Wishing Well

November 11, 2012

I am not good at Armageddon. I learned this from Sandy. First of all, I did not prepare well. When they say you should fill your bathtubs with water, I always thought, “Why? It’s not like you’re going to drink bathtub water.” No, but when you have a well, and your pump stops working and you have no water, it would be nice to flush the toilets.  And speaking of wells, remember that scene from Snow White where she’s singing as she pulls up water from the well? That’s what I pictured when I bought my house with well water.


It’s not like that.

My iphone was a lifeline to the outside world. I learned we would not have power for 1-2 weeks, so I got my kids settled in homes with either power or generators. My old neighborhood, where my ex lives in the house my kids grew up, never lost power. My ex never lost power. Is there a metaphor there? God, I hope not. Anyhow, seeing his house all lit up, knowing that my children could not, would not, seek shelter in their old home, in their father’s home, in the midst of a natural disaster, magnified the fact that my children basically had no father. He never texted or called them to see if they were okay. It apparently never crossed his mind. He lacks the most basic of instincts, to protect his children. This is demonstrated again and again by his deliberate decision to not pay child support, but also carries over into not caring for their physical safety and well-being.

After getting my kids safely settled, I was worn out. My house was cold, but I could boil water on the grill for instant coffee. It’s embarrassing, but I actually like instant coffee in the morning. It’s like having a colonic. TMI, I know.

I discovered a gadget in my garage that allowed me to charge my computer through my car, and so every night I watched episodes of Parenthood until my battery wore out. I wore my hat and down jacket, and curled up next to my pets, and ate Halloween candy in the dark. Despite the reported phenomenon of the “Sandy 10,” my pants were starting to fall down, because if all you eat is KitKats and Reeses, chances are you will lose weight.

I kept up with what was going on in the world through Facebook. There was a group I had joined called “Chappaqua Moms.” Originally, it was a great resource if you needed a referral for a plumber, or a dance class, or a babysitter. It became the best source, hands down, for information about road closures, Con Ed, and other storm-related issues. It also became a place for encouragement and support and an occasional bit of humor. It was there that I found an electrician who I thought took pity on me because I cried when he came over to see what kind of generator I would need, but in reality, he was nice to everyone. He drove upstate and filled his truck with generators and spent the next several days hooking people up. I hugged him after he was done at my house, and paid him what was a more than fair price for his work, and was heartened by his goodness.

Still, I did spend some time feeling pathetic and sorry for myself. I resented having to be the man of the house, but felt a little proud, too. I went out hunting for gas, proud because I never came home empty-handed. It was kind of like Pa Ingalls going out in a snowstorm to find food for his family. Laura, her nose pressed up against the window, her breath making clouds in the cold, waiting for Pa’s return. Yeah, that’s what my kids did. And when I returned with the bear, I mean gas, I would lug it to the back of the house and attempt to fill the generator gas tank without spilling too much. For 3 days I smelled like gasoline and worried that someone would light a match near me.

And so, now that we have gotten through the storm, I am thinking what’s next? I feel better prepared for the next storm, although the next storm already came, with 6-8 inches of snow. My neighbor kindly snow-blowed (snow-blew?) my driveway. I’m thinking of getting my own snow blower. And an axe, maybe. And I’m going to learn how to use a chainsaw. I’m going to wear more flannel and eat more steak. But first, I’m going to get a pedicure.


11 Responses to “Wishing Well”

  1. Joan Seplersophie said

    Loved reading ur blog and it was really funny with a touch of sadness. I also enjoyed trading the moms column to get info on everything imaginable and still do. It’s a gear resource for anyone and helpful too. Were u the one who poured wine down the toilet but not a cabernet? So keep writing. U r talented. Best! Joan

  2. I’m so sorry you’re having to go thru this. I come from the land of hurricanes (Louisiana) and have also blogged about it (Bread, Booze and Batteries). What I have never had to deal with is all the snow and cold. It’s hard for me to comprehend that. For us in the gulf south hurricanes=heat. So an extra shoutout to you. For me red wine helps because it doesn’t need to be put in fridge. And yes, chocolate helps everything. I really do understand the hardship you’re going thru, keeping a sense of humor, even dark humor, really helps.

    • Thank you. I’m definitely going to check out your blog!
      Of course, relatively speaking, I considered myself rather lucky to only have to deal with a power loss when so many have had it so much worse, but this experience did make me think about the need for mental health workers when there is some kind of natural disaster. People can start feeling very helpless and hopeless, with good reason, and get so depressed that they cannot avail themselves of the help there is. When I’m all done with my studies, perhaps it’s a way I can help others.

  3. Such an evocative description of Sandy’s aftermath. Thanks for writing about it! and I look forward to more.

  4. StrongerMe said

    Omg, I love you. I had similar experiences with Hurricanes Rita and Ike, but we had to deal with heat instead of cold. I remember learning to use a chainsaw. I remember waiting for reports of which grocery store was getting produce or meat and then dialing up the mom hotline so that we could all get the essentials. And I remember the glorious day when Domino’s Pizza re-opened. You could only get one type of pizza, cash only, and the line was long, but it was so worth it.
    You should be proud. You did it. You were a bigger force to be reckoned with than that storm.
    I get the loneliness. I get the feeling of being left behind. It is such a stab through the heart that HE doesn’t care if you live or die, have heat or food, or sanity. Ike hit only one month after my divorce was final. It was like adding insult to injury.
    But we are survivors…
    Take care and be safe!

    • Ahhh, pizza. When nothing else was open, I found a pizza place with no power but had their oven going and was cranking out pizzas. A slice revived me, brought my blood sugar back up after my 3 day candy diet.
      Thanks for the encouragement! Chainsaws do scare me!

  5. Loved your post. It’s always rewarding once you’re on the other side of something you didn’t think you would be able to get through. It makes you a little less scared for next time. It wasn’t until almost the end of the second week that I got the confidence to actual use a lighter on our propane stove top. I thought it was going to explode. Once I tried it and it didn’t explode, and I was able to heat up a pot of water that I used for my instant coffee, I spent the rest of the time wondering why I just hadn’t been braver sooner – I could have been enjoying a nice hot cup of coffee all week long! And though my husband was the one to fetch the gas, on the first day he left for his usual fourteen hours to go to work, I was in a complete panic about having to add the gas and stop and start the generator – all by myself. But again, to my surprise, that didn’t explode either. Sometimes the fear of the unknown can almost be paralyzing, but then sometimes we discover we’re a lot stronger and braver and competent than we thought. Good for you for getting through this and having to be the man and woman of the house. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. I had to do it for only part of the day and that was tough enough for me. You should be proud of yourself.

    • Thank you! It definitely gives us confidence when we step out of our comfort zone. I also think it’s great for our kids to see us in a variety of roles, whether it’s dragon-slayer (purely metaphor, a dragon would most likely be taken in as a pet) or muffin-maker.

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