Monday, November 2, 2015

Zombies, Grammar Books and Nasty Plumbing Problems: Halloween 2015

We may be living on a postcard, but that doesn't change the fact that I cleaned shit out of our shower on Saturday morning.

Actual shit.

...for the second time.


Rewind to two weeks ago, when we noticed our shower wasn't draining very well—but nothing seemed to be clogging the drain. When this happened, the toilet bowl would also be slow to empty when flushed, filling high with extra water.

Damien took a plunger to the shower, which surprisingly pulled up a ton of sewage (crap!) in the shower. Turns out the toilet and shower are somehow connected, and there's some sort of water receptacle in the garage (on the other side of the bathroom) that needs to be pumped out every six months or so. No one had been living here before us, so we'd made it overflow... or something.

The apartment owner (Damien's best friend's mom) came over right away with a water pump (wet vacuum?), and sucked up water in the garage. She was on her way to a wedding that day, so she wasn't very thrilled to have spent the morning dealing with our crappy water. I just tried to stay out of the way (aka in the house), as I wasn't really sure what was going on in the garage, nor what I should do to help.

It had certainly been an unexpected morning, but by afternoon we'd gotten it straightened out, and Damien was actually the one who cleaned things up in the bathroom that day. (What a great guy, eh?)

Now fast forward to Saturday. I'd noticed the last few days that the shower had been somewhat slow to drain again, but not as slow as before. I think something was up with the toilet too, because Damien had told me we needed to stop putting toilet paper in the toilet. (And just like that, I was thrown back to Korea, where used TP gets thrown in waste baskets!)

So Damien's out watching cartoons on the sofa, and I use the bathroom. It wasn't something you'd want to let mellow, so I flush it down. But the toilet fills with water, so now there's an unpleasant mix in there. As I'm washing my hands, coming to grips with the fact that we have toilet issues again, imagine my horror when I happen to notice out of the corner of my eye that our blue-tiled shower is now covered in a growing layer of brown coming up from the shower drain. Ahhh!

This time Julien comes with the water pump (and girlfriend, Sophie), and his mom stays home. Damien and Julien pumped out a bunch of water, and also unscrewed the sewer cover on the sidewalk in front of our apartment and were sticking arms down there. Pretty sure I heard some passersby giving their opinions that maybe Damien and Julien should call some water people instead of taking matters into their own hands, but these two mechanical minds love solving problems like these.

Once the garage plumbing issue was "fixed," I cleaned up the bathroom while Damien and Julien kept fiddling with the street sewage pipes (or something), and Sophie hung out in the living room. The guys think there's a problem with the pipe that brings water into the bathroom from the street, because it acts differently from the pipe that brings water into the kitchen. So maybe that'll get looked into later; I'm not exactly sure where we stand at this point.

But anyway, around 1 p.m. the four of us headed into Montpellier together via car. Since parking in the city is harder to find and more expensive, we drove to a tram stop at the end of a line that has a parking lot, meant for commuters. For a flat fee, you get the parking plus a round trip on the tram for all of the occupants in the car (doesn't matter how many people). Good deal!

We took the tram into the city center and had lunch at a burger place. It felt so good to be back in my old neighborhood!

We actually walked past my old apartment so Julien and Sophie could see where I'd lived, and then we went to this big bookstore nearby with new and used books.

I bought:
  • Bonjour Tristesse (a short French novel recommended in this FluentU post)
  • Difficultés du français (a reference book of French language rules)
  • Grammaire Progressive du Français (the grammar workbook one of my French teachers from this summer recommended)
  • The answer key for the above French grammar workbook (yeah, I'm still not quite over the fact that I had to pay separately for the answers!)
  • Two unlined small journals so I can draw out colorful grammar rules and such.
  • A nice lined notebook for lists and thoughts and words.

I've already done four pages from the grammar book, and am excited to be getting back to some more structured learning!

Outside of this bookstore are bins and bins of used books on sale for 5 euros, 3 euros, 1 euro, or even 20 cents. While I could have stayed and looked through those bins for an hour, the other three luckily pulled me away—otherwise we might have missed the zombie walk.

Yes, the whole reason we'd gone into Montpellier was to watch the "Zombie Walk" that was planned for the afternoon. A zombie walk is an event where people dress up like zombies, and then walk around a city together starting at a designated spot and time. These can happen at any point in the year, but this one was obviously planned to align with Halloween. (Note to my American readers: Halloween isn't really celebrated in France, other than what has seeped in from American culture.)

We happened to see the zombies walking by just as we neared the Comédie. I think all of the best zombies were at the start of the walk, which my camera completely missed because it was just me and my eyes at that point.

But here are some zombies from the middle and end of the herd:

These guys aren't zombies—it's Julien, Sophie and Damien watching the "parade":

We then headed back to Palavas, where we carved a pumpkin Damien had picked up from the grocery store, per my American suggestion.

I only really took a couple handfuls of goop out of the center; I never actually touched a knife.

Sophie gets all the credit for the creepy cool face:

We had dinner together, I made apple crisp, we watched half of "Friday the 13th" on Netflix (which is totally not worth watching, by the way—we finished it on Sunday night), and then paused it to play some games.

Although mostly good, it had been a long day (I hadn't slept well the night before), so I had basically turned into a zombie myself hours before everyone ended up leaving.

A good night's sleep remedied that, and we woke up on Sunday to gorgeous sunshine and a working toilet. What more could you ask for?
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