Friday, December 19, 2008


today I fixed a leaking pipe underneath my bathroom sink.
it was a long process---I think my daughters first noticed the leak about 8 days ago---but it is now complete.
and I feel darn good about it.
because it was a process, and I worked my way through it. I didn't give up, though I certainly wanted to, and I made it out the other side.
this is how it went:

mom, the bathroom sink is leaking.
underneath, you know, onto the wood container that sits under the sink.
oh, crud. sigh.
I go in, and I see the neat pile of toilet paper the girls have put on the floor after moving the container aside. it's wet alright.
I inspect the pipe, and the drip is coming off the bottom of the u-shaped pipe (the trap, I learned). there is no hole in the pipe, and the whole darn thing is wet, so I have no idea where the leak is coming from. I sigh again, leave the toilet paper on the floor and put everything I can find from the bathroom counter into the sink: hand towels, (unplugged) hairdryer, brushes, anything nearby so that my kids will get the idea not to use the sink.
I think about calling the plumber.
I wish the sink weren't leaking.
I go to bed.
the next day I replace the toilet paper with a bowl, after testing the sink to make sure it's still leaking. no magical solutions during the night, no plumbing fairy visits.
I google "bathroom sink leak repair," and find diagrams that match what my plumbing looks like, and still have no clue what's wrong, but feel that it's possible I may be able to fix it.
after the sink has been dry a while, I check the pipe again, and this time, determine where the water is leaking from: the joint at the top of the trap in the back, where it looks like the rubber washer has hardened and split.
I may be able to fix this.
I ignore the issue for a couple days while I deal with work, kids, Christmas, stuff, life.
I wish I were the kind of person who never had to deal with leaking bathroom pipes. who either had a husband to do that, or who had oodles of money so they didn't think twice about calling the plumber to come fix it.
I realize I am neither of those people.
I try to find a tool to loosen the joints so I can see exactly what's wrong with that washer, and plan my trip to the hardware store.
I don't have a tool that will do it.
I call my kids' dad, and ask if I can borrow such a tool.
when he brings the kids home that evening, he brings me an entire tool box.
I take the tool he has suggested I use into the bathroom, where it sits on the floor by the bowl that holds the water drips. for 5 days.
I finally try taking the thing apart, getting myself disgustingly dirty and scraping the palm of my hand, splattering gross sink-drain pipe water on the floor.
I get it apart, and realize that it's the joint itself that has split.
I take the trap AND the pipe attached to it off---minor struggle involved---and put them in a bag to take to the hardware store with me so I get the right replacement part the first time.
the guy at Ace finds me the exact $1.99 slip joint I need, and I make my purchase.
I come home, and

in text lingo: OMG. I did it.

and now I tell myself, it wasn't so bad.

I have mastered another skill.

and what, pray tell, does this have to do with cycling, you ask? ah, it's all about mastery. about getting better at something. about competence and confidence. about moving along the continuum from "don't know what I'm doing" toward "have sense of mastery."
we humans crave this movement, whether we acknowledge that craving or not; I will go so far as to say it's in our DNA. we are meant to grow and learn, to challenge ourselves, fail, and succeed.
today, my bathroom sink.
tomorrow . . .

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