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(pronounced Ko-Hane)
Dan is the Bram Stoker-nominated author of Plague of Darkness, Solomon’s Grave, and the critically-acclaimed Margaret's Ark. Writing as G. Daniel Gunn, he released Destroyer of Worlds and the novella (written with L.L.Soares) Nightmare in Greasepaint (Samhain Publishing),. His short stories have appeared in Cemetery Dance, Shroud Magazine, Apex Digest and many more. He and his family live in New England.

Monday, December 28, 2009

the basement evolution

Early in 2005 I began a project which would take almost five years to complete, and would be both a refuge and bane... no, not true. Working on finishing the basement was never a bane, never a curse or a chore. It was fun, it was completely absorbing, taught me a helluva lot about working with my hands (as opposed to hiring someone else to do it, lol), seeing the big picture in a project, the value of Google video, and of nail guns and levels.

First step was finding the right tools, borrowing my brother-in-law's saw, and learning how to do the wall studs. The picture on the left and lower on the right is how it started, the latter of me and Andrew as he helps with probably one of the most important pieces of inventory: common sense. You sure you want to do it that way? he'd ask in his calm, certain way. I'd nod, then shake my head and ask him what way would be better, and try not to feel stupid because, though it's taken a number of decades, I admit that sometimes basic, common sense isn't my forte. I can learn a task, and excel at it, see the big picture and the details simultaneously, but would spend two hours trying to straighten a nail and continue banging it in instead of just pulling it out and getting a new one. Too much doing without thinking. But I got better.

And slowly, the cellar progressed, stalling when the weather got warmer and I was sent outside to work on the yard. But when I worked down there, with Andrew sometimes, the girls other times, most of the time alone since each distinct task wasn't overly difficult, just time-consuming, hours would roll past (2 hours here, 2 weeks of not doing anything, 3 hours some other day, just didn't want you to think this was some obsessive thing) and I thought of the work only as I did it, had to think of nothing else, needed to focus and measure and measure again, cut, nail. Nothing else mattered, nothing else got in. For a few hours, now and then, the basement project was a refuge. Kind of makes you understand why some guys get a little addicted to these projects at the expense of everything else: kids, family. Didn't happen in this case (if it had, it sure wouldn't have taken 5 years to finish). But as the big room took shape, I felt good about myself, sometimes, at least that this was something I semi-decent at and wouldn't have known if I hadn't tried.

By 2007, the stud framing was done and it was time to put the walls on. So much happened in the meantime, higher up on the main floors and outside in the yard. Down here, though, the basement moved along like a slow river, sometimes nothing changed for months before a wave of progress came through. The house upstairs, our house, rose and fell with its own tide, while the basement came into its own existence as if untouched by the events above it.

As I begin to type this, it's Christmas night 2009. Another week and it'll be 2010. The end of the decade. The kids seemed to enjoy the day, which was our traditional opening of gifts, playing with them for a time then heading east to visit with my side of the family for the day. In another fifty-five minutes as I type, the day will end, and it'll be just another Saturday, more time to play, go look for a new guinea pig (which we got, a cute mellow girl named Santana), help Auntie Ellie paint her condo, and go downstairs and work on the basement.

As the Fall of '07 rolled in, I got blueboard, a book from Home Depot and laid out the upper walls. Then we decided to give the project a boost and brought in Jim Andrews and his gang to finished the lower half and do a good job seeming the walls. Jim's guys Leo and son also fixed up my framing for the entertainment center, so it wouldn't be all lopsided (more pictures, by the way at, but otherwise worked well with what I did. The walls were up, we painted, and as this Christmas comes to an end, the room which had silently stayed out of it all has almost come to life. Amanda had a sleepover down there last weekend. Audrey enjoys watching television in the funky pink chair, and as I finish the trim and wait for the electrician's final visit I'm slowly planning on the overall decorating plan (movie theme, I think).

Speaking of movies, I got Donnie Darko for Christmas, finally get to see this one (and I really know nothing about the movie - no preconceived notions except that everyone in the Business who's seen it and knows me has said, I can't believe you haven't seen this movie, Dan - it's so you...). The new Marc Cohn CD (one of my favorite artists and it didn't disappoint), a couple of movie-related games. It was a movie theme, though I suppose I might have not-so-unconsciously directed things that way. Like the basement will be, I think. We'll see. It's been such a solo project for so long, but now it's almost done and the kids are excited, I need to get them involved. Find out what form it'll take with them down there using it. Seeing for themselves that even after it's done, it can be a refuge, a place to go as an alternative the the floors above.

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