I Won’t Cop an Attitude Over Your Magnitude

Surviving Natural Disasters 101

I’m feeling sorry for East Coast people this week. First an earthquake, and now a hurricane. What’s next – a plague of locusts? Fire and brimstone? Sandwiches smeared with Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise? HAVEN’T THEY SUFFERED ENOUGH??

And I know a lot of people from the West Coast are smirking over their cute little quake. I figure, if the city of Portland shuts down at the first sign of snow flurries, we should be a little more understanding. It’s all about perspective, after all. Sure, a 5.8 out here might barely cause a raised eyebrow, but if you’re not used to the ground shaking beneath your feet that’s a pretty scary sensation. Check out Catherine’s post on surviving these natural disasters if you’d like a good laugh. Turns out she has no idea what to do when Mother Nature flips out.

I’m sort of a pro at weathering natural disasters. I’ve survived earthquakes, blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes and even once dealt with a brief but wicked dust devil. My best advice to those looking for survival tips is simple.

There ain’t a damn thing you can do about it.

I mean, there are obvious proactive steps you can take to maximize your safety. Board up your windows before a hurricane. Head to a tornado shelter when a funnel cloud approaches. Don’t step in hot lava if you’re in the vicinity of an erupting volcano. But otherwise, your fate is pretty much out of your control. Take earthquakes, for example. They tell you to take cover beneath a table when the ground starts shaking, but if the roof collapses, all that will do is flatten you more evenly. The simple truth is, if your time’s up – your time is up! So Catherine’s hurricane prep, which involves wine and ice cream, seems just about perfect to me.

Quite possibly the most worthless advice ever. (Courtesy of moceanviewjournal.com)

Best of luck to my friends and family who will be riding out Irene.

A Wake-Up Call

My last post, in which I mentioned my borderline OCD tendencies, was a bit of a wakeup call. I realized that maybe I should loosen up the obsessive reigns just a tad. The first thing to go? I ditched my weekly grocery trip.

I’ve always been a very organized person by nature. A planner. For years – as long as I can remember, actually – I would plan out meals a week in advance and buy the appropriate groceries accordingly. I figured this would save me money in the long run, and I wouldn’t have to deal with the daily hassle of “what-should-I-make-for-dinner-tonight?!” It’s a good system in theory, but not really practical. For one thing, how can I possibly know that six days from now I’ll be in the mood for chicken fajitas? Maybe I’ll have had a rough day at work or end up having chicken fajitas for lunch that day or feel too lazy and tired to chop and dice and saute. But because I’ve stocked up on all the ingredients for chicken fajitas, I pretty much have to make them. Deviate from the menu, and you end up with spoiled cilantro or chicken that you end up tossing because it’s been in the fridge too long. Another problem is leftovers. I am notoriously terrible at eating them, and I end up with a lot of them – especially on the weeks where the kids are gone and it’s just me, because it’s tough to cook for one. I couldn’t eat them because I had another meal all lined up in the queue, so inevitably the leftovers would sit in the refrigerator for a few days (only because I’m an optimist) before ending up in the garbage. Waste of food, waste of money. Clearly, this is no way to live your life.

So effective immediately, I am abolishing my weekly dinner menu. Already, I feel like a burden has been lifted! I didn’t have to sit down and figure out dinners for the next seven days, and I skipped the weekly Friday trip to the grocery store. God, I feel like such a rebel! I have no idea what I’m having for dinner on Sunday or next Wednesday or on September 2nd – and it doesn’t bother me a bit! I am carefree and breaking the rules, damn the consequences. So this is what it’s like to be James Dean. I can dig it, cats.

I was telling a friend today how much I have changed lately. Though I remain unemployed, this has been an amazing year that, ironically, has only been possible because I’m unencumbered by a job. Between a solo road trip that has changed my life and self-publishing my novel and discovering surprising truths about friendship, this is actually turning into one of the best years of my life. I am acting impulsively and doing things that make me happy. It’s as though I have shaken myself out of a stupor I had been in and am just now beginning to embrace life. Screw living for others – I’m in it for me, and I am bound and determined to do whatever it takes to find happiness.

Watch out, world.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

28 thoughts on “I Won’t Cop an Attitude Over Your Magnitude

  1. Drop, cover, hold on – we did those drills in classroom in elementary school in the 50’s.
    for nukes coming from Russia. I think we all knew this was pretty dumb even at that age. Under my desk? For a nuke? You could get a good panties shot now and then, however. Yeah, we know about that at that age too. At 1 o’clock every Saturday the two huge air raid horns at either end of the county would test. Scary time for little kids. Then came Cuban Missile crisis just 90 miles from us in Miami.


  2. I’m with you on the Miracle Whip. That stuff is nasty.

    I live on Long Island and we’ve done everything we can to prepare. All the outdoor furniture and planters have been hauled inside. Things that can’t come in have been tied down. Now there’s nothing left to do but stare out at my neighbor’s massive black walnut tree. If it falls, I’ll be able to pick walnuts from my sofa while I wait for the fire department to come and extract me. 😐

    What surprising truths have you discovered about friendship? Enquiring minds want to know. 😉


    1. Long Island, eh? I guess you’re in for a wild weekend, Margaret – and not wild in a good way. Yikes! Hope you come through unscathed.

      And that is a very dangerous question you ask.


  3. Can you believe the stuff we’re experiencing here on the east coast this past week?

    It’s like Mother Nature has decided to generously bestow us with her various talents!

    Now the hurricanes I’m use to because I lived in Florida for 20 years. And honestly, they don’t freak me out. But, an EARTHQUAKE?!?!?! You should have seen me grabbing onto the bathroom sink when the tremor vibrated up my apartment building. I felt like I was in one of those 1970’s disaster movies – HA!

    “this is actually turning into one of the best years of my life. I am acting impulsively and doing things that make me happy. It’s as though I have shaken myself out of a stupor I had been in and am just now beginning to embrace life.”

    Good for you, Mark!

    I remember being out of work for four months, collecting my unemployement, and having the same ephiphany. It’s amazing what happens to us when we just live in moment and allow our lives to just be. That was a period in my life of MUCH self-discovery.

    Have a super weekend, buddy!


    1. Epiphany is the perfect word, Ron! You nailed that one. And I’m laughing over the idea of you grabbing hold of the sink during the earthquake. I suppose the best part about that is, if you were crushed to pieces beneath a pile of rubble, at least you’d have clean hands!


  4. You go right ahead and do things that make You happy….you so deserve it and I couldn’t be happier for you!

    Congrats on conquering some of your OCD…I can tell already that you are so dang happy about it all! Yippee!!

    Yeah…like dropping under a desk would help you in a nuclear blast, let alone an earthquake….*heavy sigh!!*


  5. Sandwiches smeared with Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise? HAVEN’T THEY SUFFERED ENOUGH??
    LOL – I would rather STARVE than eat a sandwich with miracle whip on it! GROSS! You are too funny 🙂

    Thanks for the shout out and the tips. It has definitely seemed in your writings like you are happier lately. I love that you talked about that here – the posts when you are really open about things that are going on in your life are the ones I enjoy most. Probably because I’m a chronic oversharer myself!


    1. Your post was too damn good not to link to.

      And I know you like the more honest and open stuff…I hold a lot back here. More than anybody knows. But I may slowly come around and share more from the heart. Let’s just see what the future holds.


  6. The first paragraph made me laugh out loud, Mark! Too funny.

    About your novel–

    It’s a page-turner, my friend! I’m now up to page 90, and I LOVE it! I hope you are writing something else. I would love to see what would happen if you marry your ability to tell a good story with your humor. That would be fun.

    If you are reading this comment, and you have not yet purchased Mark’s “No Time for Kings,” you are missing out! Buy it now! I can’t put it down!



  7. I kind of want to sneak into your kitchen and turn all the jars slightly sideways to make you really combat your OCD. Hahahaha! I use to do that to a friend who kept all his cds alphabetical and perfectly centered to read. I guess I’m one of those friends. But, he’s one of 2 people I’ve remained in contact with since high school, so clearly he hasn’t called it quits on me for it.

    I’ve had my own learning experiences with friendships this year. I don’t know about you, but it wasn’t easy and even if it’s for the best, it still makes me sad. Hope you are doing well and that good friends who support you are rallied around and there for you when you need it. Lord knows we need good friends like that!


  8. Hah… you’re right. You DID say “cats”! Reading you is so much sweeter with paragraph breaks. And your book really does kick ass.


  9. As a San Franciscan with a moderate amount of natural disaster threat cred, I was all very snarky about their earthquake, but then I remembered I kind of refuse to do Real Winter, so have little to no weather cred. I guess it all works out… 🙂

    Also, WHOOHOO for new chapters in life! I bet your book is waiting in my mailbox at home by this time. As soon as I get home from vacation, I’m digging in!

    PS: “reigns” appeals to my royalist tendencies, but I think you’re looking for “reins”. Um, yeah, speaking of OCD editing; can’t help it, I guess.


    1. I know what you mean. I survived Loma Prieta…anything after that is a cakewalk.

      I’m nervous for you of all people to read my book, because there are a few little but annoying errors in there, especially pertaining to apostrophes. I’ve got a corrected version on my hands, but it’ll cost $149 to make changes at this point. I’ll probably go for it, though – I want it to be as perfect as possible, you know? Next time I’ll have to pay you to edit my manuscript! 🙂


      1. Loma Prieta seems like only yesterday. Crazy to think about…

        Please don’t be self-conscious about my anal retentive editing. I am excited to read your novel no matter what! Errors happen, pshaw!


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