I woke early, comfortably, and well-rested, with very little pain. I smiled, rose for the day, content with the early hour. The dawn begins to unfold beyond the window, and the day looks to be lovely.
The spider in the kitchen, that ran out of the coffee cup I pulled from the cabinet was not a welcome sight, nor a pleasant moment. One broken coffee cup… morning in progress. I start water for coffee.
The much larger spider in the bathroom, that began crossing the room while I was in no position to do anything about it, was also an unwelcome sight – and I enduring its presence uncomfortably only as long as I had to. I realize I’ve gotten distracted from making coffee…
The smoke detector chirped at me. (What the hell is up with all the detectors going mad after the annual maintenance inspections and tests of detectors?? That was less than two weeks ago!) I find myself glad my traveling partner is not being abruptly wakened from a sound sleep in the other room this morning; two mornings in a row would just be so completely annoying for anyone! I’m already quite annoyed myself, and I was awake when it started. I change the battery. Reset the detector. Shit – I’ve forgotten my coffee again! I get back to the kitchen just in time to hear 3 chirps from the detector. It continues periodically (frequently) while I look the fucking thing up on the internet to see what the owner’s manual says. I carefully re-do the process of replacing the battery and resetting the detector according to make/model quite precisely. That’ll do it.
45 seconds later – 3 chirps. 😦 These are fairly loud. My neighbors are awakened. How do I know? They’re outside frowning and smoking their first cigarettes.
45 seconds later – 3 chirps. I’m frustrated, and the sound itself, and specific frequency (both timing, and sound wave) are really working on my vulnerabilities. My noise sensitivity surges, and there are tears waiting to fall… my head begins to ache, and I feel angry. I’m also confused. Frustrated. Escalating. I call the ’emergency only’ maintenance hotline for the community – the landlady picks up right away, sounding as anyone does at 6:08 am, out-of-town on vacation, getting a call from work. She patiently advises there is a ’15 minute hush cycle’ (calling it something like that is just… inaccurate; there is nothing hushed about this experience). She is aware of my injury, and some of my issues. She softens her tone and directs me to ‘unplug it and take it down’ if the chirping doesn’t stop (something may be wrong with the detector, and this one is ‘old enough’ to replace). So… yeah. I’ll be worried about fire safety this weekend instead of dealing with the chirping, and I’m managing to feel angry about both and/or either just at the moment. I don’t lash out at the landlady – this isn’t in any way about or to do with her; it’s just a very irritating noise on what started as a lovely quiet morning, and the sound itself has got me crying at this point. I could also do without the ‘strange frightened-seeming trembling’ that so often goes with particular sort of overload. What the ever-loving-fuck?
Coffee. I got distracted from making it – again. It’s well past 15 minutes of this now, and I contemplate taking down the smoke detector, and wonder why I have this weird embedded feeling of certainty that if I do, the alarm will actually ‘go off’ and not be silenced – or silence-able – at all? Probably television. Fuck television, too. Damn, I really need some coffee… and I need this noise to stop.
I take down the alarm. I go back to the kitchen to make coffee. Again.
The alarm keeps chirping. Every 45 seconds. I’ve timed it. Alarm is taken down, unplugged… and it seems pretty pointless to have bothered. I go back to the owner’s manual. I try yet another new battery. I step through the troubleshooting steps again. This is not working. I still don’t have coffee, either. My morning is now entirely centered on this fucking chirping alarm, and I’m struggling with agitation, frustration, and impatient anger. I feel ‘trampled on’ by businesses that have no fucking clue that once the product is outside the ‘this is how we save your life’ emergency scenario window that some consumers have other very different needs. I just let the tears fall. I make coffee. The alarm continues to chirp. I can get 8 minutes of silence any time – by hitting the hush button. I can’t exactly enjoy my day easily if I am returning to the alarm every 8 minutes to hush it.
The chirping is working on my mind. I feel responsible and obligated to ‘fix it’ somehow – so that no one else is similarly effected, making it harder to just walk away – or move out. Or hit it with an axe. (I’m rather glad I don’t have an axe…) I don’t even know if it is audible beyond the apartment next door. People would like to sleep. It’s Saturday. Weeping overcomes me. At least I have a cup of coffee… grim laughter at the relief I feel just for that small pleasure shakes my shoulders, tears become sobs as I spill the precious (hot) black liquid down my top, into my lap, and onto the carpet, soaking into everything, turning everything… dark. Memorial Day Weekend!! Oh yay! I will be listening to this cursed chirping for the next three days until the landlady’s return… what a holiday! And I get to clean the carpet and do laundry! (note: I rarely use sarcasm, it’s not easily read by all readers, and I apologize if my reactive unhappy use of it now makes it hard to be sure what I am saying.)
I really don’t know what to do from here… I want to be here, enjoying my space, my time, my life… and there’s this fucking chirping, and it isn’t stopping, and there’s just nothing more I know to do myself from here. As if to mock me, the detector manufacturer has a customer support help line – open 8a-5p EST, Monday through Thursday, except holidays. So. Yeah. Now what?
My head hurts now. My eyes are read and puffy from crying – and the tears aren’t stopping; the chirping continues. I made another cup of coffee, hands shaking, trembling, and crying. I drink it quite carefully feeling disorganized, confused, and overwhelmed. I hadn’t even had time to wake up before all this; my day got a firm reset almost immediately on waking. It completely sucks and feels brutally unfair. For the moment I am stuck here; each gentle attempt to sooth myself is interrupted – every. 45. seconds. – with three piercing chirps. Will the awareness of it eventually fade into the background as sometimes happens with irritating noises? It doesn’t seem so, yet.
I’m in no good shape to manage my issues out in the world so soon after waking… but I can’t comfortably endure this indefinitely, and need some real relief from it… somewhere. I resign myself to having to face the world… ‘what I want’ no longer counts, I am faced with what I need. I need to escape this noise… I try not to think about what becomes of me when I must return home, later. No… I do think about it. I cry. I push the awareness into the darkness, dry my tears, sip my coffee, check my spelling, think about my clothes… I keep trying. The chirping continues. I want very badly to scream into the void “How will you make this right with me??!!”… but there is no point, no ‘right’, no one to answer, and nothing much, for the moment, to be done. I wonder how often a partner or lover has ‘taken the blame’ in some such moment in the past, becoming the entity to whom I direct my fear, my anger, my frustration – over some circumstance in life that just isn’t something they control? Fuck. I feel myself swamped by regrets, sorrow, sadness, too. I don’t know what I’ll do later… for now, I put in earplugs, wrap myself in blankets, pull pillows over my head, and cry. I’ll figure something else out later.
This one deserves some follow up sooner than later, just to be courteous. I’m okay right now. The apartment is quiet now. Someone dear to me pointed out that perhaps the fire department non-emergency number would be helpful… it was frustrating to discover that this service is mostly unavailable outside ‘normal business hours’ these days, but it got me thinking in a more productive direction, and I walked up to the nearby fire station, hoping to get some more helpful advance than I was getting from the owner’s guide, the entirely unavailable advertised customer support for the product, or my vacationing landlady. I not only got some better instruction, I was provided a back up smoke detector to use, and got my vitals checked (I was apparently sufficiently stressed out, however polite and careful my words, to cause concern when I mentioned the noise was hard on my PTSD), and a few minutes of conversation over coffee with a very pleasant EMT, who had been washing his car in the sunshine when I walked up.
I got home, followed the provided troubleshooting instructions (the order in which things are done really matters for some things, and confirmably fresh batteries matter). Huh. The chirping continued… I unplugged it as directed. While I installed the back up… the disconnected detector chirped. 😦 No. Wait… that’s the carbon monoxide detector that went off yesterday – and in which I put new batteries, yesterday. Shit. I take that down, too, and remove the batteries. Both detectors are quite old and likely due for replacement, and that can be handled Tuesday. In the meantime, it’s a lovely weekend to have windows open to breezes – and there is no longer any beeping, chirping, repetitive, unavoidably, strident, aggravating nuisance alarms going off and undermining my emotional and mental wellness. I’ll even be able to sleep through the night (I really wasn’t at all sure I’d be able to do that with the chirping going on).
Now… troubleshooting my experience behind me… I take care of me. My results may vary…but I’ve rarely been so grateful for silence. 🙂