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Everything breaks at once

Last week I finally figured out what causes the grimy residue that occasionally appears in my bathroom sink. It’s from sewage coming up the drain! Oh, how I long for the days I thought it was from the maintenance man changing my air filter and washing his hands in the sink. The urine and little flecks of feces swimming in the basin where I brush my teeth were very warm, emanating heat when my hand hovered above the concoction. I turned on the faucet and forced the icky brew sloooooooowly back down the drain and then closed the stopper until the maintenance man could come fix it.

This was also the same day that my Internet connection died for real. Two days before I left for vacation, the Internet choked, then someone did the Heimlich and it was breathing again for a day. But then it was hit by a bus and died while I was away, only to be carted to the emergency room and resuscitated for another day when I was able to check my email and catch up on a few things. Then it was taken off of life support and finally died for real, at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend when all the technicians were grilling meat in their backyards. This left me without the Internet for three days, before I begged my boss for time off to wait for the cable guy even though I’d just taken two weeks off. The people at Panera were starting to recognize me, the widow of the Internet, leeching “free” wifi for the price of a coffee.

As I pressed the button to turn on my desktop computer for the cable guy, I was shocked by static electricity. While a bolt of lightening gave Frankenstein’s monster life, it killed my desktop’s power unit and now the poor little computer won’t turn on. All my data is safe since it’s preserved on the hard disks, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to pull out program settings like all my Internet passwords and FTP favorites. I had smelled death on my desktop computer, which is three and a half years old and equivalent to a Mayan relic in computer time. I had planned on moving everything over to my HP laptop (not the mini-laptop) this month in preparation of its inevitable death, but that was evidently 30 days too late.

But at least my Internet works now, even if a light bulb burned out as the technician was fixing it. Why does everything break at once?

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away
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K • May 28, 2009 at 9:32 am

Everything always DOES break at once. So true.

My mother has suggested that if you buy several appliances at around the same time (as in, when you move into a new flat / house) they will all have about the same lifespan and break at once, but I don’t see how that could apply to sinks and computers!


PastaQueen • May 28, 2009 at 9:43 am

I forgot to mention, I dropped my cell phone on the parking lot 3 weeks ago and ever since it started turning itself off, usually right before I was going to send a text message. So I had to buy a new phone this week too!


debby • May 28, 2009 at 10:40 am

Oh my, PQ. You are one person I can’t imagine without a state of the art computer!


Grace • May 28, 2009 at 10:42 am

I totally know what you’re talking about. A few months back we had our water heater and washer break down within weeks of each other. And then my laptop started acting hinky after an automatic update (those darn Windows updates!). When it rains, it pours!


Amy • May 28, 2009 at 11:07 am

Like my very southern belle of a great-grandmother always says, “If it ain’t ants, it’s cockroaches.”


Merry • May 28, 2009 at 11:23 am

I think I see the problem.

Clearly, what we have here is a traditional, standard-issue Curse problem. What you must have done was annoy some wicked witch or something. You’re Doomed, woman.


JCF • May 28, 2009 at 11:40 am

If it is only the power supply that was fried – good news! That can be replaced and computer will be back to normal. Cost under $100 for part. Usually 4 screws that hold it to the case. Connected to motherboard with two connectors. Need a generic power supply that matches your old PC.

If the hard drive is OK, you can remove it, and install it into an external enclosure, with a USB connection to your laptop. Under $50 for enclosure. All your bookmarks are stored on the hard drive. Forget about passwords, however. Trash the old PC, and keep the use of your old hard drive. Such a deal!


elife • May 28, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Ugh, I feel your pain. Last week I dropped my blackberry and it died. This week my friend dropped my ipod and it died. I am addicted to both and had to immediately buy new ones (after trying every trick in the book to resurrect both).


Lesley • May 28, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Yep – same here. Everything breaks at once and always when my husband is away. Not saying that he would mend it but at least when he’s at home, I don’t have to take time off to wait for deliveries and repair men. In theory, I wouldn’t know this in real life though as….everything breaks when he’s away!

Sendig you good vibes in the hope that you have come to the end of this breaking cycle!


Courtney • May 28, 2009 at 3:14 pm

It’s so true! In the period of about 3 weeks, my bike, tivo, cell phone, computer, and now most recently my car (hit by a drunk driver), have all broken. I’m just hoping this is the end of it.


Kate • May 28, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Seriously, why does it have to happen that way. Last week my tooth broke, yeah I could actually put a fingernail in the crack in my molor. I was telling my husband about it and he came out of the bathroom to tell me the toilet seat had just broke in half. Really could more things crap out on us at once.


Quix • May 28, 2009 at 4:41 pm

I love computers. I love getting shiny new fast awesome computers. I hate getting used to the new settings/OS/putting in passwords/etc. Good luck getting set up again!


victoria • May 28, 2009 at 5:51 pm

Everything mechanical may break at once, but you’re golden: you ate nutella, crepes, &ice cream, and you LOST WEIGHT because you inadvertantly stumbled onthe secret of French women.


anji • May 28, 2009 at 10:17 pm

@Grace – i find when that happens, I go back and do a “rollback” of the updates. I do one at a time to figure out which one was screwing things up. For myself, it was always the NVIDIA driver (for the monitor) but it messed up the WHOLE computer. So, now I never update it ’cause of that and computer works like a charm.


Merry • May 29, 2009 at 12:41 am

Curse you, Pasta Queen! Shakes fist

You didn’t warn us that you were contagious! Now my laptop has broken down and my car is making very non-funny noises. If my sink backs up as well, I’m comin’ ta git yuh… >:-


cindy • May 29, 2009 at 6:02 am

Hi PQ,

How long has the sink residue problem been happening? Could it be an environmental factor that contributed to your headaches? Just a thought…


Cathleen • May 29, 2009 at 7:48 am

I am so sorry.


Elizabeth Casavant • May 29, 2009 at 2:01 pm

I had a whole year like that, it just about bankrupt me. I later realized that the universe telling me that I needed to get out of the relationship I was in and take a different career path. I just didn’t see it at the time. What do you think it means to you?


Ang • May 29, 2009 at 4:23 pm

Our garbage disposal backed up a few weeks ago while my hubby was prepping some fresh green beans for dinner and the other side of the sink spewed brown looking gunk that was supposedly buildup from the pipes. So, maybe the brown specks in your sink were just old spit instead of feces. Either way, I am making myself sick just thinking about it!!!!

Water was also leaking from the pipe access thing outside the apartment, clear water, though. Apparently we were due for a good snaking. The plumber gave it a good scrubbing and it has been fine since.


Sarah • May 29, 2009 at 9:04 pm

I remember reading something by Anne Lamott that when a lot of (relatively) small(ish) things break/go wrong at once, it’s because something big and wonderful is trying to get born. I hope that’s the case for you.

(Even if it’s not, remembering this thought has often brought me comfort when a lot of crappy stuff is going wrong and/or breaking.)


Laura N • May 30, 2009 at 10:04 am

That sucks! Wait till you’re a home owner someday. We had the water heater, dishwasher, & furnace break within 6 months. Maybe you don’t want to be a homeowner some day. Seriously, if I had it to do over again, I would consider living in an apartment forever. Hey, they do it in Manhattan without a second thought.

Hope you get it all fixed without killing your savings account too terrilby.


Cassie Tuttle • May 31, 2009 at 1:50 am

PLEASE, tell us the whole bit about your bathroom sink is just made up. Or, maybe Ang’s scenario is correct (build-up from the pipes). Otherwise, that is just plain grossing me out!

I, too, have heard of the hypothesis Sarah suggests: that “when a lot of (relatively) small(ish) things break/go wrong at once, it’s because something big and wonderful is trying to get born.”

I like that idea. It’s a little bit like self-karma. It also reminds me of something I learned in Vegas: you’ll only have X number of bad hands dealt to you before your luck changes.

So, PQ, we’re all waiting to hear some GREAT news from you!


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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