If you don’t live around these parts, then the Astoria Column is this:
and it’s 125 feet of terror. Or, it is if you’re afraid of heights. And ohhhhhhh, I am. I can’t even climb a 6 foot ladder without feeling like I’m going to soil myself. One hundred twenty five feet, so multiply that by about 20. Or 21. Or, if you’re literal like my husband, 20.8.
I have no idea what possessed me to climb the column. Call it a lapse in judgment, a moment of stupidity, or thinking my balls were bigger than they are. Either way, it was not my brightest choice.
Inside the column is a metal spiral staircase with 164 steps that lead to the top.
About halfway up…
Me: “WHAT WAS THAT?!” I drop down to a whisper. “Is that an earthquake?”
Me, in a desperate whisper: “I THINK IT IS. IT’S AN EARTHQUAKE.”
Him, patiently: “No, it’s someone else coming up the stairs.”
Me, a little louder: “ARE YOU SURE?”
Before he can respond, we hear voices. “Oh. I guess you are.”
Me, in another panicked whisper: “WHY ARE THEY LAUGHING. DO THEY NOT REALIZE THAT WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE UP HERE?”
And later still…
“I CAN FEEL THIS SWAYING. ARE WE SWAYING? I THINK WE’RE SWAYING. WE’RE GOING DOWN.”
Needless to say, I was relieved to get down, even if I nearly had to scoot down the stairs on my ass.
We lost power last night. Stoic and Basement Dweller had gone out to relive their high school glory days while I stayed home with Evil Genius and Basement Dweller’s kids, Jolly Giant and Jolly Smalls. Future Cult Leader is gone for a week, and it’s a good thing because there’s no way I would have handled last night had she been home.
It was about 8:45. The Jollies and I had just sat down to watch 30 minutes of Toy Story 3 before I sent them to bed and started my stay-at-home-mom style debauchery: sitting down with a bitch beer and my laptop to lose a few brain cells, courtesy of the internet. My plans were screwed, because the power surged and everything went down. It surged again, then everything shut down again. The Jollies and I just sat there, stunned, when there was one last mini surge that turned some lights on and shut them off again. Cue my fear of the dark and fear of wandering mass murderers.
Yes. I’m a grown ass adult and I’m afraid of the dark. Not so much the dark, but the vulnerability of being in the dark. I’m fine as long as there is someone with me because, you know, safety in numbers and all that. But I was alone with 3 kids. Two of them weren’t mine and while they are essentially family members, being responsible for someone else’s child is still a little nerve wracking. Oh, did I mention that Jolly Smalls has diabetes? I have the training and I’m experienced in caring for her and all, but being responsible for her for a big block of time like that had my anxiety stretching to take a power walk.
The power outage? Had it setting off for a rapid, butt shaking pace. With hand weights.
Candles and flashlights were gathered, and Facebook was texted to update my status. No better way to handle a power outage than talk to Facebook! While things were being gathered, my front door opened. My men weren’t due home for hours; who the fuck is walking into my house? I grabbed something heavy to throw at the intruder, but when I came around the corner it was just my mother, stopping by on her way home from the store.
My anxiety got ready for a light jog.
Once the Jollies went to bed and I had every single light source in the house collected and on, I concentrated on reporting the outage. Except? To report I had to have a phone number attached to the account, or an account number. None of our phone numbers worked. I texted Stoic to get the account number. He directed me to the filing cabinet in his office, where he had EVERY SINGLE BILL from the old house, but NOTHING from the new house. My man, he is fastidious, almost to the point of anal which is something I make fun of him for, but at that moment all I could think was, HE IS NOT NEARLY ANAL ENOUGH. But when I texted him about his lack of anal behavior, he told me the account number was the same. So, I called the power outage hotline again. That account has been closed.
My anxiety started jogging.
I went through the house to lock every single door to every single room that wasn’t being used, and closed every window so no serial rapists could get in and hurt me. Because a few panes of glass are going to protect me, amirite? Then I started searching Stoic’s office for something resembling a current power bill. Guys, the only stuff he had for the new house was irrelevant.
My anxiety decided it was going for a long distance run.
I grabbed my computer to check the power company’s website. Silly me! DSL isn’t going to work in a power outage! I called a friend to see what they could see online, and guess what? Same shit! I can’t find out anything concrete without that information! All she could tell me is that there are 2 outages in my area affecting X amount of customers with X number of people reporting.
My anxiety thought long distance sprinting was a fabulous idea.
I sat there, the occasional tear falling. I held a flashlight so I could read to distract my mind. Except, there’s NOTHING distracting about reading in COMPLETE AND TOTAL DARKNESS, save enough candles to set off a smoke detector in the adjoining kitchen and an LED flashlight mounted in my mouth. Then 2 things happened. I noticed a bunch of emergency lights across the river (anxiety hit an obstacle course at a record breaking pace). My mom fell asleep and started snoring. So the company I had to help me feel better? Was of no actual use.
My anxiety started a meth fueled frenzy, tap dancing in a car while going for a ride on the world’s fastest roller coaster.
I hate roller coasters.
So there I sat, cursing Stoic for not buying a generator when Basement Dweller and I told him to and for not having information available to me that might soothe my overactive imagination. I think if he had come in the door just then, I’d have punched him in the chest.
An hour and a half after the lights went off in Georgia, my house being Georgia and the lights going off for only the literal reason and not the figurative one, power came back on. However, because my anxiety had been slammed into overdrive, I was still a bit of a train wreck. Or five. In fact, I turned on every single light on the ground floor, a light in the basement, and bedroom lights in my room on the third floor. My mom woke up when power returned and she said she had to go home or she’d fall asleep here. (Figure that one out.) I followed her around the house as she gathered her stuff up (to protect her?), then walked her outside and shined a light on her car (because a porch light wasn’t enough). I ran inside when I heard a car on the road and locked the front door against the boogeyman that was coming to get me. I grabbed myself a bitch beer, sat on the couch with my laptop and the TV on, and I didn’t really move from that spot until Stoic and Basement Dweller came home.
Since nothing about my behavior was rational, they didn’t do much more than laugh at me. Thanks, guys!
Let me tell you about the time a spider brought me down.
Monsieur Stoic was on one of his baseball trips with his not-that-identical-anymore twin, which left me alone with the Terror Tag Team. Future Cult Leader was at school (yay, kindergarten!) so it was just Evil Genius and me. She was playing on the floor while I fed my addiction and attempted to read something with a higher reading level than Highlights Magazine. I saw something roll slowly across the (light colored) carpet out of the corner of my eye and looked up, expecting to see Evil Genius’s toy. Nope. It was a big fucking spider.
A BIG FUCKING SPIDER.
A REALLY BIG FUCKING SPIDER.
I had no time to think. This bastard was big enough to kill my 15 month old AND me and STILL go on a murderous spree. I grabbed a stool (which has a hollow bottom, by the way) and threw it over the spider. Then I grabbed Evil Genius and stood on the stool, because I wouldn’t put it past him to lift up that chair and come after us both. I sat there for a moment, wondering what my next move was. I wasn’t killing this spider, Basement Dweller (who was Upstairs Guest Room Dweller at the time) wouldn’t be home until MUCH later, and I was fairly sure that Cult Leader would take one look at the arachnid, look at me solemnly, tell me I had to be joking, and could she get her snack now?
My gaze fell on my phone.
My mother is a bad ass mofo when it comes to spiders. Does it have 8 legs? She’ll kill it then go smoke a cigarette. It ain’t no thing to her. So I did what any other rational human being would do.
I called my mommy to come save me.
She laughed when I told her of the pickle I was in, but agreed to come over right away. Ahhhh, but the door was locked. The door was ALWAYS locked, because at the time we lived in Suburban Hell where all the houses looked the same and all the women drove SUVs whether they needed to or not, and Stoic was paranoid that someone, out of ALL THE HOUSES ON THE BLOCK, would choose ours to break into. You know, because a dead bolt is going to stop them.
Solution? Grab one of Evil Genius’s heavier toys, stick it on top of the stool, run to unlock the door, then get back on the stool and wait.
Ten minutes later, my mother came sauntering in. She laughed at me, guys. SHE LAUGHED AT ME. This spider was big enough for the Smithsonian, how could she be laughing?
But she humored me. She took over stool duty while I grabbed the baby and ran upstairs to hide. She dutifully caught the spider and threw it outside so there were no yucky spider guts to clean up. She returned inside, and then this happened:
“I thought you said it was a big spider.”
“It was. Big fucker. Why?”
“Uh, because it was barely the size of a dime, you knucklehead.”
“Not a chance in hell. At least the size of a quarter.”
“I just caught it, I know how big it was.”
“IT WAS GINORMOUS AND IT WAS GOING TO KILL US BOTH.”
She managed to suppress a laugh, but smiled and nodded. Then she grabbed a cup of coffee and went outside to smoke.
All in a day’s work.