On Being Without Power

So you may have noticed that this week’s post is a little late. Actually, it being Sunday I think we’re getting to the verge of more than a little. This is due to a loss-of-electricity related incident which I will go into presently. If you hadn’t noticed, well good on ya. You may proceed as usual. I think this week’s post was scheduled to be about starting new things, but I think I will put that off for a week and talk about the aforementioned power outage instead. It’s not that I don’t like starting new things (well okay I don’t) but rather that having no power for a few days has put me out a little and I think I’d rather go on about that instead.

So there I was friends, I had woken up, made a cup of tea, said hello to the old lady (for the record she finds being referred to as my “old lady” endearing) and had just sat down at the computer to check some emails and (after some Minecraft related procrastination) start writing this post. Well not this one, but one very much unlike it. The microwave in the kitchen had starting turning on and off and was beeping something fierce. By the time I had gone to check it out and come back my computer was doing the same thing. The lights in half the apartment dimmed and after about 15 minutes three quarters of my place of residence was without power. Now, being completely without power I understand, but mostly without power? Something was clearly borked. I did the only thing that a recently awakened man who hasn’t yet had a full cup of tea and has just learned that he also has no internet could do: I went back to bed.

After lying there for about half an hour it became clear that the problem wasn’t going to fix itself and so I got up, had a shower and called the landlord. I won’t go into detail about the rigmarole of trying to get a hold of the landlord, calling the hydro company, and figuring out whose responsibility it was to fix the problem. Suffice it to say that three hours later it was determined that one of the incoming lines through the hydro meter had decided to end its weary life in a blaze of fire and glory. Well fire anyway. There were two incoming lines, the other of which was perfectly intact. I’m not sure if it was some kind of bizarre electrical domestic disturbance or a suicide pact gone wrong but it did explain why we had only partial power. The working line of course had to be disconnected so suddenly even the two lights and three outlets that had still been working, no longer did. Now we’ll never know if Don was going to give Peggy that raise. By this time it was about 5:30pm so good luck finding an electrician. Resigned, I ducked across the street to the dollar store to get some candles and prepared to spend some time without any power.no-electricity

The first thing my girlfriend and I do during an internet shortage or power outage is clean. I think this is for two very good reasons. Firstly there is a pretty good chance that we’ve been putting off the cleaning for sometime and now that we have nothing better to do we might as well catch up. The second reason is that with any kind of outage like that, you never know who is going to have to come traipsing through your apartment and there is no point in having the whole world know how much of a slob you are. Also, for myself, cleaning often puts me in a foul temper so I like to save it for when I’m already in a bad mood as to not ruin an otherwise fine day. As it was I was frustrated because I couldn’t get the writing done that I was supposed to so I figured cleaning couldn’t hurt. I also found a dime.

It turns out that cleaning only takes you so far, and also that there is a certain level of slobbery that is passable for brief outside company. The girlfriend having headed off to work I decided to do some reading. I don’t read nearly as much as I used to and I certainly don’t read like I used to. When I was a much younger man I would sit and read for hours in a stretch quite regularly. Not I mostly read in fits and starts while on the bus or something, or else news and other interesting articles on the internet. Knowing I would be quite some time with out suitable entertainment, and seeing that it was raining outside, I dug out my copy of East of Eden and decided to reread it. I hadn’t read it since I was maybe 19 and I thought it would be nice to see what I think of it a decade (plus) later. Also it has like 600 pages and I figured it would kill some time. While rereading this book I learned two important things: the stuff i found boring when I was 19 (i.e. long thematic discussions about biblical stories) I find the most interesting now and also I really kind of like reading by candlelight.

As I read East of Eden I also thought about the kind of world in which the novel takes place. It’s mainly set in a rural Californian valley at the turn of the century where the large majority of residents are without electricity. The automobile and the air plane have just been invented and there are even a few scenes in the book dedicated to the attitudes of suspicion and amazement that surrounded these emerging technologies. Sitting there in the near darkness reading by candlelight about people who would have had to do the same it was easy for me to see how much I take electricity and the tools and comforts it provides for granted. At first it was frustrating that I couldn’t get my writing done, or waste my time digging digital holes and building digital stuff, but after a while I was just forced to relax and enjoy myself and I had a much better time. The girlfriend came home from work with takeout and we ate by candlelight and then just sat and talked and enjoyed the time together. It was a nice break from the usual. That being said, late the next day when the power finally came back on, we both hit up the internet like it was a crack pipe.



  1. “I did the only thing that a recently awakened man who hasn’t yet had a full cup of tea and has just learned that he also has no internet could do: I went back to bed.”

    This is so you. Also, it makes me feel better about my own loss of reading time… I just bought 3 books yesterday and I’d been thinking about it then too… wondering how long it’d actually take me to get around to reading them.

    • Hey man, what can I say, I can’t handle even the simplest of problems without a nice hot cup of tea. There have to be some British genes in there somewhere. Make more time to read, trust me. I need to do this too. I forgot how much I love the quiet and the comfort of a really great book. I need to make more room on my to-read shelf.

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