Author: Aimee LaBrie
I intended for today’s post to be a funny, yet poignant and insightful, photo-filled recap of the Homecoming Weekend events. But then Hurricane Sandy arose. The name seems so benign; it makes me think of the scruffy and lovable mutt in the musical, Annie. How bad could it be? By all accounts, it’s rabid. I learned early yesterday morning that all classes were cancelled at Penn for the next two days, and that only essential staff were required to report in to work. I couldn’t decide at first–was I essential staff? I consider myself necessary in so many ways. But then I received an email from Kristina, our Alumni Relations guru to all things staff-related and realized that unless I planned on joining the facilities team, I needn’t report. I have to say that Penn’s quick and decisive response to the storm, and the numerous follow up emails we received from our VP and HR reps were very helpful and set my mind at ease.
Okay, so you’ll have to wait until Wednesday to see our Storify recap of Homecoming Weekend–we’ll give you a complete look at all of the tweets and related photos shared by alumni, friends, and staff over the last three days. Until then, here are a few tips for surviving the storm. You can trust me on these–I spent my childhood and teenage years living in Florida where hurricanes, like debutantes, have their own seasons and where one lives in a constant state of low level anxiety due to both the volatile weather and an abundance of flying Palmetto bugs.
1. If you have a patio, bring in all of the IKEA furniture and set it up in your living room so that the cats can inspect it. You should do this because the gale force winds are supposed to be at like 500 miles an hour. Strong winds can take one of these innocent looking fake plants and hurl it into your back window, shattering the glass and requiring you to spend the rest of the storm in your bathroom, which is way too small.
2. Stock up on foods that don’t require electricity to prepare (i.e. microwave popcorn or frozen foods, particularly those delicious Amy’s spinach and feta pizzas). The alarming news stories say you should have enough food for three days to a year. I bought a lot of cereal and snack items, along with cold cuts and bread. My still-living-in-Florida mom reminded me that if the power goes out, I should keep the refrigerator closed most of the time so that the milk doesn’t spoil. I’m glad she reminded me of this, because sometimes, instead of turning on the air conditioner, I just leave the fridge door open all day.
3. Buy batteries for that transistor radio you have or I guess, if you live in modern times, extra batteries for that smart phone thinga-ma-jig charger nonsense. As an aside, that framed photo is my mom’s high school graduation picture. I love those cat eyeglasses so much.
4. Keep matches and candles in every room, and be sure you have other activities lined up in case the power goes out and you can’t watch Bravo’s Real Housewives of Suffolk County marathon. I recommend reading actual books (your Kindle will eventually die). Currently, I’m reading a novel billed as a “haunting ghost story,” which seems a little redundant, but also perfectly suited to candle light. I can pretend I’m Jane Eyre and try very hard not to lean in too close to the flames, singeing my eyebrows.
5. Have extra everything. I spent about 45 minutes on Sunday, scouring the house for boxes of matches, and congratulating myself for finding two actual flashlights that work. I also bought 24 extra water bottles. Sorry, Liz Pinnie (our Penn Alumni Relations eco rep). They are made from 30% plants and are 100% recyclable. And I discovered taper candles–no clue where they came from. Another tip from mom: fill the bathtub or an extra watering can with water in case the toilet stops flushing. I forget why this would happen, but I listened to her because I am a good daughter. Obviously, buy more than one banana from the grocery store unless you’re taking this opportunity to start a fast.
6. Have an evacuation plan in case the worst occurs and the water rushes forward from whatever river that is to the East of me. I brought the cat carriers up from the basement because I have this fear that the entire basement will flood all the way up to the steps and I’ll need a boat to get anything out. I read Stephen King’s The Stand at a very impressionable age and so harbor this terror that the end of the world is right around the corner. This also comes from growing up in a place where cockroaches were liable to turn up just about anywhere–falling out the branches of a tree and landing in your neckline while you were riding your bike to school, for instance, causing you to simultaneously crash your bike into a tree while screaming and ripping off your shirt in front of Bobby Bander for no apparent reason that he could see, which led to him avoiding you in the hallways ever after.
Note: cats will likely not allow themselves to be crammed into these boxes and so will have to be left to survive on their own.
7. Most importantly: take care of one another. That’s what happened early on in the storm with reassuring messages from the Penn administration and my Alumni Relations co-workers. I felt like I was well-informed and that they’d taken into account my safety first, over and above the needs of the University’s daily operations. So, you know, let your neighbor borrow one of your 20 boxes of matches if she needs them. We’ll all make it through just fine.
The blob that Ernesto is grooming is actually Emma Carol, made even fatter by the extra food I’ve been giving them to assuage their (my) anxieties. Stay safe!