About three weeks ago, on a quiet Friday evening as Mary and I were contemplating what we might do to occupy ourselves, there was a burbling noise coming from the kitchen, as if the faucet had been left on.
Our son was showering upstairs, and we were pretty sure no one else was in the house. We could also hear the water running in the shower. Then my wife started shouting because there was water spilling out from the kitchen cabinet beneath the sink.
Water spread across the floor.
Water had backed up into the sink and the pipes underneath the sink had come apart at the joints. It seemed that the weight of that water had pushed the pipes apart.
The next ten minutes were a blur, but I jammed a thermos under the pipes to hold them together, stopping the water. The shower upstairs stopped, and water stopped backing into the sink. And we found rags and buckets to mop the floor.
For the next hour, we dragged things out from under the sink and set them in baskets for later disposal decisions. Then the real fun began.
I went to Lowe’s for new pipes and repaired the pipes under the sink (twenty-one years grime and mold weakened the joints).
Experimentation with running water upstairs determined that only the one shower would overflow into the sink. Better still, a sink full of water would drain in about one hour. That meant we could wait until Monday to bring in a plumber.
I returned to the store to investigate power-driven drain snakes, but the one that seemed long enough was $500. I considered opening up the clean out ports but the clerks at the store advised me against it.
Come Monday, the plumber arrived and he brought with him that very same $500 drain snake I saw at the store. One hour later, the plugged pipe cleared, life resumed as before.
I often try to relate these anecdotes to my writing or some other current event. But I’m merely going to leave it as a stark reminder to appreciate the modern amenities of life in the suburbs of America.
Every morning I write in a gratitude journal and give thanks for clean water, hot coffee, and indoor plumbing. These minor domestic disasters are a fun lark in comparison to the challenges some people face.
News about me
I've started my 15th year at the place where I work. The day job. The it's-a-living place where I go. I do like the work and my teammates, so I'm very fortunate.
Life here in Lansing, Michigan is interesting enough. The city has a nice mix of cultural events, restaurants, and clever people doing nice things. Sure there are some a-holes, but that's everywhere.
I first started working in Lansing 33 years ago, and the downtown area had some lunch options, but nothing after five o'clock. It's the State Capitol so after those workers left town, nothing happened. All the action was either in East Lansing or the suburban shopping malls.
Now the downtown has a nice bar crawl, if that's your thing. There are two small theaters, and the Michigan Avenue corridor to East Lansing has plenty going on along the way.
There are multiple film festivals in the area, music festivals, and a strong arts movement.
In spite of that, I haven't been getting out as much as I could because I'm a novelist, and have been hunkering down more and more on my writing during my free time.
Update on my writing
Speaking of novels, you may recall that I finished a thriller last year and asked for some early feedback. I have some feedback, but not all. In spite of that, I'll be forging ahead with revisions. In the meantime, I wrote another novel the past three months. It's a short one, and is really the beginning of a bigger story, but I'll package it up as its own thing later this year.
If you're not a fan of multi-novel stories, my apologies in advance. You can give it a miss, and wait until I bundle them all up into an omnibus edition.
By the time you're reading this, I will likely have started a class on writing satire. It runs for the next month, and I hope to improve my humor and ability to get short pieces published.
You may not know it, but I've been attempting to be funny pretty much all my life, since that moment in second grade when the kids laughed at something I said, and I realized that was a thing: making people laugh.
Books I'm reading or which I read lately
I'm going to leave you with the recent books I've been reading or have read.
In the Woods by Tana French was amazingly good. It was as engrossing as it was emotionally impactful. I really was drawn in and couldn't have put that book aside. I read it as fast as humanly possible (for me, which isn't very fast). She's written about ten like this, so I intend to work very hard to make my writing just as interesting as hers.
The Prone Gunman by Manchette started strong and then got a little worrisome, and then, finally, very worrisome. It's a hard-core crime story with high-paced action. The writing is cool and detached, and that's what helped make it enjoyable. The ending is not what I hoped for, but is truthful.
I'm in the middle of reading A Scanner Darkly, by Phillip K. Dick. It is a bit of a mind bender, as great sci-fi stories are wont to do. I started listening to this (audiobook, obviously) but had trouble following the story, and switched to my kindle. That helped, and now I'm enjoying the characters, and worried for their sake.
I'm going to leave you with one more image, of downtown Lansing, near the Capitol, before Christmas, when a few of us gathered to protest and call for the impeachment of Trump. These protests may not change the world, but they help remind us not to let the world change us. The corruption at the top puts our way of life at risk, and erodes our civil liberties. It's not just a story to be told, but a battle to be fought.