The Harvey Diaries (Pt 3, 8/31/17): Isolation & Guilt from a Not-as-Affected Houston-Area Resident

DISCLAIMER: Written on 8/31/2017. This is the third and last Harvey entry because I got my internet back several hours after initially writing this thought entry. Any other Harvey-related news and info that I decide to post will be in real-time, not retro. This post is partially edited for privacy reasons.

Part 1 (of 3) can be found here.

Part 2 (of 3) can be found here.

8/31/17 (approx. 9 am)

I woke up this morning already tired and a bit irritable, and no wonder. I knew nothing would be different with our circumstances, except perhaps it would be sunnier. No phone, no internet, and nowhere to go.

Seems I’m right. If it weren’t for the soggy yard, it could almost be perfect weather.

After laying there a bit, I remembered that I hadn’t left this house since last Friday afternoon (when I got home) and I was getting a little nutty. I wanted to go see and do other things for a bit.

And so, about 7:20 this morning, I went out to the grocery store. We had to wait a while since they weren’t opening until 8 am, but it worked out alright. My main thing was get more butter, some hot food, bagged salad, and a small cake.

Then I got to thinking that I didn’t want a whole damn cake that I’d have to eat. So I settled for donuts and a couple of beef and bean burritos.

Donuts and Burritos—happy birthday.

And thanks to getting older, I don’t even want that much sugar and am feeling sick from it. Either that or I got food poisoning from some of the food I thought I’d salvaged and been eating on the past couple of days.

Yeah, I’m ditching the frozen veggies and stuff today, if and when at all possible.

We got partial cable back this morning, so dad was watching the news…and here’s where I’m noticing a pretty big divide between dad and I right now. Dad’s been watching the coverage on the TV, and though I’m in agreement that some people are being freaking idiots trying to drive through water when they can’t even see the road underneath, some things I can’t abide.

I’m getting annoyed with him when people talk about what they’ve lost and how scared they were. Dad’s becoming a cantankerous fatalist…at least, that’s the best way I can describe it. He said it in a sarcastic, maybe joking manner that “life was a shit sandwich and occasionally you have to take a bite.”

I just rolled my eyes and couldn’t help saying that he’d practically resigned himself to going at any time. Most of these people have kids or grandkids or are way far from retirement and have a lot to do still.

I didn’t want to judge him, but I think he’s getting more depressed that he can’t really do anything. Damned cancers and pneumonia–he’d been strong til the cancer, and the pneumonia made him stop being such a guy and ask for help.

I couldn’t help saying that I figured if this place went and he went with it, he wouldn’t care.

I don’t remember if he had a response, or was even listening at that point, but honestly, I’m a nerve-wracked mess. Partially because of his sneering and fatalism.

The past few days my anxiety’s grown because I’m chafing at being stuck here like this, even though I have nowhere to go. I just can’t stand it. Dad would be in that lazy chair til Doomsday if he could. All he wants to do is watch TV. I don’t think he wants to do anything else, even if he could.

But when I see this flood footage and all these people on the TV helping out, I’m frustrated, I’m depressed, and itching to go.

I want to help people. I want to learn how to do that so I’m not so goddamn useless.

Other than dragging out the generator and getting gas for it, dad doesn’t need me. He needs the t.v. and me to call if the cable goes out again because the man doesn’t know the phone numbers. That’s it.

I think I need him for the roof over my head far more than he needs me. And that grates on me. I need to get a good-paying job so I can get the hell out of here and go live my life some other way.

I also really want to know what I can do to prepare for another storm, and maybe be out there to help others. I never want to spend another storm hunkered inside while other people are suffering.

I’m feeling ashamed and awash with guilt, but I can’t do anything about it.

I was also getting annoyed at the texting going on between my aunt and I. I told her days ago that we had no landline (through text) and she kept calling and couldn’t get a hold of us.

Well, she took all damned day to text me, didn’t she?

So, to get off the damned phone, I got dad to call her on his—much better—cell and they talked a bit. Done and done.

She’s under the impression that my dad’s as bad off as he was when he was in the hospital with pneumonia. She’s also seems to think the water’s several inches up in our yard and we’d never be able to get out, that we’re trapped here. Uh, no—we’re on a huge hill about a mile from the river (which is about 30-50 feet down in a five-mile wide basin), and the water level would have to rise about 50 more feet to even get to us.

Yes, we had water in the yard, but it was just annoying. It sucked your shoes off your feet if you weren’t careful because of the grassy yard and mud, and fire ants wanted to sting any skin they could cling to.

We weren’t going to float off at any point—no inches of water above the grass in the whole yard. The low-lying areas stayed flooded lakes for a while, but when the rain quit they started to drain. That was it. We’re also two-feet above the ground because we’re a mobile home—so that was another.

When I said we were stuck here, it was because all the roads leading to places worth going were cut off and flooded out. Our home was fine.

She’s a worry-wart and a half. It hit me last night that my aunt and I probably won’t get along if she comes to live with us after all. I’m going to be saving my money after paying off my debts to probably get the hell out of Dodge. I told dad that I love my uncle, but she’d be driving me crazy.

He just kinda nodded and grinned in his “yeah, but what are you gonna do?” sort of way, and went back to the news.

God I miss the coffee shop. I miss small talk with strangers and humor with the baristas. Oh, how I hate my life right now. And to top it off, if the roads were clear (and I had internet to check), I could’ve gone into work today. Looks like it’ll be Saturday at the earliest. Shit—I need hours badly.

And of all the things, I want/need another job. I’ve thought of it before, but now this storm’s really made me want to find a way to become a rescuer or responder. I wonder how to get into the national guard, and if I can at my age now.

I dunno. Maybe I’m too late. But are there jobs I could have where I can get paid to learn to be a rescuer? Where I can work with non-profits or the Red Cross. I hate floods because I’m unable to do anything. Hell, I’d contemplate saving up for a boat so I could learn how to drive it (a small one) and help people out.

But with my finances, that’d be the last thing on the list… good mudding boots would be a smaller worthwhile investment, though.

Never got any before–how did I go this long without waders in my life?

Dad’s up. I’m gonna get another donut and coffee, finish reading “Isaac’s Storm” again (because I’m a weird, morbid little shit) and just keep myself busy as I can until the internet comes back…and the texts from my boss and family start up again.

Happy-fucking-birthday. Something always comes along to make me hate it, and this year’s no exception.

But this one’s definitely the worst, if only because I don’t think I’ve ever felt more useless in my life.

What do I want for my birthday? A new, good-paying job. Seriously, can somebody get into the Red Cross and be trained to help others? I’d be more than willing to learn and get a job there. Or is it volunteer only? I need a job bad, and want to help more…

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