The Storm One (#25)

So, Sandy.

We, personally, are unscathed. We had more damage during the non-storm on Memorial Day when three trees fell on our house.

The estimate is that 150 trees are down in our neighborhood, but our only inconvenience is that we don’t have power yet and probably won’t for another week.  Gas is hard to get and the commute into the city to work is a different adventure every day.

But the grocery store is open and stocked; we have hot water; the stove works. We even have a generator that runs as long as we find gas for it. By all counts, we’re lucky as hell.

Yet even that is enough to send me over the edge. The logistics of day-to-day living have never been my forté, ever, long before I somehow became responsible for helping with the logistics of six other people besides myself and two dogs. Now it’s all about logistics and it takes all my energy to make anything resembling normalcy, and I feel like a complete asshole as I stare down my limitations; limitations both in my attitude and what I’m able to make happen.

Because this is nothing like narrowly escaping your house after it breaks into three pieces and gets sucked into the Atlantic. It’s nothing like having your two children swept out to sea right out of  your arms. It’s not a damn thing like losing everything you own. It isn’t like having your houseboat now docked in someone’s back yard, seeing your drowned neighbors pulled out of their attic, not having access to clean water or food or heat anywhere, or dealing with how the hell you clean up when on Tuesday the sea was in your house halfway up the second floor.

I’m very lucky and it’s time to start acting like it.

Jersey Boys is going to be part of the telethon tomorrow on Good Morning America to raise funds for hurricane relief. We sure would appreciate it if you tune in and give a donation if you can. The cast is arriving pre-dawn, I’m arriving pre-cast, and the guys that run the show get there some time around one a.m. (even though they don’t have power either and their commute is also an adventure).

Extra pictures today because I felt like it.

Cemetery Tree

Here are your links.

Here’s where you can donate to the Red Cross.

To help find gas in the area, check out GasBuddy. Twitter is a good resource as well; this article lists several potentially useful Twitter handles. Your local paper is also a good bet.

Pictures of boats on train tracks: New Jersey Transit

Crazy-ass pictures of the hurricane’s impact on the city: The Grist

We all need to laugh, and sometime can stand to change our stinky attitudes. Here’s one of my all-time favorite posts on Hyperbole and a Half: Sneaky Hate Spiral.

The best remedy for a sneaky hate spiral is gratitude, and I have an awful lot to be grateful for. Here are two, illustrated:

As a direct result of last year’s storm, I have a tiny pumpkin growing in my “yard”!

For Jack, everything is business as usual.

I would love to hear what you’re grateful for. Happy Sunday.

Why #5 Wants a Fake ID (a Christmas post with pictures)

CC and #1 got up early on Sunday, December 11 and drove up a mountain to a place where you can cut your own Christmas tree.

All around the Christmas tree farm are posted signs that read No pets allowed. We have all kinds of wildlife in New Jersey. This is the only place besides a zoo that I’ve ever seen a bear. Not to mention the Jersey Devil (in fact, I’ve never seen one of those in a zoo. Hey, there’s an X-Files episode about that). One might think ahead about these things and know that when going up a mountain to chainsaw down a tree, it may be a good idea to leave your pets at home.

Or not.

At the Christmas tree farm on top of the mountain, the SUV in front of CC and #1 stops at the caretaker.

Yuppies in SUV: Hey, we have our golden retriever. Is it okay if he comes with us?

Caretaker, rolling his eyes: Keep him on a short leash, look out for animals and don’t let him pee on the trees.

CC stops at the caretaker: So I brought my mountain lion. . .

They came back with a truly perfect Christmas tree and the house smells all good and piney and Christmasy. I bet you thought this was the part where I tell you about how the yuppies with the golden retriever got attacked by bears and carried off by the Jersey Devil. Yeah, that didn’t happen.

We go to work decorating.

#5 (running back from the tree to get another ornament): Hey. Can you get a job decorating Christmas Trees?

Me: You mean me, personally? Or do you mean you?

#5 (runs to tree with ornament): I mean me!

Me: When you’re older.

#5: Awwww. (runs back for another ornament) Hey.

Me: What.

#5: Can you get me a birth certificate that says I’m older so I can get a job decorating Christmas Trees?

Me: Dude. I am not getting you a fake ID so you can get a job decorating Christmas Trees.

#5 (runs to tree, places ornament, runs back for another): Well. When you put it like that, it does sound extremely illegal.

The tree looks fantastic when we’re done. And then, inexplicably, all the white lights go out. Not the colored ones. Just the four strands of white. I have to confess that troubleshooting Christmas lights is not high on my priority list. The reason for this is that I spent the past five Christmases doing exactly that. I kept all the stupid fuses and extra bulbs because I figure, hey, I’m technically an electrician and I should just fix these.

Except that they’re all made in China by little girls who are forced to work on their birthdays and don’t celebrate Christmas anyway and so they have the last laugh by making it, frankly, not that simple. So I don’t troubleshoot lights anymore. I buy new ones.

I was fully prepared to strip all the ornaments and  non-working lights and reload the tree with working lights and redecorate it. But I went to four stores and nobody had any lights left. Well, no lights that I would use: seizure-inducing strobing color LED’s, gold lights on a gold cable, three five-foot strands of blue. I should have known the stores here would be cleaned out. This is suburban New Jersey and in my neighborhood, on Thanksgiving Day people replace their giant inflatable yard turkeys with giant inflatable santa-hatted penguins, and then wrap lights around their roofs, bushes, pillars, lamp posts and bomb shelter doors. All lights were gone by the time December 1 rolled around. Ah well.

I’d like to share some pictures with you.

Secaucus Junction, where I catch my train in to work, is a post unto itself. Suffice it to say for now that it is a great representation of corruption in my fair state, and one of the very unimportant results is that it has no electrical outlets. They decorate and can’t light anything up. They are afraid to pick a side in their decorating too, which is odd, because around here pretty much every town center throws up at bare minimum a Christmas tree and a Menorah. In Secaucus they have these:

Donuts? Spare tires?


They’re so. . .festive  green. And red. And unlit. As if somehow by not lighting them, they become non-offensive. Also, they’re fake.

From one extreme to the other, here’s a house in my neighborhood.

Sorry it’s blurry, but there’s a damn lot of blinkity-blink happening here and I was trying not to look like a stalker standing on the street taking pictures. Though really, they’re asking for it.

Here’s the poor tastefully decorated house next to it:

I think you need a closer look.

If you need me, I’ll be in the bathroom, bleaching my eyeballs. Merry Christmas.

Because I’m posting from work.

One night I was putting #5 to bed and, as always, he was talking.

#5: Hey guess what.

Me: What.

#5: I know why all those great inventors weren’t very nice people to work for.

Huh. Not what I was expecting him to say. The statement begged a thousand questions but I asked only one. Well, more of a prompt than a question.

Me: Oh?

#5: Yeah, because they were so busy inventing things that they never got enough sleep.

I looked at him for a minute.

Me: Are you saying that because Daddy and I get cranky when we don’t get enough sleep?

#5: Yes.

And there you have it. This conversation came back to me recently because I’m halfway through serious-badass-Nikola Tesla’s biography by Margaret Cheney Man Out Of Time, and among all the many other mindblowing things I read, there was a bit about the AC/DC (the current, not the band) wars.

So you have your Thomas Edison, by anyone’s standard, a great inventor. He’s a proponent of Direct Current and is actively working to make it our country’s electrical standard. Then you have Tesla, kind of a whippersnapper by Edison’s standard, but a brilliant inventor except no one remembers who he is today because he was a terrible businessman and also didn’t get around to patenting most of his inventions. He saw the flaws in the DC system and developed a better, stable Alternating Current system. The war was on. Edison began a smear campaign to malign AC. Tesla couldn’t be bothered. He just kept inventing stuff and making his AC sexy.

I live in New Jersey, as did Edison. Edison, as part of his smear campaign, was paying school boys to kidnap puppies basically in my neighborhood, and then he would electrocute them with alternating current, to prove how dangerous it is.  Not in secret, publicly. Because we’re both New Jersians, I believe I am not out of line when I call him a douchebag. I mean, thanks for the light dude, but. . . yeah.

I have to conclude, based on this conversation with #5 who gets his information from perhaps the same genius realm as Tesla or else bacon-and-video-game-induced trances, that Edison was seriously sleep deprived.

Hey, so Christine at Quasiagitato took one of my posts and we did a Mad Lib with it. It totally cracked me up and you should go look at it. I refrained from using “boobies” for every plural noun, even though I wanted to. Click here for her post.