So this story is embarrassing, and I should probably be writing something more reflective/serious, but I just can’t because I feel compelled to write this instead because it seems more fun and also distracting… So last Thursday night we had what I’d consider to be a three-alarm fuckory at our house, which confirmed to us that during this time of heightened anxiety, in moments of non-stress, Mark and I can be relied upon to go ahead and manufacture some stress ourselves.
Said fuckory actually started brewing Wednesday, on Matthew’s birthday. A huge storm with 50-70 mile winds ripped through parts of St. Louis, including our suburb/municipality, and a bunch of trees fell, cutting off power to tens of thousands of residents. According to Ameren, power was restored to most customers by Thursday morning. And by most, I mean almost all. And by almost all, I mean all except for 19 households (in our zip code), to be exact. And, of course, in a zip code of tens of thousands, we were obviously one of these 19, which is so predictable.
So with no projection as to when power might be restored to us, Mark purchased a generator, so we could fulfill our cooking and refrigerating and TV watching and air conditioning needs. And he proceeded to install said generator outside our garage, as this is where our special outlet that accommodates high-powered equipment is located.
And what’s kind of unfortunate is that in our neighborhood, the houses are semi-close together and our garage is actually facing our dog-shit-throwing neighbor, Doris. What’s also unfortunate is that I wasn’t home while Mark was installing the generator, leaving him extra vulnerable to Doris’ attacks.
For some unknown reason Mark has a soft spot for horrible neighbors, though, come to think of it, the reason might be that he takes after his mom in this regard. Like a neighbor could brandish a firearm in Mark’s mom’s direction in a very intimidating way and also attempt to poison her dog with chocolate and grapes and antifreeze, and in return she’d probably take said neighbor some warm, homemade apple pie and sing Christmas carols on her doorstep. And also, when Mark’s mom asks, “How are your neighbors?” And I answer, “We still don’t talk to them, because they still suck,” she makes a sad face, and I think it makes Mark feel guilty, so I then have to remind him that we have good neighbors just not good, immediate, next door neighbors, and that we tried with them, and the situation is what it is, and it’s not our fault. But sometimes Mark forgets all of this.
So on this Thursday, just as soon as Mark finished installing the generator, Doris paid him a visit to complain about how the generator was too loud (she has a huge disdain for “noise pollution” and pushes a manual lawn mower) and asked that he turn it off or put it inside the house, “where it should be,” because Doris is either the opposite of a genius or wants us to die from carbon monoxide poisoning, or probably both of these things. And because during a power outage, it is completely unreasonable to assume someone might try to restore power via a generator. (Eye roll.)
So instead of taking one look at Doris and being like, “Bye Felicia,” (as I would have done), my sweet husband actually listened to her and politely explained that our garage contains the only outlet that will accommodate a generator and also that generators aren’t meant to be inside, to which she shouted, “Yes they are!!!” before slamming her front door.
When I arrived home from work, I told Mark I was hungry and wanted to go out to dinner. So, to give Doris a break from the noise, Mark opened all of the huge windows in our garage, and placed the generator next to said windows, closed the garage, and we headed to dinner, thinking nothing of it.
About one and a half hours later we returned home, and Mark was like, “I’m going to put the generator back outside, because it shouldn’t technically be in the garage…” And I was like, “Yeah, okay…” as I threw myself onto the living room sofa. And then over the next five minutes, I started thinking about carbon monoxide and about how it is odorless and colorless and poisonous and about how ten years ago it silently and tragically killed a girl who went to my high school as she slept, so I imagined that it could be infiltrating our house instead of leaving through the huge garage windows as everyone predicted. (Even though our dog who’d been home the entire time was obviously fine, and none of our carbon monoxide detectors were sounding.)
So I proceeded to flip the eff out and open all of our back doors and call Mark inside and insist to him, “We have to get someone from the fire department over here to make sure our house is safe or I won’t go back into the house nor will I go to sleep tonight.”
So Mark reluctantly called, using the excuse (with my permission) that, “My wife is pregnant and paranoid.” And it felt a wee bit like we were that lady who called 911 after McDonald’s messed up her hamburger, but at least we knew not to call the emergency number.
And per my instructions, Mark requested, “Can you please just send one guy over? Like we don’t need a truck full of guys, and please don’t turn on the sirens,” to which the phone operator responded, “Well, we never know what they are going to do,” at which point I whispered to myself, “Oh shit.”
So about two minutes later, I heard some sirens in the distance, and, sure enough, about two minutes after this, I heard said sirens much more clearly and deafeningly, as the fire truck came blazing down our street. And then I looked inside through our back doors, and witnessed no less than seven, fully uniformed firefighters storm our house with their hard hats and axes (and little carbon-monoxide detectors) as Mark followed sheepishly behind.
A few minutes later, I managed to catch Mark’s attention, and he came outside, and I asked, “So did they detect any carbon monoxide?” to which Mark replied, “Actually, they detected a very low level…” And this wasn’t the answer I’d expected, so I proceeded to burst into tears, imagining that I (and Jay) had just been poisoned.
So Mark and one of the firefighters (and later a couple of doctors) had to reassure a hysterical me that this barely-detectable level of carbon monoxide could not hurt me or Jay. They had to remind me that I was only in the house for five minutes, and that I’d have to feel sick for Jay to be affected, and that the levels weren’t much different from what one might encounter walking down a New York City street and also weren’t even high enough to trigger our own carbon monoxide detectors, and that our 60 pound dog was showing no symptoms of anything.
But because the fire department can’t really leave until the levels in a home are zero, they proceeded to clean out all of our air, which was super embarrassing, but I guess a welcome service, because while super low levels won’t hurt anything and also actually exist in some homes, zero seemed much better.
So I let the firefighters do their thing, but for the next couple of hours, even after they left, I also cried and yelled at Mark for being affected by our neighbor’s unreasonable request and his mom’s neighborly ways, and for also trying to kill himself and everyone else, and I obsessively googled “exposure to carbon monoxide during pregnancy” as I contemplated making yet another visit to the Maternity Trauma Center.
Though I was eventually able to settle myself with tons of reassuring information/research confirming that, indeed, no harm had been done (except for wasting valuable taxpayer dollars), so all was pretty quickly forgiven and forgotten. But from this experience, we definitely confirmed a few things/learned a few lessons…
- There is no such thing as logical thinking during the third trimester of a pregnancy after loss, especially late at night.
- Never put a generator in a garage for any amount of time, even with the garage door open, even next to a huge window, because low levels of carbon monoxide could still be displaced into the home.
- Nothing good ever comes from attempting to be neighborly to less-than-neighborly neighbors. Said neighbors will always suck, no matter what. (About two minutes after the fire department left, Doris came knocking and asked if we could put the generator in our house. OMG – STFU DORIS!)
So if nothing else this day/night was hugely distracting. Yay for removing one more link from my rainbow chain.