Self Help 8

How To Fix A Sink

This newsletter is my process of writing a self-help book, tentatively titled How To Make Money: Financial Advice For Poets.


It’s been really fun writing this newsletter over the past couple of weeks. For people who just signed up here’s a brief recounting of the first 7 letters. Please read them if you have the time.

The first letter explained how to make $10,000 a month in passive income. The second was about How To Be Rich. The third letter dealt with Happiness. The fourth Micromarketing, then Collaboration. The sixth was a quick guide to make a movie. And finally how to publish a book.

I plan on writing more on all of these topics. I mean, it can’t be that simple to make a feature film, can it?

But first I have a list of topics to go through and offer advice on. There’s so much I don’t know, I could write a whole book about it.

How To Fix A Sink: Plumbing For Poets

If you have a bad clog it’s not a great idea to use Drano. Liquid plumbers are corrosive to your pipes. That didn’t stop me from doing it last Saturday, even though several years ago I poured a bottle or two of Drano down my sink in an apartment in New York then put a clothes hanger straight through the pipe.

I suffer from a rare learning disorder. I only learn things the hard way.

Saturday, the clog wasn’t clearing at all, which is bad when you’ve filled your pipes with Drano, because that stuff is going to it eat its way out somehow. So I placed a steel gumbo pot under the sink and removed the P-trap. But first I opened all the windows and doors and turned the fan on.

The P-trap is that weird, curved pipe under the sink that leads into another pipe heading into the wall. To remove a P-trap you just unscrew the bolts holding it at both sides. This is usually where your clogs are going to be. It’s much easier to remove than it looks, and there are no fancy parts inside. It’s just a hollow curved pipe.

The Drano immediately flushed into my Gumbo pot which I dumped in the toilet. I don’t recommend doing that.

There was nothing caught in the P-trap. And water flowed easily from the sink. So the clog was on the other side, inside the wall. I tried to use a snake, basically a thick wire hanger, to dislodge it. Then I tried an actual wire hanger. Nothing worked.

So I attached my vacuum to the end of the pipe and created a seal with my hand, then sucked the clog out.

Then I put the sink back together, but I had stripped one of the old pipes. I went to the Home Depot and a very patient employee explained what a 1 ¼ inch pipe was and the basics of how one thing fits into something else. He told me he liked helping people and didn’t think it was so hard to be a good person if we all just made a little effort.

Back home I got the sink back together and it all worked, which felt like a miracle. The black stuff I had taken into my poor vacuum was thick and wet and hard to describe. It was the deepest black I had ever seen but at some point every bit of it had been alive.

I learned how to fix my sink five or six years ago in that New York apartment. Not the time when I stuck a clothes hanger through the pipe, a different time.

A poet had come over and was helping me hang something. The poet’s a handy person, and I’m not handy. He’s a beautiful writer who has built many bookshelves and knows how to operate a boat. I’ve always relied on people like that to get by in the world.

He picked up the hammer and immediately punched a hole in my wall. That’s when I realized the primary difference between someone who was handy and someone who wasn’t was belief. Thanks to the poet teaching me this lesson, when I arrived in New Orleans I was able to build a custom bed in a space where a normal bed wouldn’t fit.

Obviously, there are people who really know stuff and do it for a living. A plumber would have had no trouble clearing my drain. People that do stuff all day learn the shortcuts, and how to quickly diagnose problems. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the difference between someone who is handy and someone who isn’t.

That’s how you fix a sink.




p.s. Paid subscribers get free consulting on any of the topics I’ve written about, but you can also subscribe for free.

p.s. 2 I’m not going to name the poet because I don’t want to shame anyone, but this is an excellent book that just came out: