Surviving a tough week

Last week was a struggle.

It was the first week back from work after a long winter break. Although controversial, Monday, January 6, 2014 was dubbed “The Most Depressing Day of the Year.” Off to a good start. Tuesday was the height of the polar vortex. While we were nowhere close to Minnesota’s lows, my poor California body was physically unprepared for the high of 7 degrees. I did suit up appropriately, but that didn’t change the fact that it was still bitterly cold out.

Tuesday night I decided to make this delicious roast chicken with dijon sauce┬árecipe. I was home alone and wanted a hearty home-cooked meal. I don’t know how other people deal with this, but there’s a step in many recipes (such as this one) where you braise the chicken in a skillet, and then stick skillet et. al. into the oven for a half hour. About 10 minutes in, the oil starts to burn and smoke. Does anyone know what to do about this? Anyway, it wasn’t unbearably smoky, but I decided to open the window. Now remember, at this point the temperature outside is close to 5 degrees. As I attempt to open the windows, I realize that they are frozen shut. I spend the next desperate 30 minutes googling and trying everything in my power to open one window (and occasionally make futile attempts at the others). I put my hands in oven mitts and try to lift the window open (it is too cold to use my bare hands). I press my palm against the frame repeatedly (supposedly to loosen the ice crystals). I plug the hair dryer in and heat the frame, using a towel to dry up the condensation that forms. Morbid thoughts enter my head as I rail against the window. What if I die of smoke inhalation? Or suffer long-term affects of extended smoke exposure for the rest of my life? I fear that I will somehow set off the building’s fire alarm and send all of our residents, young and old, out into the miserable cold. For this last reason, I do not open the front door. For thirty minutes I struggle and strain. I can only imagine what people in apartments across the way thought if they saw me throwing myself against the window. It finally opened, thank god, and I set up a fan to blow the smoke out.

When the apartment was feeling a bit chilled and the air seemed clear, I closed the window. As I washed the dishes, I noticed the water from the sink would heat only to lukewarm, and when J finally got home he commented that the apartment wasn’t as toasty as it usually was. When we awoke in the morning to frigid air and icy tap water, we realized that the building’s boiler must be broken. So by Wednesday morning, with an expected high of 10 degrees, our heat was off and our bones chilled. On the bright side, I have never gotten dressed and out the door for work with such speed.

On Wednesday I realized that my monthly metrocard had expired. I had enrolled in a program through an outside company contracted by my employer that takes money out of my paycheck and once a month sends me an unlimited metrocard. It is supposed to arrive by the first of the month. It was late the first month, December, and Wednesday ┬ámorning I realized I hadn’t gotten my new monthly card. So I paid for a cash card and used that, hoping the letter would arrive that night with the card. That’s what always happens, right? When you need it most, it comes in the nick of time.

Wrong. It did not arrive that day, nor the day after. On Thursday, due to train trouble / a sick passenger, I had to pay double fare for the subway (I swiped into my station, found out that trains were skipping my station, got out and walked to the next station and had to swipe in again). Enough was enough and so I called the company and demanded reimbursement. I was so angry, and gave them a piece of my mind. I went on about how this wasn’t the first time, how they took my money and I am paying extra out of pocket. It’s January and my account is already pretty low from the holidays. Of course, while I am going off they tell me that I am speaking too quietly. I am not very good at this.

On Friday morning I was back on the phone with them, arguing about the fact that they will only reimburse me for the amount that they already took out of my paycheck, and nothing more. What a week. I am so angry at this scammy company, and I can’t even cancel my enrollment until March.

But alas, it was the end of the week. The problems I faced were really, “just a flesh wound.” The weather had warmed considerably (mid-40s! low 50s!). J’s friends were coming over for board game night. He finally opened his (late) Christmas gifts and loved them. A couple of friends came over this weekend for a lazy sleepover. It flew by, but I feel ready for this next week. I realize that things don’t always go smoothly, and some weeks are worse than others, but it’s about how you handle them, how you survive, and how you work to move on and live through the next one.

As Voltaire said:

Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.

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