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  • Writer's pictureLaura L

This week I’ve had a special guest: O, Min's college roommate/friend, visited me from Seattle. There is something rather meaningful about connecting with someone who loved the same person as you. We talked at length about how much we loved our Min, the funny things he would do and say, and (on a more somber note), the things we wished we had done to intervene.

It's interesting: right after the suicide, I think everyone was in such disbelief -- we couldn't understand WHY he did it, or what drove him to it. Everything seemed... fine? A year and half later, it seems completely obvious why our wonderful Min ended his life -- his desire for perfection and the high standards he'd set for himself, the loss of his grandfather, his loneliness that night, his lack of sleep, his overwork, his drinking, and his fear of letting everyone down. Oh, the guilt that comes with that. Apologies will never be enough, but O also gently reminded me that none of us had ever dealt with a situation like that before -- it never even crossed my mind, and thus we did not know to intervene. As frustrating as it is, we must forgive ourselves for not knowing what we did not know.

On a lighter note, O bought Nigerian food from an unassuming takeout place in North County. I was not enthusiastic when he announced the plan, but politely agreed b/c he claimed it would be rude to deny a Nigerian the ability to host. The food turned out to be amazing! The plantain was the best I’ve ever eaten, and the salty, tomato-flavored rice with tofu was delicious. It was also good to see A socialize -- ever cautious, he hadn't really gone out since the pandemic. I could see the visibly change in his mood during O's visit.

We concluded his trip with a visit to the St. Louis Art Museum and Clementine's ice cream. O gifted me a figurine as well as a book on the beautiful exhibit of historical Africa that we toured. This morning, I felt a wave of sad de ja vu while I drove him to the airport. How many times I had driven Min to that same airport, always with the expectation of return. We cannot turn back the past, but I am ever grateful for the friendships of today. If there is one thing I've gained from the terrible loss of my Min, it is the friendship of his good friend O.

  • Writer's pictureLaura L

When I first bought my house, I refinished the floors with my own bare hands, and then hired an enterprising 23-year-old kid to paint the walls (after discovering how terrible I was at wall-painting). This was done very piecemeal, over three or four months, in order to accommodate my tight budget after the home purchase. It took another several months to buy furniture, and even longer still to do these little touches.

With the bathroom vanity, I ordered a piece of granite online for around $350, and then hired a plumber to remove the old vanity top and replace it with the granite for another $600. The project cost around $1000. The bathroom tiles were much less expensive -- $125 to fix all the grouts. I didn't do much with the bathroom walls other than to change the paint color to black (from its original dark blue) in order to match the theme of the house.

I know a lot of people take out home renovation loans in order to fix up a new house, but that just didn't feel right for me personally. I hate debt, and the idea of owing money (especially with the uncertainty of the pandemic) kind of freaked me out. I work in healthcare, and the fact that even us healthcare workers were forced to take a steep pay-cut last year kind of chilled me. Thus, I just knew this was the way I would do things. It's not as satisfying as just having a beautiful home right away, but to me, the small things count.

Right away, I knew I was going to have to fix the floors in my house. Not only were they scratched to hell and hideous, there were urine stains in the living room, on the steps, and in the master bedroom:

As I started tackling this incredibly effortful and time-consuming DIY project, people shook their heads and told me I'd regret it. After sanding the floors using the random orbital I'd rented from Home Depot, I knew I'd made the right choice. (Photo: after sanding + before staining).

I actually liked the pale, light wood color so much that I considered just applying poly over it and calling it a day, but as you have probably gathered from my previous post, I'm not someone who gives up on a vision easily. Sooo, I applied two coats of the "Java" gel stain from General Finishes, and then three coats of the clear poly gloss upstairs. I actually liked the look and feel of my floors after two coats of poly better... the third coat, I felt, was a bit overkill, and made the floors extra-hard. So, for the downstairs, I only used two coats of poly. (I may change my mind and add a third coat later on just to be safe.)

Every day, I still walk into my house and feel a thrill whenever I see the floors that I've imagined for DECADES... that I did myself. I am so glad I decided to tackle this project without the "professionals" and execute it according to my vision!

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