I awoke this morning, and it was freezing cold in my bedroom- in my bones. I looked over at my wife, still asleep, pale as a ghost and almost frozen. I could see small particles of air coming from her mouth, via small puffs of steam. I heard a few cracks as I moved my heavy legs upon the ice laden hardwood floor and then allowed my upper body to follow despite its unwillingness. This morning I had planned on awakening before nine. I was going to do some early morning writing and possibly go for a walk. I have had ideas about the advantages of waking early but seemed incapable of bringing these intagible ideas into an active form. The cold withdrew all determination from my motivation. It was now almost noon, and I was still unwilling to rise.
I immediately walked into the kitchen which was colder than the inside of an ice cube. I turned all the gas burners on high and the oven on to 450 degrees. This always heated the kitchen up in no time but left my wife aggravated at my wastefulness. “Who cares about the cost, we are going to die of frost bite!” I would rage as she would complain about the technique I was employing to heat our home. “Why don’t you use the heater,” she always asks me frustrated by my unwillingness to adhere to her way of doing things. “That heater is over fifty years of age. Every time I use it I not only feel ill but it damages the air quality in our home and gives of all kinds of toxins like formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, PCP’s and who knows what else. The landlord has not cleaned the heater…ever.” My wife would always sigh at what she called my hypochondriacal fits and say “why worry so much, the heat is fine and not going to hurt you.” “That’s not true, it’s dangerous!!” but she could never understand.
So the battle in our home has not only become a battle to stay warm but it has also become a constant struggle to find efficient and healthy ways to stay warm. This struggle has resulted in long stretches of my wife and I not talking to one another and freezing cold temperatures in our “California” home.
“This cold is not only going to slow our circulation to various vital organs in our body but it will effect our immune systems and make us much more susceptible to respiratory infections and various viruses,” I said to my wife in a fit of desperation last evening. She was sitting on the couch dressed in a parka and a heavy wool coat with a hood over her head. On her feet were thick wool boots and on her hands were sheep’s skin and leather gloves. If one didn’t know better you would think we where living in the North Pole. She looked up at me with a sardonic smile and said, “come on honey, this is fun…it’s like having a real winter and you are always complaining about how we never get real winters in California” I could not take it anymore, my wifes apathy or the freezing cold, “This is fucking ridiculous no one seems to care that we are fucking freezing to death!!”
Today in my mail I found a gas bill- $325.00. On my mailbox someone put a sticker that said KARMA. I knew not what to feel, so I screamed out “This is fucking ridiculous. You either freeze to death or you go broke in America!!” A few people across the street looked at me and before I stopped my public pontifications I said “It’s fucking freezing out!!” I peeled the sticker off the mailbox and stomped back into my house suddenly filled with fury. I turned on all the gas burners on the stove and put the oven on full blast. My wife returned back into the kitchen looking at me as if I could possibly be a threat to her safety. “Why are you turning this all back on?” she asked me. “We just received a gas bill for $325.00 from the gas company. No breaks for freezing cold weather just an opportunity for them to make money off of our suffering. I will not have it. I will not pay their bill and I will use the gas…this is the American way!!” I felt like I was making no sense at all.
“Go sit in the front room and turn on the heater!!” my wife said frustrated but not yet in a state of rage. I stood my ground holding my hands out over the gas burners. Then she yelled “get your skinny ass out of the kitchen!!!!” When a man is cold, the will to fight is absent in his bones. I took the KARMA sticker out of my pocket and stuck it in the flame. With KARMA on fire I threw it in the sink and said “there goes my KARMA……” I then walked into the front room which was colder than our refrigerator. I turned on the fifty year old heater and sat on the couch. I thought about having a shot of whiskey but it was only 2 p.m. I heard my wife shutting everything off in the kitchen and all I could think was it was going to be a long winter. It was only January 1st.