It’s Been A Weird Week

I suppose I should update everybody, since I started all this, huh? I’ve talked to Dad. And I’ve seen him once. I’ll see him again tomorrow (at the time of writing). We’ve talked pretty close to every day since he fell and landed in the hospital with a broken femur and a mass of metal inserted into the bone to fix it. In the midst of a pandemic. For which he’s only half vaccinated as of now…

It’s been a weird week…

He’s doing okay. He’s presently in a rehab facility, going through physical therapy to get him walking again. (Where have I heard that before?) From what I understand he’s making good strides (at least in my estimation) and there’s more good news than bad. The best news is that the last time he was in this same facility, he was recovering from a stroke and we all had questions about what the hell happened in the first place, and who he’d be coming out of it. (Low-key tinfoil-hat moment: Part of me wonders if COVID 19 has been around longer than we think…he had ALL of the symptoms in May-July 2019. But I digress…) THIS time we’re in a different position. He’s “just” hurt. There aren’t neurological issues. There’s VERY little chance that anything fatal could happen. He is 100% Dave Brink. He just needs to get strength back.

It’s still hard. The COVID restrictions mean I personally can only see him on Saturdays, assuming my own health holds out. And my brother can see him on Sundays, assuming the same. Dad’s significant other (Susan, if you’re new…as I said in the last post…come on, you’ve only got a couple decades of this blog to catch up on…) has been able to spend more time with him, but even she’s limited by both his schedule and her own. It sucks that more people can’t be with him more frequently. Pandemics are like that, I guess. (As I’m writing this, I plan on seeing him tomorrow…)

My own week has been made harder by having some plumbers in my house. Months ago (around July) a pipe cracked in my secondary stack at the house. That stack hosts only the toilet and sink coming out of the master bedroom, so it’s not the WORST thing in the world for it to be compromised under normal circumstances…but it’s still a problem. A temporary fix back then kept water from flowing onto my basement floors…but the stack needed to be replaced.

When a contractor (who I hated virtually upon sight and more upon him talking down to me) saw it, he also identified problems that meant the MAIN stack (hosting the primary bathroom, shower, kitchen sink, dishwasher, etc) also would need to be replaced. Alongside that, some flooring in the secondary bathroom needs to be replaced with some other related work–none of that was a surprise, but it’s all kind of happening at once, and the way the guy talked about it was just shy of belittling… That contractor said (in July) “I’ll get you an estimate in a couple days.” A “couple days” turned into months before WE contacted HIM to get things re-started in January… Since that time, it’s been about two months of him saying he’s recovering from rotator cuff surgery, but he’s ready to go but not quite doing work yet… Which… Okay fine. I understand… That takes whatever time it takes… But I don’t know if I believe that it actually happened, frankly… Nevertheless, he gave us a referral to a plumber he works with (but who hasn’t recognized his name any time I’ve mentioned it to them, interestingly enough) and the stacks were replaced yesterday. While Dad’s in the hospital. Of course.

So, yesterday I had plumbers in my house. They tore out drywall. They cut through cast iron and wood. They replaced iron with hard plastic. They…didn’t replace the drywall…apparently that’s a contractor’s job–and remember I can’t stand the contractor… But they set me up with one working toilet (out of two) with the knowledge that a contractor would need to come in to put in the ripped out drywall and replace flooring in one of the two bathrooms before the other toilet and sink could be reinstalled. Okay. Fair enough.

And then… Today I noticed that the smaller stack is leaking. Right at the bottom. A problem with the seal, I guess. I called it in too late to get anyone on it today. Who knows when they’ll get my voice mail? And of course…the leaking stack is the only one with the working toilet. So…I literally don’t have a pot to piss in. And I hope they call me back soon (but not so soon that I don’t get to see Dad tomorrow). And in the midst of that, the contractor (“I’ll get you an estimate in a couple days” in July) says he can start in APRIL. It is presently March 19. 20+ days in limbo. After he referred us to plumbers who got things done in one day.

No.

So I’m looking for a new contractor. Even if the new contractor can’t start until MAY, I’m okay with it as long as I am comfortable with them. I need to feel like I’m not being lied to. The guy who identified the problem in the first place in July then blanked us until January is not going to work out, unless he’s my only option. On top of him setting us up with the plumber for this week THEN telling us he won’t be able to personally start until April (assuming that’s even true)…there are many other issues.

Regarding that contractor… He’s rude. He’s a bully. In the 30-45 minutes he’s spent in my house to date, he has not once worn a mask despite seeing the one on my face. He has spent time in conversation telling me all of the things I “should” be doing to prevent future damages–making me feel BAD for the problems that exist in a 60 year old house… I’ve felt minimized, guilty, and ashamed for taking too many hot showers (up to and including ONE A DAY!), leading to peeling paint. That is NOT okay. That is not how he should treat a client. I do not deserve to be made to feel like shit in my own home. But perhaps most disturbingly, he spent a long time badmouthing his other clients, including the person he was currently working for when he stopped by my home to give me an estimate. I wonder what he said about me at the next place?

Fuck that guy. He doesn’t get to come into my home–the one place where I should be able to be comfortable. He can talk shit in his own home or preferably under an overpass, if not under a tire-tread. Fuck. Him. I do not want that man in my home again. I do not want him to get money from ANYONE, much less my family. I will not name him here just because I don’t want to be sued. But e-mail me at db@derekbrink.com and I will absolutely tell you his name, so you know who to avoid. But I think if you ever meet him, it will be obvious. That asshole isn’t even getting the courtesy of a call to let him know I’m going with someone else. And he probably won’t even notice for another two years based on his current scheduling.

So…now I’m working on getting a new contractor who will respect my health, my property, and my dignity to finish the job. I have some numbers to call this weekend. I hope someone can start soon. We’ll see… Even if they can’t start until MAY I’d rather be comfortable with the person(s) doing the work than have an asshole doing it cheaper and sooner. I’ve spent too many years living with being abused to accept it now from someone I have the power to fire.

…but what about the plumbing? We’ll see…hopefully tomorrow. For the most part, I liked the plumber that did the work. They were basically respectful. One older lady who did a lot of the work failed to wear her mask when talking to me once, but she had it on most of the day and I could tell she just forgot as the work went on and reached the end. Most of the time she was alone and was free to take it off. That didn’t bother me. They mostly did good work. Mistakes happen. Leaks happen. They have a small one to fix that wouldn’t be as big a problem if I just had the other toilet connected. Hopefully they’ll address it soon and we’ll be okay–not IDEAL–but okay.

…and Dad… Dad is still the property owner on the house in which I live. So that’s kind of why I’m talking about all of this as one ebent. His name is on the deed. Which is actually pretty helpful (even though I could do with the equity…etc…) Dad’s involved financially. That’s pretty much the only reason ANY of this work is able to happen…and right when it all is starting to escalate, he broke his fucking femur and is in the fucking hospital and I’ve got to deal with fucking plumbers and fucking contractors that Dad (helpfully!) fucking hired. And, yeah…okay…I vetoed the contractor and am working on a new one…but most of the footwork has been Dad’s, and in fairness the plumber has been basically fine… But now Dad’s physically unable to do footwork, so I’m learning a lot about contractors and am about to middle-man some financial stuff I understand but am unsteady on negotiating in my real life.

Tomorrow I see Dad. I’ll be at the hospital (rehab facility) from 2-5. I hope to spend less than 15 minutes of that on the contractor and plumber. We’ll see. Mostly I want to spend time bullshitting with him. Last time I was allowed to visit we spent a large chunk of time talking about Star Trek, pro wrestling, and who-knows-what. That’s my preference. That’s normal for us. It’s sane. It’s comforting. Contractors and plumbers aren’t. I’d much rather be comforted and be comforting right now. (I kinda wish that once he fell everything had just been pushed back to April….or May…or July of 2022 if the asshole-contractor had his druthers, I suspect…) I hope tomorrow will be more encouraging than anything else.

I’ve heard conflicting details of how much progress Dad’s making, but 100% of what I’m hearing is secondhand. I’m interested in being there, seeing him, hearing from him, interacting with staff, and getting a real first-hand sense of things. That hasn’t been possible so far. I know he’s “okay.” I want him to be “doing great.” And I hope to get a good update tomorrow. …why does it feel like I’m going in to speak to his teachers and see if he’s doing okay in Math?

But yeah…in general, Dad’s going to be fine. It’s a question of “when” more than “if” but I still would love some concrete estimates, y’know?

Something that hit me hard tonight was listening to the new album from noted Country Outlaw (amongst other things) Steve Earle. His new album “J.T.” came out today. It’s an album for Steve’s son, Justin Townes Earle. JTE died back in August 2020 of a drug overdose. Steve covers 10 of Justin’s songs on “J.T.” and he wrote an 11th on his own talking about the last conversation he ever had with his son. I read an article where Steve talks about that. Steve said that in his last conversation with Justin he said, “Don’t make me bury you” and Justin said, “I won’t.” And Justin died that same night. I wrote in my twitter feed that knowing that and listening to Steve’s song “Last Words” on the new album are enough to make those of us who live under a grey cloud wish it were a blue sky, if only for our dads’ sakes.

When I was talking to Dad about the frustration of the work on the house and wanting to replace the contractor, I got a little heated about it. I haven’t had a lot of control over the scheduling and it got to me. I started voicing that and in the middle of it caught myself and said, “…and I hate fuckin’ yelling at you while you’re in a hospital bed.” Grey cloud; wishing it were a blue sky. And that’s when Dad calmly said I could look for a new contractor if I can find one. It’s Dad’s nature to try to make a blue sky on a rainy day. Always wished I’d inherited that from him. (Instead I’m more like my mother, who could cause it to rain like a bastard on the surface of the sun itself maysherestinpeace.)

So tomorrow…15 minutes of contractor talk. Maybe 30 of “What are the doctors saying” another 10-15 of, “and do you think that’s right” and then 2 hours of “Did you know Bray Wyatt’s the son of Mike Rotunda and his real name is Windham Rotunda–the MOST pro-wrestling name EVER?” Because that’s a blue sky. And I could use one…Dad probably could too.

And…that’s where we are.

It has been a WEIRD week.

Update on My Dad

Things have moved very quickly and it has been a difficult couple days. I am sorry that this post is probably how I’m telling some people about it. This is how I process stuff.

My dad fell last night and broke his hip. Or…I guess really his femur, but the repair goes INTO the hip? Google “troch nail” and you’ll see why I’m not sure what to call it. Actually…here’s a picture…this is the repair they did to the break.

The break is in the femur, but you can see why everybody’s talking about it as the hip.

He’s going to be okay. The doctor said the break was in place so it was an easy repair with good prognosis for recovery. The doctor seems unworried about recovery, but we’ll see how it goes and what is needed as things continue unfolding. As far as bad news, it also came with good news that he’ll most probably be alright. I got to talk to him tonight around 9:30pm or so and he sounded good and very much himself…of course, he’s also on some pretty cool drugs…so…that might be slightly misleading… But it was still good to hear.

But make no mistake. This does suck.

It sucks that in the past couple years Dad’s been in hospital rooms nearly more often than I’ve been in recording booths. Though, it’s debatable which of us had less fun in that regard. (To possibly apocryphally paraphrase Dorothy Parker–I hate recording, I love having recorded.) It sucks that we have so many conversations that include the phrase “and then I see the doctor on the __th of the month…” And it sucks that this time I couldn’t sit in a waiting room or be there when he woke up from surgery. Only one visitor allowed in per day, and they have to be gone at 6. As though the time of day changes whether you have COVID or not. Because it sucks that so much of America still refuses to take the pandemic seriously because it hasn’t really impacted them.

Well. I’m impacted. My family is impacted. So. Wear a fucking mask. Stay the fuck home. Get the fucking vaccine. Or don’t talk to me about it–and how DARE you post your photos of your brazen lack of care for other human beings on Facebook? While I’d rather we all stay well, I really don’t want to hear it if you’re an anti-masker or a bar-goer who gets sick, man. And I don’t want your false sympathies when I do either. What I want is to be in my dad’s hospital room while he recovers from surgery for his broken hip, and I can’t do that. Because of YOU. So fuck you right in your maskless nose. We have nothing else to say to each other.

We clear on that part?

Okay. Back to Dad.

I don’t really know how the fall happened. He kinda doesn’t either. One of those things…we’ve all done it. You’re standing then you’re not standing. He’s had some back and balance issues in the last few months and has been using a cane, but while he had it with him he wasn’t using-it, using it that night, if you follow me. So he probably just lost his balance. Or tripped. Or whatever. All he really knows is he was suddenly on the ground and it hurt like hell. That’s pretty much every “I broke my hip” story I’ve ever heard.

Thankfully Susan (Dad’s significant other, if you’re new) got to him quick and got him to the ER. The ER of course didn’t move even a fraction as quick as Susan. She told me about it around 9:30 PM. He got into a room at 4 AM. Based on past experience, that part’s actually not too different because of COVID.

I didn’t sleep more than a couple hours Thursday night. And I haven’t been able to nap today (I’m writing this on Friday), despite trying more than once. I get really keyed up when something’s wrong with Dad. He’s the most supportive person in my life and right now it’s KILLING me that I’m physically unable to reciprocate that due to hospital rules. (But I’ve already yelled at you for that. I assume if you’re still reading you’re not one of The Maskless.) I’ve got a lot of energy with nowhere to put it, but I’m also so tired my eyes don’t want to focus on any one thing for too long.

So naturally, I went to the DMV at 7:30 in the morning.

I was up. And I needed to go there. I’d renewed my plates online on January 25, but as of today (March 12 at the time of writing) the stickers still haven’t come in the mail. I called the DMV headquarters at the state capitol and they told me to go to a local branch and they’d give me stickers and that I would NOT be billed for it. (Spoiler alert: I was…and that went over about how you’d expect with me…I basically turned into Jim Cornette. Who you can Google on your own time if you don’t know him.) I’m not going to tell the full story here, but it went poorly, even though I DID get my stickers. I had been planning to go in for them today anyway, but with Dad hurt I knew I needed them ASAP just in case I have to drive anywhere. So it was the first thing I did today.

Free advice: Don’t ever make the DMV the first thing you do. While sleep deprived. And worried about your dad. And while there’s a pandemic going on. And while anybody’s breathing in and out and the sun is still rising and setting. After today I’m convinced that if there ever was a God, he died waiting for his license plate stickers in line at the fucking Florissant DMV at 7:30 in the morning, talking to their useless management. The same management who said, “I don’t know why they keep telling people that” when God (who is me in this story, I guess?) told them the DMV HQ said he wouldn’t have to pay, and then in the next breath told him they’re just doing “what they tell me to do” and they don’t have an answer when God (again, me?) asks, “then why did they tell ME you’d do something else?” Etc. (And then I kinda…uncorked. I think I kind of whited-out for a bit. The next thing I knew I had my stickers and a form to fill out to request a refund that I have to send to the state capitol. I wonder how THAT will go?) And sadly without giving a blow-by-blow recap of the dialogue written out like the script from a play, that’s about as clearly and sanely as I can tell the story. I’m leaving out a lot of swearing and (legal) threats, of course…

It probably wouldn’t have been such a problem if Dad were okay.

When somebody you love is hurt you’re capable of anything and not all of those things are positive. For every story that involves a 20-something mother lifting a car off her toddler there are a million 40-something douchebags yelling at a shitty DMV manager. (Who incidentally makes $16/hour based on the “Now Hiring” sign they had posted, if you’re looking.) Anyway…fuck them, too. Even though they were wearing masks. I’m not proud of the way I handled it. But I’m also not ashamed. When a liar lies, you tell the truth. I just told it as aggressively and insultingly as possible.

And then after that it was a long day of waiting, worrying, twitching, driving around just because I COULD now that I have my stickers (small victories), and cooking. Because you’ve gotta have lunch. And factor in my phone blowing up all day just with the limited amount of people who knew what was going on needing and seeking updates and also pepper in the need for personal space and reflection and today was crazy. I took the day off work, even though I work from home. I thought it was going to be a half-day. It turned into a whole day. It was the right thing to do. I wouldn’t have gotten a THING done.

About an hour before I started writing this post I texted Dad, 100% sure he was asleep following surgery or that he was not feeling up to messing with his cell phone and so on… And as expected he didn’t reply, and that felt terrible even though he had a very good reason. But then an hour after THAT, he called me on the landline and we talked for a while, and I started crying just hearing his voice. And then another hour later I came back to this post to finish writing it…and because Dad said, “you can post about it tomorrow” I’m waiting until sometime after midnight to post it…which is cheating, but just barely. (Looking at the clock it’s now quarter-after-3am. Nobody’s seeing this until “tomorrow” anyway.)

So tonight I’m feeling very exhausted, a little beat up, a LOT punch drunk, unbelievably worried, pretty relieved, optimistic, pessimistic, angry, and grateful all at once. Because I’m me. And because this is hard.

Hug somebody if you can. But either be quarantined for a couple weeks or be fully vaccinated before you do.

And try to avoid the DMV.