Monday, August 4, 2008

House archaeology, anthropology, and projected fortitude

Three finding about the our current remodeling project:

1. Why, yes, that IS NOT a header but a 2 x 4 holding up the entire front half of our house. And, yes, you're again right that one of the "posts" is in fact a couple of scrap pieces of wood spliced together. I thought this must have been a recent patch job gone awry, but Alex assures me that we're looking at original work. Goes to show that sometimes the much-lauded craftsmanship of the olden days wasn't all that different from today's quick-fix "make it work" jobs.

2. A list of cool and gross stuff found behind the walls so far: a doll's comb (circa 1999), a tarnished key to a lock box dangling on a chain, a mouse's nest, a desicated mouse (not found in the nest but, unfortunately, under one of the kitchen base cabinet--eww), and, most cool, a photo of a family sitting in front of the fireplace of this house. Judging from the hairstyles, clothing, and style of photo, and in consultation with our neighbors, we think the photo is dated from perhaps the 1950s.

The most interesting thing about the photo is that the family is Asian. As a multiracial person of Asian descent who's come to accept that fact that I live in a predominantly white city with an unfriendly history of race relations, there's something thrilling about living in a home once occupied by a family of color.

This is a bit of a tangent, but there was an interesting post at Racialious a couple of days ago that explored why humor based on racial stereotypes by a comedian of color, such as Indian Canadian Russell Peters, is acceptable to people of color. To help figure this out, the writer describes Junot Diaz's theory called the wheel of tyranny, in which writers of color set up worlds in which only two races are represented, white and nonwhite, with the latter revolving around and responding to the former. This wheel excludes interactions among communities of color, which can be powerful nexuses of home-making, so the Racialious writer suggests that Peters thwarts that dynamic, creates a common ground, and is thus refreshing and acceptable.

It's kind of a shaky argument, but I have to admit that something about this rings true in my response to the photo of the Asian family. Because the majority of my daily experiences involves interacting with white folks, the possibility that people of color owned this house makes me feel more at home here--sentimental, but entirely characteristic of me, despite my public bravado and default posture of skepticism.

3. Check out how spacious the dining room and kitchen look (use your imagination and ignore the studs and dangling electrical)! Question: How long can we live in this state of unrest? Answer: A surprisingly long time. I'm sure it will get old fast, but the truth is, we both work full time so this stuff gets done when it gets done. And we're still waiting on the engineer, so this rustic cabin look could be our milieu for weeks to come. Question #2: Which will come first, the completion of the project or my disinterest in writing about it? Place your bets, people.


melissa s. said...

let's race. don't tell brian, but i'm betting your project is done before ours!

DomaMama said...

Okay, but we're redoing a couple of walls and you guys are redoing an entire house. We'd better finish before you!