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12/17/2004

Shit. Literally.

Okay, so it seemed like a good idea at the time: a brief overnight trip home to make sure the house hadn't burned down, to remind the cats that they do, in fact, have human masters, and to acquire some clothing without a flappy elastic kangaroo pouch at the belly. (Mothers-to-be take note: once you're no longer pregnant, hiking your maternity pants up under your armpits so that the wide elastic band girds your swollen breasts may be good for a laugh, but it's not the best way to get out to the parking lot without exposing your giant maternity underpants.)

Anyway, it seemed like a good idea, but it wasn't. Shortly after we arrived, I ran a load of tiny breast milk storage bottles through the dishwasher, and a load of aforementioned giant maternity underpants through the washing machine. Near the end of the washing machine's spin cycle, an alarm went off somewhere in the house.

Smoke detector? No. Carbon monoxide alarm? No. Accidentally-hit-the-panic-button-on-the-key-chain-making-the-car-light-up-and-hoot-like-a-circus-calliope? No. I wandered around the house with my head cocked like Nipper trying to locate the source. My investigation took me down to the basement. Well, it took Paul down to the basement — as soon as I determined the problem was infrastructural in nature, I turned the investigation over to him. When he figured out that the alarm was coming from the sewer pump, he did what any sane person would do: he called the plumber and told me, "Don't flush."

The plumber was slated to arrive this morning. Paul had to go out, so he left me with his theory to pass on to the plumber. "I think," he said, "someone flushed some cat litter." That someone would be our next-door neighbor, who very kindly looked in on the cats until we made other arrangements. That litter would be the clumping kind, the kind designed to absorb moisture and form hard, cementitious clods the size of a baseball.

The plumber came while I was hitched to the breast pump, wearing filthy pajamas, and watching "The Price is Right" between fits of frustrated tears. After the inevitable farce that ensued upon his arrival, I explained the problem, detailed Paul's theory, and left him to it. And then, on his recommendation, I called another plumber, who arrived post-haste.

And then, on their emphatic recommendation, I called another plumber, who is expected to arrive shortly. Because the earlier wave of plumbers didn't have the right equipment to remove giant boulders of ossified cat urine from our pipes (I cried, but it didn't help at all), the next one is bringing something called a power jetter, something called a cube van, and — a girl can dream — something called a big fucking bottle of vodka.

We can't leave until the problem has been resolved or we'll run the risk of raw sewage backing up in our basement while we're away. So we can't go anywhere, but neither can we stay for much longer. I could throw in something poignant about how I need to get back to Connecticut quickly so that I can see Charlie, and that is true, but he is in the best possible hands, so the more urgent concern is this: we can't flush the motherfucking toilets.

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