On getting stuff done under crisis

cri·sis \ˈkrī-səs\ : a difficult or dangerous situation that needs serious attention (Merriam-Webster)

Hello, Internet. Today is Monday, January 6th, and it is the first day I’ve been able to get basically any work done in 2014.

But Sharon, you are normally so good at getting stuff done, you are thinking (I like to think). What happened?

Well, Internet, I’ll tell you. In the form of a Captain’s Log. (What? I’m the Captain of this blog, aren’t I? Fine. “Captain’s Blog.”)

1 January 2014: Rang in the new year with close friends only 11 hours after arriving back in St. John’s from a whirlwind trip to Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and New York City. Also, immediately after playing music for people, which, it should be noted, scares me a lot. Went to bed. Woke up. Did nothing. Stayed in pajamas. Ate toast and cereal. Accepted cuddles from roommate and visiting friend. Attempted to recover from ridiculously persistent congestion in head and chest. Friend from Ontario arrived to stay overnight – hung out with friend until bedtime. Toddled off to bed, feeling satisfied with first proper day off in some time, prepared to face busy work and social schedule over coming days.

2 January 2014: Awoke after 12-hour slumber to frozen pipes. Bundled up against -30C windchill and stumbled around poorly cleared downtown with FfO and roommate. Ate delicious breakfast/lunch. Dropped in to other shops. Hiked back up hill to homestead. Wished goodbye to FfO. Managed small amount of work, of the run-of-the-mill, no-actual-thought-or-energy-required variety. Looked at pile of dirty dishes, but frozen pipes inhibited dish-doing. Started to hear whispers of NL Hydro overload, requests to conserve energy. Turned of extra lights around house. News of rolling blackouts. First blackout hit homestead around 6pm. Went to potluck dinner with veggie tray purchased at Sobey’s, as result of no-water problem. Received advice on frozen pipes from Most Helpful Taxi Driver of All Time. Went to drinks with friends. Arrived home to find power on. Went to bed.

3 January 2014: Awoke to the sound of all electrical appliances turning back on as rolling power outage moved on. Went to morning coffee with friends (this coffee is a regularly scheduled event intended to get us all out of bed at a reasonable hour). Sick and grumbly. Arrived home and attempted to solve frozen pipes problem using tactics offered by MHTDoAT. Tactics failed. Gave up and ordered lunch from nearby fish’n’chips shop. Managed small amount of work – again, day-to-day things – before major blizzard swept into town. Major, major blizzard. Picked up by friend and brought home for showering/partying-out-the-blizzard purposes. Walked home in epic snowstorm. Arrived to discover water was running! Slept happy.

4 January 2014: Power out. Nothing to be done. Rescheduled work commitments. Read on love seat by window. Shoveled, then returned to cooling house to bury self in blankets. Bought cream crackers, jam jams, corn chips and salsa from nearby corner store, in cash, during daylight. Stayed connected to others through frugal use of smartphone. Arrival of friend as refugee from own cold, dark, water-less apartment. Ate spoils of corner store frenzy. Played cards. Drank wine. Power on in evening. Tea! Otherwise pretended power was still out (conserving energy as per request) until bedtime.

5 January 2014: Discovery that freezes in pipes had occurred overnight despite constant running of water in bathroom sink. Water into toilet frozen. Water out of bathtub frozen. Water out of kitchen sink frozen. Gave up on whole affair and went to friends’ house for post-xmas party. Poured self bowl full of delicious chili. Call from roommate: had used water from bathtub to fill up toilet tank for flushing. Attempt to turn off bathtub tap failed… tap apparently broken. Agreed that roommate will turn off water main at source in basement and self will contact landlord. Hung up. Discovered do not have direct phone number for landlord. Also, mistakenly believed that landlord was on property showing upstairs apartment (this had been the arrangement prior to blizzard/power outage). Sent landlord semi-urgent facebook message in hopes that he received it before leaving property. Returned to party/chili. Call from roommate: turning of all but the particularly scary next-to-the-boiler one of the valves had resulted in less water into bathtub, but had seemingly caused serious leak through existing crack in basement wall. Mild panic. Decision that flooded basement was preferable to flooded bathroom on main level. Renewed interest in reaching landlord. Hung up. Called landlord’s parents’ house. No answer. Returned to party/chili with increased distraction. Left party for rehearsal. Called landlord’s parents again. Answer! Reported issue to landlord’s father. Hung up. Called roommate. Reported conversation with father to roommate. Hung up. Call from landlord’s father: all hands were braced for action. Gave landlord’s father roommate’s number. Hung up. Turned off sound on phone. Two-hour music rehearsal for EVITA, during which time totally did not check phone like a Good Actor. Rehearsal over. Called roommate. Landlord, landlord’s girlfriend, landlord’s mother, and two plumbers had been by to assess the situation. Big scary valve turned out to be water main. Turned. All leaking stopped. Discovery that one of valves leads to exterior of house, so when opened, water trapped under snow ran back into basement via crack in wall. Appropriate turning of all valves. Thawing of kitchen sink drain. Thawing of toilet pipe. Discussion of means to thaw bathtub pipe. Agreement that plumbers would return to thaw bathtub pipe. Agreement between self and roommate: crisis averted. Hung up. Sought out – and found – friends and food in two-hour break between rehearsal and work. Went to work at the Hall. Ran bar for rock show, with game plan in place should power fail. Show ran until 9:15 without issue. Complete power failure, island wide, at 9:30 pm. Left work and walked home in the dark. Bought more corn chips and salsa from intrepid corner store. Played cards with roommate. Went to bed in same bed as roommate, under many blankets.

6 January 2014: Awoke to cold but above-zero house, still no power. Discovered that downtown had electricity. Went downtown for morning coffee with friends (see entry from 3 January). Went to Hall to close the bar from night before… and to shower (thank you, kind friends!). Went out for work lunch with friend/colleague. Encouraged. Went to coffeeshop with reliable heat and sat next to window in sunshine. Sorted out huge amounts of work. Emerged less stressed. Arrived home to roommate COOKING! Ate delicious food. Arrival of plumbers to fix bathtub. Bathtub operational! Fully functional homestead! Celebrating with tea and blog post on own couch using own electricity and internet! HURRAY!

So… yes. That’s been my life in the past little while.

I have spent quite a lot of it thinking about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Basically, my physiological needs were all being met. I had food (it wasn’t good food, but it wouldn’t kill me for a couple of days), I had shelter (it wasn’t warm shelter, but it wouldn’t kill me for a couple of days), I had water (even though at one point the only way to get it was by sticking the kettle into the washing machine), and I could use the toilet (even if I couldn’t flush it). But the next layer up? Safety? I didn’t really have that. It wasn’t a surefire thing that I was going to have food, water or shelter tomorrow, or the day after that. We were playing a game of crisis-management (and yes, Premier Dunderdale, this constitutes a crisis).

So, if you’re following along on our handy-dandy wikipedia page, you’ll notice that “creativity” and “problem-solving” are way up there on the top of the pyramid. And, if you’re following along in this blog, you might’ve noticed that creativity and problem-solving are basically what I do for a living. So, maybe I will be going a little easy on myself for being behind on work things. Just this once.