That Sinking Feeling

photo by Jim Digritz

The downstairs neighbor woke me up with a text.

Is your sink clogged? 

Not that I’m aware of, I reply. Kitchen sink? 

Yup. 

So I check. I drag out of bed and run it for a couple of minutes.

Seems fine, I text back.

I wait, hoping in vain, knowing what’s coming next because this would be the fourth or fifth time since living here. But it comes anyway.

Can you not use your sink today? 

Dammit. Thankfully, I did most of the dishes yesterday, but the kitchen sink gets used a lot throughout the day. I’m irritated at the thought of not being able to use it for who knows how long … again. And especially when ours is draining fine. I’m not angry at the neighbor though. It’s not his fault. I’m angry at whoever built this place and plumbed our apartments on the same line.

Our bathroom is the same way. If you run the bathroom sink when someone’s in the shower, they’ll get a little shock.

What can I do? I’ve got to be a good neighbor.

No problem. Let me know when it’s clear.

I was groggy still after all that—in what must be the literal sense of the word, though I didn’t look up the etymology; I had had too much to drink last night, too much “grog.” I was not hungover, but I was bleary-eyed, and wanted to go back to bed.

But no, I was up. I had to get up. I’d been planning since my New Year’s non-resolution to get up early, to write, to get things done, be productive in this abysmally begun year—thanks to the current sociopolitical atrocities happening in the name of making things “great.” But that has not been happening.

Today it begins, I thought. Even though it was already 9:30. At least I hadn’t slept in until eleven. And I would be “groggy” again tonight, or at least sleepy for not getting a full eight (nine) hours. So maybe, just maybe, if I was extremely lucky, and the planets aligned just right, I wouldn’t find some excuse to stay up until 3am.

Maybe.

I could hope.

So I made tea.

I wanted coffee, or at least some strong Irish breakfast tea, but we had neither. So I settled for green.

I used the filtered tap in the kitchen to fill the kettle and put a large mixing bowl under it to catch any that spilled, which would remain there until I got the okay from the the neighbor, and later be emptied into the bathroom sink.

And then I wrote this.

After I wrote this, I got to work. Not that writing is not work—it most certainly is—but it is also immensely pleasurable. I have been trying to figure out how to make all of my work immensely pleasurable. Oh, and also pay the bills with it, and have a bit of spending cash, have money enough that I can take a breath and say, okay, yeah, that’s no problem. I can cover that. 

That is the ultimate challenge.

The elusive but attainable goal.

Though it requires this to achieve it.

My first non-writing job today was editing chapters of an audiobook. This is something else that I do. I narrate them, edit them, master them, and send them off to the author. This is another life I have. I do enjoy this. It’s a lot of work, and the technical aspect of things sometimes makes it not fun. Technical things are often not my friends. Buzzes in the wires. Odd, unexplained bits of random distortion. Ghosts in the machine.

But reading is one of my favorite things to do. So why not read other people’s stories out loud and get paid for it? Occasionally, I have good ideas like this.

Today I wrapped up a high fantasy novel, which is, of course … completely my thing.

I recorded the whole book already. I only had four chapters left to listen back to and make any needed changes.

I sat at my desk—a beautiful, new-to-me, very old, classic, wooden, lots of deep drawers, scratched-to-hell from years of love and use, donated-by-a-friend-who-sold-his-house-and-bought-an-RV desk. I plugged in my headphones and hit play on Chapter 32.

I got to listen to myself read the story all over again. As I did, I made little adjustments in the spaces between sentences to improve the flow, clipped out strange noises that my mouth sometimes makes, and made sure that what I read matched the author’s words.

I sometimes do this on the couch, but today I did it at the desk. I love the desk—if that wasn’t already apparent—and I have a comfortable office chair that was purchased from another house-selling friend. If I have to rerecord anything, I end up back at the desk anyway, because that’s where the microphone is.

But sometimes it’s nice to sit on the couch. I’ve even done some of the editing at the park, outside, under a big, shady tree. All part of that “immensely pleasurable” element I mentioned earlier. I can do a fair share of the work anywhere I like.

Before my wife left to do her own recording of a wildly popular podcast, she reminded me to take the rent. I put a reminder in my phone.

“Siri, remind me to take the rent today at 1pm.”

“OK, I’ll remind you.”

Ah, technology. I can’t wait until we have robots. Who hopefully won’t kill us in our sleep.

The sun was in my eyes when I wrote this. The cat sat on the sill sunning herself, watching the birds with rapacious intensity. Then there was no sun because I hung the sound blanket cushion thing over the window. The cat jumped down before being trapped betwixt it and the glass. And the birds were quieted.

I rerecorded a few flubbed words and sent the chapter to the author for review.

Later, I went to the kitchen to make food, and remembered I couldn’t use the sink.

Hmmm…maybe I’ll just eat out.

I could go days without leaving the apartment, if it wasn’t for my third job, which I didn’t have to be at today. It would be good for me to get out and get some fresh air. I had to take the rent anyway.

I pulled away from the curb dreaming of homeownership, dreaming of living somewhere with seasons and good neighbors whose plumbing is not attached to mine, of living in a country where people are treated fairly and equally, and where the ugliness is kept to a minimum.

It’s a good dream.

I will keep dreaming it.

And one day …

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