All day yesterday I cowered in my condo. That’s what you do when you are waiting for a post-tropical cyclone to cut a destructive swath up the entire eastern seaboard and you live alone, are alone. But, I wasn’t alone, really. Some 60 million other people were also cowering in their homes.
Inside a unit so small I can see every room from my couch, I watched Fox News from morning until night. Although I can’t help but feel disdain for a station whose on-air personalities include Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Mike Huckabee, and Greta Van Susteren, I had no choice but to watch it: my cable box remained stuck on Channel 5 after the Emergency Alert System broadcast a noisy warning, and I wasn’t able to figure out how to fix the problem until just before the power went out. I confess, though, that there lives in me a daft conspiracist who thought perhaps there had been some kind of backroom deal between the greedy media giant Comcast and the ultra-conservative station that left Comcast customers with only one option if they wanted to watch the storm coverage.
It is not a good idea to watch the news while you are waiting for the worst to happen because it gives you terrible new ideas about what that worst event could be. For me, it was the possibility of a splintering utility pole crashing through a roof that feels like it sits a few feet above my head.
Nor is it a good idea to avoid the news when you are waiting for the worst to happen. Staying glued to the set gave me the sense that I had a modicum of control over my fate, which made the possibility of impending doom easier to bear. Perhaps that is why I felt a great sense of relief when my street, and condo, went dark at around 11 pm and candles began to flicker in the windows of my neighbors. I no longer had to worry about when, exactly, I would lose power, and I fell quickly to sleep.