Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Not Exaggerating

My room is where cold winds always seem to strike the house in the wintertime. It whistled through the old windows, howling me to sleep at night as I shivered under my comforter. I learned the best ways to keep warm, first with socks, then as the problem seemed to worsen (how this is possible, I don't know), with a heating pad nestled at my feet and, still later, an electric blanket.

I used to come out and stand next to the space heater, shivering, and say, "My room is SO COLD. It never gets warm. The heat coming out of the vent is cold. Everything is cold."

"This room gets that way, too," Mum would say. "It's not insulated out here. Imagine if your room wasn't insulated."

But it felt like my room wasn't insulated. The walls were always freezing cold in winter. I remember once opening my curtains to find a sheet of ice, a quarter of an inch thick, along the right side of my window. Because yeah, the old windows* wouldn't close, so the wind had knocked out my storm window, blown through into my room, and frozen the moisture from the ice storm in my bedroom instead of outside. Half a roll of packing tape mended that storm window until spring. A year or so later, we painted outside and The Brother and I accidentally painted my windows shut. We just left that window alone, because it never closed all the way UNLESS it was painted shut. My room was cursed.

My single vent was insane, too. It spanned the length of one wall, but upon closer examination, the actual working vent was only two feet wide, not six. The people who installed the vent just felt like extending the vent over the floor for several feet for no reason whatsoever. You can look down through the vent and see all the pills that have fallen through the vent over my lifetime, sitting just out of reach as they become either more potent or more poisonous with each passing year. The cure for cancer could be sitting down there, peculating, waiting for a more-powerful vacuum hose to free it from its prison.

"The heat comes out of my vents ice cold," I told my family. "It is like air conditioning."

"It's very cold outside," they would reply, or "That's how horrible the wind is, Laura."

Clearly, there was nothing anyone could do about it, because they would have done it already, right? I hoped the new windows would fix it, but no. Same problem. To make matters worse, my allergies are so bad, I have to almost close the vents at night, so the little bit of heat that would come out of the vents, after the furnace had been running for an age, was trapped out of my room while I slept. I kept thanking God for my electric blanket every night as I fell asleep.

Fast forward to this week. We are painting my bedroom. This results in us keeping the door to my room closed to prevent paint fumes from filling the room and to keep a certain little dog from exploring inside and tracking paint all over the house.

Mum spent yesterday sanding my window frame (which we did not replace) and staining it. She finished, closed the door, and put a blanket down at the bottom of the door to keep the smell of wood stain inside.

Later, when I came home from work, she took me to see the window. It was the same temperature inside my room as it was outside, give or take a few degrees.

"Oh, Laura. You can't work in here," Mum said. "I'll open the vents."

"They are wide open, Mum. This is how cold it gets when the door is closed."


Mum stared at the open vents.

"I always thought you were exaggerating. You're so good at exaggerating when you tell a story."

Nope. Not exaggerating.

This means that for many years, whenever I told my family about how I could not feel my toes, how I had used a screwdriver to chip away the ice on the wooden window frame, how I had two sweaters on and three pairs of socks and still couldn't get warm, they thought it was a bit. They thought I was doing cold-weather stand up as a part of my special winter routine of hilarity. But I wasn't. All that time I was shaking under four blankets--one electric--they were thinking I was making the number of blankets bigger so they would laugh.

Guess what? I wasn't. I felt an overwhelming urge to light myself on fire.

All that time, no one looked to see what was wrong because Laura is so funny. Laura is not funny. Laura is cursed by the powers that be and their mighty armies, Laura is pursued across the face of the Earth by the hated hordes of ice spirits, chasing her down and freezing her fingers and toes until the joints tighten and cramp and even knitting cannot keep them warm. Laura is doomed to rail against the freezing temperatures, a Cassandra amongst her family, forever ignored even as her prophecies come true around her.

In their defense, Mum and Dad felt awful about it. Dad instantly went into my room after turning the thermostat up to 80 degrees, pressing his hand against the vent and waiting for it to warm up. I made him hold his other hand a foot from the vent so he could feel that yes, it came out tepid, but within seconds the already-chilled room cooled the tepid air down to ice. Meaning, the "heat" from my vents did nothing, even if it did come out vaguely warmer than room temperature. He went downstairs to investigate, closing off the basement vents to see if it would make a difference (nope).

Apparently, the duct work that leads to my room has to cross the entire length of the basement from the furnace before it reaches me. This gives the icy basement ample time to chill the once-hot air before it reaches me. Dad proclaimed that he would insulate the duct work. I told him that was the only Christmas present he needed to give me.

Mum proclaimed that she was disassembling the duct work to see if there was a blockage inside it. I just sat in shock, wondering what it was about me that made my serious face look like funny-joking face.

I quietly resolved to rip the horrible vent out of the wall when I replace the carpet in my room in a few months, then to buy a much-smaller vent to fit just over the actual duct, because the current vent is the stupidest thing I've ever seen.

The Brother told me we could install a salmon cannon between our rooms to share both heat and the occasional fresh/saltwater fish.

I really want a salmon cannon.

Hopefully, the various solutions Mum and Dad have come up with will actually help. But really, it just feels good to be believed.

* We fortunately now have all new windows, so the howling of wind is no longer audible through the cracks in the window frames, and I can open and close both windows without any punching at all for the first time in my life.

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