You’ll need to prepare yourself with a few things in advance in order to use this list:
- A flashlight or two.
- Battery powered radio and/or a fully charged iPod.
- Water and non-perishable food so you don’t die.
- If you’re anticipating a power outage, invite over your friends and neighbors. Groups = more fun, less panic.
- Having a cat to snuggle with is optional, but desirable.
1. If you have a fireplace, use it.
Also, invite all of your friends who don’t have fireplaces over if you’re anticipating a power outage, otherwise you’re a selfish jerk. Once there is fire, you can:
- roast marshmallows, hot dogs, your cold little toes and hands
- tell ghost stories
- see what happens when you throw various household objects into the fire*
* don’t actually do this.
2. Finally start reading that book you’ve been thinking about starting to read for years now.
It’s probably by either David Foster Wallace, Thomas Pynchon, or Don Delillo. Dudes are intimidating, I know, and you’ll probably spend the first 50-200 pages hating it, them, me, and the English language. But once you get past the hump? Time will fly. Really!
3. Draw or paint.
Read this story by cartoonist Phil McAndrew for inspiration. Everyone drew pictures when they were little, so why did you ever stop? This is a great time to start again, and the darkness might actually help loosen your inhibitions. Try drawing a map of the street you grew up on, outfits you wish you knew where to find / how to make, favorite characters, scary monsters, or adorable animals.
4. Write a letter to someone special.
When was the last time you got real, personal mail? And wasn’t it awesome? Sit down and write to your parents, to your best friend back home, to your future self, to your favorite author, or to the one that got away. Tell them how things have been going, tell them a story about the last few days of your life, or just write about how weird it is that the power is out. No matter what you say, they’ll be delighted to receive something in their mailbox that isn’t a bill or a coupon.
5. Board Games!
This one is going to require those friends (and flashlights/candles), but it is a power-outage classic your parents can be proud of. Some recommendations if you don’t already have untouched games sitting under your coffee table: Apples to Apples, Pandemic, Settlers of Catan, or revisiting your nerdy adolescence with Dungeons and Dragons (candles will actually enhance the atmosphere). If you would rather use this opportunity to take your friend’s money, there’s always a deck of cards + Texas Hold ‘Em.
If friends are totally out of the question, here are instructions on a ton of variations on the game of solitaire (don’t forget to print ‘em out).
6. Get drunk.
If it’s cold outside anyway, you can put your beer on your porch / fire escape / balcony. Otherwise, stock up on ice in a chest, or just drink red wine at room temp.
7. Clean your house.
The great thing about cleaning in the dark is that you won’t obsess over the little spots you can’t quite get out. If you have enough battery / fire powered light, you can even devote this time to super fun projects like reorganizing your records or your bookshelves.
This is a lot more fun if you’ve already done #6.
8. Lights Off, Pants Off, Dance Off.
Get those friends. Pick a room, stash the flashlights in the bathroom, turn that battery radio to the pop hits station, and dance. Preferably without pants. In complete seriousness: this is really fun.
You can also do it by yourself, which is also fun, especially if Robyn is on your playlist.
9. If you’re in a relationship, have lots of sex.
Long before electricity, people managed to get along just fine without lights, computers, or TV. How is this possible? Doin’ it, that’s how. Making out is also fun (and totally underrated) and is especially romantic and memorable when you’re secretly afraid you might die later.
If you’re not in a relationship, we suggest finding one between now and your expected outage. Alternately, there’s always masturbation, but you’ll have to figure out how that’s done without the internet.
10. Finally: go to bed.
Enjoy the fact that you can’t set your alarm anyway, and sleep the storm away. You’ll feel better after eight, ten, or sixteen hours of sleep, and maybe then the power will be restored! If not, just start over with this list all over again.