BY STEPHANIE BARBÉ HAMMER
March 16, 2016
12 Midnight – Texted best friend in Seattle. Text reads: “High winds make me think we may not make it to Puget Sound’s MusselFest. You better stay home.”
Response: “OMG, ok. Hope you don’t lose power.”
12:05 – Shuddered in bed, remembering when power went out for four days and nights last August.
12:30 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. – Anxiety dreams about losing power.
9:15 a.m. (really 8:15 a.m. because of this idiotic “Spring Forward” nonsense that drives me crazy every year until I get used to it, and then really like that it gets dark later, and then become super depressed when it’s time to “Fall Back,” until I get used to it, and then really like it and on and on it goes until death comes) – Email received from Whidbey Life Magazine. Text reads: “We won’t [set up] the magazine table today at MusselFest but thanks for offering to person it!”
Response: “I MISS YOU TOO!”
9:45 a.m. – Drank coffee.
10 a.m. – Checked AccuWeather. Got dressed. Went to gas station, filled car with gasoline and purchased large jug of purified water.
10:20 a.m. – Drove to Coupeville Coffee and Bistro. Ordered breakfast. Realized that poetry assignment for online class needed to be posted before power theoretically went out and walked into lady’s room and recorded comical video about attempting to write a sonnet in private. Flushed toilet for dramatic effect.
10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – Hung out in coffee shop. Drove home.
12:54 p.m. – Watched wind whip through trees, thought, “I’m glad I’m not outside.”
12:57 p.m. – Considered lunch.
1:20 p.m. – Sun came out. Tempted to do victory dance and run outside, but knew better. Continued to contemplate lunch as an imminent possibility.
1:56 p.m. – Bainbridge friend checked in on Facebook and articulated concern about weather. Best friend reported on FB that winds were high in Seattle.
1:57 p.m. – Decided to eat tuna casserole before power went out. Charged phone, iPad and emergency electronics charger; wondered where jug of water is. Scratched head. Looked out window. (Better check AccuWeather again.) Kindle! Had to quickly download copy of “The Soul of the Octopus.” Wondered where hardcover version of “100 Years of Solitude” was.
2:02 p.m. – Rain pouring down.
2:24 p.m. – Sun came out. Reheated tuna casserole.
2:40 p.m. – Watched episode one of season three of “House of Cards.” Had to turn it off, felt too much like real politics.
3:12 p.m. – Wind literally howled. Trees shook. Thought of “Wuthering Heights.” Lawrence Olivier. Kate Bush.
3:30 p.m. – Phoned best friend to tell her about attempts to listen to “100 Years of Solitude” on Audible. Our conversation:
Her: “What’s it about?”
Me: “Gypsies, flying carpets, giant tattooed men, alchemy, dads going mad and speaking Latin, firing squads, rigged elections and a little girl who appears, complete with rocking chair, and who only eats dirt. And that’s just the first six chapters.”
Her: “A tree just fell on the garage!”
Me: “What??!???!?!?” (No one injured. Landlord called. Donald Trump discussed.)
4 p.m. – Listened to some more of “100 Years of Solitude.” Fell asleep because everyone in the book has the same four names, varied slightly.
5 p.m. – (although technically it was only 4 p.m. because of the Great Leap Forward—no, that’s Mao—ridiculousness, so it was still really too early to eat.) Performed cardio routine in bedroom while watching YouTube on smart phone plugged into wall (so as to keep charging).
5:30 p.m. – Husband observed that wind was dying down. Refused to believe him because of last August. Got out candles. Retrieved huge jug of water from car. Placed flashlights on kitchen counter.
5:50 p.m. – Watched “Victor Victoria” with husband. Loved the gender bending. And the dinner jackets.
6:38 p.m. – Sun began to set. Bainbridge friend checked in on FB and shared that Lummi Island ferry was stopped and sitting in the middle of the channel. Panic attack at thought of being stuck on ferry in middle of water. Tried to remember life saving dive techniques from 44 years ago.
6:50 p.m. – Kindle charged. Emergency charger charged. Computer charged. Dishes washed. Time for beer and nachos.
7:30 p.m. – Chomped. Sipped. Watched a segment about assisted suicide on “60 Minutes.” Somehow not a good idea, given general anxiety about power.
10 p.m. – AccuWeather said the wind would be dying down, particularly after 4 a.m.
10:30 p.m. – Poems from last week’s assignment came online. Read poems. Poetry students are writing fantastic iambic tetrameter pieces. It’s ridiculous how good they are. Amazing how traditional forms can compress people’s words and make them sing.
11:20 p.m. – No rain. But it felt very dark. I tend to miss people when it’s night. Dad used to take me for walks very late with a flashlight. He said the night made him feel large and small at the same time. He spent his childhood summers here on Whidbey Island—how I learned about it.
11:46 p.m. – AccuWeather said it would begin to rain in four minutes.
11:57 p.m. – Wished Dad was here although he might turn out to be a Donald Trump fan and terrible argument would ensue.
11:59 p.m. – AccuWeather reset and said rain would start in 82 minutes. Husband writing in other room. No wind. Refrigerator humming.
12:04 a.m. – Decided that if power stays on until 4 a.m., all will be well. Husband dictated tax advice to daughter into iPhone. He told her the kinds of forms she needs. Only four hours til 4 a.m.
That’s not a long time at all.
Stephanie Barbé Hammer has published short fiction, poetry and nonfiction and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize four times. She is the author of a poetry collection, “How Formal?” and the novel, “The Puppet Turners of Narrow Interior,” as well as scholarly books and articles. She lives in Coupeville mostly, but makes frequent forays into Los Angeles. You can read her blog here: www.stephaniebarbehammer.net and follow her on twitter (@stephabulist).
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