What to do when your power is down for 15 days
Written during Oregon's “Snowmaggedon” 2019, as other people insist on calling it.
While you're snowed in for five days:
Drag yourself out of a Cookie Clicker-induced stupor when the lights go out. Your partner was in the middle of washing a mountain of dishes, which will remain unwashed, lurking.
Play backgammon in those first evening hours before the heat has completely diffused out of your now unheatable yurt.
Sleep under two quilts, two comforters, and two small blankets.
See that over a foot of snow came down overnight, and go around shaking what you can off of overstressed trees, and scrape what you can off your yurt's roof. Watch the barn roof collapse. You'll get three more inches the next night. You are very lucky.
Over the course of a morning, get an upsetting amount of pants, socks, leggings, gloves, hats, and jackets soaking wet, and have no way to dry them. Reserve a pair of leggings and a pair of jeans that you absolutely will not get wet. Your indoor outfit will consist of those leggings or jeans, two pairs of wool socks, a thermal shirt, a cotton sweatshirt, a moth-eaten (but very thick) wool sweater, and a wool hat.
Make a lot of jokes about how it'd be great if the power came back right about now.
Be thankful that you prepare all your food on the weekends, and that the power went off after you were finished on a Sunday evening, and that the temperature is just above freezing inside so your food will stay good for a while.
Eat vegan chili verde, gingerbread cake, muffin tin frittatas, almond-blood orange cake, sautéed broccoli, cabbage salad with diced pepper jack and toasted sunflower seeds, beet-whole orange-strawberry smoothies, cold hyssop-lemon balm-green tea, green curry and rice, pupusas, and lentil salad with shredded beets and carrots. You are a good cook. You also have a good supply of cheese and crackers and chocolate.
Stay in bed as much as is humanly possible.
Sleep as much as is humanly possible, and stop setting alarms after your cell phone battery runs down (you didn't have reception anyway).
Read Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice aloud with your partner, in its entirety. The prose's wittiness comes out much more clearly when read aloud, and it's a nice way to pass the time. Your partner is now a new Jane Austen fan.
Be thankful for the headlamps you were gifted recently, which enable you to exist at night.
Use your partner's netbook's dwindling battery to watch Oreshura, which is the easy anime you'd been working through before the power cut out. You'll finish season 1 in a few days.
Empty your composting toilet where you imagine the snowed-under brambles to be. You should have emptied it last weekend, and had been planning on emptying it after work during the week. It was very full. Empty it, defer thorough washing until after the water is back, and be thankful that you aren't having to worry about making a flush toilet work.
Finish reading Willa Muir's Imagined Corners, and start reading Mrs. Ritchie by the same author. It's a lonely, bleak, 1930's novel with inescapable family tragedy and flights of philosophical fantasy concerning one's purpose, and has the same vibes as Wolf Solent by John Cowper Powys.
Periodically warm up in front of your landlord's small fireplace, and use their propane camp stove to give yourself one hot meal per day. Since it's warm enough to use your hands, play a few games of backgammon, and watch your partner work through their recreational pre-calculus textbook.
Thank your partner for shoveling out a nice path between your yurt and your landlord's house.
Start reading Planet of Exile by Ursula K. Le Guin aloud with your partner; you finished rereading Rocannon's World together recently, and this follows it in the Three Hainish Novels compilation. It's an absolutely perfect read when you're cold and depressed and want to feel more cold and depressed, but also awed.
When you're able to get into town:
Shovel out your car. It's actually very quick work, because your landlord used his tractor to clear most of the driveway the previous day and things have melted slightly since then.
It's your partner's turn to pick driving music, so you're treated to a Weedpecker album, part of Pet Sounds, and “Tropical Loveland” by ABBA. There sure are a lot of downed trees and power lines. Much of town only got power back the previous day, so you can at least buy gas and food without having to drive into the “city”.
Buy more foodstuffs that are palatable at room temperature (36 degrees): bread, trail mix, juice, granola bars, cheap danishes. Admire the ironic juxtaposition of the empty fridge and freezer cases at ShopSmart with signage for an upcoming Meat Bonanza. All that's left is salami, and the cashier commends you for buying “unspoilable meat”.
The parking lot for your favorite bookstore looks a bit much for your 2001 Hyundai Accent, so you check the town's Starbucks. Every seat is filled with people charging and checking their devices. You drive to the city and spend a few hours in a different Starbucks charging two phones, three Thinkpads, a netbook, and an ipod. Now your mom can stop freaking out about whether you're alive or not, and you know for sure that the school you work at had snow days all week and you aren't in trouble for being a no-show.
Splurge on burgers at Dairy Queen and plates from Panda Express. It's so nice to have a hot meal that you don't have to clean up after using cold water or snow, and you can save the extra white rice to reheat with the rest of your homemade green curry.
Get home, eat your Panda Express in bed, and finish reading Planet of Exile.
Read The Reptile Room, book 2 in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, aloud. Lemony Snicket is just as good read aloud as you'd expect it to be.
Wake up depressed and decide to head out again, because it's better than sitting in the cold all day.
Start rewatching season 1 of Chihayafuru, an anime about karuta, a game where a reader recites one of a collection of famous poems and the players try to hit the corresponding card first. Neither of you finished watching season 2 when it originally aired, and season 3 is airing next year. Get really emotional over the show.
Your driving music choice is the album Madness and Extinction by Seeming.
Wish that you could shower, or that spongebathing felt possible. Settle with thoroughly detangling and rebraiding your hair in the warm car, and buying wipes at BiMart.
Hit up your favorite bookstore now that their parking lot is visible. Have an anxiety attack in your favorite bookstore because there are so many people. Freak out your partner, and eventually settle down with them once some of the people clear out, and have chocolate cake and Reed's ginger beer. Buy cheap used copies of Anna Karenina and Hamlet. Write this to get it out of your head and so you have something to focus on.
Addendum, January 17 2020:
Stop having the energy or motivation to further narrate your powerlessness after work/school resumes the next week.
Settle into a routine of eating danishes and salami for breakfast, cleaning yourself with disposable wipes and splashes of frigid water, brushing and braiding your hair in the car on the way to work, working until almost dark, hunkering down in Starbucks to recharge and stay warm until they close, driving home while watching with resentment and excitement as the powered-on areas stretch closer and closer to your home every day, reheating a meal, eating it in bed under the covers while reading aloud with your headlamps, and sleeping. Repeat.
Steal the power at work to cook bean chili and a rice cooker abomination for the week's dinners. (What on earth did we pack for lunches that week? A mystery.)
Finish reading Planet of Exile, read most of The Name of the Rose aloud with your partner, and most of Hamlet.
When your power finally returns after 15 days, shower, blast the space heaters, eat a hot meal without having to walk through snow, and look forward to doing laundry.