Little House on the Raritan

This past Sunday, we lost heat in our house. Let me break it down for you. Sunday evening, there was a blizzard – we’re talking 30 fucking inches of snow by Monday morning and 50+ mph wind gusts. The snow drifts were up to the top of the railing on our deck, and the non-drifted areas up to one’s waist. While the storm was raging outside, my dad was stressing about the sub-pump failing in our basement because it tends to do that when it floods down there – which is frequently. If the sub-pump failed, it would over flood and burn out the furnace, thus cutting off our heat. Since he just had his surgery the week before, he wouldn’t be able to go down and fix it. My dad is notoriously the voice of doom, so I figured it was going to happen. And when we woke up Monday morning to a freezing house and a popping noise coming from below the floor boards, we knew it wasn’t good.

We called our neighbor and friend, who went downstairs for my dad and tried to fix the problem, but couldn’t. His girlfriend (who is also our neighbor) brought over some space heaters to help out. My aunt called and told us she knew someone who worked with my uncle who also had a heating business on the side. She gave this dude our sob story (we totally played the gimp card), and he said he’d come over and fix it for us. That night, I slept with five blankets on and a beanie on my head. My mom wore about ten scarves and my dad looked like he was preparing to climb Mount Everest.

The guys who worked on the new furnace swore like sailors (and this is coming from someone who has no problem with cursing), blasted their music, and got into loud arguments. It was very unprofessional and annoying (especially with the thudding of their music at 8:30 in the morning), but we really can’t complain – right? Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, or whatever that saying is.

Our heat wasn’t fixed until yesterday afternoon, so we spent three and a half days without heat. Even though we had the space heaters and my mom hung sheets over our doorways (it was very Moroccan chic!), it was still cold as hell. And very drafty. So I told mom it was like Little House on the Prairie – an adventure. Oh, I forgot to mention that our cable went out as well, and we kept knocking out the power with our space heaters. Reenacting “The Money Pit” is not as fun as it sounds.

Santa, Snow, and Sondheim

Christmas was pretty swell, especially since my dad came home from the hospital early Christmas Eve. My mom made pork, rice and beans, and tostones for dinner that night, which is always fantastic. I love Cuban food, especially mom’s. The next day, we had to wait for my brother and sister-in-law to arrive before opening presents. I’m such a little kid about it – I get all antsy about opening gifts. Mom didn’t help by laying out everyone’s presents the night before, so I had to stare at them in all their wrapping-paper glory until we were able to open them.

I was really excited to get the Stephen Sondheim boxed set from Santa (yes, my mom writes “From Santa” on our gifts, still), as I am a huge musical theater dork. I also got the Full House series on DVD, some new PJs, Ricky Martin’s autobiography, loads of gummy candy, a zhuzhu pet (!!!), and a cute squirrel statue. And my brother and sister-in-law got me a beautiful cameo and crystal necklace from Swarovski. I gave them one of those flip video cameras so they could capture their baby’s most adorable moments, and they were really, really excited about it. I can’t wait for them to use it.

A few hours later, the Cuban hoard arrived (a.k.a. my family), and we all sat down for some lasagna and meatballs. Every year, my mom is usually the one who cooks, but with everything going on with my dad, my two aunts took over that job. I’m not a huge pasta and sauce fan, but I did enjoy it. We then exchanged gifts (hell yea for gift cards!), and everyone left. Even though I love my family tons, I cherish the moment everyone leaves and it’s just quiet. I take that time to adjust my ear drums to the normal levels of sound, because damn, my family is loud.

Today I woke up, looked outside, and everything was covered in a thin layer of white fluff. Now there’s probably ten inches of snow on the ground, and the wind is picking up. We’re supposed to get 18 inches by the time it’s all over. It’s the perfect evening for peppermint hot chocolate and watching movies. I already watched Putting It Together with my dad, which is a musical revue of Sondheim songs, starring George Hearn, John Barrowman (adore him!), Carol Burnett, Bronson Pinchot (Balky!), and Ruthie Henshall. It was fantastic and sweet and everything a Sondheim musical embodies.

Hospitals for the Holidays

My dad had his quadruple bypass on the 20th, and is currently in the hospital recuperating. The doctor said he did well, and was happy with what he saw. Last night my dad was in a lot of pain from all the chest tubes that kept his lungs inflated during surgery (as well as some other tubes), but they were removed today and he feels better. I’m hoping he gets to come home for Christmas. But even if he comes home the day after, that’s fine – as long as he’s feeling better. I mean, you could always just pretend it’s the 25th on the 26th.

We’ve had a few holidays were someone wasn’t home for Christmas. Back when I was a tween, I became ill with pneumonia, and wasn’t breathing so well one morning. I was rushed to the ER, intubated, and eventually trached. I stayed there for two weeks, then was transferred to Children’s Hospital up in Mountainside, NJ. The doctors and nurses there slowly weened me off the ventilator for the daytime hours and trained my parents how to take care of my trach and vent. Even though I was essentially better, it took a while for me to get back home – I was in that hospital for about a month, over Christmas. Even though I wished I was home, it wasn’t so bad; I was able to spend it with my family, AND I got double the gifts, thanks to hospital donations.

In 2002 or 2003 (that whole time was kind of a blur!), my brother joined the US Marines. Of course, his boot camp training was during Christmas, and OF COURSE we missed his obligatory Christmas Eve phone call (which we were never notified about) because we were out at that time. My mom kept our decorations up until he came home in February, lights outside and all. This is how we roll.

So, basically, the situation with my dad is par for course.