Dispatches from a Memphis Snow Bunker (The Commercial Appeal)

This piece originally appeared in the Memphis, TN Commerical Appeal and online here: Dispatches from a Memphis Snow Bunker

Friday: We knew it was going to happen. We just didn’t know when.

My family and I had been watching the weather for days, but we still couldn’t nail down exactly when the snow would come. 3 a.m.? 6 a.m.? All anyone knew was that it was imminent.

For hours on Thursday night we looked on in silence, and upon awaking Friday morning we saw it wa worse than we imagined. My children ran outside to play in the dangerous stuff. I didn’t have the heart to tell them what they were dealing in.

I just watched in horror as they threw it, rolled in it, ate it. I held my wife’s hand. Tears welled in her eyes. “Stay strong,” I said. The kids were cold and decided to go back inside. We made it through. They survived — barely.

All we can do is outlast it. Time is our enemy. We’ve depleted our bacon and egg supply. There’s just a little milk, and the snow shows no signs of stopping except for the weather telling us that it will end around 11:30 a.m. What about what’s already on the road though? What about that? It could last for hours, possibly until tomorrow. Tomorrow!

Needing supplies, we kept watch on the roads. By the time we felt safe enough to drive a little that afternoon, we had eaten all the chips and salsa in our pantry. Weak with hunger, fatigued physically and emotionally, we braved the weather.

Covered from head to toe, socks on our hands because we couldn’t find gloves, we made the half-mile trek to Kroger. There wasn’t much, but we found enough to make it another day.

Tuesday: This time it came out of nowhere.

The weather lulled us into comfort, then returned like a thief in the night. For the past few days we’d managed pretty well. The roads were OK. We even went to the Grizzlies game Monday like everything was normal. What arrogance!

Tuesday morning, it was back and worse than before. How are we expected to live like this, without help, without hope, without school? This is no way to raise a family.

Jake drew the short straw, so he will be the one to sacrifice himself for the rest of us, if we need supplies. He’s had a good life, though, a long, full 9 years. Hopefully it won’t come to that, but, let’s face it, it probably will.

I feel like we’ve been in this house for weeks even though we got to leave Saturday afternoon, Sunday and Monday. The mind can play tricks on a man. Just now, the dog looked like a giant ham, like in the cartoons.

The bright side is we’ve learned a lot about survival and the resiliency of the human spirit. Rationing the oatmeal, buying an ice scraper, using blankets—these have been the keys to our making it so far.

If things get much worse, though, we’ll have to switch to Emergency Heat. God help us.

Don’t Fret Holiday Chit-Chat; Just Find a Narcissist (The Commercial Appeal)

This piece originally appeared in the Memphis, TN Commercial Appeal here: Don’t Fret Holiday Chit-Chat; Just Find a Narcissist

Now that we are in the middle of the holiday season, you are no doubt going to be around a lot of family. Inevitably, you will encounter at least one narcissist.

There have been countless advice columns by psychologists, therapists, counselors, people with eyes and brains, about the negative/poisonous affects of having a narcissist in your life.

I invite you to think of all the benefits that come from having narcissistic personalities around you during the holidays.

You never have to decide what to talk about

Keeping a conversation going can be exhausting. Eventually, you are going to run out of topics. (Let’s face it, you can only talk about weather, sports, kids, and work for so long. Humans have their limits.)

With a narcissist, the conversation will never lag because there is always a new accomplishment or new reason someone is jealous, or not as smart, or a new idea that is not as good as your narcissist’s.

Developing your own opinions and making good decisions can be a hassle

There are so many external forces vying for your thoughts, so many sides trying to persuade you to jump on board in politics, entertainment, religion, fashion, education. Wouldn’t it be nice to have one source for correct opinions and decision-making without even having to think any of them through?

Well, that is exactly what you have in your narcissist. You don’t even have to ask to get your answers. A simple, “Well, the Grammys are coming up,” or “Man, I just can’t decide where my kids need to go to school,” and you will get every ounce of information you will ever need to draw your own conclusions without any of the trouble of reasoning. Just take it in and accept it. Doesn’t that sound easy?

Placing blame has never been easier

When something negative happens, we all look for someone to blame. The problem is, most of us were taught that problems are complicated and nuanced. Having a narcissist puts you two steps ahead. First, it is a lot easier to assign blame when you know whose fault it isn’t, and it will never, ever be your narcissist’s fault. Second, your narcissist — if worth his or her salt — should tell you exactly who to blame in every circumstance.

You always have something to do

Narcissists are needy creatures. They need affirmation and someone to boss around. This means you will never be bored. The bigger the narcissist, the busier you will be, and that is less time you have to occupy with your own things. It is also less time to think about how sad your narcissist is making you. You will be way too busy for any of that.

Hopefully this helps you to realize how blessed you are to have such a self-centered, egocentric, self-absorbed person in your life. If you are lucky enough to have more than one, even better. You can just put them in a room together and watch what happens. That should keep you entertained for quite a while.

(Photo: CBS)