When the lights go out in the city

Jan. 14, 2015

Well, this is new. I am writing this entry in the dark, haha. OK, not completely dark — I do have one lit tea candle in my room right now. Today was my first day back from my short stint home (which was so wonderful, fulfilling, whirlwind-ish, and rejuvenating — other than getting an unexpected huge load of extra work for 2015), and we’re completely out of power in our apartments (luckily the lab is still OK, and it looks like we have at least some super low flow water coming in). We spent the better part of sundown trying to rally our resources — head lamps, flashlights, candles and lighters. Currently in our flat, I’ve got the torch/flashlight from both of my (dying) phones, 3 tea candles (including the one currently burning), 3 tall candles wedged into old wine bottles (1 currently burning) and two 60% used scented candles from Annie (which she offered us, but Janeen warned me of their sentimental value to Annie, so they’re strictly on backup duty). The candlelight mood which was initially kinda awkward (i.e. “well, what do we all do now huddled around with no other stuff to keep us busy?”) and campy quickly turned into catching up about our holidays over candlelight to joking about telling ghost stories over candlelight to me making terrible (maybe they’ll laugh later? ;)) jokes about Clue and candlestick murders, haha.

We went over to the main lab building this evening with our perishables from the fridge and our dinners to utilize the fridge/freezers and microwave in the kitchen there. It was kind of like the fun version of being in lab at night, haha. We all sat around eating dinner in the filing room, talking about how uncouth we can be, but that in some ways our ungraceful tendencies might also be considered resourcefulness or something, haha. It was mostly a lot of friends just rationalizing things to each other. We also had a pretty serious discussion about “smell,” haha. Damien (Yuna’s boyfriend and a good friend of ours now) has what Gus (from Psych) would call a “super sniffer” — really sensitive nose (and tastebuds). He can’t stand garlic or peppers (I know…!!) or anything with a strong scent that overpowers other smells, and when I probed him about what his most favorable smell was, he surprisingly said that it was water. I typically don’t recognize water as having a smell (unless it’s tainted, chlorinated, etc.) but rather having a neutrality to it, so was curious what it smelled like to him, and he said that it smelled like clean air, which makes sense (haha, no pun intended, but kinda wish it had been ;)).

I also met our newest intern Amanda who I think will be a nice addition to the gang. I don’t know too much about her yet, but I do know that she’s married to a Kenyan dude named Sunday. This led to a fairly lengthy conversation about names and name origins. For example, in Kenya, it’s really common to name your child after the day he/she was born, the season/time period (even “famine” or “drought” could be the sources of names), idolized figures (political or otherwise) or a time period or event that was important for them. It was really quite fascinating. I think Sunday’s full name contained his day of birth (Sunday, obviously, haha) and that he was born during a famine. At first I thought that would be kind of rough to have a name that signified that you were born during hard times, like if my name was “Debby Snowpocalypse” or something like that. However, in speaking to Amanda, she reflected that in their culture, it is more about having a physical timestamp of the era rather than having any negative connotation of the event itself. It’s almost like phlyogeographic clustering of populations by name, really kinda interesting. Damien reflected that, furthermore, a lot of individuals with similar source names like that find it unifying, and I can completely see that too. So from this time of darkness and powerlessness (haha), we found source of great conversation that I’m not sure we’d have had this evening otherwise (though these random stream-of-consciousness talks are not abnormal with our gang, haha). It stands to reason that we could all probably afford to power-off more regularly and get back to candlelit dinners.

Jan. 15 lunch update: !! Power back!

Jan. 15 6pm update: Power went out again for the night. Our stove was the only appliance that worked, so I was able to make cashew chicken & rice in the dark. Everyone was laughing that I attempted an ambitious dish for the situation, haha, but it was really that I didn’t want the food to go bad. Janeen, clad with her headlamp, kept me company as my sous chef. ☺ Turned out pretty tasty!

Jan. 16 6:30am update: Still nothing, barely any water flow either so shower was out of the question — had to facilitate washing hair in my sink with my Emory alumni mug that Shayla got me for graduation. Glad my education is coming in handy! ;)

Jan. 16 3pm update: Power has gone on and off multiple times today, not hopeful about tonight. Appears that our generator has recently been acting up which is at least partially the problem. Source problem seems to still stem from the Zesco power company. Strangely through all of this, our lab/clinic building (that is only approximately 160 steps away from our home, according to my new fitbit —thanks Mr. & Mrs. Pinelli!) has been stable. So, all things considered, still not the worst situation!

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