I keep starting blog posts but abandoning them. It seems impossible to finish reacting to one ogreous moment before getting pounced on by another, and unseemly to prattle about art without commenting on the darkness in its context. There were a bad couple of days during the deep freeze in February that tug to be written about. If only they conformed easily to a larger narrative.
They won’t conform because they occurred as a singularity. There was only one thing that mattered: getting warm. Welcome to the all-electric home of the future—when the grid collapses.
The power went out at 2:00 a.m. on February 15. Everything shutting off at once woke me an instant before the UPS alarm started bleating. I filled every container on hand with water from the filter, refilled the filter’s tank, and went back to bed. My breath was not yet visible in the apartment when I woke with the light, but that changed before dark came with evening. Eventually, I put all the filtered water in the silent refrigerator so it would not freeze on the counter.
For a couple of days, I tried to work out survival without inconveniencing anyone. When my body temperature dropped dangerously low and I began shaking, I tried calling 311. The line was busy. That I had tried meant there was no hiding from the fact that I was in trouble. I called my brother who lives closest. As he crossed the ice-capped city in his four-wheel drive, his wife found a hotel room where I could hide from the cold while distancing. My hastily packed bag was clear evidence of confused thought. The choice of clothing made little sense, but the pockets held everything necessary to continue updating the Dvarsh dictionary.
Two nights in a hotel became another singularity. There was nothing to eat. Stores were either closed or out of stock. The power in the hotel was steady, but the water went out. My stomach rumbled as I stood gazing through the window at snow and ice. Much of the time I stretched on the room’s couch, scratching at the dictionary.
During the fifth day power came back to the apartment, and I checked out of the hotel. The apartment had no hot water, but it had water. Another week passed before hot water was restored, a week in which each day the reality of the freeze blurred more as central Texas switched without transition to spring. Looking back from late March, those days in February seem impossible, or would if their repercussions did not continue.
…each day the reality of the freeze blurred more as central Texas switched without transition to spring.
One day the dictionary updates were complete. This provided a necessary tool for revision of the poem, Dzadefve oa Charls’m. The third draft is now in progress. Flesh still drags at art.
Before the freeze I adhered to a modestly rigorous physical practice. Without rhyme or reason, I stopped exercising when the power went out. This was bad because my only counters to problems with circulation, tendons and joints are the sets I had been performing. It took a couple of weeks for the failure to resist to assert indisputable consequences, and several days more to argue myself back into motion.
I started wisely, slowly, on a path of return little by little. Last weekend I tossed caution and tried pushing harder for the sake of pushing harder. My state of mind was definitely not quiet and centered, and sloppy execution aggravated the weak disk in my lower back—another factor usually held in check by the lapsed routine. Six days now of having to carefully, thoughtfully soothe a sciatic beast has moved me back onto the path of little by little. It raises interesting questions of whether and how much traces of chronic ache will show in the first chapters of this draft of the Dvarsh poem. For the record, as of this writing I am under the hood of the twelfth episode.
With a minor shift where I sit, the back spasms. Not much, but enough to remind me to stand away from the computer, take a break, and move slowly, thoughtfully through a sun salutation. Later, I’ll break again for the Yang short form. If all goes well I’ll rise again late for a little qigong and a little more yoga, gently, slowly, pushing by flow rather than force. Age loses every confrontation with gravity, but wisdom sometimes sidles up to an alliance. The eyes blur to add two cents, “Look away, dreamer. Look away.”