and here's where your mother sleeps, and here's the room where your brothers were born

March 13, 2013

old house problems

I love most everything about our old, old house, even some of the little quirks most other people would find unlivable. The stereotypical drafts, the 100-year-old dust everywhere, that time we thought it was slowing giving us brain damage, when you randomly don't have electricity in your garage for three years – all delightful side effects of not living in a cookie-cutter tract home no one has ever died in! Look what you're missing out on, slackers!

(Pro tip: The murder remnants build valuable character, you see, it's the perfect environment for raising really crazy children and everyone knows those are the very best kind.)

When I was six months pregnant we renovated our kitchen, and by "renovated" I actually mean taped it off from the rest of the house, put on a respirator, and destroyed everything within reach with a goddamn sledgehammer. When we tore into the 11-foot wall in the center of the room we discovered the entire thing had been constructed with little scraps of plywood and stuffed full of old newspaper, also a figurine of a monkey holding a some bananas and a bunch of live wires that went noplace.

Is this normal? No! No it is not! Hey, welcome to old house life.

Important facts about living in an old house:
1. You can't fix anything without ten other things breaking
2. You'll never figure out why the people before you did any of these strange things
3. Yeah, maybe just tape over that giant hole in the bathroom wall with duct tape though, it'll be fine
4. Code? What is this "code" you speak of?
5. You're all going to die here
6. Mice!

Every time we go to replace something, no matter how minor, twenty other irreplaceable prehistoric things break along the way and absolutely nothing is ever "to code." Do you know what kind of building codes they had when our house was built? Ulysses S. Grant was President, I'm pretty sure most people still lived in tents made of animal hide.

Anyway, it's been standing strong for 138 years so somehow I think we'll all probably be okay and not dead. It's that kind of faith in the ability to endure the very depths of human madness that I find so endearing about all this old crap in the first place.

I've made peace with the the tradeoffs one must accept to live among awesome oldness, so when we discover our ceiling is held together with little strips of rotting muslin or that our water pipes are traveling in an infinite loop inside the walls I nod and smile and learn how to solder pipes and restructure wiring, but I think I've finally found the one thing that will make me draw a line in the sand and challenge my house to a fistfight.

Do you know what a sink that won't drain is? A GODDAMN BUCKET. Will I wash myself in a bucket? NO I WILL NOT. If I wanted to live in a field with Laura "Singalong" Wilder I WOULD GO TO THERE. Look here, house, my expectations are pretty low, in the grand scheme of things, but I'mma need all the sinks to drain in a timely fashion.

Our bathroom sinks have been plagued with slow drainage since sometime before the Carter administration, due to a combination of old-as-fuck and no-seriously-old-as-fuck pipes and until recently my go-to solution was a half-gallon of Draino and a good snaking, which is a terrible long term plan but it returned things to a temporary state of usability without having tear apart the entire wall so eh, you know, whatever.

Unfortunately, after New Years our downstairs bathroom sink finally kicked the middle finger into high gear and no amount of Draino was going to help, and I know that because the pipes started leaking underneath because holy crap, you can't just cure all your problems by pouring acid into them. WHO KNEW!

(...I knew.)

In a fit or rage we took the whole damn thing apart and threw it away. During the process of replacing it with an orgasmically adorable new sink (which I will now go rub my face on and make sex noises) and its adjacent plumbing, Jon discovered that the pipes inside the wall were full of bottle caps because HEY. OBVIOUSLY. OF COURSE THEY ARE.

Lesson learned.
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