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Hurricane Baby

I spent most of Hurricane Irene obsessively watching the power company’s outage map.  I literally was hitting refresh every fifteen minutes (or sometimes it was more like every eight minutes), watching coloured outage spots pop up.  Josh pointed out that I didn’t need to do this because we would obviously know that we were without power by the fact that the lights would no longer be on.  It’s not as if the power company gives out a heads up that you might want to save your work because you’re going to be losing your power in five minutes.

Yet I couldn’t stop doing it.  All the towns around us lost power, leaving us this sole uncoloured square on the map until the middle of the night.

It felt strange just going through our night as if nothing was happening, even though we still had power.  This is perhaps why so many children are born nine months after catastrophic events.  The sex isn’t just the reaffirmation of life or the boredom that comes from sitting in the dark.  It’s this feeling that you should be drinking that bottle of vodka you were saving or chopping off your hair.  Anything but the mundane tasks that make up a normal night.


I woke up at 3:17 am, one child in our bed, the other still unconscious in her room.  I stood by the window and stared at the trees which were being blown so hard that it looked like the tops were trying to kiss the ground.  Just as I couldn’t stop refreshing the outage map, I couldn’t tear myself away from the window.  The wind was so loud that it sounded like an ongoing car alarm.

The machines shut off and the machines came back on several times throughout the night, but in the morning, we had power whereas the two streets on either side of us were out.  The pavement had a carpet of new, green leaves.

Suddenly, it felt like we needed a pet.  Like this task couldn’t wait until it made more sense all things considered.

The twins and I made a list of names over breakfast, and then I called the store, wondering if they also had power.  They were set to open and they didn’t even question the sanity of driving on the branch-littered roads to get a hamster a few minutes after a storm ended.  It’s almost as if this is the status quo — hurricanes end and people show up to bring small rodents back to their houses.

We bought a short-haired teddy bear hamster that the ChickieNob named Cozy Jackson.

The owner of the store was feeding cockatiels as we went to the register to pay for our hamster and all of his accoutrements.  It’s a family-owned store and the woman only works with local breeders for all the animals she sells.  She sold us our guinea pig when I was a child, and now I was at the store with my children, buying them their first pet — closing a circle.  She nodded when I told her this, as if confirming that this was the way it’s supposed to be.  You are supposed to have something to love when you’re a child, and then you’re supposed to grow up and pass along that experience to your children so that they grow up and bring their own children in the future to take home something warm and furry.

Cozy Jackson wasn’t thrilled to be in a cardboard box for the ride home, and he ate through the sides of the case.  I kept my hands over the holes so he couldn’t escape, and as he ran back and forth, thumping against my two hands, I fell in love with him.  I fell into such a deep love that I heard myself announcing it to everyone in the car.

We gave him a few hours to get accustomed to our house and his new cage, watching him from a distance.  By the afternoon, he would sit quietly in my hand, almost purring.

Oh my G-d, I love him so damn much.


We are obviously not going to create a hurricane baby mostly because we are not capable of creating any baby, at least not without a catheter and drugs.  But I will always associate Cozy with the hurricane.  He came at the end of a tumultuous summer.

I am lonely during the day when the twins aren’t here.  I have been known to make up excuses so I can swing by the school to say hello. (“I just remembered that I wanted to go to the book fair for the fourteenth time!”)  I wrote this post sitting next to Cozy, chatting with him as he eats a chunk of carrot and then falls back asleep after cleaning his face.  While I still have the impulse to go by the school and peek into their classroom, it is kept in check slightly by the presence of Cozy.  By this tiny rodent who is willing to curl up in my hand.

I can’t believe I waited so long to get him.

I’ve long suspected that I would do everything differently if there was another child here; if I didn’t go from full house to empty house so quickly that it produces whiplash.  That it would be like the power company giving me a five minute warning before the outage.

Cozy confirms this in a way, and that only makes it more bittersweet.  To know that I was right in my guesswork about that third child.

I promise not to write too often about my enormous love of Cozy Jackson or to brag too much about his brilliance.  But seriously, isn’t he the cutest thing you’ve seen today?

Apologies for the crappy quality of the photos.  It’s difficult to take white-on-white.  And it’s hard to convince him that he wants to hold still for the camera.


1 Amy Elaine { 08.29.11 at 11:14 am }

Awwww, what a sweet pea. Congrats on the newest addition to your family!

2 JustHeather { 08.29.11 at 11:44 am }

CJ is defnitely the cutest thing I’ve seen to day! I loved our hamsters growing up. They were so much fun and cuddly. Please do share updates with us about CJ.

3 VA Blondie { 08.29.11 at 1:01 pm }

He is so cute! I loved my hamsters when I was little. They were pretty darn cute.

Looking forward to hearing about the exploits of Cozy Jackson!

4 luna { 08.29.11 at 1:57 pm }

he looks like a little love muffin.

5 Tamara Like Camera { 08.29.11 at 2:05 pm }

I also spent a lot of time in front of the WMECO outage map. It never once worked and yet I’d refresh it every five seconds.

Cozy Jackson is amazing! I’m trying to tell Cassidy that since the timing isn’t quite right on Baby #2, we could totally get an after-storm puppy.

6 Hope { 08.29.11 at 2:20 pm }

Cozy is so cute! Makes me wish I had a hamster, too! In fact, looking at him, I can almost smell that distinctive, hamster smell. In a good way. 😉

7 meghan { 08.29.11 at 2:34 pm }

He is pretty darn cute. And congrats for making it through the storm with power!

8 Erica { 08.29.11 at 4:17 pm }

CJ is appallingly cute – I’m loving the little pink toes.

So glad you and yours are safe and well.

9 N { 08.29.11 at 5:30 pm }

Welcome to Cozy Jackson!

10 Searching { 08.29.11 at 6:02 pm }

I have a little guinea pig (my consolation prize for not having a baby to hold). She sits in my lap while I type/study every day & purrs. 🙂 Cozy is amazing and adorable and I love the name! If you happen to be on FB, they have a RodentBook. Not that I know such things… Enjoy the new little life in your house!

11 loribeth { 08.29.11 at 6:39 pm }

Very cute. : )

12 a { 08.29.11 at 9:45 pm }

That’s kind of funny – it’s like a big life circle here. I kinda felt like you today, as I watched my daughter being strong while trying to say goodbye to her favorite teacher. My girl is moving to a preschool close to home instead of the daycare close to work. Anyway, I was the one crying, and she was clutching some stuffed animals and refusing to look at anyone or talk. Normally, I’m the stoic one, but I hated to see her so upset. Also, they had Hammy the Hamster in her classroom at the daycare, and apparently, he finally passed away. I’m pretty sure he was at least 3 years old and very fat. We’re having some life parallels this summer, it would seem. Therefore, I shall predict that the next hurricane goes Gulf-ward, and will wind its way into my back yard soon.

13 Justine { 08.29.11 at 10:15 pm }

Cozy looks like his name sounds. 🙂

It’s been very weird … we seem to be the hole of sanity in the donut of catastrophe out here. Neighbors with flooded basements and power outages, predicted to last for days … I’ve invited people to stay here, not knowing what else to do. We were very, very lucky.

14 iamvulnerable { 08.29.11 at 10:40 pm }

He is very cute, and it was healing for me even to read about him today. Thanks for this post. ps – the name is super catchy. I keep saying “Cosy Jackson” to myself and smiling – it’s the name equivalent of some cute little pop song.

15 iamvulnerable { 08.29.11 at 10:41 pm }

Dear me…can’t even spell “cozy”…it’s been a long day…

16 coffeegrljp { 08.30.11 at 12:01 am }

So cute! I had a series of hamsters when I was younger and *adored* them. I sometimes think of how much I miss them and how one day maybe one of my kids would like a hamster. 🙂

17 Mina { 08.30.11 at 4:33 am }

Cozy Jackson is indeed one very cute hamster. 😉
Well done for having brought him home.
Having had hamsters, I can understand just how quickly you can fall for them. And once a pet lover and owner, always a pet lover and owner. I am at my fourth and fifth cats, after four dogs, one canary and two hamsters. Life is simply better and funnier with pets.

18 It Is What It Is { 08.30.11 at 6:04 am }

He (it is a he, right? Can you tell with hamsters before they produce offspring?) is very cute indeed all white and black like he is. I am glad he is bringing you much joy during this bittersweet empty nest time.

19 mash { 08.30.11 at 6:24 am }

Oh I love love love hamsters. They were my first (and so far only) children. I used to sing a lullaby to my hamster and she would go to sleep in my hand!

20 mash { 08.30.11 at 6:28 am }

PS – hamsters need something to chew on (sorry random fact) other than food. It keeps their teeth happy. A stick from a fruit tree will do, or something else hard that can be gnawed!

21 Kaitake { 08.30.11 at 7:04 am }

Very cute! We had rabbits growing up, as well as cats and fish, but I’ve never met a hamster in New Zealand. I’m delighted to learn that they purr! 🙂

22 Sushigirl { 08.30.11 at 9:29 am }

I love him. He is Hurricane Hamster. I think you should rig up a webcame to his cage.

I miss my hamsters, but we can’t get another one because of the cat. Or we could, but its life would be brief but full of excitement.

23 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 08.30.11 at 12:36 pm }

I’ve found that pets are a great opportunity to practice photography skills. Manual shutter speed, manual aperture, etc. Much more tolerant than children of your photographic experimentation.

Is Cozy Jackson a first name/last name or adjective/first name?

It’s a very weird feeling to get very lucky with something like a storm when you’re used to being unlucky (in storms, in family building, whatever the case may be).

24 Natalie { 08.30.11 at 12:50 pm }

Cute little guy. I miss having a pet in the house.

25 Quiet Dreams { 08.30.11 at 10:03 pm }

He’s very cute.
Pets are wonderful company (well, most pets are). So glad you have him.

26 Kathy { 08.31.11 at 12:03 am }

Soooo cute! I LOVE JustHeather’s nickname for him “CJ!” Do you think you might call him that? Reminds me of CJ Craig on the West Wing… Anyway, congrats on your Hurricane Baby! I am glad that he is bringing you some needed comfort during this time. (((HUGS))) Full circling with our children is so awesome…. Also happy to hear that you survived the big storm without any major physical damage to your home or loved ones.

I have never had a pet, other than fish when I was a kid. Our parents would never let us have anything furry that could be taken out of a cage. I always wanted a dog. As an adult now, I am not sure. My husband and kids would love one and now that we we are finally in our “forever home” with a bigger yard and fence, I don’t have anymore excuses… So one of these days it just might happen. We’ll see! Seeing that movie Marley & Me both made very much want and at the same time be very afraid of getting a dog!

27 Battynurse { 09.01.11 at 4:41 am }

He’s a very cute hamster. Glad you survived the hurricane.

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