Kyndall and I both live in medium-sized American cities now and mostly keep in touch via online chatting. As natural (and man-made) disasters keep hitting harder and faster, and political forces seem bent on world annihilation, our chats often veer into planning for the worst. Sometimes we fantasize about setting up post-apocalyptic housekeeping in eastern Oregon. When Kyndall had the idea of organizing our chats into some sort of zine, I thought it might be good to test them out as part of The Business of Staying Alive series. Since Google probably already has all our chats filed away somewhere, I figure there’s no harm in letting the rest of the world see them too.
me: old people keep telling me how important it is to have kids so you have someone who gives a shit about you when you get old. it freaks me out. i'm hoping either the world ends first, or i die by 70, or i have enough good friends around who are still alive so we can form some sort of old folks' commune
kyndall: yes! i sort of have dreams about an old folks home for myself and friends. maybe at my grandparents’ homestead in e———!
me: yes! let's do it.....do you think the world is ending soon?
kyndall: no. unfortunately. we will just get to watch it get worse. but not end
me: yeah, you're probably right. i wonder how high ocean levels will be when we're old. e——— might be a good place to be
kyndall: oh, it will be perfect. i think north portland will be ruined by the river, but the coastal cascades will save most of it. then eventually even portland will be under water. but we will be totally safe in e———, and by then the climate will change and will have perfect long growing seasons (my grandma told me most of this btw)
me: yes! your grandma sounds rad. do you think we'll have to arm ourselves?
kyndall: they have guns. but we should get more, just in case. and ammo. i feel like apocalyptic planning is on regular rotation for our conversations
kyndall: you should just make a block print zine with all our gchats
me: yes!!!!! but then everyone will know our plans. it sounds fun, kind of, like coming full circle and ending up back in the inland nw and having to shoot rednecks to protect our crops
kyndall: i'm down! gays get their revenge, finally
me: is there a good water source?
kyndall: yes! there are little creeks that run all through the valley
me: they run all year?
kyndall: there is a glacier lake that is more than 200 meters deep and tons of little lakes in the mountains. yeah! all year!
me: it sounds so nice there
kyndall: some spots they are more than 20 feet wide. it's amazing. here’s a picture of the view from my grandparents' porch:
me: DANG!!!!! I want to be there right now
kyndall: right? i haven't been there since the summer i moved to Pittsburgh. and it's awful, i have been there every summer since i was a kid and then sometimes in the winter too
me: how often do you think about death?
kyndall: um, well, a lot of young people died around me when i was in high school, so in my early 20s, i thought about it a lot. but now i feel like i mostly think about how short life is, or can be. i just don't want to burn to death. what about you?
me: i think about it a lot. do you have a disaster kit?
kyndall: no. like batteries and water and shit?
me: yes. i want to interview people about emergency preparedness. there's this book called thinking in an emergency by elaine scarry where she talks about how people are deliberately kept ill equipped for and uninformed about disasters, so that the powers that be can make us feel unsafe and limit our rights
kyndall: i would buy that. the only thing i feel like i should have is water. the rest i would kill for or steal. if shit really went down i would drive my car as far as i could, then hop a train to my grandma's house. what would you do? i know we talked about meeting at my gma's but if there was like a major earthquake or something and shit was crazy there?
me: hmmm, i would def try to get out of town. that would be my first priority. i do have a lot of water and canned food and 5-gallon buckets full of tools and toiletries and matches and stuff
kyndall: buckets? how many buckets? you gonna just carry a bunch of buckets with you as you walk out of town? or are you just going to put it in a backpack?
me: hmmmm, me and d——— each have a bucket. they are good to shit in if the plumbing isn't working. i also have a large waterproof backpack to be mobile with
kyndall: why don't you just shit outside?
me: in the city?
kyndall: yes. do you really want a bucket full of shit in your apartment? i mean where are you going to put the shit?
me: ummm it's obviously a temporary solution
kyndall: i'm thinking long term here. like where does the shit go?
me: ok, ok, i'm sure we would figure it out. i’m just thinking if there was crazy chaos outside, i wouldn't wanna be shitting out there. also, i don’t have a backyard
me: so do you have a disaster kit right now?
kyndall: no, i just think about how i should have one all the time
me: what would you put in it?
kyndall: water, first aid kit, some kind of weapon, batteries, flashlight, rope. i should probably have some kind of freeze-dried snack too
me: i need to re-stock mine. it has energy bars that have probs gone bad by now
kyndall: do you think they go bad? i mean it's hardly real food
me: true. they have exp dates tho
kyndall: everything has exp dates. just so they can get you to buy new shit
me: true. i stockpile cans of beans too. like a mormon
kyndall: so like a mormon. i have some homemade canned fruit, which i am afraid to eat. what about spam? i bet that would be like a delicacy during the apocalypse
me: totally. i feel like i've been kind of remiss in thinking about morale boosters. i haven't put any booze in because i feel like I will want to be able to think on my feet
kyndall: are you kidding me?! you will want some booze
me: i know. i'm delusional
kyndall: and weed. maybe you should put drugs in there that you have never tried, just so you can try them once things start getting really bad
me: uh. that sounds horrible
kyndall: yeah, it does. the last thing i would want to do is shoot up when the world is ending. but i would probably want a drink and a joint
me: oh yeah. well, maybe opiates would be okay if i knew everything was fucked. i was just thinking of hallucinogens
kyndall: oh, yeah, i would never want to hallucinate
me: what other kinds of seemingly superfluous things do you think it would be nice to have?
kyndall: tampons, toothpaste
me: you think those seem superfluous?
kyndall: tampons are, i think. i suppose i should switch to the diva cup. i would like cheetos puffs
me: those shits will keep FOREVER!
kyndall: i know! and i love them soo much. way more than regular cheetos
me: ha! maybe in a pinch you could use them as tampons
kyndall: you are NASTY
kyndall: it's funny though
me: they seem absorbent, right?
kyndall: no. they don't. when you suck on them, they melt
kyndall: you still think i should use them as tampons
me: uh, no
kyndall: what kind of treats do you want in your disaster box?
me: hmmmmm. weed seems like a good one. paper and pens!!!! i need to put that in there. warm socks?
kyndall: warm socks is a really good idea. paper and pens would be pretty good. that's the sort of stuff that i would forget about and spend most of my time looking for during total destruction
me: money! small bills. and maps
kyndall: maps, yes. good one. so.......how big is a disaster box supposed to be?
me: i think it's relative. it's probs better to have several throughout your house. like a couple more stationary stashes with gallons of water, etc, but also a bag or something filled with supplies that would be easy to pick up and carry if you needed to leave in a hurry. someone told me it's better to spread supplies throughout your house in case part of it collapses. then you're screwed if everything is in one place and it becomes inaccessible
kyndall: damn, i never even thought about stashing shit all over the house. that's a good idea. where would you go if you had to leave in a hurry? i mean in the immediate, not long term location
me: emergency shelter. or who knows why you might suddenly need to leave town?