This weekend was all about life disruption in the form of over a foot of snow. Some say a foot-and-a-half. I don’t know because I stopped listening.
As my car crawled along the highway this morning (not really slippery on the highway right now but, you know, everyone must act as if it is) on my way to work, I wondered, “Is it really such a noble thing to suffer these terrible winters and then talk about surviving them as if it’s a badge of honor?” I’m not so sure anymore. I never really considered moving to a warmer climate until these past two years when I’ve started to seriously wonder what the hell I’m doing? What is the pay-off? I mean, let’s be honest, it blows here in the winter.
It blows because for every storm there are all the stages. First, the build-up. People get squirrely and glassy-eyed and go about gathering up provisions and they just want to talk, nonstop, about the forecast. “Could it be true that we’re going to get two feet of snow? What should we do? Why are we at work? This is going to be crazy!”
Then the storm moves in and it’s hell. Saturday was a dark day of snow, driving wind, plunging temperatures and depression. We found things to do around the house but they were accompanied by an uncomfortable feeling of being trapped – we had plans that day that all had to be scrapped. Despite not really leaving the house except to shovel the walks and take the dog out, we were exhausted by the end of the day, presumably from the constant checks on the weather.
“Oh, look, the neighbor’s truck is completely covered in snow.”
“The snow is up to the windows now.”
“Were you just whistling or was that the wind coming through the back door?”
“Someone is stuck on 44th again.”
In the middle of storm, there was a guy and his girlfriend who got stuck in front of our house. It turned out that they lived right down the block and were determined to park right in front of their apartment because, the guy said, he had to go to work later. Go to work? Unless you’re an EMT or a police officer, fuck work! A bunch of us finally convinced him to beach it at the nearest opening.
On Sunday we woke up to bright sun and below zero temperatures. Some might think this was the peaceful reprieve we so richly deserved but they are wrong. This meant that we must bundle up so that only one or two square inches of skin are exposed (and preferably they eyes so that one can see) and go out and tackle the snow. We did it in two shifts. The plow had already come through on our side of the street, creating a wall almost as tall as I am in front of our driveway. Shift one was about clearing the sidewalks and the wall; shift two was about clearing out the driveway, which had drifts that were up to my waist.
The entire time I was shoveling I was thinking, “I hate this.” I wish I could say that I was zen about it and decided that while I am shoveling I am only shoveling and that is all that matters but that would be a lie. I was thinking, “I hate this and I never want to do this again.”
Around about the time we finished our shoveling a ragtag group of neighborhood ruffians showed up to shovel out my next-door neighbor. She’s a woman who may or may not have a mental disorder – since she won’t speak to us it makes for a tough diagnosis.
She first showed up outside when we were getting rid of the enormous snow wall.Â She came out fully bundled, stood on her stoop staring at us for a minute and went back inside. I don’t know what they point of it was. It seemed as if she thought she might go somewhere – just jump in the car and toodle off to the grocery store. Not happening.
Then our former neighbor who got kicked out of his house for dealing drugs while living in Section 8 housing (essentially discounted housing provided by the city) showed up to talk to her. Over last summer they formed an unholy alliance. The woman who won’t speak to anyone else has a special relationship with the drug dealer. He mowed her lawn and cut down the saplings she’s allowed to grow in her yard and has since been showing up from whatever rock he lives under to shovel. This time, though, he just laughed at her, as in, “Ha ha ha… I don’t have a regular job for a reason – I don’t like to exert myself,” and then he left.
I think he went down to the neighborhood bar and told some guys there that if they went over there and shoveled her out they’d get paid because within an hour the ruffians showed up – a very drunk white guy with a snow blower, two stoic-looking American Indians and Mike, our neighbor from Jamaica. (He must be HATING life right about now).
The white guy tripped up to me and slurred, “Don’t worry. I’m not gonna get a speck of snow in your driveway because it’s beautiful. You’ve done a beautiful job here.” My driveway and weird woman neighbor’s driveway are only separated by a strip of bushes.
My mood was so foul by that point that I said, “If you get any snow in my driveway, I’ll kill you.” I said it in a joking manner, of course, but with enough edge in my voice that he took me seriously enough.
“I just said… What’s the first thing I said? I said I wouldn’t get any snow on there,” he said to me. “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year on top.”
He proceeded to slip through the snow and pull the rip cord on the blower in a very dramatic fashion. The thing let out a black cloud of exhaust and away he went through over a foot of snow while the rest of the crew went to work with shovels.
I wanted to take some photos of our house surrounded by snow. You know, maybe something to look at some day when I’m trying to decide whether or not to move to California or Washington. As I was getting my camera from upstairs, I happened to look outside and see that one of the Native American guys had commandeered the snow blower, much to the anger of the drunk guy who owned it. He approached from the wrong side to take it back and got sprayed down with snow right in the face. Then I could hear him yell, “It’s my fucking snow blower,” and the two of them wrestled over it until the drunk guy won and then took off down the sidewalk.
I made the mistake of going outside while they were still there to get a pic of my house. Suddenly that guy was yelling at me, “Hey! Hey! Are you taking my picture? Cuz if you are, I’ll say cheese.” I didn’t hear him the first time so he came closer and said it again. “Cheese! I’ll say cheese!” I looked over at him and not only were his eyes so bleary they practically slipped down his face, his lips were cracked and bleeding. It was pretty disgusting.
And I was disgusted. With the entire situation. And my back was clenching up from all the shoveling. I was in bed by 9:00, reading about the recent financial meltdown. I fell asleep reading about Credit Default Swaps. Sweet dreams.
*Haven’t gotten the pics of my camera yet, due to extreme fatigue, but will post one soon.