The Shoelace

Bukowski’s great poem about the killing nature of the accumulated frustrations we are powerless against captures the accursed essence of our lives here.  It’s that constant swarm of trivialities, culminating in a shoelace that snaps with no time left, that finally breaks a man, sends him to the madhouse.  

“I will not be broken,” he said to nobody.  

Of course you won’t, nor die, either.  

Toilet doesn’t flush.  Call super.  See you between 6 and 7, he says.  At 9:30, after several chats with the lying super, his two underlings arrive.  One shows me how, by forcing the flush plunger inward toward the pipe while pushing it down, you can get the broken device to flush.  This works four or five times after they leave, then, kaput.  Meanwhile, new part ordered for your antique toilet, will take a week.   Super recommends improvising, try not to shit for a week or so, the toilet will eventually be fixed.  

New York City does not have an answer, besides take the landlord to Housing Court.  You look for on-line help.  The help number on their handy PDF on Housing Code Violations connects you to a wrong number.  

Doctor friend provides new information on best practices for treating your idiopathic (“cause unknown”) kidney disease.   The medical journal article she’s copied for me calls for watchful waiting before IV steroid therapy if daily proteinuria level (the amount of unfiltered protein your kidneys pathologically spill into your urine) is below 2 grams.  Doctors have no idea what my daily level is, that requires a 24 hour urine test to determine.   If you think the nephrologist who charged $860 for my first visit would have known to order such a test, you think wrong.  She urged me to have an unneeded, expensive, kidney biopsy instead.  

It’s been complicated hearing back from my primary care doctor on the 24 hour urine, how to get the jug that I will collect 24 hours of urine in.  Only two or three calls to his office so far.  Maybe the third or fourth call will be the charm.

You learn, too late to save the several thousands of wasted dollars, that the so-called Silver level health insurance plan you bought, hoping for better treatment than you had last year on the “Essential Plan”, the plan you are paying almost 900% more for (after the subsidy, restored only seven months after being erroneously removed), gives you coverage identical to what you had last year on pay-as-you-go Medicaid.   I must not think of the more than $4,200 flushed down the toilet– especially now that my toilet doesn’t flush.  

The best things I write these days, I have to pull teeth to get any feedback on. I write these things ’til my forearms ache, and read them aloud to Sekhnet.  She tells me some of the recent ones with the skeleton are excellent overviews of this ambitious, highly speculative project I embarked on almost twenty months ago.   I heard an interview with Aaron Copeland, late in his life, lamenting that so few people heard his new music, wondering how a composer goes on without an audience to hear his work.   I felt bad for him, even as I wondered where he got the temerity to whine about not being as famous as he used to be.

The list goes on and you begin to wonder about the futility of trying to persist.   How long a NYC landlord has to fix a broken toilet, under NYC law, should not be such a mystery.  It is.  You take a bucket and manually flush the toilet, it takes at most two or three buckets full.  The bathtub is right next to the toilet, easy to fill the bucket as many times as you like.

So, shut the fuck up and keep bailing.  You’re lucky you live in a place where there are flush toilets, bountiful running water, sanitation, a medical industry, a semi-functioning government.  You have fucking first world problems, white boy.

“Well, as I always said, Elie, you’d complain if you were hung with a new rope,” said the skeleton of my father.  “With your fertile imagination comes an ability to brood that is beyond the powers of most people.  Not that I envy you, I’m just sayin’.”   

Yeah.   Be careful when you bend over.


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