Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Week 17: And we live a life of ease/Everyone of us has all we need.

Arthur's house has three floors and a basement. Five bedrooms, a backyard garden.

He'd lived alone for years now, since Hannah left. But with the crisis, he'd opened his house to friends. In some ways, there wasn't much of a choice.

Kate moved into Arthur's house; the apartment was too much, too expensive, and it wasn't safe to be alone there anymore. With her came a coworker who used to live out in West Chester with her parents; the girl hasn't seen her parents for two weeks now. They shared a bedroom on the third floor, along with Kate's two cats.

There were others, mostly friends who worked in the city and couldn't afford to go home anymore, couldn't go back out to the suburbs. Sarah, a paralegal, came with her husband and baby; Arthur'd never wanted a baby in his house--he wasn't good with children--but he couldn't say no. They took over what had been a second-floor "drawing room" in better days. His cousin John came, bringing an Irish wolfhound. "This is worse than the baby," Arthur sighed. But again, there wasn't a "no".

What Arthur couldn't do was convince his mother. She stayed in her rowhouse the Great Northeast; Arthur hoped she'd made friends with the Russian mafia. He called her every night, just to make sure she was still alive.

And there were others, drifting in and out. Friends from the zendo; artists; friends from his day job who needed a place to crash.

He liked his quiet life; he'd had enough excitement in Iraq. Now, there was no such thing.

The riots haven't touched Philly yet. Septa, in a move that shocked everyone, was still running. Full capacity, every trolley car, every subway car, every one of the dwindling buses. They promised they were working on a diesel-electric hybrid, but they'd been promising for at least seven years.

There's still time, he thought. If we can just keep things going, if we can just avoid--

A gunshot; it sounded at least a block away.

The riots may not come, but Philly was still Philly.

The mantel clock chimed; it was one a.m. In four hours, he had to get up. It almost didn't seem worth going in.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Week 16: Since Rationing Started Baby, You Just Take Your Stuff And Hide

They've started rationing, even electricity, so I'll try and make this as brief as I can.

My job consists of proof-reading patents for the government; I don't work for the government, just a company contracted to it. So I get to see all sorts of patents; it used to be they were mostly pharmaceutical or golf-based. (No, I'm not kidding about golf.) Lately, though, there've been a lot of patents coming through on energy technologies. Solar batteries, hybrid cars, anything that can save on energy use. I don't know how many or if any of this stuff will ever really hit the market, or at least if it'll be seen by anyone other than the wealthy.

I did one smart thing before all this went down--I bought a SW/AM/FM radio that can be powered through a crank. I originally bought it for camping. (Huh. Only last summer we went up to Promised Land Park. Don't think I'll ever see that again. Haven't though of it till now.)

Anyway, with the radio, I'm able to pick up stations from all over. KWY is still running, as is WHYY, but a lot of stuff is intermittent; and WHYY had a habit of conking out even before the oil shocks. However, I can pick up the BBC World Service (though it's very faint). Unfortunately, I don't speak any modern languages except some muddled Welsh, so the Spanish-language stations aren't much help to me, other than (swear to god) Radio Havana. Yeah, I know, communist dictatorship, but at least it's in English and comes in really clearly.

So today Den and I were in the basement, working on our brew*, listening to the radio, when we heard about this. I don't know what to make of it yet. White supremacists, the radio said. Wonderful--just what we need. I knew it would happen some day.

Meanwhile, Den's cousin is being shipped off to Iraq. Army translator--the kid's good with languages. Jesus, I'm scared for him.

You know, nine months ago, it was Christmas. Den and I and our friend Mike went to see Children of Men, and found it the second most depressing film ever**--though I did love it.

Well, I came across this post from the UK--chilling ain't the half of it.

Guess that wasn't so brief after all. Better sign off now and crank up the radio.

*We brew mead. I know that sounds kinda odd, but I'm an amateur medievalist. Or was, I guess. Anyway, mead is easy--just water, honey, and yeast. And some chemicals, but I bought a good supply a few weeks ago, back when the store shelves hadn't run out.

And of course, now we have the bees dying off...

**Oddly enough, the most depressing was Pan's Labyrinth. Again, awesome movie, but man, I needed a drink afterwards. The third most depressing is Requiem for a Dream, which I don't think I can ever watch again.

Friday, August 10, 2007

When Hunger Comes A-Rap-Rat-A-Tat, Rat-A-Tat At The Window...

I know I haven't been keeping up with posting. Sometimes I feel like there's nothing to say, and sometimes I feel too shell-shocked to say anything.

Three days ago, I rode my bike out to a local poultry farm over in Hatfield, hoping to get some eggs. They were sold out. "Sold out? How can you be sold out?"

"Look, chickens aren't magical, you know, it's not like you can just wish up some eggs from 'em."

And so I tried riding down to Merrymead, the dairy. It isn't far from town--in fact, it's halfway between my place and my parents down in Worcester. There was a line when I got there--people are panic-buying, hoarding whatever food they can. I admit, I'm trying to do that too, but you can't really hoard dairy or eggs--they go bad quickly.

"Half-gallon of 2%, please."

"Seven dollars."

I didn't know what to say.

"Seven dollars?"

"Look, you wanna go somewhere else? They'll probably charge you ten."

"For a half-gallon?"

"You think it's cheap to run a farm?"

I know how expensive it can be, though not in the sense they mean.

A few tomatoes and squash had started coming in two days ago--small, of course, not ripe yet.

Yesterday morning, they were gone. Picked off, presumably eaten.

This is my food. I planted it, I'm going to harvest it.


So I got a shotgun. I just want to scare the thieves, I don't want to shoot them. I can't really blame anyone who's hungry for stealing, but they're taking food out of our mouthes.

So tonight, I'm sleeping on a cot in the mudroom. I've hooked up the motion sensors, and if they go off, I'll be right there to scare them away.

I hope.

You know, I'm not anti-gun, but I've never wanted to own one. At least not until now.

God, I just wish this would be over.

In other news, I haven't heard from Kate for a couple of days. I don't like it--I don't know what's going on with her right now, and I'm worried. I offered her the spare bedroom, but she still won't take it.

I just don't know what to do.