The Year Without A Halloween
Last Friday: sunny, warm-ish and gorgeous.
Last Saturday: giant monster blizzard slams the Northeast and knocks out the power to my city.
Conclusion: Old Man Winter is a lazy selfish fuck who just rams it in without bothering to engage in foreplay.
I haven't had power or internet access since 11:55 Saturday night, and still don't; I'm writing this from the home of one of my partner's colleagues, who kindly offered to let me shower and work from here today while my partner is at work.
Our apartment, fortunately, is very well insulated. Even more fortunately, I always keep on hand a large supply of candles and lamp oil, which have been our only source of heat these past few days. I cleared off the coffee table and loaded it with enough lamps and candles to keep the room temperature at about 62 degrees (of course I extinguish all flames before going to bed, and indoor temps drop to the low fifties by the time we get up next morning). I've also been using two metal coffee cans as makeshift radiant heaters, by burning four or five tealight candles at the bottom of each one. Even at the rate we're burning through them, my candle and oil supplies should last at least another two weeks, and even the most pessimistic scenarios predict we'll have the power back by then.
The one problem I'm having is gasoline, since I stupidly neglected to fill my tank before the storm. I went out yesterday morning because I'd heard the business district one town over still had electricity. That was only half-true; when I drove I'd see one block with full power, including traffic lights, but then the next six blocks or so would have nothing. Intersections without traffic lights were treated as four-way stop signs, so I needed over two hours to make a drive that would ordinarily have taken about twenty minutes, and burned a lot more gasoline as a result (I only had a quarter-tank -- about two and a half gallons -- to start with).
The few gas stations open for business had lines upwards of a mile long, with police there to prevent riots and line-cutting. I didn't bother trying to buy gas, not because I lacked patience to wait but because I seriously doubted I had enough gas to make it to the front of the line. (Near the end of my journey, I wondered if I even had enough to get back home. But I made it--barely.) Thus, my car is effectively undriveable until the gas stations near me are not merely open for business, but open for normal business, the kind where customers can pull right up to the pump rather than wait in a long line.
My partner sometimes complains that I'm difficult to buy Christmas presents for, but this year will be easy since I've been drawing up a survivalist wish list. I want one of those fancy battery packs that you charge in an ordinary electrical outlet, and then plug small appliances into it. (My partner still goes to work each day, since his job still has full power; he'd be able to recharge the battery pack at work if we had one.) I want a small, low-power TV which I can plug in to said battery pack (do such things even exist, now that TVs all have to pick up digital transmissions?). I want a battery-powered radio better than the one I have; it hasn't been able to pick up any of the all-news AM stations in my area, and what stations it does pick up are utterly useless to me: yeah, I already know Def Leppard gets hysterical when I'm near. I know Jim Morrison wants me to light his fire. (There's over twenty open flames on my coffee table every night; he can damned well light his own fire off one of them.) What I don't know is, what useful businesses are open near me? When is the power supposed to come back on? What is going on in the larger world outside my immediate line of sight? None of the high-power rock stations my cheap radio can pick up have deigned to tell me. But the radio has served one useful purpose: my partner finds it difficult to sleep without some sort of background white noise, so we keep the radio tuned to an all-static station. I rather like the idea that cosmic radiation left over from the Big Bang now lulls us to sleep at night.
The mayor canceled trick-or-treating on our city last night; most cities in the area have done the same. The official excuse is that there are still live power lines down in many places, but if I had kids I wouldn't have let them trick-or-treat last night anyway, since our neighborhood is in pitch darkness: no streetlights, no porch lights, nothing but the occasional glow of a candle or battery lantern dimly shining out of the occasional window. Most of the other people who live in my building have either gone to stay with friends who have power, or moved into the shelter the city opened in a nearby middle school.
I'll end this now because I still have actual paid work to do; I'm supposed to turn in two stories for a certain magazine by this Thursday, but will only be able to do one, since the second required me to do phone interviews with certain people yesterday, and they have been incommunicado since Saturday. For the first time since I started my professional writing career, I will not be giving my editor a story expected of me, and this fact has me more pissed off than almost anything else about this storm.