproblems… Every now and then, I feel that little bit of panic start to bubble under the surface of my heart, a quiet reminder that right now, I’m paying rent but not bringing in an income (I’m not good with numbers, but even I can do the math on that one …) and wonder if any of my family members might have room for me and my neurotic dog in their basement…

The other day, I got all teary-eyed about how much work there is yet to do and how will it ever get done and will I ever be able to start teaching and what the HELL am I going to do about that godforsaken f*#@ing back room and maybe I won’t even be able to use that godforsaken f*#@ing back room because it’s a veritable f*#@ing WRECK right now and I’ll never be able to pay rent because I won’t be able to work here and then I’ll get cancer and die (which is so not a disrespectful, flippant comment, for anyone who doesn’t know me) and lose my dog and this is the worst f*#@ing idea I’ve EVER had, evereverever (see how I’m censoring the f-word, Mom?!), and almost called my landlord to exercise the two-month “buyer’s remorse” clause on my lease.

Then, I recalled that lifetime ago, when I’d signed the lease for my salon and hired a formerly-recovered-but-newly-off-the-wagon meth addict to do the work on my space (which is another story for another time, kids—he was on the wagon when I first met him, a sweet and riduculously-talented-turned-tragic-story of a man). The ensuing stress from that relationship ended in a screaming match—well, it was just me screaming—at this six and a half-foot, heavily tattooed, very gifted but firm-in-the-grips-of-addiction man and kicked him out of my salon with promises to call the police or worse if he ever showed up in my doorway again (whatever worse was, hoping like mad he’d never call my bluff, which gratefully he never did). Yes, this could be worse, I thought as I wiped tears with the back of my grubby hand. And, this is my choice—no one is forcing me to do this. I want to do this, was my next thought as I resumed scraping the f*#@ing paint off the f*#@ing floor…remember this story, kids, on those days you want to quit your cushy, six-figure, full bennies, corner-office-with-a-helluva-view, company-picnic and holiday-bonus job, is all I’m sayin’. (And just for the record, in case anyone here doesn’t speak hyperbole, I’m utterly beyond grateful for this choice.)

So, speaking of that f*#@ing back room, my new studio space has this wonderful, big garage in the back that takes up maybe a 1/3 of my space and I have high hopes of using it for group classes (either that, or I’m paying for 1/3 of my space to be a black hole). This photograph is from August 17, around the time I signed my life away my lease which beautifully and accurately illuminates the raw, natural potential of the space:

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As is, it’s perfect for a speedy-oil-change biz/meth lab (my Plan B), but can’t you literally and figuratively feel the potential oozing from this space? I mean, if you look beyond the multiple layers of peeling paint on the floor. And the big, grungy garage door with the gargantuan gaps in weather stripping and strange space-taped rectangles and giant upside-down V gash on the left side (where firefighters hacked a big hole that they didn’t actually use to gain access to the space when a former tenant’s space heater caught fire in the basement, my landlord tells me). And beyond the grease and paint and glue and holes that mottle floor. Oh, and the grungy, yellowed walls. And let’s not talk about the spiders that I can’t kill but I will make my brother catch and release outdoors, m’kay? Let’s all take a huge, collective cleansing breath and focus on THE. POTENTIAL. What can I say? I see beauty in everything. Or maybe I’m delusional. A fine line (matter of perspective?) between the two…

My first thought was to simply paint the floor. My landlord suggested laying down inexpensive VCT tile (the kind you’d find in your average hospital, elementary school classroom or other institution—because that’s what I want my studio to feel like—a place that you’re forced to go, against your will). Then I remembered that Minnesota winters get mighty cold and bare concrete or tile would be like walking barefoot on ice cubes in January. Not conducive to the warm, inviting Pilates studio I wish to create.

So I started researching (and by “researching” I mean, grabbing a cuppa Joe, settling down and firing up the Google): “how to make a concrete room inhabitable” and learned that some type of rug/carpet on concrete is imperative to adding warmth to a cell block-like dwelling. Then I went to my brother Mikey’s for a Labor Day picnic and saw that they had installed lovely carpet tiles in their basement and was told it was “super easy!” When I got home again, I researched “carpet tiles in a garage” (scoffing, “who would actually do such a thing?!” as I typed into the oracle, Google) and discovered that there are, indeed, all kinds of people in this world who purposely carpet their garages, and park their cars in them, and have no problems with it! I don’t intend to park vehicles in this space, but I do want to hold classes here. And what I read is that before laying down carpet tiles, the floor has to be PRISTINE, or the tiles will shift and peel up and look like crap before you know it. So I got down to work, and after four hours scrubbing with super-heavy-duty Simple Green later, this is the result of my hard work:

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A week later (Sept 7) after hours of more of the same, but with bigger guns (Rustoleum Degreaser-Deskinner-something-or-other) and a paint scraper (on my hands and knees, I feel the need to mention this important detail):img_3266

And today (Sept. 8), with gasoline, a blow-torch and bulldozer:

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I know what you’re thinking: “Wow, Jen. After four days and countless hours of scrubbing and scraping till your knuckles are bleeding and you’re bent over like Quasimodo and the neighbor’s trees are spindly charcoal sticks—hey, wait! Are those new curtains in the front window?!”

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And to that I say, “Yes, they are, and thanks for noticing, but fuck you.” (sorry Mom, I have officially snapped). Seriously. Everyone and everything that has ever existed in this universe and every universe that has ever been and ever will be forever and ever amen. I’m so ready to wave the white flag, because my knees are black and blue, my hands are crumpled into claws and I’ve got this strange, itchy pea-sized lump under the skin by my elbow and—then—slowly, ever-so-quietly, like the voice of little Cindy Whoo of Whooville, the tiniest sliver of reason wafts up from the deepest recesses of my senses and suggests (ever-so-politely, pre- and pro-luded with an apology, of course) that perhaps I should call Mikey and see if he has some words of wisdom to shine on this dark cavern of doom. And right at that very moment—I KID YOU NOT—my phone lights up with a text message from—not God. Better than God (don’t judge—my God has a wonderful sense of humor). Mikey. (insert angel chorus here) “How’s the flooring going?” his message casually asks.

“Spooky! I was just about to call you–can I call?” I quickly text back.

“Sure,” he replies.

To make a long story even longer but as short as possible, I spill my sob story, Mikey tells me that he just happens to have the day off and can come up to assess the situation. I cry tears of gratitude, and here’s a photo montage of what happened today (it’s called a “floating floor!” Like a magic carpet, guys! And we didn’t have to glue or tape anything down onto that still-grungy, impossible-to-clean floor):

Words of the day, people: Ask for help. Dammit. The “dammit” is emphasis for me and anyone else who might have a bit of excess stubborn in the mix…There are always angels waiting in the wings to swoop in and carry you when the burden becomes a bit too heavy…Always. And please remember to reciprocate the help…Always. xxoo

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