Bitches get stuff done

My husband moved out 10 days ago. That weekend was full of anxiety for all of us. I’d say he was stressing out the most. It can’t be easy to pack up your things and move away from your children, even if it’s only 5 minutes away. Especially when you don’t want to move out. My anxiety stemmed more from wondering if I’ll be able to manage. Not emotionally…more like, “will I be able to manage the bills? Will I be able to snow blow the driveway?” Over the years, most of our arguments were about two things: sex and household responsibilities…and they often came up together. An argument about sex would inevitably lead to me complaining, “WELL, maybe if you helped out more around the house….” I always felt like I did more than he did, and he always felt like he “did plenty”.  He always thought I was a bitch for complaining about it. I remember him telling me, not too long before he moved out, “You’re going to miss me doing the things I do around here. I’m not going to be here to fix something when it breaks”. He had a point. The man is the handiest person I know. He can fix just about anything, even if he has to invent a way to do it. I pushed that thought right out of my mind, as he was saying it to try and persuade me to let him stay, to coexist for the sake of the children. Roommates. No thank you.

So yesterday, I hear a sort of screeching, not so good sound coming from the washing machine. Shit. One week after he moves out and the washer is crapping out on me??  I video tape it and text it to him. “Any idea what’s going on here?” His quick reply, “Nope”. I wondered if that meant “nope, never heard that noise. Sorry, I wish I could help you.” Or, “Nope. Bet you wished I was there to fix it, bitch.” He never really called me a “bitch”, but we both know that’s what he thought.  I decided to assume it was the latter, and used that thought to motivate me. I’m going to fix this. Now, I have never heard of any of my girlfriends ever fixing their washing machines. I really haven’t heard of any of my male friends fixing their washing machines, either… other than my husband. Most people just automatically call the appliance guy, right? Well, seeing how I’m now in charge of paying the bills around here, and I’m about to take a giant pay cut and I really have no savings and I’m panicking about money…I’m not hiring the damn appliance guy unless I exhaust all my options. I post the video on Facebook, asking if anyone knew what it was. Plenty of guys responded, none with any real certainty. “Might be a belt…maybe the bearings”. OK, I know they are trying to be helpful, but a bunch of “maybes” is not going to fix my machine. So, I decide to use my most trusted resource…Google. Turns out, there’s volumes of videos on home appliance repair, FYI.  On Youtube, I learned that if the high pitched sound only occurs during the spin cycle, which it did, then you would want to check the drain pump first. I happen to know what the drain pump is, because my husband often had to empty it when the washer would leak all over the floor from the boys not emptying their pockets. It would usually fill with pencils, coins, candy wrappers…but it never made this screeching sound, it just leaked. I read up a bit more, and found that if you manually rotate the drum and don’t hear the sound, it’s not the bearings. That was easy enough to do, and sure enough, it wasn’t the bearings. So, I watch a few videos on accessing the drain pump. I head into the garage to grab a socket driver…and stare at the empty corner. I forgot he took his tools with him. I scold myself. Why didn’t I think to buy tools? I make a mental note to add “tools” to my shopping list. I forage around our junk drawers and only come up with a few screwdrivers and a hammer. At this point, it’s 8pm. I need to get this done. Well, no…I don’t NEED to, but I really want to. I’ve got something to prove here, dammit! I head over to my brother in law’s and borrow his socket set. It’s funny how I just said that, because I obviously had no idea it was called a socket. “Um, I need a tool that will unscrew these things…they aren’t really screws….sort of like hexagon flat things….like a screwdriver but skinnier with a thing on the end. You know, a thing…like it has a hole shaped like a hexagon, or maybe octagon. I don’t know. The screw things in the washing machine go inside this non-screwdriver thing”.   OK,  so now we all  know what a socket driver is.  You’re welcome.  I race home and  set myself up on the floor with the SOCKET DRIVER and flashlight and get to work. Let’s do this! I find the socket driver attachment thing that fits the other socket thing in the washing machine and start unscrewing. After a good 30 seconds or so, I realize all my twisting has accomplished nothing.  The tools aren’t the right size. Why are the appliance gods forsaking me tonight?  I keep trying, because I really couldn’t stand the thought of failing. Like, if I just keep repeating the same twisting motion, it will suddenly change it’s mind and fit. I spend another 20 minutes there, twisting, pushing, sweating, swearing….almost crying, willing it to work. It doesn’t.   I can’t do this. Hanging my head in defeat, I realize what I have to do. I call him. “I just need to borrow your socket drivers” I say casually, like I’m borrowing a book or a cup of sugar.  “Tonight?” he asks, as it’s now closing in on 10pm. “Yes, tonight. I know what it is, it’s the drain pump. I Googled it”.  I drive over to his new house and follow him into the garage. It’s nearly empty. He still hasn’t moved most of his things from my house. But he had to move the damn tool box, didn’t he?  “I don’t see how the drain pump would cause that noise” he tells me.  I knew he was thinking I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing. I also knew he was right, but I wasn’t about to let him in on that. “I watched a lot of Youtube videos, so yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what it is” I replied, as I walked out the door. I kept hearing his voice in my head on the ride home, You’re going to miss me doing the things I do around here….

 

By the time I find myself lying on the floor again, it’s after 10pm. No, I did not need to finish this right that  minute, but damn, I was not about to give up now. I was on a mission. This task was going to prove to the world that I wasn’t wrong for making him move out. No, that’s not true. No one thinks that…other than him. This task was going to prove to him that I could survive without him. Wait, was it? Did he even care about me doing this? For all I knew, he was watching the ball game, drinking wine and me an my washing machine were the last things on his mind. No, this task was really going to prove something to me. It was going to prove that I can do this. Not “this”, meaning just the washing machine, but “this”, meaning survive this divorce. Manage things. Not need him there. You’ve got this, Jami.  I lie on my side in front of that damn washer, aim my flash light and get to work. The socket driver fit! I removed the front panel…Hell YEAH! I felt powerful! No wonder he thought he walked on water around here. He fixed things! My moment of empowerment was short lived, though…the drain pump didn’t look like the one I saw on You Tube. Crap. I tried twisting it open, but it wouldn’t budge. The last thing I wanted to do was break the damn thing, so I bit the bullet and called my him…again. I’ve got the front panel  off…just wondering how to get the pump out. It won’t budge”. I say it so casually, like I remove panels from washing machines every day. I didn’t want him to think I really needed him, just that I wanted some advice…one repairman to another.  He tells me it’s really hard to unscrew and he had to use tools to open it last time. That was validating. He had greased it a bit, but said I probably would have a hard time getting it open and should maybe ask my 16 year old to help me. He then reminded me again that he doesn’t think it’s the pump. I quickly thank him and hang up. It has to be the pump. Please God, let it be the pump. I NEED it to be the God damned pump.  It was do or die time.  I placed a cookie sheet under the drain to catch any water and summoned up the strength and fury of all scorned women and started twisting. My fingers turned purple and this weird sound came out of me, sort of like when you’re 7 centimeters dilated and the baby’s pressing on your sciatic nerve. Just as I feel as though I might pop a blood vessel in my eye, it loosens. Water flows out onto the cookie sheet, with not a drop on the floor. I let my hands collapse and smile at the draining water, like I’m looking at my newborn son. I just made that. I pull the pump out to find it’s completely clogged with two broken pencils, a nickel, and a shredded zip lock sandwich bag. Pretty much the typical contents of my 13 year old’s pockets on any given day. Who the hell carries pencils in their pants pockets? Everything smelled awful and was covered with this strange black slime. I think it was wet lead mixed with whatever was originally in that zip lock bag. I scrubbed it out and reassembled the pump, gently placing it back in it’s little nest, like the efficient washer repairwoman I now was. Wait…why is it that every time I feel accomplished in this story, something goes wrong? As I went to put the front panel back on, I realized I could not operate the socket driver while holding the panel in place. Each time I tried to screw it in, the panel would slide down and the little sprocket thing would roll under the washer. It was so frustrating…I was so close! I used my feet, propped it up with a shoe, tried to tilt the machine backwards…nothing worked. No way in hell was I going to call my husband again. Think, Jami. Just think. I quieted my mind and walked into the garage. It’s filled with every possible thing you could put in a garage… except for tools, of course. As I scan the clutter, it comes to me. I end up using a broken broomstick (yes, we like to keep broken broomsticks around, just in case) to hold the panel in place. I have one end wedged between my chin and chest and the other between the panel and the floor. It was scraping painfully against my neck. Suck it up, Jami. It’s just a flesh wound!  Finally, it’s all back together. I exhale and smile. It’s now after 11pm. I yawn. Oh hell no…we are finishing this shit TONIGHT! I fill the washer with clothes, turn it on and say a small prayer. Please God, let this work. Let me know I can manage. Thirty minutes later, I remember our washing machine takes an unusually long time to run it’s cycle. I mean, really unusually long. It will say “4 minutes remaining” for 40 minutes. I think it’s laughing at us, because we believe it every time. It’s almost done, just 4 minutes to go… Damn. It’s now after 11:30. I settle in on the couch and check my Facebook. People are seriously waiting to see how it turns out. “Well, did it work?” “We’re still waiting to hear”  “Was it the pump?” Not much happening on a Tuesday night in November on Cape Cod, I guess. I go back in the bathroom and just sit in the dark, staring at the clothes. I was so tired. I’m sure I could have dozed off right there, sitting on the bathroom floor. Why the hell does this machine take so long to run? Are we that dirty? Just after midnight, it happened…the spin cycle. Suddenly, I’m as alert as a gazelle on Animal Kingdom. My heart was palpating  and I held a hand over my mouth in anticipation. 30 seconds…one minute…two minutes… Oh my God.  It worked. It freaking worked! Nothing but the smooth sound of a normally working washing machine on the spin cycle. Yes! I pump my fist in the air and strut around the house. Do you hear that? No, no you don’t…because I freaking FIXED it! God, it felt so good! I have to admit, I had no idea appliance repair was so empowering! Why aren’t more women doing this? I took a video of the beautifully quiet spin cycle and posted it to my eagerly awaiting friends, soaking in their praise and admiration. They thought I was pretty badass, and you know what?  I was badass. I just accomplished the one thing my husband said I would regret about him being gone.

bitches

 

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4 thoughts on “Bitches get stuff done”

  1. Phenomenal!!! Yes, Google and YouTube are awesome for learning how to trouble shoot and fix things. It’s where my handy dandy husband goes when he needs to figure out how to fix things. In fact, it’s where he went when we had issues with the dishwasher. We ended up ordering a new motor and putting it in. I could have done it if I had to, but, well, ya know. It’s also how we figured out how to get the kid out of handcuffs when Daddy decided to give him real handcuffs to play with, and of course, the key was promptly lost.

    We have a ton and a half of tools around here, so if you haven’t already, here’s a great list for a basic tool kit: either a multi screwdriver with tips you can switch out (be careful here, because there are lots of cheap ones out there that are worthless if you need to torque on them), or a regular flat slot screwdriver and a Philips head screwdriver, allen wrench set, socket sets: English measurement and metric, general purpose hammer, channel lock pliers, adjustable wrench, tape measure. It never hurts to have more than this, but these are my essentials. Know how to shut off water to things like the house, just in case (I’ve never needed to shut it off to the house, but you never know). If you have cans of gas for things like lawn mower and snow blower, put fuel stabilizer in them over the winter or when the gas is sitting more more than about 3 weeks. Easy to find at auto parts places and probably at gas stations.

    WTG bitch! You got it done!!

    1. It’s funny you mention shutting off the water…I just learned to do that 2 weeks ago when our water tank went. I remember thinking, “Thank God this happened BEFORE he moved out”!

      I went to a client’s house today to address a complaint. One of my aides broke their vacuum cleaner. It wouldn’t click into place when you push it upright. It’s all these plastic parts…I tinkered with it at their house, but was afraid I’d break it worse (expensive Dyson), so I put it in my car to bring to the repair shop. On a whim, I stopped at my house to take a closer look. After about 5 minutes of investigating, I fixed it! Don’t get me wrong, this is NOTHING compared to the washing machine…but I’m feeling kind of unstoppable now:)

  2. You are an amazing writer. More than that, you are amazing. The way you approach the challenges in front of you, with grit, humor and persistence, makes for a fascinating and fun read.

    1. Wow, thank you for such a validating compliment! Part of the reason I started blogging was to practice writing for an audience, but the main reason was to hopefully tell my story in a way that would connect with people. It’s not as easy as I thought it would be, but I’m going to keep it up. It’s therapeutic for me.

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