Well, we almost made it through a whole hurricane season. No, I’m not talking about a hurricane headed our way; I’m talking about how you all ALMOST made it through a whole hurricane season without having to listen to me rant about all things storm related.
You almost made it through this one, too, but it’s been a long week, it looks like we’ll actually get some rain, and my editor at The Gabber (a guy I usually really like) made the -some would call it an error in judgment- of asking me to get the traditional photo of boarded up windows or flooding. On top of all that, my uterus feels like it’s learning how to salsa and I’m just basically cranky. So, lucky you, here goes:
Last year I got very incensed at the “boy who cried wolf” thing the media did. This year I’ve fine-tuned my rage (nice to know I can) and I’m pissed off at Katrina “victims”.
Yeah, I know. Tragedy blah blah blah unfair blah blah blah blame the current political regime blah blah blah. I GOT it, ok? And you know what? LIFE ISN’T FUCKING FAIR. Accept it. Bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people, and sometimes nothing happens to some people. That’s what makes life exciting.
Here’s the thing: I live about three minutes from the Bay and maybe 20 from the Gulf. I have rental property that I do not expect to survive a direct hit of a Category 5 storm (sorry, Frank, but you live there, what do you think is gonna happen to that pine tree?). No, I do not plan to evacuate. Why? Where would I go? How would I get back once they declare marshall law (as evidenced by Katrina, that’s how reporters- even ones that write for weekly papers- make the most money, with the post-carnage shots)?
I do, however, have a hurricane plan, inasmuch as I ever “plan” anything. Wanna hear it? Here it goes…
When the waters reach my front door, I will:
1) Put my laptop, iPod, firebox, cell, and the appropriate chargers in my dry bag.
2) I will commence preparing the Hobie Cat for its maiden voyage.
3) I will put my dry bag, kayak, dog, and birds somehow on the Hobie Cat.
4) I will hone my sailing skills on the fly.
Ok, so perhaps that isn’t realistic- I don’t believe we’ll get sustained flooding here, mainly because, oh, I don’t know… we don’t live below sea level. So here’s my plan of what I will NOT do:
Cathy’s Hurricane Rules
1) I will NOT appear on any broadcast medium expressing shock or disbelief that “this could happen here”. I live on a peninsula ON a peninsula; I know we’re lucky it hasn’t happened lately.
2) I will not expect FEMA, the Red Cross, or anyone else to save my ass. I will, of course, take help should I need it and it comes my way, but I understand that my survival depends on me.
3) If my home is destroyed, I will not expect free housing, utilities, or anything else until it gets rebuilt. I will instead- and here’s a concept- start over and keep working.
4) If my source of income dries up as a result of the storm, I will NOT treat it as an excuse to get federal aid. I will, instead, find work somewhere. Somehow.
5) I will remind myself that life isn’t fair, and if I’ve made it past the storm to bitch, I’m doin’ pretty well.
As you may surmise, I am tired of people playing victim. Yup, Katrina was a bad storm. It must absolutely suck to have been physically affected by it. But while I feel like I should feel all warm and fuzzy about how everyone’s pitched in to help the “victims” out, I’m pissed off instead. Maybe there’s something wrong with me; I don’t know. But I just don’t understand where everyone got the idea that they don’t have to take responsibility for their own lives and actions.
My friend and fellow writer, Anne, made an excellent point in her column a few weeks ago, suggesting that people that are “alive enough to… be gunning for my job after a hurricane whipped through your town, the appropriate noun would be survivor.” But everyone’s treating them like victims and it seems that these folks all too easily fall into it.
And I can hear some of you right now (Shelly) protesting that “they lost everything” or that the people affected most were the working poor and the impoverished. Granted. But before you make that argument, let me share my position:
Almost three years ago, at the ripe age of 30, I had to start over. I lost a house, equity in said house, my furniture, stocks, savings, and had only a retirement account I couldn’t touch, a six year old car, clothes, dog, and laptop computer. Several months later I quit my job (albeit my choice) with a very small savings account to tide me over. There was no federal progam for divorcees or habitat for humanity to build me a house. I started over. Alone. I had the support of my parents, yes, but not on the scale you may imagine. They didn’t buy me a house or supplement my income when I quit (ok, my mom and dad bought me lunches when I came up and let me wash my clothes at their house, but you know what I mean).
I am poor. You may not think so, but my income puts me there according to the government. Last year I had a negative tax rate after my deductions. If my roof blows off this weekend, I do not have the cash to go to a motel, much less to fix it. I do have insurance, which does me about as much good as nipples on men. My rental property is killing my bank account and, quite honestly, it will come as a huge relief if a storm blows it away.
I’m not pissed because I didn’t get help and these folks did; I also understand that, on some levels, the situations are too disparate to compare. But starting over is starting over, no matter why you have to do it. And some people can do it, and it isn’t fair, I know, but some people can’t.
See, that’s the thing. We’ve got nine zillion people in this world, and for some reason the law of supply and demand doesn’t apply to humans. Ninety-nine percent of Americans could not survive without prepackaged food and their cars. Why is that? We crawled out of the ocean, and 40 million or so years later we’ve allegedly made it to the top of the food chain, yet if we remove McDonald’s and Publix, we all die? How many of you reading this could catch your own dinner tonight if you had to? How many of you could splint your broken leg and then catch your own dinner?
I’ll make it even easier: How many of you (of us) really believe you could live on your wits if all our modern conveniences suddenly disappeared?
I know- KNOW- some of you are going to disagree, vehemently, and that’s ok, but here’s my point: survival has become an entitlement, not a skill. Why did we get so many people out of Louisiana and surrounding areas who clearly have no ability to keep themselves alive? It’s not like the human race is about to die out; are we really so cocksure of ourselves that we feel it acceptable to override eons of evolution? What happened to survival of the fittest?
Whatever happened to the idea that some of us are smarter or more physically conditioned than others? How do we determine who is truly a superior person if all we do is work our asses off to level the playing field? This is the kind of thing Aldous Huxley warned about in Brave New World. What happens to survival of the fittest when we create unnatural societies where we have to keep us all equal?
I have no earthly idea where I fall in this whole survival of the fittest. I don’t know how long I would make it having to catch my own food, injured or no. But at least I accept that my survival depends on me. It scares me that so many people don’t get that. Life is survival, in its basest form. Luckily for me, and all of us, it has a little more to offer, but when you boil it down, that’s the central theme.
And if my home blows down tomorrow, I will attempt to survive. I will start over again. I will not wait to be rescued; I will not rail against Bush. I will simply keep sucking breath in and pushing it out again, admit that my choices led me here, and, as the title of my blog says, just keep swimming.