WHITNEY CAIN, PHD

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Perilous Perils: Space Heaters & Cheddar Bunnies

The people who own the historic building housing my therapy practice are obsessed with my space heater.  I don’t mean they are slightly concerned about the risks it could present their fine old manse.  I mean they are fully fixated, consumed, and gripped by my white, three-speed 9.9 x 8.5 x 5.4 inch heater. 

Once I forgot to turn it off when I left.  Shortly afterward a fair and gentle email detailed the dangers of unattended space heaters.  Leaving some weeks later, a note on my door said: “Whitney, did you turn off your heater J?” (I did.) “You haven’t left it on again, just want to be helpful!”  Next I received an article summarizing space heater danger.  And most recently I got an email with photos of Raleigh’s downtown fire.  The accompanying message apologized for worrying over the heater, while also providing a cautionary tale.  Since Raleigh’s fire started in a building not yet electrically wired, space heaters weren’t likely culprits, but I didn’t offer that.  Nor did I suggest my landlords simply put the kibosh on space heaters.  But I get it.

Cheddar Bunnies used to be my boogeyman.  I was positive those adorable, addictive crisps were responsible for my dips in sugar, my body woes, and 101 other first-world evils.  It never occurred to me to stop buying them until my husband (not very nicely) suggested it. 

My current albatross is screen time.  I’m convinced my children would be more creative, confident, and connected if they weren’t so beholden to screens.  Still, turning off the TV and taking all those i-things away feels awfully hard, so I just ruminate about it. 

And truthfully, I can’t say if the world is a better place now that I don’t eat Cheddar Bunnies.  Obama was president when I did; Trump is now that I don’t.  You decide.  Likewise, I don’t know if my children are forfeiting their chances of being or having magic because they are on screens instead of making figurines from homemade playdough.  Maybe my landlords would rest easily without my space heater, but maybe they would just find another source of angst.  What I know is it often feels easier to laser in on a worry than it does to use our power to manage it.

Anyway, I may offer a trade – my space heater for a few notches on the thermostat.  For now, I’m going to the level two setting.  My feet are cold. 

Whitney Cain