The Declassified Blizzard Survival Guide
I’m writing this on the day after the Great Blizzard of 2013 — also referred to by the Weather Channel creative geniuses as Snowstorm Nemo, because nothing incites fear and the need for serious preparation in people’s minds more than that lovable Disney/Pixar clownfish. I escaped home (to Massachusetts) this weekend to recover from an awful cold (also referred to by my creative genius as the Great Plague of 2013). Because a fortune cookie told me I would have a great day, we lost power. As I type, we are on hour eighteen without heat, hot showers, real (warm) food, cable, Internet and pretty much anything that would result in a comfortable lifestyle in the middle of a freezing New England winter. Should I have stayed at Conn for the weekend? I don’t know. But I do know that sitting by a roaring fire is only awesome when your home has additional working heat, and that while I probably look super fashionable wearing five shirts, a ski hat and glittens in my living room, I would much prefer to be in my dorm room with a broken radiator that causes the temperature to rise to 200 degrees every night. I never thought I would say that, but desperate times call for absurd statements.
I could handle losing power when Hurricane Irene hit a year and a half ago because it was summertime and while it would have been nice to have the air conditioning back, I’ve realized that it’s much worse to be without heat in the winter. Regardless, I’m typing this while wearing glittens, which has made me realize that there is really only one use for glittens: when you’re stranded at home because there are two and a half feet of snow barricading you in from the rest of the world, and the heat is broken, and your hands are freezing but you still have a bunch of reading to do for your Monday classes, which you’re assuming won’t be canceled because there is still power on campus and if you had stayed for the weekend you wouldn’t have to worry about whether or not you will be able to drive back on Sunday. Glittens hey keep your hands warm while also allowing your fingers to peek out and turn the pages of the book. You suddenly think glittens are the greatest invention in the world. You are losing your mind. [Note: Since the writing of this article, the glittens have been disposed of because they are, in fact, stupid.]
Waiting for the power to come back is one of the worst waiting games because there is no TV to distract. Not knowing if the power will return in thirty minutes or three days can result in borderline insanity. Should I just calm down and do my homework by candlelight, or is it time to drive my car over two feet of snow to get to the nearest hotel with heat and a working shower? What qualifies as too desperate? Can I catch pneumonia from sitting in my own house without the heat on, bundled up in seven blankets? Is that crazy talk? Is it too soon for paranoia to set in? At what point is it okay to start eating the furniture? The answer is never. It is never okay to start eating the furniture. Here’s a hint, though. Embrace your inner Pilgrim and buy a wood-burning stove because when you have no oven and all you want is warm food, you best be throwing wood in your backup stove and enjoying the simple pleasures of pioneer cooking. We don’t have a wood-burning stove; we have a fireplace and Duraflame logs, logs filled with chemicals that burn “better than wood,” but they also have chemicals, so cooking food over them is only okay if we don’t plan on consuming the food. Minus one hundred points for Gryffindor, and back to the Girl Scout cookies I go.
A few years ago, this situation wouldn’t have been a problem. I would have asked, “How often do we get huge storms and lose power and freeze in our homes for days because it takes that long for National Grid to fix the electricity?” And I would have answered myself, “Not that often.” But thanks to global warming and people like Sarah Palin who believe that God is just hugging us closer because He loves us (no, don’t worry about that flaming meteor heading for us, that’s just a big ball of love from Jesus), we’re…how can I put this gently?…screwed. The Earth hates us because we’ve disrespected it for years. Now we’re paying for it. I’m perfectly content with blaming everyone in the 1980s who thought that hairspray was a good choice, both in terms of the environment and fashion. But I’m not here to point fingers. I’m just here to incite (un)necessary fear and panic among the inhabitants of the world, at least those who read the Voice. These storms may be few and far between, but it’s their increasing intensity and resultant widespread damage that’s alarming. We need to own up to our past blunders and start dealing with the problems at hand before one day, a giant hurricane-tornado-blizzard-earthquake named Simba appears with a fury like no other storm ever recorded in history. Do we want that? Probably not.
I guess since I called this a “Blizzard Survival Guide,” I should offer some survival tips. Here’s my first piece of advice: Underground Bunkers. Seriously, if we want to continue living on this planet, living underground seems to be the best option since all of the weather happens above the ground. Smart, right? Now that you’ve built a sturdy bunker, fill it with any and all supplies imaginable: non-perishable food, a transistor radio, an entire library of books, pictures of the sun (because you’ll probably miss seeing that), fake plants (because real ones will die without sun and then you’ll be sad), pictures of trees and oceans and nature to remind you of the good old days when you could live above ground, perishable foods, maybe a goldfish to keep you company and board games. Real advice? Sure, I can try. If you’re stuck inside because of a blizzard and you’ve lost power, remain calm. Eat the food you’ve bought in preparation even if you’re upset that it’s cold; drink lots of water and pretend it’s hot coffee; read books or play games to keep your mind preoccupied; if you have a fireplace, use it; if you have a wood-burning stove, invite me over next time we have a storm; try calling the power company on your cell phone to see how much longer you have to wait; buy a car charger that will allow you to charge your cell phone periodically; if you have a pet, cuddle with it (unless it’s a goldfish); if you have a body pillow, cuddle with it; put on all of your clothes, no really, all of them; and most importantly, don’t lose your sanity. Remember, things could be worse — you could be out of Girl Scout cookies. •