Power to the People

Alternate title: Reason No. 873,298 why I’m neurotic

Whether it’s hot or cold, an earthquake or a hurricane, people love to talk about the weather.


Living in Michigan, there’s usually a lot to talk about.  While we don’t get hurricanes, we do have pretty much everything else. Summer days can reach 100 degrees while winters can bring 100 inches of snow, and sometimes the temperature can vary as much as 30-40 degrees from morning to afternoon.

When the fall colors are in full bloom and nature paints an indescribable picture of beauty, I’m grateful for the season. When it’s oppressively hot or my 25 min. commute takes an hour in the snow, I’m grateful for Vodka.

My point is that we deal with a lot of weather-related things out of our control, and for the most part, I roll with the meteorological punches by lamenting the fact that Mother Nature hates me and wants me to be unhappy.


However, there is one thing that totally makes me go ape shit and elevates my level of neuroticism to new altitudes—losing power.

Let’s get one thing straight—I’m really not high maintenance. But good lord, when the power goes out, all rationality and Zen-like tendencies go right along with it, not to be restored until Consumer’s Energy plugs things back in.

And you can be sure I obsessively call Consumer’s Energy or check online (briefly, of course, to conserve energy) to get a restoration estimate, usually being told it will happen at some point hours or days after I totally lose my shit (which is, of course, the second that I lose power.) 

Here’s the general order of operations:

  • The semi-creepy weather rolls in and I get on high alert. Like a hunting dog catching the smell of its prey, my eyes get big, my head jerks up and I immediately assume that rumbles in the distance are an impending weather-related disaster headed directly for my house.
  • I will text my mom and ask her if I should be worried. Knowing what a weather weirdo I am, she will usually beat me to the punch with something like, “Chill the hell out. It’s just thunder. You’ll be fine” or “Can I have your couch if you get swept up in the storm?”
  • If I’m at work, all productivity ceases while I play out various scenarios in my head, check radar online and take into account exactly what I have in my fridge/freezer at home, as food waste is my main concern with possible loss of power. If it’s winter, I figure I can throw things outside and warm up some food on the stove. If it’s summer, I freak out and pack that bitch up like an igloo.
  • If I’m at home, everything not related to obsessively watching the weather channel and lighting candles ceases while I play out various scenarios in my head and take into account exactly what I have in my fridge/freezer. If there’s Vodka, I rationalize that using a straw is acceptable and than nothing should go to waste.
  • Mini-blinds will be shut and the TV will be turned up loud, as to drown out not only the sound of the thunder, but also crazy neighbor lady yelling at her dogs to “go poo-poo” and bitching about how the wind puts her cigarette out.  Her Vodka was gone by 7am and she rarely consumes solid food, so that’s not a worry for her.
  • I will perfectly situate my flashlights and I will wait. I will make promises to unseen higher powers that as long as I don’t lose power, I will be fine and work on saving the world in the morning (a task that would conceivably require electricity, therefore eliminating me from the impending power outage.)

Of course most of the time nothing happens, as storms will roll through and all will be fine. Plus, things smell delightful given the fact that I’ve lit every candle in the house. My mom will text me to make sure I’m not in a blankie fort in the basement or curled up in the bathtub and I will tell her how insane her suggestion is while slowly crawling out from under the dining room table.

But those few times a year when I do lose power, when I’m forced to miss the game on TV, am disconnected from the Internet and stress about my perishables in the fridge?

I can predict my own neurotic natural disaster—no power required.

19 responses to “Power to the People

  1. This is where we are different. The robot part of me takes over during bad weather or threat thereof.

    When I was a freshman in college at Univ of Alabama I was in a horrible set of tornados that damaged the campus and wiped out a nearby town. I also had a car accident that nearly took my life in the middle of a flood/heavy rain situation. Fpor those reasons, I am not fearful of weather.

    My dog freaks our during t-storms and my wife and kids get ansty and wonder about the worst. I feel like I have to be the superhero so I stay relatively calm (for me, remember i’m anxiety dude).

    I think most people react the way you do with weather. Its scary to some.

    If we were neighbors, my wife would make me help you out.

    • I’m not scared about the weather as much as not having power. Like you, I actually have a “real” weather-related disaster story that involves a lack of power and no communication with the outside world whatsoever. I think that’s what has me freaked out every storm, but that’s another post for another night 😉

  2. Oh. My. God. I think you’re my mother.

  3. I grew up in New England, so that practical side of me preps as soon as I smell the potential for power outage in the air: lanterns & flashlights come out of the bin in the hall closet, batteries checked, food/water supply tallied, iPad/cell phone/laptops/Swivel Sweeper charged. Then? I pace nervously until I pass out from exhaustion.

    But my mom? Understater of the Year, when it comes to weather. I talked to her today about my coming up to visit her this weekend. She mentioned, after an hour conversation and in a casual, off-handed manner, that there may be “a bit of rain Sunday”, which could help me weigh my decision of whether to come.

    Her “bit of rain” can be translated to the rest of us as The Incoming Hurricane. Uh, thanks, Mom. I think I’ll bunker down with my batteries and bottled water back home during the giant natural disaster, and visit you next week instead.

  4. When my power goes out I have to *deep breath* reach the place of acceptance and hopefully I have a good book (and many batteries and candles) and WOW!

    I end up having the most peaceful nights! But it takes many hours to reach the acceptance level. All my “issues” fade (kind-of).

    It’s like enforced normalcy. I almost crave it but fear it at the same time.

    PS- Forts are always cool.

  5. There is one reason and one reason only that I get upset about power outages: How will I cook my oatmeal? This is EXTREMELY anxiety inducing. Now we have a gas stove, so I think that can work without “power.” But it would be 28X more annoying than the microwave.

    This summer our well got hit by lightning and was trashed for a few days. The no-water thing was HAAAARD.

  6. You really are like my dog Gordon. I would say one of you was the other reborn, except for the whole concurrently being alive thing. Oh, and he doesn’t like asparagus.

  7. Can I just say that ever since I went abroad, weather.com has been completely useless! Sorry, mini rant I just had to project! Clearly, I’m spoiled by my LA weather.

    And on that note, I can’t really relate to your post since LA weather, although gorgeous, is boring. It may get a teeny bit cooler in the winter, and a teeny bit hotter in the fall (never the summer, dont ask me why). But its never extreme and never humid. That being said, if I go anywhere else (like , ahem, now), I get so pissed when the weather stinks.

    Spoiled weather brat I am indeed.

  8. For some reason, the power always seems to run out when I’m in the shower, just as I’m about to wash off – this makes turning on the tap, getting a torch light an impossible task. bugger.

  9. I pretty much lose my mind when I have no lights, no TV, no internet and my phone is in the YELLOW ZONE because I am using it to tweet/blog etc. Plus the twins hate not having a “movie” on…and they don’t understand that no power means No movie (or DVD or NICK JR) and they screech like monkeys.

    I am not ZEN like even when the power is on, it’s too much to expect me to be anything close to it when I am faced with candles, screeching monkeys and an absence of Law & Order. 🙂

  10. “Chill the hell out.”
    Gotta love a mama like that 🙂 !

  11. I live in Michigan too so I can commiserate with your weather woes. But I’m blessed to live in a subdivision with underground utilities. If our electricity does go out, it’s only for the thirty seconds needed to screw up all the clocks.

    For a change of pace from the vodka, try some Skinny Girl Margaritas. If you drink enough of them, the taste tends to grow on you.

    Your mom is cool.

  12. I’m scared that lightening is going to come through my window and get me. Seriously. I heard a story once when I was little about a teacher who got struck bc he was wearing his wedding ring and sitting near a window. That is OBVIOUSLY true, right?? Sigh. Move over under that table, please.

  13. I cant remember the last time my power went out but I think I would be in freak out mode like you were. And I’m typing this out as I’m watching all about the hurricane hitting the Bahamas about 90 miles away, great.

    On a separate note, I think your crazy neighbor should guest post sometime. Just sayin’.

  14. I am totally fine with being Nature Girl and going without amenities (power, hot water, etc) when I’m camping or in a field setting, but go into panic mode when I lose power at home–I think more because I can’t predict/control when it comes back than anything else. Except for the food spoilage issue! Totally on the same page with you there.

  15. No no, this drive me nuts too! I think of the homework I need to do, the food going bad in the fridge, how my life is ending…and then it usually comes back on in 30 minutes.

    The irony is that I love storms and the sound of thunder.

  16. I’m with Jessica – I have a particular fear of lightning and have run at full speed across a ball diamond and muddy football field in stilettos (don’t ask why I was wearing stilettos to a ball game…) to get to the relative safety of the car during a sudden lightning storm. I then drove the car partway onto the field, screaming hysterically at my husband (who was mortified beyond belief) to get in. I didn’t care. Let others be fried chicken on a stick – I’m keeping me and mine safe.

  17. I loved this post. You totally remind me of my dad. He is obsessed with the Weather Channel and I’m pretty sure that he wishes he could have been a meterologist. When the power would go out when I was a kid, he’d become kind of like the dad in Christmas Story when they get a flat tire: all hyped up yet somehow almost excited by the challenge. He’d always be on top of things like making sure the fridge was not opened too much (“you’ll let out all the cool air!) and had the cooler filled with ice before the storm even hit. Poor guy, though, the power went out a few years ago when my mom was visiting me in L.A. and the garage stopped working so he couldn’t even get the car out.

    Your mom is hilarious.

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