last night i turned the light off to go to bed but got up sometime later, suffering from another bout of insomnia after thinking about what else needs to be fixed in the house. i decided to get up and read instead of trying to force myself to go back to sleep. as soon as i became drowsy i turned the light back off, and this time i was able to get some winks only because i purposely didn't think about the house.

this morning i was ambitious, had the radio alarm clock set to 9am. i didn't wake up until 10am. i had a desire to run, but one look at the rising temperature outside changed my mind. to think, last year i was running in 90 degrees weather! but back then i had people to run with, people who were dependent on my participation. running solo, the only person i disappoint is me, and i can easily forgive myself.

after a stop at the somerville home depot, my father and i were at the home testing out the chemical paint stripper. i used citristrip stripping gel. this product is all about mixed messages. it's a paint stripper, which means it contains poisonous chemicals that are irritants for eyes and skin (but not methylene chloride, whew, thank god!). yet at the same time, if you get any on your skin, it doesn't burn but the poison slowly seeps into your system. it has a pleasant citric fragrance, but designed with a bitter taste to discourage people (and by people they mean children) from swallowing stripping gel, which would kill them.

i went the whole nine yards, had my mask and my heavy duty gloves on. i worked on the window i had started yesterday, less than half stripped courtesy of the heat gun. with a brush i applied this orange goo all around the window frame. right away i could see it doing something, as the goo quickly turned milky, dissolving some of the surface paint. good sign! after the entire window frame was coated in orange slime, i mean, citristrip stripping gel, i waited for at least 40 minutes (the recommended time is 20-30 minutes, but i figured i'd give it a little more time to really work that 100 years worth of old paint), then i started stripping.

with a heat gun, the paint bubbles and i push it off with the metal scraper, creating this bacon strip of hot paint which immediately cools and hardens once i stop heating it. with the citristrip, the paint gets all wrinkly, like that thin layer of skin on curdled milk. i push it off with a plastic scraper (to protect the wood i suppose, since the goo softens the wood as well), and instead of coming off as a quickly hardening cross-section of paint, it comes off like this sticky and rubbery skin (think gum, think booger, think worse) that's hard to get off of the scraper. did i mention that this skin is also toxic? at least with a heat gun i get to ripped off the paint with my fingers, even though it's hot. and with a heat gun, there's a lot less precaution, i just have to know not to touch the tip of the heat gun otherwise i'd get horribly burned. with chemical stripping, everything is off limits, like working with toxic waste. it's not worth it, and the sad part is after all that hard work, the chemical stripper only took off the topmost layer of paint (white), leaving behind the rest. i will need an additional coat of citristrip in order to finish the job. the verdict, it seems, is that a heat gun is still the weapon of choice when it comes to stripping paint.

midway through my stripping, the wood guy came to my house, delivering bundles of wooden planks that'll be used to line the floors of my two bedrooms tomorrow morning. it's pretty exciting, new floors! at one point wood guy asked me what i was doing with the window, and i explained to him about chemical strippers. i think i used the word "nasty" somewhere in the explanation.

at 5pm zuka came for his supposed last night of work. turns out he had something going on, so he left one of his guys at the place to do some sanding and patching. while he did that, my father and i cleaned out the small bedroom in preparation for the floor guys arriving tomorrow. when the guy finished sanding the master bedroom, my father and i cleaned it up as well. the evening's tragedy came when the guy, not paying attention, crashed through the screen door on the porch. kicked a gaping hole in the screen, ripped the door from its hinges, and bent the lock. but the way i figure it, if he didn't do it, sooner or later somebody else would. screen doors are easily replaceable anyway. after a few hours zuka came back to retrieve his guy. zuka agreed that the heat gun is the only way to properly strip paint, especially if it's multilayered, and recommended a more industrial strength heat gun over the ones we were currently using. he also warned my father and i to get masks and showed up exactly which layer was the lead paint layer (maybe he recognized the faces of lead paint poisoning when he saw us). he demonstrated a few stripping techniques with the stripping tool (looks like a flat metal tear drop on a handle) and the heat gun. he's coming back tomorrow night to jack the ceiling of the basement. that might sound like something sinister, but let me assure you, it's very innocuous, because tony's cambridge dream house is sinking into the sea! i need to jack the basement in order to stabilize my kitchen floor from collapsing altogether.

if there's one good thing that can be said about spending the whole day in a house saturated with sheetrock dust, that's got to be the crazy hair i end up with. for some unknown reason, this stuff acts like high powered styling gel, and i wind up with the kind of control over my hair that would rival the hairstyles of late-80's johnny depp and richard grieco. it's like spending a day at the seaside, going home with terrific beach hair. as for my hands, they're a different story. past few days of home improvement work has made them rough, real man's hands now!

when i got back to belmont, erin gonzalez, my former screen house coworker now living up in maine, had sent me a new layout of where i should put my recessed lights, based on her own experience working in a light store when she use to still live here in massachusetts. sometime this week i hope to visit her former place of employment, see if i can score some sweet light action.

oh, before i forget, my friend manny told me today that he got engaged to daisy over the weekend. oh no he didn't just say he's getting married! when i heard the news i was shocked. at first i thought, is he joking? then it hit me, he's serious. marriage. it seems like everyone's doing it these days!