Saturday, August 27, 2011

Natural Disasters

If there is a natural disaster on your horizon, I'm your gal. I am the queen of crisis management. If there is prior planning to be plotted, I'm the perfect person.

It may seem odd, and I can't believe I'm going to admit such a thing, but I recall "playing hurricane", "playing tornado", "playing tidal wave" as a child. Yes, while other girls my age were "playing house" by setting the table for dinner and feeding their dollies, I was barricading windows, rationing supplies, and pretend screaming as I attempted to reach that all important forgotten (like I would ever forget anything) item left outside in 100MPH winds. Yes, I was a child with an active imagination.

Growing up in Central New Jersey, I can't recall a single time that we actually did incur Mother Nature's wrath. Where I conjured up the details, I have no idea. Suffice to say, I always survived and quite brilliantly I might add ;-)

Fast forward to today. I now live in Maryland which for reasons beyond me, is the natural disaster epicenter. Hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms, and apparently added just this week, earthquakes. Hurricane Irene's effects are expected to start by midday today. And of course, through many years of childhood pretend preparation, I am ready!

Yesterday, my daughter and I braved the crazy crowds at the grocery store to buy "provisions" - bottled water, milk, dog food, Pepsi (my only vise), canned ravioli (hope it doesn't come to that), apples, and chocolate (a last moment grab). Then it was onto the gas station to fill up and the bank to withdraw cash. Back home, all the outdoor furniture and anything that might take flight in the wind came in. The refrigerator was set to low so when the power goes out, and it will, it will be that much colder in there to keep things fresh longer. Same with the AC - which is currently blowing on me and I'm freezing. All the electronics were charged and all the laundry was done; like I said, we are going to lose power. It's another MD thing. And my old dog got a long walk - she may not have one of those for a few days.

In my daughter's short nine years, she has witnessed more than a few hurricanes, a tornado watch or two, and one year, more snow than this somewhat southern state knew what to do with. And every time, she has seen me prepare. Is it any wonder that she too plays preparedness games? I've seen her line up her stuffed animals behind her and brace herself against the make believe wind. "What are you playing?" "Blizzard". I had no idea that things like this were genetic.

Right now, there is a backpack of clothes and favorite toys next to her bed ready to be grabbed in a moment's notice and run down to the basement where she has set up a shelter of three makeshift beds and a stack of books and flashlights. There is even a section with snacks - how long do you think you can live on Ritz crackers and peanut butter?

Today will be our last chance to get out of the house before the storm, so my husband and I will go our separate ways and finish our to-do lists before reconvening back at home to relax and "enjoy" the storm. When you're prepared for a crisis there is nothing left but to sit back and be awed by Mother Nature's power.
I know... we're a strange bunch.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My New Year's Day

Hello All!

It's been too long. And while it is my hope to be back full force, back to writing at least once a week if not more, the truth of the matter is that life is busy. I can't always find the time to write and when I do, I don't always have something to say.

That's not to suggest that I'm not getting angry at situations or that I don't have a question for the cosmos or that I've found a way to keep my head on straight, because believe me, it's still a daily search. No, it's just that time gets sucked away... and chores/errands take precedence over blogging... life's fires/dramas override daily tasks... and motherhood trumps, well, it all.

This summer has been a time of growth. Not just for me (or my waistline) but for my daughter. She is, whether I try to wish it away or not, becoming a young lady. This was the summer of "the talk" and training bras, of talking back and one tearful tiff. And I wasn't thrilled.

We found time for fun, lots of it! But I, the eternal pessimist, could only see her pulling away, asserting more independence, and me "having to" let her.

We spent a good chunk of the summer at my parents lake house - a place I have fond childhood memories of and a place where many of my own childhood friends now summer with their kids. In this "safe haven" I took the opportunity to let out some slack on my daughter's tight reigns. I left her home alone a few times while I ran a quick errand. I let her play outside on the beach with her friends while I was still having dinner inside with mine. And my father and stepmother nearly passed out when she asked to use the bathroom in a restaurant and I did not accompany her; in fact, there was complete silence at the table until she returned and for all their anxiety, mine was 10 fold.

But I can't hold tight forever. She has to learn not only how to do things on her own, but that she can. I want her to be independent. I want her to be confident. And now is the right time. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

A week from tomorrow, she will start fourth grade. A big year for most, bigger for her since she will be starting at a new school. I told you a few months ago that she was accepted into a special program through our public school system. It has the horrible name of "Center for the Highly Gifted". I don't think she's gifted; I think she's intelligent and quick to learn, and she loves to learn. "Gifted" in my book suggests socially awkward or competitive and obnoxious. She is none of these things but the other students may be. It will certainly be a learning experience in more ways than one.

I've said it before that the start of a new school year has always been my "New Year's Day". It's always signaled for me a reboot, a rebirth, a reassessment of life and how to live it. I've still got the same struggles on my plate - weight, work, worrying about my daughter's future, wondering if I'll ever find inner peace.

Contemplating life's big questions, or at least trying to find the time to...
... all this, and I still can't find a new pair of black driving mocs to replace the ones I wore through.

Well, c'mon now. You didn't think it was all profound musings on the universe, did you? Sometimes, just finding the right pair of back-to-school shoes makes all the difference ;-)