Boom Boom (out go the lights)

We had a bit of a windstorm in the Seattle area today. Following a couple of false starts, the power finally went out shortly before 11 a.m.

After the last few years, I’m kind of used to the power going out. From 2003 to 2012, I lived in suburbs where stormy weather and winter weather would cause power outages lasting anywhere from a couple of hours to several days.

But, during that time, it was rare that Seattle City Light customers would be affected by power outages, so I was a bit surprised when the lights and everything else went out today. Not that I was all that surprised—the loud booms, sounding like huge empty barrels dropped by a crane or something, made it obvious that today was not going to be business as usual.

Fortunately, it wasn’t the middle of winter, there wasn’t snow and/or ice on the roads, and I wasn’t in a place where I’d be stranded for the next few days even if there were snow and/or ice on the roads. No, this time, having the power go out was merely inconvenient.

The lack of electricity also worked in my favor. After the success of a storytelling workshop I recently participated in, I had decided that my next story would be about my first time going to see Rocky Horror Picture Show back in 1979. But, as often happens, other stuff had been getting in the way. With no computer, TV, or music to distract me, there wasn’t much else to do; I curled up in bed with my journal and one of my two cats, and began to write. A couple of hours later, I had a rough first draft.

By this time, I was getting hungry, so I took a quick shower, then went out to investigate the extent of the power outage. A huge chunk of the area outside my neighborhood was also affected, so the place I would normally have gone to in order to wait out the outage was no longer an option; I steered my car in the opposite direction.

What I found was a bit strange. One set of traffic lights would be functioning; a block later, the lights would be out. A couple of blocks after that, the lights would be functioning. Unlike the Thriftway in the opposite direction, the nearest Safeway had power and was open for business; I went in, and headed for the deli counter, where I bought a few chicken strips. Not the healthiest food available, but at least it was warm and didn’t come out of a can. I also picked up some extra AA batteries for my mini-Maglite®, just in case.

After that, I headed back in the opposite direction, as there were no outages north of the county line. I stopped at a Starbucks, where I ordered a venti Refresh tea, and sat down to write a completely new draft of my Rocky Horror story, occasionally checking on the status of the power outage. Within the space of about an hour, the estimated time for restoration of power went from 5 p.m. to 7:55 p.m.

Around 5, I decided to head back home. I really didn’t feel like spending three more hours at Starbucks, even with Elvis Costello’s “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes” playing in the background. I just wanted to go home.

When I got back to the apartment, I spent a few minutes in the car, listening to music while my phone charged a bit longer. Finally, I went back in.

After lighting two of the candles I’d just bought, I found the portable radio I’d bought a couple of years ago, and tuned it to the local NPR station. Saturday evening. Blues time. With nothing else to do—checking Facebook was out, since my iPhone showed “No service”—I settled under the blankets on the sofa for a nap.

Four or five hours later, I woke up. I didn’t see any lights, though I was sure I’d made sure to leave one light switched on so that I would be able to tell when the power came back. Disappointing. I turned on my phone: still no service.

Then I realized that what I’d thought was the sound of the creek outside was actually the hum of my refrigerator. I got up and went into the kitchen. The green night light that’s plugged into one of the outlets was actually lit. Naturally, I’d forgotten to turn on the switched outlet in the living room, so of course it didn’t come on when the power was restored.

So, now we’re back. Saturday Night Live started out funny, then I got bored (Eminem as musical guest—is he still around?) and went to my computer, where I started writing this blog entry. In a few minutes, I’ll go to bed—just in time to enjoy that extra hour as we turn our clocks back to Standard Time…

(2 November 2013)

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