On Readiness

Steel-toed boots. Eyeliner. A good-quality trenchcoat. A Zippo, just in case. A pocketknife, a handkerchief or two, electrical tape, and a tiny first-aid kit. These are the things no girl should be without. You can, I suppose, substitute duct tape, but a roll of that is kind of hard to stick in a pocket. Though I have. Once or twice. Just to be sure.

“You need chains,” the Selkie told me, and proceeded to equip me with such. They go in the back of the car, along with the two first-aid kits (softcover survival and hardcover medical), the gallon of distilled water (great for washing the floormats after Sir Pewksalot gets excited), some rolled-up towels, bungees (you can never have too many) and granola bars, the roll of toilet tissue and the extra plastic bags knotted up and stuffed into a milk crate. Antibacterial handi-wipes and extra ibuprofen in the center console, a Sharpie, a tiny tub of Carmex (even if it melts, it will be okay, unlike a tube) and a multi-tool that can break a car window and slice a seatbelt…just in case. Ice scraper. Extra dog leash.

In the garage: the axe handle, the heavy bag, canned supplies and water, extras and just-in-cases on shelves next to the decorations and the boxes of author’s copies. (Maybe I could chuck them at an intruder. That might work.) In the house: bokkan scattered about, the linen closet stocked with first-aid and cold medicine and light bulbs, cleaning supplies, and a weapons check every day. Going through each room and making sure that no matter where I am there is a weapon within easy reach. It doesn’t have to be anything someone else would think of as a weapon, just something I can use for self-defense. Even the souvenir rocks from road-trips can be chucked at a poor soul who won’t know what hit them until too late.

Baby wipes. Sleeping bags. Extra umbrella. Go bags by the front door, both for paranormals (haven’t had a client in years, but still keep it packed and ready) and for emergency/disaster. Important paperwork stashed. Extra pens. Scarves hanging on pegs, gloves in a bucket just in case, flashlights checked and batteries tested. Charcoal, tealights, another survival kit, spare sheets for God knows what, a stack of rag-towels for sopping up spills or ripping into bandages. A stack of old cloth diapers, because they are useful. Cat litter, not just for the cats but also for cleanup of who-knows.

I was told, all during my childhood, that I was flighty. That I’d never make it in the real world, because my head was in the clouds. Instead, I’m the one with a stick of gum, the aspirin in the bottom of the purse, the pocketknife, the GPS or the candle or the cigarette lighter. Motherhood taught me some of that, but my instinct, even while living rough, has been to prepare, as far as possible, for whatever.

I am either going to be in great shape when the zombie apocalypse hits…or on an episode of Hoarders. It’s anyone’s guess which.

The weird thing is, I still think of myself as stupid and flighty. I still have the knee-jerk “oh, I’m a mess, I’m never prepared,” even when I’m the one with the spit and baling wire. I am rarely caught-without in any major way, which is probably helped by the fact that I’ve lived in this house for a good decade now. Which is another thing–even after that long, I’m ready to move at any moment. Ready to pack and torch and flee if necessary. I always have been, but if it hasn’t been necessary for the past ten years, well.

My point (and I do have one) is that readiness is a process, and that I am rarely as helpless as I am afraid I might be. As life lessons go, it’s a good one. I just wish I could get it into my skull so I could relax. Well, at least fractionally. But until that happens, it’s the trenchcoat and a pocket check before I leave the house. It’s checking the go-bags every month and eying the linen closet weekly. It’s packing for just in case and hauling what I might need if disaster, either physical or otherwise, hits. It’s getting ready, being ready, as a state of mind.

What do you do to get ready, kids? I’m interested. I’m always looking for readiness tricks to shamelessly steal borrow. Yeah, borrow. That’s it.

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