Diary of a Marked W•man

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Paris, August 2007

At the end of the month I finally got myself back in sync with the circadian rhythm. It was getting ridiculous, I was getting up at 8PM and going to bed at 12 noon! It was difficult for less than a week. One day I simply didn't go to bed and kept myself awake as if I were used to it, and at the strike of 9PM I was so exhausted I fell asleep right away. Oh, how delicious was the obscurity for my tired eyes! At last, to have no need for the black hat or the black T-shirt I used to cover my eyes for daytime sleeping.

Just before I switched back to diurnal waking hours, there was a strange incident: It was about 5:45AM and I was sewing when suddenly the light was turned off. I knew it wasn't the bulb because it didn't have a dying flash-and-pop and I had changed it recently. I went to the window and saw that in front of me the avenue was completely dark, the street light in front of my apartment was off too. It's almost like I had a premonition something of the sort was in the offing because just a few days earlier I had taken out of storage the small oval plate with the two wide candles I used during the several months electricity had been cut off at my apartment in 2004, and had put this plate near at hand, so it was only a matter of seconds for me to grab the matches near the stove and the plate with the candles and light them up.

From my bedroom phone I called the help number at Electricité De France. A recorded voice said "If you're calling for a power cut at your residence, press one, if you're calling for a power cut in your neighborhood, press 2". So I pressed 2 and a woman asked me if there was a little button at the bottom of the general power switch in my apartment. -"But Madam, I'm telling you it's not only in my apartment, apparently the neighborhood is affected too, the street light is off." -"Oh, the street lights have nothing to do with us." -"But I was sitting near the circuit box, if the circuit-breaker had been switched off I would have heard it, I'm telling you the problem doesn't come from my apartment." -"Well, I'm required to go through some steps, make some tests with you to identify the source of the problem."

So I had to change phones to get closer to the circuit box near the front door, and since I only use land lines for fear of harmful electro-magnetic waves frying my ears and brain, it took some doing. On the living room phone I asked the woman to hold on while I checked the circuit breaker. I pushed on the little button at the bottom like she asked me to do and nothing happened, so I went back to the phone and told her. She said she was going to call the person responsible for this sector to investigate and fix the problem and we hung up. I still had my hand on the receiver when I heard a door open on the landing, I think it was my next door neighbor but it could have been the one in front of me, I forgot. I was tempted to open my door to see if the electricity worked in the staircase and in my neighbor's apartment but an inner voice, THAT voice that already saved my life several times told me "No, no, no! Don't open your door!" So I smiled and went to my bedroom to lie down until the power was restored, but I had hardly sat down when the power was turned back on! I got up to look at the street and the street lamp was back on too!

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