8pm Sunday: Monday morning work cancelled, crack open the booze.
8:05pm Sunday-1am Monday: watch as much tv as possible to absorb maximum technology before imminent loss of power. Do not talk to husband in attempt to save conversation for when we have no other choice but to talk to each other.
Monday morning: satellite... out. Internet... out. Power is flickering intermittently. This is serious, people! 3G service is NOT GOOD! Must conserve horrible iPhone battery. Entertain child with.... books.
Monday 4:30pm: getting dark, storm is projected to hit within the next two hours or so. Winds are picking up, rain is coming down. Mr. F decides it's finally time to start hurricane preparations, heads out into the storm to gather firewood and cover up our deck furniture. I decide to start thinking about cooking dinner before the power goes out. Clearly we are the type of couple who always plans ahead for things.
Monday 5pm: finally get around to dinner. Power goes out, this time for good. Manually light the stove and try to take food out of fridge as quickly as possible to keep cold air in.
Monday 5:05pm: laugh at our prestorm preparation purchase of quail eggs. Buy, come on... Have you SEEN quail eggs? They're adorable!
Monday 5:07pm: manually light stove, fry up meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans. Fried meatloaf is awesome. Decide I will heat up my meatloaf in a frying pan from now on.
Monday 5:20pm: eating a romantic dinner by candlelight, Kid A is not amused by the darkness.
Monday 5:45pm: start to wash dishes. Wonder whether the power being out affects the hot water supply. Wash dishes in cold water, in the dark. Contemplate throwing out dishes.
Monday 6:15pm: starting to get darker, Mr. F gets some wood to start the fire. Kid A is terrified.
Monday 6:20pm: fire is started, Kid A thinks the house is burning down, keeps trying to blow out the fire.
Monday 6:25pm-8pm: try to keep Kid A busy, refresh horribly slow 3G Facebook. Starting to hear some bad news from the south. Wind is incredible.
Monday 8:20pm: Mr. F makes executive decision that we all need to sleep in the middle of the house on the first floor. Kid not cool with decision, but we stand our ground.
Monday 8:30pm: the moment I've been dreading. Phone battery is almost completely drained of battery life.
Monday 8:31pm: so bored. It has been forever since I looked at the Internet in any form. Starting to get restless.
Monday 8:35pm: look out window to enjoy the lovely firework show of transformers blowing out all over town.
Monday 8:45pm: turn my attention to our 75ft pine tree that's a hazard during any storm. Watch as it blows sideways with a gust if wind and bounce back up. Watch it blow sideways and bounce back up again.
Monday 8:50pm: receive text from neighbor letting us know their oak tree crashed on their other neighbor's car and house.
Monday 8:51pm: watch as another gust of wind blows our tree sideways again. While we're waiting for it to bounce back up, it topples over. It's completely black outside, so we don't know at first if it hit our neighbor's house. All we can see is the shadow of its giant roots that are now sticking up in the air.
Monday 8:55pm: a knock at the door. It's our neighbor telling us the tree fell on both their cars. How did he get onto our front steps so soon?? He was OUTSIDE when it happened!
Monday 9:00pm: shit just got real. I've burned all my fall scented candles and must resort to spring flower scents. Just doesn't feel right.
Monday 9:30pm: remember about the spelunking headlight my dad gave me the day before. Mr. F ain't down with it.
Monday 9:33pm: set up candles and a book on the floor all Neverending Story style. Can't see book. Try again with the spelunking headlight. Turn off spelunking headlight after Mr. F repeatedly voices his extreme annoyance.
Monday 9:45pm: can't take it anymore. This house smells like the middle of May, Mr. F's phone still has battery life left somehow and I can't make a peep since Kid's sleeping right next to us. Go to the garage to sit in car and charge cell phone. The garage door is getting slammed with wind and I can hear the rest of the trees on our property creak and threaten to give out. Yet I stay and bravely surf the Internet.
My beloved home state has a pretty dismal reputation in the eyes of the rest of the country. Everyone sees the bar fights on Jersey Shore, they see the wealthy slobs on Real Housewives of NJ. They call us "the armpit of America." I can speak for most NJ natives when I say: we love it. We love it because we know it's not the truth. And because we know that, it's kept our little secret. If the rest of the world had any idea what it was really like here, we'd be even more crowded than we already are.
What you won't see on any of the reality shows is my entire neighborhood out, chainsaws and tools ready, the morning after the storm, helping each other break out of the wreckage of trees that crushed our cars and houses. You won't see the memories of our childhoods that are now a twisted ball of metal at the bottom of the ocean. I predict that you WILL see resiliency, you'll see neighbors and communities banding together to clean it all up and get back to business. Especially at the shore. We'll rebuild, and soon enough, you'll be back to seeing bar fights and slobs all over TV again, as if it never happened.
Here's the tree that I mentioned above:
My neighbors' poor cars under the tree:
All of my awesome neighborhood cleaning up the crazy mess. It was really great:
Now, for the not so good. Up in northern NJ, yes, we saw some damage. But definitely nothing close to what happened to our southern counterparts. I have a lot of family and friends down the shore. Some of them evacuated, some did not and are currently trying to get out. A lot of my childhood was spent there, and now a lot of Kid's childhood is spent there. My parents have a summer house not far from the picture below. We don't know what happened to it yet, but we're hoping for the best. We've seen the pictures that keep getting increasingly worse and more heartbreaking, and from what I've heard from first hand accounts, things are not looking good down there at all. Houses, boats and debris have washed all over the place in some areas, and there are residents still there!
Here's Funtown Pier - based on the aerial shots that were on tv, this and the other amusement pier, Casino Pier, are both completely collapsed into the water. It's heartbreaking.
This is where Mantoloking bridge used to be. It looks like the ocean and bay have met and formed a new inlet. Hopefully water will recede, but it doesn't look like it's going to any time soon. Even if it does, this is absolute devastation. Some of the houses in this picture do not belong where they are. They've been swept off their foundations and replaced by the storm surge.
The damage is just unbelievable. Hard to look at. There's nothing to do but wait now. Wait for the water to recede so we can start to pick up the pieces and come back even better than before.We're down, but we're not out. Please consider doing whatever you can to help! My heart goes out to everyone who got hit in any way.