I am a doer, a strategizer. When I’m presented with a problem my brain goes in to this weird computing mode. If it was a 1970s SyFy show there would be little lights blinking and beep, boop, beep sounds going off all while a motorized, monotone voice repeatedly said “computing”. Then the plan of action would shoot out onto a long receipt sized slip of paper.
I didn’t really truly know this about myself until after Hurricane Harvey hit and we sprang into action in an attempt to just help people and ended up helping run a supplies distribution center for two months. Within the first few days post Harvey someone presented me with a problem, I think we needed trucks to carry supplies or something, maybe we needed volunteers. I remember sitting on a couch in the lobby with my notebook in my lap, cell phone in my hand and I was just staring into space and that whole 1970s computing thing was happening in my brain. I remember hearing someone whisper to someone else, “she’s doing that thing where she figures it all out.”
I’m not sure where this talent comes from. Maybe its my marketing brain, years of classes and work doing strategic planning and marketing plans and all of that. Maybe its just who I am? I don’t know. But now that I am aware that its there, it makes me feel like I can take on anything.
I will say, right after the fire, this talent completely escaped me for the most part. The emotional side of things took over for a few weeks and I was basically non-functioning. But after a few weeks it slowly returned.
When our contractor first walked off the job, it was the same. I cried a lot. I was angry and frustrated and lost and unsure about what to do. It was my dad who really shook me out of the funk and got my beep boop beeps going again.
So I went to the empty house, walked around, and I made a list in my bullet journal/planner/thing of all the things that were left to do. The list was long and daunting. Every item I wrote down made me angry.
Then I went home and binge watched a few episodes of Star Trek.
The next day I pulled out the list again and tried to put it in order of importance, what we needed to do first, how we had to proceed, priorities and such. Bill and I sat down and decided that because I’m not really working right now, and I have those beep boop beep skills in my brain, that I would act as general contractor from here on out, hiring subs as needed. (Ps. For those wondering, it is totally legal to be your own general contractor in the state of Texas.)
I prayed a lot. And for the record, praying for me is not like a sit on my knees, hands folded, cry out to God thing. Typically, I’m just going through my day talking to God. Usually we have most of our conversations while I’m on the toilet. We’re tight like that. And most of the time, I just said, very simply, “I need your help”.
Electricity was priority, especially after the break in. So we planned to dig the trench for the main line ourselves, saving ourselves about $1000.
The day before we planned to dig the trench, a very dear friend pulled me aside and handed me a check. I ugly cried. It was enough money to keep the project going, and possibly enough to get it livable. But for me it wasn’t just about the money, it was about everything it represented, love, kindness, and for me, the first answer to my prayer.
The next day as my dad and I went in his truck to pick up the trencher, I told him what had happened. We both cried.
Then we dug the trench (which you can read details about here).
The next day the electricians ran the main line. They were supposed to hook it up Tuesday but couldn’t. Then Thursday but couldn’t. And then they were scheduled for Friday.
Throughout the week, while I waited for them to do their thing, I kept moving forward. I called the brick supplier, let them know what had happened and asked if there was a brick similar to what we had picked out but with a smaller price tag. He said he had just the thing and we saved about $1200. I also met with half a dozen sub contractors to start getting bids for the next things on my list.
Friday rolled around and I was feeling accomplished. Then, on the way to the library with Issa and Bill, I got a call from the electricians.
“Hi Christina, we have a problem.”
My heart sank.
“We can’t hook up the main line to the house until the brick is in because we have to install the meter box on the brick wall. I know how excited you were to get this going, I’m so sorry.”
I was immediately frustrated. For months we’d been told that we would move into the house and THEN brick would be put on.
I immediately got short with my family. My attitude had completely shifted. I had bill drop me off at a coffee shop near the library. I got a double shot of espresso and a pecan muffin with ALL the gluten, sat at a small table near the trash can, opened my notebook, held my phone in my hand and let the beep boop beeps run.
To get security we needed electricity.
To get electricity we needed the main line hooked up and for the line company to install the meter.
To get electricity we needed brick.
To get brick we’d need the back doors properly installed (they were there, but hung backwards or were the wrong door all together).
To get the doors properly installed we need to buy the correct door.
I needed a door.
I worked backwards. I canceled the line company coming to install the meter. I called Max at the brick supplier and found out we could have the brick delivered by Tuesday. He sent me the invoice. I called one of the contractors I’d met with to see how soon he could install the doors and the cost, he could come the next day! I called the mason I’d met with months ago, let him know what was going on, and he said he was just finishing a project and could come Wednesday or Thursday the next week.
One problem. I still needed a door. A specific sized outswing French door. A door not a single big box store like Home Depot or Lowes keeps in stock. We went to Home Depot to see how long it would take to order one, 21 business days and $850.
We walked out and got in the car, Bill looked at me and said, “Babe I don’t think this is going to happen.”
I looked at him straight in the face and said, “We’re going to find this door today. Period.”
In a fury of energy and determination we went to a door supplier I’d ordered another door from. I knew they didn’t have outswing doors in stock and I knew it was a long shot, but I remembered they had a small section of their warehouse of returned and clearance doors. We anxiously waited our turn in line to meet with a sales person. We rushed to the clearance section in the warehouse. I told the sales person what size door we needed, outswing and he looked less than convinced that we’d find one.
We flipped through the doors.
We found an outswing French door, but one door was a French door an the other was a half window with the bottom half being a doggie door. Not exactly what we were looking for, though I strongly considered it if it was the one pivotal thing to getting all these other things accomplished. Then it appeared; an outswing French door in the EXACT size we needed for $425, half the price of the one we’d have to order and wait for at Home Depot.
I looked at Bill, “I told you we’d find a door today.”
I made all the arrangements with all the contractors, including getting a friend to help up pick up the door. On Saturday all our doors were properly installed. On Tuesday our brick was delivered and a drywall crew started on the inside of the house. On Thursday masons arrived and started to lay brick, which took our house from looking like an abandoned construction site to an in progress home filled with workers and energy. Next week power will all be hooked up and running.
For the first time in months we are seeing real progress on our home. It warms our hearts. We’re excited about our house again. It could have never happened without prayer, the love of our family, the generosity of a friend, my husbands patience with me and the beep boop beeps of my brain.