Sunday, March 13, 2011


I was up pretty late last night chatting with a friend a half a world away, which made for a fine morning of sleeping in. What I woke to, however, made me wish I could have stayed asleep.

I woke up, said a little yay to the sunshine, and expected to enjoy my afternoon in its warm glow on the balcony. I was going to go out and get some Coronas (still the only marketing campaign in history that has affected my consumption habits), hope I could find a lime (lemons are adequate substitutes), and dream about grilled bratwurst. I was staying home to avoid any remote possibility of running into anything that reminded me of the rally for St. Hariri Day*, as my friend calls it.

I slowly rose from the bed and put my foot on the ground. Wet. I looked around and saw two upright water bottles, one unopened. Not the culprit. I looked up and saw the water coming from under the door. I opened it. Water, water, everywhere. I looked in the kitchen. Water. But I hadn’t left the sink running. Then, I splashed over to the bathroom.

Oh. My. God.

The water was ankle deep. Not only was it ankle deep, but it wasn’t just water, either. It was water mixed with the ancient contents of a toilet, weeks or months or years worth of stuff stuck in aged pipes. We’re talking poop. And cockroaches, only some of them dead.

I ran downstairs immediately. This being Lebanon, the building manager tried to unclog the drain with a coat hanger and a plunger instead of calling a plumber. There were a couple of phone calls after that, but either no plumber works on Sunday, they were all at the rally, or there just aren’t any plumbers. So the maintenance guy had to spend his whole Sunday – seven hours total – standing in the flushed contents of a toilet. Every time someone turned on the water in another apartment, more disgusting sludge came billowing out from the bathroom drain.

I was stuck inside all day while the maintenance guy plunged away while water flushed and gushed and only started to stink in the evening, so there’s that. Right now, I’m busy cleaning up the mess in increments. I can only do so much before I start to feel sick. I bought some Detol and will use the whole entire bottle to disinfect it. I tried various methods of optimism – heyatleastI’mnotinJapanthosepeoplehaverealproblems, thebathroomneededcleanedanyway, atleastidon’thavetopayforaplumber – but in the end, it’s still poop.

*The rally is to celebrate the Cedar Revolution that occurred on March 14, 2005, a month after Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated. It was a day when one million Lebanese – one fourth of the population of the country – marched on downtown Beirut to say Enough! The Syrians were pushed out, and Lebanon thought just maybe it could finally start to be a real country again, united under one flag, ready to move past political assassinations and the divisions that had stoked its 15 year apocalypse and the havoc that followed. Hezbshatan had other plans, however, provoking Israel to invade in 2006, kidnapping Beirut in 2007, and generally being all around dicks, accompanied by their “Christian” buddy Aounosaurus. (Not that the March 14 folks weren't dicks, too. Politicians.) Six years later, Hezbshatan has forced a government collapse, a Syrian puppet is about to be Prime Minister, and the Cedar Revolution is dead. That hasn’t stopped the grand delusion from taking place every March 14th.

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