The Things I Carried

We had a little scare here in Southern California, though I’d be foolish to think it’s over.  Yesterday, three different fires formed in a half-circle around my neighborhood.  Fortunately, I had made it past the Northern one before the freeway shut down, which would have hindered my daring rescue mission to scoop up my dog Milo.

My wife was safely down south, picking up our daughter from daycare. Thus, it was my job to pack the car with our valuables in case the fire five miles away raced to our neighborhood.

So I entered into the hypothetical, often-asked question: if you had to grab things from your house in a pinch, what would they be?

Here’s my list:

  1. Two sets of clothes for me, my wife, and my daughter
  2. My dog, his leash, his harness, some food
  3. My wife’s jewelry
  4. Chargers for computers and phones
  5. Safe with important documents
  6. Sleeping bags and tent
  7. Probably more underwear than needed
  8. My daughter’s favorite stuffed animal
  9. First-aid pack
  10. Toothbrushes
  11. My green sweatshirt with a large turkey on it


What I did not pack:

  1. Favorite / sentimental books
  2. Pictures
  3. A bowl I made in Boy Scouts (kind of hoped that’d burn up without magically affecting the rest of the house)
  4. My ties (see number 3)
  5. My daughter’s singing Minnie Mouse toy (see number 3)
  6. My daughter’s pacifier
  7. The baby monitor
  8. Various souvenirs from our trip to Turkey


Read into my list how you may.  What I also didn’t take with me was a true concern for the house.  Sure, it’s probably cliche, but knowing my family was safe was enough.  Also, I’ve already accepted my house may crumble into an unlivable heap since we live next to the San Andreas Fault (like, less than a half-a-mile).

Since I’m a catastrophist, I spent an entire week losing sleep to Google likelihood of earthquakes (“San Andreas Fault primed for ‘The Big One’), which led me to googling about the various seismological metrics for earthquakes, which led me to scour the internet for engineering studies on the sturdiness of wood framed houses in various conditions, which led me back to an article about ‘The Big One’, which led me to question the earthquake preparedness of my house, which led me to buy recommended supplies and earthquake proof my interior, which led me to wonder if the city was prepared, which led me back to ‘The Big One’ article, which said we’re essentially doomed, which is how I’ve come to accept the loss of a house as long as my family remains safe.

Tangential, but kind of related: I enjoyed The Things They Carried.  The book reminded me that I am not cut out for much other than annoying adolescents and fretting on the internet. But, uh, I carried stuff with me, just like the soldiers.

So….yeah…not really similar.