Jeff Astrof has 100 days off. See how he spends them.

Day 36

with 2 comments

Sundays always lend themselves to the most material for me because they are days spent almost exclusively with my family.  Today was no different.  In fact, I was all set to talk about the theme of the day being “Marathons”.   Today was the LA Marathon, and while I didn’t run in it, or watch it, my good friend and trainer did both after being diagnosed with having one of his feet disconnected from his leg.  I’m no orthopedist, but I’m guessing the ideal running configuration for a human involves both feet being attached to their respective legs.  He finished the marathon, and assuming he will someday be able to walk again, it spells trouble for my training routine; like a parent who was in a war I can already hear my whining about a certain exercise being immediately responded to with, “Really?  Try doing that without your foot attached to your leg!”  But I’m not going to talk about that.  And I’m not going to talk about the marathon day I spent with my kids celebrating the holiday of Purim, visiting a dozen different houses, two carnivals, two parties, delivering two dozen Purim baskets all during a torrential downpour.    I will talk a little bit about the torrential downpour.

About seven years ago, I think, we had rain in LA that was so severe that the ground got saturated and water starting pouring through the walls of my basement.   After paying my contractor $21,500 to do repairs on a leaky roof and caved in ceiling (of which insurance did not cover because apparently you can never use insurance because your premium always goes up more than the amount you claim, unless you have a catastrophic amount of damage which in this case, had I had $21,600 worth of damage, it might have been worth a claim, but instead I ate– rather drank– the $21.5K), I asked my contractor what I could do to prevent water from pouring into my basement like the third act of Titanic.  He told me that what we had just seen was a “Storm of the Century” and it wasn’t worth doing anything preventative because we likely weren’t going to see a storm that big again in our lifetimes.

Today was the fifth Storm of the Century since that first Storm of the Century seven years ago.  I guess the good news is that after this one, I’m good for the next 700 YEARS!  Now I know full well the only way I can stop these rain storms is by paying my contractor $21,599 to excavate around my basement and fill in the ditch with some sort of insulation material.  But I’m not working now, so I’m not going to do that.  Plus, frankly, it will piss me off that I put LA into a drought because I had my basement insulated.   By the way, even after getting two feet of rain this winter LA is still in a drought.  Apparently this isn’t the good rain.  It’s good enough to flood my basement!.   Anyway, I’m not here to talk about the rain.  I’m here to talk abouts my basement.  (That sound you just heard is my wife tensing up because she knows what I’m about to say).

After the last storm of the century, two months ago, my wife discovered a specific place where water gushed through the basement wall in a way that if we were in Rome they would build a marble lion’s mouth around it.  She came home earlier than I did tonight and upon hearing what must have sounded like a bath running in our basement, put a large tupperware bin underneath the hole and texted me that we could go swimming in our basement and would I please look at it when I got home.  Now here’s the thing about my basement.  I HATE my basement.  Wait, that’s not fair, I’m fine with the concept of it, but I HATE what it’s become.  In terms of messiness, here’s how I would describe the basement in relation to the garage.  Remember Terminator 1?  The cyborg that was played by California’s former Governor seemed indestructible and you thought, “Holy cow, I don’t know how they’re going to come up with a better villain than Terminator 1!”  Then they came out with Terminator 2, and they introduced the guy made of that liquid silver metal and you were like, “Holy cow, they did it!  They came up with a better villain than Terminator 1!”  My garage is Terminator 1.  My basement is the next thing that will make you think Terminator 2 was a wuss.

The reason that my basement is worse than my garage is that the basement is connected to the house.  I go down there.  A lot.  And there are parts of it that are okay to look at right when you get down there: neatly stocked shelves with food that we still eat.  I mean, I’m sure there was a nice block or two in Dresden after the fire bombing, but if you turned the corner…  And that’s what my basement is like.  A worse version of Dresden.  Literally every time I go down there I get depressed and get mad at my wife for letting the basement become that way.  Now, one could argue that it’s equally my fault.  And, in fact, one will argue that in about 20 minutes when she reads this.  But the truth is, I knew I had the capacity for this sloppiness when we got married, I never knew she was a slob enabler!  So in the interest of peace in our house I never go down to the basement for more than two minutes at a time.  It’s like what I imagine those guys who dive for abalone do– they hold their breath, ignore everything around them, get the clam and get the hell out of there as soon as they can.  Unfortunately, when my basement floods, I have to go down there for extended periods of time and pick stuff up out of water, and try to navigate a wet vac down there and even though my instinct is to torch the place, I know it would cost somewhere just under $21,600 so what’s the use?

Anyway, these are some of the things I found randomly piled up in my basement– yes, I know this will not be a good night with the wife, but I have to put this down.  And we’ll assume for the sake of the argument I’m about to have, that it’s all my fault.  So fine, here are a tiny sample of some of the things that are all my fault:

  • His and hers undrilled bowling balls.  Now, you know me, do you see a scenario where I would use a drilled bowling ball?  So why do we have two undrilled bowling balls taking up space?  Because it was our favorite wedding gift.
  • The hood to a McClaren stroller that we don’t own
  • Two giant, broken kites
  • My magic kit.  Okay, that one’s clearly mine.
  • A bag of my wrestling, climbing and spinning shoes.  Again, I’ll take the hit for that one.
  • About ten thousand yards of phone cord
  • The curtain rods from not the last set of curtains that hung in my son’s room, but the set before that.
  • The High School diploma of the guy who lived in the house two people before we lived there.  We’ve lived here for 12 years and he’s probably been dead for ten of them!
  • A long “king’s robe”
  • A leather jacket that belongs to no one
  • Two deflated volley balls
  • Seven cameras that belonged to my mother’s deceased husband
  • A giant piece of cardboard used to bounce light on a subject’s face when taking their picture
  • Part of a stand used to hold a giant piece of cardboard…
  • Two headrests from our last car (stuffed into a bag with a large tub of dried kosher chicken soup mix)
  • Car seats car seats car seats and one car seat back
  • A guitar amp (no one plays guitar)
  • My ski boots (again, my bad)
  • No fewer than 13 suitcases and overnight bag.  Number of overnights we take a year?  Less than one.
  • My ski travel bag (my skis were stolen at Whistler Mt. during New Years 2000, the only real casualty of Y2K and never replaced)

You know what?  That’s all I’m going to write about because I’m getting depressed.  My point is that I have a new focus.  If I do nothing else for the remainder of my days off, it will be to make my basement the kind of place that the Red Cross wouldn’t send money to.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go empty the giant tupperware container down there; this is supposed to be the Storm of the Millenium, which means we won’t see another one like it for six months…


Written by 100daysoff

March 20, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Jeff, (Hi! Long time no see!). Very-very funny on the marble lion’s head. Now, quit your whining and GET RID OF IT! All of it!! I got depressed just reading that list. Watch a couple of episodes of Enough Already! with Shawnie and get to work! Attic too! Deadline: Day 100. 🙂

    Debbie Ralton

    March 20, 2011 at 10:10 pm

  2. I empathize with your flooding basement problem. But I don’t know whether you need Holmes on Holmee; Hoarders; Clean this house; the antiques road show; or some combination thereof. Good Luck with Lake Jeffy.


    March 21, 2011 at 6:22 pm

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