Almost Burned Down My Apartment

Last night I had a harrowing experience, but to figure out how it all started I have to go back a little bit.  As I am sure I have mentioned before, my room is cold.  Like wear a sweat shirt, pants, socks, sleep underneath 3 blankets, use a space heater and still feel like you are in an igloo cold.  (Come to think of it, maybe part of the reason behind my surge in weight was my body reacting in order to insulate itself.)  I knew that these temperatures would stay roughly the same at least through February, so while I was home I purchased an electric blanket.  I know I could have just waited until I got back and bought one here, but I am lazy and my mom was paying.  As I said last post, the blanket did not work.  I now think that the problem was I was not using my converter plug, I was only trying it with the basic European adapters.  I am not positive this was the problem, but I am pretty pissed I didn’t get to at least try to find out before disaster struck.

Well, that was all a long-winded way to get to the main point, which is that my room was frigid and I had no electric blanket.  To compensate, I pulled my space heater extra close to the side of my bed, trying to get the most out of its cheap halogen heating rods.  I fell asleep around 12 or 1, and was in the middle of a really interesting dream that I can’t quite recall when I was awakened by searing heat in my lower legs.

I am not quite sure how it happened, but I was now lying horizontally across my bed, with my legs sticking far off the side.  I had managed to kick all 4 of my blankets over the space heater.  I am a notoriously rowdy sleeper, known for twisting my blankets every which way, but this was very bad even by my standards.

Once I got my bearings I realized there was thick white smoke everywhere.  I was positive there were going to be flames, but thankfully there were none. Just plenty of billowing, putrid smoke.  The smell was absolutely horrifying.  It was a strange and awful odor that could only have been made by the incineration of god knows how many different synthetic materials.

Although startled and groggy, I still reacted how any sane person would, meaning I got the hell out of the room as fast as possible.  My new roommate must have heard me stumbling about, because he was immediately awake.  At first he didn’t know what was going on, but even as I was explaining the situation the smoke quickly found its way to his room.  After consulting with each other, we decided it was imperative to get back in the room and open the windows.  Seeing as the situation was my fault, I was the one to venture back into the smoky, smoldering mess.  I was obviously holding my breath, but I found that when there is that much smoke it somehow finds its way into your system anyway.  I was in and out opening the windows, but it was still a pretty miserable experience.  We then turned on the two fans and closed the door, finally neutralizing the problem.

Once things had cleared up enough we went in to inspect the damage.  A good size chunk of the side of the bed was charred and torn.  The space heater looked like someone hit it with a dirty bomb.  It was a molten combination of feathers, wires and fabric.  The 4 blankets were all melted together and had a gaping hole burned straight through them.  It was really quite the site.  Funny thing is, I was never really impressed with the power or range of the space heater.  It always seemed like I had to sit 2 inches in front of it in order to feel significant warmth.  After seeing the kind of carnage it can invoke, I will forever respect its capabilities.

I am now writing this at 5 AM on the couch after being unable to sleep in the room due to the smell and the cold.  Mostly the cold.  Losing all my blankets was a major blow.  I had to put on a sweatshirt and a fleece plus scrounge up every loose sheet in the apartment for warmth and cover.  Thankfully, there was actually a surprising amount floating around.  Practice was interesting this afternoon because I seriously felt like the smoke inhalation affected me.  Maybe I inhaled more than I realized, because my lungs were burning far sooner and far more intensely than they should have been.  Also, I felt slightly light headed when walking to the bank (if you thought they would have returned my car to me after I thoughtfully turned it in the week I was gone so they could save money, you thought very, very wrong) after the incident, but that could have been partly due to lack of sleep.

Another interesting part of this is that I immediately questioned why the smoke alarm didn’t go off, and Elad, my roommate, burst out laughing.  He found it hilarious that I expected every apartment to be outfitted with a smoke detector.  I brought this up to people in the locker room and they were similarly confused that I expected a smoke alarm to go off.  Apparently it is just not the norm out here.

As for basketball, the TV game I was so psyched about went pretty much as poorly as it could have.  I played a paltry 10 minutes, and they were a tentative, unimpressive 10 minutes to boot.  I have never liked or adapted to not starting and then playing a couple minutes then sitting out, so 10 minutes played in this fashion is rarely going to go well for me.  We ended up winning a close game, so all was good on that front, it was just really frustrating and depressing to be on the bench for most of it.

The only play I was somewhat proud of this game was when I was unexpectedly inserted into the action near the end due to someone making a bonehead play that warranted a benching.  I ended up with the ball in my hands as the shot clock was winding down.  I took a couple dribbles and glanced to my right, with body language clearly insinuating I wanted/needed a screen.  Unfortunately, the person I was looking at was Brian, and he had no interest in helping me out of this jam.  He merely stood there watching me flounder, angrily gesturing for the ball.  Now, my choices were to continue my ill-fated one on one move, or give it up to Brian.  In my convoluted mind, his selfish posturing and refusal to give me a screen gave me carte blanche to tell him to screw himself, which I did, by launching a deep three off the dribble that missed badly.  I was immediately taken out.  Never did I think I could defend missing a three in an under 10 point game with a few minutes left, but for some reason given the circumstances it felt right.  Would have helped if I made it though. Alas.

I talked to my coach about the game today, and he assured me that it was simply a one game decision that was based solely on other peoples performances and was in no way a premeditated punishment.  I reiterated my desire to play point guard and he was very receptive and encouraging.  It was nice to have the coach assure me that he still expected a lot out of me and wants me to shoot and play aggressive, it just sucks to be in this position in the first place.  I mean, 10 minutes??? I had one of my best outings in my previous game, so it just didn’t make sense to me.  It is humiliating to watch people I am 100% certain I am better than achieve more than me on the court.  It is really about time I either step up or accept a fate as a middling player decent enough to hang around low level leagues but incapable of much more than that.

To end on a positive note, as bad as that game was, the future still has a lot to hold.  It is a long season and there will be numerous chances to prove my worth.  Plus, I have been actually having a lot of fun lately getting together with teammates and playing poker and video games, two of my favorite pastimes it feels like I had been without for far too long.  I had been really down and keeping to myself the past month or so, so it has been nice to break out of that funk and have some really good times.


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