Mary, Mary, quite contrary

I spent the day gardening, both inside and out. First, I finally got my new website and blog together, and up and running after sitting on my domain for two years. You're looking at it. (There are still a few things to add, like my blogroll and Twitter feed, and various other knick-knacks, but the basics are here.) Then I gardened out on the deck next to my little office. Sort of. Let me go back about six months first to give you the setting: The first week of November 2009, my landlady notified me that the building my neighbor and friends lovingly called "The Crack House" due to its aging paint job was going to be painted. How lovely, I thought. (Personally, I was kind of fond of the sad, grey Crack House, but I like shabby chic.)

Thus began a long, dark autumn and winter with the apartment shrouded in sheets of black mesh. (A darkness I didn't need with my Seasonal Affective Disorder; the usual lack of sun was good enough, thanks). Outside my bedroom window, strange men walked back and forth on scaffolding all day long shouting at each other (clearly thinking that the residents inside couldn't possibly know what puta meant), and were kind enough to start my day at 7:30 in the morning with their radio on the scaffolding set to banda music.

The shroud came off in February, but by then, the contractor had begun rebuilding my deck. (Wait, rebuilding my deck? What does this have to do with painting The Crack House? I have no idea. It was news to me.) With more strange men wandering about outside my curtainless office windows at any given moment, I was banished to the bedroom (because I work from home, and, I confess, usually in my bathrobe). It's a fine bedroom, but the light is mostly in the back of the house, which is why my office is there in what was once a sun porch.

Worse than being banished from my office, however, I was banished from my garden. I came out one morning to find all of my plants and deck furniture crammed into a pile in the center of the deck while the fence was being torn down. The rainy season hit immediately afterward and it remained in this state of disarray for several weeks. Once the fence was demolished, I found all of my belongings tossed into a pile on the roof behind the deck, plants on top of plants, and piles of work supplies on top of those. I waited (not very) patiently while the deck was torn up and a new deck was constructed, and then a new fence.

When they seemed done at last, I went outside to see how it looked and found the charming situation pictured to the left. The back door would only open halfway, thanks to the contractor's failure to measure the door when she put in a new step. I then waited while the rain returned, told that despite the fact that this step is under the roof, they could do nothing while it rained.

Finally, I heard the carpenters outside one morning and rejoiced. I would be able to use my new deck at last. I took a look when they were done to see if they had really fixed the step, and discovered that King Solomon had apparently lent his wisdom to the task. The result is on the right. Well, hell, at least it works.

You thought this story was over? So did I. The contractor told me that the crew would move my belongings back as soon as the inspector came. Two weeks passed. I spoke with the landlady, wondering when in the name of all that is holy I was going to be allowed to have my garden back. She was surprised, since the contractor had told her two weeks ago that the inspection was done and she was moving the furniture back. Then she added one little nugget that was the perfect ending: the contractor had informed her that plants could not be kept on the deck, because watering them would ruin the wood. I'm just going to end there and enjoy the sound of brains exploding on monitors.

Oh, and yes, I spent the last two days moving all of my furniture and plants back where they belong. A butterfly landed on the deck and warmed its wings. Birds sat on the fenceposts and sang. I kid you not. And wonder of wonders, my poor, bedraggled little Betty Boop rose bush that had been buried in tarps and buckets for months is sprouting two lovely buds.

Today is the first day back at my desk, sitting with the window open as I type, and seeing the green outside. And look how much I've accomplished: an entire website.

(I did, however, manage to accomplish one little thing while in the Slough of Despond of the past six months: I submitted my novella The Devil's Garden to [redacted] will be published in 2011. Update, July 4, 2010: See Independence Day: Stranger than fiction. [Redacted] is no longer my publisher.)