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Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Night the Lights went out in Georgia....I mean...California - A Pre Post-Apocalyptic Tale

When the lights went out........

Last Sunday Night the power-surgically, with great and deafening silence-turned off our refrigerator, TV, computers, dishwasher and dryer, while leaving our light fixtures a mere half glow of themselves. It was like Mother Nature was warning us to reject technology with all it's entertainment value and work reducing niceties-to stop, and pay attention.  We did, and asked each other out loud. "Did you just feel that?"

A short time later, everything went black. Gone was even the amber, half-glow of our living room (proudly Steampunked) lamps.  Replaced was the blackest of black with nary a blinking LED to remind us of the trons that are always communicating something to someone, somewhere....everything went dark....dead....and silent

After assessing that there was no fire (or Zombies)
anywhere in our home. We ventured outside in to the thick emptiness of the night now alive with human lightening bugs shining their hand-held flashlights into the eyes of neighbor after neighbor, emerging from the comfortable nests of our anonymous homes. Many of us, meeting for the first time.

"Are you ok?" We called out and they echoed back. We were meeting people we have lived 2 doors down from, for 2 years and never said "Hello" to, until this evening when the uncertainty of the dead power grid left us all feeling insecure and in good company with our shared concerns for ourselves and each other.

"Is the wife ok, Cole?" we asked our elderly next-door neighbor whose wife June is on oxygen. "Yup. She's got enough portable  tanks to get her through till daylight. What the hell happened?" Said our ex-Military, gruff as they come, neighbor.  We answered in the same voice that echoed all up and down our street. "We have no idea what happened."

More hominid life forms entered the street with faces lit up by cell phone luminescence. All of us desperate to put an "Ah-ha, that's what happened", on the increasingly growing panic in the community forming in the cul-de-sac. Then messages starting coming in via cell phone from Facebook (the bastion of all misinformation)....100,000 + people without power- Explosion at the nuclear power plant-Someone hit a transformer-Possible terrorist attack at Vandenburg Air Force Base- (and my personal favorite) The moon has knocked all the satellites out of orbit.... i.e. Armageddon. 

A lit cigarette ember with a trajectory towards me, sent me scrambling back into the safety of my darkened home to avert an attack of allergic anaphylaxis but to also assess our readiness to get the hell of out of dodge, in case any of those Facebook power outage apocalypse rumors were true.

Cat carriers-Check
Cat food, water for cats and bowls for them to eat and drink out of-Check
Portable liter box-Check

Now that we knew our "children" were in readiness to be evacuated in the relative spoiled care they have grown accustomed to. It was now time to asses the human "Go Bags" or "Bug-Out Bags" as the Ready-for-anything, Survivalists call them.

Human medications in all their oval, round, blue and white pill shaped glory-Check
More water-Check
Luna Bars, Power Bars and Cliff Bars (In a Post-Disaster, Survivalist World, it seems the one with the most "bars", lives)-Check
Flashlights, knives, batteries, radio, blankets, duct tape, baseball bat (there also seems to be hopes of baseball in this dreary new world of refugees)-Check
Medical kit, oxygen, cash, toilet paper, towels, solar charger -Check
and finally, a car with a full tank of gas-Check.

We were ready to go, to bug-out, to leave. But go where exactly? That had never occurred to us. If HERE was where the bad thing was happening, where was the THERE that would be safe?
So we reentered the street, now clear of any smokers, and resumed the talks with our equally stymied, neighbors. Just then the sky turned bright red in the distance. Proof certain that one of the Facebook omens was indeed true. "Look at that!" A scream from a child half way down the block...pitch blackness resumed.... "What do you think that was?" I asked my stalwart husband. "I have no idea", he began.... when fireworks erupted from the North (the bad) end of town. "Ah", he exhaled in a calm fashion that reminds me why, in an emergency, he is the one to watch and listen to. "Fireworks.  Ok, that makes sense. It is the weekend before the 4th of July", he concluded as if it was both expected and completely logical.  

 In my squirrel brain, I was deducing that only a psycho crazy person could think that setting off fireworks during what was increasingly looking like the end of world, would be a good idea.

I wrapped my arms around my body and imagined this new world with silence yet for the odd firework in the sky becoming the new normal. "Idiots". I retorted. "Don't they know this is NOT funny?". "They are having fun", my husband reminded me, his increasingly annoyed, wife.

With no news via any respectable news outlet that our smart phones could reach and nothing on the PG&E website except the confirmation that yes indeed, a massive outage was being experienced by 150,000+ people (seems Facebook gets one right every once in a while), we said goodbye to our new friends/neighbors and went back inside our fortress of solitude to wait it out (whatever the "It" was). 

My husband took a shower and crawled into bed, sure and certain that at some point while he slept, the world would be made right and we would awake to all the lights being back on if only for the sun being up. I lay down, fully clothed with the resolute promise to remain awake and alert in case I had to do something. Although that "something" remained vague in my mind. Just being awake seemed like the brave and responsible thing to do at the time (or at least that's what my squirrel brain was telling me).

At 12 :32 AM  the power came back on in all her bright, gaudy glory. Every electronic device and previously humming appliance, sprung to life and I was so happy, I about cried.  It was going to be ok. Whatever had happened had been fixed, we were safe and life could continue as we knew it before the "Bad" (still unknown) thing happened.

So what did I learn?

1) It is appalling and inexcusable that we did not know so many of our neighbors before that night. I am resolved to make the time to walk the immediate neighborhood and introduce ourselves to each and every one.

2) We rely too heavily on and take for granted, things we should not. Electricity, the Internet, gas in our car, cash on hand, water, food, medications. All these things are precious resources that may be easily available one moment, and gone the next.

3) In an emergency, I panic and want to act immediately, while my husband is the "Wait and see" kind of guy. He's been on two tours in Iraq, including being shot by insurgents in Kuwait. To him, it's all fixable because he has seen the worst it can be. I need to be more like him.

4) And finally, I hope to better appreciate all that I have, the people in my life that are dear to me and the small every day gifts that are hard won, like being able to turn on a light and see the handsome face of my husband, who loves me and all my squirrel-brained, quirkiness. 

The lights might have gone OUT outside, but my inner light went ON inside. It's going to be ok.

Much Love,

~~~~Dr "I survived the Pre Post-Apocalypse" Brassy

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