On Thursday night, I experimented with sleeping half-naked on the floor of my apartment. It was kind of like camping at Burning Man, but without a tent, and completely sober. It was, for the record, far less fun.
This sounds like a classic Alayna-type story of “Something that should not have happened”, but it was definitely not my fault.
As always, life has been a little crazy lately, and so today’s “Literary Libations” is not getting itself posted today. It will be postponed until Monday, when I’m a bit more awake and stuff. I think I exhausted myself a little, between some fun social events, deadlines, and what was likely the most uncomfortable night in recent history. Not sleeping is OK for a little while, but at some point, the gas tank most definitely hits “E”, for exhausted.
Thursday night seemed like an ordinary, low-key night. I had a bunch of articles with a deadline of Friday afternoon, and needed to get everything out of the way before my events on Friday night. I had also been set to participate in the “All Authors Blog Blitz”, basically a day where independent and self-published authors each posted a guest post on one person’s blog, and hosted another author on their own blog the same day. Obviously, that didn’t work out for me, but more about that later. I will be posting about the Blog Blitz, and featuring my guest author on Monday’s blog.
I managed to get my guest blog written at somewhat of the last minute, and made my way through about half of my assignments, when tornado warnings began to come through. Tornado warnings and strong thunderstorms are common here; nothing at all like the storms I’m used to in the Northeast. I actually *love* thunderstorms, as long as I can watch them from the inside or under a covered porch. I think they’re romantic and beautiful and never fail to remind me of some of the better moments of my life. (Ironically, I will always remember watching rainstorms from a daybed in New Orleans, and feeling wistful and sad and happy all at once. I thought it was really the kind of city I wanted to call home, even though it was small and Southern. I didn’t, of course, but New Orleans had some problems with water that were not at all romantic, so it’s interesting that I think of that city and remember how beautiful the rain is. Most people will always remember the devastation in following years.)
Tornadoes are a different thing entirely. We get a lot of warnings regarding them, but I don’t take them too seriously. I once threw an event in the middle of a tornado, thinking nothing was going to happen. Meanwhile, across town, the tornado hit Downtown Atlanta. I’d like to think my penchant for not taking things too seriously helped keep people safe. *laughs* On Thursday, I saw the alerts on TV, heard thunder, and assumed there was a storm.
Then, of course, the power went out. Fortunately, it was still somewhat daylight, but I became alarmed when the thunder started to shake the floor of my apartment. Ornaments fell off my Christmas tree. I went to hide in the little area of space that serves as a “closet” in my Zen room. Of course, I could still see the storm from my window, and my phone made the horrible emergency alert noise that always makes me feel really anxious. It said, “Emergency alert—danger imminent. Take cover now.”
That did not make me feel better, as the giant tree in front of my window started to shake, loud thunder seemed to be in the apartment, and the blackest storm cloud I’d ever seen was staring me in the face. Even on my beta-blockers, there was definitely an adrenaline problem, because I was alone in a closet and went from “Oh, storm, la la la…” to “Holy crap, we’re all going to die!”. My dog hates storms, so she’s really not a calming presence when a tornado comes through.
The storm ended, nobody was hurt, but the power was out. It was, of course, hot. It was 92 degrees that day, like it has been every day, and humid, and not a fan or AC unit to be had. At 8 PM, they said the power would be on by 9:15.
By 12 AM, I was starving (realising I had no food other than candy that didn’t require cooking), and walking around lighting up the apartment with my Kindle. By 1 AM, I was annoyed that The Guy I Am Currently Dating didn’t come to rescue me, because I’d used up my phone battery with the sporadic messages I was allowed to send (cell networks were also down) and calls to the power outage hotline. At some point, they didn’t give an ETA and my phone went dead.
By 1:30, The Guy I Am Currently Dating scared the hell out of me, because I’m sitting in a pitch black apartment and hear someone rattling with the knob at the door. I immediately think of every horror movie I’ve ever seen, but fortunately, he showed up with McDonald’s, which I ate in about 7 minutes. (If you know me personally, you know it takes me forever to eat food, so this is an important indication.) He also brought a flashlight, which was good, because the phone died and the Kindle was down to 15%. (I did read a book during the power outage, which was kind of nice. If it had not been hot and dreadfully uncomfortable, I would have appreciated the alone, non-electronic time.)
By 3 AM, I wanted to sleep, but couldn’t. The porch door was open, because it was 10 degrees cooler outside than inside. Walking the dog was particularly weird, because the lights were out EVERYWHERE. It was rather like a post-apocalyptic scene in a movie, and I felt like I needed a bow and arrow or something in order to channel my inner Katniss. The Guy I Am Currently Dating later told me that 200,000 people lost power, and there was not a light in the entire area.
I tried to sleep in every room, on every piece of furniture. I think I successfully got about 4 non-consecutive, uncomfortable hours. It really sucked. I am not a fan of summer power outages, for the record.
The next day, it only got hotter, with the apartment reaching 82 by 1 PM…and no power. The Guy I Am Currently Dating showed up again, drove me to McDonald’s, and tried to find a place to charge my phone. The parking lot was full of people who looked like they hadn’t showered, brushed their hair, eaten, slept, and were aware it was 90 degrees out. It was a cranky day. Finally, by 5 PM, a little girl shouted “The power is on!”, and you could hear a huge cheer throughout the apartment complex. I was lucky, as I had enough time to shower and get ready to go out, but I was exhausted.
Not everyone was so fortunate. On Saturday night, we saw a news headline that said “Parts of Atlanta Still Without Power”, so it could have been worse. I don’t know if I’d have survived another day.
(Interestingly enough, as I’m writing this, a thunderstorm is running through the area….)
While I still had access to my phone, I got the news that winners had been chosen in the short story contest over on Mysti Parker’s blog, and my little story I wrote at 4 AM one night won first place. YAY!! I’m totally honoured that my story, appropriately entitled “All That Glitters”, was something that stood out and captured attention. If you haven’t read the story or visited Mysti’s site yet, I totally recommend it.
In an example of synchronicity, Mysti is one of the mentors for the online writing class I’ve been doing at Writers’ Village University. I am not in her class, but it was one of her posts that pointed me to the community. Since she’s my friend on there, and my screen name is “PrincessAlayna”, I figured she knew it was the same person.
She laughed when she found that out, because she didn’t put the names together. (there aren’t that many Alayna-s floating around, and I have a photo posted, so that makes it even funnier.) An even greater example of synchronicity is that I received copies of books written by people I’ve actually met through the class, which I only started two weeks ago. Even cyberspace can be a small world.
Writing isn’t always something that gives you much validation. You publish a book, and as someone posted recently, “Oh, I sold a book this year, which is one more than last year. Things are looking up.” is not an uncommon scenario. For all the promoting people do, nobody is actually BUYING books, which makes it seem like a gigantic exercise in ego-reinforcement. I am not sure whether anything I write is good or not, ever. I am also not sure it matters, because everyone with a computer is an author these days, and what I’d really like is a paycheck. The things you receive paychecks for are often written in a drone-like fashion, without your name attached, and feedback is rare and almost always focused on punctuation. (Apparently, I suck at adverbial clauses and the use of commas.)
So, small things like someone you’ve never met liking your story actually count a little in the “You don’t totally suck” department. Are all the little bits of positive feedback enough to convince me I’m talented enough to actually be a successful writer…and does it matter if people don’t really read? I don’t know. But it’s cool to be appreciated now and again.
It’s the little things, like ice, Chicken McNuggets, and winning short story contests that make a hot June day without power a little bit better.
For the record, electricity is my new favourite thing.