Dear Household Gods, What Did I Do to Piss You Off?

Many years ago a friend told me that I was like an egg: fragile, but able to withstand tremendous pressure. Well, this weekend I cracked. If I ever possessed an ounce of grace it eluded me entirely. I tried, but I just couldn't hold up; the older I get the harder it is.

On Friday evening I'd noticed that the kitchen sink had backed up a little when I ran the dishwasher. It drained, albeit slowly.

Temporary glitch, thought I...

With images of a quiet weekend between holidays, on Friday night I decided to set the timer on the coffeemaker before going to bed.

How nice it will be, thought I, to get up with the coffee ready and then to lounge all morning in bed.

I had plans to finish reading a book I was asked to review and then write in the comfort of an uneventful Saturday. I finished the final rewrite of With a Dream, got the coffeemaker ready, then went to bed.
(Aside: I don't know about you, but I can't handle crap when I first wake up. If the slightest thing goes wrong before I've got my brain cells moving around, I can get downright suicidal. Well, not literally, but close enough.)
If you're a long time reader of this blog you know all about my bad karma with coffeemakers. I regret to tell you that, despite the fact that last July I bought a new Brew Station believing I was over all that at last, on Saturday morning it died. What's up with that? We don't use our coffee machines more than anyone elseone, maybe two pots in a 24-hour period at the most. Fortunately, I'd hung onto the little percolator I'd bought the year before, so I used it and all was well. I can't remember why I threw it over for the Brew Station last summer, but I humbly apologize. Miffed but not shaken, I went back to bed with a cup of perked coffee and went to work on the review.

By noon the entire house was backed up. The shower had four inches of ugly water in it, the bath was vomiting, and the toilet, well, let's not discuss that. The guys' bathroom, too, was sick though not as sick as ours. Lynette got my cell phone to call the landlord and found that it was dead. I hadn't added any minutes because Net10 hadn't bothered to send me the usual text telling me my air time was about to run out. Couldn't add minutes because we still had to make a deposit at the bank. Use the land line. It was dead too. There was the tiniest trace of a dial tone, but it was impossible to hear anything. Oh well, that phone was ages old. What to do? We hadn't performed any of the "Three Esses" yet and the time was drawing nearer.

We drove to Lynette's office, where we took care of one of the Esses, then called the landlord. It was Saturday, so he wasn't in his office. He also didn't have an emergency number to call. She left her office phone number on his machine and hung up. I guess our household gods weren't completely pissed at us because the phone rang back in a few minutes. It was the landlord, who just happened to walk into his office while Lynette was leaving her message. He said he'd be over in a couple of hours to give us the key to the vacant house across the street. This is what he did, telling us that he'd have the problem fixed around 8:30 Monday morning.

The blue and white Nantucket cottage across the street is a cute little place, but the kids who lived there last trashed it. The inside is going through a major overhaul and it's dirty and cold, and there are dead spiders the size of half-dollars curled up everywhere. Did I mention it's dirty? Well, at least we had access to a toilet on Sunday. That didn't do anything about the dishwasher full of dirty dishes or the fact that I hadn't showered since Friday morning, but I wasn't about to stand naked in the Nantucket's tub to take a shower even if the landlord had turned the heat and water heater back on.

"Red water in the bathroom sink, fever in the scum-brown bowl..."
(Cold Blue Steel by Joni Mitchell)

Yesterday morning he came out and snaked the line and while I slept, Lynette was able to use the shower. Everything backed up again. Unable to stand myself any longer, I packed up a few things and braved the shower across the street. Did I mention that the temperature never got higher than 24 degrees all weekend? When I got into the filthy shower I found that the water was lukewarm and that it wasn't going to get any warmer.

I confess I finally lost it. I broke down and cried. It felt like nothing had gone right for so long, now, here I was standing in a spider-infested bathroom the size of a phone booth, washing in a moldy, scummy, cold shower with a broken shower head that wouldn't stay on the crusty wall, and no curtain. My clean clothes were getting wet and the floor was turning into mud. I'd forgotten to bring soap. I cried like a little girl, remembering my penthouse with the Pacific Ocean view, my new Jeep, and a roach-free kitchen. I remembered performing in Nutcracker all those years and the Christmas parties at Maestro Salazar's house. I remembered wearing festive holiday clothes and drinking sparkling wine. I remembered actually looking forward to Christmas instead of dreading it. I won't say that I wanted to be dead, I just didn't want to be alive at that moment. I bathed as best as I could in the freezing cold and came back across the street shivering and depressed.

One step away from living in a cardboard box in an alley, thought I. The day may come when I'll wish I had a filthy bathroom and cold water to shower in.

We had to get some groceries, so Joel and I went out. When we got back we emptied the dishwasher and washed everything by hand in a thimbleful of water. An hour later a real plumber came to the house and put the big guns into action. Within 45 minutes we were up and running again. Ernie called and we talked about Stratocasters; he made me laugh about the things that can go wrong on stage. I made the family a pot roast; we haven't been able to buy anything like that for a long time.

Sod it, thought I. We deserve it and we're all craving real protein.

We had a great dinner, then Nettl and I cuddled on the sofa to watch White Christmas. I fell asleep, emotionally Roto-Rootered and drained. When I woke up this morning I went to make the coffee and saw that Nettl had made it for me; all I had to do was plug it in.

Things are going to be alright, thought I.