Look like a real champ

Ack… it’s American Thanksgiving, and the first time in over a month that I’ve felt relaxed enough to post an update to this thing.

There isn’t an awful lot of news to report on. I’ve been working like crazy on both the dancing and singing for Joseph, which opens in only a couple of weeks. It’s terribly difficult but I’m doing okay, at least when I’m not actually in the moment where we’re performing the scene. It will get to where it needs to be in time, but it’s still nervewracking. There are a lot of men and women in this show who are more “pro” than I am (or at least vastly better equipped with the necessary skills to be in the chorus of a show like this) and it’s hard not to feel like the odd man out.

Combine that with work suddenly getting extremely busy. I’d been assigned to a different project and was suddenly crunching in a way I hadn’t for months. It seems like the worst of that is over, but I should be careful about jinxing it.

The good news is that my replacement green card finally arrived. The previous one had arrived about five months earlier, but had the incorrect date of birth on it. It took longer than the average posted time (3.5 months) and I was getting quite stressed about it. When it finally arrived, everything correct this time, I was more relieved than anything else. Now my biggest dilemma is that I’m required by law to carry it with me everywhere I go, but I now have first-hand knowledge of how painful they are to replace if lost or stolen ($450 fee, the forms and biometrics appointment, and up to 6 months of waiting where you’re in a tough spot if you need to travel internationally). Conversely, the fine if you’re “caught” without it is a maximum of $100 and 30 days in jail. The jailtime wouldn’t be cool (although I can’t imagine anyone has ever had to serve such a term) and I wouldn’t want a misdemeanor on my record, but it seems absurd to me that the fine is less than a quarter of the replacement fee. I’ve decided to carry it with me in spite of what seems like poor reasoning. After all, the odds of my wallet getting lost or stolen (just recently there was a rash of personal effects stolen from improvisers at Theatresports while they were performing) are immeasurably greater than the odds of any local authorities asking to see my card. There is a huge divergence of opinion on the Internet regarding this matter. Some people carry a color photocopy in their wallet, but this is still clearly agains the law and the typical response to that is to see how effective it is if you’re pulled over carrying a photocopy of your driver’s license. I wish I had a good solution to this.

I had a little adventure in home-ownership the other day: my kitchen faucet has always been somewhat leaky, and even though I successfully repaired it back in March it recently began leaking again, even worse than it had before. Since I was evidently unable to do anything long-term to fix it, I decided to run over to Home Depot and just pony up for a new faucet. It seemed almost like poor judgment that I hadn’t done so the first time: sure, it was more expensive, but installing a new faucet is actually a pretty straightforward process, a whole lot less mysterious and error-prone than repairing a thirty-year-old existing faucet.

I estimated it would take less than an hour of work, but it wound up being over seven hours total, accounted for over an afternoon/evening and the following morning. All because I had no idea what I was getting into trying to remove the existing faucet. It’s difficult enough when you’re crammed into a 1-foot-by-2.5-foot opening underneath the cabinet, and the furthest bolt holding the sink in place is about three feet away from you, and there are two sink basins, a garbage disposal and drainage pipes blocking both your arms and vision. The nuts on these bolts were rusted in place, and the majority of my time was spent just getting them to move. I’d already bought a basin wrench to help reach the nut, but I wound up having to buy an even larger one to get sufficient leverage. I had to let them soak in WD-40 multiple times and strike them with a hammer before I could finally summon up enough strength to get them to turn, even the tiniest bit. Even after that, removing the first was a slow, laborious and painful chore. The second one – the further away of the two – proved even more difficult, though: when I finally applied enough force to free the nut, I also disconnected the bolt from whatever was holding it in place, so it would now spin freely when I tried to turn the nut. This meant the only way I could get it to move was by holding the bolt still somehow, which was nearly impossible to do.

I finally managed to get a large and strong enough pair of pliers in there with my other arm to hold the bolt steady (a feat enough in itself, as getting both my arms near the bolt with all of those obstacles was nearly impossible) while I twisted the nut off with the basin wrench. It took multiple tries and multiple bursts of strength, until I finally was able to pull the faucet out enough to jam the pliers in place from above while I twisted the nut the rest of the way off.

Even that wasn’t the end of my difficulties. After putting the new faucet in, I was dismayed to realize that the old inlet valve on the hot water had a built-in tube that didn’t match the new faucet line… and as I tried manipulating the thirty-year-old tube, it snapped off. So the next morning I needed to return to Home Depot and get a new inlet valve, which meant shutting off the water supply to the condo… of course, water still leaks from the pipes after you shut off the source, so I was dealing with the constant dripping and spilling of water as I attempted to install the new valve. I got really anxious when Elizabeth first turned the water back on and it started leaking out the end of the valve… it was already very tightly installed, and they caution you about over-tightening. Still, I tightened it some more and the leak went away, and after all that I finally have a shiny new faucet with a removable spray head that most importantly doesn’t leak and had better not for the remaining days I live in this condo.

My entire body is still sore and tender from the experience. Next to going into the crawl space it’s easily the most difficult task I’ve undertaken in this field. I was a total wreck at rehearsal that night as well, and the dirt that wouldn’t come off my hands or out from under my nails must have made me look like a real champ. At least it’s done, though, and next time if it’s going down this sort of road I’ll know to call a plumber.


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