Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Fire! Flood! Famine!

Distance: 0 miles
Speed: N/A
Weight: ?
Music: Smoke alarms, jackhammers, grumbly bellies

I'm ashamed to admit that I've now missed two scheduled runs in a row, but I feel I have some pretty good excuses. Here's the scoop:

In the wee hours of Sunday morning (5:30 a.m., to be exact), I woke up with a wicked cough. After trying the usual trick of rolling over onto my other side and hoping it would go away with no success, I decided to grab a glass of water from the bathroom (which is now on the same floor as our room, since we swapped the bedroom and the office -- whee!) and swung my legs out of bed. At that exact moment I heard a loud beeping noise and opened my puffy eyes to find that the room was full of smoke.

After a five-second panicked pause, I jumped up and shook Todd awake. After a few more moments of panic, we determined that A) there was definitely a fire and B) we needed to get the hell out of there. Since we live in a trinity (if you're not from Philly, a trinity is a tiny house consisting of one room on each of three floors joined by a small, winding staircase, although most have a fourth floor -- the dreaded basement kitchen, so I guess it's a bit of a misnomer), we needed to run down the spiral staircase to get out, which was a little scary since the smoke was thick, and we had no idea where the fire was. I peeked up to the top floor, and seeing that it wasn't ablaze, grabbed my coat. Todd checked out the first floor and the kitchen and also saw no flames. Confused, scared, and groggy, we stumbled outside and down the narrow pathway that leads from our house to the street.

Once we got out there we saw firemen, police, and several of our neighbors. We also saw that Van's house, which shares a wall with ours, was on fire. Turns out that if one rowhome is on fire, all the adjoining ones can fill with smoke. Who knew? In any case, the firemen managed to contain the fire relatively quickly, and since it was the front wall of Van's house that was on fire, we didn't sustain any damage. More importantly, Van is a cab driver who doesn't usually get home from his shift until 6:30 a.m. or so and therefore wasn't home. Long story short, no one was injured, and the damage could have been a lot worse.

Aside from fires being scary and potentially deadly and whatnot, it seems my hyper-sensitive sinuses didn't take well to inhaling smoke for however brief a period, so I spent all of Sunday congested, sneezing, and with a killer sinus headache. Our house also smelled like a camp fire and not in a good way, so Jen and Jon were kind enough to let us camp out at their place. Needless to say, my Sunday run didn't happen.

Which brings us to Monday. Since our kitchen is in our basement, a leaky basement is a bigger deal for us than it would be if we only used it for storing random junk. This is especially true, since the water has caused lovely spots of mold to form on our walls. Eew. After contacting several waterproofing companies who upon seeing our tiny house on our tiny street, somehow never managed to call us back, we finally found a company who agreed to do the job for less than a billion dollars. Unfortunately, the job is installing a French drain on two walls, and that entails removing everything on said walls, including our washer, dryer, hot water heater, and refrigerator. Since the work was scheduled to begin Tuesday, we drained the hot water heater (a sloooooooow process) Monday night. So on top of our house smelling like a BBQ pit, we haven't had hot water since Monday evening. Good times.

I worked from home Tuesday so I could be on hand while the B-Dry boyz did the job, and it was an eye-opening experience, to say the least. As is the nature of trinities, I could hear every word they said (along with the drywall sawing, jackhammering, and clomping up and down the stairs), even though I was two stories above them. Not only did they sing along with everything that came on the radio (from classic rock to Celine Dion), but they also bitched at length about our house, the staircase, the snow, and the "weird fireplace smell." Don't get me wrong -- these guys work REALLY hard, and I sure as hell wouldn't want to haul dozens of buckets of dirt and rock up our spiral staircase, but when I offered to shovel the steps outside, they informed me that I'd just be in the way. Fine.

Anyway, the job which was supposed to be finished yesterday turned out to be bigger than they anticipated, so around 3 p.m. they informed me that they'd have to come back to finish today. Fine. So they left, and I went down to survey the damage. The fact of the matter is that our kitchen is completely inaccessible for the time being. All of the appliances, the table, and everything else are pushed to one side and covered with a giant tarp. There's what looks like a muddy moat around the perimeter of the two sides of the kitchen from which all the appliances, the table, and everything else were moved, and there are assorted jackhammers, buckets, and shovels filling what little space is left. Fine.

They came back this morning saying it should only take a few more hours to finish the job. I heaved a huge sigh of relief thinking we'd have our kitchen, laundry, and hot water back tonight. Then the burly gentleman went on to say that the concrete would take about three days to dry and that we couldn't move anything on top of it until then. WHAT??? Three days? Are you frigging kidding me?

He wasn't. So it looks like we'll have to suck it up until Saturday or Sunday. I keep trying to remind myself that in the general scheme of things, this isn't a big deal, that there are people who don't even have hot water or a washer and drier or a kitchen or food. That thought made me feel a little better as I walked to Tamar's house in 25° weather at 7 a.m. this morning to take a shower.

Thursday, it's back to the running schedule. Unless, of course, a swarm of locusts infests our house. In that case, all bets are off.


patrice said...

holy smokes, theresa...that is totally insane. all of it. insanity.

NME said...

My God, girl! What a pain in the ass. Thank goodness noone was hurt in the fire. That would have scared the bejezus out of me.
Well the upside of the kitchen work is that you have an excuse to eat out alot. Bon Appetit!