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Two Weeks Without a Toilet.

THIS is my new tub, a Rubbermaid Roughneck XL plastic bin. What do you think — is the lime green too much?

I picked it out in the storage section at Home Depot, kicking off my sandals and stepping in, doing a nice straight-back knee bend partway down to see if I would fit. At 18 by 32 inches, with a depth of 20 inches, it was perfect. But five days into my bathroom renovation, it was not so great.

Sick of the Y.M.C.A. showers, I decided to try using the bin as a true bathtub, rather than as the place where I would stand and drip after lathering up at the kitchen sink. I folded my limbs in, feeling like an insect with extra joints. (On the fifth day of her renovation, the reporter awoke to find she had turned into a giant cockroach.)

Seated, it was a very tight fit, leaving me three inches to move my hands, but lots of space to free-associate. My first association was flying tourist class to Shanghai. Then I thought about the stowaways who cram themselves into shipping boxes on freight containers. Then, realizing just how tough it would be to get out, I wondered if I would die there and what the headline might be.

Reporter Drowns in Makeshift Tub; Home Renovations in New York on Upswing

Bathroom renovation is not easy in Manhattan.

In the rest of the country, most people have bathrooms in multiples: master baths, children’s bath, powder rooms. In a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, you are lucky if you can find the space in your only bathroom for extra toilet paper. Renovating, you have a few choices: move out, use the neighbors’ bathroom or improvise.

Having the work done while I was away, which was my plan, finally didn’t seem to be a great idea: questions come up often during a renovation. Moving in with friends would be inconvenient, and hotels are expensive. Using a neighbor’s bathroom, which a lot of people suggested, was a terrible idea. Even if anyone was crazy enough to agree, it would mean that one day I would have to do the same for them, and who wants someone popping into their apartment several times an evening and in the middle of the night?

So improvisation it would be, and I had a plan. Use the Y.M.C.A. a block and a half away for showering. Buy a big plastic tub for an at-home lather-and-rinse bath. Brush my teeth at the kitchen sink.

Of course, the most urgent question — the one friends seized on constantly — was what I would do for a toilet. There were two camps, the ones who knew exactly what I was going to do — or as I came to think of them, the ones who had read Henry Miller in high school — and the ones who pretended they had no idea. The first camp, I am proud to say, was in the majority.

“O.K., the sink, I get it,” a science reporter said. “But what about — — ”

The doormen have a toilet, I told him. Somewhere.

I reminded the squeamish that I don’t cook. If a cup or two is poured carefully down the drain with the occasional Clorox chaser, so what? It’s not like I’m rinsing vegetables in the sink.

The night before demolition, I set up my bathroom in exile. I moved cosmetics and soaps and shampoos into the kitchen. I propped a hand mirror between the handles of a kitchen cabinet, which turned out to be exactly the right height for a makeup mirror. I put the Rubbermaid Roughneck tub near the sink, and stacked bath towels on a counter. The oven door handle of the snazzy Italian stove I put in during a kitchen renovation a few months earlier made a perfect rack for hand towels. I thought I could hear the stove sniffling, it was so grateful to be finally getting some attention, poor thing.

My contractor estimated that he could put in the bathroom in less than three weeks, connecting the toilet by the end of week two. This schedule was immediately knocked off course when the service elevator was shut down on Monday, meaning everything would be a day late, and I would be without a toilet for two weekends, not one. But my neighborhood is full of restaurants with bathrooms, and I had a plan; what did I care?

Read the rest here at NYTimes