Beth Mann's Blog

Beth's Urban Tales of Wonder and Decay

Beth Mann

Beth Mann
Long Beach Island, New Jersey, USA
November 11
Hot Buttered Media
I'm a writer and creative consultant. I have years of experimental comedy and strange theater under my belt. I surf. I cook. I love wine, men and song. And puppies. I effin' love puppies.

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AUGUST 27, 2011 11:27PM

My Own Private Hurricane [WITH NEW PHOTOS]

Rate: 57 Flag


I’m looting my neighbor’s garden. Looting light, I would call it. Everyone has been evacuated and I’m one of the few remaining at the Jersey shore during Hurricane Irene. I grab a few ripe tomatoes, a batch of heady oregano. It’s all going to drown tomorrow anyway.


God, it’s so quiet and peopleless here! I’m reminded of my childhood on this island when time seemed slow and sleepy, like it does now. You could actually feel the place, the pulse, you know?


The tourists and most of the locals have left. Their hectic, greedy energy is no longer bouncing all over the joint, smacking me repeatedly in the face. Right now, all is still, all is mine. Tonight, when the storm hits, it will be another animal, no doubt. But for the present, I can think for once in a long time. Maybe I'm looting some much needed peace of mind.


After my garden thefts, I come home and sing really loudly in my room. This is nothing unusual: I sing any old time. But often I suppress my voice just a little when singing in this house, in this neighborhood. I know neighbors can hear me, or the people I live with. Today, truly alone, I set my voice free, like a dog unleashed on a sunny beach.


Walk around naked for a bit. That’s a given. Nudity is good and right. I don’t know what else to say other than that. Oh, and I found good porn today – not the crappy stuff that kind of turns you on but part of you is like “Yeah, right. You’re horrible actors” but you make do anyway. For my particular fantasy mindset, this porn fit just so.


My people, all the people, they keep contacting me and offering up their homes. Frustrated, I relay to them that I have lots of places to go thank you, but possibly not a place to return to. That's my concern.


Yet some friends have such earnest tones to their voice, it almost brings me to tears: a young surfer dude whom I didn't expect to be so worried. Or an old friend who keeps calling, even though we haven’t spoke in over a year. Strange, that they care so much. And don’t say, “Well, of course they do!” Because it’s not that simple. People care sometimes, and sometimes they don't.


Like this guy on the mainland that I've been seeing on and off, whom I didn’t hear from at all today. He checked in yesterday, via text, and asked me to keep him posted. An old, tired voice played in my head: “If you really cared, you'd call.” Like, fuck – if you don’t worry about me during a natural disaster, when would you, dumb loser face.


And enough with the texts already. Like when I'm being swept off to sea, I'll miraculously manage to shoot off the last text of my life:


Hey. I'm drowning. Need help asap. Phone not waterproof. : (


But yeah, whatever, fuck it. The perk of a natural disaster is that relationship minutia doesn’t have as much holding power. Something more primal is trumping it. And you're quietly grateful because that old bullshit teenager-level worry has been wasted too much space in your brain anyway.


Now I’m blaring some Led Zeppelin in my room. I ate a nice, fatty meal. I’m ready for disaster. Fattened up, rocked out, drunk and ready. (No, I’m not drinking that much wine and I resent your implications. I’m drinking just enough wine. Hurricane level wine.)


Hey, wait. Don't go. Um...yesterday, I pulled the veggies from my little garden so they wouldn’t go to waste. One small pepper plant had struggled all summer to stay alive. Teeny, meek little thing - the Charlie Brown Christmas tree of pepper plants. I thought she was a goner last month but somehow she managed to spruce up and eek out one small hot red pepper. I tried to pluck it but she wouldn’t let me; she wasn’t ready and I didn't want to hurt her. 


Today, I plucked her puny pepper anyway. Ah, so sad. Man, like this summer wasn’t hard enough on her: she barely lives and finally manages to produce this little runt of a vegetable and now she’s going to drown. Poor, poor fucking hot pepper plant.


Can you hear it? The wind is shaking my walls. It’s about 40 mph and soon will be 70 mph. I hope the glass in the windows doesn’t break. Because that will be scary. Because then the weather comes in and you can’t hide from it. It’s at your feet, in your face, bitches.


Wait, before you go...wanna hear a scary story? About an hour ago when the wind started kicking up, I ran around the living room, pulling furniture away from the window. Out of the blue (or the black), the doorbell starts ringing. And ringing. I direly hoped some brave soul was stopping by.


I ran to the door and peeked out; there was no one there. The bell kept ringing. The wind was blowing so hard, it rang the damn doorbell. How perfectly spooky, like the hurricane was paying me a visit, all proper like, but with a definite sense of urgency.


It’s going to be a long night. One of many long nights in this woman’s life. Peppers are spicy and glass is sharp. Looting is wrong, unless you’re in the mood and the pickings are easy. People show up, people let down. Tailormade porn and wine can be fun when you’re all alone. And sometimes storms literally come knocking on your door. That’s what I’m saying.


PHOTOS - THE DAY AFTER IRENE (Click on to enlarge.)

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Yikes, Beth, I do understand your pioneering spirit, just like the pepper, maybe? Pushing toward survival? But please be careful. If we have power, I'll check in tomorrow to see how you fared (I'm in Boston).
i absolutely loved this! rated (take care and be safe!)
Beth, the writing of your isolation and anticipation is brilliant. You and the pepper. Please remember to stay in the bathroom or some other protected place. Be safe. Let us hear from you whenever you can. You have decided to do this and one way or another you will be changed by it. You are facing life head on.
I hate saying I'm glad there's a hurricane bearing down on you if it got you to post something, first one in quite a while. This one's vintage Beth: walking around naked, singing, stealing (with an explanation, your Honor). Oh, and that puny pepper. You know what I think of that. ;) Try to be a little bit careful, ok?
Wow, excellent piece. I loved every bit of it- especially the personification of the pepper...and about ur man- based on his description, I think we're dating the same guy!!! ;)
I'm glad you are fit enough to stay and fit enough to run if neccesary. Did you know they just discovered a planet that seems to be entirely made of diamonds? Shine on, Beth. I love your planet.
I love aim's comment.
Can't you hear me knockin' on your window
Can't you hear me knockin' on your door
Can't you hear me knockin' down your dirty street
Great piece under the pressure and I am extremely anxious for you...wish I was still at the shore. Please be safe. Let everyone know your situation on FB.....LOrdy!
interesting. what I really wanna know is, what exactly was that porn movie? what, after that amazing rant, are you too bashful to tell us that? surely not :p
I like the idea of "hurricane level" wine consumption. I see a wine glass with staged level markings. At the bottom is "Low tide on a calm day," topping out at "The whole of Greenland just melted within the hour."

Your neighbor deserved to be looted. Given all that time to evacuate, who leaves fresh produce hanging on the vine?

Be safe.
Pretty perfect this piece. ~r
At least you have the sense not to be surfing right now. Er, right? I'm thinking of you--it's 10:40 in Phoenix, and 1:40 AM where you are and I hope tomorrow you will be able to let us know how you fared.

But I only thought of you when I was looking at the waves on TV and thinking about surfing, &c.

Nature can be awesome.
Digging the sassy honesty of this piece. Stay safe.
:( you are lucky we don't know each other better or your ass would be hollering, bound and gagged in my trunk heading for dry ground.
I feel bad for your pepper plant, but I like your way of seeing the benefits of the uncontrollable. The wind ringing the doorbell suddenly makes me grateful mine doesn't work. This is making me get up to go rescue the curry leaf family off the front steps.
Maybe Herman Melville was at the door.
I'm glad there's a Beth Mann.
The best writing, a brave woman, and a wicked bitch named Irene: the perfect storm. Hope you are alright today.
Thanks, all. Good to be back to my online literary home.

Last night went surprisingly well. The winds blew strong for several hours, then nothing really, except rain. The house is in decent shape, except the yard is flooded a bit. I've seen it worse after a Nor'easter. Going to check the waves now! They're going to be INSANE!
Whoa! You walk beach in red high heels.
Never renounce the wild. Believe in nudity.
I was just thinking of you and Sir Robert.

It's a good grey day to read back post.
We can't read and assimilate everything.
There are many gifted writers we miss.

Never hiss at snakes, eels, and nasty folks.
Pre-road trip to Queens a OCD trucker goes?
He goes a bit up north shore to watch a `sea gal.

Pre-road trip an illegal cab hacker packs up.
He haul in his cabbies-trunk toilet sear covers.
He's a lifetime Manhattanite who sells sheets.

On vacation to the Bronx he gets a 5- star motel.
He gripes because a pillow cover has blood stain.
Pink bed sheets smell like a black & white skunk.

In Queen, New York City post the Irene storm?
He clips the `New York Times `Discount Sales.
Labor Day Mattress/Pillow Sale Ends Today?

What ever happened to cooks, Tom Tomorrow,
Garrison Keillor, and a`electronic guru @ Salon?
I'll go back to big Salon `hope to find pillow link.
I may test old avatars:

- bebop-o

- GoodCelery!

- goat gouda bluberry

- clownsense (old Glenn G. avatar)

That was before Glenn Greenwald
Became one popular social critique
pain blogger @Salon - Respect too?
I keep this up. Why? I still am hacked.
This is really scary but I am so glad you picked those vegetables from the garden.Life must go on and your certainly a brave soul. Please do write what happens as this progresses.
I hope you survived your frightening night alone with the doorbell ringing and the rain pounding! It looks like there is a lot of flooding...
This was raw and beautiful. I too am a woman alone in a hurricane, in my 333 year old house in an ocean town. Loved the doorbell bit. Wow. Also like you, in a few minutes, I'm headed out to walk in some extreme nature. I love loading these scenes into my mental hard drive, and being reminded that there are much more powerful things than me.
Wow. Your writing (and singing, I suspect) voice is loud and clear, and in this case, pitch perfect. The universe is ringing that doorbell. It comes to those that hear it.

This was/is excellent, Beth.
Sat in a tile lined shower once for 6 hours as 100 mph winds broke glass all around and made it swirl in the little apartment rented at at cliff's edge in a Pacific storm. Very scary.
You made it through the rain! Great pix. Glad all's well. We're still getting lots of rain and high winds here in Boston, but it seems to be moving out. So far so good on the power and downed trees in my neighborhood, but many are without power in the area. YOU, however, don't need an external power source, Beth. You've got a mighty internal one! Go forth. :)
Geeeez. My home page is Google News, and the first headline confronting me read, "Four Dead In New Jersey." I was SO relieved to see this update. You must still have the electricity running, too. You got lucky, girl.
Oh, and I forgot to say that if you ever change your avatar (I know you used to), the first photo would make a great one.
Your doorbell definetely rang, and you answered it. Brava!
Damn you can write! You made me wish I were there with you through the storm. Glad you came through safe..
Good to see an update from you & glad you're ok! Now you can sing out Down by the Seaside by Zeppelin.
Glad you're ok Beth and this post is now not destined to be a memorial. Stay with us.
Surfs up!!

You might have picked a few more tomatoes - to 'save' them from what was coming. Heck I probably would have 'saved' their whole damn garden. (dingdong) Anyway, as I was saying, (or not) I spent the night of H. Andrew's Miami landfall sitting up in bed reading 'Like Water for Chocolate' by kerosene lamp, sipping on watered down Jack Daniels b/c that's all that was left in the cabinet. (I hate that stuff). As the train charged through my house (that's exactly the sound the storm made), I got tipsy and passed out pleasantly until my neighbors nearly pried off the shutters the next morning when I didn't respond to prolonged door banging. I guess they thought those trees on the house might have killed me. It was actually JD that had done me in and I'm most grateful for that. It was a lovely hurricane night. Sounds a lot like yours!
All for ratings...thief! :D
Stunning writing, photos and pepper plant.
uhm...I an NOT the JD Gabby Abby refers to...I assure you!!!

As for you....tormenting some neighbors by not taking cover??? : )
Before long you'll be "Crazy Beth Mann the Vegetable Thief!"
Jezu kriste'

I know the mind that feels "If I stay here, my things will be ok"

Somehow, maybe you should have let them get stolen, or hijacked...
or demolished, so we could still enjoy your soul.

Rated♪♫•**•.¸♥¸.•*¨*•♪♪♫•**•.¸¸♥ D
JD! you sound like you think that would have been a bad thing!!! I'm totototally insulted dude.
It was odd to find some humor in this disaster. Take care be safe.
I wish we were friends. We would totally get along. :)
I just caught this . . . damn, you are amazing. I've probably said this before, but I think you are made of awesome . . . and your writing just brings it. Or, more properly "BRINGS It."

And this: I’m drinking just enough wine. Hurricane level wine.

I did the same thing with the "end of the world/rapture" that didn't happen in June. I drank just enough tequila. Apocalypse level tequila.
(Perhaps suprisingly, yes . . . I still like tequila.)
Nature is always kicking up around you.
Beth the front page headline says "waiting on Long Island." I'm confused. I thought you were in New Jersey. Don't the eds know where you live? Did New Jersey annex Long Island?
Oops, Long Beach Island. Is that in New Jersey?
Boy, I really liked the flow of this Beth. Not only did teh storm coming knocking, or buzzing, it was your muse. Good one about the last text.
You are quite the pistol, not to mention a puny, pepper plucker and a plant pilferer.... sorry... It's late. Great piece. R
I loved how you copped the neighbor's vegetables and that stubborn little pepper--is just like its gardner. Glad you are safe.
Looking forward to a post-Irene post. Just wondering, though, what would you recommend for good hurricane porn?
The doorbell & porn together remind me of that old song "My ding-a-ling, my ding-a-ling, I love to play with my ding-aling-aling."

So...did you surf it?
Hurricane and anarchy. I like it. I'm glad you made it through okay. My family used to go to LBI in the summers, when I was really young. Maybe our paths crossed.
Wild and free. Comfortable in your own solitude and skin. Sounds to me like a great time. Bring it on. Great post.
Such brilliant writing--I enjoyed every word of this!
Hurrah, as we say here in the Deep South. For this ode and your jubilance and your survival, of course. Did the poor fucking little hot red pepper plant make it?
Somebody said, great writing - well, I say, great living.
Hey all. A few questions answered:

1. Yes, I surfed the day after the hurricane. First thing in the am, it was too monstrously messy to go out. No one was surfing at that point. Then the wind went west and cleaned up the waves. Actually, it wasn't all that huge. It was big - don't get me wrong. But west winds here can flatten out the waves within hours. But it was fun nonetheless. Hard with all the wind, though. Water just blows in your face and you can't see when you try to take a wave.

2. The pepper plant is fine! Very proud of her. The tomato plants didn't fare so well. And surprisingly my tarragon seems like its dying - maybe just too much water for it. I've really enjoyed that herb over the summer - goes great with fish.

3. And yes, Long Beach Island is off the coast of New Jersey - it's not Long Island, NY. We were particularly vulnerable because we're a barrier island, not a coastal time. I'm 6 miles out to sea. And very, very grateful. This could have ruined us. Blessings to all it did affect. That Irene was still a monster of a storm.
It's not looting if it something that is going to be destroyed anyhow, it's called "rescuing". :)

And I was going to call you crazy for sticking out a major storm but I was stuck in my house for a week after a huge blizzard, there was a 5 foot drift across the driveway, so who am I to say?
I just got here and know you're safe but was still chilled and riveted. Damn, what a perfect story of the courage that I've come to know is woven into the fabric of your being and your life. Plus, I am now in love with Irene for ringing your doorbell. You both rock.
Whoa! Excellent read. Full of brilliance.

A frowny face emoticon before we go under the waves. Too true.
I want to loot your puny pepper.
Great story, Beth. Glad you are okay. We got hit too in northern Jersey, 3 feet of water in our basement, ad nauseam tales to tell.
Great story - love the cell phone/ boyfriend part. Too true...
I live up in Bradley Beach, it was funny the power didn't go out, not once, i bought enough beanie weenies and chef Boyardee for a platoon and ate all my frozen stuff thinking the power would go out for a week, next day i had to actually go shopping cause i ate all my food, reading this just reminded me of that.