Saturday, September 20, 2008

Musings During a Blackout

Sunday, September 14
The storm came Friday night.  Hurricane Ike came straight through Texas.  It hit Galveston and the gulf coast hard (NOAA warned residents ignoring evacuation orders faced "certain death".  Ike cut like a knife up through Houston.  I am north of Houston.  Everything south and east of me was pretty much trashed, everything north and west is fine.  We may not have power for a month.  We lost a transformer, apparently that's not the kind of thing they just keep laying around.  It will be 3 weeks to get another one at least.  It's funny, but a few days ago we were looking forward to this.  We thought power would go out for a day or two, but would come right back.  A blown transformer was not in our plans, but it was in the plans for us.  The question is:  What do I learn from this?

It's easy to forget how reliant we are on technology these days!  Even now, I'm spoiling myself by listening to the Smashing Pumpkins on an iPod.  It won't last much longer.  Other than that, I am on the porch writing with a pen on paper by candlelight.  Oddly, I feel this is a good experience.

Your priorities shift slightly when you begin to feel fortunate that you have a tub of  clean water to bathe in, even though it's cold, because it will be your first bath in 3 days and it's so hot you begin to smell.  Since the power is out, we're lucky the water pressure remains so the toilets work, but the water could be contaminated so we can't drink or bathe in it.  I filled the tub on Friday in case we did lose water.  Thankfully, we were able to get bottles to drink.  Many people were not that lucky.

Since we expected to lose power, we froze our bottles and put them in a cooler.  We were able to save lunch meat for 2 days like that.  We also remembered to charge our phones and I have a wind up flashlight and we had some candles as well.  Our only crisis has been that Step-Dad has a coffee addiction.  Today, a neighbor with a gas grill made a pot.  We've been able to get enough of a cell signal to call my dad and let him know I'm alive and find out what's going on.  Almost nobody else has been able to call out.

I've decided this is an excellent test of my new beliefs.  I was beginning to get annoyed that my mother was refusing to acknowledge that we could be without power for 3 or more weeks.  She can't handle that amount of time mentally.  I don't blame her entirely, but we do need to accept that this could be a long term situation and make plans for that.  If the power isn't back tomorrow, I'll try and go find a library on Tuesday.  I'm going to ask myself everyday:  Can I handle this for one more day?  As long as the answer is "yes" I know I'll be okay.  After all, this can only get easier to adjust to.

I've been making a conscious effort to see this as assisting me on my path to lead a more simple life.  What do I truly need?  I'd like to see my boyfriend.  This isn't a daily necessity.  I can email him once I get to a library and my dad emailed to tell him I'm alive.  I do need to do my homework, but I can also do that at the library.  Otherwise, my needs are met.  We have food, water, and I'm able to meditate.  I even have yarn and needles.  I do wish I had more books, but I'll get some soon.  If The Boy were here, I'd be content.

We'll be alright.

Thursday, September 18
The problem with most major religions as practiced today is their self-centered approach to salvation.  It becomes about me and my relationship to G/god; or, at best, we the elect and our relationship to G/god.  There is rarely more than lip service paid to the idea of me and my relationship to the larger community and the world we all share.  I am as guilty of this as anyone.  What have I done for the world community lately?  What have I done to earn my salvation today?  I have been judgemental and self-centered.  I continue to cause suffering through my inaction and implicit approval of exploitative labor practices.  I realize that I am partially to blame for the suffering in the world today, and I must now begin steps to rectify those past wrongs.  I will have to meditate on this and figure out ways I can begin to practice this.  One cannot rashly say, "I will give up all animal products, stop-buying non-fair trade products, start a letter writing campaign and feed the homeless!"  There is no way anyone would do all that after 30 seconds to think about it!  You would become overwhelmed and inertia would take over and you'd do nothing.  What I can do is continue my boycott of Nesquik, stop shopping at Wal-Mart again (once the power comes back and the other stores open), and do some charitable knitting easily.  I can encourage those around me to become more conscientious consumers.  I can go to farmers markets and try to eat locally.  I can patronize small businesses.  I can cut back on meat even if I don't cut it out completely.  I can avoid speaking ill of people.  I can do lots.

I just want people to remember that it takes more to be a good person than going to church once a week and singing "Praise Him!" as loud as you can.  You can go to weekly services yet still ignore a homeless man on your way home in your SUV, buy yourself some slave labor chocolate while wearing your Nikes.  You may be a nice person in general, but you are not a good person if you don't expend some effort to those around you.

What have you done to earn your salvation today?

Friday, September 19
I may start making shawls for cancer patients.  I have the prayer shawl book, bought while trying to find a shawl pattern for my grandma.  I could probably get the shawls blessed, too.  Even if I don't believe necessarily in them, who am I to deny their comfort to others?  I think shawls might be nice, just because I know chemo can make you quite cold.  Blankets for premies would also be fun. 

Saturday, September 20
The nature of deprivation is that as it draws out, your desire for the lacking numbs but also becomes more painful.  As it stands, aside from being able to locate a Stitch n Bitch and some patterns I would be okay not having electricity again (if The Boy lived here anyway).  But at the same time, the buildings across the street have power.  We found out last night which gave us hope we'd get it soon.  Unfortunately, there's a massive tangle of wires preventing that.  The hope is the worst, though.  I am typing this from a hotel.  We know we will have power on Thursday, but this will be my last day online until this weekend at least.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Like Ike!

Just in case anyone was worried since I moved:

1)  Yes I'm in Texas
2)  Yes I probably will get hit by Ike
3)  I'm far enough north that I should be safe
4)  If anyone wants to panic, I'll be updating my Twitter as the storm develops and if the power goes out, I can text updates there
5)  I've got a flashlight that's windable and doesn't run on batteries, a few books of word puzzles, and all my knitting.  Worst case I end up texting Twitter and knitting by flashlight.
6)  We've got a cooler and a lot of bottled water as well as some cold cuts and bread

Good luck to everyone else in the wake!  I'll catch y'all on the other side.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Howdy from Texas!

I am finally in Texas. Woooo! I'm sunburned and got bitten by an ant and by another, unidentified bug. I'm generally settled in, though. I'm getting incredibly bored by not working right now, but my mother wants me to wait to put in applications until she can look at the temp agencies with me.

I've also gotten past the worst of the homesickness. I really just miss being in North Carolina, but Texas is hopefully going to get me financially independent and get The Boy over here.

My mother keeps pressuring me to join her church. She's a Presbyterian. I've not had the guts to tell her I'm a Buddhist yet, primarily because she'd cry and scream and possibly call me a satanist. It just doesn't strike me as being worth the effort as long as we live together. Maybe once I've moved out. I'm okay with going to church, but I'm afraid it would give her too much false hope if I went with her. I wonder what to do about this.

Oh and P.S. I am safe from the hurricane. I may get some rain, but I'll be alright.