Saturday, November 04, 2006

CHIRP!

This is the time of year that I tend to do what I refer to as the headless chicken dance. For the third year running, my sisters and I are producing the Utah Chocolate Show.

Fun? You bet. Tasty? Oh, yeah.

Stressful? Save me now!

To add to the fun, for the first time ever, I had a fall release with my fourth novel, At the Journey’s End. I was thrilled when I got the news that it would come out in September, right in time for holiday shoppers.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew I’d have to do book promotion and show production simultaneously, but I figured if I planned carefully, I’d manage just fine.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I also justified that the other big thing going on each fall wouldn’t faze me: finishing a manuscript.

Three major events going on all at once. Not the smartest thing to allow to happen to a person, and this isn’t counting the wife and mother hats I also wear. Or soccer season. Or the million other things that intrude on my life. Like trying to keep the family in clean underwear.

So the other night I dropped into bed after a long day that included book promotion, show production, and three kids’ homework, piano practice, and piano lessons (Superwoman couldn’t fit in writing on top of that, although I tried).

Somewhere around 3:00 am, my toddler began crying out with a nightmare. I groggily went to comfort her. No problem there; I’m happy to do this kind of thing for my children especially now that they usually sleep through the night and I’m not the walking zombie I was a few years back when they were babies.

When I got back to bed, I pulled up the covers and closed my eyes.

And then . . . CHIRP!

A smoke alarm somewhere in the house had just informed me that its battery was low. I groaned and hoped it was a fluke or that I had imagined it. Nope. It chirped again a moment later, so I threw off the covers and went to the center of the house in hopes of figuring out which of the alarms was the offending one.

I stood there for ten minutes. The smoke alarm surely laughed (silently) at my efforts as I stood there, trying not to fall against the wall from fatigue and eventually stumbling back to bed. The moment I pulled the covers up (you guessed it), CHIRP! And then about ten seconds later, another CHIRP.

This time I marched to the same spot as before, demanding the stupid alarm to show itself. It did: twelve and a half feet above the floor in on the vaulted ceiling of the great room. No other alarm in the entire house could have caused me to want to hurl large, heavy objects.

I tried to imagine dragging a ladder into the house in the middle of the night alone. No could do. I also didn’t want to wake up my husband, who had to work late and was running on fumes. I did the math anyway and realized that our tallest ladder wouldn’t come close to reaching the vault even if my six foot husband were standing on top of it.

Just dandy.

I shuffled back to bed, closing the door to muffle the infernal chirping. It didn’t work. I pulled blankets over my head. I braced my ears with my arms. I turned to the side so my ear with slightly worse hearing was up. Nothing worked. The chirping wouldn’t stop, and I couldn’t sleep.

At least, not until I was supposed to wake up. That’s the point when the chirping stopped altogether, about 7:00 in the morning. I had finally dozed off around 6:30 from sheer exhaustion and had to drag myself out of bed to get the kids to school on time. The smoke alarm didn’t chirp once the rest of the day.

But I bet you can guess what happened that night at 2:00 am.

After another night of insistent chirps irritating enough to drive one to criminal acts, I went about my day in a sleep-deprived, knee-jerk irritable haze. I’m one of those unfortunate souls who needs about nine hours of sleep to get by without pulling out anyone’s hair. Two nights of almost no sleep—in the middle of book promotion, Chocolate Show season, and manuscript preparations—had me practically twitching and ready to smack anyone who crossed my path.

Fortunately, my husband found a neighbor with a taller ladder and after work promptly replaced the battery so I wouldn’t go through a third night—and end up finding a pistol around 4 am to shoot the stupid alarm with.

I feel much better now that I’ve had a couple of nights’ sleep without CHIRP, CHIRP every ten seconds, but when I lie down, I give the smoke alarm on the ceiling the evil eye, as if to say, "Don’t—you—DARE!"

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