Imagine driving home from work and getting a call that there’s a huge surprise party at your house, in your honor. You hang up the phone. You’re wicked excited (yes, you’re from New England so you’re wicked excited). You imagine who might be there, what people might say. Then your car breaks down. You pick up your phone but its dead. You put your head in your hands and you wait.
That’s what it’s like hearing you’re going to be Freshly Pressed, and then having a blizzard knock out your power for almost two days.
I don’t know if it’s taboo to discuss one’s Freshly-Pressedness, but I need to, because my experience this weekend made such an impact. I got an email from the Word Press editor Friday afternoon and nearly fell down, amazed that my post had been chosen. I was honored and gushing with gratitude. I went downstairs and told my wife, who congratulated me in the midst of all our snow prep. That day, schools had been cancelled and we were enjoying the day. We stocked up on groceries in the morning, took a stroll through the new-fallen (then only 2″ deep) snow, and hunkered inside to watch the downpour. What a great day overall. Freshly Pressed and a snow day? What could be better.
Things got a little hairy around mid-afternoon, when the wind started whipping our trees around and near-white-out conditions obscured our view of houses across the street. The snow began sticking to every window, as though a freshly laundered sheet had been thrown over the house. Around 9:00 pm the lights flickered and then the power went out.
Thus began my anguish.
No power meant no internet connection, meant no checking to see if I’d gone up on Freshly Pressed. I was dying to know if my post would get a response. Would I get likes? Would folks comment? Our family’s only internet connection was through my wife’s iPhone (I’m cheap and have a dumb-phone, no internet, no texts…I’m like a grandpa). In the midst of checking National Grid’s outage map I just happened to pop over to Word Press and saw it had gone up! How exciting.
“Look,” I turned to my wife, “it’s there!”
“That’s great, but we should probably save our battery for emergencies.”
Damn it. She was right. I’d feel terrible if I used up our battery checking my blog, and we needed the phone for some emergency. I imagined a scene in the midst of the blizzard chaos: a pack of coyotes backing my family into a corner. Me fending them off with a fireplace poker and my wife shouting, “I’d call animal control, but we’re out of f**king batteries!”
So that was it. I went most of that time not checking, and yet being obsessed with checking. Although I knew it was a unique experience; I mean, I’d be incredibly lucky if anything like this happened again. But at the same time, I felt badly. Here was my family, stuck in the cold and snow, and I was obsessing about a post. I think it all showed me how much my excitement can sometimes get ahead of me. Of course getting excited is a good thing. Hell, my family gets excited about a fresh episode of New Girl. But sometimes the need to feed the excitement can be overwhelming. I tend to latch onto my excitement and then run it into the ground. I find that’s what so tempting and addictive about the ease of technology. I get excited about switching my cable and so I do hours of research on providers that same night. I get into Orson Scott Card and want to look up every on-line article about the Ender’s Game series. There’s such instant gratification for our obsessions nowadays. Being stripped of that easy access for one day leaves me without an outlet for my excitement. It’s draining. It was really hard for me to say to myself, “That’s great. Now put it down for a moment and focus on what’s in front of you.”
In time, I eventually did. I packed our defrosting food in a cooler in the snow. I strained coffee through a paper towel. I picked up my shovel.
In the middle of the night on Saturday the power came back up, and I immediately shot out of bed and ran to the computer. It was an amazing feeling. Like missing 3 Christmases and getting all your presents at once. I saw the incredible amount of views, and the generous heaping of comments. I cannot begin to thank folks for their kind words, shared stories, and encouraging shout-outs. It was a wonderful thing to see. I went into hyper-checking mode for a couple of days. I realized I needed to slow down. I needed to let things run their course. I hope to post today and not be so obsessive. Put things down and go about my day, all the while thankful for the kindness bestowed upon me.
And, yes, I did shovel my own goddamn driveway.