First World Problems
It started with a drip. A delicate but nevertheless relentless Chinese torture, steady and eternal, from the bathroom sink. As people who like to think that we have better things to do with our time, we ignored it. It became a companion, a little tick, tick, tick singing into our bedroom that left us dreaming of tin drums, the end of a rain or an infernal clock. When my husband Ron finally gave in to explore repairs (I won the waiting game, invisible check mark!) he informed me that it was one of those cheap, washerless faucets and we’d have to replace the whole faucet.

“Shoot,” I said. (OK, I didn’t say “shoot.”) What’s the point of that? This vanity is a piece of junk, the drawers are falling apart, there are no shelves, no storage, it basically sucks.”

Ron defended the poor, sad hulk of furniture. “Wow. I didn’t know you felt that way.”

“Neither did I,” I agreed. The vanity visibly trembled.

Then the paint started peeling by the shower. At first I thought, “Well there you have it. More shoddy workmanship. Clearly they used cheap paint,” as I idly picked paint chips off the corner. But then one day, I touched the wall. It was wet. Holy Mackerel! (Did you know that expression comes from the Middle Ages? Mackerel was only sold on Sundays because it went bad so quickly. Why do we still use this term???) We had a leak. Handy Ron traced the leak, cut a hole around the shower head and we discovered that the pipe leading to the shower head had completely corroded and water had been squirting between the walls for….weeks? months? We now had a lovely sheetrock patch in our plastic shower stall.

It was time. We argued over tubs. Location of said tub. The window next to the tub. Ron turned into Frank Lloyd Wright. “I want an arch over the tub. And bay windows that open out to the woods. In fact, why not make the whole wall by the tub a window! No, wait, we’ll make an arched window. It’ll be six feet of glass. No, four feet of glass and then an opening at the top. No, a long series of awning windows with stained glass at the top. No, glass blocks at the top. No….” Finally our contractor pinned Ron to the ground and said, “This is the window you’re getting.”

The work began while I was in the midst of an intensive training. I’d get home each night exhausted to have Ron telling me that this happened with the plumbing, and this is the problem with the electricity, and that they had routed this through there, and then that through somewhere else, and I’d dumbly nod and hope I didn’t have to answer. One evening, I stumbled up the stairs to the attic in search of a prop for the workshop. I saw the big hole in the attic floor. I did not see that the hole extended underneath a pile of insulation. The next thing I knew, I was dangling from a 2×4 with my butt on a vent pipe, buried in fiberglass. This renovation would kill me yet.
Another day I came home and Ron proudly took me into the bathroom to see the framing for the tub. At each end of the tub was a huge tile shelf, which meant the showerhead now has to come from the ceiling. “What happened to the shelving unit?” I asked. I had fantasized folded towels and rolls of toilet paper neatly arranged on little shelves by the tub. Instead, it was just a huge open space that was going to be tiled over. “Shelves?” Ron asked as if shelves had never been in the conversation. “Why would we need shelves? I don’t want to diminish this space. I want beautiful plants surrounding me as I bathe. Beauty everywhere, not stupid utilitarian shelves! My bathtub area should be, should be… a temple!”

Last night my husband Ron and I watched the 1964 movie Becket starring a young Richard Burton as Becket and Peter O’Toole as King Henry II (as in “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?”) In one scene, the King and Becket are on a hunt and seek shelter from the rain in a small hovel in the woods. I’m pretty sure there was no bathroom in that place. I experienced a pang of nostalgia for the bad old days, when a person could get by for a year or so without a bath and just used the great outdoors for personal hygiene. I know being a Saxon peasant during the 12th century was no bed of roses, but just for a moment, I was jealous.

Yesterday Ron informed me that he plans to design a mosaic to surround the giant window in his temple. He started rhapsodizing about a tool he’s wanted to get (because we don’t have enough tools already) that can cut tiles into little pieces. “I’ll draw it out first, and then install it.”

“I understand our tile guy is quite good,” I replied, gulping in terror.
“Oh no! He won’t do it. I’ll do it myself,” Ron puffed out his chest just a little. “It will be time consuming of course.”
“Of course,” I sighed.

Next week we shop for tiles. As long as sometime in the next year, I can take a bath, I’ll be OK.

When not staring at websites for vanity lights and shower heads, Lavinia renovates nervous systems, teaching people to create the lives they want via The Feldenkrais Method® and the Alba Method.

Lavinia Plonka
Written by Lavinia Plonka