Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Roof is Leaking and the Wind is Howling...

Hello Friends.

I spent this past weekend out of town with family and had a great time. I overindulged in booze and food, but they were accompanied by great conversation and togetherness and I'm none the worse for wear. I returned home on Monday resolved to let the positivity of this experience stay with me and keep me in high spirits until Christmas, which I will also get to spend with family. All was well until I actually walked into my apartment, which is plagued, once again, by a leaky roof.

Our ceiling had an intermittent leak for nearly a year. Largely ignored by our landlord, the leaks were small, but tolerable, as we didn't have a lot of hard rain. When we (meaning Jon) got confrontational about this leak with the maintenance staff, they grudgingly did something on the roof and the leak would subside, then return. They'd go up on the roof again, the leak would subside again, then return again. Finally, they took the protruding plaster off of our ceiling, re-plastered the whole offending area, and the leaks stopped. Until this past Monday. The newly plastered area is yellow and brown around the edges, where it's bubbled and saggy. The leak is a persistent, audible, syncopated 1,2 drop of water. It's not a steady stream, but a torturous trickle. Now everything in the immediate area has been moved around and unplugged and covered in garbage bags. I was using my bathroom garbage can to catch the water, but had to get up in the middle of the night to dump it out so it wouldn't overflow. Sheepishly, the landlord provided a large basin for the leak and trudged up the roof yet again, but is stymied. A roof guy has been called, but couldn't go to work today when the rain turned to snow, which stopped the leak for awhile, until the snow started to melt.

As problems go, this is totally manageable. This small, localized dripping has not otherwise affected the heat in my apartment, or the electricity, or the phone or internet or anything. I would rather have a leak than bedbugs, or rowdy neighbours, or any roommate of any kind, but there's something so... invasive about it, I guess. Something that reminds me that I'm still at the mercy of the elements, something driving me slowly insane with every drip. Something must be done.

Dream: Fix the leaky roof.

Goal: Achievable, because I've fixed a similar problem. Once, because I'm a moron, I knocked a roll of toilet paper into the toilet as it flushed. It was the stupid, flimsy biodegradable toilet paper because I evidently care more for the Earth than my own ass. I heard that awful shudder mid-flush and realized I'd clogged up Old Toily (what I call my toilet) real good. Like a simpleton who pushes even harder when a door marked "pull" doesn't open, I flushed Old Toily again. It shuddered again, and cemented the clog. I tried my plunger, fearing it wouldn't work, and it didn't. So get this, you guys! I watched some videos on YouTube, went to the hardware store, bought a weird spindly-lookin' thing called a drain auger, watched the videos again, taught myself how to use it, bingo bango, fixed Old Toily! So it can be done.

Plan: Use a variety of options at my disposal to get this taken care of, such as:

Money. You know how sometimes you hear a sound repeat so often, you put words to it? Like a car alarm going "Be-boop! Be-boop!" starts to sound like, "Tree-root" or "Neice-poop"? Maybe it's just me. But the double drop of the water as it hits its stagnant brothers in the basin sounds to me like, "You're poor. You're poor." I can't help but think if I lived on the top floor of a high rise in the financial district, instead of a four-floor walk-up in midtown, the landlord would do more than provide a basin. I'm luckier than most in that I don't have debts, or crazy expenses, and that Jon makes enough money that he can contribute to our rent here when he doesn't even live here anymore, but I hate stretching every pay-cheque so embarrassingly thin. But nobody makes enough money, least of all people in my age group. Really I should be Occupying some Street right now, but I think the rain falling on my tent would bother me more than this.

Clout. Clout would fix my ceiling. Can you imagine what it would be like to seriously shout at someone, "Do you know who I am?" I don't think I ever would do that, but it would give me orgasmic pleasure just to know that I could. Some would argue that clout is about money, too, but I think it's really more a state of mind. Dr. Phil says a lot of stupid shit I don't understand, but one thing he used to say when I watched him back when he was on Oprah that I've never forgotten was, "You teach people how to treat you." In other words, if you're meek and cow-towing, some folks are going to walk all over you. Conversely, if you believe that you are worthy of certain consideration regardless of how others might perceive your status, you're more likely to get it. Sending food back at a restaurant, barking orders at a subordinate, even stamping my feet about a leaky roof are all things, unfortunately, that are not in my nature to do. I remember reading once that Terry Eagleton, this big, mucky-muck literary critic and scholar said that an accurate tombstone on his family plot might read something like, "Here lies the Eagleton Family. They didn't cause too much trouble." For as-yet unexplored reasons, I place a higher premium on not making a fuss than I do about getting my own way, but I suppose that's another blog.

Finally, knowledge would probably be my greatest asset here. Like my YouTube instructional videos helped me to rescue Old Toily, surely there are tools I can buy or expertise I can glean that would help me fix the damn leak myself. The feeling of satisfaction I got when I finally, blessedly extracted the disgusting roll of toilet paper, and the former flush gurgled back to life and everything worked again was remarkable. It's unfortunate that I can't share this accomplishment with too many people, because it makes me look really interested in toilets, but it made me feel so capable, which is awesome!

In the meantime, though, I could really use a little perspective here. It's been heart-sickening to look at the really leaky roofs, dilapidated shacks, and 12 person tents in Attawapiskat. I know it's an often repeated refrain, but I can't believe what happens in this country we're all so proud of. Red Cross and True North Aid are taking donations, as I understand it, and I have been talking to a gal who puts together amazing music cabarets about throwing a bitchingly awesome fundraiser, where I promise not to sing, this December (exact date and time to come, Readers, assuming everything goes forward as it should). Fundraising is really the least we can do in these situations. After all, I want to help, truly help, not by donating a basin, or patching a crack. I want to be part of the group that fixes the roof.


  1. put the basin on the roof. haha

  2. If the landlord or the maintenance staff tried to fix it but it keeps coming back, you can try surveying the roof on your own. It can determine what exactly the problem is, and come up with a solution for the leaking roof. Also, regular maintenance can help prevent damage from coming back.

  3. Dream, goal, and plan—that’s as straightforward as it gets! :) I like that you’ve taken action against the roof leak. Now, I want to ask the obvious question: “Did you fix the leaky roof?” The thing about leaky roofs is sometimes you fix it at one go. But if you’re unlucky, the leak might still be there. I wish the latter didn’t happen!