Saturday, August 18, 2007

Chillin' In The Dark

Today we had a little mini-storm, and it caused a couple of little power flickers. Made me remember vividly the other night when we had a total power outage ... for over an hour. Teenybop was down for the night, Boyfriend had just headed to work, and I'd settled at the computer to catch up on some blogs and do a little gaming while I waited for Dana to show up for our almost-nightly hangout.

So there I am, just zoned out with the computer screen when the dang power totally cuts off. No power. Not just a flicker, my friends, not a little fuse blown, not a surge - straight up, no power. Now this is bad. The combination of my fishtank in the living room and the computer screen in the office provide my source of light in the apartment at night while I try to keep quiet so Teenybop can sleep, and suddenly they are both gone. You know how sometimes the dark isn't really all that dark? There's like, window light and stuff from outside? Yeah, we didn't have that.

Since we're in the city, there isn't a lot of moonlight that shines through the murk and gloom we live under, so once I'd stumbled to get a lighter, and then stumbled back down the hall to get some candles with only the dubious orange glow of my phone's little mini-screen to guide my steps, I went outside to the little breezeway/porch where I could hear my neighbors beginning to assemble. Outside, it was almost kind of funny, since it was after ten at night and there were gathered all these people who never speak to each other more than the occasional wave. All of us in different age groups, all bearing candles, and all in pj's. Hilarious.

Looking around confirmed that it wasn't just my apartment without lights, since this apartment complex is typically very similar to a scary-story ghost town. Funny how that happens. We never see anyone around here, and suddenly when all the lights are off in the middle of the night, half the population of the complex materializes out of think air. And then we looked a little farther. It wasn't just our building either, we discovered, as we began to chuckle amongst ourselves while noticing the flickers of candle-light starting up in apartments across the courtyard. It appeared that there were many other night owls still hooting that night, and all were shocked when the variation of tvs, radios, and computers that keep our society happy all went kaput that night.

While most of the people hanging out on the porches stayed there in chairs they'd carried outside, or lounged on the stairs to ground level, there were several of us who would run back and forth between coming outside to check the radio updates we'd been hearing and news from those with cell phones, and running inside to check on little ones who were sleeping but could awaken terrified in the dark at any minute. I, of course, was one of the latter, and on one of my silent trips into the apartment to check on my candles and my munchkin, it occurred to me that an exhausted Boyfriend had left for work no less than fifteen minutes before the power had gone out.

And then began the freakout ... "What if he wrecked? Is he okay? He was supposed to call me to let me know he got there okay ... What if he tries to call and can't get through? What if he can't try to call because he wrecked? What if they try to call and can't reach him here and think he's not going to show up and they fire him? What if it doesn't matter because he fell asleep and wrecked and as I'm worrying about his job status he's burning to death in our only car at this very moment?!?!?"

So then I did what any logical-neurotic would have done. I borrowed my neighbor's cell phone to call Dana and let her know that the power was out but that I was still awake and she could come on over when she got off work. Called her first so that she didn't worry. Then I freaked a little more because as I paged through the Caller ID in my phone (it's a sucky little portable), I realized that the number for Boyfriend's work WASN'T THERE!!! So I couldn't call to make sure he made it to work okay ... even with someone else's cell phone.

And then my neighbor downstairs pipes up, "I've got a paper phone book, what's the place you're looking for?" And we find the number, but get no answer. Not helpful.

Finally it's getting late, and the crowd is getting tired enough to not care that the power was out. Most were ready to go to bed. So we all left the breezeway and headed back to our respective apartments, where I searched for several more candles, a pen, and a notebook. I was beginning to feel a little ill by that point, so I figured the best way to chill myself out was to find something to do, right?

And there I found the second dilemma.

"What to do in a power outage? Okay, let's run through this ... what do we do when we're bored? Watch tv? Can't, no power. Okay, hmmm. Computer, nope, radio, nope. Shower. Okay. Oh wait, moron, NO POWER. So when the hot runs out, there's no more. Okay, a different idea? Reading? I like reading. But I like having vision too, and don't want to risk the one for the other. So ... I could write. Might not be able to keep the letters lined up just right in the light of 8 small candles ... but could give it a shot."

Okay, no big deal. So I gather my little light sources, grab my pen and notebook, and get comfy there at the kitchen table.

And then?

The power came back on. The fish tank started whirring and clicking, reminding me to come start the infernal filter system up since the lack of running water through the filters made it get all weird. The office started clicking and whirring as the printer came back to life, and just as I worried that the racket of the revived 20th century might awaken my Teenybop ... the phone rings. And it's Boyfriend. And he's okay.

Damn I hate the dark.