Facing the tropics and the lies I tell

The words I typed and posted this morning are still very fresh in my memory. I said something to the effect of staying inside and watching it rain as a favor to others and for the safety of all those who associate with me.

I said that.

That lasted an hour and fifteen minutes.

Until I decided to go to Walmart for storm supplies. At least this time I drove my car.

I took Lilian with me because she needs to know about Walmart. Lilian is an exchange student from Holland who is here on an internship for two weeks. She is supposed to be working on her English and learning more about the culture. Well, her English is just fine, let me assure you. She laughs at very subtle humor in TV shows that most people wouldn’t get. And as for her culture immersion, where better to do that than ghetto Walmart? Field trip!

As we pulled into the parking lot, I launched into a meaningful explanation about the difference between uptown Walmarts and this Walmart. Sure, uptown Walmarts are nice. But this one is close. Proximity wins over refinement every time. At least with me. I was just finishing my thought…

“So, you’re going to get culture here,” I promised. And a man walked up. “Oh, here we go,” I finished. I hadn’t even cut the engine.

I lowered my window to talk to this man, because I’m stupid like that and he looked like a super nice guy. He was wearing khaki pants, a matching khaki golf shirt, and normal shoes. He had a pair of glasses hanging from his collar and had an almost-empty can of Mountain Dew in his hand. He had most of his teeth. He did not smell of alcohol or smoke one bit. No one’s nose picks that up better than mine.

At this point, he began his story.

“Hello, ma’am, I need to ask you a question and I mean no disrespect by asking it. I am a 67 year old veteran of the Vietnam War (took out a very nice wallet to show me his ID) who is technically considered homeless at this time. I am two weeks from Government housing, but I have to make it until then. I have congestive heart failure, a pacemaker (yeah, he pulled his collar aside to show me that bad boy), and I’m on 9 different medications to regulate all of that. Now ma’am, I’ve been in these clothes for 6 days without a bath and I smell like my own bottom. (Ohhhhhh Kaaaaaaaay) And I mean no disrespect in asking, but would you by chance have $8.50 so that I can get a room tonight at the Salvation Army?”

I’m not going to tell the ending of that conversation because I don’t want to be judged OR congratulated. You’ll just have to fill in the blanks with what YOU would have said to him or what you think I did. I will say this. He was sweet and believable.

And I couldn’t have explained our Walmart to Lilian any better than this incident did. There are very few homeless people in the Netherlands. Interesting.

Once inside Walmart, I bought the essential tropical storm items: 3 pounds of bacon, 5 pounds of roast beef that we apparently did not need because Todd bought 5 pounds last night (10 pounds of beef will go a LONG way even in Armageddon type situations), au jous gravy packets, tortillas, Rotel, 2 family packs of Double Stuf Oreos, a 6 pack of Diet Mountain Dew, some yogurt, yellow bananas, and 2 gallons of Infant Water jugs, because that was all that was on the way to the checkout. I guess if the water is purified enough for an infant, then it will work for me, too.

Boom. Prepared. Bring on the tropics.

And then we came home and resumed life as normal. I bailed the fishing boat after lunch and was checking email when the wind began kicking up. At that moment a text came through.


Oh, man. I thought. The wind was howling and the rain had begun to slap against my windows in earnest and now I was receiving a text saying that Lewis was releasing kids early due to the storm. I looked at my watch. It was 12:30. I debated. Should I get them now? Get in car line? Walk up to rainy dismissal at 1:15? Ultimately, I decided to just go check them out. Lilian and Brady decided to come, too. Because why not? It’s a tropical storm. Go have an adventure.

The wind turned my umbrella inside out when I stepped out of the car to get the girls. The walk across the school lawn was not unlike the meteorologists who film from stupid locations as they nearly blow away. It was something. Apparently, there were about 30 other parents who decided to pick their kids up early also. It was nothing short of a fiesta in that front office. There wasn’t even standing room for the two I brought with me. When the girls were finally safely in my care, we walked out into the howling storm…which had actually stopped for the moment.

“Why did you get us early, Mama?” Lucy asked.

“Because…” I said pointing around the sky, “THIS.” She made an effort to follow my wild gestures and jump on board with me. But I guess she just couldn’t get there.

“It’s not that bad,” she replied. “And I was IN LUNCH.”

“Sorry, babe, but when I got the text that they were closing school early because of it, I just felt like I needed to come on and get you.”

Lucy actually stopped on the sidewalk.

“Mama,” she said with emphasis. “They didn’t close school early for this storm. It’s MONDAY. It’s early release day.”


Well, so it was. Huh. They get out at 1:15 EVERY MONDAY. All year long. Been doing this since August.

“You would’ve forgotten us today, wouldn’t you?”

Yes, yes I would have. I mean, but we have meat. And infant water.

The end of this completely unnecessary story is that I’ve gotten up from my laptop 3 or 4 times because of the power going out. I’ve heard 4 transformers blow in the area (sound carries across the river…very disturbing noises) and the trees are flopping back and forth like wind socks.

This is a little worse than Hurricane Georges.

Wonder where I put that propane lantern…


How I Prepare for Tropical Storms

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Tropical Storm Colin is coming. He’s a coming for us, baby. They talked about canceling school, which would be the worst idea ever since we already have a last day of school that is a full two weeks past every other American. They are talking about sandbags in my fair city.

There are no bananas to be found in grocery stores, except for the dark green ones that were picked about a month before they were ripe. I know this because I have a bunch of those green ones sitting on my counter. If we decide to bite into one of those bad boys, we may chip a tooth.

Aside from buying this week’s groceries and green bananas, we didn’t do much to prepare.


Because I’ve been down this road before. On a bike. So today, in honor of my past glories, I will just link to how I used to prepare for the tropics and maybe it’ll make more sense that now I just do nothing. Honestly, I think we’re all better off if I just stay home and watch it rain.


The Proverbial Greener Grass

I recently witnessed a child complaining and whining. Before you accuse me of being the mother of this child, let me stop you. There’s nothing but blue skies and rainbows in the Snapp house. Surely, you’ve learned that, if nothing else, from reading a post or two. I’m the perfect mother.

Well, I’ve never been arrested. (a warrant was issued in Louisiana, but I didn’t find myself back in that awful place long enough for anyone to cuff me).

At any rate, this is just a generic child. I’m calling him or her Pat. Because I can.

Pat was having a pretty good day from what I could tell. He had received some accolades for personal achievements. (I gave up on the gender-neutral thing. Pat is a boy.) He had been treated to a lunch at Taco Bell followed by ice cream at Baskin Robbins. His life was pretty chore-free for the moment.

But he started talking about something he’s saving his money for that nobody will buy him and that eventually degenerated into a pretty whiney conversation about stuff. Possessions. Things we have. Things we don’t have. Mostly, though, it was all about what we don’t have. What HE doesn’t have.

And by the time I could manage to find this poor kid’s mother (who raises kids like this? Even a silverback gorilla could do better...), the conversation had fallen into the “my life is a terrible, wasted piece of trash” category. There was no fixing it. Seriously, kid…does your mother know about this? Entire books exist on just this topic.

Anyway, I tried to quote a few parables and pull some old memory verses out of my head, but in the end I didn’t really solve anything. I did, however, make a mental note. At this particular moment, within this specific discussion, there was no peace…no contentment. And the entire reason for that was that Poor Pat could not see what was in front of him at all. He was incapable of seeing the “sunshine in his pocket.” The Taco Bell was long digested. So was the ice cream. Awards? Forget them. Video game consoles? Who cares. All he could see was what he didn’t have or couldn’t have. And that’s where he landed.

How often do I do this? I’ll be happy when I’m 30 pounds lighter. I’ll feel better when I get botox. When I have a million dollars. When I stop witnessing children whining about things they don’t have. When this. When that.


Be happy NOW.

Be content NOW.

Be at peace now. As you are. As I am.

Go running. Get a haircut. Buy an outfit…if that’s what you want to do. But don’t require that for peace. That’s not what peace is.

Now if I could just teach that to Pat.

And to me.

If I had $1,000,000, I could afford my own therapist.


Seagulls and Sandwiches

The school year is drawing to a close. My schedule is no busier or different than a flotillion other families out there. The universe does it. It crams 419 extracurricular things into the last 3 weeks of school just to see if you’ll crack. The ones that don’t crack get asked back for another year of education. The ones that do are escorted off the property. There are special places for them.

I’m still proving this theory.

But because I felt I was going to be asked back and because I felt we were actually swimming with the current, I said, “HEY! Let’s go out of town!” That’s the thing.

And everyone said yes. Even the teenager.

Wow, that was easy. Should’ve done it about 10 years ago.

We headed to the beach for a rare 2 days away from whatever town was serving up. I realize we were only 50 minutes from our house. But it couldn’t have felt more like another planet. We were a world away from stuff, schedules, projects, stress, and distractions. And we were together. REALLY together. It was perfect.

Except for that seagull incident. That could’ve been nasty. We were all 6 swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and enjoying ourselves immensely. The water was crystal clear. I’ve never seen it this clear and I’ve been swimming in this exact spot for 20 years. There was nothing scary, floaty, or gross to be seen anywhere. So we were playing ball and hunting for shells under the water, etc. At one point on Sunday afternoon, the girls asked if we could all swim out to the sandbar. This seemed like a good idea and an easy enough task to accomplish. I thought it was low tide. So we all headed that direction. Pretty soon, we were up to our necks in water that I had been certain was just waist deep. AG and SnuggleMonkey turned back immediately and said no thanks. We told them where the safe deposit box was and to share the trust fund equally. Trust fund. Now we know we’re writing fiction. B and Beloved and Todd and I kept going, excited for the payoff that would be splashing around on a sandbar and having the best time ever. I was in the lead, so I was the first one to see it. A white shape floating in the water just ahead. It was a dead stingray, I thought. Belly up. Looked scary. Oh, no. Not a stingray. Just a white-bread sandwich. Disintegrating and beginning to break apart. Hey, kids. No need to turn away. It’s a sandwich.

We decided not to see what was in the sandwich and just keep swimming. We finally arrived at this amazing sandbar.
The water was still neck deep. I could barely stand up. The kids most certainly could not. And there was no splashing around to be had, unless you count the awkward treading of water that was required just to stay alive a few more minutes.

We were there for about 45 seconds and then turned back toward shore. On the return, we encountered the sandwich again. It was looking a little less together than the first time we’d passed it. But this time, we were not the only ones to see it.

Out of the sky swooped a sandwich-eating flock of seagulls, making all KINDS of racket. They were probably yelling to each other things like, “Hey! A sandwich! Check it out! Lunch is on me, guys!” Or maybe it was less friendly and more competitive. Maybe there were threats…jockeying for first bites. Either way, they were diving out of the sky and grabbing chunks of that bread like their diploma depended on it. And we almost got caught in the crossfire.

But we didn’t.

Which kinda makes this a dumb story.

Oh well.

I had a good weekend with my family, so there’s that.