Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb


We are *fine*. Our neighborhood was among the last ones to get power - we got it only an hour before the beginning of Shabbat, and we were busy enough that we didn't have time to turn on the computer.

So. Jonathan, baruch haShem, was *home*. He does that on hot days, preferring to work from our relatively cool house instead of braving the streets. Had he gone in, he might well just be on his way home now. We have at least one friend who did that.

I was *not* home, I was at my doctor's. He took a bodyfat index, and a good thing, too. Because it meant I stayed around waiting for him to talk to me. Otherwise I'd have been on a subway. (Also, I seem to have exchanged eight pounds of fat for eight pounds of muscle, given that I lost no weight. That just seems so minor now.) The lights went out, and first they thought it was the office, and then maybe the building or the block. But someone had a car radio, and we learned the truth.

Downtown Brooklyn was packed with people on the streets with one thing in mind. Going *home*. And I was worried about Jonathan worried about *me*. I knew the subways weren't working, but I knew the buses around there, and they were working, despite the lack of traffic lights.

You know, I haven't heard of any car accidents on the radio. This strikes me as a good thing.

The buses were *packed*. I waited at a bus stop crowded with people, including the first groups that had been led out of the subway.

BTW. This is one of the many things that give me pride. The people emerging were not angry or panicked. They were calm and accepting, dialing their cellphones and hoping for a bus connection.

The first bus stopped, but it filled very rapidly - the driver used both doors *and* did not charge.

The second didn't stop. Nor did the third, which was on a different, but still usable route for me. So I gave up, and started walking. I did stop in a grocery store and buy a bottle of still cold water and a low carb energy bar. I had three dollars on me - the plan had been to go to an ATM and get more, but, well... I spent all of it. The grocery store lady used a piece of paper to figure things out.

A few blocks later, I reached Plaza Street, where, with luck, I could get on a 69 bus. And luck was with me, because it's a slow bus, but one pulled shortly, and it was almost empty. I think this was the beginning of the route. We drove down Prospect Park West in air conditioned splendor, passing production buses and such for Law and Order, who seemed to be filming a scene in Prospect Park. Since they come with their own power, I'm assuming they were able to finish.

I didn't see any actors, just signs.

The bus driver wished everyone a safe trip home as we departed.

The next bus was the one I always take home anyway. And it *is* at the beginning of the route, with the end across the street. As we waited, three buses pulled up to the end and sat, with the drivers presumably getting instructions. Eventually one bus rounded the circle and we packed in. Not all of us, but I made it, although I didn't get a seat. Not that I cared.

The driver honked at all intersections, and eventually stopped stopping at bus stops. Instead, if someone signaled, he stopped before them to let people off. He really couldn't let people on until it had emptied somewhat.

I managed to cross two busy streets without incident - the drivers seemed to be taking turns and I just crossed with the traffic. And I spoke with some of my neighbors and then ran upstairs, to where Jonathan was, still coolish from the a/c, and not yet very worried. We talked for a while, and he dug up a radio, and then we went outside to talk with our neighbors and our landlady, who was stuck with a broken foot. I was able to give her son, calling on a friend's cellphone, directions to the same bus I took so he could go home.

Before dark, I scrambled all of my eggs (thank God for gas stoves, even if I needed to start it with a match) and heated some frozen beans and we had dinner. And we lit candles. We took my current Shabbat candles, and an older pair, and even my oldest pair, and a tall candle in heavy glass I bought to use for holidays when flames can be transfered but not created, and the only yarzheit (memorial) candle I had. We put that in the bathroom as a nightlight. We tried to read by candlelight after it got dark - you'd think six candles would do the trick, right? We ended up back in the bedroom reading by flashlight and listening to our neighbor's radio.

The sounds of the city were completely different. Lots of sirens - more than usual. No air conditioners, no televisions, some radios. But mostly, it was quiet, and we could hear people talking.

When the just past full moon came up, it was bright enough that we extinquished the long candle. But it was eerie to look at all the buildings around us and see no lights.

Next day, still no power. Jonathan boiled water to make coffee and we had peanut butter and crackers, and just before noon, I went out to see if any of the stores were open. I was faced with trying to figure out what to make for Shabbat dinner and lunch when I couldn't plan on refrigeration, or buy fresh food. And, remember, I had no cash. Fortunately, Jonathan did, and he gave me some.

The three stores I needed the most were open. I went to the bakery and purchased challahs - the counter girl used a paper bag for a "cash register", and then to an Israeli grocery store, where I bought olive oil, tissues and several bags of nuts. The nuts came in bulk, so he estimated the weight by hand (electric scales, after all) and figured it out on a calculator. And then I went to a pizza shop, which was functional, and used the last of my cash to buy four slices to go. Which solved one of my problems - lunch. :) Other people were buying multiple pies, I guess figuring cold pizza was better than nothing for Shabbat dinner.

I had stuff in my freezer that I knew I could make for dinner, and I had canned fish I figured I could mix with oil and vinegar for lunch. Without a functional fridge, I knew I couldn't plan to have any sort of vegetable for lunch. At about 6, I checked to see if my chicken fillets had thawed - and they hadn't, not quite. I took two of them and put them under running water, assured that they would be edible and safe. At that point, I had to act as though I would not have power for the next day.

At 6:30, I decided it was time to start making the rice for dinner. It's been months since I've made rice on my stovetop, but it's not something you forget. I just needed to find the lid to my saucepan. In the growing dark. I was about to get a flash light when the lights came on. Jonathan says I jumped up and down in my joy. I probably did.

We rushed around taking care of lights and setting clocks and putting the bedroom a/c in the window, and I cooked dinner according to the same plan - there was nothing else I could do at that point. I did put the cans of fish in the fridge. And made the rice in the rice cooker, which I turned off as soon as the rice was ready.

And we took our showers and I lit *one* pair of candles (plus the yarzheit candle. We'd extinquished it when it got light, and there was about half left. Since there were still rolling blackouts, I wanted it just in case.) and had dinner in the *light* and the heat - we chose not to use our living room a/c in deference to the request to conserve energy. However, we needed the bedroom one.

And Shabbat came and Jonathan went to synagogue and the world slowly went back to normal.

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