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      Volume 11 |Issue 42| October 26, 2012 |


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Writing the Wrong



About five days ago there was a violent rainstorm where I live. Pockets of my town almost always lose power for hours, sometimes even days. I live in a painted lady Victorian that is about 114 years old, but somehow manages to stay lit for the most part. Except this past storm when the power went out in small spurts and then we heard a boom, and then well darkness, and a rather odd reaction on my part.

Now, I have days where I look in the mirror and fall madly in love with myself. Usually it is because I have worked out or accomplished a small task that needed doing. It takes very little to induce a heavy case of self-esteem lately. I attribute it to quitting smoking cold turkey six months ago and not looking back, indicating to me that I am indeed capable of shedding self destructive behaviours. Though, there are quite a few I have yet to unload. My friend, and fellow columnist Farah said to me recently, “You really lack self loathing. This is a wonderful thing.”

Part of my lack of self-loathing comes from this deluded notion that I am well on my way towards enlightenment. This is a bill of goods I have apparently sold myself, and that became startlingly clear when one evening I lost electricity.

My kid panicked a little and then calmed down when he realised he had plenty of battery on his cell. I was calm at first. I lit candles and sat quietly, expecting the lights to come back on within minutes.

Min 10: They didn't come on and I started to get anxious. I just bought a ton of food for the week, as my son has a bottomless pit for a stomach, about 100 dollars worth, and I was very upset at the prospect of it all going bad. When I took the LSATS (I had this strange notion I would go to law school because I wanted to be a good Bengali girl that lasted a grand total of three minutes) I scored highest on associative reasoning. This is why I do well in trivial pursuit and the game show Jeopardy! However, it also means my mind makes wacky connections when it is set off and often leads me down a path that is altogether ridiculous. Case in point:

I started thinking about my food spoiling, this leads me to thinking about the time my son got violently ill in Dhaka because he ate tainted tuna. My mother complained about the generator not working properly. I remembered one of my friends in town had a fancy generator. I am a bit miffed at her now for various reasons (a major sign of lack of enlightenment, first clue.) and start to heartily resent her husband's survival bunker or whatever it is he has in case of Armageddon, and just knew she was sitting in well-lit, cozy comfort while my son struggled to do his homework by candlelight like a child from Colonial America. I decided I would never speak to her again, because she has a big fat generator.

I then entered a new phase where I decided to go with the flow and got up energetically and started to browse my bookshelf that held mostly decorative items and a few really classy books that made it look like I was an intellectual, like Foucault's Pendulum and War and Peace. I discovered Tolle's The Power of Now, gathering dust and thought that was perfect for the mental state I was in. I need to tap into the Now's Power. I light some more candles and started to read the uplifting and practical advice Tolle offered, which I can't quite remember because I am more focused on being pleased with myself for being so enlightened as to bask in the moment and not allow something like losing electricity to upset me. Why, nearly everyone in Sao Paulo doesn't have it I thought. I was moved by the romanticism of it all, reading inspiring words by candlelight while I took this slight inconvenience in stride. I needed to take this opportunity to contemplate where my life was going. I needed to be still and meditate on life's great bounty. I closed my eyes. Hmm, bounty, oh boy, I didn't buy paper towels (bounty is the name of a brand of paper towels), I knew I forgot something. We used them all up because the week before we ran out of toilet paper and I forgot to buy those. Well how am I expected to remember everything, dammit? I am just one woman! (This is where I start to get mad again, but I am all alone, so my anger is directed at the ether) The world simply expects too much of me and I will be darned if I bend to everyone's will and it is simply insupportable that I am forced to sit here in utter darkness, watching my only son go blind while doing algebra while my friend Rachel is sitting in her fancy house with a generator and my lamb shank is rotting on the second shelf of my fridge!

This is Heather Donahue freaking out in The Blair Witch Project but sometimes such reactions are common even during an ordinary power cut.

I have now thrown down Tolle, startling my kid, and am in an advanced state of high dudgeon and call Connecticut Light and Power and demand to know why my ass is sitting in the dark, and am told by a very nice girl named Meredith that over 1,000 people's asses are in the dark and that the crew will get to my grid eventually. She promised to call me as soon as the crew got started to check.

“I will wait for your call,” I said solemnly, “but if you don't call me I shall hunt you down.” Because, you see this whole thing is now Meredith's fault as she was the fool who picked up at the other end.

“I am sure you will ma'am,” Meredith replied, unfazed.

I am spent, I have no one to yell at or blame. I am now feeling exceedingly sorry for myself, and want my mommy when, huzzah! There is light! But I must face, not quite enlightenment.

And this, my friends, all occurred in the span of two whole hours.


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