Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Tale of Three Puddles, or, A Christmas Carol

On Christmas morning, I was visited by three separate puddles that formed on three separate occasions on my kitchen floor.  Each puddle had its own separate message.

The holidays are famously hard on single people, especially on single introverts.  It's not that we mind spending time alone - hell, a day to sleep in late, catch up on our reading, and binge watch some television sounds like paradise to us.  The problem is that certain other people want to insist that we celebrate the holidays with friends and family, and appear bitterly disappointed that we didn't spend our time in the exact same way that they did. They even feel compelled sometimes to extend invitations to people they don't really want to have over to engage in activities we don't really want to share, creating an awkward situation for all involved.  

As a result, we single introverts are either forced to become defensive, saying "No, really, we're fine, thank you," or to outright lie about our plans ("I'm meeting with some friends later on") just to satisfy the demands and expectations of society.  The implication is that if we don't celebrate certain holidays in the exact same way that others do, our lives are somehow incomplete or lacking, and those without a strong sense of self esteem may find themselves agreeing with that social assessment, resulting in depression or anxiety.  Alternately, we might find ourselves masquerading as "normals" and then feel worse about ourselves for being phonies and for worrying about the opinion of others.

Personally, I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day home alone and I'm fine.  Really.  To be quite honest, it's exactly what I wanted to do.  The day before the holidays, I had stocked up on food and drink, stuffing my refrigerator with some frozen meals and ice cream, with fresh berries and yogurt to make parfaits, with beer for watching sports on t.v., with frozen burritos and fresh salsa, and with tortellini and marinara sauce.  Enough food to last me a week, and I was looking forward to watching the NBA, the NFL, and, most especially, college bowl games on television, as well as re-watching drama series like HBO's The Leftovers and Fox's Fargo, and continuing to work my way through Don DeLillo's massive, 800-page novel Underworld (I'm about half-way through).

After a day of indulging in much of the above on a particularly wet and rainy Christmas Eve, I got up Christmas morning and found a puddle on the kitchen floor next to the sink.  This has happened before, and I'm not completely sure why, but it seems there's some sort of periodic and very slow leak under the sink, and I've found that if I just run the garbage disposal for a long minute, the leak stops. Earlier this year, I had a plumber look for the problem, but it wasn't leaking right then and he couldn't find anything wrong.  But that morning, I ran the disposal as per my custom and sopped up the water with an old t-shirt I use as a rag for just this situation, and that, it seemed, was that.  

An hour or so later, when I went back in the kitchen to refill my coffee, I saw there was another puddle on the kitchen floor, but not in the same location as the usual one I had seen earlier.  A moment later, I noticed that the countertop was wet, too.  This was different - I wasn't sure what this leak was from, but after a minute or so, I saw the water dripping from a brand-new seam that had formed in the ceiling.  Apparently, the torrential rain of the night before had found a hole in the roof and was just now trickling through the ceiling and into my kitchen.

Great, more expenses.  Dealing with this and fixing holes in the roof were most decidedly not in my holiday plans, such as they were, and not particularly in my skill set either, and how does one get a roofer to fix a leak on Christmas Day?  Fortunately, the rain had stopped and after drying off the floor and countertop, twice, no more water came through.  Also, since I had some roof repair work done earlier this year, I was able to leave a voice-mail message with a contractor, stating that I had another job for him after the holiday.  He even called me back later in the day, and we set up an appointment for him to come by and look at the situation next Monday.  So this is something I didn't want to deal with (who does?) and an expense I didn't want to pay (what is?), but it's at least manageable and under control, at least as long as the torrential rains don't return before Monday. 

So after convincing myself that the leaking roof was at least a stable situation for the time being, I was disappointed to find a third puddle on the kitchen floor still later that morning. It was close to but not quite the same location as the prior two puddles, and there was no evidence of leakage from the ceiling or from under the sink.  This one had me perplexed, but I mopped it up, attributing it to some remnant of the first two leaks, and forgot about it. 

All of that had kind of knocked me off my rhythm for the morning, but later that day I settled in to catch up on some of those television series mentioned above.  Unfortunately, I got an error message saying the cable service, Xfinity, that lets me watch programs "On Demand" wasn't working and that I needed to call customer service.  I didn't want that headache and hassle on top of everything else, so I switched back over to the basketball game in progress and went to the refrigerator to get some of that ice cream I had bought.  That's when I found out what had caused the third puddle.    

The pint of ice cream had completely melted and was in totally liquid form.  The inside of both my freezer and the refrigerator were just slightly cooler than room temperature.  I checked the controls on the appliance and, no, I hadn't somnolently reset the temperature to 65 degrees the night before. Apparently, after living here with the refrigerator for 11 years (it came with the house when I bought it), it died on Christmas morning, and the third puddle that I saw was the condensate from the melting ice.

So, more hassle and more expenses.  Worse, all of the food I had stocked up on was going to spoil, because let's face it, I wasn't going to go out and buy a new refrigerator on Christmas and have it installed that same day.  White hair was already growing on the blackberries and strawberries that I had bought, and I don't trust dairy products like yogurt after they've been at room temperature for long periods of time.

"Oh boy," I sarcastically consoled myself, "I get to get a new refrigerator!"  I made the best of it, though, watching what I could on t.v. without the On Demand feature, and drinking the beer before it got too warm (interestingly, since heat rises and the beer is stored at the bottom of the 'fridge, the beer stayed cold the longest). The next day, I refused to go shopping with the "day after" crowds, and stayed home and watched college football and drank the remainder of the beer (still reasonably cool - thanks, physics!), but today I finally went out and bought a new and impressively upgraded refrigerator to replace the dead unit ("Oh boy, I'm getting a new refrigerator!").  I cleaned out the old 'fridge and stored what I could on ice in a cooler, and the new unit is scheduled to be delivered tomorrow, about the same time as the roofer is coming over to look at the leak.

Two problems solved, but I still don't know what I'm going to do about the sink, other than run the disposal more often.  Also, now that Christmas is over and my entertainment options aren't as limited, the Xfinity On Demand is mysteriously back to working again.  It was only down when I had wanted it the most. 

In Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts who teach him the true meaning of Christmas.  Were my three Christmas puddles trying to teach me something about spending Christmas home alone?             

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