Sunday, February 7, 2010


If I tried to talk about this weekend coherently, beginning to end, it would take six months to tell, and I would still miss stuff.

The start of things was when the heating oil delivery made at 10:30 the morning, just as the blizzard was getting started, turned into the heating system boiler reboot (okay, actually the technical term is bleeder valve priming, but reboot is easier) took until about nine p.m. I actually got a great referral to a how-to website from my friend the service guy at my delivery company (thanks W!). Unfortunately, my stupid arthritic hands, and stupid tools which will not fit in tiny little four-inch apertures, were not up to (nor down to, actually, in terms of scale) the job. Geezit.

A visit from mom and stepdad was no help either. So I remained one screwed nut (har) away from heating satisfaction. And the house was down to forty-nine degrees, even with three space heaters.

Three space heaters, plugged in the most creative possible configuration, throughout my office, the living room, and separate circuit breakers in the kitchen, and all fed back into the living room via extension cords, so as to heat a single room.

In order to block off the other rooms, I'd brought up the solid oak doors for many of these spaces, from the basement. And propped them into place.

Which unfortunately meant I damaged the phone line to the office, where my laptop usually lives. But which itelf, now, was plugged for its own power somewhere in the kitchen, while the DSL box was plugged into the outlet above the fireplace. And the phone line was on the amusingly improvised-looking hookup in the LR.

My house looked like something out of Brazil, man. Terry Gilliam's nightmares. And still no heat. Well, unless you count the pretty amazing *ZZT* mom got out of one of the vintage heater's vintage plugs, when her foot moved the connection a little. And, um, singed the floor. Leading her to, I have to say prudently - but did it have to be so depressingly-comically? - bring down one of the pots I had been using all week to heat BATH WATER, to contain the connection. So I'd have a nice pot sitting in the middle of the floor, holding one of my myriad electronic riggings, so it wouldn't EXPLODE and burn the house down. Oh, seriously, could my living situation possibly be any more ridiculous by now ... ? With the leaning doors and the webbing of circuit breakers and the NO HEAT and a dog literally shivering, and glowering at me because she knows this was my fault for not having a job via which paying $560 oil bills comes easily before Christmas ... ?


When mom and stepdad left, they gave me the number for, and I think I actually have this progression correct: my stepfather's niece's brother-in-law (who is a heating and air tech). It seems like I've missed a relationship in those steps ... but, in any case. I called the HOME telephone provided to me, left the most apologetically stalker-ish voicemail I could possibly muster, and sat down to microwaved dinner.

When the guy actually CALLED ME BACK (!!!!), he turned out to be a super nice guy, the sort of good old boy we have around here and there, not least in my own family, and he was actually incredibly helpful. He got me as far as getting the bleeder valve open for the priming, but the part that should have been easy - pressing a button - turned out to be stumping us both. When he found out this weekend is my birthday, he said, "Aw darlin', if I'da known it was your birthday, I'da been there already!" He did come over, around eight p.m., and the first thing that happened was my big old Volvo-headed dog SLAMMED into the kitchen, from the dining room, KNOCKING A SOLID OAK DOOR ONTO HIS HEAD.


Fortunately for me and my homeowner's policy: the guy laughed about it. We joked it was the sort of thing a woman does when she's alone and a man is coming over at night.

Anyway. Down to the basement. And dangitall if we didn't both sit there pretty stumped. He did manage the actual priming, but yet again the reset itself remained on lockout mode. In the end, having each tried the intricate task of pressing the button a couple times, he sat and held it while we talked for a bit about how stupid it was that this wasn't working.

Naturally: it worked.

Note to all: "Lockout timing: 15 seconds" apparently actuall should be read at a factor of ten or so. Good grief.

So we worked the system, the guy got $125 and a near-concussion, and we stood in the kitchen for a bit talking about high school, as his wife was apparently in my brother's class, and blar-di-blah. He eyed the dog and laughed, said, "She looks old and worn out" and I said, "She d*mn near knocked YOU out" and she sat there amused that she was the topic of discussion, and expecting the usual praise she receives no doubt. He left by nine, and ... I had heat. First time in five days - not a bad start to the weekend, after an initial series of painful dramas which just about licked me.

The rest of the evening? Why redeploying plugs, naturally. The *ZZT*'ed one of which, in fact, was disturbingly warm. And melted. Mmmm - the joy of non-electric heat.

Yesterday, I cleaned house. I spoke, too, with my friend Z, who is probably the most amazing, ridiculous, impressive, and impressed-upon people in the world. This is a woman I love from the bottom of my puling little guts, and who's had about ENOUGH doodoo piled onto her life's plate. I was no help to her, but as my phone was about to run out of juice and her house was being dealt with by those minions of G-d's little acre of hell known as Building Management, we got off and she said she'd call in an hour. I told her to use the cell, hooked it over my pants, and got to cleaning.

I understand that, when mom told stepdad I had dropped the phone IN THE TOILET he laughed uncontrollably.


I cannot say this reaction was shared. My own brain just sort of went "bloop". As did the telephone.

It actually continued working for a while there. I couldn't believe it - and I almost couldn't stomach it. How do you reconcile yourself to the prospect of using a TOILET PHONE, seriously? There's no amout of cleaning ...


And of course, yesterday was the eighteen-basquillion feet of snow too. What a lovely thing. I gave up on shoveling altogether (not least as I have no shovel in the first place). Heck with it. After all, where was I going? I'd gone out on Friday. Enough for me, surely.

Except of course, this year was the first year in forever that I've actually felt like having some fun - which is a pretty big deal, as my father died on my birthday as luck would have it.

But no. Homebound.

So I turn on the TV, and how much of a smartypants does Martin Bashir have to be, that in the snow the night before my father died, there was a huge and gross documentary airing for approximately nineteen hours through the whole dystopian evening - and here it was, the seventh anniversary of dad's death almost, and d*mn my eyes if that man wasn't right back front and center with THAT MAN again, now he's dead too, with ANOTHER documentary, and, oh yeah, it's snowing again. Thanks, life.

Not creepy at ALL.

I mean, good grief.

So snowed in, heated by the grace of god and a near-concussion, phone dropped in a toilet, life OH SO SUBTLE with the post-shadowing there about the night my father died, and - not for nothing - one half of the people I know nearly suicidally depressed, and the other entirely wrapped up in their navels. And I'm no good to any one of them.


Sunday finally dawns, and I've got writing stuff on my mind, one very important piece of which I get done (the death scene, actually, of the closest thing to an avatar for the author, in the entire piece; huh, didn't think of the irony there, actually - great). I sit down with one of my bibles to do some reading in prep for another scene, and somehow get distracted.

I end up agreeing to birthday lunch at Maggiano's with mom and stepdad. It was awfully good. We laughed a lot about the phone.

We also replaced it, with an old one mom still had. So the total cost was actually one battery ($41.99). Shew.

After all this, mom and I ditched SD and ran off on our own for some shopping. You might not think it from the brief recap of today's events to that point, but it was about 4:00 p.m.

While shopping, I told my mom about the eBaying I've been doing to help make ends (still not) meet. How I've gained about the best customer one could ask for. And I'm pretty positive I've become the personal shopper for a baby drag queen somewhere in New England.

Mom thought the story of The Drag Queen Who Saved Christmas was pretty hilarious, of course, and wasn't judgmental at all: even HELPING ME SHOP FOR THINGS TO POSSIBLY SELL HER.


There are times I love the dickens out of my mom.

I did end up with some shoes, and just emailed her; we'll see if she likes them. I also got a neat little dress for seven bucks, and I want to keep it. So there.

The part where she egged me on to tell my exceedingly bashful SD about it was a little odd. But she was all into the joke. Naturally, he about died.

Then my cousin V called, and mom told her about it too. By midnight, my entire family should be scandalized that Diane is selling skanky shoes to transvestite Yankees to make a living. What the Baby Jesus will make of my own spin on the commercialization of His nativity hasn't yet been reported.

I won't try to call Him on a toilet phone for a quote for publication, though. That much is for sure.

1 comment:

Zuba said...

what a nightmare. southern belle with a gentleman caller after hours SCANDALOUS!