Christine, and later Dave

PROJECT: Home improvements_DSC2953 - Copy

PROGRESS: “Let’s top it about 90%”

START POINT: Approximately three or four years ago

EXPECTED DATE OF COMPLETION: Before they put their house on the market

STORY: I can’t help but be amused by Christine and Dave’s participation in my project about unfinishedness, because they, hands down, got the most done, in the timeliest manner, out of all my interviews. I hardly had to ask them for anything: they offered photos of their projects without prompting, they sent in any materials I needed almost immediately, and Christine began the conversation by answering some questions she’d already asked herself in preparation for the interview.

She’s wearing a loose, practical but not unstylish brown top, with her hair pulled back, and glasses–a sign to me that the day is nearly over, because if contacts were ever in, they are definitely not now. She takes a few minutes to get settled, commenting on her “needy cone dog” as she ultimately makes her way to her bedroom.

“I started thinking about ‘why haven’t they been finished already?’ and I came up with a couple of things, so just food for thought:

“What they all have in common is they have no critical deadline for completion.

“The incentive is not compelling enough finish it.

“And then another thing is there’s no immediate risk.”

Their projects–finishing the stairs, painting the last few feet of crown molding in the dining room, putting the hardwood down in the closets–have all reached a point where they can function around them without much trouble, and they don’t have any immediate reasons to finish them. “By not finishing we’re not risking our safety or our reputation, it’s not anything that I absolutely have to finish by a certain date on, so we just kind of live with it like it is for now.”

Partway through the call, Dave joins the conversation. Christine and Dave’s interview illuminated the importance of relying on other people when working on completing projects as they both explained that working on the house has been a joint effort. Christine began: “On the steps it was, I painted the boards–” “And then you waited for me to get around to doing the other part, and then when I did that part it was done like a day or so I got all of it and then the guys came the next day to do the work,” finished Dave.

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3 Comments

3 thoughts on “Christine, and later Dave

  1. Nancy O'Donnell

    We spend time on what is important to us. Maybe not finishing these home improvements are a way for them to remain in the home they have instead of moving to a new home, which would be a lot of work and a bit of sorrow to leave the home that you have enjoyed and become a family in.

    • David Brown

      I’ve been thinking about this more since the interview. I wouldn’t say that there’s any sentimentality behind our procrastination, but Nancy is spot on about spending time on things that are important to us. For us, that’s family and our careers. Christine has a challenging (and rewarding) career that often keeps her working long after she’s arrived home. I run a private recording studio and am currently performing with 3 bands… in other words, I work vampire’s hours. We have a 2 year old daughter on whom we shower the rest of our attention. Spare time does visit us occasionally, but never for very long… and it seems to drop in when we’re most in need of a nap.

      We’ve found that a project doesn’t carry a static priority from start to finish. When carpet has been ripped up and dusty cold concrete greets our every step, laying the hardwood flooring becomes top priority. Time is taken from work and sleep is deferred. Four letter words are strewn around like so many tools and supplies. But once the living spaces are covered and furniture is back in place, we achieve “good enough for now” status and normal life resumes until we find time to finish the little details.

      As we get closer to putting this house on the market, those unfinished projects will once again become top priority. Then we can focus on building our next house… or 90% of it 🙂

      -David

  2. Well just from reading your reply, I can tell you have the Brown family flare with the written word; have you been doing any song writing along with your ever so long, unfinished list?

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