Power Outage

Yesterday afternoon the power went out for more than five hundred people in my town which is, probably, half the people and businesses within the city limits. The electric company sent me texts with links so I could learn the status of the situation but without electricity, I don’t have internet, not even with my phone. My phone company doesn’t have data service in the San Luis Valley. The notice said that it would be 24 hours. I learned from my neighbor that a large tree in the park had blown over and broken power lines.

For the most part, I didn’t care. I just needed to know what to plan for, so I called a friend who checked the link and gave me the info.

I did what you do. I got out the candles, changed the batteries in the flashlight, remembering how it was living in the Southern California mountains where fires were frequent and often caused by sparks from electric lines. The stragedy there was to turn off power to save homes and lives. In those days, I had a little generator, a camping stove — which I didn’t need because my kitchen stove was propane anyway — battery powered lights, etc. I realized yesterday that an electric stove is a major liability mostly because of morning coffee… But there’s tea and hot water, right? At a certain level, it’s not about coffee. It’s about caffeine.

So, I settled in for an evening like that and was relieved of the numerous choices and irritations life with electricity provides. I edited short stories and enjoyed the battery life of my laptop. The days are long now, but when it got mostly dark, I went out to see what my neighbors were doing. All the windows were dark, all but mine. They glowed with candlelight.

But, high winds and a power outage combine to awaken my post-Cedar Fire PTSD and I felt anxious and hyper-alert even though I now live in a town and the risks with which I lived in the Southern California mountains don’t exist here. I was happy to have my stories on which to focus.

I put out a little book of short stories at the beginning of the pandemic just to have something to do that WASN’T COVID0-19 related. I didn’t work on it at all except the minimum of formatting to get it to look like a book. I’ve since read it and decided that many of the stories are too good to be sent out like that, even if only one person ever buys the book (one has <3).

Yesterday I wrote a blog post expressing my opinion about events right now in my country. It was researched and supported. It didn’t come off the top of my head, and it wasn’t just my “feelings” about the world as it is right now. I got trolled in a way I never imagined on WordPress. It was vile. I set the post to private and decided “Fuck it. I’m not doing this anymore.” Christine talked me into still writing, so here I am, but honestly, less interested.

I don’t read many blogs here. I don’t have time. Like everyone else, I read blogs by people who are interesting to me for one or another reason. If I happen on a blog post — even by someone I follow — that I don’t agree with I usually just move on. It’s not that everyone is “entitled” to their own opinion. Opinions are not a matter of “entitlement”. People are just made to have opinions. We can’t help it. I’ve observed that, generally, people are not interested in changing their opinions, and if they are, they’re going to search out the information they need to do that. That’s not my opinion. It’s just how people are. Arguing with them doesn’t avail much. I don’t write blog posts to start inflammatory discussions. I know how to block people.

Right now in this country, maybe the world, tempers are running high and everyone’s a little insane because of the virus and the sudden and not-all-that-pleasant changes it’s brought to all of our lives. But while that is going on the OTHER stuff is going on. People are still losing loved ones to other diseases, fearing for the well-being of their children, fearful that they won’t make ends meet month to month, all that exaggerated now because of the universal fear. I have friends who, in this interval, have lost a parent, lost close friends, faced gruesome diagnoses themselves, have had their spouse diagnosed with illnesses that require long-term treatment, seen the physical degeneration of their loved ones and wondered what to do next.

Fear makes people uncomfortable about themselves, thinking that feeling fear means they are cowards. So, instead of realizing, “Holy fucking shit. I’m terrified!” and investigating WHY, they become angry. Anger is (in our world) an acceptable emotion and fear is not. A belly filled with anger is good; a heart quaking in fear is not. It’s true that fear paralyzes us and anger energizes us, but fear’s paralysis exists to keep us still long enough to figure out what’s going on. Angry, we march forward with a sense of self-righteousness. There is a place for both, but I believe it’s important to realize the source of our anger and, if it’s fear, we need to stop and think.

I learned the utility of fear from rattlesnakes. The first time I saw one, I was scared and ran away. The second time, I was scared, but approached cautiously. My mission, then, was learning skills that I could use to hike in rattlesnake country with minimal risk to myself and my dogs. Fear turned to wariness which turned to curiosity which turned to knowledge. That didn’t stop a rattlesnake from living in my yard and killing two of my dogs, but they stuck their heads in gopher holes. Not the snake’s fault, not my dog’s fault. Justice was served, ultimately, when one of my huskies killed the snake. If you’re a person who understands parables, there’s a lot there to unpack.


51 thoughts on “Power Outage

  1. For gosh sakes–trolled on WP. I wondered what happened to the post, but never thought you had to take it down….Geez. So your opinion is OK as long as it is in line with everyone else’s opinion? That’s nuts. Disagreements fuel discussion, or at least they should. I am really sorry that happened, Martha.

    • I don’t think any of us is quite right now and there are some people who are so angry that anything they write is going to be ugly even if they think they’re just expressing their opinion. I believe there are some opinions that aren’t worth discussing; they’re traps.

  2. That explains why as I was commenting, poof it was gone. I’m so sorry you were trolled. I hope you do not stop blogging as I enjoy your posts, often giving me food for thought and sometimes just plain old smiles!

  3. I’m so sorry about the trolling. I read and enjoyed that post. I get that the anger comes from fear, but dang.

  4. yes, many are operating from a place of anger and fear, and it manifests itself in countless ways, including on blogs. like you, I believe that everyone is entitled to, and should have an opinion on things, but also know that some people will use this against me or others, like yourself, who they disagree with. it’s unfortunate that this happened to you, and I’m sorry you had to endure it.

    • Thank you, Beth. I guess people think if they strike out at random people who write blog posts with which they disagree they have achieved some power over the situation.

      • yes, it’s a bully approach, when they are scared and don’t have control, they have to make themselves feel in control, even if it really changes nothing and at another’s expense

        • I’ve noticed a lot of changed behavior even among people I know. Probably me, too, but I can’t see it. I have friends who suddenly have to know everything (and tell everyone) — a trait that wasn’t a large part of their personality before, but it was there. Now I know it’s a response to uncertainty. It’s very challenging to keep one’s peace and forward movement right now. ❀

  5. Wow. So sorry to hear about the trolling. Sounds like bullying and who needs to see that. I wish there could be disagreement without the attacking. I wondered what happened to that post too. I agree about anger and fear. Anger is also louder and gets more attention.

    • That’s true. It was bullying. He tried again this morning commenting on this post. Why? He doesn’t know me and my blog posts are 100% gratuitous to the greater world and have no influence on the course of human events. Bullying me just screams, “Hello world! I’m completely impotent!” πŸ™‚

      • Exactly! It has nothing to do with you. And everything to do with him. And whatever his issues are. Your assessment makes perfect sense πŸ™‚

  6. I’m glad you’re posting again. I think we writers don’t so much need to blog as we need an outlet to express ourselves — at least it helps me sort out my own thinking. It’s best if we don’t let a troll win and shut us down — undoubtedly their intention.
    Sometimes the fight seems not worth it, but then think of Martin Luther King. People still dream his dream. (Another blogger wrote about him this morning.)

    • Well, thanks to yesterday, I got to know you better. ❀

      I'm not despairing at ALL. What I see going on is something I've believed was necessary for a long time (divisive comment coming) which is African-Americans need to fight their own civil war. MLK did good. That was necessary and he changed the world. NOW is phase two (IMO) African-Americans in the US standing up for their rights. I wrote about it, about the role of teachers in this, but I won't post it because it sounds like I'm congratulating myself — in a way I am — but I see myself as a tiny drop in a huge bucket of people who tried their hardest to offer knowledge and opportunity to a group of people in their classrooms who were their to take it but didn't always know how. I'm very proud of those "kids" right now. ❀

  7. I have been trolled when I was drawing at a website. The person was vile to me. But I was curious and asked why? I wouldn’t recommend that as an action usually, but I didn’t want to give in and delete my drawing and comment. Over time and several more drawings the person (a man) understood I wasnt the person he thought I was. As an olive branch I did a drawing of something he loved. We ended up as friends. But I think he was just the exception that proved the rule. If someone is vile and a troll, let them stew in their own juice! Stay safe!

    • I checked out this guy’s blog and it was icky. He’s just a pissed off guy. I’ve had the experience, too, of a “troll” turning out to be a good person. I am not sure I never want to write anything on my blog that’s controversial, but it’s not my normal thing, anyway. I blocked a person whose blog I used to follow a few months ago. I don’t know. I think the times and his own bad experiences just warped him in a certain way. But I decided I just didn’t need to engage. These are such weird times anyway. ❀

  8. Indeed a lot to unpack. Fear is the underlying cause and it’s so easy, as you best put, to just be angry. Why do people STOP learning? It’s much easier to stretch your fist with a pop than stretch your mind. So you know, I listened to the song. Home of the Brave. And it was a novel about the world rolled up in a tune. Reminded me of something Don Henley or Glenn Fry would’ve written. And for me on the other topic ~complete irony that violence stops violence. Power outage? I can think of one that needs to lose some power. It seems many do not want to research or even try to understand positions that are not aligned with their own. I’d rather learn. Facts are facts. And everyone’s reality is what they make it. But beliefs run deep~most people don’t want to hear your opinion. They want to hear THEIR opinion coming out of your mouth. I’m glad you’re blogging.πŸ’šπŸΆπŸ€—

    • Thank you. I thought that song was astonishing. I pretty much listened to it for the whole day. I liked the ambiguity — Europe and Asia are pretty messed up, so go to the Home of the Brave, but know what it is, all the hopes that go into that and ultimately this is just a place like any other place. Totally “a novel about the world.” “Hotel California” is another volume of the same thing. I hated that song until I couldn’t get out of California. πŸ˜€

      I agree everyone’s reality is what they make it and that’s why, I think, we need to question “reality” all the time. The time in my life when I questioned the existence of God I was serious. I really wanted to know. Ultimately I couldn’t “know” in the normal sense of knowing. I actually laughed and thought, “Well since I can’t ‘know’ in that way, what should I do?” and I realized I just like life better with God than without and I realized that that’s pretty significant especially because I NEVER doubt that God likes me. But you know, I think we have to think. I’m glad you’re blogging (and reading my blog) ❀

      • πŸ’šβ€οΈ I question reality all the time! Because what seems so real, unlike God, is so surreal right now. You make me a better learner and inspire me to write. You’re the teacher I never got to have so you can’t stop. πŸ€—πŸ’•πŸ˜πŸ’œπŸΆπŸΆ

  9. Bullying sucks; so sorry you were a target. Despite knowing from experience that bullies act out of fear and that standing up to them with rational integrity is the only effective response, it’s exhausting to do so, and dammit, these days – thanks to social media and our current “leadership” – there are more of them willing to shit all over our public spaces. Keep writing, keep sharing, don’t let them silence you.

  10. Glad you are back, Martha. Something about small appendages comes to mind in response to your gentleman caller. I have found the images of the attacks on journalists quite horrendous. I think the aim is to intimidate people with different views into silence and to act as a cheer squad for their own kind. Unfortunately there will be much more of this to come.

  11. Here I am commenting after the fact! This is what happens when I don’t check WP in the morning. I missed all the drama. I’m so sad that a troll lumbered into your blog and started swinging his club. I’m also very happy that you are still blogging – trolls are intent on stirring thing up just to be able to sit back and be amused. Blocking them is not always easy. Real serious troll will have multiple sites and profiles… so I’ve never been one to tempt fate so rattlesnakes would never tempt me to get up close and personal – same for trolls. I’ve always thought your posts were well reasoned and I have to say I think we are of the same opinion in most things political.

    • Thank you. It’s not a very inflammatory post and looks at both sides as much as one can when one is on ONE side. You’re right about trolls. I don’t know what they get from it, but the guy tried twice. πŸ™‚

  12. Great post Martha. I too am sad that a rotten troll made you consider not writting. I would miss catching up as I find your posts great and so interesting. I love your photographs and walks with Teddy and Bear. So glad you were supported

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