Thursday, June 12, 2008

Strongly scotch marshmallow (with baby)

Tuesday I went to NJ to watch Liam for the afternoon. My plan was to stay long enough to get Liam into bed and say hi to my brother when he got home from work - and then head back into the city. It turned out my brother had a compulsory work related beer to drink and he would be catching the late train. All fine. I got the toddler bathed and read him his books and played the word game and saw him close his shiny blue eyes. There was lightning in the distance, and I like lightning, so I took my book out to the front porch. Leta was in busying around in the kitchen and our familial situation was good in every way (except for the one where my dad might be dying, but that is the new normal).

About nine o'clock, the undersides of the leaves had started to turn up in the breeze, which means thunderstorm. I read one more sentence. Then I heard a sound I have never heard before - a roar like a train was coming up the back yard. Then I heard Leta scream and I stood up and saw the the rain was coming UP from the ground and the trees were bent sideways. I heard several cracks and then lightning struck a tree in the golf course about a hundred yard from me. Then the wind blew me back against the house and I had to fight to get in. When I got in Leta was standing at the sliding glass doors watching the deck furniture get tossed around the yard. I pulled her away from the window.

We then had the dumbest conversation we have ever had. Ever. And we have had some stupid ones.

"I am really scared. Is this a hurricane?" said Leta. She tried to go back by the window. A tree hit the driveway.

"No. It's probably some kind of thundernado," I said. "Get away from the window and let's get the baby into the basement."

"Oh, a thundernado," said Leta. "Do you really think we should get the baby into the basement?"

The power was out by the time I reached the top of the stairs. Leta was behind me and by this time she was crying. A tree in the front yard had split and the power lines were dangling.

I picked up Liam and we made our way down the steps in the dark. Leta focused on not screaming, and I focused on not stumbling and dropping the sleeping three year old. In the basement, we fired up the generator and watched through the window. We saw two trees come down and several transformers hit by lightning.

Can we have an intermission?

It has been a strongly bad three or four years running. (You can read about the gist of it here.) During the most recent Lent/Easter season, I tried being a re-good Catholic, and the result was poor. I ended up screaming at God like a spoiled child and saying, "I don't like you," and "You suck," and "So what about your bad day with the nails and stuff?"


So it was there in the basement of my brother's house, with the sleeping toddler on one side of me and my sobbing sister in law on the other, that I realized that the entire thundernado event was about me.

(See how skillfully I did that? Made an entire meteorological whirl - and the destruction of other people's home and property - about me? Do NOT try this at home. Years of training, I tell you. Years. Oh and by the way, this here thing that I am doing is called narcissism and it's a bad thing, actually, even though the results are {sometimes} funny).

Two days prior, I had been reflecting that for a 38 year old woman, I have little to show for myself. I have no husband and no children. My career (read: job) and my performance at it is unremarkable. I own nothing. No house, no car, and no real assets aside from an unimpressive retirement account. I have student loan debt to pay off from a degree I have no plans to finish. With grim satisfaction, I thought, "Gee. Everything I was ever afraid of happening actually did happen. I have nothing left to be afraid of." And then the one thing I have left to be afraid of came rushing into the room like a pack of rabid dogs: something terrible could happen to Buzz, Leta, and Liam. (Note: this is called self pity. Don't do this either, as it is so unattractive as to be toxic and will interfere with your ability to engage in even moderate narcissism.

And of course, as I was cowering in the basement Tuesday night, the sky opened up and Jesus stepped out of the firmament, wearing, as usual, a couture track suit and visor. He brought me a bag of marshmallows and a lighter. He handed them over and said,

"Nina, for a smart person, you are surely stupid in the ways of all things me. Consider this storm and its results a reminder - of the unsubtle kind - that there is still plenty of strongly bad material I can give you to make misery with - if you continue with your obstinate refusal to see anything good about anything. I'll visit with you again soon. Meantime, keep your eye on the baby and reassure Leta that all her gardening has not been in vain. Gracias. Oh and P.S. don't sweat that stuff with your dad I am on that. Adios."

Then he stepped back into the firmament and I think I might have seen my mother and her parents dealing him into a card game, but I wasn't quite sure. That my mother was wearing a velour pants suit - well, that I could see in high-def.

Thank you for the intermission. I will now continue telling the story in a normal way.

The roaring continued for fifteen minutes or so, and in that time the neighborhood lost 25 trees, two cars, a garage, and two houses (if you count having trees in them as "losing" which we kind of do since they will have to be rebuilt. After a half an hour, we thought it safe enough to go upstairs and feel around in the liquor cabinet for something to make mischief with. We found some scotch. We dared not open the freezer for ice. Upon returning to the basement, we found a lighter and in the deep recesses of the emergency food storage, a bag of marshmallows.

What a good time that was.

OK, not really.

We were still terrified, but scotch and marshmallows helped and they seemed a fitting repast as we discussed whether it might be okay to put the toddler back to bed. We decided not to try that until my brother got home, which he did, at about 11pm. The trains were not running, and he was lucky to get a taxi - but even then, it had to drop him off half a mile from home because the roads were impassable.

So he got home and we told our story and he took a flashlight outside to see if the house was okay enough to consider permitting the toddler to sleep in his bed. He decided it was, so we put the child back to bed, poured my brother a big glass of scotch and we all proceeded to freak out.

People, I am normally down for stuff like this. In general, I think it's cool when nature kicks up an interesting weather event. Nature's fury and all.

But this was not cool. It felt as if a hole had been punched in the atmosphere and everyone I had left in the world was going to get sucked out. I did not like it at all.

As promised, Jesus did stop by to discuss a general cease-fire/amnesty deal, which I will describe tomorrow. Today, I have to make phone call number four to my landlord about the 100 degree heat in my apartment. It sort of reminds me of hell, which.... never mind.

Have a good Thursday.


Julie said...

I'm awfully glad that you and your family are safe.

My only brush with nature's true fury was Hurricane Fran. Remember her?

Dagny said...


glad you are ok.


country roads said...

wow...I've been through a hurricane, but never a tornado. I don't want to either. Glad you made it and struck a deal too :-)

Em said...

Oh, Nina, I love you.

Finn said...

My goodness... was that a tornado? It seemed to last a long time.

Tracksuit? Really? I can't see JC in that. I feel like he's more like hemp cargo shorts, sandals and some kind of pullover-type top (probably hemp too). Hmm.

ingrid said...

oh my dog.

that sounds absolutely terrifying.

i'm glad you're ok.

nightfly said...

Glad to hear that you and yours are safe. We live further south and had no idea that it was that bad farther up north. I've been through a couple of hurricanes, so though I also enjoy big weather, I do not envy you your ride.

Be well. =)

Effortlessly Average said...

"...if you continue with your obstinate refusal to see anything good about anything."

So true. Including people, perhaps.

Glad you're safe.

Sizzle said...

That sounds pretty frightening. Glad you are all okay.

Jesus and marshmallows. Good times.

Kate P said...

Wow, that was quite an experience. Glad everybody is all right.

Anonymous said...

Wow. God went all Old Testament on your ass. I'm glad you survived it and gained some perspective. I heart you.

Kevin Charnas said...

While reading this post (which I happen to LOVE by the way...I think that YOU just might be the new "black"), I was going to say how much I miss thunder storms...

However...I'm not really looking for the kind that kills my family and shreds my panties.

Well...okay, you're right. The panties part is okay to shred, just don't touch the family.

It is about perspective, afterall.

Maggie said...

I also think that Jesus wears hemp. And that were he born around our generation, his name would be "Ethan."

Hmm, or maybe he wears a Utilikilt.(tm)

Glad all survived relatively unscathed. So what was it, a tornado, hurricane, what?

tiger said...


小小彬 said...


Miss jane said...