“The Greater Idiot Ever Scolds The Lesser”

Man alive.

It’s Friday and on Fridays I am finished teaching at 8:50 in the morning. Yet today I have to stay on campus until 4:00. The devil you say! But it is true; one of my colleagues has planned a weekly meeting that happens on Friday afternoons. The utter tragedy of this is something that I think about at least once per hour every single day. At any rate, here I am. I have a stack of work to do and I’ll probably do it here in a minute, but first I will just enjoy my Friday and the sun coming in the window I am very lucky to have (many of my colleagues have offices in the basement).

Not having internet at home is a huge hassle but we are still feeling committed to it. If I am honest I will say that probably it will not last; nonetheless, “we are grateful for the time we have been given,” and there are moments, specifically in the evening, when I am so glad there is no internet in the house. Last night we lay at opposite ends of the couch, just reading quietly. My old man is reading Italo Calvino; I am reading a novel I have never heard of that was published in 1902 and that is called THE MILLIONAIRESS and that I got for a dollar on a table outside a used bookstore. I am on page 6 and it is already very racist.

Other books I got on sale during that same bookstore trip:
– the letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh
– the unpublished autobiographical writings of Virginia Woolf (!)
– two more Portis novels I’ve never read
– finally found a collection of M.R. James’s ghost stories, which I have informed my husband he is to read aloud to me in bed at night

Grand total: $13. And they threw in a book about home cider making by Annie Proulx for free!

Due to having no internet, I make these “internet to-do lists” throughout the day, so that I can focus my internet time when I go to school or a coffee shop. The lists, I am realizing, are really revealing, of what, quite, I am not sure yet. But for example here is one:
– curtains
– when was Constantine emperor
– no hot water in bathtub
– upload syllabus
– names of hours of Divine Office
– youtube building a compost bin
– recitation tone vs. psalm tone
– St. Benedict
– craiglist filing cabinet

It’s kind of awesome to sit down with internet and blast through that list, checking those things off one by one.

I have now taught my first 3 hour grad seminar. It was not as hard as I thought it would be–apparently there is no limit to the number of hours I can talk ceaselessly for (as many of my friends could probably have told me). As I drove home I was thinking about how it only took ten years of extra education but now I can talk for three hours about Pythagoras, somehow. I believe it was only intermittently boring to my students, but that may be overly optimistic. At one point I said “‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,'” and my students nodded, and I said “did Benjamin Franklin say that?” and one of them goes “No, it’s in the Bible.”

We met a lifestyle guru who has not responded to my perhaps overly-enthusiastic email thanking her for letting us come poke around her amazing home. She is a friend of a new friend who lives in our new town. She is a master gardener, she cans stuff, she grows apples, she installed an extra-long clawfoot tub in her bathroom herself, AND she has the exact video projection set-up we are trying to attain in our own home. I had so many questions for her. She served us elderflower mead she got in exchange for delivering a cooler of someone else’s breastmilk to a woman who needed it. I want to live at her house. Anyway, we were talking about how we literally can not find a plumber to come do a job for us–they all say the job is too small and we live too far away for it to be worth their time, also apparently every plumber in this area is transitioning their business over to “heating and cooling” as it’s more lucrative, which is just crazy to me, because it seems like the demand for plumbers must be truly consistent over the years, like no matter what changes about architecture or technology people will always have toilets and bathtubs that they don’t know how to work. So we (mostly I) have been on the brink of despair, specifically because of this one seemingly-small issue we have, which is that we have hot water everywhere in the house EXCEPT the bathtub faucet, which is really one of the main places you need it, if you ask me. So for weeks now we’ve been taking these awful tepid European horse-baths, squatting in the tub and using the shower hose attachment thing, and winter is coming, and I just can not bear it, I can not.

So this lifestyle guru told me she has a plumber she loves. As she talked, it sounded more and more sketchy. “He’s rad. He’s retired, so he does work under the table. He won’t work more than four hours a day. He doesn’t care about codes or laws, he just kind of rigs up whatever you need. He’s super old, so when he’s working in the house you can hear him cussing and groaning as he kneels down or stands up. I don’t think he has email but here’s his number.”

We were skeptical, but as time went on we became more and more desperate. I mean, LITERALLY, we called every plumber in the area and they were all like “that sounds like a stupid job, no thanks.” We agreed that it was probably a really easy fix, but at the same time, we aren’t plumbers! We didn’t even know where to begin looking, to try to fix this issue. Googling it led to some extremely complicated explanations from plumbers online that filled me with anxiety. Back-flushing the system? All sorts of weird valves down in the basement leading to different parts of the house? That stuff is not for me, at least not right now.

Finally I called the plumber. Joe. “Joe? Hi! I’m a friend of Emily’s–”
“WHO???”
“Emily?”
“WHO???”
“EMILY!”
“Oh, Emily!! I love her! What can I do for you?”

I explained my situation and he said could he come by tomorrow. I said no, but how about Friday. “You know what Friday is for me, dontcha?” “No, what?” [I was thinking, like, is it Yom Kippur or something] “It’s BEER THIRTY!!!”

Anyway he said Friday might work, and he’d call me back later that night. Then he never called. I was truly filled with sorrow; even Joe had betrayed me and now I did not know what I would do. I would have to go hunting around in the basement for some weird valve and I’d probably end up blowing up the house or something. Or we’d squat in the cold bathtub until late October when my parents visit and then somehow magically my dad would be able to fix it because we had a clawfoot tub in the house when I was growing up and he is handy. Or we’d just live with a cold shower/bath forever–which, incidentally, appears to be what the previous owners were doing?? I mean, why is this even a thing.

Just now, my old man texted: “Joe just showed up.”

Apparently Joe just showed up, never having called me back to confirm. He immediately fixed the tub and then DIDN’T CHARGE US.

Then he left, and my old man texted me “Joe rules.”

then five minutes later he texted me and said “actually, Joe didn’t fix it at all; the same problem is still happening.”

So we are back to square one. Back to reading the surprisingly passionate threads on DIY plumbing message boards, where amateur plumbers yell furiously at people asking questions about diverter valves. I would literally pay someone a thousand dollars if they could fix this issue.

why do people like setting up meetings so goddamn much

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One Response to “The Greater Idiot Ever Scolds The Lesser”

  1. jaime says:

    Hi Ritchey!

    How about just filling up the bathtub with the shower???

    I hate your problem and it would drive me crazy as well…

    I hope your new life is getting great!

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