A Guide to Storm Preparedness

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When it rains, it pours. Literally. Into my freaking living room.

I had fallen asleep in my daughter’s bed the other night, and when I awoke, it took me a moment to get my bearings.  People had been calling to check in.  Texts were flying. There was strong language like Doppler and Warnings and Get Off The Roadways blaring through my television. Wind was screeching through the small crevices of our home and rain had begun to pellet the metal roof like it had some sort of vendetta. So I gave in to the hysteria of “tornado warnings” and statements to “take cover” by emptying out everything in the closet underneath the stairs and replacing it with pillows, bottled water, and rice krispie treats.  In case of a real (and not just perceived) emergency.

Normally, weathermen just drag themselves across the news station set at the 6 pm hour to point at maps we all know are backward with little annoying arrows as they pretend to care about another hot summer day in Texas.  Hundred Degrees.  Molds are high. But this – THIS!? Winds are parallel to the earth.  Trucks are overturning and trees are cast aside like after-dinner toothpicks at Golden Corral and THERE ARE REPORTS OF HAIL. It’s ninety miles per hour and funnels a-touchin and well, ya’ll better be hunkerin down and stocking them flashlights with batteries. They get so excited I wonder if the crash after this storm mania blows over might set them into suicide watch.

So out goes the vacuum cleaner.  The crock pot’s history.  Armloads of Costco toilet paper gets tossed aside like trash.  In go the blankets. Also the water bottles. And lastly, candles.  I’m not sure what I thought would happen in case of an actual tornado – would me and the kids be noshing on organic brown-rice treats and slurping bottled water while holding hands around candles as our house is crumbling down and landing upon our very heads?  I’m a firm believer in healthy treats and reverse osmosis, so we’d totally be set.

The electricity finally goes out and I’m all “oh crap I can’t see the Doppler” when my dog begins his Total Freakout Mode as the rain and wind bore down upon our metal roof like perhaps the earth was opening and we were the first travelers to the depths of hell.  That’s probably due to the trees slapping against the house and the screaming in my own mind but the dog was slobbering and panting and trying to haul his 14-year-old self into my lap.

I’m sitting there telling the dog it’s all gonna be okay, man, quit it with the slobbering when I feel real water dripping on my head. I look up and rain is coming out of the sheetrock above the coffee table in neat little rows, which means I sat for quite a long time staring because I can’t believe we are suddenly the Clampetts and I rush to get a pan and towels. And of course with my remaining 17% battery life I proceed to call my insurance company in the middle of a life-threatening storm at 11:30 pm with thrashing winds to report a claim.

Look at me.  Water is dripping.  I’ve got a puny little flashlight and an armload of matches. The closet is stocked with treats and pillows.  I’m all “can an appraiser come out this evening, maybe?” The lady responded with “Are you dying? Are you stranded with a child who is in need of medical attention or needs milk and has a diaper full of poo and there’s a log sticking into the front of your minivan so that you can’t operate the vehicle? No? You’re inside your comfortable home in your fuzzy slippers whereby water is slowly dripping into a pan? CHILL THE FREAK OUT, lady.” That might not have been her actual words but whatever.

Later that night both children crawled in bed with me, naturally, and at 4 am I woke with full-blown lights ablazing in my house because the electricity is – Ahem – back on.  So for three days I’ve have industrial fans and dehumidiers and workers traipsing about my attic tearing out wet insulation and my insurance rep finally appears to say it’s not covered and nothing’s reimbursable and I get a quote to remove downed trees in my yard which translates to “you’ll never ever buy another pair of boots in your ever-lovin days, woman.”

So that’s how awesome weekends are made, folks.  But on the bright side, I now realize I have enough toilet paper hidden away under the stairs to wipe the bottoms of all the children in Travis county, and in case of an emergency I can find the number to my insurance company in the pitch black dripping mess of my living room while whispering comforting and reassuring words to an aging retriever.

The kids woke up the next morning totally oblivious with fresh smiling faces.  “A new summer day! What’s for breakfast? Why is all this stuff in the kitchen? What’s with the toilet paper?”

Rice Krispies, kids. Look under the stairs.  And don’t ask so many questions. Momma’s tired.

 

photo:

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A decade of milestones

Yesterday was my ten-year cancer anniversary.  Those who have been in my shoes understand that it’s a day of reflection.  A day where you review all the milestones that have occurred in the last decade and wonder what will happen next.

A few to mention:

(1) I was on national television.

(2) I got to live in New York for a while.  I survived the subway and tag sales and bad Mexican food.

(3) I have been to many cancer screens, visits, and appointments, but my cancer has not metastasized.  Survival is just as good as the next test.  So far I’m hanging in there.

(4) I had many interactions with Martha Stewart.

(5) Got to eat at a fancy NYC restaurant with Donald Trump

(6) I wrote a children’s book on contract for a company in California

(7) We had a baby girl, who is so precious

(8) I had a life-threatening infection after the birth of our little girl.  I was in the hospital for a month.  I survived.

(9) I wrote a novel about the extraordinary friendship between two women.  One woman undergoes a battle with cancer, which was cathartic and memorable to write about.  Part of it’s very funny, and I like funny.   After tears and late nights and edits and hundreds of pages thrown out, I did it.  I survived the novel-writing process.

(10)                I got on facebook and connected with old friends I hadn’t heard from in years

(11)               We had a baby boy. So love that little guy.

(12)               My heart stopped right before the c-section when my son was born, as I was lying on the table. They had to do resuscitation measures.  Miraculously, I survived.

(13)               My husband and I went to Maine, and as we were on a yacht off the coastline, I was so glad he married me so many years ago

(14)               I worked as General Counsel to a large medical group, a job I never thought I’d attain and was so thrilled to have.  Being a lawyer is quite fun.

(15)               I quit said wonderful job as described above to stay home

(16)               We moved into a wonderful limestone house.  We have a garden and land to roam.  Next up is chickens.

(17)               I started a blog

(18)               Our house was struck by lightening.  We survived.

(20)               My novel is not yet published, but I’m still trying

By His mercy and grace, I keep surviving.  Here’s to the next decade.   Let it be as rich and wonderful as this one.  Let me live every day with compassion and curiosity.  After all, I want to do more than survive.  I want to sing.  I want to write.  I want to thrive.