Don’t Worry – I’m Prepared

Posted by mwallach on August 26, 2011 in New Yorkers |

Dear That’s Life,

How many times does one need to hear the same thing over and over again before believing it? Such is what I internalized when faced with yet another advertisement for the American Red Cross’s Readiness Preparedness campaign. Print ads, billboards and posters all seem to be strategically placed, sending me a message I desperately needed to learn. My husband, the mature and responsible one in this relationship, has repeatedly requested I stock our home with necessities as per the recommendations. In the event of an emergency, with a full house and young lives depending on us, this is our responsibility. Of course, he is right. And as if I needed another hit over the head to take care of this, the ground shook this afternoon.

Residents of the Five Towns spilled out of our homes and businesses on to the streets, faced with our first earthquake. We looked at each other with incredulous eyes, wondering if it was felt by all, if it really happened and was what we thought. Confirmed by the news, the buzz in town spread like wildfire. Aftershocks of an earthquake in Virginia shook the coast, felt as far north as Canada.

I headed out to Central Avenue in an effort to find my daughter, her friend and ensure they were okay. Having brought them back to the office with me, safe and sound, I then did what any responsible adult would do when faced with the reality that she is totally unprepared for a true emergency: I started an “earthquake playlist” on Facebook, inviting my friends to post their suggestions. Like Nero playing the violin as Rome burned to the ground, if anything else went wrong, at least we’d have theme music. That’s me: always thinking ahead.

Of course, I also changed my Blackberry status. That, too, made complete sense to me. No longer something cute about one of my kids, it quickly read, “I am SO not moving to LA.” While I am sure this is not what the American Red Cross has on their list, I knew I was moving in the right direction for me. This is exactly how I should and would be expected to handle a crisis: by laughing the whole way through.

Years ago, the central air conditioning in our house backed up. Unbeknownst to us, the insulation in our attic was supersaturated with condensation. We were fast asleep when the ceiling in our room caved in and a waterfall of sorts poured right out, missing our bed by mere inches. I woke my husband, startled that it felt like it was raining inside. Of course, without my glasses on, that was what I assumed. Within seconds, however, the lights were on and we became very aware that it was not raining outside at all. Gallons and gallons of water rushed out of the ceiling, and while my husband sprang into action, I was paralyzed by laughter, rendered completely incapable, straining to catch my breath. “Get up and do something!” shouted my husband, as this was no time for such behavior. That, however, was all I could contribute. Faced with an earthquake, starting this playlist was the most natural thing I could do.

Phone service may have been limited and spotty right after the shaking stopped, but Facebook was up and running. Within minutes of posting, my friends heeded the call. 42 comments were posted, marking an all time personal high. There were certain obvious selections – classics, if you will – like Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet,” Elvis’s “I’m All Shook Up” and the Beatles’ “Shake it up, Baby.” My husband contributed R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” which had not crossed my mind but quickly took a prominent spot on the list. ACDC’s “Shook Me All Night Long” was a brilliant addition as was Bill Haley’s, “Shake, Rattle and Roll.”

Spanning genres, our list took on an international flair with contributions from Israel. Jerusalem sits atop a prominent fault line. Israelis may need this list, too, I reasoned, though am confident making playlists is not on their to-do lists. Bomb shelters and gas masks trump Carole King. I must give credit, however, to my friend living outside Jerusalem who added “I Like to Move it, Move It” from the Madagascar movie to the list. Once my daughter’s suggested J Lo’s “On the Floor,” and a friend added the rap song, “Richter Scale” by EPMD, the list was truly international while spanning numerous genres. We were a classy bunch.

I thought the list was complete when John Mellancamp’s “Crumblin’ Down,” as well as “Shakin’” by Eddie Money” and Billy Joel’s “Still Rock and Roll to Me” were added. However, two late postings by my friend Avi served as the icing on our cake. U2’s “Vertigo” and Led Zepplin’s “Nobody’s Fault but Mine” ensured the timelessness of the list, solidifying its value as a necessity in a kit for disaster preparedness.

Many other songs were mentioned, although they did not all make the cut. For those of you who wonder whether I have started making the actual kit based on the Red Cross’s suggestions, I am getting closer. I promise. Any day, now, I suppose. Until then, please join the fun: email your selections to The best ones will be featured here next week. Emperor Nero has met his match (no pun intended.)
As seen in the South Shore Standard Aug 2011

P.S. I have already rec’d requests for an “Hurricane Playlist” – note: The Scorpions’s “Rock me Like a Hurricane” is already taken – stay tuned…

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