Home On The Fringe

Fringe Art

Contact Us

Recent Ramblings

The Chronicles

Fringe Reads

  • Powered by Blogger
  • Weblog Commenting and 

Trackback by HaloScan.com
  • Get StatCounter!

Power Outage

We've been having a ridiculous number of severe summer thunderstorms lately, and what I've determined about them is this: there's just no great time for a severe thunderstorm. What about in the middle of the night?, you say. Sure, that sounds ideal: everyone is sleeping, you don't need electricity or water for anything, and the grass will be watered; everyone wins. Everyone, that is, except for kids who fear darkness with much intensity and sleep with night lights and who also happen to have a really creepy awareness of every little detail in their environment even while fast asleep. For those kids, a severe thunderstorm in the middle of the night is not so great, because when the power inevitably goes out and their life-saving night light is extinguished along with the white noise of air conditioners and refrigerators and fans in one's brother's bedroom next door, well, all hell breaks loose and Those Kids (ahem, Bryce) end up depriving their parents of sleep for the rest of the night because Those Kids are not capable of lying still next to their parents; Those Kids like to move around and talk about being thirsty and give long explanations for why their blankets need to be bunched up a certain way at 3 a.m.

Last night was the first night in the past several that thunder and lightning haven't terrified at least one of the kids to the point of waking up the entire house. As great as that is, the fact that the thunder and lightning came at 6 a.m. and knocked out our power right after I stepped, hair still dripping, out of the shower to get ready for work wasn't any less infuriating. As I drove to work late with half-dry hair in the wrong car (mine was stuck inside the garage, since the door is operated by electricity), I wondered what I really felt mad about - losing power due to a summer storm isn't that big of a deal, after all. Was it intensified self-consciousness due to getting ready with wet hair in the dark? Was it envisioning myself walking in late looking frazzled and knowing I'd have to laugh it off like haha, we lost power this morning and now I'm a mess, haha, which I hate? Was it the way the kids saw the morning power outage as a great opportunity to create a new type of chaos (chasing each other madly through the house and slamming doors in each other's faces while John and I scrambled around looking for flashlights so I could try to apply make-up without ending up looking like a horror movie clown -- we never found our flash lights and I ended up using candles, by the way)? Was it the constant need to explain to them that no, we couldn't toast waffles because the toaster uses electricity just like the microwave and the hair dryer? None of these seemed adequate explanations for the intensity of emotion I felt about the whole doomed morning. It was something else. Control. I have no control. I couldn't, due to the nature of my job and my department and my company, call my boss and say, "hey, I don't feel like coming to work with wet hair so guess what? I'm taking the day off." I was "forced" (as forced as a white middle class American can be) to go to a big concrete building and sit at a computer and look busy and act cheerfully professional and shuffle spreadsheets around for exactly eight hours.

And maybe that would be fine, if not for everything else lately. There are so many aspects of life I feel I can and should have control over, but for whatever reason, I don't. Our dog living in our house should have been a controllable situation, but it wasn't. Our kids learning to swim with a lifeguard-certified instructor with an additional lifeguard standing watch should have been a controllable situation, but it wasn't. Maintaining a healthy and comfortable diet and exercise routine for more than one or two months should be a controllable situation, but apparently not for me (hello, extra 7-10 pounds!). And driving to a place where I feel powerless after getting ready in a house that was literally power-less and trying desperately not to feel powerless while my kids used that very situation to garner their own fiendish power over their humorously powerless parents just made me want to embrace the powerlessness and lack of control by curling up in the fetal position and taking a nice long nap.

But I didn't, since I was on the highway and all. I kept driving. I went to work and neither justified my tardiness nor acted cheerfully amused about the morning's shenanigans and my resulting frumpy appearance despite my awareness of those expectations. I simply tucked my wet, stringy hair behind my ears, sat at my computer, did the meaningless work I do to get paid the money that DOES give me the little bit of control I still feel I have in this stage of my life, and then left early to pick the kids up from John's mom's house, since he had a wedding to cover tonight. I felt fatigued but triumphant by the time I arrived there: I'd made it through the day, through another week. She quickly obliterated any ridiculous sense of control over "my own destiny" by ignoring my answers of "no thanks for the drink; we're meeting my mom for dinner, I've gotta get going" and sucking me into the social requirements of conversation with her guilt-inducing statements like, "I haven't seen you in SO long" and "did you hear about the friend in the terrible car accident?" and "tell me more about the incident at the Y, who have you talked to?"

We were late to dinner with my mom, needless to say. And not surprisingly, she didn't flinch when I told her that was beyond my control. Those thunderstorms, you know. There's just no great time for them.