Raw Sewage

I genuinely cannot explain it. For some reason, every time I sit down or even think about sitting down and writing something, an overwhelming fatigue overcomes me and I just don’t want to do it. This is not something I’ve experienced before. I’m not sure what is going on.

I have for several weeks now been practicing doing things even when I don’t want to or when doing something would be unpleasant. I have concluded that I have gradually become so accustomed to avoiding discomfort to the point that I wasn’t doing much of anything at all. I could not point to the reason behind my apathy, then while reading a book on mindfulness and meditation and connecting emotion to the body, etc., I realized that this is what I had been doing, avoiding discomfort. And so, in an effort to beat back this pattern, I am making an effort to proceed with whatever I must do, whether it is unpleasant or not. I observe the unpleasantness and proceed anyway. I have been running so regularly that I can’t help but notice the increase in my stamina. I have never, even when I was competitive, been so regular about running in my life. When it comes time to run, no matter how tired I feel, or how much I don’t want to do it, I simply observe that I am feeling this way and then do it anyway. Quite a useful tool. And this writing now is an extension of that. For whatever reason, the thought of writing has been bogging me down rather than lifting me up and so I haven’t done it. Then I caught myself and now here I am.

So last Wednesday our basement floor drain filled with water.  Then it filled even more. There was a quite large puddle and it was taking up a good deal of space around the washer and dryer. I called a plumber who, based on my description of things, thought it would be a simple matter of snaking the drain. He came out to snake the drain. In the meantime, I had given my 3-year-old a bath. This had caused the puddle to increase further, heading into danger territory towards carpets and whatnots. The increase in water caused the plumber consternation. It should not have been happening. It was going to require some water removal. It was going to cost more.

His partner showed up to help and the two of them began working. They started snaking the drain where it seemed at first that the clog was located. This did not work. They ran the snake out as far as it would go. Nothing. They then went to the line that fed into the main sewer line. This caused me further consternation because my sewer line is new; it was just replaced in June last summer. It should not have problems of this magnitude.

As he began to snake the line, the water began to rise. My dismay increased. The water was nasty. It smelled. It was straight from the sewer. My daughter’s room is on the other side of the wall of the laundry room. I went in and observed just how much junk she had shoved against the wall. I called her and told her to help evacuate.

The plumbers had to run the snake line out fifty feet to hit anything. The snake dragged back some weird rags, the likes of which the plumber claimed he had never seen in two decades of plumbing. Out with the snake, up went the water, back with the snake covered in greasy rags. As the water rose, so did my dismay, but there was nothing I could do except watch.

“This is vandalism,” the plumber told me. “There is no explanation for this. Do you have any enemies?” No, I really don’t. There is no one I can think of who would vandalize me. He told me stories of things he had seen, told me what you can do to someone you really want to hurt. I had no idea. Revenge is such a primitive desire, one that serves so little a purpose except perhaps a fleeting feeling of retribution, but then what?

The plumber advised I call my homeowner’s insurance. I went upstairs. I made the call. I didn’t know anything yet, but they gave me a claim number. I puttered around. I could not wash dishes. I couldn’t focus on my book. Isabel came down to see, then went back upstairs to nap. I kept the dog from running down to wade in the cesspool.

It wasn’t until the eighth run that the water began to recede. They snaked again, and again, ten times total. They explained mitigation. They called the number for someone to come and clean. They gave me a very large bill, a very, very large bill. Even discounted $100 because he felt really bad about what was happening, the bill was still enormous.

Shortly after the plumber left, the mitigator came. He explained how they would remove part of the carpet, tear up the walls that were damaged, clean everything to standards set by the Center for Disease Control. Our basement was crawling in sewage. Nasty, toxic, bacteria filled the bottom of our home. They would need a day to clean it all. He bagged up the worst of the carpet, then set up machines to suck moisture. A long tube ran from Milla’s room, across the basement, and back to the now empty drain. Until today, this machine kept pumping water. The following day another man came to clean and move and tear apart, then set up massive drying fans that will probably cost me a fortune in electricity.

This was nearly a week ago. Then yesterday at work, my daughter called me in a panic. She was home from school sick, and water was coming up the drain again. Water and tissue. Oh holy fuck. Seriously?

I called the plumber again. His wife told me I needed to have it scoped. They could come snake again, but I had to figure out what was going on. To do this, a camera would be shoved down the sewer line and hopefully see what was going on. I called the camera company. They arranged to come today, bright and early. At 7:50 Tuesday morning, a man knocked on my door. I was busy getting ready for work, getting baby ready to go to see her daddy, hollering at Milla to get her bottom moving. After fifteen minutes the man had a verdict: the line was clogged on the city’s side. It was their responsibility.

This means, I suppose, that my pockets should be relined again with the large sums of money that have been removed. This would be nice. What a long, exhausting week. In addition to the sewage backup, both girls had colds with fevers. No fun, but life isn’t always fun. In fact I think life mostly isn’t fun, interspersed with occasional fun. C’est la vie. That is how it is.

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