Blackouts

Oh I know ya didn’t blow out our fuses by pluggin’ #SanFrancisco into the #Matrix4, #Keannu Reeves. Watts with this #blackout, anyway, and why was I wasting my cell phone’s battery on tweetfoolery. Right. Because the alternative would be to freak out (childhood trauma). We’re still (mostly) safe, yeah?

I hate blackouts. Also, I told you so.

When I was a kid growing up in Lima, Peru, there were a couple of guerrillas that wreaked havoc on the country, el MRTA and Sendero Luminoso. Of the latter, the Shining Path, you might know that in 1992, they left two trucks loaded with explosives – two deadly truck bombs – in the Miraflores district in Lima, on a small, yet busy commercial/residential street (that event led to the capture of the group’s leader that September and to its rapid decline). Of the former, a Marxist revolutionary movement, you may have heard how they took the Japanese embassy in Lima in December 1996, a crisis that extended well into the spring of ’97 (the Greek ambassador-father of a friend from school at the time was among the hostages).

These terrorist acts, part of a variety spread across the country back in the ’80s and ’90s, were like, those assholes’ marquee events.

Now, their garden-variety terrorism for the daily, on the other hand, well…that was expressed through the suppression of the vote and the violent oppression of any other one or organization. Y’ know…chaos and disruption. Oftentimes through the use of car bombs. A car bomb here near the Palacio de Gobierno downtown, a car bomb there outside the headquarters of a local TV network…. Car bombs in front of banks at whatever time they wanted o’clock.

BOOM. Cut to blackout.

Disruption was the name of the game. And a blackout disrupts. It frightens, it scares. Imagine a loud explosion. In the middle of the night. Sometimes, somewhere close enough that you can hear it and feel it and, of course, wake up in fear from it.

Tonight’s blackout in Hayes Valley near San Francisco’s Civic Center hit shortly before 8. It was never a car bomb. But the lights went out, and in this type of modern life, that could mean anything.

There’s construction on Van Ness; maybe, the workers went and hit som’in’ they shouldn’t have…perhaps – wait, did we pay the bill? We did.

Fuck. Are we under attack?

I managed to tweet about it, in jest and in wonder, around 8:03, receiving a response from another San Franciscan a few minutes later. They, too, were in the dark.

I was still able to text.

The lights came back on, but only to go out again within a few minutes. This time until about 9…9:05 (the tweet above went live only once accessibility was restored). During this hour, as the minutes barreled forward, Twitter slowly slowed down…way down. There was no refreshing the feed. Reaching anyone using my mobile – using my cell phone to call someone – wasn’t happening. Digital? More like digi-won’t.

It’s incredible how quickly being able to communicate in this digitally interconnected world can become not a thing anymore (we might wanna reconsider doing away with the payphone…). It’s certainly alarming how unprepared one can be, especially ’cause we do know better.

“What are we gonna do when the lights go out?” is something I’ve been asking my friends. Because I remember when we used technology, the time before it owned us. And because, given that we are under the emboldened thumb of an impeached, yet acquitted wannabe dictator/orange hemorrhoid of a so-called president, ya never know what is up anymore.

“These cell phones are gonna be the end of the world as we know it.” That’s something I used to tell another group of friends on the other coast.

Blackouts used to freak me out because I was a kid and they generally meant trouble. Tonight, the problem was I wasn’t ready for one. And we so coulda been in big trouble.

But I was a safe, and I knew it. I had to remind myself of it, but I knew it.

I am safe.

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