#278: Paint Stripping

Window trim in the master bedroom, ladder and a broom.
North La Salle, Detroit, MI

The most tedious week of work at the house yet. The bathroom is done, the new kitchen tile has arrived after half the original order showed up in the wrong color, and – here’s the especially tedious bit – we’re busy stripping paint off the old wood trim. We’re trying to move in by the end of the month – though at our current rate, that’s looking less and less likely.

As we work, we listen to pump-up jams and podcasts. I find myself favoring, for the latter, longer conversations rather than the more usual twenty- or sixty-minute episodes. Longer episodes means fewer decisions; I don’t have to take off my gloves to look for another thing to listen to. I can settle into a conversation and follow it where it goes, but also tune in and out of it as I work, as though it’s happening in the other room.

A good example: sleep researcher Matthew Walker’s three-parter on The Peter Attia Drive. Each part is two hours(!) I’m currently reading Walker’s book, Why We Sleep, and, as I mentioned to one of you a few weeks ago, I’ve gotten in the habit of listening to podcast interviews to both vet and augment books that interest me. The more I do this, though, the more I find that I can skim or even skip the book. Writing the book almost feels like the excuse the author needs to become enough of an expert (or if they’re already an expert, to articulate their expertise enough) to do a bunch of podcast interviews. I know this is not true, but it feels that way.

This only works, though, with certain books. They’re all non-fiction, and often in the self-improvement or popular science categories. They’re books that are not about reading experience, or they’re not about any reading experience beyond trying to be entertainingly informative. Their chief goal is to convey content, rather than to be read – I think there’s a subtle but important distinction there.

This is where my mind wanders as I scrape away with my flexible putty knife. Maybe someday I’ll start a podcast club, and friends can come over and we’ll listen to these long interviews together, and eat food and talk about them. And maybe that someday can be someday soon – once we’re settled in the house.

It’s good motivation to keep scraping.