Tuesday, September 27, 2011

#28 He Doesn't Mind Getting Old

It has finally happened. I celebrated my very last birthday ever. Last year, I was clueless, blinded by the joy that reaching a memorable age like 25 brings.

Okay, that's not true.

I anticipated this birthday even last year, but I pretended that it would never come. It's rather pathetic, I know. It's especially hard to moan and groan about my age when most people I might moan and groan to are older than me. Much older than me.

However, here is the problem: I've been lied to.

Going through high school you're told that all you need to do is go to college and then enjoy life in your field which you spent a mere four years preparing for. The unfortunate thing that they never tell you is that many will not know what they really want to do and may not be able to grasp it instantly. It will take trial and error, and lots and lots of sweat and tears (I left the blood part out on purpose, so far that hasn't happened to me).

You're expected at 17-years-old to make choices that will impact the rest of your life. But, no one ever tells you that you may not fit into the perfect cookie cutter shaped career world that many ease right into.

Turning 26 reminded me that there is a lot that at 17 I expected to have accomplished by now, but haven't.

I walked into my home at midnight on my birthday, overwhelmed with emotion, tired and ready to climb into bed and pull the covers over my head so the next year could just go on and pass me by, when I walked into a surprise left by my little brother (with the assistance of his girlfriend and my older brother):

(Notes leading into my home)

(Not sure the deal with the skeletons, but it made for an interesting picture).

Knowing the anxiety I was feeling, he went to extreme efforts to try and make me feel special. It took a few days for it to sink in, but I realized: maybe I haven't done everything I hoped and dreamed I'd do by 26, but I've done a few things right. I've been a good sister, daughter, wife, and simply put: woman. I've been there for those who needed me. I've done my best at showing love to those who are unlovable. I've been supportive and understanding. I've grown spiritually. I've listened to others. I've built friendships.

I've loved and been loved.

Sappy? Yes. And yes, in some sense I'm not where 17-year-old me thought I'd be by 26, but in many respects, I'm right on track.

Here's to the hope of what good I can continue to do this year.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

#27 He Realizes We Aren't Prepared

"How is it that we only have one flashlight?"

There lies the thought that passed through my mind two days before Hurricane Irene's arrival as I scoured nooks, crannies, and the depths of my home in search for flashlights I was certain that I owned.

Ordinarily, I could care less to listen to or get worked up over the weather man's predictions. Most times I could look out my window and make a similarly accurate prediction myself, with no meteorological training. But as the Irene warnings began to escalate, I found my own predictive sense working even stronger as I convinced myself that if Irene hit, my house would certainly lose power.

Which it did.

However, today's writing is not about Hurricane Irene, weathermen, or the fact that I was without electricity for 26 hours. It is about one thing: preparedness. Days before there was even a build up of chatter about Irene, a greater portion of the east coast experienced something which I have never once felt in my 20-something years: an earthquake.

(Side note: Why don't we give earthquakes cutesy names like hurricanes? Are they less important? Let's call this one Earthquake Virginia to make her feel good.)

The stories are endless of the reactions of those in areas that hardly ever feel earthquakes, especially those of a 5.8 magnitude. Some thought they were going crazy, some thought it was the wind, some thought their houses were collapsing from age, some thought their cubicle partner was shaking his or her leg, but what many found themselves thinking as they realized that what was occurring was more than any of the above is something like this, "If this is an earthquake, what am I supposed to do?" And after all was said and done, I couldn't get rid of the thought that I had no idea what to do.

As Hurricane Irene approached, there were those who were forced to evacuate from areas that would obviously receive the worst, yet people in areas that would receive less of an impact still worried of what to do. Miles and miles of stores were cleaned out of items ranging from batteries to flashlights to camping lanterns to bottled water to vegetables.

(Pictured: Walmart sold out of fresh vegetables.)

I don't know if I was more shocked in the number of people, myself included, who didn't have things on hand that one might consider a necessary household item (such as a flashlight), or if I was more shocked in how fearful and helpless many became when they realized something damaging may occur.

We take a lot of our daily conveniences for granted to a point that when the possibility of being without them occurs, we panic. Not because we won't survive, but because we will be without something we have trained ourselves to need. I'll often complain about the overload of technology our society has, but after 26 hours without those things I found myself desperate for them.

I guess what it comes down to is this: Are we prepared should we ever have to experience a time where we are stripped of something more than just our electrical power? Are we prepared should natural or unnatural disaster occur leaving us to fend for ourselves permanently without the aide of cellphones, television, a GPS, Google, MapQuest, Facebook, etc.

Just the thought of this might send some into spasms.

(Pictured: A line at my local Dunkin' Donuts the morning following Hurricane Irene.)

I don't know the solution for this. I just know that in our society we have chosen to depend greatly on things that will not protect us should any form of disaster come. We put our trust in things that will fail us and practice poor planning consistently. We fail to learn from the consequences of man's choices made in the past and doom ourselves to repeat them.

I have no bright and cheery ending, only just a warning. Don't fool yourself. Consider what you would truthfully do without our modern conveniences for a day, a week, a month, even longer. While I'm not saying to avoid these things that make our lives so simple and wonderful, I am hoping that we at least stay educated in how to survive without them.

Try one of these:

*Go somewhere you've never been without using your GPS (that means you'll have to use a real map)
*Go a week without social networking and instead call up old friends on the phone (or send them a letter via snail mail!)
*Don't text for a week (instead make a phone call)
*Use a phone book next time you need the number for a food place or professional service (wait, you do still have a phone book, don't you?)

And while I'm no survival expert, some things you certainly could do to practice preparedness include:

*Buy gold (a lot of gold)
*Stock up at least a month's worth of dry foods/canned goods
*Arm yourself
*Educate yourself (that means, read)