Outsmarting the Gremlins Part II

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Read Part One.

The biggest things Mormons plan for, of course, is the Second Coming and the Apocalypse that will precede it. Gotta be righteous, so you don't get burned with the heathen! Also must stock up on a two-years' supply of raw wheat (don't forget the hand-cranked grinder so you can still grind it when the power goes out), a two-years' supply of potable water, and a two-years' supply of toilet paper. Mormon pantries are a sight to behold, as are the spaces under Mormon beds: cans of dehydrated potatoes and cornmeal and god only knows what.

At some point, when the church grew large enough that its membership wasn't concentrated in the spacious intermountain West, where people could have huge basements in which to store foodstuffs well beyond the expiration date (ever walked into a basement where two dozen cans of potted beef have exploded? That stuff stinks even when it's not rancid), someone in charge said, "OK, we'll let you scale back to just a ONE-YEAR supply of all those necessities. And don't forget to rotate your canned goods!"

You may think I'm kidding, but in her attic, my mom really does have a one-year supply of toilet paper. Outside the house, my father has a ten-year supply of rotted firewood, as well as dozens of old car batteries that can be hooked up to a generator and recharged and power various special appliances he has bought because they will run off old car batteries. (He also has two old Cadillacs: a 62 with rocks in the gas tank courtesy of some nasty neighbor boy, and a 49 that still runs, which he periodically has repainted, drives for a day or two, then parks again for ten to fifteen years. In addition, he owns an ancient aluminum motor home, a piece of junk whose only virtue is that its exterior is recyclable; a small RV in which he and my mother have driven across the country a time or two; a 40-year-old green Chevy pickup, the vehicle in which I learned to drive and which we all agree Dad should keep because sometimes, you need to haul stuff; a hideous white suburban with a broken driver's seat that he refuses to sell because it might come in handy, but which never will because of the truck; and a Ford Yukon he drives every day and complains about every day because it's not a Lincoln, which is what he really wanted, but he bought that damn little SUV brand new because my brother could get him a deal on it through his job, and Dad was too cheap to fork out the cash on a Lincoln, even though he could afford it. The front of the house looks fine, but the side view.... I swear to god, it looks like the opening shot of a movie about people who leave their empty whiskey bottles under the bed and tether a goat to the lawn so they don't have to mow it. The only thing that redeems the scene is the fact that none of the cars are on blocks.)

Adults were taught to Buy in Bulk and Never Throw Anything Useful Away; as for young people, we learned about Goals! That's what the Mormon church teaches its youth: the Importance of Setting Goals! For six years, from the time I started junior high until I graduated from high school, as part of official Church curriculum, I had to set two goals every month in areas covering my spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical, social and artistic development. I was good at setting and meeting goals. "Run three miles every morning." "Earn straight A's." "Never be tardy." We were told that "a goal not written is only a wish." I guess that's why I ended up serving a mission and getting a PhD instead of marrying a nice Mormon boy: I forgot to write down the goal to get married!

Anyway, the point of all this is that I learned, well and truly, how to plan ahead--not just for things I know I'll have to deal with (like three classes full of students every Tuesday and Thursday), but for emergencies. I keep a valid passport around, even if I have no plans to leave the country, because what if I suddenly have to fly to Italy on a moment's notice? I check the ten-day weather forecast so I can plan what I'm going to wear during the next week. I change my clocks BEFORE I go to bed when the time arrives to go on or off Daylight Savings Time (which I loathe) so that when I wake up, I know as soon as I glance at the clock what time it really is. I even plan ahead with my blog, so that I always have backup material in case I am having WAY too much fun living my life to write about it. I do this because it makes my life easier and more orderly in the long run, but I also do it to outsmart the gremlins, whose purpose in life is to cause chaos in mine, and I like to keep the chaos at bay.

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My Mormon mother, before her death, lived in a tiny two bedroom apartment with her husband and their year's supply of food, water, clothing and yes, toilet roll. You could guarantee that if you sat down on anything in the apartment, including the sofa in the living room, that it would be stuffed with wheat, oats or dried milk. They also had 72 hour emergency survival kits, if you can imagine a sixty-year-old and a seventy-year-old hiking off into the Lake District (the nearest "mountains" in England to where my mother lived) with these pretty enormous packs on their backs, you can perhaps see the absurdity of the situation. However, one thing I like and learned about this preparation for the Second Coming was the idea of self-sufficiency. I am very proud and happy to say I am completely self-sufficient in jam, marmalade and chutney; I never buy these things in the shops and I have a good stock of them at home in my basement, all home-made and all delicious. As I grow my own canabis and have a boyfriend who fancies himself as an appreciator of fine wines, I can't help wryly and ironically boasting of my more than one year's supply of dope and wine! So when the apocalypse does come, you're all welcome to chill out for a year in my house, where we will spoon-feed each other last year's strawberry jam in a sweetly pungent smoke haze accompanied by hearty deep red burgundies. One thing you should do, though, is bring your own toilet roll - I haven't yet figured out how to make that at home...

You make the apocalypse sound positively fun!

Can we do some of those things BEFORE Armageddon? And if so, will you provide the toilet paper?

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on October 21, 2005 9:19 AM.

Outsmarting the Gremlins Part I was the previous entry in this blog.

Self-Portrait as Modest Desires is the next entry in this blog.

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