I have terrible apartment karma. Faulty buildings seem to lie dormant in my life like a virus, occasionally flaring up with all the intensity and rage of full blown outbreak. No, wait, karma assumes I’ve done something bad to deserve this. Maybe in a past life I was a Saxon who toppled some great tower or other architectural testament to man’s vanity and artistic nature? I’m not sure, but I'm pretty sure I haven’t done anything in this life to warrant this string of luck.
Maybe that’s it? I just have bad luck. A dark cloud of doom and asbestos plaguing me with bad wiring and old pipes.
“Then again,” I said to myself while standing in my bedroom looking at the giant water-filled hole that had been jackhammered in only hours earlier, “maybe it’s just freak coincidence.”
The whole mess started a few days earlier. The temperature outside was a roaring 100 degrees and you could feel the heat smother you like a hot, wet blanket. Even indoors there was little escape. Every fan was turned on, cold drinks were poured, and clothes were stripped down till we were practically bare in effort to combat the withering heat. None of it made much difference.
By the time night arrived and the outside air had fallen to a more tepid 80-something we were still toasting like stale white bread in an oven. “It’s hotter in here than outside. How is that possible?” said BF. We had thrown open all the windows and every fan was spinning so fast they were almost ready to take off and fly away.
“That’s it. I’m done. I breaking the First Law,” I said.
The First Law in our apartment is one written in stone: Thou Shalt Not Use the Air Conditioning or Central Heat. We’re a thrifty bunch, able to squeeze blood from a penny, and from that blood - through dark and fiscal alchemy - make another penny. The temperature controlled air only goes on when things are at their worst. As I said my words I could taste the salt on my lips from the dribbling sweat and I clicked the thermostat on and set it to 80 degrees. Nothing crazy - like 75, of all things! - just something simple.
We all collapsed and tried to sleep waiting for the cold air to stir and temper the stifling summer heat.
I awoke in Vietnam. The atmosphere in the bedroom was thick and sticky, near-tropical in heat and humidity. I listened and could hear the AC dragon roaring away but it wasn’t even competing. You could feel the wet air cling to you. It pulled you down like a tantruming child gripping to your pant leg for whatever self-serving reason; strong and just as frustrating.
HOW?! The cold air was blowing. It made no sense.
I walked into the bathroom and was blown away by the heat. It wasn't just oppressive, it was dominating and all-encompassing. Vengeful and humid it was even worse than the bathroom. The linoleum floor was white hot and I immediately jumped off of it. I investigated it further and, standing on the carpet, I pressed my hand against the hard floor. It was hotter than summer blacktop. I could actually see the air waver as the heat radiated from below making the far corner of the bathroom shimmer like water in an anything-but-average household mirage.
I went outside and pulled down the thermometer hanging on the patio post. 68F outside. I went back to the bathroom and put it on the floor. The mercury rose. And rose. And continued to rise until it stopped at 130F.
I noticed then, that my feet were just barely moist. Hardly noticeable, but they were. I suddenly realized that this was because the carpet was, too.
A few days later I'm looking down a hole in my bedroom, which in fact is the wrong hole. The apartment manager is having the plumber out again to take out the bathroom sink and jackhammering a new hole into my floor to get through the concrete slab and find where the broken hot water pipe is.
At least they’ve drained the water out and the apartment is no longer as balmy as a Laotian August. Given, my carpet is ripped up, the furniture is all on plastic risers (though it seems we lost a bookshelf), the place reeks of mold and mildew, it took TWO damn days to get the plumber out here, and the kitten is so stressed she started peeing in on the wettest and smelliest parts of the floor; but, hey, at least the temperature is down and they're drilling the right hole this time. Maybe. I hope.
So, you know, progress.
I’m actually taking the whole thing rather well. I’m horrifyingly used to disaster. Years ago, I was almost killed when the ceiling in my bathroom suddenly collapsed in on itself from a broken pipe. Later, another busted pipe destroyed my cookbooks. In 2009, there was the fire that destroyed - literally - everything and left me homeless for a month. So, yes, a slight bit of water doesn’t phase me much.* In fact, I’ve been quite collected.
Mostly, at least. BF is actually far more calm than me. He handles everything with quiet grace and simple acceptance that things are just going to be what they be. Heck, during the fire when we were standing outside in the rain at two in the morning and I was losing my mind watching my apartment burn down his advice was a placid, “Don’t panic.”
He’s been a trooper and hero through all of this. While I’m usually panicky, freaking out, and stressed, he’s usually doing everything in his power to ease the situation (read: Garrett). He’ll make dinner, give the cats attention, and do all those little things around the house without being asked like weed the garden or take out the trash because he knows how that little stuff irks and distracts me.
He also has the amazing superpower to remain levelheaded and make me laugh when I’m at my breaking point. Something no one else seems able to do.
Yesterday, I yelled at BF for the first time. Ever. The water was spreading, I had lost a bookcase, and Zola had just taken one of her foulest poops to date on my comforter. I was behind deadline and already stressed from the everything happening. Frustrated, tired, and at my limit Brian tried to comfort me and, so, I screamed at him.
I screamed that I was tired. I screamed that I couldn’t take it anymore. It was too much bad luck, or karma, or whatever. I screamed that I needed it to finally stop. I wasn’t yelling so much at him because of him. I was yelling at him because he was there and I wanted someone to yell at who would take it.
And he did.
And I felt awful.
He looked at me. He didn't yell back. He just looked at me and smiled. “You should make pie with all those blueberries we have in the fridge,” said BF.
“What?” I was too confused by the sudden shift in topic. If I have a weakness it’s the non sequitur.
“My mom used to make blueberry pie. It’s my favorite,” he smiled.
“Really? I thought cheesecake was your favorite? How did I not know this? You’ve never mentioned that.” The non sequitur is my weakness because I have to follow it to its conclusion. Like a raccoon with a new shiny-shiny thing, I am curious and easily distracted. Brian knows this and how to use it to his advantage to diffuse my occasional self-implosion/explosion.
“Yes, oh my God, blueberry pie…” he grabbed me and nuzzled his gruffly face into the crook of my neck, “NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM!!!” He began to tickle me with scruffy kisses, a billion pin-prickles grazing and digging along my skin. I giggled and squirmed and tried to escape his hold.
Amidst the piles of rubble, the torn up carpet, the humidity, broken furniture, and cat poo we fell to the floor where we wiggled and laughed over the thought of blueberry pie.
The apartment is back in working order. Everything is as it once was. Looking around you wouldn’t think anything happened. In fact, since they cleaned the carpets the place actually looks better than before (minus a poorly reconstructed cabinet in the hallway.)
I’m still weary over my renter’s karma. Why wouldn't I be? Still, one can only hope...
Oh, yes, there's also the matter of the winners of the Fearless Chocolate contest. Winners were picked through a random number generator.
The winner of the chocolate bars is:
And the winner of the chocolate mail is:
Be sure to Email Me so I can get your mailing information and you can get your cocoa on.
Blueberry Pie with Honey and Thyme
The recipe is one adapted from Simply Recipes. I used her blueberry pie recipe practically verbatim, but added 2 teaspoons of chopped thyme and 2 tablespoons of honey to the blueberry mix. Easy peasy. Since I'm not a fan of stealing traffic I encourage you to go there for the recipe and adapt it as needed. The thyme gives it a very old world, but modern taste that's just breathtakingly good.
A special thanks to Elise Bauer, of Simply Recipes. She let me sleep at her place during all the construction. She also gave me some advice in constructing this pie in her kitchen while she worked. She's one of my besties for a reason. XOXO, Elise.
Lastly, this is also my Pie Party post. A big thanks to Shauna for organizing this; and to Irvin, Ashley, and Justin for the idea of making pie together from far apart!
*Fire. Water. All I need is wind and earth to round things out. Two more disasters to look forward to in my future?