Y’ALL BETTER BE PREPPING FOR LIKELY SCENARIOS
I’d wager I’m not the only wanna-be writer who thinks prepper websites are a good resource for dystopian worldbuilding. Suburbanites like myself, with nearby stores stocking everything we need, and clean water available at the turn of the tap, have a difficult time visualizing a SHTF scenario.
But there’s real-life wisdom to be had in prepping. It isn’t just useful for dystopian worldbuilding.
Winters ago, a pipe burst during an extended cold snap. Talk about surreal; water cascading into one’s living room from the ceiling. We had to shut off the water main into the house. Therefore, we couldn’t flush the toilet. We couldn’t bathe. I couldn’t wash dishes nor the piles of heavy, dirty winter clothes. A deep primeval fear gripped me as I contemplated how long the bottled water I happened to have on hand would ward off dehydration. Unreasonable fear, I know, but whatever.
During those hours without water, our township closed in on us like a trap. Had we crash landed in a desert? Were we stranded in a lifeboat after our ship had sunk? What would happen if everyone in our township lost water at once? Talk about SHTF. That’s the stuff of dystopian novels.
Thankfully, my clever husband fixed the pipe himself. My primeval fear circled the drain with the suds when I showered that night. Ahhh, flowing water. Flowing HOT water! What a blessing! After a licensed plumber inspected my husband’s handiwork and declared our water system safe for return to normal operation, I breathed easier. We’d survived that crisis.
I should have prepped by: stocking more water than just a few stray bottles of the store-brand sparkling stuff. Also, I should have known where the incoming water main valve was, so I could have minimized the in-house flooding. That was a mess that wasn’t easily cleaned up. Are you prepared for a pipe to burst in YOUR home, condo, or apartment?
WHAT I’VE LEARNED ABOUT PREPPING
I’d always snorted at the stereotype of some hairy survivalist living out of cell phone range in the mountains, eating squirrels and wiping himself with conifer needles. While the introvert in me likes isolation, I’d rather not have wildlife for neighbors. No Thank You. Bring on the busybody suburban Karens instead of hungry bears. Karens don’t rummage in the garbage cans.
But prepping is for everybody. My favorite preppers on YouTube stress preparation, not necessarily for a zombie apocalypse or an EMP, but for plausible situations that loom for your particular everyday world. Do you live in tornado alley? Then get a tornado cellar or closet. You get the idea.
My cousins and I used to laugh behind our hands at our grandmother and her sisters. The dear ladies, may they rest in peace, were notorious for penny pinching and hoarding things like soap, toilet paper, bedsheets, socks, and foodstuffs. But look at it from their point of view. They’d lived through the Great Depression and World War II, when supplies were limited, so they were natural preppers. A few days power outage (which happens in tornado alley) didn’t faze them, while the rest of the population was fighting in the store over the rice and toilet paper. They sat safely at home, away from the panic buyers, hands peacefully folded. Go figure.
Maybe my husband is wise to drag all of us to national forests for camping weekends. He wants the children to leave the electronics behind, cook over fires, sleep in a tent, and deal with inconvenient midnight bathroom trips. (my favorite to be sure… NOT). Truth be told, that sort of camping isn’t really roughing it. Shall I give an engineering dissertation about all the plastics we use when we “rough it” out in the wilderness?
There’s lots of good prepping resources on the Internet. Personally I like The Canadian Prepper and City Prepping. The City Prepper has already shared why it’s unwise to want the apocalypse to come. And for all his muscle-bound tough-guy persona, The Canadian Prepper is a good story teller with a surprising sense of humor.
THE RONA EXPRESS
The phone call from the school nurse, that I’ve been dreading ever since sending our children to in-person (as opposed to remote) school last September, came yesterday. My daughter’s school pal received a positive test for The Rona, so my daughter is to quarantine for two weeks since she was exposed. Further directions from the county health department were forwarded to us should she (or any of us in our household) develop symptoms. As far as I know, the pal and her family are OK, but that can change at the drop of a hat.
I feel we were on a car trip, laughing and enjoying ourselves, and instead of bouncing over the tracks at a railroad crossing and continuing on our journey, the car has stalled out while straddling the tracks. We can’t go forwards nor backwards. We’re right in the path of an oncoming train, should one appear.
Right now, all is still. Too still. The tracks aren’t vibrating. There’s no far off grumble of an approaching engine. Meaning, nobody has symptoms. I suppose, being an aspiring author, I should “up the stakes” and strand us at a crossing on an elevated monorail that’s electric so we can’t hear it coming. But for now, all is quiet. The horizon is empty; tracks stretch to the horizon in both directions.
What does this have to do with prepping?
When the world shut down last spring, and tiptoed out of hiding in the summer, it became apparent that everyone would end up in and out of quarantine at one time or another. More sobering, many of us will get sick. Since then, I’ve been storing boxes of tea and jars of honey. The freezer is full of home-made chicken broth. What do you find comforting when you have flu-like symptoms?
I’ve got laundry, dish, and body soap. I’ve got baking soda and salt, which can substitute for toothpaste in a pinch. I’ve got toothpaste. I’ve got plenty beans and rice, plus seasonings to make them palatable. I’ve got frozen fruits and veggies. And of course, plenty toilet paper. Who would have ever thought a high fiber diet would be a liability?
I know grocery delivery exists, but what if the order is delayed due to demand? Also, I’m a proud cheapskate, and I’d rather not pay delivery fees. I’m too much of a Generation-Xer for that. Keep your grubby paws off my granny smiths and toothpaste, thank you very much. So sue me. I will inspect my would-be purchases first!
So while I’m praying for God’s help to cope while we’re stranded at the crossing, so to speak, at least I’m thankful for all the prepping I had a chance to do before my daughter got quarantined.
AND NOW FOR THE OBLIGATORY PIETY
God is still God. We aren’t the first group of grubby humans to live during plagues and pandemics. Science explains how tiny viruses can bring us down. Trained medical personnel care for sick with the best available technology. Researchers develop vaccines. Still, at the end of the day, we really don’t have all that much control. The Kingdom of God is a work in progress, and in God’s Kingdom, He’s in control and we aren’t.
Regardless of whether or not we do religion, we all face sickness, suffering, job loss, and death. Some of God’s best servants face appalling sufferings. All we can do is prep for what we can reasonably anticipate, and trust that God can bring good out of what He permits.
A nice hot cup of green tea has healthy antioxidants. Personally, I find it soothing. I’m the mom, and I have to keep my own anxiety at bay while my extroverted, talkative, energetic, swim-team daughter has to quarantine herself for what will feel like an eternity for her.
Carry on, all of you, carry on. This too shall pass. We aren’t in control, but God is. Do what you can, the rest is in His hands.
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. (Romans 8:18)
Building an author platform goes against the conventional prepper wisdom of LARPing as a Gray Man. Maybe the bad actors in a SHTF scenario will run screaming away from me if I read aloud from the first draft of my novel. It’s a chick novel full of clichés, filtering, purple prose, and head-hopping. The bad guys will hide in their bug out holes with their hands over their ears to avoid more emo chick language.
I’m pleased with how much the novel has progressed now that I’m developing the fourth draft. God bless the gracious Scribophile beta-readers who’ve been so supportive and encouraging, and even the ones who quit reading, screeching how much I sucked. All in a day’s work for an aspiring author!
If I run off the bad guys with my purple prose, then they’ll stay away from my stash beans and rice, and my extra top secret stash of sangria for The Mom’s sipping pleasure:
I don’t plan on blogging any more about prepping, but again, I’m prepared for whatever inspiration I get. Soon, I hope to post my slightly heretical take on Maria Valtorta, a supposed mystic. The purplish, feminine style in her writings still offends the intelligentsia of the Church, seventy years after her heyday. Get real, professor. What do you expect from a woman who never attended college, anyway? The Summa Theologica?
And as the years progressed, and Valtorta’s pile of writings grew, a change in style crept in. The writing became less clunky and more streamlined and efficient. So take heart, amateur writers. If Maria Valtorta’s style improved, then yours can too.
All hail the amateur writer!