The Life: Powerless

by Rachel on November 30, 2011

Sunday night, Eric and I got back to Houston around 8:00; it was a little later than we had planned to get back into town, but not too late. As I started pulling my stuff from the car, I looked at our apartment building and noticed the stairs were completely dark. As were all the apartments. Power outage?

At this point, we were about eight hours into The Hunger Games audiobook, which I had convinced Eric to listen to on the road trip, thinking he’d like it. (And he did.) But I had only read it once and I had forgotten how creepy it is at times. The whole series is pretty stressful and leaves me feeling paranoid and stressed out. When we came upon the darkened apartment, all I could think about was how Katniss talks about how they have very little electricity in the Seam where she lives. So I naturally started to worry that at any second, I’d be attending a Reaping.

We used our phones as flashlights to navigate our way to the apartment, which, unsurprisingly, was powerless. I lit a bunch of candles and we started bringing in the rest of our bags. At some point, we ran into a neighbor who said that a few minutes prior — presumably just minutes before we pulled up — there had been a very loud thud, which is apparently the universal symbol for “your transformer is fucked.”

Our building was the only one in the apartment complex affected, as all run on different transformers. Since less people were affected, I assumed fixing it wasn’t going to be anyone’s priority — and I was right.

But the power company said the power would be back on by midnight, so Eric and I hunkered down with our candles and the audiobook. It felt kind of old-fashioned (didn’t our grandparents used to sit around and listen to audiobooks on their iPhones by candlelight?) and lovely.

The next morning, the power was not on, and it felt old-fashioned…in a bad way. We had no hot water and though I didn’t want to know for sure, I was pretty sure our fridge and freezer were filled with rotting food. My laundry was dirty and so was my body; I actually hadn’t showered since…Saturday? Friday?

I went in to work early, hoping no one would see me. I took my makeup and curling iron so I could try to pull myself together there. When I walked out of the office bathroom with all my stuff, one of my bosses was there. “My apartment has no power!” I blurted out, feeling awkward about the fact that I had been in the bathroom for 10 minutes with all my personal grooming products. He accepted this at face value, but I assume every deadbeat uses this excuse when they, for whatever reason, start sleeping at the office. I figured rumors were going to start circulating soon that if I truly had no power, it was because I was a raging alcoholic and didn’t pay the bill. I mean, I’d spread rumors like that that about me if I weren’t me.

My gross feeling was made far worse by the fact that I seriously needed my eyebrows waxed. Since the sun set early, I was only aware of this fact when I was in my car or at work, when it would hit me that if I’m not going to shower for four days, I better be sure my eyebrows are groomed. I could make peace with not showering or shaving, but the bushy brows were what made me feel like everyone was staring at me.

When I went home at lunch on Monday, it still wasn’t back on…nor was it back on that evening. It had been 24 hours without power and our apartment was starting to get quite cold. Eric and I bundled up, ate Chinese takeout by candlelight, and then finished The Hunger Games. (We had been playing Words with Friends for a while, but I didn’t want to kill my phone battery, as I had no way of charging it.) Then we stayed up half the night talking about the book, which only added to my feelings of paranoia over our lack of  electricity. Was this an act of the Capitol? Judging by my eyebrows, yes…I was living it.

The next morning, the power still wasn’t back on. I made an eyebrow appointment though, which improved my mood. Everything else — how gross I felt, how I couldn’t find my clean laundry, how I’d been eating fast food for every meal, how cold it was in the apartment — felt less bad once my eyebrows were cleaned up. (What is it about brow waxes?!)

Finally, after approximately 40 hours, the power was restored and after turning on the lights and the heat, I took one of the best showers of my life. To be honest, I find showering really boring and dull. I don’t like a hot shower or see it as a spa-like experience; I find the whole thing to be a huge waste of time. But there have been a few times in my life when I’ve really, really wanted to shower and actually enjoyed the act itself. You know when you’ve been in the smokiest bar ever and then thrown up on yourself and then slept with your make-up on and your contacts in on someone else’s couch? And you finally drag your hungover self home and into the shower? This was that kind of shower. It just felt so incredibly good to be clean and then moisturized, warm, and cozy.

(This also made me feel like I was, in fact, in The Hunger Games, being prepared in the Capitol for the games, so I’m still not entirely convinced that my power going out was an actual accident. “The reformer caught on fire”? Sounds suspect to me.)

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 fluke November 30, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I also have never been the oh-my-god-i-need-to-shower-everyday type of girl! It’s always been a chore, I always thought I was alone in that. Oh, and that last paragraph. Story of my early twenties. I know THAT shower.


2 Evi November 30, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Such a great series! I couldn’t put it down. But it does make you think about “the Capitol” and how much are at a mercy of others. Creepy in a way. In addition, I definitely know how you feel about showers- I tend to be an in-and-out kind of person. Waste of time! =)


3 Samantha November 30, 2011 at 7:00 pm

I’m so glad you are loving the books! I have been recommending it to every one I know to read it. Have you finished the trilogy yet? Or seen the trailer for the movie?


4 Rachel November 30, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Yes!!! I read all three books in a week because I could NOT put them down. And yes, I have had serious fangirl moments over the trailer. I cannot wait!


5 Bria @ WestofPersia November 30, 2011 at 7:43 pm

That sucks about the outage. I’m That Girl who has to shower daily. At least once. In your predicament, I’d have been going slightly crazy. Ok, a LOT crazy. Like showing at the gym, resorting to cold water sink showers (aka whore’s baths) and baby wipes. Speaking of which. . .
Dig this: my older sister works in a hospital and she once brought me these slightly freaky full-body wipes that could totally take the place of in showers in a pinch. Think baby wipes, but super-sized. I’m asking for those for Christmas, for any future power outages or trips to India ;-)


6 Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn November 30, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Dude. We are actual twins. That would definitely happen to me and I would definitely get paranoid and think I was part of a novel. Not kidding, I’m that cray. As for the Morning After shower, girl….I know what you mean. Literal magic.


7 Parita November 30, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Great post!

I kind of know what you mean. When I was reading the series, I found myself getting jumpy for no “real” reason. It does that to you! It’s not necessarily scary….just super suspenseful. Can’t wait to read your thoughts when you are done with the last book.


8 Rachel November 30, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Oh I read them all!! This was my second time with the first one actually!


9 Deva @ Deva by Definition November 30, 2011 at 9:09 pm

That sucks about the power. Three years ago we had no power for four or five DAYS. There was a huge windstorm that took out a big chunk of the power in Cincinnati. We ended up eating out every night, and I remember going to the grocery store every day to pick up a frozen meal to eat for lunch at work. Fortunately, our hot water heater was still heating the water (gas water heater), so we didn’t have to figure out a means of bathing. I remember being so so happy when the power finally came back on. I was tired of watching movies on our laptops by candlelight.


10 Jess-The SemiAbnormal Gal November 30, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Let’s see spa like shower…freshly waxed eyebrows….yup, you are going to be competing in the Arena. Did you have lamb stew recently? I sure hope it’s not a Quarter Quell.


11 Rachel December 1, 2011 at 10:30 am



12 Suzanne November 30, 2011 at 11:02 pm

The pilot light on my hot water heater was out this morning, so I couldn’t shower before work. I am not the type of girl who needs to shower before I am able to function- but my hair feels differently. I felt like a greaseball all day long. This is minor compared to FORTY HOURS, but I still feel your pain.


13 Rachel December 1, 2011 at 9:44 am

Yikes, glad you go to shower. I am one of those girls who LOVE to shower… LOVE, LOVE! Although baths are better but I simply don’t have the patience hehe


14 Kristie December 1, 2011 at 9:50 am

Normally I’m just a lurker, but I had to say that this was an awesome, relate-able post. Also PS, thanks for the spiked hot chocolate idea…delicious.


15 Rachel December 1, 2011 at 10:34 am

Heyyyy thanks for coming out of Lurkville to say that! I wasn’t sure how people would feel about it (it felt different than my usual style) so it’s always good to get feedback!


16 Megan C. December 1, 2011 at 10:45 am

I hate having the power out! Especially if you come home at night and there is no power…there is something very spooky about walking into your totally dark house. For me it is not Hunger Games but one too many Criminal Minds episodes. And there is something very humanizing about a shower when it has been too long since you took one.


17 Lizilla December 1, 2011 at 11:36 am

Over Thanksgiving I got to be the audio book and read the Hunger Games to my husband while he drove. I loved making the voices for all the characters. Mostly had a lot of fun with Effie.

Also I know that need to shower feeling. A few of my friends live off the grid and after spending a long weekend I can’t wait to get back to hot water and a coffee maker. I love modern conveniences.


18 [SMASH] December 1, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Glad you two finally have power. That is one of the worst things. Hope your fridge wasn’t a moldy, stinky mess. And you’re starting to convince me that I finally need to give in and read The Hunger Games. I’ve resisted up until now…


19 Carrie @ No More Tomorrows December 1, 2011 at 12:19 pm

I feel the same way about showers. I hate them. Of course I like being clean. Of course I don’t want to smell. But why aren’t we as a society advanced enough to eliminate showers? Isn’t there another way to clean ourselves without that hassle? I’m glad someone else agrees.


20 Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy and Healthy December 1, 2011 at 2:06 pm

I think I want to read the HG again before I see the movies, so I can scrutinize even closer how much is the same/different. And OMGMYEYEBROWS. They are out of control right now. I should be ashamed.


21 Julia H. @ The Petite Spiel December 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Blackouts are fun!….for about an hour. Maybe two. Then it get cold, and dark, and they suck. Glad you have power back!


22 Jane December 1, 2011 at 6:44 pm

I was just thinking the same thing about brow waxes. I’m finishing up the first semester of my Ph.D– all my final papers were either due earlier today or are due tomorrow and my finals are next week, and all I can focus on in class is my eyebrows. I’m going tomorrow. I think it just calms me down to have some part of my life under control. Exams will be far easier to face without knowing that there are (probably largely invisible) hairs growing between my brows.


23 Lisa December 1, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Best advice ever-charge your phone all day at work then you’ll go home with a full battery !

Just got a kindle and I have amazon prime-I’m going to start reading The Hunger Games because it’s free AND the movie trailer convinced me I need to read it before March.


24 jaya December 3, 2011 at 4:29 am

Its 225 am and I just finished the hunger games!!! Don’t ask me what I am doing looking at your blog this late! but I can’t sleep, and your HG references just really made what’s left of my night!!! LOL! You are a great writer Rachel!


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