I’m not a professional home renovator. I’m not even a particularly good DIY-er. So please don’t get the wrong idea by any of the following. It’s all in good fun, to slog along with my slow house progress, see here, here, and here.

If there is one thing I’ve learned about home renovation it’s that you don’t own the house, the house owns you. And that one little project you think will be done in a weekend…? Well, that will take a year. And a half. During such projects, you often waver between absurd optimism at the beginning of said project and overwhelming despair once the full scope of the project has become patently clear. This awareness usually occurs when the room is fully gutted, fun surprises are revealed (oops, rotten subfloor!), and you realize that you’re supposed to wake up in three hours and go to work, but you need to shower and you just ripped out the tile to the only working shower in the house. Because how tacky (and/or unprofessional) is it to tape plastic sheets around the whole shower so that you can turn on the water without ruining the tile board…?*

The next thing you know you’re sobbing your little heart out, sitting in moldy filth, sounding like Darth Vader because you have a face mask on so that you don’t breathe in the moldy filth while you’re nearly hyperventilating with despair. Because renovation is never easy, surprises are never fun, and in all likelihood you’re not as good as math as you might think. So go get a frigging calculator, it’s 3am in the morning and your brain stopped working two hours ago, you will not be able to calculate the square footage of tile correctly.

The previous story notwithstanding, I am not one to cry. Well, not really… Okay, so I now realize I’ve cried twice in the past two months*, so maybe I’m just fooling myself. But aside from home renovation, there is not much that brings me to tears. Never fear, I’m sure I’ll be able to bring together some sort of list to favorably waste your time with. This week’s prompt (as hosted by The Broke and The Bookish): books that made me cry. I’m altering the topic a bit to issues/events that make me cry.

Sad and Late

Truly, in no particular order:

10. Broken Appliances. I cried when my dishwasher caught on fire and I couldn’t figure out how to use a fire extinguisher to extinguish a fire inside the frame of a stainless steel dishwasher. Whether the tears are from the noxious smoke or one’s inherent failure to best an appliance is uncertain…

09. Stripping Wallpaper. There might be no home task more tedious… It’ll bore a person to tears.

08. Failure to Properly Strip Wallpaper. When you try to remove 3 layers of hideous wallpaper and all that you accomplish is butchering the drywall. You then realize you hate skim coating.

07. Money Pits. It’s all fun and games until you own it (and fail to look as cute as Shelley Long while enduring it).

06. The Lies of HGTV. If you can overlook the fact that people on House Hunters still use phrases like “man cave”, you might realize how glossy and oversimplified they make home renovation look. Regardless, Sarah Richardson is my hero.

To be serious, here are a few topics and titles that have caused more than a few tears:

05. Child Abandonment. I actively avoid any books that cover this topic, although oddly enough one of my favorite books covers this topic in detail. Example book: White Oleander.

04. Airplane Crashes/Anything Encompassing 9/11. I’ve never read a book on this topic and I doubt I ever will, but I sobbed when I heard the news that Air France Flight 447 had crashed and I get choked up at the mere hint of a 9/11 documentary.

03. Unexpected Loss (of a spouse). Not all books that cover this topic make me cry. It very much depends on the book’s character development. What I find most affecting is when an author covers the nuances of a relationship – not just lust or physical beauty, but the quiet moments in between. Stephen King is the master of this. Example book: Bag of Bones by Stephen King.

02. Suicide. Example book: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma.

01. Unresolved Loneliness. I think everyone fears ending up alone, so when books end this way I’ve been known to get a little weepy.

So what makes you cry? Is it The Book Thief? I haven’t read it yet, but 2014 is the year. Maybe.

*Full disclosure: that’s a true story. And it’s a really tacky thing to do. But innovative too, right?
**So as not to vaguebook(blog): The first incident was out of frustration (overwhelmed with the state of my home renovation) and the second was for the loss of potential and was only a tear or two (turned down an intriguing professional opportunity).



  1. #7 — Definitely. Thinking about it enough can leave me pretty 😦

    I also agree with your explanation to #3; unexpected loss of any loved one and the way the writer fleshes out those relationships afterwards can be pretty poignant and sad.

    Hope you enjoy The Book Thief when you get to it 🙂 My TTT


  2. I have to admit that ever since you talked a few weeks about your dishwasher catching fire I refuse to leave mine running when I leave the house. It deeply disturbs me that something that is full of water can burst into flames. I guess this means the washing machine and the water heater can now too. Shit. And I had to strip a wallpaper border (I now, not much) once and it was horrible. HORRIBLE!

    I’m jealous of your DIY abilities, though.


    1. They say that’s actually a smart idea, same with your dryer.

      Don’t be. For the amount of times I screw something up, I should be an expert by now. And I’m not. I’m not sure what that says about my intelligence, but I;m sure it’s nothing good.


  3. Ugh, I’ve suffered the rotten subfloor horror – rotted joists, rotted stumps, a 2 day project became 2 weeks, cost tripled etc. The horror the horror! I feel for you.


    1. It really is such a horrible feeling. I ripped up the bathroom floor to discover that the entire area near the shower how rotted out. How I had not fallen through the floor is a mystery.


    1. I absolutely agree. At least people have gotten smarter about wallpaper, they have easily removable wallpaper now. But that’s never what I’ve had to remove, of course.


    1. This does not bode well for me. I take a certain amount of pride in not being a crier and I don’t suspect you cry at the drop of the hat either.

      I am so going to sob. Promise me I won’t be depressed for two weeks after. That actually happened to me when I read The Pact by Jodi Picoult. I’ve never read another Picoult book (not that I feel like I’m missing much).


  4. I have to admit that most books make me cry at some point, either out of sadness or happiness – pathetic I know. But the #1 reason I cry in “real life” is when my kids are really upset over something. And I would cry even at the THOUGHT of any DIY projects. They are not my thing!


    1. Nope, that’s totally normal. Most women cry, on average, 6 times a month. And it’s a great emotional release, so I’m told. I should probably try it, it might help me reign in my temper. 😉


  5. There weren’t tears but I totally screamed when my washer died and I almost broke my leg about a week in when I tripped over Mount St. Helens (what I named the ginormous laundry pile that developed). Have you read Forbidden? That’s been of those books that I think about reading but haven’t yet worked up the nerve to do so. I’m a sucker for animals deaths in novels. I don’t think I would have actually cried at The Book Thief if I had read it in print. The audio was super emotional.


    1. Forbidden was an ugly cry for me. It’s heartbreaking – horrible lives with a horrible end, but it is really well written. It’s YA, but really doesn’t have that feel to it (which is a plus for me).

      You know, I’m really not an animal person – in life or in novels. I like them well enough and I have two cats, but when they go I sincerely doubt I’ll replace them. I do suspect there will be a tear or two when they pass though, so maybe I’m not totally heartless.

      The Book Thief. It’s turning into that book that everyone tells me to read. So naturally I don’t want to…


      1. Yeah, I didn’t want to read The Book Thief either. I only did it for my kid so we could discuss it together. And so I could make sure he was actually reading it and not feeding me bullshit. Lol


  6. We were depressed the other day because we’ve been in our house for three years and we’ve hardly done anything. Things are falling apart around us and I think we’ve just gotten used to it. We do have little kids, but surely we could paint some trim or something! I also try to avoid books with child abandonment or anything along those lines. I will cry for days, I can’t get the hurt out of my head.


    1. It’s so hard to work up to the effort, especially when you have little kids (because bedtime is glorious and who wants to fill kid free time with trim painting?!).

      I can’t either. I once read The Pact by Jodi Picoult and that book actually broke me. And I’m not even a Picoult fan. Stay far, far away from that one…


    1. House problems… Is it too much to ask for peace at home. One wall in my house was improperly redone before I bought it and there’s little to no insulation in it. The pipes to my kitchen sink get stuck frequently. It doesn’t help with how cold the winter has been this year, it was -13 yesterday and -10 currently. If Colorado is lucky, it will get all the way up to 5 degrees today.


  7. Aww, White Oleander is a really good book. I’ve read it… 4 times? I really liked it as a teen, and then a couple years ago read it again to see if my mind had changed and nope, it’s still great.

    POOR YOU AND YOUR HOUSE TROUBLES. But if it makes you feel better, whenever you post pics your house looks awesome, so you’re totally winning at home renovating.


    1. I really related to Astrid when I was younger. That is one of the books that made me a reader, so I love it.

      And it does, a very little bit…(every bit counts).


  8. I always find a good cry makes me feel better – release of emotions and all that.

    Things that trigger me – young children whose parents die. My own dad lost his mother when he was five. She had polio, went to hospital and a week later was dead. How do explain that to a five year old? And of course in those days, there wasn’t much support for single fathers so he was sent to live with an aunty in the country. So sad.

    I’m also not great with cancer stories (again, it comes down to personal experience); stories about children being excluded or bullied; and any stories about kids that are sick/die.

    I haven’t read White Oleander. Will I cope?

    And although Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is probably not on your reading list because of the 9/11 factor, it is a truly amazing book. Sad but wonderful.


    1. Young children with parents who die does it for me too. One of the reasons that the Air France crash made me cry is that the new was talking about a set of parents who were returning to their young children in Paris. How do you explain to those children that Mom and Dad won’t be coming home. It’s awful.

      You’ll be able to cope with White Oleander. It’s about a girl who goes in to foster care after her mother is sent to prison. Foster care is not a good experience, but it’s narrated in such a way that it’s not pitiful. I’d definitely recommend it.

      I can’t pick up Extremely Loud yet, maybe someday.


  9. Oh lord, I can totally feel you on your house woes. We’re still working on our 100 yr old house (though I think we’re coming to the point of selling instead of continuing) and it’s just frustrating. Can I add painting plaster walls without a single straight line to your list?


    1. Yes. Yes, we can.

      That is the point I’m approaching too. Oddly enough, as much as I complain, I’m thinking of selling this one and buying another fixer-upper. Why? I have no idea.


  10. Girl, I’m so with you about 9/11. And soldiers; if you put soldiers in a commercial, I’m a goner. Also, the national anthem. ANY national anthem. I went to a hockey game last year, and I cried through both the American and Canadian anthems. This is all very strange because I’m not patriotic.


  11. Most emotive things make me cry, books, TV, films, adverts….. it’s problematic. It mostly revolved around people banding together through adversity, or sacrifice, or anything sad.

    Definitely with you on loneliness!


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