Thursday, February 03, 2011

If Houses Were Like Essays

I spent the better part of the morning more or less chatting with the handyman and grading. Sometimes there was more chatting, sometimes more grading.

I live in a fairly new house, which the bank and I own, even if they never bother to come dig out the driveway. The problem is, apparently, it was built on spec, and at the height of the tiny rush/boom here. That means, I am learning, that what could be done cheaply was done cheaply, and what could be done fast was done fast, even though that meant not doing it as well. So, the gas fireplace was put in without a blower, because it's cheaper that way, and not something that's likely to make or break a buying decision. And the electric socket stuff was put in without pushing the insulation all the way around, because it takes time to push insulation around. And so forth.

So, today the gas fireplace got a blower, so I should be able to sit in front of the gas fireplace and grade in relative warmth. And he added insulation thingies and caulking in places that were obviously leaking.

But the thing is, if my house were an essay, I could just pull the pieces apart and rework the thesis, and then rebuild, and it might take hours or weeks of work, but it wouldn't be a matter of freezing to death in the meantime or something.

But, a house is not like an essay, so there are things it's just not worth trying to fix until something big needs to be fixed. Though, of course, that's quite essay-like in a way.

I kept thinking, as the handyman found more and more places to caulk, about how daunting it is for students when we point out a whole slew of things that really, really need total revision in an essay. I felt that way about my house. For example, when the time comes to reshingle the roof, I'll need to get them to add some insulation in this one obvious place. But it's apparently not worth doing it at this point because it would mean reshingling a portion.

So I guess what I'm really saying is that I'm as daunted by the never-ending stuff that needs to be done to maintain and repair my rather newish house, just as my students are daunted when I make tons of suggestions for their essays.

The title of this post then? Scratch that. Revise and resubmit: "My House is Like an Essay."


  1. Good analogy, although I'm sorry to hear about all the necessary repair work. Our money pit has some glaring faults (needs new windows!) but I wouldn't want to throw the whole thing out or have to fix everything at once.

  2. I've started writing a "top three things to focus on in your next essay" section at the bottom of each essay. I've found it helps them focus on the most important stuff, and as they get better, then I change the three things to focus on.

  3. I use the same approach as EmmaNadine and I think you can get away with it with essays, I'm not so sure where houses are concerned. Sometimes only picking up on the main points can leave you two months later with a roof falling round your head. I'm sorry you're in this position because I've been there and I know what a disappointment it is to move into a house you've been looking forward to living in only to find that a lot of what you've bought is cosmetic. At least when all the locks failed because they were faulty and very ancient stock I was locked in the house rather than out. In the middle of December that would not have been funny at all.

  4. Thanks, folks :) To clarify, most of the problems with my house are small stuff, like not having the insulation fully around switch boxes and such, rather than "oh no, the roof is coming off!" It's just that there are lots of little places that needed caulking and such. And one place under the roof that could use more insulation.