Friday, September 30, 2011

Rosh Hashanah and Furlough Days Off - Day 2: Screw World Peace! I Want Decent Plumbing!, or: Who The Hell's Been Eating Big Slabs of Pork?!

(Warning: The following post is vastly different from what I usually write, but being that my parents and sister have experienced, and complained about, the exact same thing, this is the next best place to vent.)

When I was vastly overweight, I blocked toilets. There were very few instances in which I actually examined what I was eating. It had cheese, it had some kind of meat, it was either nachos or quesadillas or occasionally fettucine alfredo, or it was deeply unhealthy for me, but I loved it and I wanted more of it. And because of that, what ended up in the can at times seemed bigger than the can, making me take hold of the plunger just in case it wouldn't go down yet again. We have crappy plumbing here in Saugus, but back then, I also contributed to it.

Now, being a much thinner me, my business back there isn't as big. I'm still happily losing weight, so there is some result of that, but it isn't as bad as it once was. And yet, today, what in hell happened?! I didn't even give that much for the demon toilet to be blocked yet again. I flushed what little there had been, but while I was washing my hands, I didn't hear the comforting sound of it fully flushing out. I opened the lid, and the water in the bowl had risen up to a level that first made me freeze and think, "Oh shit. Not again!", before realizing that I probably should reach behind the bowl and cut off the water supply to it.

Now what? Find a cup of some kind that we don't need ever again and start bailing it out? I didn't want to do that because I was planning to get in the shower after I shaved and I didn't want toilet water in the tub. Plus, my first plunging attempt had splashed water on the carpet, and I need to explain this: The previous owners of this house, an elderly couple, had carpet installed in the bathrooms, presumably so they wouldn't slip like they probably would on tile. Folks, this is why tile should be law in bathrooms. Water rests on tile. It doesn't soak into it. You don't need to press toilet paper deep into it in order to soak up spilled water. You simply wipe it up. I used about a quarter of a roll to soak up what had splashed onto the carpet around the toilet. Yes, I am a moron in plunging when the water's that high in the bowl, but I just wanted a shower, and doubly moronic because had I bailed the water out into the tub, I could have just run the bath water on hot for over a minute, shepherded it back to the drain, and continued on with my cleanly intentions. But there I was, using toilet paper that has turned out to be much stronger than the tissues we use. We don't keep tissues on hand in our bathrooms anymore because toilet paper does a lot better work in nose-blowing too.

As I was soaking up the carpet as best I could, I heard a heavenly sound coming from the shut-off toilet. It was a slight draining noise, and the water in the bowl was slowly, slowly going down. As the water reached the halfway point, I realized I could plunge, and with enough thrusts, it could go down faster. I could turn the water supply back on, it would spread into the bowl, I could flush again, and things could go back to normal. Except the carpet for the moment.

So I did exactly that, holding the handle down after I turned the supply back on so the water would go fully down and then come back up, and it all eventually stopped. Water in the bowl where it should be. And I thought about how much I hated this, how we had lived with it for these 7 years (we spent our first year in this valley in an apartment in Valencia with plumbing that never gave us this much trouble, mainly because those overseeing the apartment complex actually gave a damn), how one day your plumbing works fine, and the next, you're hoping that it goes down, even though you put nothing more than a strip of toilet paper in after wiping yourself.

This extended to when I had cleaned up everything around the toilet and started shaving. The last time I shaved a few days ago, the water in the sink was nearly nil. It had collected around the drain, but that was about it. It kept going down as it should. When I shaved today, the water was a quarter of the way up the sink and growing a bit more than that. I wondered if my portly next-door neighbor had been eating pork or something equally greasy and that's what had stopped up the plumbing, because our set of houses (Ours, his, and the two next door to us) have plumbing that's connected. So if someone happens to be flushing weed for whatever reason (I'm just guessing; I know nothing about my neighbors beyond the big guy) or had a bad reaction to Mexican food, we all know about it because it screws up our plumbing.

This experience darkened my mood a bit when I got in the shower, because I just wanted to shave and get in the shower, and enjoy that refreshing, renewed feeling that comes from standing under warm water spraying on you. Eventually, I regained my equilibrium, but then when I got in the shower, I was reminded of the water still in the carpet, stepping on a section that still produced some, and so I soaked up more with more toilet paper. When the day comes that we finally move, and arrive at our new place in Henderson, I'm going to walk to each bathroom and flush each toilet with a wide smile on my face, grateful that I don't have to put up with this crap anymore. That dream is nearly at the top of my list of Henderson dreams. It's a long list.

Besides that, I'm on page 177 of The Opposite of Me, Sarah Pekkanen's first novel (I read her second, Skipping a Beat, and really liked it), and am anticipating her third novel, which will be published next year. If she keeps writing like this, one book a year, and if Barbara O'Neal of The Secret of Everything (Her best novel, and my favorite novel out of the three she's written so far) has another one out next year, I won't have any trouble finding any modern-day reads. I'll be deliriously happy each time.

In the mail, I received Distortions by Ann Beattie, owing to my writerly crush on her after reading in "The New Yorker" an excerpt from her Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines a Life that'll be out in November. I want to read everything by her, and my order from Daedalus Books ( includes The New Yorker Stories, a collection of every short story she's written for "The New Yorker" from 1974 to 2006. I like her writing because it's about all of us, about our lives, our loves, what we want, what we try to avoid, what shakes up our lives, what makes them whole again. When you find a writer you want to read more of, it's the clearest, happiest courtship you can ever have. You want to explore every part of them. That's the feeling I get with Ann Beattie.

We didn't go out anywhere yesterday, and with some rain coming in later tonight, probably not today either. Definitely tomorrow. Dad's getting antsy, as he doesn't like to be in one place too long. I don't mind it. I've been in the house all week, I've had my books, and it doesn't bother me, particularly because we've been everywhere that there is to go in this valley and in other Southern California cities. There were times we drove to San Diego for Sea World and Legoland. Those are necessary only once. In Henderson, I'll think differently. But here, I have my books, so I'm satisfied.