Journal Entry 1

Squirreled away some time, so here I am again.

Looking back, it was hard for me to admit that the preparations as I had then were inadequate. Woefully so. It was denial – “everything will be ok, things wouldn’t really get bad.” What kind of person constantly thinks about and prepares for bad times that could possibly never happen anyway? Why have that mental Sword of Damacles dangling over your head? Why talk about it all the time? It’s almost as bad as someone obsessed with Rapture theology. And so since I’m back on the religion thing: Why would God allow our nation to fall that far? Aren’t we blessed, somehow? Well, what makes me think my country is more special than any other country and somehow exempt from hard times? Isn’t that just a bit conceited?

Those are some of the thoughts and things I struggled with. I won’t even get into the bad PR that the prepper community as a whole needed.

I think I understand the Depression generation more and more as time goes by. Waste not. Want not. Looking back, there was so much waste. Not just in my own household, but our Nation as a whole. Maybe it was time for a massive correction, some sort of humbling… I don’t know.

I wish this went in some logical manner for anyone who reads this, but I’ve got to try and just let these things out as they come while recalling how it went down for me and my household.

With all that waste, with all the thoughts, struggles and sense of overwhelming tasks one thinks they need to do to get “ready”, one tends to sink into a comfortable denial which leads one to believe that one has things together. It’s weird… but it happened to many folks, I among them for quite awhile before I actually started trying.

There were tremors in our country, Braxton Hicks-like warning signs over a handful of years. Some caused by herd mentality and base animal fear – I don’t know if anyone who reads this will be old enough to remember that at one time in this country there were MANY brands of toilet paper – seriously. And one year there was what used to be called a “run” on TP and you couldn’t find any for weeks… people lining up for it just to grab a small six or twelve pack. It was weird, there was no rhyme or reason to it. And all of us like lemmings, had to fall in line to get some after the hoarding run happened.

Hell, years before the TP shortage, the Federal Government got on board with preparedness and even created a website with some helpful information about Emergency Preparedness. Once a year, in September, it was “National Emergency Preparedness Month” but nobody really paid any attention to it until a couple years after the TP shortage. Until then, there were so many damn National observance weeks and months overlapping each other that it was just white noise. I remember when it became normal that your average run-of-the-mill box store all had a preparations aisle with “72 Hour Emergency” kits of all kinds. Some useful, some not.

Things got worse but the denial was still rampant.

I know I wasn’t alone in this. Comparing stories with friends, neighbors and even strangers who I met by chance, many of them had been in one form of denial or another.

There are parts of the country that have major storm systems that rip through their area and like clockwork rendered people without power, water, etc., for days and weeks. Hurricane, Flood, Tornado, Earthquake – didn’t matter. And in those areas, by and large, most people weren’t prepared and you’d see news footage of people lined up in stores, chaos ensuing as they raided the shelves.

Even they didn’t take preparations seriously. So what would make one think the rest of the country would, too?

I’m ranting. Where was I?

The little red flags continued for a handful of years. Supply chain shortages. Rationing various items. There was a lot of things when one uses the perfect 20/20 hindsight vision. I’ll let others document the rest I guess.

I began to take serious inventory of what I had with an objective eye during the TP shortage. The old things from my younger life coming back to me. The lack was obvious in every category: food, water, shelter, self-defense, physical fitness. And I don’t mean any of these in some extreme or other. But extra food and water for each person in my home, the ability/knowledge to properly store food and water. That was lacking. The majority of what little bit of food storage I had, needed to be thrown out entirely and restocked as they were passed their expiration dates by a few years. Shelter – what maintenance did I need to do on my home? How would I use water if the city was out for toilets and showers? Was my neighborhood safe enough to stay in place and provide not only protection from the elements, but from others who may be panicky and desperate? Self-defense – can I protect myself and my family adequately enough? How about my family, can they protect themselves? How do our local law enforcement respond in emergency situations? Where is my health and my family member’s health at? These other “non-tangible” things were equally important. These topics and skills required time and effort to address, relearn or to sharpen.

It was beginning to look overwhelming. Denial wanted to creep in.

But I had to start somewhere.

I dusted off a stack of books that I’d read and acquired years before and began to read again, take personal inventory of where my household was and what I should do compared to the information I had. I began walking more, incrementally increasing my physical tasks and encouraging my family to exercise using fun and games on our off days. It didn’t come all together at once. It wasn’t a movie where eight hours of work was condensed into a 45 second montage with awesome music and then I was “ready”. Baby steps all the way and there were struggles. So many things to address and prioritize. I eventually joined a martial arts school to increase my fitness level and to help with self defense, god forbid I should need it.

I tried to network with people. Some worked, some didn’t. I used the government preparedness site as a talking point for people who never considered preparing. “Well, if the Government thinks it is important enough to dedicate an entire website and month to it, maybe it’s worth checking out.” The results were mixed.

In the end, I don’t know how far my own efforts went as I tried to help people get connected and prepared. I guess I should find the small win. There are a couple families with us at the homestead, so there’s that. I had to turn away some who showed up empty handed at the old place, remembering conversations we had had and demanding I take care of them… those were hard days. I tried to help where I could, but made it clear I didn’t have enough to take them on. They could still get things from the government supply lines. We weren’t exactly completely self sufficient when it came down to it.

We made connections with the three families whose properties border ours. Like the rest of us they are busy sowing and harvesting crops, hunting when they can, inspecting fence lines and seeking to protect their own, fighting through the cold of winter, taking as much advantage of the warmer months as possible and connecting with neighbors for mutual support and benefit.

It’s late and tomorrow I go to town early. A government supply caravan is coming through and like the rest of us, even though we do ok, we’ll take whatever they can give out – we’ll be able to use it somehow. Sometimes the supplies and food given there act as currency for barter and trade with other people from town.

It isn’t zombie apocalypse bad… just bad enough. The state and federal governments do what they can but it isn’t much. I don’t even know what things look like politically. I just know things are bad. But we get along and endure. Writing seems to help, therapeutic in a way.

K.S.