Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I didn't mean to clean

Perhaps I managed to sleep through it for a while, but immediately upon waking this morning I noticed a high-pitched, mechanical "chirp" outside my bedroom door. The intermittent sound was the annoying call of a dead battery in the smoke detector.

OK, I admit I didn't do the whole safety thing that fire departments advise when you set your clocks for the time change, where you also change your smoke detector battery. Not this fall. Not earlier this spring. Not ever in this apartment. That battery has been in there since virtually my first day in this apartment more than two years ago. But I'll come back to that.

So, in my groggy first-awakening state, I made the most rational decision I could deduce at the time. I crawled back in bed and pulled the covers up over my ears. That definitely didn't solve the problem. The blanket did not block the sound. If anything it seemed as if the chirping was happening inside my scull. I thought briefly that if I had a thin stick, maybe I could go in through my ear and make that sound stop. Something prevented me from trying that, but it sure wasn't any form of rational, cognitive thought process.

So I got back up.

Maybe I should stop the sound at the source, rather than inside my head.

I decided to scavenge a battery out of my answering machine. I knew that battery was fresh because I just put it in there a few weeks ago after canceling voice mail service on my phone and dragging my old answering machine out of mothballs.

So, using a kitchen chair, I fumble around with the smoke detector and unfasten it from the ceiling mount. So far so good. But I can't get a very good look at it because the electrical wires running to it are still connected and keep me from pulling it down to eye level. I twist the thing around, scanning it from side to side, front to back, apparently looking for some big arrow or something or bold directions on how to open the thing. In my groggy state -- attributed to just waking up, cold medication hangover and the lingering effects of the bug that's been kicking my butt -- I see nothing. There is no way to open the damn thing. None.

So I put it back, climb down and wonder what to do next. So, I decide to call the apartment manager's office and see if they can send a maintenance person to either fix it or show me how to fix it. But of course when I call the office wasn't yet open, so I left a message on their answering machine/voice mail.

Then I look around the living room and kitchen and see evidence of my poor housekeeping skills strewn all about the room, spilling off the coffee table, overflowing the garbage can and collecting in the sink.

If company is coming, I need to tidy up, I thought, and set about doing just that. Obviously, I was still not fully awake, because when thoughts of house cleaning occur to my conscious mind, I sit down on the coach, put my feet up and wait until those thoughts pass. It usually only takes a few moments. Particularly if the TV is on and the remote is handy. But the TV is still broken, so my procrastination device of choice was not available.

So after an hour or so of tidying, I was content that the place no longer looked like a rat's next. Just a bachelor's apartment which hadn't been cleaned in a few weeks. The perfect look I was going for.

All that physical exertion, besides bringing on a coughing fit, also severed to wake my up and get my brain functioning. I remembered that when I first started moving stuff into the apartment the smoke detector was chirping. I told the office about it, since I figured it was their problem and something not working in my new apartment. But a day or two later, when I was moving in and planning to spend the night in the place for the first time, the detector was still chirping. I didn't remember how I figured out how to open the thing, but I knew I replaced the battery in there, because I remember the office staff telling me they still needed to send someone to check it out even though I told them they took to long and didn't need to send someone anymore.

So I knew it could be done. I knew I could do it, because I had done it before. So, being more fully awake, I took another crack and the annoying safety device in the hall. And this time, I could clearly see the battery cover door. But the door was blocked by the plastic housing the electric wires from the ceiling went into. Well, obviously, that housing must detach I thought. Where was that logic and reasoning skill an hour earlier, when I really needed it, before I was forced to clean! So, I squeezed the plastic housing on each side, and sure enough, the sized retracted and pulled free from the device. Then I was able to easily access the battery.

In a few minuted I had swapped out the battery and put the device back up on the ceiling.

This adventure proved a few of my long-held theories.

1. I am not a morning person.
2. My brain doesn't function correctly when I'm sick. In technical terms, it's know as feeling ooogie and blah, or having a brain cloud.
3. Housework really can be avoided if you are willing to work hard enough at it.

Well, I'm hoping the worse of the brain clouds, nasal congestion, coughing fits and other assorted ickiness, which need not be divulged here, are soon to be behind me (especially the undivulged ickiness).

Here's to hoping you are suffering no brain clouds or other ickiness for the holidays. Happy Thanksgiving all.

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