Sunday, November 10, 2019

Lights Out 💡 Searching for the light at the end of the tunnel during the California Power Outages

Here in Northern California, we've been suffering through forced power outages. Our latest blackout was 47 hours long, beating the 43 hours we went without electricity a few weeks ago.

No matter how much you try to prepare for it and how many batteries you stockpile, one cold hard fact remains: You are left in the dark. Literally and figuratively. We don't know exactly when or how often these outages will happen. They're predicting it will take at least ten years to upgrade the power lines (something that should have already been done.) Despite what we've been told, there's no rhyme or reason to the areas affected and the website that's been set up to keep us in the know crashes constantly, is highly inaccurate and provides vague generalizations to when power will be restored.

Having no control over a simple utility like electricity is extremely disheartening. These last few weeks I've ran the gamut of emotions, including frustration, rage and overwhelming sadness. In addition, being without the internet is a sour cherry on top. Luckily, I write my books out longhand on paper or else it'd be impossible for me to work on a computer like most authors, and I'd have to spend hundreds of dollars I don't have on a generator. (Although, I may have to do that anyways if this indeed becomes California's "new normal." What a harrowing thought.)

Enjoying my morning cup of tea is only a memory as my stove locks out at the loss of power, disabling the natural gas. Food choices are extremely limited and the extended hours of darkness in autumn make denial impossible. I am lucky to have water though, as some people's homes are on wells and they have to do without water, too, the most basic of all necessities.

It's tough to find the positive in a situation that is caused by the colossal incompetency of a gluttonous company. If you don't know the backstory, in short, PG&E's faulty power lines caused a horrendous, devastating fire, and now every time the wind blows, they're shutting off power to millions of customers to prevent it from happening again. Except, during these blackouts there are still pockets where there is power and we were shocked to learn that a fire started in the town a few miles away from us where they'd left the power on. Go figure.

As I sit here by lamplight, venting my frustrations, I'm reminded of how the actions of few can greatly impact the many in so many crucial ways. I don't like having choices ripped from me--no one does. Especially in a situation that shouldn't be happening in the first place. It feels downright un-American to be pushed into the Dark Ages and have absolutely no say in the matter.

But I choose to remain an optimist. I guess I'm just too damn stubborn to let my mood be tarnished by something so thoroughly out of my hands. And, as the sun begins to rise up over the foothills and illuminate the valley I call home, I begin to hear the white-crowned sparrows chirp their morning greetings. To the birds, today is just another day. A time to sing into the sunshine, forage for food and enjoy the freedom to fly to and fro on a whim.

So, I'll take a page out of the sparrows' carefree book and be glad that the sun will provide me with bright light to write by until the darkness falls again and the moon rises for the night shift. I have all that matters--in light or in darkness. My hubby who loves me wholly and unconditionally, and my cat snoring softly beside me, exhausted from wondering why we're using flashlights to take a trip down the hallway.

My song might not be as bright and cheerful or as often as the birds', but I'm still here. Still thriving and creating because it's what I do. And no one or any one thing can ever take that away from me.

here comes the sun

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