Nina’s Travel Rule #32: All You Need to Survive A Hurrication is Liquor and Cat Food

Sandy in Full Force ūüė¶

In honor of all my peeps hunkerin’ down up there on the East Coast this week (I love you bro, go NYC??), I thought I’d recount a bit of Nina’s Adventures in Hurricane Un-preparedness. In which I survive a week without power in the sweltering Houston summer on nothing but wine and the kindness of strangers. With a parenthetical side-note on hurricane preparedness in the Big Sleazy. Omg two posts in one week, whatever shall my followers do! Prepare to shit yourselves, please…

Mandatory Cover-my-Ass Warning:

Hurricanes are dangerous. Do not attempt to survive them if you are in possession of any of the following: small children, large pets, a mortgage, sub-standard housing, a third-world address, a pansy-ass nature or, most importantly, a missing liver.

Now clearly I am not, never have been, and never will be in possession of any of these lovely things (thank Jesus), so my hurricane experiences may’ve been a bit different to yours. I see them not so much as a time to board up the windows with useless X’s of masking tape, lock the pets in their cages to die when you can’t get back (seven years later and I am still mad at you for that, and you knowdamned well¬†who you are), and pack the screaming-bitch children into the soccer-mom-mobile for a two-day park on the highway of evacuation-fuckery. Seriously, it once took a friend 16 bloody hours to flee Rita from Houston to my house in Austin (and yes, it’s true, I once did this drive in 82 minutes flat. My Volvo has land-speed racing powers…). All I have to say about evacuating for a hurricane is Fuck That Shit. Of course, I also don’t live on the beach, and generally habitate cities with decent evacuation procedures (I love you, Jersey! Get well soon!)…

How People Who’ve Actually Been In A Hurricane View A Hurricane

Instead, I prefer to think of these menacing monsters, these behemoths of our bathtub, as occasions not only for mandatory hookey playing from whatever mind-numbing “employment” I’m currently holding down, but for an actual vacation. That’s right, it ain’t no hurricane, bitch, it’s a Hurrication! So yes, when Katrina bore down on my all-time favorite town, I did call my besties and tell them to get the fuck out (for once they were actually down with the fleeing thing and way ahead of me. Although I still do laugh about them ending up somewhere in Missouri with a VW punch-bug full of people and dog, but no shoes. I love you, Ralph and Kimmy!), but really this was just an instance of intelligently-placed, vicarious cowardice. I personally have never and never plan to flee such a large windy event (SuperStormPocalypse Sandy included), and will instead save my fleeing for things that might actually dampen my party. ¬†You know, like tornados. Or tsunamis.

Hurricane Happiness Take 1 (aka, The Parenthetical Side-Note):

I was 17 when I experienced my first hurricane, and lemme just tell y’all, it was fabulous. I know I know, death and destruction, wrath of God, blah blah. Seriously, if you’ve never been through one, I’d highly recommend it. Well, a small one anyway… This might have something to do with the fact that it landed after like, I swear to God two solid weeks of none of us attending University at all, owing to like (as I recall of this highly sex-on-the-beach-addled time) three tropical storms and a hurricane back to back. It was 1997, and it looked like this:

Tropical Storm Mud Wrestling at Tulane…

So we spent the week slip-n-sliding around the quad, trooping to the bar in canoes, you know, the usual. But then this actual hurricane appeared on the Doppler 3000, and Channel 4 started invoking the name of the world’s greatest hurricane forecaster (Nash Roberts, may he R.I.P. Also apparently he rode the very first plane to fly into a hurricane’s eye??), and kids started lookin’ a tad worried. The freshmen in particular, most of them far far away from home, got a little crazy. Stupid skank-girl living down the hall from me (skanky before the storm, not because of the storm)¬†actually had her parents spend $1700 on a one-way plane ticket back to NYC. I mean, yeah, it was a Cat 4 and all, and I’d totally pegged it’s path since its birth (sadly, this was my one, shining moment of glory in the field of hurricane prediction. I’m really no Nash). Fuckin’ thing literally travelled a straight-edge line from the Cape Verde’s to our city. It even had a stupid half-assed fake-French name, clearly it was coming to us: Hurricane Georges. In any case, I wasn’t leaving, and damned if I was gonna get locked into a dorm for the duration either.

Georges, who never came to town

So I spent the pre-game at a friend’s parents’ apartment (they had fled with the dog), swimmin’ in the pool, takin’ lil’¬†ventures to the store for more rum, drinkin’ the rum, grillin’ the red-fish, then apparently lyin’ in the middle of Esplanade Avenue smokin’ a cigar, watchin’ the storm roll in. The cops made me move on that one, but like, seriously, no one was even on the road, man. This fiasco may have ended with hurricane-drink red-colored vomit…

In the end, all we got outta George was a fairly good local song:

Hurricane Georges Never Really Hit Town

Although in no way the best lil’ ditty ever written ’bout the Hurrication Experience, which will always be:

Hurricane Party

I once made Paul Sanchez (its writer) and Shamarr Allen (America’s best living trumpeter) sing it live accoustic for me in a bar. I’m sure they hate me now, and I could care less, that song’s amazing…

Hurricane Happiness Take 2:

One beautiful day in Houston… Wait. One disgustingly muggy, bug-infested, hot hot Hot-as-Shit day in Houston, I walked to work, as usual. I arrived, slightly soggy, as usual, and went to my office. Being the ultra-observant human that I am, I then thought to myself…

Me: Hmm. I wonder why the dude with the window office is putting all his shit in my significanly crappier, and window-free little cubicle… “Yo Mike, what’s up?”

Mike: “Uhh, you know there’s a massive Cat 4 in the Gulf, headed straight for Houston? It’s gonna hit tomorrow. You should really go home.”

Me: “Uhh…” As has recently been pointed out to me (I love you, Laura!), I should really watch the news sometimes… “Whatever. What the hell would I do at home?”

Fuck I’m Smarter Than These People

So I hung out at work, threw a fabulous liquid lunch with the girls, and then decided I probably should do some preparin’…

Nina’s Hurrication-proof Purchase List:

  • 1 car-charger for iPhone
  • 1 case red wine (doesn’t need chilling)
  • 1 extra-large bag cat food
  • 1 tank gas
  • 1 propane camping stove

And we’re good! Though just lemme tall y’all how busy the liquor store was… Settling in for the duration, I biked around town for a while, watching people either a) flip out, or b) head to the bars. Then decided to cook everything rott-able¬†in my fridge, and had a fabulous feast of salmon steaks and two pounds of bacon (I love you, bacon!). By about 10pm I’d lost power, soon got sick of the radio, and passed out. Shit, I really shoulda bought more wine… About 4am, I woke with a start, to the sound of my entire floor-to-ceiling bedroom window spewing violent rain at me. Nothing I can do ’bout that, I thought, threw a towel at the situation, put the terrified cat in the bed, and passed back out.

8am dawns. It is wet. The street is flooded, but not too bad, so I head out to check on my baby-Volvo. Intelligently, I had removed it from my uncovered parking lot, and a good bloody thing, as a massive tree was now living in its parking spot. Even more intelligently, I had NOT put it on the ground floor of its new home (the parking¬†garage of¬†a friend’s¬†apartment next door):

Where I DIDN’T Park¬†My Car. View from the Third Floor.

Thinking it better to leave the Volvo be, I recruited¬†my Friend With Garage¬†(I love you, Anna!) for a sight-seeing tour. The city looked pretty good, you know, except for the sirens and the blown-out glass, but our ‘hood was a bit of a wreck. I also would still like a Thank You from whoever owns this Chinese restuarant, for us being decent honest citizens and not touching a single bottle…

It’s Like Jesus Sent This Storm Just To Temp Us Sinners…

So now we’re walking back, wondering what to do with our Hurrication first, when…

FWG: “Holy shit! Midtown’s on fire!” Signs of smoke rising from the middle horizon…

Me: “….¬†Fuck no it’s not! That’s Christian’s, and they’re grilling steak!”

I, being always right, was right. And while I do disagree about Playboy’s judgement of Christian’s Tailgate as a Top 10 Burger Joint in the nation (seriously, why does everywhere I go get rated by Playboy? Hum…), their burgers really aren’t bad. Christian’s Tailgate

So we ate, we drank, we peed by cell-phone light. They had no power, claro, but were using the back-up generators¬†solely to make beauteous buckets-full of ice for our beer. So smart, Christian’s!

And the Bars Will Save Us

I then spent the evening disobeying the city-wide curfew and playing Trivial Pursuit on the top of my neighbors’ parking garage, searching desperately and unsuccessfully for a breeze (I love you, Amy and Timmy!). But it’s cool, a “cold”-front blew in the next day and everything was beautiful. I caught up on a ton of reading and wine-imbibing, and it turns out H-town is a lovely place to bike around (the city’s as flat as a 10-yr old) when all the Hum-vees and other pyscho drivers have fucked off and evacuated. I discovered watering-holes I’d never heard of (like seriously, how had I never been to Jimmy’s in the Heights??), the best of which are cash-only, outdoor shack-type set-ups that aren’t too electricity-dependent anywho. And it was really nice watching neighbors be so friendly (God bless Texas. Twice.), trading a power-cord strung across the street to a strangers generator for extra beer or a hot shower. A pansy-ass acquaintance of mine fled town from heat-stroke (pansy), so I acquired her stock of Hurricane (the beverage, silly) and hooked it up to my bike for tooling around town. Yeah, the first couple nights were kinda creepy, curfew in effect, no sound to break the swampy-stillness except¬†the last hold-out transformers blowing in the distance, but still, possibly the best week ever (you know it, Rachael dear…)?

What Used To Be The Allen Parkway

Now I will add one sad note. Coffee, it turns out, is not as widely appreciated as I’d thought in Houston. Yes, we have more bars per capita than any other town in the nation, but seriously, I stocked my own, I just need the java now, people. After a trip over the flooded highway to a friend’s place (she still had working gas. I had a deathly unfunctional electric stove) to boil water on the stove and French press myself some morning liquid, I decided trekking across town every morning til my power returned¬†wasn’t gonna cut it. But yay! Turns out it’s really easy to make coffee with an espresso machine on a camping stove (and yes, I did it in the parking lot. Well, the first time anyway). Ahh, self-sufficiency ūüôā

Post-Script: Things I Hate About Hurricanes (aside from death and destruction):There’s only a couple things that bother me about hurricanes really, and¬†they’re actually more Stupid Assholes problems, but this is my blog, so I’m gonna rant about them anyway. I am so sick and fucking tired of ass-hat, right-wing, psychotic pseudo-religious people babbling nonsense every time a natural disaster strikes. Fuck you, sirs, that storm is not heading for New Orleans because we are a den of iniquity, it’s because the stupid city’s built on the stupid Gulf of Mexico, and also you are all tools. If God wants to destroy only sinners with natural disasters, he’s doing a really shitty job, I’d say, as Vegas still¬†stands tall while his poor¬†fearing masses cower in their trailer-parks before getting sucked sky-high by tornadoes every summer. Oh wait, maybe it’s only rich God-sucker-uppers who get spared…

In a special, election-year twist, we now get comments like this, from John McTeman, a fundamentalist wack-job Christian preacher, who claimed, on the very night that Sandy landed, that:

“the storm is more proof that God is systematically destroying America as punishment for the homosexual agenda‚ÄĚ.

I say the proof that God doesn’t dick around with storms n’ such, just wiping out whoever he feels like¬†each hurricane season, is the continued existence of such exemplary assholes. He’d definitely make my Top Ten List of People I’d Like to Hit with a Hurricane, and I like to think God generally agrees with The Nina.

Ain’t No Storm Born Could Mess with My Fabulous Gum Boots…

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