Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A No-Drainer

This image is of an invention intended for use in a high rise fire emergency. The theory being that you could suck sewer air instead of smoke and survive. But to me, its a perfect illustration of how I can often feel day-to-day. Certainly on this day.)

Shit happens.  In our house it happens in a big tubular way.  Usually around 7:25 a.m. when my husband shoots one off like a cannon and heads to work. Normally this would be great, enviable even, but one day about a week ago it became passive aggressive and possibly actionable.
For the second time in as many months, I heard water running somewhere in the house.  I was upstairs and assumed the sound I was hearing was the slosh slosh of our dishwasher, which seems to be constantly employed. So I ignored it. You'd think, at this stage of my suburban pioneering, I'd have learned never to ignore anything in this house.  If it makes a sound, something is flooding.  

I played stuffed animal-super hero-school-train track-peril-rescue with Lou for another hour before I decided I should probably start one of the six loads of laundry accumulating on the basement floor.  

As soon as I was on the stairs to the lower level of our split-level, I saw the shimmering current spreading out across the family room floor, with little life rafts of Vild's doodie paddling to the shores. It was 10 a.m. Water had been flowing out of the bowl for two and a half hours. 
Our family room is, sadly in this case, home to the woodstove and thus a ton of woodchips, sawdust, and ash.  Blended together with flooded turd water, this combination makes a potent formula I like to call, Human Tears. 

My little boy, who was with me two months ago when this exact same thing happened, said, "Oh Mama, I'm so sorry this happened to you." Touched by his empathy and compassion, I hugged him tightly.  He waited a few seconds, then said, "Can you make me a PB&J?"

I got my wellies from the garage and waded over to the bowl to turn the water off at the source and assess the damage.  A half inch of water had flowed out from the bathroom, turned left and headed into the office, where it was heartily sucked up by the thick carpeting that my husband and I took from the old house and installed ourselves.  When we bought this carpet we got the extra thick pad, because his parents paid for it. Its absorbent indeed and wicked the moisture all the way to the bookcase and edge of our guest bed.  

The water, not content with ruining our office also turned right out of the bathroom and streamed down into the basement, where  our friend, Craig, had just spent a week installing new drywall.  A dark circle of moisture extended from the base of the stairs in a sodden arc that seeped under the barf-board closets that hold all the dress-ups and every linen we own.  The towels within were humid while the dress-ups managed to absorb only the odor of Vild's doodie water.  Every piece of laundry was soaked with toilet water.  Tons and tons of laundry. Almost every piece of clothing in our possession. 

It just so happened that Vild was fully engaged at work that day.  He had two dog-and-pony shows for potential clients, and then a glad-handing dinner with them in the evening.  So he couldn't come home and bail, and I couldn't really yell at him on the phone the way I like to when his fucking stupid house attacks me. 

These situations do not bring out the best in me.
Vild just sort of proceeds, he's all, these things happen, we'll handle it, no big deal, one foot after the next.  But me, I  sop up the waste in my pink rubber boots while a shadow crosses over the sun. I feel the weight of every bad choice I've ever made, every isolating decision, every injustice ever done to me.  Spleen conquers heart.  I feel completely alone; I am a scream unheard. I think of all the friends I have in other, better parts of the world. I think of my sister, how she'd be there with me, margarita in one hand, mop bucket in the other, if she weren't living what seems a much better life in a sunnier clime.  I think of all my local friends, and their builder homes with powder rooms instead of below ground shit holes like the one I'm plunging and I feel sickening, soul-crushing envy. This isn't reality, its bile, and I take medication for the condition. But none the less...

I wish I could isolate one emotion, one plumbing emergency, and freeze it in amber like a prehistoric sample, to be analyzed calmly later by academics in khaki pants and pith helmets, after the water recedes. But instead I'm ankle deep in the morass of self-pity, choler and toilet tissue. And I find there are no pills for this.

Why Vild didn't fix the toilet after the first time I spent the day wringing out the couches, I can't say. Why I didn't follow up with some harping and grousing, also a mystery.  But two is a charm, as they said on the arc, and I bought some new tank guts later that day.  Vildy's sticky poo cannot be helped, nor can my ire, but we go forward, the torrent of the giant gym fan blowing away the sadness of the day, while Fabreeze makes everything seem fresh and new again. 


  1. Oh, Jess, I feel for you. I am saddened. You write so well, I can smell the doot in my own nostri-als.