The Bathroom Report: Day 47

It’s been a busy week. Some of that urgency is probably driven by the fact that the guy leading the crew here is due to leave for vacation this time next week. Part of it, I’m sure, is that with the tile done, the pace with which things fall into place naturally increases. Maybe it’s not a sprint to the finish, but it’s better than the last few weeks which have felt like limping towards an ending with one leg mangled in a bear trap.

The progress summary for this week includes all tile being in and grouted, the vanity, top, and sinks are in place, mirrors have been dropped off for framing, and there’s been some minor prep done for painting. The long poles that remain look like setting the toilet, adding in fixtures, paint, putting shelving back in the closet, and setting the shower glass. That last bit will surely drive this project well past day 60 even if all the rest does happen to be finished by the end of next week… though I obviously have my doubts about hitting that mark.

No week is complete without a snag, of course. This week’s issue is the vanity. The finish that leaned towards brown in samples has a decidedly reddish hue in person. I selected it and the top originally because it looked like they would pick up the brown tones in the shower tile. As it turns out, the tile sample we looked at may have had loads of brown in sample size, but it leans decidedly gray in bulk, so I’ve got this very nice vanity that doesn’t really blend with anything. I’m at a complete loss to figure out how the samples looked so good together only to end up this off base. And yes, I even double-checked invoices and labels against the samples to make sure it was even the right product. 

As it sits, it looks like the vanity and top were picked in seclusion from the shower and floor tiles. It’s an unsettling look. So now I’m launching deep discussions with the designer and probably the painting subcontractor on what’s the best way to fix it. Some of it can probably be mitigated by whatever paint eventually ends up on the walls. There’s also the option of re-staining or painting the cabinets to bring them more in line. The nuclear option, and one that’s still very much on the table, is just living with it until something in a new and more harmonious finish can be ordered, built, and shipped in. I know what direction I’m leaning, but it’s probably not a decision I’ll want to finalize until the rest of the bits and pieces are laid in. It seems like every time a new element gets introduced all the others look vaguely different. I’d like to avoid, if possible, creating a do loop of calling for new cabinetry, tops, and paint that carries on infinitely into the future. I’d also prefer not to spend any additional big tranches of cash until I know with more precision what exactly needs changed to make it all hang together. 

As we close the week, the wheels feel like they’ve come a bit off. It’s not an ideal note on which to end the week, but it’s exactly why I built in a 15% slush fund into the budget. Spending the money honestly doesn’t feel like the worst of it. That dubious distinction belongs to the knowledge that getting it sorted will add more time to a project I desperately hoped was drawing towards an end.

Gordon Gekko versus the do-gooder Senators…

The Thrift Savings Plan (hereafter TSP) is billed as the world’s largest defined contribution retirement plan. Having in excess of $700 billion of assets under management, I’m sure it makes a very tempting target for politicians looking for some new and interesting way to make their mark or get their name in the papers.

Most recently, Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ), have sent a letter of interest to TSP’s managing board encouraging them to increase the presence of “racially, ethnically, and gender diverse asset managers” overseeing this giant pot of money.

That’s fine, I suppose, if what you’re into is some kind of feel good, hold hands, and sing along kind of moment. When it comes to TSP, though, the only thing I care about is that the fund managers are the very best money makers that can be found for the job. I want the people in charge of growing my principal retirement account to be relentless and absolutely ruthless in finding better returns. It’s simply never occurred to me to care whether they also happen to be black, white, brown, yellow, straight, bi, gay, men, women, or other.

However admirable the above listed senators believe their goals may be, when it comes to managing a vast portfolio for millions of current and future retirees, the old adage is true – if it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense. As such, I’d encourage these distinguished members of the US Senate to take their genuine imitation do-gooder tendencies and pandering elsewhere.

Maybe I should just run for Congress. From the sounds of it, getting your jollies by telling other people how to live their lives or what they’re supposed to care about is a far better way to feather your nest anyway.

Identity…

Far be it from me to tell anyone who they feel themselves to be on the inside, but it stands to reason if I go about telling everyone that I considered myself to be an African American woman, no one would buy it. That could lead me down into a long, painful discussion about perception, self, and identity, but I don’t want to go there.

The national offices of the NAACP were quick to point out over the weekend that there was no requirement for leaders in their organization to be black. That’s probably true. At the same time, it makes about as much sense as having someone who’s never owned a firearm in their life serving as president of the NRA. Sure, you could do it, but it feels awfully disingenuous.

I’m not saying anyone should give up their calling to campaign for civil rights or any other cause… but I am saying if you’re going to put yourself forward as a poster child, you’d damned well better be doing it from a place of personal authenticity because the truth will out. And Murphy being the ass he is, it will do so at the most inconvenient moment.

I can walk around town all day calling myself the King of the Andals and the First Men, but no matter how strongly I believe, believing doesn’t make it so. Like it or not, identify isn’t just how we feel on the inside, but is also in large part how we are perceived by those around us. It’s perfectly normal for those two identities to be a little different from one another, but generally both are at least tied to some shred of reality… in this latest case, not so much.