The batteries to our house died

8 12 2008

I’m composing this on actual paper, with an actual pen, with actual ink. This is out of the ordinary for me because not only do I normally write posts (when I post, that is; what’s it been since my last one? A month? My goodness, what have I been doing with myself? Unpacking? That is a lame excuse, LAME.) in WordPress, but my “actual” writing, with the paper and the pen, etc., these days does not extend beyond the few random checks (seriously, how are there still companies out there who do not allow you pay your bills online? Do they compute how much I owe them with an abacus, too? NOT POSSIBLE), grocery lists, and… Well. There is no “and”. That is it.

My handwriting looks almost foreign to me. But perhaps that’s due less to the infrequency of writing and more to the near-dark of early morning by which I am writing this. Why are you doing such a silly thing, Caley? you ask. Or maybe you ask this of Sublime Bedlam; probably you ask it of Sublime Bedlam since most likely you do not know me in real life, that would make more sense. WHOEVER YOU ARE, why are you doing this? you ask. Why aren’t you using your computer like a NORMAL person? And that would be a great question.

The answer is that this morning one of my worst fears (excluding fears that involve death, injury or kidnapping, that is) was realized. Before we moved to our new place, I worried a lot about whether we’d be able to afford it or not. (I speak of this worry in past tense, but trust me, it is still RIGHT SMACK AT THE TOP of my list of worries; we haven’t won the lottery yet, and it will remain there until we do, or until 6 months has gone by and I’m proven wrong. Whichever comes first.) On paper, we technically can afford the rent and utilities. But then there’s those other pesky things like food, and clothes, and Target, etc. I worry (unrealistically, I realize, but I think I’m just nervous because this is so new to us) that one month we’ll find ourselves unable to pay  (or, more likely, having forgotten to pay) the heating bill and BAM they will shut it off. No second chances, no grace period, nothin’.

We have not lived here long enough to have received a bill for any of the utilities yet. We had a scare a few days ago when a truck from the water company pulled up and parked in front of the house. I immediately asked Jeff if we’d forgotten to pay the bill or something, or were they just here to welcome us to the neighborhood with a casserole OR WHAT, because I’m pretty sure they don’t extend courtesies like that. He could only be here for one thing. Jeff said we hadn’t forgotten to pay it because we hadn’t gotten a bill yet. We watched as he got out of his truck, toting a long, suspicious tool in his hands. He unscrewed the cover in the sidewalk and started getting to work. Um, why was he dumping our casserole underground? No, this could not be a welcome wagon visit. I forced Jeff to go outside and see what was up, certain that we’d done something wrong and were about to have our water shut off and OHMYGOODNESS I hadn’t showered yet! Could I shower in the next 2 minutes before he’d completed his mission? Turns out the owners had closed their account which ended on November 30, and somehow there was a mix-up that had them sending someone out to shut the water off even though we’d already opened our new account. Jeff laid the smack down and the evil water man left, saying he’d go call his boss to verify that we had, in fact, started a new account with them. We’re assuming he found this to be true, because he never came back and we are all still able to shower daily. Except for Oliver, who not only tends to get overlooked when it comes to cleanings, but actually fell asleep Saturday night before we’d gotten him in pajamas, so he wore his clothes to bed; then he wore them all day Sunday, too, because he’d be getting a bath in the evening, why dress him in clean clothes at this point? He’s a dirty boy, what can I say. His big fat cheeks make up for the smell, though.

So back to my realized fear. This morning, 6:30am, I got out of the shower. I was ALREADY in a cranky mood because Jeff was leaving in a few minutes for another work trip, his first since we moved in here. Before, work trips were just annoying because they left me with the kids all by myself for x number of days. Now, I’m left with the kids AND the worry that if something goes wrong, it is up to ME to get it fixed/turned back on/otherwise taken care of. No more military babysitters to handle everything. Not to mention we’re not on post anymore; no more protective gate guards right outside, 20 feet from our apartment. They may not have actually been “protective” in a shady situation, but they gave the illusion that they were, and that was a comfort nonetheless.

But then the power went out. 3 seconds later, it came back on. Then out again, and on again. Then out and on one more time. Then it went out, and it stayed out. Three blinks as a warning, and we were in the dark. 10 minutes later Jeff was loading his suitcase in the car and driving away, leaving me at home for 3 days in the dark and the cold. I was certain he’d return to find us frozen and crazy.

Just as with the water, we hadn’t gotten a bill yet, so we knew they couldn’t have cut us off. But was there some kind of mix up? How long would it last? I was in tears when Jeff drove away. Sure, I was gonna miss him, blah blah blah. But dude, how could I be expected to survive in these conditions? Husband? Gone. Kids? I wouldn’t say “dependent” on electricity, but not exactly understanding when there is none. (Ethan has already asked me 47 times why the lights won’t work; he also asks why, if the lights and everything are off, why don’t we just put new batteries in?) Heat? None. Fridge? Milk going sour with each passing minute. Cell phone? Only 2 battery bars left. Laptop? Unknown; I was afraid to open it only to find that the battery was at 3% and about to go any minute (hence the post writing on paper). It was exactly the thing I’d been preemptively stressing out about for months.

Thankfully, Jeff called a few minutes later to report that the traffic lights up at the end of our street were out, too, so it wasn’t just us, and it was sure to be taken care of soon. And it was: I’ve copied my old skool, written-by-hand-on-real-live-paper draft into WordPress because the power came back on after just a few hours.

So at the moment, I just have to worry about handling the boys solo for a few days. How to keep them entertained, and keep me sane. We made gingerbread cookies this morning (using the oven that now worked because the power was back on, did I THANK THE LORD for that yet?), and I let the boys play in the bathtub together for awhile this afternoon. It’s now almost 4, and I’m going to make Ethan wait just a little longer before giving him dinner (he keeps asking for a snack)(actually, he keeps telling me that I forgot to give him candy, which, uh? No. There was never a promise of candy, not even a mention of it. Smooth manipulation skills, kid.). The early dinner is a part of my Solo Parent Survival Strategy, wherein I feed Ethan his dinner at an outrageously early, old-personesque time, and then whisk him off to bed by 6, 6:30 at the latest. Considering he wakes at 6:30am, and doesn’t take a nap, I don’t find this unfair. In fact, I find it quite necessary. It’s what’s best for both of us. Besides, I need time in the evening to eat the gingerbread cookies without him whining for me to shaaaaare, waaa waaa waaa.



6 responses

8 12 2008
Stephanie of Stopbouncing

would like you to know that I LOVE the way you write.

Please start a direct-to-home-casserole-service.

8 12 2008
RookieMom Whitney

I love you, Caley. Please find lots of money under your new doormat and get an au pair and come to blogher in Chicago this summer so that I can meet you.

You are earning many merit badges right now. Good thing you have this blog so that the future mothers of your grandchildren do not think that you’re looking at them and remembering “Early parenting? It was all easy – the boys were so cute and sweet – and y’all should stop complaining.” They will appreciate you for being a real person who documented the ups and downs.

9 12 2008

Stephanie: Thank you! You are very kind. 🙂 Also, I would LOVE to start a direct-to-home-casserole service. First I’m gonna have to have someone deliver some casseroles to my house, though, so that I can find the time to do it and still feed my family. Wait a minute…

RookieMom Whitney: You are so sweet! I would totally love to meet you, as well. To be honest, I hadn’t given Blogher a thought: don’t you have to be Cool and have lots of readers to be a part of that?

And YES, lots of money under my doormat, that sounds BRILLIANT. Done.

Also: I LOVE that old-lady-me in your scenario says “y’all.” I don’t say “y’all” now, but the fact that I do when I get old just proves that I only get cooler with age.

9 12 2008
RookieMom Whitney

I don’t say y’all either – I’m born and raised in California – but “you guys” does not sound like something Caley the grandma will say to some 30-year old ladies.

Yeah, BlogHer does feel a bit like a high school scene where people are trying to hang with cooler people, but it’s an excuse to meet some good people face to face. And then behave awkwardly.

9 12 2008
Undoctored, pinky swear « Sublime Bedlam

[…] (as part of the previously mentioned Solo Parenting Survival Strategy from my last post), I put Ethan to bed first (both boys usually go to bed at the same time), hoping he’d calm […]

16 12 2008

I like how Target is in your list of expenses along with food and clothes, instead of just “cleaning supplies,” “toys,” etc. That’s it was for us, back when we had two actual incomes (I don’t count Etsy) and lived a spit away from my beloved Super Target.

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