Tropical Storms, Pandemics, Power Outages, and Stalled Writing: Better Days Ahead

August 13, 2020 § 12 Comments

Cassandra Hamilton photoBy Cassandra Hamilton

Late last week, during a pandemic that shut down many businesses in my town, we were hit by Tropical Storm Isaias. Downed trees and power lines: my writing came to a grinding halt. My house phone: useless. My cell phone battery dies. My computer battery depletes. I’ve no hard copy of my work; I’m at the stage I need to write from previous material.

The next two days, I read a book a day. In Safekeeping by Abigail Thomas, I savor phrases embedded in short, cleverly crafted chapters. I linger, reread and taste them on my tongue. I progress with writing by feeding my knowledge. Then, in Borrowing Hope by Lisa Schiller I find catharsis in her spiritual journey with a brain tumor and a Newfoundland dog she trains as her service and therapy dog. I’ve traumatic brain injury from Multiple Sclerosis lesions; I’ve trained two Newfs as my service dogs, one also as a therapy dog like Schiller. It’s rare to find another who understands these two worlds. We are in a Newfoundland Facebook group; when I get power, I’ll send her a note as I feel we have much to discuss. A friend in the waiting!

Day three: still no power. A neighbor takes pity on me and lends me her phone so I may make calls. Two numbers I need are stored on my unusable phones. Later, power is on in the main part of town. I drive searching for a place to plug in my computer. Jackpot! The library advertises a new phone charging station outside – but, no visible outlet.

A power cord leads into the brick library wall protected by a metal flap. I don’t touch things that don’t belong to me, but a man who’s says he’s an electrical engineer does; he looks under the metal flap and tells me there’s ONE empty three-prong outlet.

Now I’m plugged in, writing about this adventure as my computer battery charges. The library won’t let anyone inside due to the pandemic, so no matter how thrilled I am for an opportunity to write, when my bladder calls, this trip is over. But for now the weather’s gorgeous: slight breeze, low 80’s. I’m sitting on a park bench hunched over my laptop which I’ve put in the dropped seat of my walker on wheels. One thing I’m grateful for from this storm: I am spending more time outside. My thoughts slow.


At the beginning of August, while my fourteen-year-old cat Simon sat on my lap, my neighbors across the street felt it was high time for fireworks. The whistling whining that followed the window-rattling booms sounded like debris falling toward my home. Simon freaked and ran out the cracked front door. Since then, every day, I call for him at my door and drive up and down streets at a crawl calling for him. I put his scratch toy with cardboard center and ball in outer track outside my door. He liked to sleep on it. I sprinkle it liberally with catnip. He goes potty outside, so his litter box does not carry his scent. I call vets, rescue groups, and speak with neighbors. He has not returned. I am horribly sad without him. He’s the last living of my five animals.

A few days ago I marked my 51st birthday. One friend sent a card. I’m sure messages wait on voicemail and Facebook, but last year, on my 50th, my ex ruined my birthday. I was hoping for a better one this year. Maybe on my 52nd I’ll pick up celebrating with people.

Lately, the birds have been chattering at high volumes. Last night the cicadas and crickets chirped in a rhythm I thought would inspire island dancing with conga drums and women swishing their hips. This morning, I opened my backdoor and a vibrant red cardinal sat in the wire of my dog kennel fencing. Later a little chickadee landed on the carpet by my front door hopped around to eye me.

– Hello, Sweetie. I said.

It chirped and flew out. Later, a yellow tanager was up for more chat and it chirped and sang back to me after each phrase I spoke. I said,

– Hello. Hello, Sweetie. How are you? I see you. You see me? Yes, you see me. Hi, Sweetie. Good day, Sweetie.

And, it was.

Cassandra Hamilton is a disabled artist/writer with traumatic brain injury and central vision loss in one eye who creates from dreams, shamanic journeys, and life. In 2020 her images found international audiences via German publications Beyond Words and Beyond Queer Words. Her writing has appeared in 101 Words, The Door Opener Magazine, Rivereast News Bulletin, The Glastonbury Citizen and two Writing It Real anthologies by Sheila Bender: How and Why We Write: Writing It Real Members on the Vocation and On Mishearings, Mysteries and Mischief. She teaches Active Dreaming (a synthesis of dreamwork and shamanism) and is writing a memoir. You can see/read more of her work and contact her at

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§ 12 Responses to Tropical Storms, Pandemics, Power Outages, and Stalled Writing: Better Days Ahead

  • lindawis says:

    A good day indeed. Carry on!

  • Cassandra, thank you for this. I was feeling sorry for myself, but you gave me some perspective. I hope your kitty comes home soon.

    • Cassandra Hamilton says:

      Am glad a perspective shift helped you. Thank you for wishes for Simon’s return. I miss him dearly. … May things get better and better for you – and – may your best dreams come true.

  • Cassandra Hamilton says:

    Thanks for reading!

  • turtle4you says:

    I admire the positive outlook and the way you handle things when they fall apart. You describe the 8 ways to cope with these 3 days brilliantly, as if it was the natural order of things. Pandemic? Power outlet? Sure, we’ll see about that. I like your style, it reflects a freshness we all can use! Good luck Cassandra!

    • Cassandra Hamilton says:

      Thank you for reading, commenting and wishing me luck. My perspective arose from fighting chronic illnesses and a desire to thrive not merely survive. When we seek to survive we hang on by our nails; when we decide our goal is to thrive, we find the world is a multitude of opportunities chock full of things and events to savor. … We can all use some good luck, especially these days, so I send you wishes of good luck as well!

  • Nancy Levinson says:

    Hi, Cassandra, You and your work are much to be admired.
    This piece speaks volumes to me, and upon looking back at Sheila’s
    writing anthology (I am proud to share pages with you) I love
    that sharp, clever, snappy write! Happy belated birthday, and all good
    wishes to you. Nancy

  • Cassandra Hamilton says:

    Hi Nancy!
    You are so kind. Thank you. I’m honored that you stopped here to read this — and to also be in Sheila Bender’s anthology with YOU and, of course, the other great Writing It Real writers.

  • Hello Cassandra! I love your site. You have such a free and easy going way of writing.
    I pray that Simon returns to you soon and in the meantime he stays safe, wherever he is. I’m a die-hard cat lover myself and I can understand your heart aching like it is.
    God bless you, sweetheart!

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