- July 18th, 18:17
Remember that time I said that Bunker 3 would be ready by the end of May? You know, the last time I actually posted anything to this place? Present Me cannot believe that Past Me was ever so naive. Past Me thought she was a cynic. Oh yes, she thought jadedly, that remodeling project will always take twice as much time and cost twice as much as you think it will, but it cannot possibly go beyond that! Past Me could not imagine that we might reach the end of May, the deadline for moving out of our crushingly beige temporary housing, only to discover that Bunker 3 did not yet have basic amenities, such as a toilet or running water.
Past Me did not expect for the first few weeks in Bunker 3 to bear quite such a strong resemblance to Burning Man: everything is covered in dust, you drink out of a water bottle, and you need to put your boots on in order to pee. Past Me did not yet understand the Bonfire of the Vanities.
J and I were so excited, my few remaining readers, back in January when demolition first revealed enough space underneath the floor to install plumbing for a second bathroom. Given how long it had taken to get custom cabinets made for the kitchen, we decided that we would make our lives easier and purchase two existing vanities--a big one for the master bathroom and a small one for the guest bath. I'd been mooning over the dual sink Odeon from Restoration Hardware, with its appealing Art Deco curves, since before we'd ever seen Bunker 3. This! I declared. We will have it.
No. In spite of the fact that this is the vanity I have had in mind from the very beginning, it will not fit into the bathroom. Just to be certain, we go to the Bunker with a measuring tape and stretch it from wall to wall--or at least wall-stud-to-wall-stud because the sheet rock has not yet been installed.
Restoration Hardware makes its bathroom furniture on the assumption that you are living in a palace. At 72" inches, the Odeon is too big to fit into the master bath, which must also accommodate a 69" clawfoot jacuzzi bathtub. Stop snickering! You know I can hear you, right? These are serious problems I am dealing with, here.
We settle for something a little smaller--the black steel Pharmacy double vanity for the master bathroom and a little zinc vanity for the the guest bathroom, with a matching zinc-banded mirror. It is ruinously expensive. Honestly, I should be ashamed of the amount of money we spent, but I'm not quite done making fun of J for spending almost two thousand dollars on our kitchen faucet. We make computer models of both bathrooms based on our measurements to see how it will all work together--our black and white subway tile, the carefully-spaced lights, the vanity, and all the other bathroom furniture. J applauds his meticulous project planning. I applaud my flawless sense of aesthetics. We are very proud of ourselves.
The vanities arrive a few weeks later. And they sit. And they sit. And they sit. First the sheetrock needs to be installed. Then there's the mudding, an especially messy process that somehow gets spackel on my bike. Then J and I prime all of the walls, readying them for two weeks of meticulous tile installation. When the time comes to install the zinc vanity in the guest bathroom, the plumber takes one look at it and declares it will not fit.
In all of our angst over choosing a vanity of the right width, we assumed that we at least had a standard counter depth of 24" in which to work. We measure again: 18". There is no vanity that will work with this depth. At this point, we must buy a pedestal sink and we must buy it immediately because we are supposed to move into Bunker 3 in two weeks. J and I flee to the nearest Restoration Hardware, where we tell our tale of woe and the sales lady allows us to return our zinc vanity even though we are just outside of the 30-day return window. The matching zinc banded mirror is on back order until the end of the summer, and the giant mirror will look ridiculous with a tiny pedestal sink, so we cancel that order and buy a steel medicine cabinet instead.
The new Restoration Hardware order arrives and our returns are hauled away. Only Bunker 3 is a maze of Restoration Hardware boxes, all alike, so in addition to taking back the zinc vanity, the delivery men also accidentally return a box full of light fixtures destined for the master bathroom. And now they are on back order. Until July.
In the meantime, we move the Pharmacy vanity into the master bathroom only to discover that it also does not fit. Our meticulous measurements did not account for the thickness of the drywall and the tile, which has now made the room almost six inches shorter. It is now well past the 30-day return window for this ruinously expensive item. Fortunately, the mixup with the lights has left Restoration Hardware in so much confusion over our order that J is able to Jedi Mind Trick them into taking back yet another vanity.
By now it is May and we are beyond the power of Restoration Hardware to save us. They do not make a double vanity small enough to fit into the 60" allotted in the master bathroom. I scour the Internet for something black and Art Deco-ish in the right dimensions and send J a choice of three links, all from the same website. The vanity he wants is not available in black, so we settle for the second choice. No sooner have we ordered the thing, then the company calls us to say that even though the website says it is in stock, this is not the case, and would we mind purchasing something similar, perhaps Choice Number Three? Frantic Googling for the model and manufacturer reveals that although it appears that this item is available on a number websites, they are really all the same supplier. Defeated, we throw our hands up in the air. Send Number Three. We have been ground down by this terrible process. We are tired. We don't want to make any more decisions. We just want two sinks in the master bathroom so we can brush our teeth at the same time.
Weeks go by, during which we move into Bunker 3. There are several days during which there is no hot water. These are the same days during which there is no bathroom door. Even after years of marriage, some things should remain a mystery. J and I yell a warning if either of us needs to use the toilet.
Painting begins while I am being Carmen San Diego in Cambodia. Most of the paint colors are wrong. J rightly understands that our bedroom should not be painted dot-com green and moves to intervene. The new vanity arrives for the master bathroom. We have ordered the vanity in black, but the box says "white." J refuses shipment and has it sent back. Three weeks later, the company sends us our vanity again. Still white. We send it back with a stern letter, explaining that they have now delayed our bathroom remodeling project by 7 weeks and if they do not ship us the correct item within the week at their own expense, we would contact our bank and charge back the money. The company sends a representative to the warehouse, where they discover that the manufacturer has mislabeled the entire shipment of vanities with the wrong color.
In the middle of July, the right vanity arrives. It is installed while I am in Spain. It has been 7 months since we ordered our first piece of bathroom furniture. We have tried to buy a total of seven vanities. We have purchased three vanities and a pedestal sink. We have returned three vanities, one of them twice. Tomorrow morning, J and I will brush our teeth at the same time, and we will probably not elbow each other even once. There are so many things left to do before Bunker 3 is feature complete, but this thing is done.
The bonfire of the vanities is over.