A Dark in the Light

I don’t like the dark.  I’m not afraid of the dark.  Not really anyway.  I just don’t like the dark.  It’s more of a “fear of the unknown” thing.  And it’s not really fear, exactly, I just don’t like it.  And since I don’t like the unknown, and there is a lot of “unknown” in the dark, I don’t like the dark.

But I should also say that I’m talking about utter darkness.  Complete darkness.  Can’t see my hand in front of my face darkness.  I don’t like that.

These days it’s not really something I often have to worry about.  And I’ll bet you don’t either.  Turn off all your lights and look around.  With modern technology being what it is, I bet you’d be hard pressed not to be able to see clearly enough to get around easily.  So many appliances and devices in our homes these days have some sort of light on them, even when they’re “turned off”.

In my living room, there are two lights on the front of my printer.  The modem which sits on top of my DVR on my TV stand has five lights lit or blinking at all times.  There’s a clock on top of my mantle that is back-lit with an orange glow.  Even my laptop, when completely powered down has a light next to the port the plug is in.

In my kitchen the stove, microwave and iPod dock all have illuminated clocks on their faces.  When the automatic timer has activated it, my Keurig machine has a back-lit LCD display that is quite bright.

In my bedroom, right now there are three separate alarm clocks, all with lit faces, not to mention the face of my iPhone which is often turned on and lit up.  There’s even still a VCR in there with a lit LED display.

There happens to be a nice soft, blue night-light in the hallway which was there when I moved in and I never bothered to unplug.

Add to all that, the street light right outside my front door which shines through the windows in the kitchen, living room and bedroom, even through the closed plantation shutters on all the windows.

I have ambient light, all the time.  Not enough to bother me, but enough to keep me comfortable in my surroundings.

I am also not a morning person.  I do not rise easily.  I do not spring out of bed at the first sound of the alarm clock and I am not raring to go with my day.  It takes time for me to be awake enough to get out of bed.  (This is the reason there are multiple alarm clocks  in my room.)  The clock on my night stand goes off at 6:30 and tunes to my favorite morning radio show.  The clock on the dresser across the room goes off at 7:00 with an obnoxious beep that gradually grows louder until it is acknowledged.  I throw the covers back and slowly push myself into an upright position before dragging my self just far enough out of the bed to reach across and snooze the clock.  Then I plop back down on the bed, pull the covers over my body and I’m out cold again in seconds.  Nine minutes later we repeat this process and I crawl back into bed slightly more awake than the last time.  Nine minutes after that we go through the whole thing again and nine minutes after that and nine minutes after that.  With each interval I am a little bit more awake.

At some point, I lie in bed, listening to the radio show, 75% awake and 25% not while I wait for the alarm to go off again and I debate whether this will be the time I get up and stay up.

And that’s were we were today, sometime in the second quarter of the seven o’clock hour, when suddenly the radio show went silent.  I opened one eye and reached out to turn the radio back on when I noticed that the clock face was blank.  That’s when I realized that when the radio went silent I had also heard a downward sliding groan of noise outside.

There was a momentary resurgence of power and then the downward sliding groan again and everything was silent.  The power in the entire neighborhood had gone out.  I called PG&E to be sure and they were already aware of it.

At 7:20 in the morning it is not exactly dark around here.  The sunlight pierced the louvers of the shutters and the house was sufficiently illuminated.  And yet, with out all the random ambient lights and without all the soft hums of electronic components, it seemed oddly dark.

Not spooky.

Not scary.

Just… Dark.

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Irony, It’s Where It’s At

I used to hardly ever talk to my mother.  Not because I don’t love her, or she me, just because I don’t like being on the telephone, and e-mail seems like it’s pointless unless you’ve got something specific to say and then it feels like it needs to be lengthy enough to justify the effort on the part of both parties.  My aversion to talking on the telephone came from her, for two reasons.  First, she always made it clear that she had no use for protracted phone conversations.  Make the call, say what you have to say, and get off the phone.  That was her philosophy.  It was never acceptable to call someone “just to say hi” or “just to talk.”  Secondly, when I did get on the phone with friends, she would always tell me to get off the phone after about 20 minutes or so, even though I was in another room where my talking wouldn’t disturb her and even though the only people who ever called were my friends, or bill collectors so she never answered the phone anyway.  Nevertheless, through these experiences, she taught me to prefer not to be on the telephone for long periods of time.

A couple of months ago, I got a text message from my mother:

“Do you text?  Just wondered.  going to bed now. ‘Night!”

I confirmed that I do and that was the end of the conversation, that night.  Since then, however, we’ve exchanged text messages and had full conversations via text  every few days.

This morning I received a text from her while I was getting ready for work and we proceeded to have a conversation on text until I got to work when we moved to Instant Messenger.  She informed me that she had gotten a new cell phone with a QWERTY keyboard.  She said, “I wanted something with a keyboard so I could text without having to hit the keys several times to get the letter I wanted.”

I answered, “Based on the speed and length of your texts, I had a feeling you had a keyboard now.”

“Yep.  The [Boss’s family] are big on texting, so I needed it to keep up!”

“I am too,” I answered, “then I don’t have to ‘talk’ to people.  How sad is that?”

She answered, “Pretty sad, by my lights.  But it’s the way of things nowadays.”

Hmmm.  Interesting perspective for her to have.  I continued, “I text Michelle a lot, because if I want to make a quick comment about something, it could turn into a 45 minute conversation and I have a thing against doing other things while I’m on the phone so it blows my whole evening.  (I know that’s terrible.)”  I was making light of things here, I don’t really think it’s that bad.  It get’s said what needs to be said without derailing my plan for the day/evening.  And when we get together and I can focus my attention on her and our interaction we talk plenty.

“It’s just one more way in which nuance and empathy and other such non-quantifiables are being eliminated from people’s relationships these days.  I just think it’s sad.”

“Yeah, but it’s quick.   :-D”

I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of this situation.  Here we are, having conversation by means of electronic written technology and she’s telling me that it’s sad that people don’t spend more time on the phone even though she hates being on the phone as much as I do.

Sometimes, her inability to recognize the irony in her words, and yes, even her hypocrisy, just makes me laugh.