Sep
28
2007

  Like Abe @#$#@! Lincoln

We got a short in our bedroom/bathroom circuit on Saturday and lost power in the bedroom, bathroom, and half the living room. In a 625 sq ft apartment, that's a lot of our home without power. I got an electrician to come out Tuesday; he checked around the ceiling lights but it's unfortunately a complicated problem since we've got old wires that are brittle with cloth insulation that's disintegrated. He has to check every connection along the circuit individually and in sequence to find the short and he & his crew couldn't do that until Friday. It will probably be expensive, and they might not even be able to find the short even after all that. If they don't, they've already told me that there's no way they'll string new electric from our breaker box in the kitchen--wires can't be snaked through plaster & lathe walls and we'd have to bust out holes in nearly every wall in this place, and they aren't equipped for that kind of work so I'd have to find a specialist to take the job.

In the meantime, I've been without power in 50% of my apartment, trying to blowdry my hair in the kitchen without a mirror for nearly a week now. Using a flashlight in the closet to get my clothes each day. Brushing my teeth in the dark, just feeling around for the faucet handles. I feel like those families they profile on the news sometimes, the ones who are down on their luck. You know the ones, the human interest stories.

We'd make a good story, our apartment is in an awful state:

My kitchen cabinets on one side have rotted away so much that the counter tilts down on the side. There is just part of a cabinet frame holding up my kitchen sink with no doors, so the lower pipes are all exposed you can see right through the hole in the wall where the pipes connect to the building's main line. The dishwasher is mounted to the bottom of the counter reinforced with a piece of plywood since the wood beneath the counter is too crumbly to hold a screw. The vinyl flooring is so bad it's not only peeling up at the edges, it's splitting throughout the floor along the decorative embossed pattern! It looks as if someone took a razor to it and slashed it up, but I looked closely and it's just worn through those embossed spots! There is cat poop on the floor in the living room intermittently from our retarded cat Fenway. There is a 6" diameter hole in our bedroom wall from when we had to hire a 2nd plumber to fix the work of the first plumber (who tiled the bathroom wall over his shoddy work so we couldn't fix it without either busting up our new tile or knocking a hole through our bedroom wall). And while the 2nd plumber did a good job with the pipes, he doesn't repair plaster walls. We covered the hole with packing tape so the cats don't get in there. There are bare wires and an uncapped gas pipe from 100 years ago sticking out of a hole in the ceiling of our foyer. That ceiling light shorted out in February and no electrician wants to deal with the regulations involving closing up old gas lines, and just in case there is any bit of gas remaining none of us wants to blow up if there is a spark during the electric installation. Now we've got a matching set of bare wires hanging out a hole in our bedroom ceiling since that lamp blew out, and to top it all off, we don't even have electricity in half our apartment. We're like Abe *@#*(*&^* Lincoln with candles out here.

Now is the point in the program where everyone feels my pain, and the producers say, "Heidi and Terry, we have good news. Channel 7 is bringing a crew in here to fix up everything in your apartment tomorrow! It will be safe and beautiful by the weekend!" and we gratefully jump up and down crying with happiness.

Instead, I'll have some electricians in here at 8:30 am tomorrow who have already warned me they may or may not be able to find the short. If they do, I'll get all my fixtures reinstalled so at least the place won't look like it's been stripped by crack addicts (it'll just look like some guy on PCP went crazy busting up the kitchen and knocking holes in the walls).

So if they don't find the short tomorrow, what are we gonna do? We're NOT tearing down all the walls, and we 'd just move but we can't sell the place without electric, can we? Maybe install a diesel generator and not tell the condo association? Wait, nope, it's too noisy and we'll get busted? Run some electrical wire from our circuit box out the kitchen window and in through the bathroom and bedroom windows? I guess we could wrap it in duct tape or something to keep the squirrels from electrocuting themselves. Install battery-powered lamps? Buy candles by the gross? Maybe a hydrogen fuel cell generator! But that might be more expensive than just gutting this place to nothing and starting fresh--but then again maybe a $20,000 clean, quiet generator would be less than a total renovation! Besides, we actually like the old architectural detailing, how depressed would we be if this place just had plain drywall where there once were solid plaster walls and elaborate decorative molding. We can't even do solar panels since we're on the first floor and don't get much light.