Sunday, December 14, 2008

Be portable

Life lessons learned from homelessness.

I wanted to find you a good dramatic photo from Friday morning. But the beat does go on. Now Sunday, things are looking up.

So here's the update, because you don't want to wait until this thing is over to hear my story. I don't know when that will be.

Thursday night:

1.Two days of rain.
2.Freezing temperatures.
3.High winds.
4.Woodsy environs.
5.Thickly Settled.

Result: One mumma-la-hummina mess.

So the power is out, but the Mill still hums -- figuratively and literally. I took 2 calls with Dubrovnik Friday morning, and waited to see if the power came back on. It is too laugh. After a storm, I have little way of knowing whether it is safe to leave the neighborhood, because all news is Boston news, and the neighborhood has private plow service.

But I had too much to do to sit around reading magazines, which was all I had left without a modem. So I left.

117 was mostly cleared, except for one hanging wire which is still there, and blocked by a cone, which you can see if it is daylight. Down the Mill, all business is as usual.

You could live in this Mill for days before anyone noticed. maybe weeks, depending on how stealthy you were. And if I were 25, I might have, but I am not. I called in my people right away.

Miss Minchin of the Finishing School, lives locally, and gave me shelter for the first 2 nights. Kit is coming in for 2 more -- and as long as I need, she says. I went back to the house today to clear the fridge, drain the last of the water, and pack a bigger bag.

Here's what I know about myself in natural disasters: I do not stand in the ankle deep water (or whatever - just a flashback, nothing more) and play the hero. I carry as much as I can to sustain myself as long as I can, and I hit the road. So this is my advice on being portable, self-contained, and humble when you need your basic needs met:

Dress Simply
1 pair shoes, 2 sweaters or fleeces, and all the turtlenecks you can fit in the bag. Underwear and socks for a week, just in a case, but do laundry whenever an opportunity is presented. 1 pair jeans, 1 pair pants you can get used to at work for as long as you have to (see laundry, above). Warm jammies. You can always throw the covers off, but if you're going to be sleeping cold, you might as well go home.

Pack your own toys
When you are pad-crashing, try to be self-sustaining. A couple of books (in case one is bad), your latest magazines, a DVD or two. I have the added benefit of a box of Christmas cards needs doin'.

Try not to be a layabout
If you can get out into the world, do it: movies, the mall, museums. They don't care how long you stay in the public library as long as you stay awake. If you have keys to the office, well it's a place to be. No one says you have to work.

If you are stuck in the house, be entertaining. Houseguests who need to be entertained are a total drag. My suitcase always contains deck of cards and a travel Scrabble. well...Now. See... Savannah inland squall 2008. Oh, I see I left that part of our adventure out of the post, didn't I?

Give up your quirky routines
Whatever they are. Just free yourself of the stress of trying to fit them in. This can actually be liberating, and you may discover some of them were habits you just hadn't broken. Be in the journey. Get through the day. This is in fact how most of human civilization lives.

Accept offers of help
Seriously. It all evens out eventually.

As you review applications for new friends, consider where they live. Honestly, if all of you live in the same disaster-ridden town, no one is getting out of this alive.

Heart-warming snapshots of the aftermath (none of which I have actual snapshots of, because why would you need your phone to take a photo?)
  • A generator rumbling in the front yard of a house where 6 cars are packed in a driveway
  • 10 orange Asplundh cherry-pickers in convoy headed west on Rt 2
  • A breakfast line at the local diner rather than at McDonald's or Bickford's.
  • A pickup truck at the pump filling 4 gas cans

  • More updates later. Thanks to everyone who has checked in. All is well here, and the weather is working in favor of our pipes.


      1. It's a good thing we had our natural disaster preparedness training early - as in the blizzard that ate Roanoke - and those who kept the cafeteria running ;) and the flood, in which the fire alarms screamed for hours and the 18 wheeler floated down the edge of campus.
        You learned your lessons well - and if you were closer - your room (complete with wifi) is waiting.
        Be warm. Be well. Baroness

      2. I'm sorry you have to go through this, but at least it's just electricity and groceries, and you still have your home. And God bless friends! I'm thinking positive thoughts for the electricity to come back on ASAP for you.

      3. And I have an emergency box in the back of my car containing boots, blanket, bottled water, energy/snack bars, sox, gloves and a large flashlight. Heaven forbid that I should ever need them!! When all else fails and the roads permit, you'll find me in a hotel near the office or home!! M

      4. The family was delighted to be able to share our electricity, heat, and running water with you. You were a wonderful guest, and we all miss you already, especially Miss Koko.



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