Oh, you are going to be so jealous. Several of my friends and I were at our annual Christmas dinner, this past December, when we started to complain about all the shit we never get done. If only we had some spark that would magically ignite our enthusiasm for home maintenance, we sighed in tandem, we might be able to finish those “to do” lists.  Thus was born “The Shit-Starters”; a once a month gathering wherein we descend en masse on one of our homes and tackle some previously neglected project.

This is awesome in so many ways:

Number one: shit is getting done. Oh, sure, it’s not necessarily at my house, which remains one yard sofa away from replicating the college boarding houses of my youth, but at least I’m being productive. Eventually my turn will roll around, then- LOOK OUT! -I’m going all Pinterest on this here place.

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Not my house but it still totally counts.

Number two: Given that these weekends involve plenty of chit-chat, generalized camaraderie and what is turning out to be a mandatory taco bar, my social life just increased by, like, 8000%. (Do not quote me on the math. This is a home improvement group, not remedial tutoring.) Add this to the Supper Club Hubby and I belong to and the chances that I’m going to die, a hypochondriac-prone hermit crushed by the towers of second-hand paperbacks and old magazines littering my home, is significantly reduced. Oh, sure, I’m still going to be a book-hoarding hypochondriac, but a book-hoarding hypochondriac with friends.

Number three: We are amaaaaaazing! The other day we raked what I’m pretty sure was 26 acres of yard in two hours. Again, my math might be a little fuzzy, but it was a lot. A LOT. I needed to take three ibuprofen before bed due to the throbbing pain in my arms. Let’s agree that it was because I raked a heroically large amount of leaves and not because my weak little baby bird arms are unaccustomed to anything more strenuous than hoisting a cookie to my gaping maw.

Number four: Seriously. What fun. I love, love, love the sense of community we are forming by this monthly get together. We’re like better dressed Amish, building barns and sharing a meal. What a nice reminder that, election year cynicism aside, what humans are about is connection–demonstrating in action the affection that binds us. (Rake) I like you. (Rake) I care about you and want to lighten your load. (Rake) I want your home to be a happy one. (Rake) Is it time for tacos?

Of course, like any club, there needs to be rules. Yes, rules, you little anarchists, otherwise it’s all chaos and disorder– which is how things normally go around here, hence my need for help. Chief among the edicts is this: You get what you pay for. No one gets to be mad at what is clearly unskilled and sub-par labor, because it is free. There are not many contractors that will work for tacos, you see. (Ooooooh, and in a recent move that decidedly upped the ante, dark chocolate peanut butter cups. I will rake many a leaf, paint miles of trim, scrape hundreds of steps for those fancy Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups. Not that I’m hinting.) This has led to our slowly evolving motto; “Slightly better, not the worst.” I mean, really, at this point I am happy with any single degree of improvement. Could we re-caulk around the tub so it has slightly less black mildew surrounding it? Peel the decades-old wallpaper off the back entry so it is not the worst hallway I have ever seen? Perfection. Let’s eat.

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The Rise & Fall of a Momocracy

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