Update: Read an in-depth recounting of the below-mentioned maintenance "issues" over at Jeff McCarthy's blog.
This past week has been certified b-a-n-a-n-a-s for most everyone in the Pacific Northwest, myself definitely included.
The view from my apartment as of 5 minutes ago. Note the freeway--no pavement visible under the snow.
Portland hasn't seen this kind of snow in decades. Temperatures hit record lows this past week, and the powder kept piling. The inclement winter weather began to surface last Sunday, and by Monday evening, hot water stopped running out of any of the faucets at work. On Tuesday morning, the restaurant had some maintenance "issues" (to say the least) due to freezing temps outside, and were closed for the day. We were scheduled to be up and running again by Wednesday morning.
Unfortunately, the snowy weather got the best of us again on Wednesday, and we closed again for the night. By Wednesday afternoon I was like a junkie in withdrawal, and judging from the calls, texts and Twitter messages from my coworkers, we were all in the same boat. One can only do so much laundry, bill-paying and housekeeping to stay busy.
By the time I got the message on Thursday morning that we were closed AGAIN because of further maintenance problems, with the possibility of being closed through the weekend, I officially freaked out. I hadn't worked in three days, I didn't know what would happen over the next few days, and besides not being able to work right before Christmas, having a broken workplace is really sad and slightly demoralizing. It's like the heart that keeps our little work family together stopped pumping suddenly, and we're all at a loss for what to do.
I literally cried on the phone to my friends and coworkers, cursing and yelling a lot, which I realize is a reaction not often elicited by the announcement of a day off from work. Richie over at my recent favorite blog, Line Cook 415, wrote about cooks unexpectedly not working in a post titled "Withdrawal". He puts it really well--that sense of restlessness and feeling bothered rather than relaxed and ready for vacation. Having more than one day off in a row is unusual for most of us, much less two or three with the possibility of more hanging over our heads.
Then I remembered that I wasn't scheduled to work on Friday anyway. That was it. I said, "Fuck it," was at Union Station with packed bags in under an hour. By Thursday at 2:50PM, I was on a train to Seattle to visit my brother and sister.
Amtrak Cascade line FTW.
What unfolded over the next few days was a remarkably laid-back and lovely visit with family in Seattle, made up mostly of eating, reading, watching movies, navigating the insanely snowy, hilly streets and a bit of Christmas tree decorating and sledding. My advice: Always keep a native Alaskan on hand for all your snow driving needs. Very helpful in times like these.
My sister decorating the most adorable tree on the planet.
My Sculpey penguin masterpieces. The one on the left is a wee bit chilly.
Grilled steak a la Sculpey. The other side was "raw."
Homemade chicken n' dumplin's, ya'll. This was my second helping.
Watching peeps sledding in Capitol Hill. We eventually joined in for a ride.
On Thursday night, after a meal of chicken roasted to order at Cafe Presse, we ran into some friends sledding in Capitol Hill. While watching and giggling at the 40+ mass of sledders, I received a text message saying we were closed for the rest of the weekend, which allowed me to finally exhale a bit and let myself enjoy my little vacation.
The lesson here? In times like these, when there's not much to do but stew or worry, I think we need to remember to make the best of it. Attitude is everything, and that's not just a cliche. Currently I'm back in Portland, having hitched a ride down I-5 in a sturdy truck with some friendly folks via Craigslist rideshare. I feel fully relaxed in my apartment for the first time in ages, watching the snow continue to pile up and loving every minute of it.
(Don't worry kids, the work itch will come back in no time. I'm sure of it.)