Thursday, April 9, 2009

I think we've moved out of the guilt phase

I've been fighting this for weeks but it has finally happened. I've hit a wall. A big one. And from the way I feel, the wall hit back. Harder. I feel paralyzed, where every move is like walking through molasses. All I want to do is sleep and hide out. Well, there are other things I want to do, but unfortunately there are laws.

To make it even worse, I'm in magma territory again. I'm furious. At the FX. For something that happened almost two weeks ago, and yet my anger just keeps growing. My periods of hating his guts come a lot less frequently than they used to, but they make up for it in intensity. And, as usual, it involves one of my two hot buttons: the kids and the house. Actually, this time it involves both.

It all started with a funky smell in the house. The weird thing was that the smell kept moving. First we'd smell it in the computer room downstairs, and then it would be in my bedroom upstairs. Gumby was convinced it was a dead mouse and I kept searching for a well-hidden doggie pile. No results on either end. The stench got worse, and finally I was forced to concede that the only place we hadn't checked was the basement. On a Friday afternoon, Surfer Dude and I braved it and headed down to look.

There's no way to adequately describe how perfectly horrendous my basement is. First you open a trap door in the laundry room. Then you have to contort yourself like an Olympic gymnast because the stairs are backwards, and have a wall at the head of them. The walls lining the stairs are crumbling limestone littered with spider carcasses. When you get to the basement itself, it gets even worse. Three rooms, each more dank than the last, lit by two bare pull cord lightbulbs. Surfer Dude made it halfway down the stairs and called it a day. I didn't have that option, unfortunately, although I sure wished I did.

My fear was that there was some kind of plumbing leak down there or that the basement had somehow flooded and the water was rank. So when I came to the first room and saw a dry floor I was relieved. Second room - dry floor. The third room is down a small step and when you enter, it's into pitch black until you can get to the pull cord. (Do not ask about a flashlight. I have three boys, remember? I've hidden more flashlights than I can count, and for some reason they're never there when I go looking for them.) Well, when I got the light on the only thing I saw was a small puddle of murky water on the floor - and it smelled foul. Nothing about the puddle indicated sewage. There were no drains near it, no pipes that I could see - just some standing water. And not much of it. There's a window in that room that leaks and it had rained pretty hard the week before, so my thought was that some water had gotten into the room and gotten stagnant, leading to the smell.

At this point I did my head in the sand routine and went back upstairs, relieved that the problem didn't seem bad, and hoping that as the puddle dried up it would smell better. Yeah, yeah, I know - rub a lamp. Hope springs eternal and all that jazz. When I took the kids to spend their weekend with the FX a little later, I mentioned it to him, and asked him if he would mind checking it out when he took the kids home Sunday night if he was able to still smell it. He said he would and that's where we left it.

That was Friday night, and Saturday morning I started three days in a row at work. Late morning, I got a phone call from the FX. It went something like this:

FX: YOU have a problem.

RC: What do you mean?

FX: I just took Sasquatch home and when I opened the door the smell was unbelievable. I went downstairs and you have a basement full of sewage. There's toilet paper and other disgusting stuff floating around the back room.

RC: But I was just down there and it was a little puddle. And there was nothing at all that looked like sewage.

FX: Well, there is now. YOU need to get someone to come and look at that NOW.

RC (imagining her small savings acccount - the one that enables her to sleep at night - flying away at warp speed): Alright, well, let's talk about this for a second. This could potentially be the first big house expense that comes up post-divorce. How do you think we should handle this financially?

FX: Well, how do YOU think we should handle this financially?

RC: Well, I think 50/50 would be fair.

FX (chuckling): Well, it may be fair, but I'M never going to see any money out of that house. Why should I pay anything toward keeping it up?

RC: speechless

FX: Let's talk about this later, okay? Just get someone out there to look at it.

RC: Do you not understand how badly I want out from underneath this house? Do you not see that it's taking every bit of the child support just to keep us in this house? How am I supposed to do the work we need to do to sell it on my own? And FYI - your children LIVE in that house.

FX: I'm not talking about this now. Just get someone out there to look at it.

And there we left it.

But wait. Sasquatch was having a birthday sleepover that night, with anywhere from 15 to 20 boys coming over. I didn't know where this "sewage" was coming from, and I certainly couldn't take the chance of having a houseful of people to possibly make it worse. Or breathe the fumes. I called him to tell him that I was going to try to get Kevin (aka Man of the Year) out to look at the basement, but that I had absolutely no idea if he would be able to get to it or not, and that if I couldn't do that, we were going to have to reschedule his party. Good Lord. The kid went off on me. This was the only date he could do it. It was all planned. I was only doing this to ruin his birthday. What the FX had started...he finished.

When I got off the phone I laid my head on the counter in the nurses station and wept. With about eight people around me who had heard both conversations and had absolutely no idea of what to do. I'm not a whiner at work. And I certainly don't cry. Within minutes I had a fresh Diet Pepsi in one hand and a Butterfinger bar in the other while everyone scurried around to take care of my patients. My charge nurse came over and gave me a shoulder massage. I picked up the phone and called Kevin.

Who dropped everything he was doing, left his family on his one day off and headed out into the pouring rain to figure out what the hell was going on in my Silence of the Lambs basement. As soon as I heard his voice on the phone, I swear to god my blood pressure went down fifty points. And when he told me not to worry and that he would take care of it, I actually stopped crying and believed him.

Bottom line? A misplaced downspout was sending rain pouring into my basement, explaining why the FX saw more water Saturday than I did Friday. However, there wasn't much more water down there and there was no sign whatsoever of sewage. It was just water that was picking up something funky (including a mouse carcass or two) off of the 120 year old floor and, as Kevin so delicately put it "activating some nasty smells". He fixed the downspout while he was there and checked out all the plumbing and drains. All clear.

They let me leave work early and I went down there with a forty pound box of kitty litter and some bleach. I spread the kitty litter around, let it absorb and then scooped it all up into a five gallon bucket. Carted that to the trash, sprayed most of a bottle of Febreze and we've been scent free ever since. My feeling of accomplishment was huge. Sasqutch felt so bad about his behavior that he actually offered to help - all on his own.

And the FX? Has no idea of the outcome and has not said a word about it since. Why should he? It's not his problem. Right?

to be continued


Rudee said...

The ex? His behavior is inexcusable and despicable. Yes his kids live in that house and while he may not like it, he has a responsibility to them.

I'm sorry you're having such a rough time of things. Hopefully things will change soon.

Altaglow said...

Three weeks have passed and he hasn't asked about the status of the problem or its solution? Hell's bells!!! How does anyone become so self-centered???

ped crossing said...

Aside from the inexcusable behavior, at least it turned out to be a small issue, easily fixed without the aid of people in hazmat suits.

Kharma will come around and bite him in the ass sooner or later. Just be patient.

ped crossing said...

Although sooner would be much more gratifying.

The Gossamer Woman said...

I hope it bites him in the balls as well really soon. Jeez!

speccy said...

Oh, to have the luxury of living in a fantasy world like he does! RC, he's lucky you haven't taken the head off him yet. Though maybe that comes up in the 'to be continued...'? Keep well

Kaycie said...

Well, honey, you're divorced. So it's really not his problem anymore, unless there is something spelled out in the divorce decree about mutual responsibility for the house.

I remember a similar event in my own divorce. It involved a refrigerator going out and children aged 2 and 4 having no milk in our home. My ex said, "I don't know what you're going to do about it. I send you money; use it. It's not my problem anymore."

Shitty? Yes. But that's how they think.

laurie said...

kitty litter! what a great idea.

and i hate to say this, but i'm with kaycie on this one. it does suck, and i'm sorry it happened, but he's not your husband and that isn't his house.

Katy said...

Its not fair. It sucks, but Kaycie is right. And sadly, it happens all the time. My story is too long and invovled to go into, but feel you.

It really sucks when you feel like you are treding water and breathing air into the leaking inflatable life raft to keep your kids afloat while he is just standing there on dry land doing nothing.

LCM said...

I feel like you should post a po box for Kevin so that we can all send him something nice for being an awesome guy. There just aren't enough like him in the world.

ChrisH said...

Heartfelt sympathies, I know this one (though, thank god without the smells)- this was once my life. It will pass, dear heart, - though I can't say you will look back on it and laugh.

Frances said...

The FX clearly isn't a friend to you in any way. Fom now, don't expect him to be a friend, or to be a support or a good guy and don't let it upset you that he isn't. It doesn't help you.
What is truly inexcusable about his behaviour is that he must have lied to you. He can't have seen what he said he saw in the basement - as it turned out not to be there. Probably means he didn't got down there or if he did, didn't take a close look. He added to the problem instead of easing it, by embroidering. What an idiot! He must surely have known someone would find out there was nothing but water down there...
As for the responsibility, well yes, the others are right. The buck stops with you now. You're just damn lucky you have a good friend like Kevin - and that he has an understanding family who don't mind him dropping everything to help out a friend...
hugs from here

laurie said...

PS i fear my comment sounded too harsh. i should never comment when i am late for work and about to fly out the door.

i think FX could have responded to your questions in a multtude of ways. he could have said he was sorry. he could have said he'd be happy to help. he could have taken any number of tones in his discussion with you.

apparently he chose to be brutal and callous, and i feel bad for you for that. that might be what is upsetting you the most here--his rudeness.

but the truth is, it's your house now, and sadly you are stuck with its problems. that looks like one HELL of a basement. i'm glad the problem was so easily fixable.

that was the good news. that, and your pal kevin. bake him some cookies. and then tell him you'll bake him some more cookies if he can get the tax guy to call you back.

aims said...

Well F**K! What an ass he is.

Girl - Want me to whip his butt into shape? I'll come down there and do it if you want.

Just let me know. I'm do a vacation and some whipping.

Devon said...

He seems to see this as his complete divorce from the family. No longer bearing any responsibility for being partner to buying the house.

That his children live there and you are forced to stay there to parent his children seems to be of no regard to him.

It must be so neat and tidy to completely wash ones hands of their past actions with no consequences in the present!

lv4921391 said...

RC it sounds like FX would relinquish some rights to equity in the house...say 15% in lieu of putting $$$ into major repairs...check with a friendly could have developed into that NASTY black mold and killed the house...

Cath said...

I would strangle him! That was despicable of him. He knew you were at work. He could have helped but just made everything such a drama and he hasn't even the decency to ask if it got sorted? Or if his kids are in a healthy home?

Oh wait! He knows they'll be in a healthy home because he knows you wouldn't have it any other way.

No wonder you're livid.

Daryl said...

I would lock him in a small room with an angry cat ... what an asshat