February 07, 2006

This Has Not Been My Day

First, the lighting issues:

Over the weekend I happened to notice that I unaccountably had a little extra money and that a little store down the road was having a sale on lamps. I bought two attractive lamps, a 60-watt and a 100-watt, for just about $50. Neato, I said, and came home and plugged in the lamps and tossed the lamps they were replacing (which were so ugly I don't even want to tell you about them. They also didn't give off much light; these lamps did.). Hooray and victory, etc.

That evening, the fluorescent bulbs in the kitchen went out. I know: I could have got up on the stepladder with the tape measure and figured out what size bulbs and then gone to Wal-mart and--and, stop right there. Any solution that involves me making an extra trip to Wal-mart, above and beyond the trips I make already, is a poor solution. That is the rule in this house.

Besides, the apartment complex will replace them for free, so why should I spend the money? See, exactly. I would just call them in the morning--no, wait, the morning was Sunday. My apartment office is closed Sundays, I guess because of all the hundreds of people who are out apartment-hunting during, coincidentally, the very hours of the week during which most people work.

So I hauled one of the new lamps into the kitchen, where it looked ridiculous but did in fact illuminate things. Fine. Whatever. I'm flexible.

Monday morning I forgot to call the apartment complex. Hey! I had an exam, remember?

Today, finally, I called the complex. Within a couple of hours (this is not a bad response time for apartment maintenance workers, really) the nice man showed up and installed replacement fluorescent bulbs and I moved the new lamp out of the kitchen and all was well and so, seeing that all was well, I turned off the light in the kitchen, because you should always turn off the light in a room you are not currently occupying, it saves energy.

Ten minutes later I flipped the switch in the kitchen and thought I might have a seizure from the strobe effect that resulted. Uh, what? I'm thinking to myself, I'm thinking, "Maybe this is what electricians call 'a short' and not actually a bad bulb after all," and then I'm thinking, "Of course, I'm not actually sure what 'a short' is," and then I'm thinking, "Which is terrible when you consider that I took a year of physics and a semester of circuits." And it IS terrible--all those credit hours, all that lab time, and not only do I not really know what a short is, I DON'T REALLY CARE. I'm sorry, I just don't. I found electrical engineering boring. It didn't help that I was taught it by a wrathful Iranian professor who thought the trick to teaching us all what a short is was to YELL A LITTLE LOUDER, occasionally in Farsi.

So I whacked the fixture with a mop handle and promptly got light again. Hands up who wants to bet I'll be using this whack-it-with-a-mop trick for the rest of the time that I live here? Because otherwise, it's call maintenance again and risk that the fellow they send out knows no more about circuits than I do, and up and fries himself to a crisp in the middle of my kitchen. Oh, no thank you.

Then tonight, the boyfriend goes to shower before class and he gets out and I'm ignoring him just like always when he interrupts my perusal of the internet to complain that "This thing's stuck."

"What thing?" I ask, but only because that's polite. I don't actually care or anything.

"THIS thing," he says, which means I have to get up and go look. I pull this trick myself all the time so I can't get too mad at him for using it; I would hope he'd learn some moves from me after this long, in fact. That's what you do when you want to involve someone else hip-deep in your problems: You gripe at them from another room and then refuse to specify the problem, so that they're forced to get up and go to where you are and come look, at which point they discover that the bathroom light switch is now stuck in the "ON" position.

I mean, if they're me this afternoon, that's what they discover.

"And are you trying to pry that out of there with something metal?" I asked sweetly, as the boyfriend hastily put away the fingernail clippers that he HAD SO been using to pry the switch out (it's one of those annoying styles of switch that cropped up about the late 70s/early 80s, you know, it looks like this, but it's not a dimmer like that one is). "Because that would be almost as stupid as the way you have fucked up this switch to begin with," I continued, because I'm not a very nice person, and I am especially unmerciful when the same class of problem--there's no light; there's some light but it's flickering; there's too much light and no way to shut it off--KEEPS HAPPENING, over and over and over, much as it has since Saturday. (I didn't even mention the part where the 60-watt bulb I transferred from the old to the new 60-watt lamp went out within six hours of being transferred, did I? Hey, do you think maybe I'm gradually arriving at the reason these lamps were on sale in the first place? It's only fair to discount merchandise which is cursed, right?)

And I'm especially unmerciful also when I suspect, as I do, that this switch got jammed because someone has a habit of always smacking the switches as though he were Arthur Fonzarelli and all the switches were jukeboxes at Arnold's. I am a little tired of that habit, especially now that he's gone to class and I am left with a terminally-lit bathroom and of course the apartment office is closed for the day, and how in tarnation am I supposed to get to sleep tonight with the bathroom all lit up like Vegas? I know, I know, close the door, but that strip of light gleaming out from underneath the door will creep me no end. In fact, to hell with it, he's getting that side of the bed tonight. Let him imagine what might be behind that door. Maybe it's that girl from Poltergeist. You never know. I'm not one to rule that out, seeing as how I have apparently purchased two lamps this weekend which are damned, damned to Hell, and determined to take all their fellow lighting fixtures there with them.

We'll get to the Spanish teacher who is very angry at all of us for doing exactly what I thought we'd all do on our exams, and how she has determined that the problem is that she is not speaking enough Spanish at us, another time. Right now I've got to figure out what to do about my new Bathroom on the Strip.

UPDATE: The bathroom switch I fixed in all of 2 minutes after I wrote this because I just rock the planet that much. Or so I'm telling myself. And, yeah, my Fonzarelli hypothesis was confirmed--the switch had been shoved back far enough to get stuck on a wire back in there; I just tugged it back out and things were peachy again. The lecture on "We Are Not the Fonz, Didn't You Notice That When 'Rock Around the Clock' Failed to Start Playing Whenever You Smacked One of These Damn Things?" has also been delivered and accepted.

The kitchen fixture got tired of being smacked with a mop handle. Which one of you said it was likely the bulb not being seated properly?--'Cause I think you're right, but when I got on the stepladder and tried fiddling with it myself, I got nowhere. I'll call maintenance tomorrow.

Finally, maybe think twice before picking up any lamps from Beer Fun Gin Ports. Pretend that's Cockney rhyming slang and heed my tale before breaking out your wallets in one, all right?

Posted by Ilyka at February 7, 2006 06:00 PM in navel gazing

Can't breath!! Laughter may be the best medicine -- till it leaves you gasping like a fish on the family room floor.

Posted by: Ith at February 7, 2006 06:31 PM

Roll up a towel and lay it at the bottom of the bathroom door. If you can't see the light on, it isn't on. It's like the bear in the woods question. No, wait. It's the tree falling in the woods question. The bear one is for other bathroom issues.

But anyway - problem solved!

Posted by: Jim at February 7, 2006 08:00 PM

I say go with the Vegas theme and dress up in sequins and feathers and play a little Blackjack.

Posted by: Ith at February 7, 2006 08:56 PM

I think you've angered the Gods of Perpetual Light. Take two zias and call me in the morning.

Posted by: Buck at February 7, 2006 10:49 PM

I say smash the bathroom lightbulb and buy some candles. I like candles in a bathroom. Or alternatively get a little night light and plug that in. (I know, probably not much help, but I specialize in half-assed solutions to household problems.)

Posted by: Dr Alice at February 8, 2006 09:34 AM

I didn't think much of Electrical Engineering either. Remember, you can't spell "geek" without EE.

Posted by: John at February 8, 2006 07:18 PM

The Kitchen lite strobe may be because the bulb needs to be reseated.

The bathroom light switch is possessed.

The new lamps are the vanguard for the Revolt Of The Appliances.

I didn't have your E.E. professor, but his cousin, twice removed, and he spoke dutch. And mumbled.

My guy for intrro physics was someone who had to wait until his late 50's to get his phud, because his first three thesis attempts got classified and his department had trouble getting the right clearences to review it.

He also used to try to write on the chalkboard with his cigarettes and light the ends of his chalk.

Posted by: Craig R. at February 9, 2006 01:11 PM

Shirley Jackson. That rant was Shirley-Jacksonesque. I am bowing to the master. Oh. My. God.

(To those of you who have never read her, Raising Demons is the FUNNIEST. DOMESTIC. AUTOBIOGRAPHY. EVER.)

Posted by: Meryl Yourish at February 11, 2006 11:54 AM