Wednesday, March 21, 2012


So, let’s talk about apartments.

That lovely basement...
In the span of five years – or, the direct ownership of my Playstation 3 – we have had our homes flooded repeatedly.  With the first, I remember sitting on the couch in the living room around 2:30 in the AM playing something or other on the Xbox. 

Yes, I chart much of time of late with videogame stuffs.  I’ve spent nine years immersed in this; it is my bookmark to all these little memories.  Moving on.

I heard the soft sounds akin to urination on carpet from the bedroom.  As my wife and I aren’t raging party drinkers, I knew she wasn’t peeing on the floor.  For curiosity’s sake, I popped my head in, and sure enough: a flow of water, heavier than a kitchen faucet, was flowing from the ceiling.  It filled the main light fixture in the room, and as time passed – and panic escalated, it eventually flowed from the ceiling fan, along the beams of the ceiling, and by 9am, half the bedroom ceiling collapsed.

I am a man of initiative, even if it only entails running through the streets, pantless and screaming.  This was not one of those times (it was the middle of February, after all), but I had taken it upon myself to call a plumber (and be informed that since it was a rental, there was nothing they could do without a release from the landlord).  I tried to call the landlord (who was, in fact, frequently drunk.  Fun fact: at one point, he lived above us, getting hammered, making awkward calls to his ex).  Wrong number.  Really?-Yes, he gave us a number that wasn’t even his.  Fun.

I disassembled the bedroom furniture, moved dressers, clothes, all this out of the way so someone – anyone- could come and take care of the issue without our furniture being in the way.  I eventually persuaded some plumbers to come over around 7am (food, coffee, money, sexual favors may have all been discussed.  Or just that I’d pay cash).  They begin trying to fix the frozen pipes, shutting off water supplies, all that monkey junk.  I left for work.  I don’t get a call when it happens; I’m sent a picture: The ceiling had swung out like a screen door in a hurricane, smashing the furniture along the walls, before collapsing to the floor.

The repairs took nearly two months, during which my wife and I slept in the living room on our box spring and mattress.  Surrounded by five rabbits.  You want hell?- when one drinks at four in the morning, all of them drink. They have lovely plastic and steel bottles which go clickity-click-click-clickity that prevent them from getting a mess everywhere.  And at that point it’s so close to waking up for work, that the rest of your sleep is ruined.

Two days in, I bought a PS3 as a reward to myself for not having murdered anyone yet.  I also recall getting some very nice flowers, a dinner, and assortment of books for my wife.  That was the most amount of money I have ever, ever paid for a literal cubic inch of steak.  And that was after the 50$ giftcard. 

Over the next week, giant fans would force air through the walls and floors of this house.  Not just regular air, either- no!  As only the roof was above that room, it was now largely exposed to the elements, shoving freezing cold air under every single floor board.  Getting up to piss at 2 in the morning had become a whole new game.  The rabbits were placed on pallets and fixtures to keep the cold from going through their cages.  We bought our first electric blanket for the bed in our living room, and could still feel the cold through the mattress.  This lasted four weeks.

Just to give you an idea
But above all else, was the noise.  A persistent whooshing sound like the blood flowing to your head at the same time the wind hits your hair on a rollercoaster off a casino in Vegas, while a cellphone is being forcibly crushed against your scrotum (speaking from experience there).  The upside?- couldn’t hear the damn water bottles at four in the morning anymore.

After four more weeks, the ceiling is replaced.  Furniture is put back in.  No more water bottles. Two months later, the washer is now unloading all over the basement.  Two inches of wall-to-wall water, and the landlords try to pipe it through an overflow line into a shop sink.  This is a shorter story: we fought them on this for nearly six weeks, then left.

New apartment- complex, sound structure, well rated at the time.  We are here for two months.  At 7:15 one morning, there's a loud crashing sound from the living room.  We had rescued a rabbit the evening prior, and thought it was the tiny bugger making his escape.  Rae stirs, mumbling as she goes meandering into the living room. Five seconds later, I hear her urgently calling for me.  I know this tone of voice: someone – or thing – has died, or there’s a giant wolf spider.  I would have preferred the latter.

The ceiling is spraying hot water everywhere.  A corner of it has collapsed onto a rabbit cage.  I’m in my boxer s (not briefs, ladies) as I dive through.  I wrench the lid free from the debris, pull them out, and run into the bathroom where I set them in the tub.  I go about wiping them down – mostly getting the insulation free from them – before I even feel the burn.  My back and right arm are blistered the next day.  Three minutes after I get them in the tub, the kids are cleaned, as Rae pulls the living room apart to clear the other cages out of that corner.  Good call, as an hour later, the ceiling swung out the other way.  Our Ethan Allen couch of god-knows-how-many years, covered in who-knows-what kind of stains, is crushed.  Two computers, phones, pictures, blah blah blah.  All of that is irrelevant, honestly- I’m more focused on the fact that it’s happening again.  There’s a karmic thing at play here, I’m sure, but unless I did something illegal to farm animals in a past life, I don’t have a fucking clue what.

Recovery is easier this time.  It’s spring, first of all.  This makes the whooshing noise tolerable, as it’s not accompanied by freezing our asses off, thanks to living in an upper-level unit.  Insurance claims were easier to file, as I had photos of every step of the flood (lesson learned from the first time). Within a week, the ceiling had been vented, repaired, and the carpet laid out.  The rabbits whose cage had been crushed were alive, but I had to rebuild the cage.  This later had to be modified, as one of them suffered spinal injuries from the collapse.

Last October, another water main blows.  On the same wall.  At the same time.  Rae uses that tone of voice when calling me from blissful slumber again.  The pressure was so strong, that water is jettisoned in from the wall next to the hot water heater, and at least six feet into the apartment before losing pressure.  Recover y is simple- a lamp had been diffusing most of the stream by diffusing the spray along its shade.  Papasan is wasted, several plush animals had to be treated, tons of humidifiers.  That whooshing sound for another damn week.

Batik, our paraplegic bunny
Two weeks ago, it happened again.  Same hot water main as the previous two, and it was along the ceiling.  Rae didn’t even call me.  Came in, said my name (it’s weird when she uses my name; it would jar me from the slumber of death), and calmly states the ceiling is leaking again.  She’s so deadpan, I think it’s a joke.  We caught it early, I suppose, but they still had to replace a chunk of the ceiling, carpet, piping, all that jazz.  More. Effing. Whooshing.

There is a moral to all of this.  We – Rae and I, humans, animals, most living creatures – have this habit of hoping that everything will simply be better going forward, without ever doing anything to ensure that it will be better.  We stayed in the first residence, when we should have left after the first collapse.  Sure, it could never happen again, but why spend money when there’s going to be that doubt?  The same can be said here: for the past four months, we haven’t even used 160 square feet of our apartment for fear of water damage, so why keep spending the money?  There really is no point investing in someone else’s problems.

I was once told the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again, and expect different results.  I hope they’ll understand when we leave this place that I am not as insane as I look. 

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