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2002 ended with a lurch: My flight back west was hung up in Houston for 3 hours due to storms, and so arrived at 1:15 am on December 31, rather than 10:15 pm, Dec. 30. Waited for suitcase, grabbed cab, gave directions to difficult-to-find residence. Which was suspiciously dark. The short of it: construction work necessitating the turning-off of electrical power, which I’d assured would be done no later than 4 pm, Dec. 30, was not done. I was powerless.

So: it was late, I was exhausted, and the best option seemed to feel one’s way bedward and collapse therein, and sort out the pieces by the light of the too-soon rising sun.

Except: the smoke detector above that bed, disconcerted by the lack of power running to it, was beeping. Loudly. Once a minute. Loudly and invisibly, and neck-breakingly overhead.

So: plan B. Feel one’s way downstairs, rifle through one’s suitcase for toiletry kit and pajamas, and drive to hotel for night.

Except: the car remained in a parking lot on the south end of campus, whence I drove to meet the airport shuttle at 4 am, Dec. 18.

So: 2 am, Dec. 31, walk across deserted campus to car, drive to hotel, check in and get blissful night’s sleep.

Except: hotel’s computer system was down, necessitating a 15 to 30 minute wait in the lobby for a room, and the use of one’s full faculties to avoid bursting into exhausted and defeated tears.

So: finally got room, presented hotel bill to maintenance on return to campus, was gratified to find power was finally restored, spent very subdued New Year’s Eve over great Thai dinner, cheap champagne, and Dick Clark, before returning home to collapse exhaustedly into one’s own silent bed.

Except: power outage resulted somehow in shut-down of hot water heater.

I give. Here’s wishing everyone a peaceful, silent, well-lit, and warm 2003.



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