Frankenstorm

Hello all! I am writing this from the comfort of my own home, whilst still in my pajamas, since Hurricane Sandy is about to wipe through the eastern seaboard. My office (and the federal government) both announced their closures last night, so I’m working from home and trying to make the most of the time I have left with power. Last time anything remotely close to this happened (the derecho that I got caught driving in!), our house lost power for a good 3 or 4 days (though it was worse for a lot of people — including my parents!) I know that the companies are more prepared this time, having heard about the storm for days, but I’m sure we’ll still be without power for a good while.

Guess that means I better get this post out while I can, eh?

Saturday night, we had a Halloween party at the Powell household!

My friend Holly, from Canada, has been visiting this week, thus making this the second Halloween we’ve been able to spend with each other in a row! (I was in Ottawa at this time last year.) The year before was the first Halloween party that my brother, Ben, his fiancee, Taylor, and I were able to throw at our house.

As you may already know from my glorious Harry Potter-themed birthday party this past April, I kind of love throwing parties. We don’t do it craaaazy often (just once or twice a year), but I love being a hostess! Decorating, prepping snacks, making sure that people are having fun (er, I hope they had fun!) and all that good stuff. Holly and I spookified the house just a smidge, made sure there were snacks-a-plenty (including the ah-mazing cupcakes that we decorated, pictured above and below, which I could not stop staring at like a total creeper), and before we knew it… party time!

At our last Halloween party, Ben did a great job of capturing almost all of the guests costumes when they arrived. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a camera mishap pretty early on in the party, so we only snapped pics of a few people. Sad! There were a tons of great costumes that came after, but here is a small sampling of what our awesome friends came dressed as. Can you guess who they all are?






Aileen and Jackie, in the last photo, definitely win in my book for best costumes, as Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Though Tom’s Sean of the Dead costume + accompanying zombie was pretty epic, too. Oh, what was my costume, you ask? Well, first, let me show you my costumed (and reluctant) partners-in-crime.


Yep, Harry and Daxter were buggin’ out… in all senses. But they looked flippin’ adorable, and were, in fact, the inspiration for my own costume!

My costume is actually a reversible ladybug/bumblee costume (the bee print is on the inside), and I had a bit of a hard time deciding which one to be. In the end, though, polka dots always win. But I guess I have a fallback costume for next year?

And Sean was a bugcatcher. Kekeke.

Definitely a fun party! It wrapped up earlier than most of our parties have in the past, but I was actually kind of grateful for that since I was exhaaaausted. I feel like as we get older (I say as if I am so very ancient indeed, haha), parties that last until 4 AM just don’t really happen anymore? I gotta say, I’m kind of okay with that. You still get all the fun, but half of the residual next-day exhaustion/hangovers. At least until next year’s birthday party, that is. (Spoiler alert: it’s going to be Hunger Games-themed! My Quarter Quell!)

I hope that everyone is able to stay safe and dry through the hurricane as it worsens, especially if you’re in a coastal area. Hopefully things will blow over (too soon?) sooner rather than later!

<3

The (Literal) Light at the End of the Tunnel

As it turns out, my post Friday, suggesting the use of no-cook meals, was rather timely. Because you know that incredible storm that traumatized me against wanting to drive ever ever again? Well, its effects have lasted through the entire weekend! Thankfully we got our power back this morning, hence the hilarious title of this blog post. Huzzah!


(source)

Well, actually, consider that a considerably hushed huzzah, since as you can see from the above picture (of Great Falls street, so scary!), it may still be quite a while until normalcy is resumed. Most of Falls Church (including our parents’ place) is still without power, and a ton of traffic lights throughout all of Northern Virginia are still out too. Hopefully this is the home stretch though, and everyone’s power will be restored before long. It’s going to be another hot day today!

So, aside from the power-induced happiness that I’m feeling on this Monday morning (which is also informed by the fact that my amazing friend Ai Rei is coming to visit me for a WEEK starting today – SQUEEE!!), I have another announcement to make. Most of you probably won’t care about this at all, but I’m finally putting my (lack of) money where my mouth is: I’m done talking (er, typing?) about my love of writing, and I’m both delighted and petrified to announce that I’ve started writing a book. It isn’t the kind of book that means I’ve leveraged my blog into a book deal. Alas, my life is definitely not exciting enough for that. Nope, I’ve begun writing the kind of book that I would want to read. So, basically, one aimed at teenage girls. It’s (going to be) a young adult, science-fiction-esque book that I am kind of crazy excited about, in a totally vain and self-absorbed way. Wheeee!

In addition to the writing of the book itself, I’ve also started a second blog to chronicle my (mis)adventures in writing and, eventually, self-publishing. My plan right now is to dive into the world of self-publishing via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing once the book is finished (I’m about a quarter of the way there). The new blog is called “Gretchen Writes“, and if you’re moderately interested in following my thoughts over there (though I would completely understand if you couldn’t possibly care less), please feel free to subscribe!

And that’s about all I’ve got for this Monday morning. For those of you affected by the storm and power outage, I hope you get power back soon! For the rest of you, stay cool anyway. 2 days until the Fourth of July!

Stormborn

Yes, that is a Game of Thrones reference. Yes, you should be ashamed if you can’t place it. Yes, you should go watch GoT right now if you haven’t seen it. If you have any power, that is.

So, last night was one of the single most terrifying experiences of my life. Granted, I know that might not be saying much considering I’m a staunchly middle class, fairly privileged, mostly-white person, but still. As you might already have heard (or experienced for yourself if you’re unlucky), Virginia, Maryland, DC, and much of the rest of the mid-Atlantic area was pounded by severe thunderstorms Friday night. And when I say severe, I mean SEVERE.

Technically, I’ve read that what we were hit with is called a “derecho“. Essentially, it’s a wall of successive thunderstorms all following each other in a line. We got winds up to (over?) 80 mph, an incredible amount of rain, and general mayhem.

And guess who was out driving when it started? Yep, this guy.

I was driving back from seeing “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”, which was quite a lovely movie, in my opinion, if not kind of emotionally traumatizing at the end. What it WAS, however, was quite possibly the absolute WORST movie to see before getting stuck in a torrential downpour (the movie is essentially about the armageddon). Also, I should probably note that our original intentions had been to see “Magic Mike”, but it was sold out. But I digress.

I was waiting at a stoplight when I saw the first signs of a storm that I had absolutely no idea to expect. I hadn’t heard anything about it (I freaking posted the weather in yesterday’s post, and it said 10% chance of rain. TEN PERCENT!), had no idea that anything was even amiss. Not until I saw that first dust cloud sweep across the road, that is. It was like something out a movie: a giant wall of sand and grit began hurling towards me. Lightning lit up the sky like fireworks, the bolts were flashing so frequently. The trees began to sway, violently. I heard the wind before I felt it, rushing through the trees like a steamroller before it finally hit my car. And when I say it hit it, I mean it HIT it. I felt it actually move my car.

My first thought was that I was about to be swept up into a tornado in my car, a la the movie “Twister”. My second set of thoughts was a mental battle about whether I should pull over or not. I was on a road that was lined with trees on either side, thrashing like crazy, so I ultimately decided that pulling over seemed less safe than continuing on. A few minutes later, the clouds opened up and the heavens rained down on us. Well, I guess technically the hail came first, crashing into my windshield along with leaves and twigs and road debris with a resounding “whack” that made me jump every time.

It was at about this time that I started to panic. Every time I started to cry, I had to tell myself to quit it because it only made it that much harder to see. The rain was pouring down with such intensity that my windshield wipers couldn’t keep up. I couldn’t see the lines in the road, only the tail lights of the car up ahead. I gripped the steering wheel so hard at this point that my forearms are actually a little bit sore today. I crawled along, keeping a fair distance behind the few cars that remained on the road. When the lights all suddenly went out, traffic lights included, I turned my hazards on, treated each stop light like a stop sign (see? I do remember things!) and prayed for the best.

Obviously, I did make it. I crumpled into a mess of tears and hyperventilation as soon as I stepped through the door, of course, but I made it. I consider it a miracle, considering how many downed trees, branches, and power lines there were. There are at least eight people in the DC metro area, however, that weren’t as lucky.

We, as well as the entire city of Falls Church and 1,000,000 people throughout Virginia, are without power. Today has seen record-breaking heat (but of course!). Rumors say it could be a week until power is restored, which is slightly staggering. I know that the power companies are doing all they can, considering the downed power lines they are having to repair, but it’s still a little disheartening. I snagged the dogs and took them to Sean’s place because he, miraculously, still has power and A/C.

I’m seeing a lot of “first world problems” jokes being tossed around on Facebook. And I know that in light of the Colorado fires and world hunger and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and every other global atrocity, this is not necessarily high on the logical complaint list. I’m not really complaining, I promise. I’m just telling the story of how I was personally traumatized by Mother Nature yesterday, and reporting the after-effects of the worst storm that this area has seen, well, probably ever. And people ask why I hate to drive.

For those of you who have been affected by the storm and subsequent power outages, I hope you’re finding a way to stay cool! Take special care of your pets, as they are far more easily affected by the heat than we are! Don’t leave them trapped in a steaming home (just like you would never leave them in a car, right?!) and make sure they have plenty of water. Stay hydrated yourselves, too!