Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How to Survive a Power Outage Without Really Trying*

*Not only is it Blogiversary Week, but it is also Heat Wave 2012, with temperature highs smashing records all over the nation, thunderstorms galore and people losing power faster than a car with sugar in its gas tank.  Ba-dum-bum!  On that note, I thought I'd give you a reprise of Mom's New Stage's very first post, to teach folks exactly what to do if they have little kids and lose electricity.

Or, what not to do.

A fallen tree eastbound in Madison Park.
Photo courtesy of Maja Fiket.

On Monday, July 11, 2011, the Chicago area suffered a devastating thunderstorm. Huge trees were knocked down,* bringing power lines with them. 860,000 Com Ed customers lost power.  Some people in in the northern suburbs did not have their power restored until Friday night - four days later!

So in comparison I got off easy. Real easy. But if you had told me last Monday what I was enduring was just another inconvenience, I would have tackled you.

My day went as follows:

8:10 a.m. - Set out in car to teach college-level modern dance class.Think it just looks like another partly cloudy day, and feel doubtful that severe thunderstorms will actually appear, until the dark silver blue sky looming over downtown is visible.

8:30 a.m. - Get caught in monsoon-like conditions three blocks from work. Begin driving with nose pressed against windshield. Hear on radio that my neighborhood will be among the hardest hit.

9:00 a.m. - Hear that accompanist is stuck on train. Feel a palpable lack of motivation from the few students who managed to arrive on time. Wish had brought, not to mention charged, Ipod. Run through several musicless scenarios and find each as painful as an unanesthetized root canal. Decide to join the yoga class across the hall, much to the students’ delight. Take class as well, not knowing what a high point this is in my day.

10:40 a.m. - See two voicemails left by my mother who is watching Mr. R and Lady A, my 2.5 and 1 year old. Learn that the storm hit hard and the power is out. Children were terrified. Call Mother. Be asked the location of fusebox. Argue the futility of fiddling with a fusebox when the building/block/neighborhood/city has lost power. Explain fusebox’s location behind a picture in the hallway nonetheless. Drive home as fast as possible, noting all the fallen trees upon entering neighborhood.

11:00 a.m. - Arrive home to find apartment hot as a just-ran-the-marathon crotch. Also find wrong picture removed from the wall. Hug and kiss children. Assess situation. No hot water. No stove. No internet. No opening of refrigerator or freezer. Feel completely parched and have no liquid save tap water. Realize that escape routes such as the movies or the mall are not an option with young children who require a nap in their bed. Feel an anger and despair not felt since Job. Recommence discussion with Mother about the fusebox and the meaning of hallway versus front hall. Open all windows, which have not been washed since W’s Administration, and feel like an overheated, sloppy housekeeper. Wunh-wunh-wunh-wuuuuuuunh…

11:30 a.m. - Call husband and try to make plans for tonight’s dinner and sleeping arrangements. Beg him to come home early. Call other moms in neighborhood to learn who has the fortune of electricity. Learn that a tree fell on a friend’s car. With her husband in it. Yes, he was okay.

12:30 p.m. - Finally go out to eat after a hot, tired, hungry and thirsty Mr. R finished melting down, claiming that he hated restaurants when the opposite is true. Enjoy delicious lunch - my mom's treat. Everyone behaves. Ok, yes this is definitely high point #2.

1:30 p.m. – Go to produce market to buy milk for the Lady A since fridge must remain closed. Buy berries and like a doofus, forget to buy water, cold drinks and ice.

2:00 p.m. – Attempt to put down 2 kids who depend on some combo of warmed milk, air conditioning and white noise machines to get to sleep.

2:10 p.m. – Mr. R down, Lady A crying. Muttering, grab Aria up from her crib to “play,” if play means to keep a kid quiet.

2:15 p.m. – Try to supervise A while negotiating plans for evening. Dinner at my  Mother’s condo nearby. Settled. A lovely friend has offered us her vacant and furnished condo that happens to be in same building as my mom’s. Feel lucky at the same time as super hot, bored and persecuted. Call and text friends to bitch and complain. Catch Lady A eating a stick of sunscreen, squeezing behind the angled entertainment armoire (with about a million wires behind it) and trying to climb in kitchen garbage can. Restrain self from slitting wrists.

3:15 p.m. – Reattempt to put Lady A down with more cold milk.

3:20 p.m. – Lady A screaming. Abandon nap attempts. Put A crying, in Jumperoo where she eventually falls asleep. Get in bed with the phone and a notebook.

3:30 p.m. - Quiet. Personal time!! High Point #3! Yessssss!

4:45 p.m. - Everyone awake. Prepare to go to Mother’s building.

5:00 p.m. - Power is ON! Rejoice! Text friends. Call husband. Do happy dance with kids. Feel a little silly that I felt so wronged by the day’s events. Ruminate about what a cushy, spoiled American I am (when a day in my stifling, boring, hot-water-free apartment would be paradise to many in the world), before going back to the witching-hours business as usual, hoping that next time, I will handle things just a little bit better.

If the power went down in your home, what were your strategies?  How did you keep your spirits up? Did any new family rituals emerge?


  1. Power outages are the worst! We went through them way too much early this year. Make sure you have lots of breakfast bars.

    1. They are the worst, aren't they?! And they always seem to happen after you just went grocery shopping. The breakfast bar idea is really smart.

  2. I just hate it when that happens. You just can't seem to get anything done! Congrats for surviving :)

  3. Too good, too true, too funny! You're my fave new find - for the first time ever I liked someone's comment enough on another blog (Stroller Parking Only) to track them down, and I'm extra pleased to find I love your blog, too! Following on GFC, the Twit, and FB - because you can never lovingly stalk a new blog crush too hard. I hope.

  4. Love this post! Power outages are one of my worst fears. By the way, I am amazed and impressed that your daughter managed to fall asleep in a Jumperoo! That takes some skill!


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