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September 10th, 2007:

The fershlugginer bathroom light

We have one of those circular fluorescent bathroom lights in our main bathroom (right now our only bathroom upstairs, as we are re-tiling the master bath) When the light started strobing, I thought– no problem, I’ll just replace the bulb. And that’s when I ran into problems.

I tried to unscrew the glass part of the light– but it didn’t want to come off– but the metal plate underneath seemed to unscrew– so I thought– maybe the whole piece comes off. Well it did, but it wasn’t supposed to . So now I’ve got the light hanging from its wire and its electric.

There’s no electric box up top– just wires coming from the ceiling. And the plaster is crumbling, and not so solid. And it turned out that the collar that holds the light into the thing it’s screwed into isn’t installed properly (all the screws are lying in the light fixture, not a good sign) And meanwhile, there is a ground wire (I think that may or may not have been plugged into something, but it isn’t now, and it’s an open wire.

So I take an electrical collar and tape up that wire. I re-install the collar correctly, so there is some support. I tighten the collar so it’s in the right place, I line up the holes to attach the plate to the collar and… nothing. I could not line up the holes. For like an hour I tried to put it together, cursing like a sailor the entire time. At one point I saw the hole, but I lost the screw!

I was so frustrated. I went to the hardware store to buy a new fixture, but bought a new bulb and a couple of screws with nuts to put the screws in first, and then line it all up. I managed to do it on one side and attached the light more or less securely.

I changed the bulb, and the spring clamp of the bulb broke as I was putting it back in, so I had to electrical tape it in place.

And the light works, although I must have bought a cheaper circular fixture, as the light is not very good– so I still need to replace the bulb.

I think we’ll hold off for a bit, and then bring in a REAL electrician to put a box in the ceiling and replace the light fixture to something a little nicer– and maybe with a fan!

When things happen like that, and I end up spending an hour frustrated by what should be a simple task, and something that any moron should be able to do– it’s when I think my parents might have been right-

When I was a kid, my parents also used to say “Your no good with your hands– work with your head, and hire people to work with their hands.” Of course, I became a clown in rebellion– but there are moments when I wish I’d become an electrician or a plumber. Now I seriously think I’m no good with my hands partially because my parents told me that– although that’s not the only reason.
I am not particularly good– partially because I don’t have the experience, and partially because I don’t have the chops. If I became an electrician or a plumber, I’d have to work twice as hard as everybody else to get it right. And figuring numbers in my head, or solving complicated logic problems, or talking to people— that stuff is for me, easy.