Wednesday, September 30, 2015


12:10? If only I could make myself go to sleep by then.
Then again....
And so it came to pass many years ago when I was in grad school and living with the parents, my bedroom ceiling fell on me.

This wasn't a huge surprise to anyone. My bedroom ceiling was not what you'd call "intact". 

About 10+ years earlier when we'd moved into that house, my Dad put pink fiberglass insulation into the attic/crawlspace. The area was so unfinished that there were crossbeams on the "floor" and the second floor ceilings. And that's it. While sprawling around this awkward, precarious place, he slipped and his knee hit my bedroom ceiling. 

The truly impressive part is that he only slipped once.

So for 10+ years, a couple of ceiling tiles were a little dented. No big deal, and there were so many other home maintenance things that needed more urgent attention.

Until one night, when I was staying up late to watch Slash on some late night music show. I was sitting at my desk when I heard a noise. I turned around and saw that the dent in my ceiling had increased in dentiness. 

A smarter, cleverer Jen would've covered everything in plastic bags or tarp and spent the night on the couch. In my defense, it was summer and my room was air conditioned, unlike the living room.

So I shrugged it off, watched my show and went to bed much later than usual. Before I had a chance to fall asleep, the entire ceiling fell down. Since I was awake, I was able to run out of the room before anything too heavy hit me.

It was a terrible mess, but I was unharmed. Largely because I'd stayed up later than usual.

I was reminded of this story Monday night. I stayed up later than usual, reading. Because that's totally supposed to help you be sleepy. I was about to dive into yet another chapter and stopped myself because it was after 1am and if I hadn't stopped, I would've kept going and read the last 50 pages of the book. And then had a migraine the next day from staying up too late.

I got ready for bed and went into the bedroom quietly because HA was sleeping. And that's when I noticed a horrible burning smell. It was smell that demanded attention. A smell that gets right up in your face and yells like a baseball player arguing with an umpire.

I followed my nose. Nope - not the TV. Nope - not coming in through the window. Oh dear - it's coming from the corner.

You know those electronic pest repellers? (They work quite well, btw. I do recommend them.) I've had mine for 15 years. Which is apparently too long. We don't even use them anymore since there isn't a bug problem in our current apartment. 

But there was one plugged in, in the bedroom, behind the clothes hamper. And now it was hot. And fixin' to start a fire.

I unplugged it and it (and the outlet) cooled down pretty quickly. Disaster averted.

But the smell hadn't woken HA. Actually, he says he couldn't smell it even after I woke him up. There's no reason to assume that it would've woken me up. The smoke detector is in the living room, so that wouldn't have gone off right away. And it's always better to prevent a fire than escape one.

So if I hadn't stayed up later than usual, we might've had a fire. Though who knows how long it was going. It might've been stinky if I'd gone to bed an hour earlier. And if I'd stayed up later, the wall might've been on fire when I finally went to bed.

Some people might see a divine hand in my timing. Some people might see luck. (Cue Obiwan Kenobi saying, "There's no such thing as luck.")

Me? I dunno. I tend to think that God doesn't micromanage. Because if he does, he has a lot to answer for.

Besides, I used to be in a volunteer fire department. Having a fire in my home would be just so embarrassing. So I'm super vigilant. 

It didn't keep me up all night, wondering at the horrible things that could have happened. But I did feel slightly heroic. I had just averted disaster. By unplugging a thing. So I'm not expecting a parade or anything.

Which is good because I don't really like parades.

Another side effect of my fire department days. It's hard to be impressed with yourself when lifesaving is just part of the job. (In fact, if you brag about saving someone, the more experienced folks will tease you mercilessly.) And after walking in countless parades in an ill-fitting uniform, you develop an aversion to drums and glockenspiels

So yay for good timing. And replace your older gadgets and make sure you have fresh batteries in your smoke detector. And read these fire safety tips.

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