Okay, so I’m an idiot. I received my electricity bill from Southern California Edison, set it aside with a thought to look at it again as the due date got closer, then put something on top of it, then something on top of that.
This morning at about eleven am, while composing a Tweet (yes, I Tweet. Don’t you?) to a fellow writer, the power went off. At first I thought it must be the whole building, so I sat for a few moments listening for any of my neighbors who might be coming out to see what was up. No one seemed to be coming out. Then I remembered the Edison bill. Damn.
My phones are Internet based, so, without the modem and router, I couldn’t call out. My cell phone is old, needs a new battery, so I knew it would die before I actually reached someone to pay the bill, so I went out to my car, plugged the phone into the cigarette lighter adapter and called. They said the lights would be on in between three and six ours.
I spend my life at the computer. I spend my life on the Internet. It is where most of my business is conducted, most of my socializing is at least initiated, most of my creativity happens and most of my communication with the world takes place. The soft hum of the hard drive and fans in the computer is a constant companion, so much so that, like an old lover, I have become oblivious to it’s presence. It was suddenly very quiet. Even with the street noises, and I live on a major boulevard with much traffic, it was quiet.
After calling Steve (the business/writing partner, for those of you who don’t keep up) to let him know not to come in, and to call the answering service occasionally, I picked up a book and started reading. The blinds were open, as was the front door, and the light was bright and natural, riding in on a cool spring breeze. At first I felt guilty. Not, as you might expect, because of the “not paying the bill” thing. I felt guilty because I wasn’t working. I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t doing things that would bring in money.
After a small while, I realized that the guilt was pointless, that I might as well decide to take advantage of the day. Several pages into the book that has been long wanting to be read, (one by Orson Scott Card, one of my favorites SF authors) I decided to move out to the chair on my front stoop. I actually finished the book. I took in the sky. I listened to the street noises. I chatted with my neighbors, something I used to do a lot but hadn’t seemed to find the time for, lately. I finished another (very short) book, and realized it was getting dark and cold so I came inside to reflect on the day. I don’t often take an entire day off. Even when I decide to take the day off, I check my email several times, jot notes, surf the web. I’m never, it seems, idle or contemplative for any sustained length of time.
Being forced to simply not go on the computer, being forced to not spin my wheels, to sit, read and think, was an amazing experience. No one needed my attention that quickly, nothing needed to get done, tasks that were there in the morning would still be there tomorrow morning and no one was injured or died because I didn’t get to them. At about nine pm the power finally came back on. It was a wholly wonderful day.
So, of course, as soon as the power was back on, I turned on the computer and wrote a blog about it.
Geoff Hoff is co-author of the best selling satirical novel Weeping Willow: Welcome to River Bend
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