Electrical Rebellion Smells Like Coffee

25 Jul

Remember that blog post I wrote about us getting electricity finally? A week and a half later we were plunged back into darkness, and I fell into the deep dark depths of despair over it. The worst part was that it was all because of our nasty, backstabbing neighbors.

Not the good neighbors, thank goodness; they had nothing to do with it. Both households of our friendly neighbors were supportive. Our other neighbors, however, all got together behind our back. They didn’t come say, “Gee, guys, how did you get electricity? How can we all get it?” No. They got together to complain that we had it. They went to the electric company, and instead of protesting the fact that we were supposed to have electricity six months ago, or that everything has been set up for us to have it for 3 months now, they went and protested only that we had it! They didn’t demand to have it themselves! They just demanded that we not have it. I’m still furious and shocked. Why would you do something just to hurt someone else, that has zero benefit for you? Nobody acquired electricity through their actions. What a waste!

So our lovely connection who hooked up our electricity in the first place went to talk to someone in the office. He, our connection, was told he’d have to disconnect us because we were causing too many problems. He said he’d take care of it in 2 days. So less than 2 weeks into our joyous venture in modern life, we were scheduled to return to darkness.

But he didn’t get around to shutting us off the day he was supposed to. He asked us to keep it on the down low that we still had electricity until he could come shut it down, so that he wouldn’t get in trouble. This meant that we couldn’t use our lights or our ceiling fans, since you could see all that from outside. We couldn’t use the blender or any other loud appliances.

But until we got shut off, we could charge things. We charged the lamps we used for light at night, without having to go back and forth to someone else’s house twice a day. So even though I was grumpy to not be able to use real lights, at least we didn’t have that errand.

It was still revolutionary having electricity, even without lights. The most amazing thing was plugging in the laptop. I could clean the house or do dishes with music on my laptop! Suddenly we had to start putting a limit on Lucia’s screen time, because for the first time ever she could watch a ton of videos without the computer going dead. Conan and I could watch a video together, too. I got to do exercise videos and write my blog and listen to music. Just plug in the laptop! What a world.

On the weekend I didn’t have to worry about where to charge my phone so that my alarm would go off on Monday morning. And even though we mostly couldn’t use the ceiling fans, we did use our two floor fans, which was still a huge relief from the non-stop heat and humidity. Plus I used our ceiling fan in the middle of the night a couple of times, when all the lights were out and I was sure no one could see. It was reassuring, too, to know that we had electricity. Lucia got a cold and we thought we might need a nebulizer for her again, and it was fantastic to think we could just plug it in and use it, instead of seeing whose house we could go to, or using up our car battery to plug it in.

And we bought a refrigerator! Despite knowing our electricity could be cut off any day, we bought a big, fancy refrigerator, with one of those things on the door for cold water to get into your cup without even opening the fridge. I’ve always wanted one of those. We bought a fridge and put a pillowcase over our small kitchen window and crossed our fingers that no one would realize we hadn’t actually been cut off yet. You should have seen Conan outside checking to see if it was noticeable, me opening and closing the refrigerator door, Lucia yelling to her Papi out the back door (in English, thank goodness). Granted, the water is something we have to fill up all the time, but Lucia can get water by herself. I can get water one handed while nursing. And did I mention it’s something I’ve never had and always dreamt about? It is amazing! And we can make ice! I can drink terere, my lovely Paraguayan iced tea, whenever I want, because I can make my own ice. We don’t have to buy ice to keep food cold(ish). I don’t have to stress about the shelf life of our leftovers or my breastmilk because- yikes! the ice in the cooler is running out again. No, now our fridge maintains a cold temperature all by itself! And we can freeze things! I can freeze breastmilk and Conan doesn’t have to go somewhere else to get it! It’s already right there in our house. I can make big batches of soups and stews and beans and things and freeze it for later! I’m going to make popsicles, someday, when it really sinks in that we have a working refrigerator. Because it is a paradigm shift, that’s for sure.

Using my coffeemaker every morning became an act of rebellion. It makes a pretty distinctive noise, but I was guessing that our closest neighbors would not recognize it as a coffeemaker since almost nobody has them, electricity or not. It was so nice to get up in the morning, press a button, and go lie down another 5 minutes until my caffeine fix was magically prepared for me. Every day that I could get up and do that, every day that we still had electricity, I decided it was going to be a good day. We were still in the dark, but we had so much more than before.

The worst part, though, was trying to explain to Lucia that she couldn’t turn on lights anymore. “But we got electricity now,” she said when we first told her that we didn’t / couldn’t have lights, after finally, finally having it. I almost broke down in tears over her confusion and the senselessness of it all. She is too little to understand or carry the weight of spiteful people trying to bring us down. So instead we fumbled around, nodding our heads that it didn’t make sense, but that was just how it was. Now we don’t have lights, okay? It’s really, really important that you don’t press the button. Thank goodness we have the best three year old ever and she accepted this absurd change in the situation and miraculously didn’t turn on lights after that.

Except for the bathroom light. We indulged ourselves on that one and kept on using the bathroom light. It’s in the interior of the house, and from outside it looked more or less the same as using one of our rechargeable lamps. It was another act of rebellion, and yet, unlike the joy of my coffeemaker every morning, it made me nervous as hell. I loved it, reveled in the act of flipping the switch, loved being able to really be illuminated in the bathroom. (Even though the only bad part of having electricity had been seeing how dirty my bathroom looked in the bright light! I think we’d never cleaned it as well as we thought because we’d never really seen it before! It was shocking.) But it was nerve-wracking! Every time I turned it on I pretty much started biting my nails, worrying that someone would realize and we’d get totally shut down. I kept thinking, “it’s not worth it to give up all these other electrical pleasures like floor fans and computer charging just to see all the grit on my bathroom floor.”

But here we are. A month and a half since we started stealing electricity (inadvertently stealing for lack of other options; I would have gladly paid for electricity since we built the house two years ago). Our electricity didn’t get shut off. And now, finally, finally we have electricity legitimately. Yep, boldface, folks, because now they can’t take it away. Okay, they can if we don’t pay the bill, but other than that, our electricity is here to stay! And now I can see at night to finish my chores. We can read the bedtime story without my cell phone light. We’re gonna bring our washing machine to Puerto. I’ve never been so excited in my life at the prospect of washing clothes and diapers. But oh! We’re going to save so much money! It’s going to be so much more convenient! Quote me on this, guys, in a couple of years- I’m dying to do laundry! There is so much to enjoy.

My most important plan is still just to get up every morning and press the button on my coffeemaker. To lie down another five minutes while it magically prepares my morning motivation. To decide that every single day that I have this, it’s going to be a good day. At least in the morning.

2 Responses to “Electrical Rebellion Smells Like Coffee”

  1. blueskywoman July 26, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

    That’s awesome! One assumes that the mean-spirited neighbors have service now too? Or at least the option? Whatever it is for them, I have great joy for you! What an amazing thing we take for granted (and so many do panic when the power does go out)…so happy for you all!

    • exiletomexico July 26, 2015 at 9:50 pm #

      Yes, there is electricity for all! Mean-spirited or not, we all deserve it! It’s very exciting!

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