*This post was written in my journal as a stream-of-consciousness to you, my reader. While feeling isolated in freezing temperatures during the historic snowstorm that left Texas with a power outage and water shortage, I found some warmth when I focused my attention on writing my thoughts. What’s in parenthesis are additional comments I have added as I type this for my blog.*
February 17th, 2021.
I know nothing about my neighbor other than her first name and that she has blue eyes. But without the seven tea-light candles she gave me earlier, I’d probably be crying. I am getting close to being half-way through day 2 without power here in Austin. My phone is off and I am telling myself to keep it off until tomorrow morning to let loved ones know I am okay. I also want to keep my boss posted because this is day 2 that I cannot work. I have less than 40% battery on my phone and I really want to stretch it out just in case the need to dial 911 comes, though praying hard no major emergencies happen. I fantasize about calling 911 to ask for candles and extra thermal socks. My feet are cold. I need to hover them over the tea-light candle to make sure they stay warm. I am ignoring the thermostat as much as I can. It is 50F in my studio right now, so not the worst situation (the temperature dropped further down to lower 40sF as the day went on) I keep walking around. Moving helps, but I don’t want to work up a sweat.
“Pretend you are camping!” … “This is an adventure!” I keep telling myself. I just ran out of battery. I mean, my iPod ran out of battery. I listened to Shrink Chicks podcast last night and this morning. It helped me forget that I am alone and cold. I have an old phone with some audio books. I will ration that out so I can listen to at least 20 minutes a day until the power returns. It makes me feel more human to listen to other voices (the mixture of darkness and silence really got to me at night).
I swept my place and counted things, just to count. I rearranged my pantry. I am trying to just move and stay on my two feet while there is daylight. I want to tire myself out enough to want to crawl into bed when the sun sets at around 6 pm. So I am writing this on my kitchen counter with a nearly dying tea-light candle that just died as I was writing this sentence.
Pipes burst in a neighboring building. Keeping my faucets open (dripping) for over a week now so the pipes don’t freeze and burst. Praying that it works and that my neighbors are also doing the same.
I love writing. It feels so good to be creating something for my blog while I wait this out. It’s interesting that just today, I’ll be finishing the last few pages of the book Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. I have been craving a chance to not only detox from optional technology, but to deconstruct my entire relationship with it (“it” mainly meaning my phone/texting, social media, and streaming services). This book gives you a practical guide to detox for 30 days and then rebuild your relationship with social media (and all optional technology) in a way that actually supports your values (I am tired of mindlessly wasting time online. I want to live purposefully). The next book I’ll start reading is “The Joy of Missing Out” by Tonya Dalton. So life gave me a chance not to have any screen time…with a plot twist…of being effing cold while at it. This is what happens when we want a life of adventure, I guess. Why is it I always feel called to be my own hero in the story? I guess that’s a good thing to feel. I could have ended this a couple of lines ago…But I feel the need to tell you I am about to cut full seaweed sheets into bite sizes and count them. I figured of the little food I have left, this is a good use of my time, and practical for when I get hungry at night. I’ll probably count the pieces, too, just for kicks.
Can we count being in this blizzard without power for X amount of days a crisis? Good, because I started talking to a tea-light candle in the middle of this crisis. “Thank you for your light. Thank you for your warmth.” I whispered to the flame. Not only did I want to think this would extend the wick and make it shine longer, flickering in the semi-darkness of a winter day. For context, I grew up in tropical, hot/humid weather…When I moved to Austin and saw we were going to have below freezing temp. and snow, it did not even cross my mind for a second that I would need to stock up on candles and ready-to-eat foods that would not need heating. It did not cross my mind the power might go out for a long period of time. So there was I, talking to the third of seven tea-light candles my neighbor had given me earlier when I knocked on her door trying to get some help. I am so glad I am no longer shy about asking for help. Traveling has taught me to trust in the kindness of people more. I mean, don’t be naive either, but I have learned to trust that help really can be sent your way if you treat everyone nicely and politely ask for help. I should also note that to keep this cycle going, I also open myself up to helping others. We got to be ready to ask for help when we need it, but let’s not forget to help when help is needed.
A knock on the door. Hope. It was a young guy with a white bag full of goodies. The Universe delivered as I was thanking my flickering tea-light candle flame for its warmth. My friend, Lexi, saw my Facebook post asking for help in a subtle “send prayers” fashion, but what I really wanted to say was “send food and candles!” I didn’t specifically ask for food and candles because I did not want to publish my exact location to everybody on Facebook – This is the important part of asking for help but also staying safe. I did hope my closest friends, whom already have my address, would take action in any way they could. But I digress…Lexi’s sibling had a friend in Austin who happens to live near me. I knew some help could be coming because she mentioned it over text in the only 20 minutes of the day I allow my phone to be on to save battery. This guy showed up at my door with a big candle, some fruit, and an English muffin. I could hug this person and kiss his cheeks until he called the cops, but I went for a handshake instead. Hope. Maybe, just maybe, this was the Universe saying, “Hey! I kinda like you! You’re going to be just fine!” This too shall pass. Earlier, I did a meditation and my chosen mantra was, “I am JOY. I am WARMTH. I am protected.” I pictured myself embodying Joy and Warmth with every part of my body, visualizing a warm, golden light wrapping me up like a burrito.
Shout out to Lexi and this kind friend for making my day a lot less lonely and depressing. Shout out to this pen and notebook for helping me do one of my favorite things in the world: writing in a stream of consciousness where all thoughts are kindly welcomed onto these pages. This will probably end up on the internet, but for now it’s just between this notebook, this pen and I…and a little flickering flame.
*February 21: My blog isn’t a huge deal on the internet, but I am so grateful for you, enjoying my posts. I hope you enjoy them. I hope they inspire you. I hope they make you think or make you forget. My power has been restored, no pipes burst, and my food lasted through it even if I did have seaweed and an apple for dinner one night. The Texas power outage during freezing temperatures and my lack of resources, plus being alone, made this experience one of the hardest things I have gone through. When you do not have a timeline, or an estimated time of when your suffering will end, it can really take a toll on your mental health. I am safe now. I have power, I have water, I have food. Writing my stream of consciousness to you, made this easier. Thank you for your warmth.*