House cleaning

A couple months ago I had a plumber come out to take a look at my very sluggish bathtub drain. He left no word, but I did discover a Rastafarian wig's worth of my own hair in the wastepaper basket, so, um, I guess I know what the problem was there. I have learned a valuable lesson and put a makeshift hair-catching device over the drain.

More recently then, when I noticed that my bathroom sink gurgled piteously long after I'd turned off the faucet left the room, I assumed there was another nest of hair to blame, but sinks are less intimidating that bathtubs, so I thought I'd try to sort it out myself. I got a three-dollar plastic stick at the hardware store specifically designed for pulling disgusting things out of your drain. And it did, just not hair. More like sludge. And then the stick got stuck, leaving me with a slow drain now filled not only with sludge but also a long plastic stick.

I had been told by several people that the stopper in one's bathroom sink "just unscrews" if you want to take it out. This did not prove to be strictly true, alas. However, I was feeling handy, so I looked it up online and learned how to loosen a nut and disengage a pivot rod. (Yep. A pivot rod.) Having done so, I was able to remove the stopper, free the stick, and have full access to the sludge, a further description of which I shall spare you, except to say that a plastic stick was not what was required to address it.

Having de-sludged as much of the drain as I could reach, I felt, I'll admit it, probably prouder of myself than was entirely warranted by the situation, but hey, previously, I'd never even heard of a pivot rod. That's when I discovered that releasing a drain stopper is at least 60% easier than replacing a bathroom stopper. Oh, the swearing. Oh, the long-armed contorting. Oh, the ultimate total failure to reattach the accursed nut. To sum up, I started out with a gurgly drain and ended up with a sink that essentially had a large uncovered hole in the drainpipe. In other words, a mostly unusable sink. Nice.

Fortunately, I have many friends who are way more competent than I am. (I recommend this strategy.) Many of these friends not only have tools, but know how to use them. One of these friends came home with me on a lunchtime field trip and between the two of us my (sludge-free) drain is now fully functional. In my defense, I will say that it turns out to be way easier with two people than one. You have to be able to look down the drain to line up a couple of things, while also being under the sink tightening those same things. This, for most normal people is not physically possible. So, I feel like slightly less of a loser, a thing I enjoy.

Bolstered by this flash of handiness, I took it upon myself to finally wash the weird soot-based tags that have been accumulating on the front of the house. I don't totally get what this is. Graffiti tags that are achieved (thankfully) not with ink or paint, but with the charred end of something? It's not as easy to get off as it sounds, but I was out there with my scrub brush and soapy water feeling very virtuous indeed. I am a renter, people. A mere renter. In a building I share with others. I will be keeping an eye out for my commendation from the mayor.

Did someone pee more or less into my garage that very night, obliging me to get out the damn soapy water again the next day? Yes. Did I feel as civic-minded and efficient? No. I mostly felt disgusted and furious, not unlike every other time someone has peed on my house.

1. If you need to take your sink stopper out, have a friend standing by. (But do not make them look at the sludge.)
2. Don't pee on other people's houses.
3. Don't write stuff on other people's houses.
4. If you see someone washing pee and/or graffiti off their own house, tell them you sympathize and that they rule. (Optional, but nice.)