I am in Florida as hurricane Isaac approaches. Normally old men don't come down till November, but this Isaac's early.
Being from Los Angeles, I'm familiar with earthquake preparedness, like having water and batteries. You get no warning for an earthquake, but you do get a bit of notice for a hurricane -- storms move across the Atlantic from Africa and that is one long trip. With satellites, the storm is as trackable as your JCrew.com order.
No one knows how long power or water might be out, so I am somewhat ready. My house is shuttered, car full of gas. Got some cash and a little non-perishable food. I have my electronics plugged in surge protectors and my iPhone, iPad and laptop are charged. The thought of no power for these devices already panics me. If my iPhone battery dips below 50 percent I treat it like a fish out of water and start running around looking for a place to plug in it's flopping body.
I looked at my fridge and pantry and came up with this vision of my food plan of action if I lose power for an indeterminable time.
The fridge and freezer can't be opened often. I have to know my target and strike like a python. First I'll eat the ice cream, and then anything else that is cooked but frozen that I can thaw and eat cold, like the leftover pork roast that was so freaking good I froze it like Walt Disney's head.
I vow to ignore traditional choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Perishable food is time-sensitive.
The next day I stagger into the kitchen to brew some coffee, and not only does no water come from the tap, there is no power! I slo-mo shake my fist at the sky screaming, "Nooooooo" but then I remember the large pitcher of coffee I brewed yesterday and placed in the fridge.
I figure the milk and cheese are good for eight hours. I'd Google that but I need to reserve my cell power to take pics for my tweeps. I have a full milk, so I splash it in my coffee with reckless abandon, like I'm Joey Heatherton in her Vegas heyday. I eat cheese and note that French Roast and mushroom brie is not the best match, but this is survival.
Lunch is more cheese and cold cuts. I find myself sniffing everything before I eat it. I don't want to get food poisoning now; the hospitals have more important cases to handle. A fridge with no power is a giant cooler, so the coffee will be fine till the morning, and I will just smell the milk. When I grew up you had to constantly smell the milk because it turned on you in seconds. Now milk lasts months, and I only know I don't want to know why.
Time crawls during a disaster. I write notes longhand that might be brilliant, but once this is over I will look at those musings and ask myself, "What were you on?" and toss them. I'll be so deep in storm victim mode that I won't even recycle.
Dinner is a salad and more cheese. I find a box of Girl Scout cookies I meant to bring to a dinner party but then everyone started doing that.
The next day is a repeat of the last. Trust me, I want to shake it up and dip into my canned food, but I cant afford to waste perishables. This is my last day I will even open the fridge. I try to sleep, disturbed by regret about not buying more fruit, and wondering how quickly one develops rickets from scurvy.
When I wake up the next day, I am not excited to get out of bed, knowing my coffee is going to be lukewarm and possibly disgusting. I have to get myself hopped up without caffeine, so I go for a run and do sit ups. No I don't. I struggle with the can opener for 30 minutes because I never use one. I'm trying to open Spaghettios, which I love and they are the perfect emergency food, they don't need heat. Sure, I know they are full of horrible ingredients but damn they are tasty. Who doesn't love them? Somewhere some prissy molecular gastronomical pub's menu boasts Deconstructed Spaghettios.
I eat Spaghettios three times that day. I don't worry about burnout because my taste buds are my buds and wouldn't turn on me. The next day, out of guilt I have an avocado finally ripe enough to eat. The protein bars I usually scarf down as a pre-workout snack are now a meal eaten with a knife and fork, chewed and savored.
I start to physically slow down. I'm grumpy and no longer look forward to the pre-mixed tuna salad in the individual serving pouch that made emergency shopping fun. I am eating just to eat, which is my least favorite way to eat. I might as well just breathe without focusing on my third eye.
My longhand notes are turning into angry, unfunny rants. I am losing weight and decide I have no friends so in utter defiance I waste my last percentage of iPhone power updating all my apps.
It's been two days and I am delirious when the rescue workers arrive. Too delirious to realize the "rescue workers" is my lone maintenance man asking me how the generator worked out. I shake my head, "I have a generator?"
Apparently I have a generator that powers everything for four days on a single charge.
I open the fridge. It is still cold, and running. The ice and blueberries in the freezer would have made a great smoothie. I plug in my phone and shove the remaining cans of Spaghettios to the back of the cupboard, noting the decade they expire, wondering who will win.
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