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Lights Out

Around 9 p.m. on August 11, a storm with 70 mph wind gusts knocked out power lines all over Las Vegas, leaving some 60,000 people without electricity. I was one of the 60,000.

9 p.m. During friend’s drunken birthday bash at Ninja Karaoke, check phone, see missed texts from husband: “Storming out … Just lost power … No need to come home too dangerous.”

9:05 Convince friends I rode with that we need to leave immediately.

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9:20 Arrive home, find headlamp on front door knob, candle burning on kitchen table. Oooh! Romantic.

9:21 Discover husband who worked 18-hour day passed out in bed.

9:23 Open windows and doors to ventilate already-stifling house. The storm has cooled the outdoors to the upper 70s. Relief!

9:30-10:55 Sleep fitfully whilst attacked by mosquitoes instantly conjured from bone-dry desert by 1/100th an inch of rain. Fret about chickens not having enough ventilation.

11 Slog out to chicken coop in PJs to open henhouse shutters.

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11:05p.m.-2 a.m. Lie in wait for mosquitoes, convinced I can track and kill them without waking husband, using ultra-keen nighttime senses.

5:30 Awaken when husband gets up for work. Stupid husband.

5:32 Realize there’s no means for making coffee. Panic.

5:35 Husband delivers coffee made with camping stove and French press. Brilliant husband!

5:45 Go to kitchen, realize dishwasher didn’t run and a puddle is forming under the fridge.

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6-6:30 Contemplate options: 1. Be responsible and prepare home for protracted odor-emphasizing indoor heat wave. 2. Do nothing and bet on NV Energy getting the power back up any moment. 3. Run away to midsize Canadian city and become a lounge singer named Floral Prince.

6:30-7 Google power outage and learn 60,000 other customers are without power. Feel insignificant.

7:01 Navigate to “estimate time of restoration” for my area on NV Energy outage map, learn there is none.

7:02-7:30 Send dramatic text to friends and family.

8:01 Call NV Energy. Get routed to automated voicemail.

8:02 Check NV Energy power outage map. Still no updated restoration time.

8:07 Check NV Energy power outage map.

8:10 Check NV Energy power outage map.

8:11-8:30 Get multiple texts from people inviting me to their air-conditioned homes. #Blessed.

(One from friend whose power is also out: “Is this new weather normal?” Reply: “Yes, also a preview of energy deregulation?”)

8:35 Accept that personality plus upbringing force me into option No. 1.

9-11 Buy ice, load fridge contents into biggest cooler, wash all dirty dishes BY HAND, take out the trash and recycling. Realize ice cream won’t make it. Eat it all, despite texture of Jell-O instant mousse.

11:01 Make clever lemon-to-lemonades social media post about ice cream and power outage.

11:30 Contemplate irony in current misery, having recently enjoyed a 120-mile backpacking trip with no electronics or internet for 10 days. Think I should write about this. Realize laptop is dead and can’t be charged.

Noon Get great idea to write with PEN AND PAPER! Reconnect with authentic, pre-computer roots!

1:30 p.m. Awaken from nap in puddle of drool and sweat.

1:31 Okay, ready to write now!

1:32-2 Use pen and paper to make list of things to pack for upcoming East Coast vacation.

2:02 Think about Puerto Ricans without power for nearly a year now. Feel overcome with privilege-shame.

2:02 Check power outage map.

2:03 Call friends to see if I can kill some time at their house.

2:04 Realize I’m going to have to take a cold shower before going anywhere with other human beings.

2:05 Postpone trip to friends’ house.

2:30 Go to gym to “work out” (take hot shower).

4 Arrive home from gym to pissed-off, panting dogs and chickens. Fill water bowls with precious, precious ice.

4:05 Check power outage map. ESTIMATED POWER RESTORATION TIME: 6:45 Hope!

4:30-6:30 Drink wine, eat cheese and crackers, and relax in friends’ air-conditioned house. Charge phone. Watch dogs sleep peacefully. Worry about chickens.

7 Go home to find power is still out. Despair!

7:30-9 Give chickens more ice and return to friends’ house.

9:30 Go home to find power is still out, husband is home. Updated restoration time: 10:15.

9:33 Dolefully get ready for bed. Ponder friend’s suggestion of covering myself with wet towels to stay cool while sleeping.

10 Power kicks back on! Run around the house singing Hallelujah chorus. Startle the dogs into barking fit. Flick lights on and off yelling, “It’s a miracle!” Gleefully set clocks, watch husband program the coffee maker.

10:15 Check power outage map. See that 6,000 people still don’t have power. Think of Puerto Rico. Feel guilty. But still happy.

1 a.m. Get NV Energy notification that my power has been restored.

Desert Companion welcomed Heidi Kyser as staff writer in January 2014. In 2018, she was promoted to senior writer and producer, working for both DC and State of Nevada. She produced KNPR’s first podcast, the Edward R. Murrow Regional Award-winning Native Nevada, in 2020. The following year, she returned her focus full-time to Desert Companion, becoming Deputy Editor, which meant she was next in line to take over when longtime editor Andrew Kiraly left in July 2022.