I’m really not as bad as I used to be.
In 2011, I read a few TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) books and occasionally watched (with a smile on my face) the crazy people on Doomsday Preppers. I was also going through a bit of a nesting period in my relationship; it was on the rocks (to say the least), and planning for the future there (even if it was apocalyptic) let me delude myself into believing there was a future. I (we) started stocking an emergency pantry of sorts, and it got a little (not remotely like The Doomsday Preppers, I swear) out of control.
So we lived in the country, my partner and I, but we weren’t nearly far enough off the beaten path for my tastes at the time, which were tending toward Crazy. I wanted a house you couldn’t see from the road, and failing that, I really thought we ought to have guns with which to protect our shit. (Just so we’re clear: I did not then and do not now believe in guns.) Eventually, my partner ended up with a .22 and a .45, both of which she could use with the ease and proficiency of a Southern girl who’s spent nearly every Christmas morning of her life in a deer stand. While I knew how to load, unload, and fire the .45, I was still terrified of doing any of it and would never have thought to use the gun if my life were being threatened; I would’ve been too afraid of the very real possibility that it would be taken and used against me by someone with actual skill.
So, I was an extremely liberal and non-religious lesbian who was a de facto gun owner and prepper. The irony and insanity of all this was not lost on me. Trust.
During that time, I also frequented scary websites where I kept my head down and didn’t say anything but was constantly on the lookout for useful information like the actual “best by” dates for canned food, which powdered milk tasted the best, and how to build a hand pump (that requires no electricity) for your well. I bought books on canning, root cellaring, homesteading and survival skills, I printed out pamphlets with names like “101 uses for white vinegar,” and I started buying a CRAZY amount of stuff for the ever-growing and hardly ever used “pantry” in the basement.
I had stopped all that (mostly) within the following couple of years, but I admit that a bit of it hangs on to this day, albeit to a much more sensible degree. I’ve mentioned our “end of the world” closet before, but I thought maybe there’d be some interest in knowing what it contains (and doesn’t). The idea of doing something like this to fit your own family’s needs might be something you want to consider.
The End of the World closet contains:
- very few dairy items, with the exception of a few dehydrated products (butter, cheese, egg, and milk powders) purchased before the onset of good sense. My guess is that if my family is ever trying to survive a short-term emergency, we’ll be less interested in this stuff. Plus, it all costs a fortune and we’d be better off storing the spices and sauces that we use. Also, we live next door to chickens and dairy farms.
- multiple flats of Aldis canned vegetables of the kind that we use: Tomatoes, mushrooms, tomato paste, green beans, peas, corn, potatoes, carrots. It also contains canned meat, but that stock is still in the process of growing beyond its original tuna and chicken boundaries. Canned roast beef is something I’m always on the lookout for: mixed with canned potatoes and carrots, it makes an amazing warm meal for fall camping that only needs to be heated to be delicious. (I have the most luck on canned meat at Dollar General. They have everything you can imagine, including taco meat and pulled pork.)
- things we don’t eat because we damn well WILL eat them if we’re starving. (e.g., I have dried beans that will still be edible 15 years from now and canned Spam and ham with which to flavor them.) That being said, the closet only contains these things because they’re left over from the crazy days. Now, I only buy things we use.
- things that make no nutritional sense. It has Kool-aid, Spaghettios, Ramen noodles, Spaghetti sauce, bags of hard candy, granola bars, potato chips, peanut butter and fruit snacks. I don’t know about your house, but mine requires these things in order to prevent mutiny and physical harm. Judge me if you want to, I’m sleeping fine tonight.
- staples like iodized and canning salt, flour, sugar, pepper, garlic, minced onion, beef and chicken bouillon, pasta, pancake mix, rice, and a bunch of other spices we use all the time. Everything is rotated.
- multiple seed packets of every heirloom vegetable and garden-growing fruit known to man, but these will hopefully be used soon. I like to garden. =)
- bottled water, small canisters of propane and a single burner stove, basic medical supplies, toilet paper, duct tape, batteries, flashlights, candles, matches, clothesline and clothespins, firestarters, camp soap, bleach, vinegar, tarps, toiletries, cards, board games…all the things you might need to survive any run-of-the-mill emergency (or camping trip) lasting 7 days or less (in any kind of weather).
In TEOTW closet you will NOT find:
- sprouted wheat, regular wheat, a solar oven, or a mill/grinder of any sort. If we were really planning for the end of the world, you’d know it by the grinder, which we’d have to have for our debilitating coffee habit.
- Crazy 11-week water storage. Because I have a LifeStraw and AquaMira and bottled water and there are streams, ponds, and lakes in walking distance.
- “bug-out bags.” I’m staying right here.
So basically what I’m saying is I have this stuff, and maybe that makes me a little on the nutso side, but again, it used to be a lot worse. And yes, Donald Trump scares the ever-lovin’ shit out of me, and there’s a fair chance that our freedoms and our national intelligence level is going to take a hit as a result of his presidency. HOWEVER, I will not be allowing his Royal Orangeness to make me into a panicking crazy person who needs guns, water storage, and sprouting wheat to feel safe. No. Will not. Instead, I’m going to do what I can in the way of common sense, and then I’m going to have a little freakin’ faith that at some point, things will return to some kind of default baseline of normality where I don’t go to the grocery store every week wondering if I should sneak in an extra 12 cans of green beans and another case of water.
And I’m just not going to think about the possibility of nuclear war/winter, because I don’t think anyone can really enjoy life while they’re thinking about that stuff. I mean, when you think you’re preparing for something like that, doesn’t it become impossible to leave your house at some point? What if you couldn’t get back?
No. Not going to think about it.
But I am going to prepare for rainy days and learn what I can in the way of basic skills because HELLO — that’s just good parenting. Plus, TEOTW closet makes it hella easier to sleep at night. You wouldn’t think so, but it does.