a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Monday, March 7, 2011

I fought the smoke detector and the smoke detector won.

Today is Pulaski Day here in Illinois.  A day off that I covet because it is not a Federal holiday and not all school districts take the day off.  An added bonus is that my husband is in Washington D.C. with our 8th graders this weekend.  So, I woke up ready to spend most of the day in pajamas, getting some schoolwork done at a relaxed pace. 

My smoke detector had other plans. 

Right as I sat down to eat breakfast (usually only a granola bar, but today a warm meal), I heard the telltale chirp.  So did the dogs. 

Immediately, I checked for a new 9-volt battery.  No luck.  That meant a quick breakfast (chirp), a quick shower (chirp), and a quick trip to Ace Hardware for a new battery (chirp).  The dogs were stressed about the chirping noise (not to mention my husband being gone), so it also meant loading Mr. and Ms. Bark-a-lot into the car.

Back at home, I installed the new battery and everything seemed fine.  I headed out to run my errands to the post office and grocery store. 

Upon my return, I noticed the dogs still weren’t back to themselves.  And there it was…the telltale chirp. 

I tried flipping the breaker off, taking the battery out, switching batteries.  Chirp, chirp, chirp.  I became convinced that the batteries from Ace had to be old.  Back in the car with the dogs for a trip to Walgreens.  By this time the dogs were really stressed, and so was I.  I lifted them into the car and realized I was wet.  I looked down to see a puddle on the garage floor.  At first I thought it was just water, but then I realized the rest of the garage floor was dry.  I am ashamed to say this, but after realizing it was dog pee, I still hopped in the car and drove to Walgreens.  I just wanted to be done. 

More new batteries (and a fresh dog-pee-free outfit).  Chirp.  By this time, I had texted and called both my husband and my mother.  I needed reinforcements.  I got out the vacuum to clean the blasted thing.  I finally disconnected the smoke detector from the wall.  I took the battery out, and although it defied any logic my brain was willing to accept, the smoke detector chirped as I held it in my hand devoid of any connection to a power source.  So did the wall.  The wall chirped; I kid you not. 

I broke down in tears.  I know there are much bigger issues in the world, but I pathetically broke down in tears two hours into my struggle with the smoke detector.   My father was suggesting an electrical connection with the GFI outlets in my house.  My mother suggested changing the batteries in all 12 smoke detectors in the house.  We were grasping at whatever straws we could.   

I snatched the still chirping smoke detector (that finally stopped a few minutes later) and jumped back into the car (again with the dogs because I couldn’t leave them home with a chirping wall) to go purchase a new smoke detector. 

After connecting the new detector, I still heard a muffled chirp. 

I turned to climb down the ladder in utter defeat, ready to put the house on the market.  As I turned, the carbon monoxide detector that sits on top of our armoire caught my eye.  It had fallen over.  I set it upright and was blasted in the face with a CHIRP. 

Luckily, the carbon monoxide detector also takes 9-volt batteries. 


  1. Oh my gosh, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Okay, I laughed. I lost it after the Mr. and Ms. Bark-a-lot line. I love the way you kept sprinkling "chirp" throughout the piece. Hope the rest of your day was better.

  2. I love your dedication to push on, even soaked with dog pee. Congratulations on solving the mystery at last!

  3. I heard the frustration, loud and chirp. . . oops I meant clear. I know that sound and the helplessness(anger at the detector)when the battery doesn't fix it. I have to admit I was laughing when I got to the end. What a way to spoil a perfectly planned day!

  4. It never fails plan a day to yourself and it's either ruined by husbands, kids, dogs, or chirping! LOL! great post!

  5. I have to respond too. My chirp is coming from next door's smoke alarm. Thay aren't home. My dog has been clawing at me since 3:30am. I better go check he didn't pee on my bed!