January 18, 2009

The Grand Duchess Of Tile Grout

You know that you are a successful adult when you go to the hardware store and find the right product to fix the tiles in your bathroom.

I have recently moved into a comfortable, classic apartment in Brookline. I really lucked out in securing this a week and half before the lease in my other apartment ran out. The apartment has some very nice features that include a private balcony, a living room with a big screen TV and UBER-CABLE (aka every HBO channel there ever was), a large, homey kitchen, and a nice bedroom whose cocoa-painted walls match my bedroom accouterments brilliantly. I share the apartment with two nice young female professionals who seem to enjoy the drama on the television and not between roommates.

The one flaw of the apartment is the bathroom, in particular, the bathtub, which is caked with mold and mildew. Additionally, there is a small window with cracked, what I assume to be, lead paint. A faded cotton curtain, it's edges caked with mold, masks the window so that our neighbors might not take a peak during our bathing. The bath mat is a formerly pink hue but now contains hues of pink and black, the black representing a growing mold colony.

One of my greatest pleasures in life is to take a shower in the evening, washing away the grime and tension of the day. So you can imagine my disdain in performing one of my favorite daily rituals in this mold-invested environ.

Both of my roommates were away this weekend, so I took this opportunity to wage a war on the bathroom. Instead of attending a party in Southie with some BC kids, I chose to stay home on Saturday night to remedy this sore point in my living experience. I cranked the ACDC (recently inspired by Codzilla, which is a tour boat with a ferocious fish painted-hull in Boston Harbor that blasts ACDC during its rides) and went to work.

I had ventured to the local True Value Hardware store where I purchased some tile grout (in addition to a gallon of red paint with the name of "Lipstick," which I used to paint the inside walls of my closet) to fill in the mildewed cracks. I began my foray into bathroom repair by putting on the grubbiest clothes I could find (soccer shorts from high school and my torn marathon t-shirt) and then bleached the whole tub area. I brought in my two fans to help with ventilation, but the tiny window would not open and I discovered that there was no ventilating fan in the bathroom! This is an atrocity (and the main problem for the buildup of mold). I proceeded to clean anyways, praying that the fan power would prevent me from contracting cancer (considering all that I have been exposed to that may happen anyway). Once I had cleaned everything, I got out the tile grout pen and set to work, filling in all the lines between the tiles and along the ceiling and floor. When I finished, it looked remarkably better, but not ideal. I then found some old white paint to cover the sill of the tiny window. I threw out the moldy curtain, praying that it didn't hold some sentimental value to one of my roommates (just my luck it might be from a tablecloth one of their grandmothers made).

I then let the fans work their drying magic, while I sprawled out on the floor in front of the large TV (which I have christened TV-zilla for its size and booming sound) and watched "A Good Year," starring Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard. While I enjoy him in "A Beautiful Mind," I find Mr. Crowe to be a deliverer of a standard, one dimensional performance (compare his acting in this movie with "Master And Commander"). Beyond that, seeing the landscape of southern France makes me long to move to a place where the life is easy and warm and soft. It's probably the Hollywood effect that makes this place seen ideal. Every place has its hard points. Sometimes I forget that because the movies make life appear so easy.

Two hours later, I checked my bathroom work. Things had dried nicely. I washed everything down with a bleach cleaning solution (there goes some more brain cells, including two of my favorites, Lucy and Bob). I cleaned the rest of the bathroom, put up a new shower curtain, and laid a new bath mat on the floor of the tub that is just crying to be re-glazed.

Taking a long shower in this new space fed me with great relief. I felt pride in my hard work and ability to accomplish this domestic task, another tick on the wall of my adulthood. Is it sad that something this mundane could fill me with so much pride? I don't care if it is. I own this work, this Saturday night filled with bleach, standard Russell Crowe, and the best tile grout my money could buy.

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