When I first lost my electricity, I actually thought to myself that it wasn’t such a bad situation because at least I wouldn’t have an electricity bill this month. I was doing quite well with only peanut butter sandwiches, but I began to feel a weakness and hunger –very deep-seated cravings for better food. I was reminded of a passage in Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. While protagonist Billy Pilgrim was a prisoner of war, he worked at a factory that made a nutrient-rich syrup for pregnant women. The prisoners were forbidden from tasting the syrup, but they all did, anyway. They hid their spoons so as not to get caught.
The spoon was a tablespoon. Billy thrust it into the vat, turned it around and around, making a gooey lollipop. He thrust it into his mouth. A moment went by, and then every cell in his body shook him with ravenous gratitude and applause. There were diffident raps on the factory window. Derby was out there, having seen all. He wanted some syrup, too. So Billy made a lollipop for him. He opened the window. He stuck the lollipop into poor old Derby’s gaping mouth. A moment passed, and Derby burst into tears. Billy closed the window and hid the sticky spoon. Someone was coming.
Of course my life could be so much worse. I don’t live in Fallujah or Tehran, and I have a roof over my head. Better yet, I have choices: I can be responsible and uncomfortable, or comfortable and irresponsible, depending on my latest whim.
My hunger has led to irresponsible spending. I can rationalize buying lunch at work by thinking “it’s just this once, I won’t do it tomorrow” but once I started, I couldn’t stop. It began with a pineapple curry and progressed to falafel and fruit salad. Every cell in my body jumped for joy. Last week I spent far more on food than I would have on this month’s electricity. What good is it living in darkness if it ends up being more expensive than light?
My body needs vitamins, minerals, protein, and grains. I need to cook large meals and freeze them and bring my lunch to work so I can save money.
Both my rent and my car payment are already late this month. Hopefully with my next paycheck I can pay off at least half of my electric bill.
I am currently writing an article for a local magazine. I haven’t the heart to tell my editor that I’ve got no electricity, and that’s why I’m taking so damn long. I don’t live near any coffee ships with wifi, so I spend long hours on the bottom floor of the office where I work. As any office drone can imagine, it’s a bit frustrating to spend so much time in the office when one doesn’t haven’t to be there. As a result, I have not been as productive as I would like.
I need electricity to be productive, and I need electricity to eat properly. As time has gone on, I have lost my willpower and my drive to get through this (literally) dark period. I have spent money in excess simply because I stopped caring.
I have received no word on any of the jobs I have applied for, and I have been unable to find affordable housing, at least not by my definition of affordable. I also have a number of expenses that will be coming up in the next few weeks. Things are going to get tighter and tighter.