Life is a Long Preparation

Three months ago, when a broker promised to find me a van within two weeks, I bought a top-notch fan for the roof of my van. I planned to install the fan the day I got the van, which I was convinced would be soon. I wanted to hit the ground running! Like this guy, who converted his van in seven days! According to my estimates, I’d be done with the entire conversion by mid-July.

It’s mid-July. After two weeks of van ownership, I have yet to install the fan. I’m beginning to realize that the first step of a van conversion is to prepare for the van conversion. Preparation. I’ve never been good at it. I just want to write, not generate story ideas and prepare pitches. I just want to climb, not wash sunblock and grime off my climbing rope in a bathtub (and then wash the bathtub and then myself). I just want to run my vacuum in long, satisfying lines, not get down on all fours and scrape my bedroom carpet with my fingernails in an effort to collect the long hairs that clog the vacuum’s brush. I theorize that you become an adult only once you accept that every fun thing in life is preceded by preparation (and followed by even more bullshit, cleaning up).

For the last couple weeks, I’ve been working on making this van water-tight, pretty, and a pleasure to drive. Here’s what I’ve done so far/am in the process of doing/need to do: figure out source of squeaking sound; change oil and transmission fluid; replace cracked air intake hose; get new front tires; torque rear U-bolts, whatever the hell those are; check brake pads and struts; replace windshield wipers; replace cabin air filter; pull up aftermarket flooring in cargo area; hire welder to seal holes in roof; attempt to fix hail damage; de-rust and paint roof; paint hood; spot-paint body scratches; fix foggy headlight; replace blown cigarrette lighter fuse; fix broken passenger power window; re-seal leaking door seals; check for more leaks by power washing; fix broken ratcheting on driver’s arm rest; replace missing red plastic panel on third brake light; get backup key made (owner only had one key); I bet you stopped reading this list a long time ago.


Before: Removing the aftermarket floor.
After: Under the rubber floor, I found surface rust. I scrubbed the rust with steel wool and vinegar until it was all gone, then primed and painted the floor with Rustoleum paint.
Before: Surface rust and an unexplained cavity in floor.
After: De-rusted, primed, and painted. Cavity is water-tight, but screw holes will have to be plugged.
Before: Surface rust on roof.
After: De-rusted, primed, and painted (only back half of roof). I’ll be adding another coat later, once the fan is installed.
Before: Cracked air intake tube, possibly allowing pollutants to enter engine.
After: New air intake tube.
Before: Foggy headlight.
After: Uh-oh, even foggier. I used Chris Fix’s YouTube advice to clear foggy headlights. Clearly something went wrong. Will circle back to this.
Before: Passenger power window won’t go down. (Mike crying.)
After: The switch to the power window was broken. I was about to buy a new switch for $50, but then Mike decided to take the switch apart. Inside, he found a little metal tab that seemed to be pressed down too far. He pried it back up. We can’t really explain why the window works now but it does!

(Title inspired by W.B. Yeats: “Life is a long preparation for something that never happens.”)


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