Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2009

Twisted Twister

tornado
As winter transitions into spring here in the Southland, you see people dusting off their flip-flops to wear on feet attached to blindingly white legs that are making their debut appearance this season. We begin to see more and more days that are warm and, thus, people begin to slowly hang the turtle necks toward the back of the closet, becoming increasingly confident that the temperature is not going to dip so low that we have to pull out the winter fare anymore. It’s a strange time seasonally where you don’t quite believe that we’re ACTUALLY seeing the back of winter, eying the weather reports with caution, daring it to show a daytime temperature that’s below 60 degrees, like all this warm, mild weather has really just been a cruel joke. The end of March is really a figment of all of our imaginations, you see – – we’re experiencing some sort of collective dream-sequence and it’s actually still mid-January.

And there is another reason that many of us view the weather reports with caution this time of the year, and that one word reason is: Tornadoes.

People don’t think of Georgia or its neighboring states as being a part of “Tornado Alley” but it is a magnet for the storms all the same – a slight, side street detour just off of Tornado Alley where severe thunderstorms form in the low, slow air of the deep south. This time of year, we so often find ourselves glued to a “Special Report” from the “Severe Weather Center” of one of our local news stations, waiting to see how bad it’s gonna get. Watching closely to see if it’s just a Tornado Watch or if it’s a Tornado Warning, since a warning means a tornado is already on the ground barreling toward a mobile home park near you.

And then there are the meteorologists. On tornado days, it is their finest hour – – it’s how they earn their badges of courage and MVP awards. It’s the meteorological equivalent to the World Series in baseball. The Final Four in basketball. The Superbowl in football. They pace back and forth across our TV screens dramatically – – a sweaty sheen to their brow as they show us radar screens from every angle, with angry, red blobs representing the storms that are moving in rapid succession across the border of Alabama into our state. They draw lines of scrimmage with arrows pointing this way and that indicating the path of the storm – – trying to predict it’s every turn, speed, nuance. They take us into the 3D inner workings of the storm due to the latest technology now available, pointing to the height of the questionable cloud, showing us their points of concern. They tell us the lingo – – “hook echo” and “BTI Index” – – and we memorize it, learning to speak and understand the language of severe weather fluently. We nod our heads solemnly, realizing that, yes indeed – – that hook echo is looking ominous. I swear that at this point, I could be hired at just about any local news station and do a passable job at reporting the weather – – just due to watching so many of these situations over the years.

As the day or night wears on, and it happens to be a particularly volatile day of storms, then you will see their shirt sleeves pushed up above their elbows and dark circles form under their eyes as they prepare to work until the wee hours of the morning, tirelessly, to ensure we are well-informed. Their eyes and urgent voices implore us to take it seriously and… OHHHhhh we do. If you’ve grown up around tornadoes and see the devastation they produce, you understand that they are forces of nature to be respected and…if you are in the path of them…feared.

And so I took it seriously when I was watching a pacing, worried, urgently-speaking Atlanta meteorologist one night back in April of 1998. I had just moved back to the south after spending two years in the moderate climate of the Pacific Northwest, and a little weather phenomenon called El Nino was going to make certain that I was welcomed back into a Southeastern US spring with a “BANG!” To this day, I cannot watch The Weather Channel without thinking of that spring where nearly every week during March and April of that year, we were faced with tornado watches and warnings and, thus, I was glued to the Weather Channel. I always imagined El Nino as a very loud, fat, angry, insult wielding Mexican man carrying a couple of burritos and a few dozen Weather-Weapons of Mass Distruction in his wake. And the worst part is that he often hit late at night – thundering into a neighborhood near you with a cackling laugh. So you would be awake with droopy eyes, and a yawning mouth….watching the weather stations, waiting for the bad weather to pass – – because otherwise, you could be rudely awakened by a roof being torn off your house and perhaps find yourself sucked up into the top of a tree in a cow pasture 3 miles away. Such is the sense of humor of El Nino.

On this particular night, I was watching The Weather Channel as they began to report tornadoes touching down in the Atlanta vicinity. Now, if you remember from a previous post, I only had VERY minimal furniture in my apartment at that point – – so I can’t say I was worried much about my lawn chair being sucked up into a tornado – – I was more worried about ME being sucked up into a tornado. And it was with this in mind that I debated when or if I should retreat from my third story apartment in a WOODEN (can anyone say “shattered like toothpicks?”) building and perhaps find a neighbor downstairs who would be willing to take me in. Because while I knew that if I were to stay in my apartment, I needed to sit in the bathtub or hold on to the toilet (what a way to die – – – holding onto the crapper!), I knew I would have a much better chance of remaining safe if I went to a lower level.

They were breathlessly giving the time line of the path of the tornado that was sweeping into our area of northern Atlanta, and I saw my suburb listed on this time line – – indicating that the storm was about 7 minutes away. On shaky legs, I began forcing myself into action – – making my plan as I went. On the TV, I still heard the meteorologist saying that “if you’re in the path of this storm, seek shelter immediately…”“Ok, ok…”, I thought, “…I’m going.” I really didn’t KNOW anyone in this complex, save the woman who lived directly underneath me who I’d said hello to twice. She was a middle-aged lady who had a little dog – – and right now, she was going to be my best friend.

I heard the TV once again bark the instructions “seek shelter IMMEDIATELY!” and thought “OK! I TOLD YOU I’M GOING! QUIT YOUR NAGGING BECAUSE YOU’RE STARTING TO FREAK ME OUT!” And with that, I opened the door to my place and stepped out onto the breezeway – – I was immediately pushed back into my apartment by the force of the winds that had already started whipping up outside. I thought briefly about turning back around to sit in my tub, but the thought of being by myself in my apartment on the THIRD FLOOR waiting for a tornado was just too much. So I made my way downstairs, heart racing – – my outfit made up of sweatpants, a tank top, and very large Tweetie Bird slippers. I had the brief thought of my Tweetie Bird slippers sticking out from amongst the rubble – – a sick and twisted version of The Wicked Witch of the West.

I banged loudly and urgently on the woman’s door – – worried for a moment that she might not be there and not knowing what I would do then. After a few moments, the door burst open and there she stood, with a puzzled look on her face – – especially when she looked at my Tweetie Bird slippers. I spoke quickly and explained the whereabouts of the storm and asked if I could sit in her bathroom with her since she was on a lower level. Turns out she had no idea that there was a tornado warning in the area – – she wasn’t a Weather Channel addict like I was.

No sooner had she welcomed me in her home and shut the door behind me, when the lights went out and it got totally silent. The winds seemed to die down, but in an unsettling way – – and what was even more unsettling was her dog’s reaction. She had an older cocker spaniel, and as the lightning continued to flash with a sickly green hue through the windows, the dog began making a strange, eerie whining noise. Like that moment in the scary movie where violins of dissonance are playing in the background in a foreboding way as the audience covers their eyes waiting for the Bad Thing to happen. All the hair stood up on the back of my neck – – because I KNEW that dog was sensing something. Animals can do that with the weather – – or at least that’s what I’d always heard. The lady and I ushered the whining dog into the bathroom with us, and I sat wedged between the bathtub and the toilet, holding the dog’s collar, while the woman sat on the edge of the tub. I could hear my heart beating in my ears and felt my knees LITERALLY knocking together in fear. The dog continued to whine, and then looked toward the windows of the woman’s bedroom that we could see illuminated just outside the bathroom door and began to bark at something unseen. I have never felt so much like a sitting duck in all my life. I knew that tornado was close – – but tornadoes are completely unpredictable – – they can dip up and down across the landscape like the needle of a meandering sewing machine. So I just didn’t know if it was going to dip down on top of our building or not.

When the hail started, I REALLY started to worry – – because that signifies unstable air….which means that a tornado is near. It continued to hail for a few minutes – – while the strange, ominous lightning flashed over the expanse of her apartment. We were completely silent, all of us, waiting to hear the winds that “sound like a freight train” – – but hearing only the hail. A few more moments passed, and then all we heard was the rain – – as the skies opened up and the unstable air was beginning to pass. I started to breathe a little easier, realizing that it seemed like it – – whatever it was, wherever it was – – had perhaps passed. We all sat there for about 10 more minutes, then retired to her living room to sit by candlelight and talk nervously. After an hour or so, the lights came back on with a blaze of electrical relief – – and I made my way back upstairs to my apartment, thanking her profusely for allowing me to be a nervous wreck in her bathroom with her.

As it turned out, an F3 tornado had blown through my neighborhood that night – – houses destroyed and serious devastation reported. Some of the worst of the damage was barely a mile away from my apartment. So we had been spared, but just barely. And who knows why – – I was just lucky that night.

And so we are now entering another season of unease – – eying the weather with apprehension when you see storms predicted for any particular day. Spring is so bitter sweet that way in the south – – absolutely stunningly beautiful days full of flowers, cool breezes and warm sun – – but we have this other side of it too. Dark clouds and unpredictability.

Such is life though, really. And I suppose, all you can do is pay attention, find some shelter on occasion – – – and wear some decent shoes.


Advertisements

Read Full Post »

drivingfromsantafe
My friend Cathi and I decided to take a trip out west to beautiful, sunny New Mexico last Spring to visit our friend Valerie, in an effort to do what girls do best: drink copious amounts of wine, think everything is a LOT more funny than it actually is, and then head to a spa to be all Zen-like and philosophical. We accomplished all three goals like Olympic Champions in the event of Freestyle-Girl-Weekend.

I actually hadn’t even met Valerie until Cathi and I wheeled into her driveway, yelling cat-calling obscenities at her husband as he opened the gate for us to their working farm located just outside of Albuquerque. Cathi works with Valerie, had been invited out for a visit, and because Cathi knows that I will travel at the drop of a hat, and am reasonably house-broken, she talked Valerie and her husband into graciously opening up their home to BOTH of us. So you can only imagine the look on Valerie’s husband Jon’s face as these two completely loony, southern women pull up to the gate looking hyped up on stale, recycled airplane air and perhaps one too many diet cokes – – and proceed to grin at him like brunette and blond haired hyenas on our first trip out of the woods of Georgia in 16 years. He looked like any loving husband would look who had agreed to let his wife invite over a couple of wide-eyed, excited, LOUD women who were looking to open multiple wine bottles with our teeth and in the same breath, gab in great detail about which movie star has had the most plastic surgery: HE LOOKED TOTALLY TRAPPED.

I was immensely grateful for the graciousness of Jon and Valerie for those three days – – it was a much needed respite away from my crazy world at home – – and ultimately, just what the doctor ordered. We spent a lovely, lazy evening in their beautiful home that first night enjoying delectable vittles that Jon had cooked on the grill, as well as some fantastic vino and wonderful conversation. I was once again faced with the realization that with some people in life, you can just have an immediate ease and friendship right out of the gate. It’s a phenomenon that is so spontaneous and warm when it happens and in this case, attributed to the types of people Valerie and Jon are: Class Acts.

valamycathi

As we continued on with the visit, we witnessed some of the notorious oddities that can plague the Albuquerque landscape in really quirky, wonderful ways – – the first happening the night that we decided to go out to dinner downtown (photo from that night depicted above). As we motored slowly down the main drag, faced with brightly lit storefronts with multi-colored neon-signs, we all three suddenly noticed a group of people crossing one of the side streets just to the right of the car up ahead. We all became simultaneously silent as we noticed that this group all appeared to collectively be walking with a limp – – some appeared hunched over and were dragging their foot. I could feel us all quietly paying respect to what appeared to be a group of people having physical disabilities of some sort. But as we got closer, I realized that there was something really peculiar going on with this gaggle of folks – – for one thing, their clothes were ripped and disheveled. Nothing was computing in my brain yet as nothing was making sense visually – – limping, hunched over people with ripped clothes? What the….???

Then I noticed the pale skin and dark circles under their eyes. Valerie and Cathi must’ve put it all together at the same time I did because we all exclaimed nearly at once: “Are those ZOMBIES??????”

Sure as shootin’ – – it was a bunch of what looked like college students, dressed eerily accurately, as the Walking Dead.

I asked Valerie, “Errr….is there some sort of, you know, FESTIVAL going on?” What sort of festival exactly, I did not know: A bad, B-Movie Carnival perhaps? My mind was racing with possibilities and coming up with nothing. But Valerie wasn’t aware of anything. Therefore we had no idea if we were supposed to be laughing or if….whoa….MAYBE THE END OF THE WORLD WAS NOW UPON US and we would soon have a bunch of the Undead swarming our car and beating on the windshield, demanding to gnaw on our arms like human drumsticks. I could imagine my mother getting THAT call late at night: “Your daughter’s been eaten Zombies”. To which my mother would have pondered out loud: “Well I hope she was wearing clean underwear…”

And of COURSE the End of the World would start in New Mexico. It’s a state that is a freaking MAGNET for the paranormal, after all. UFO’s, ghosts – – Jackalopes. If it’s scary, weird and moves – – you’ll find it in New Mexico.

The next day, in Santa Fe, as I was buying some really, really, really hot chili sauce from a cute little shop that sells nothing but jars, jams and food meant to make you breathe fire (literally), I told the man at the register about the zombies we’d witnessed downtown and asked if he knew of anything going on that would warrant Zombie…er…fashion but all he did was shake his head and say: “Naaah. That’s just Albuquerque.”

It was in this vein of celebrating the New Mexican strangeness that we decided we needed to see a palm reader. So we did a little research and found one of two in the area and decided to make our way over there. In hindsight, given what we had been through with the Zombies, we really shouldn’t have. I mean, a Santa Fe palm reader is prrrrooobably only going to be a couple of steps up from seeing a Zombie or a Jackalope as far as feeling Totally Unnerved. And with a psychic we were going to have to pay money to get our minds toyed with. But this is what three, smart, successful women holding multiple degrees do: lose all sense of sensibility on a Girl Weekend and hand over our money to a gypsy in white hot pants.

When we walked into the psychic’s parlor, we were ushered in to sit on an antiquated old couch surrounded by old, worn furniture. I half expected to see a pot of tea and cookies out on the coffee table, but instead, we were only greeted by small children who kept scampering in and out of the room eying us with speculation. The “psychic” turned out to be the woman who’d answered the door when we first came in – – and she looked all of 23 years old. “Oh come ON”, I thought. “Where’s the older lady with one cloudy, white eye, a peg-leg and a pet lizard on her shoulder?” What a crock.

She informed us that she wanted to see us all separately so we each had to wait outside until the other finished. We all glanced at each other and shrugged our shoulders in a gesture that said, “Oh well…her rules”.

Cathi went first, and she came out with a tight lipped smile and revealed nothing to either Valerie or me as to what was said during her session. We’d agreed not to talk to each other until the end – – so we wouldn’t taint each other’s views of our sessions.

When I went in, within the expanse of about 5 minutes, I knew she was a scam artist. And a particularly BAD brand of scam artist who tries to infiltrate into the lives of the desperate and weak-minded and convince them that there is something really wrong with their lives. Something that only a ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR CRYSTAL taken from the BOTTOM OF THE NILE and blessed by the blood of 20 dancing scorpions could possibly help. She wanted to be my spiritual advisor you see because…apparently…my “Third Eye” was, for lack of a better word……..clogged. It needed to be cleared by the Crystal.

I looked at her with a steady, cold gaze and said nothing. She kept pressing me further – – trying to drive the point home and send me into a fit of despair over the dangerous, scary place my life was headed if I DIDN’T GET THIS CRYSTAL. I leaned back in my chair. She leaned back in hers. We stared at one another. My stare, I hope, said, “I am so, so onto you, Lady.” Her look said “if you’re not going to give me more money, then I have nothing else to tell you about your life, Blondie.”

I smiled stiffly and stood up, thanked her through clenched teeth for her time and went out the front door. I wanted to throw a zombie at her.

As Cathi and I sat together, waiting on Valerie, despite our vow to wait until we were all in the car to talk about our sessions, she and I immediately started spewing anger over the complete rip-off. And what was even MORE insulting was that, save for a few details here and there, Cathi and I got the EXACT SAME READING. The Crystal from the Nile, the Third Eye…all of it! I mean…how ridiculous is THAT? Did the woman think we weren’t going to talk to each other and see that, you know…MAYBE there was something fishy going on here?”

Valerie’s session was lightning fast, and according to her account of the visit, the woman told her a bunch of happy, joyful things about her life (after telling me and Cathi that we should basically lie prostrate with grief on our couches for the rest of our lives if we didn’t give her a bunch of money) and practically SHOVED her out the door in a state of urgency. We figured that she’d realized she wasn’t going to get any of us hooked onto her scheme and so she had no more use for our kind there.

As we drove home, grumbling over the nerve of that woman, we began talking about our “Third Eye” in a very comedic way. Like: “It’s getting dark and I can’t SEE very well with this clogged THIRD EYE” and the like.

But my very favorite moment was when Valerie, in a fit of angry comedy said: “Hey Lady…I got your third eye RIGHT. HERE. IN MY. PANTS.” and proceeded to point at the back of her jeans. That was the end of us – – we laughed until we cried – – completely dissolved in our juvenile, minimally funny humor. But we didn’t care….it was funny to us in that moment, as we drove home into the desert sunset, smiling and reeling over our strange but wonderful few days together.

To this day, the Third Eye lives on amongst us three sporadically in e-mails and phone calls – – the endless inside joke that keeps on giving. And for that…it was almost worth the money we gave to that psychic thief.

Almost.

cathival3rdeye

Read Full Post »

Ok….so I’ve started, like, four different blog posts in the last several days, but unfortunately, lost the will to live right smack in the middle of EACH one of them. As one does.

So never fear….my writing mojo IS coming back, but it’s coming back in fits and starts.

Therefore, in the meantime, I will direct you toward my own, personal, fool-proof remedy for any blues you might be experiencing at this moment: Richard Simmons. I should loathe the man – – he of tiny-shiny shorts, loud screeching, and inordinately smooth legs – – he should be annoying in the extreme. But instead, I find myself delighted by his mere presence – – puzzled by the sheer NUMBER of hamsters that would have to be running around the wheel turning in his head – – and smiling at his overtly innocent, wide-eyed outrage at various talk show hosts who play into his game and poke fun at his over-exuberance.

This particular clip is taken from his guest appearance on “Whose Line is it Anyway” and it never fails to make me laugh until a couple of tears emerge from my eyes. I don’t know who’s funnier: Richard Simmons, the other improvisational actors, or Drew Carey who is obviously about to wet himself while watching the whole sordid affair unfold.

So…anyway. Enjoy. And in the meantime, I’ll be revving up the ol’ writing engine and see if I can produce an ending to one of those four posts I started recently. If not…maybe I’ll just do another post about Sasquatches. Lord knows I can always write about Big-Freaking-Foot for some reason…

Read Full Post »

I haven’t updated the blog in a while and I was juuuussst about to do that very thing yesterday when I was hit with a cold. And not just any cold, but one of those colds that slams into your nasal cavity like a hurricane of snot. Yes, I know that was a graphic comparison but I’m not feelin’ like being diplomatically descriptive at the moment….so there ya have it. Snot, snot, snot. SNOT!

Therefore, I will ask that you – – my 3 fans – – bear with me until I hit the “mending” phase of this little germ from Planet Disgustoid. Right now, when I’m not staring at the wall with my mouth open, I’m just trying to eat my food while not inhaling a large object into my windpipe because my nose stopped functioning yesterday and therefore, every time I eat a few crackers, it’s like going deep sea diving. Without the breathing equipment.

Read Full Post »

stuffedsnakes

I’ve mentioned here before that I was once afraid to fly, but what I didn’t mention was that I am also afraid of snakes. However, given that I don’t come face-to-face with many…you know… cobras on a day-to-day basis, I haven’t been as concerned about overcoming THIS fear like the fear of flying. It just doesn’t inhibit my life to a degree that I feel the need to really do anything about it. Thus, it still resides within me….coiled and ready to strike the moment that I catch a PBS special entitled “Desert Reptiles” on the tube. As soon as the monotoned narrator utters the words “indigenous rattlesnake”, I’m searching amongst the couch cushions with shaky hands looking for the remote control so I can quickly change it to another station. The one time I actually tried to watch one of those shows, the rat bastards decided to show a rattle snake striking out at the camera IN SLOW MOTION. So the vile creature looked like it was going to LEAP out of my television and dig it’s fangs into my right arm. I screamed like a banshee and threw a bedroom shoe at the TV to protect myself. I mean really – – – all you PBS Producers who FLOCK to my blog? – – – I’m talking to you when I ask: “Is that sort of drama really necessary?” Couldn’t you just show the snake from a safe distance away like, say…..from a 747 cruising at 35,000 feet? It would pretty much look like a tiny, squiggly worm from that height. A nice, sweet…harmless…squiggly worm. Not a horrifying, slithering Serpent of Doom.

Being raised in Alabama, I was taught to have a healthy fear of snakes (like I needed any EXTRA fear of snakes) because they are located generously within the woods and waters of the southeast US. We learned to listen for the telltale sound of a rattler in the woods – – and of course, were taught the mantra “Red and Black – – he’s an OK Jack” and “Red and Yellow will kill a fellow” referencing the colorful patterns of the King Snake and the Coral Snake, respectively, and how to tell which one was friend or foe. Which was easy for me because in my little book of snakes.……..THEY’RE ALL FOES.

As far as snake safety goes, we were taught to never reach up under rocks or inside holes and tree crevasses because there could be a snake lurking there, ready to eat your arm or, you know, drag you off to the evil place from whence it came. I pretty much spent my entire childhood and….let’s face it…adulthood too…being terrified to sit on a rock and dangle my feet over the side. And I would rather be rolled in tar and set on FIRE than put my hand underneath a rock or, Hell, even KICK a rock over a few inches. In my mind’s eye, I can see a snake leaping out from under the rock like one of those boxes with the spring-loaded snakes meant for happy-happy fun times at a party (here’s a hint: AMY DOES NOT THINK THAT SPRING-LOADED FAKE SNAKES IN BOXES ARE HAPPY-HAPPY-FUN TIMES! I will throw whatever object I happen to have in my hand at the time at you, order you out of my house and strike you from my will if you ever do that to me. Fair warning!)

We were also taught that if you were to happen to SEE a snake, then you are supposed to stop, and FREEZE….completely motionless…until the snake scurried away. Because, you see, it’s more scared of us than we are of it. To which I say: Are you KIDDING me??? We all know that’s a load of crap – because — have you ever looked into the eyes of a snake???? THAT SNAKE IS NOT SCARED OF US! If it could use an assault rifle, IT WOULD – – and then dump our human bodies off in a ditch somewhere as it peeled away in a black-tinted-windowed vehicle while making a hissing noise at his buddy in the passenger seat named Vinny “The Rattler” Snake.

No…I decided long ago that I wouldn’t be doing any FREEZING if I were to ever see a snake in my path. I would run to the next state, with flailing arms…..screaming obscenities….and calling the cops on my cell phone as I ran. What could the cops do? Well….I DON’T KNOW. But my feeling is that they could possibly use a flame-thrower or some sort of poisonous gas to destroy all evidence that this thing ever existed on our planet.

So you can imagine my extreme dismay, when in high school, we were informed that we were going to have a SNAKE SHOW. Yes….a snake show. Could we get anymore stereotypically Alabamian than to actually have a “snake show” at a public school assembly? As in….snake handlers up on the stage of the auditorium, picking up rattling, hissing, ANGRY snakes with metal hooks and dangling them precariously over the audience. It was supposedly to educate us but…..come ON! Has anyone seen “Snakes on a Plane”??? Because, clearly, if that movie had been out in 1990, then they would have KNOWN that snakes can suddenly and inexplicably turn into mutant MONSTER snakes at any given moment if the wrong evil scientist gets hold of one of those bags of snakes. And then it would have been like a scene from “Carrie” – – except the part of Carrie would have been played by a mutant snake wearing a crown. Or….whatever. It just would have been BAD, people.

As we filed in to watch the snake show, I immediately began to locate the exits in the building, not excluding the large windows located on either side of the room which would have taken a ladder to reach. But I figured if I went insane enough, I could convince some of my friends through loud, forceful, maniacal screaming….to form a human ladder of sorts and hoist me up to the window so I could start signaling any stray planes or helicopters to make an emergency landing and bust me out of there in a Mission Impossible-like rescue operation.

My palms began to sweat and I ordered my friends to sit as NEAR TO THE BACK AS POSSIBLE. No sooner had we sat down when the men came out with the bags o’ snakes and began to pull them out one by one. Pulling out the wiggling, horrible, HISSING creatures ONE BY ONE!!!

I leaned over and put my head between my knees to try to ease the urge to faint – – all the while hearing the “Oooo’s” and “Ahhh’s” of my classmates. I kept trying to convince myself that it was worth it to be out of whatever class we were able to miss that day in order to see a bunch of snakes pranced in front of us like some sick, twisted version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – – but it wasn’t working.

I found that if I kept looking down at my knees, and not up at the snakes, then I was actually doing ok. If I ignored the feeling that one of the snakes might have gotten loose somewhere in the building and could….AT ANY MOMENT…crawl around my shoe….then I actually was remaining calm.

But then…..THEN….they decided to bring out the non-venomous snakes INTO THE AUDIENCE. And worse:

THEY WANTED US TO TOUCH THEM!!!!

When I heard that, and I saw the snake handlers begin to spill out into the audience on either side of the auditorium holding the snakes, I slowly got up and in a state of quiet, but determined panic…….began to crawl over chairs. I remember stepping on a guy’s hand and him saying “OWWWWWW!” quite loudly, but I didn’t care. I would have very happily stepped on someone’s HEAD at that point to get out of there.

When I reached the back of the room, I informed one of the teachers standing guard by the door that I had to leave. He informed me I couldn’t leave. And I, in a moment of VERY rare teenage defiance, looked at this teacher and said in a strangled voice “No you don’t understand, I have to get out! I have to get out!

He realized at that point that he was about to have a meltdown of epic proportions in front of him if he didn’t let me out of the auditorium. And after seeing that, once I got out, all I did was sit on the carpet of the lobby and sorta…you know…rock back and forth like Sally Field in the movie “Sybil”, then he knew I wasn’t trying to fake an emotional scene just to get out and go do some wild, illegal school activity like cut my mini-skirt shorter so it was THREE inches above the knee instead of just two. I was a rebel in those days, you see.

And so the snakes left the school that day without my having laid ONE fingernail on their scaly, disgusting bodies. But the mental scars…..THE MENTAL SCARS…..they remain.

My condo is located on the third floor – – and I would LIKE to say this is only for the sake of the view.

But I would be lying.

Read Full Post »

ptcruiser

Very close to this time last year, I bought a convertible. It was one of those things I’d always thought about doing but was always too practical a thinker to do. I had my ancient, green, gimpy Honda Civic ’98 with NO car payment – – and that suited me JUST fine, thank-you very much. A new car – – even a SEMI-new car – – just seemed too frivolous a purchase.

But I got it into my head that I finally wanted to get a convertible and so I did my shopping around, put down a large down payment and bought a quirky but sleek 2007 silver Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible. It was a complete splurge – – impractical in the extreme despite the relatively low car payment – – and an AMERICAN car (something I swore I would never buy) to boot – – but I loved it. The first time I drove it home from the lot, on a beautiful sunny day in early spring, I swear I could hear choirs of angels singing their praises of me as I raced down the interstate in my new-found Freedom-on-Wheels. I smiled the entire way. And waved at truckers who honked in appreciation of the blond in the convertible – – which is a departure from the usual hand signal I think of throwing….and sometimes DO throw their way under normal circumstances. Even horny, gutter-minded truckers weren’t going to get me down THAT day.

And so began my love affair with my PT Cruiser. Getting into the driver’s seat, and punching the button to pull the top down so that the world suddenly opens up above me is like a mini-holiday. Especially after a long day at work. In the Spring and Fall (and sometimes on the less Hottter-than-Hades days of what is a Southeast US Summer), I don’t care where I drive….I just drive. I drive to get a coffee. I drive to get an avocado. I drive to buy a pair of socks I don’t need. I’ll make up any excuse to drive.

100_7710

And so I drove today – – to run errands that could have been done today, tomorrow, or next week – – but the purpose wasn’t the errands, it was to drive in this beautiful, perfect Spring weather we have here in Atlanta right now. One of those series of 72 degree weather days that we experience in March that follow a blast of cold like we just had last week. Spring is not sustained yet, but she is peaking her head from behind the corner of Winter and teasing us with her sweetness.

And so I took full advantage of it and drove with the sheer purpose of enjoying the wind in my hair and sun on my face. I drove to be here now in this place, and take in the moment fully and completely.

And as I drove, the blue sky above opened up with possibility.

100_7702

Read Full Post »