Well sir, a few weeks late perhaps, but the Winter 2012 issue of The Inner Swine is out for Kindle and Nook:
The formatting’s screwed and the editing was … there was no editing. Enjoy for ninety-nine cents!
Here’s an essay from this issue:
Holy Crap What the Fuck
Hurricane Sandy Almost Killed Us
by Jeff Somers
SO, in the hallowed pages of JEFF IS A JACKASS, we have few weather-related entries. There was the time I attempted to drive a station wagon with bald tires through a blizzard and ended up performing a stately, ballet-like 360 across a huge intersection. Or the time when I was very, very young and thought that peeing in my snow pants was a genius way to warm up on a snowy day … for about five seconds. Or the time I was almost abandoned by my wife and eaten by wolves when I succumbed to mild hypothermia in the White Mountains. But aside from these lurid tales, for the most part my relationship with weather has been pretty quiet. Until October 2012.
Back in August of 2011 we had Hurricane Irene up in these parts, and the media beat a drum so loud I almost went insane. We did all the things we were supposed to do: We moved our car to high ground, bought supplies, put sandbags across the front door, and buttoned up for a wild ride. What we got was a few roof leaks and some water in the crawlspace, which isn’t even all that unusual.
So this year, when the drumbeat about Hurricane Sandy began, I dismissed it. Bah! I said; it was the same disaster-porn hype as before. I refused to do any of the basic things we were advised to do. My wife eventually bought some supplies on her own while I strutted about smugly, daring the universe to slam me. Even on the day of the storm I cracked jokes about the hurricane.
Then, at 9:30 or so, the lights went out.
Then, at 10:30 or so, we went to bed.
Then, at 10:31 I saw a Facebook post from a neighbor saying they had water coming in under the door.
By 11:30, we had a foot of water in our first floor, and I was in our small office on the pull-out twin bed with The Duchess and five unhappy cats.
I’ll never forget the way the water just came. At 10PM we were dry. No water in the crawlspace, no water in the street. Bone dry. When the water came, it was just an implacable sheet of dirty liquid. No drama or histrionics. I heard it first as it burst into the basement on the corner, two houses down. Then I saw it, just an inch or two high, swirling around the corner as it headed downtown. It was quiet and eerie, just an endlessly rising level of water, black as pitch and then, without ceremony, pouring into my house.
So, yeah, we got flooded. We woke up on Mischief Day and the water was up to the second step of our first floor stairs. We’d dragged what furniture and other things upstairs when the water began pouring in, and the second and third floors of the house were crammed tight with our crap. And the aforementioned five cats. The power was off, our heat and hot water long gone, and the whole house smelled like sewage.
This was not a high point in my life.
So, I was a jackass. I will never mock storm mania ever again, and next time they say a Hurricane is coming I’ll be the first one to gather up my emergency supplies, move the car to high ground, and move the furniture upstairs. I mean, holy crap what the fuck, we woke up to three feet of water in our fucking house.
I know other people have had it worse and had it worse. We lost stuff. Our floors, our walls had to be torn out. Kitchen cabinets. Our boiler and water heater. Couch and anything else that stood in the water for a few days. The problem is mold: That shit is fucking amazing. I’d like to surrender to our Eventual Mold Overlords, because that black shit is going to just eat us all alive someday, I’m convinced.
The day you realize you’re going to have to throw away half your possessions and pay someone to come and tear out your walls, your floors, your kitchen cabinets, appliances, everyfuckingthing, is goddamn eye-opening. There have only been a few times in my life when I felt justified in drinking before noon. Note, I didn’t say only a few times I’ve started drinking before noon, just a few times I felt justified. Usually when I start drinking before noon I do so with a sense of powerful shame that I immediately set about drowning.
So you give the order like some Russian general burning a village to the ground, and an army descends on your house and starts tearing stuff apart. And that’s when you realize that a week after the storm, your house is still soaking wet. You might have imagined that you were drying it out, that all it would take is some time and a few fans, but there it is: Between the walls, between the floors, soaking wet. Jebus. And when they’re done you have no floors and no walls and you’re living in a wind farm and the house becomes so dry from the dehumidifiers you get nosebleeds.
Ah, but then at least the house is dry. Dry never seemed so important before, but suddenly it is all that matters. Dry! It’s wonderful. The moldy smell of wet wood is gone, the slick coating of condensed floodwaters that coated everything is gone, and for a day you walk around with a drink in your hand feeling relieved, because at least now you know black mold isn’t going to swell up in-between everything and choke you in your sleep.
Then, you have to pay the have the place repaired.
So, insurance. Yes, you had insurance, because you have a mortgage and you are required to have flood insurance. Yay! Because you are cheap and shortsighted you know in your heart that you would have let this insurance lapse if it had been allowed, and now you are grateful for the Federal Government and its oppressive rules. You report a claim. The adjuster calls to say he’ll be there in two weeks, you put The Duchess on the phone to cry and berate him and he says he’ll be there in three days. He seems sympathetic and you wonder if perhaps this insurance will work exactly the way all insurance in your previous experience has failed to work, which is to say: at all.
But, you have no floors or walls or furniture or boiler or water heater so you take out a credit line on the house that you don’t actually even own because you owe a substantial amount of money to a bank on it and start writing checks.
As I said: Other people had it worse, in this storm and in others. I still have a house, and the means to repair it. This sucks, but we will live to fight again, won’t we? Some other people won’t. And on some level I am grateful for this. On other levels, I am not so much. I mean, holy crap, what the fuck?
Now of course we have the dilemma: Is this truly a ‘hundred-year’ flood and the sort of storm that won’t happen again in my lifetime, or are we going to rebuild the damn house just to have it be swept away again? Insurance will likely get us back to zero, but sweet fucking lord I don’t want to have to do this again. Ever. The stress is just not worth it.
Personally I think we’ll be seeing more of these storms. Maybe it’ll be years before we have a Sandy again, but I doubt it’ll be forever. And every year we’ll probably have one storm that floods our crawlspace to some degree. It makes you want to build that time machine you designed in your spare time a few years ago so you can go back to 2006 and slap yourself in the face and tell yourself to not buy this house and also to stop drinking so damn much. But who am I kidding. I always ignore the advice of Future Me.
Future Me is kind of a dick.