I’ve always had a healthy respect for the weather because I have experienced how quickly things can change. When I saw some really dark clouds the other day I made the decision to put my dog in a more confined area before I left my house. He’s notorious for being terrified of storms and his anxiety quickly turns destructive. I started to drive to my destination and the sky got darker and it started to rain. The rain started coming down harder and then went into blinding rain. I turned off my music and slowed down. The sky got darker and the hail started coming out of nowhere. It was at this point that I decided it was probably not the greatest idea to drive with limited visibility, hail and rain so I pulled over and stopped. The wind picked up and the hail kept coming and began to rock my car from side to side. As someone who hates car washes, the experience wasn’t the most pleasant. All of a sudden I got the tornado alert warning on my phone and then the wind stopped blowing and there was an eerie stillness. That’s how I knew there was a tornado on the ground close by. Years of tornado drills, close calls, and even an instance where friends of mine died in a tornado reminded me that a direct hit from a strong enough tornado is almost always deadly. Technically when a tornado comes you’re supposed to find a ditch and lay in it. For some reason I decided that I was just going to stay in my car. The wind picked up again and then started to cease. It was still raining but people were starting to drive. I started my car again and began to drive immediately realizing that there was water almost past my hubcaps. I’m not an expert in flood driving and it doesn’t help that my car is so low to the ground. I quickly and carefully maneuvered out of where I was and searched for higher ground. I pulled into a parking lot and watched the thunder and blinding rain for a little bit until I deemed it was safe to go. Even at that point there were places where the water was almost over my tires so I had to find even higher ground. This required to get out my GPS and find random side streets in order to avoid traffic and water damage to my car. It reminded me of how life happens unexpectedly and how sometimes you just have to wait it out instead of fighting against circumstances and situations. They will go away in time but you’ll exhaust yourself fighting against it prematurely. I had to find an alternate route to find higher ground and in a similar way sometimes the only means of becoming successful is to take the high road and refuse to be brought down by the opinions and judgments of others. The conscious decision not to stoop to the level of foolishness of petty people can cause you to focus on something that actually does matter.
It’s funny how fast time really flies despite the fact that it often seems that it is just creeping by. With all the graduations that go on in the month of May, I must admit that I felt a bit nostalgic as I thought about the few times that I’ve graduated from some program. However, today is semi-different as it marks four years since I graduated from college. The funny thing is that May 28th wasn’t the original date that was supposed to happen. Living in Alabama, severe weather usually occurred during tornado season. That year, there was a tornado that came through parts of North Alabama with some disastrous results. I remember my last class in undergrad (didn’t know it at the time) and how somehow it just felt so final. Around the time of finals a huge storm came through and left thousands (including me) without power. I must admit that living without electricity isn’t something that I particularly enjoy doing. A phone call made with my rapidly dying cell phone to my parents confirmed that they were enjoying 21st century living with hot water and electricity as the storm had missed them. Gas pumps weren’t working but thankfully I had a full tank of gas and slowly made my way to my parents house around downed power lines and hundreds of non-working stoplights. But I digress. Needless to say graduation was canceled (postponed) for two weeks. I remember the anticipation that led up to the day. It was the culmination of a LOT of hours of hard work, sweat, and tears. One thing that was reassuring was that I had a plan of what I was doing afterwards. I remember how hot the robe was and trying to concentrate as I marched so that I didn’t trip and fall. It was a very very long day that started around 6 in the morning and ended at 3am the next morning, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I saw so many family members and celebrated with them. I had my name announced all over the arena and got the diploma holder that represented almost $100,000 in money spent for education and the hope that this degree would ensure that I didn’t live in poverty for the next 5 decades. Reminiscing is great, but the real question is what has been accomplished since then? That’s a sobering thought.
Ever since I can remember I’ve liked staying in hotels. There’s something oddly comforting about an environment that puts and emphasis on hospitality. Not too long ago there was a snowstorm in my city and as a democracy of one I made the executive decision to get a hotel room because I’m considered essential personnel at my job and calling in because of weather isn’t really an option. As a nice gesture my hospital extended the invitation to staff to stay on grounds in unoccupied rooms. However as someone who works 12 hour shifts, the last thing I want after working 12 hours is to spend that same amount of time at the same place until I work again. Not to mention that I like having physical distance between myself and my job. So getting the hotel room was an incredibly great decision and reminded me of all the reasons why I like staying in nice hotels. As I’ve mentioned many times, traveling is one of my hobbies and I admit, that staying in a hotel is probably one of the best parts of the experience. At first there was some hesitation that came with staying by myself in an unfamiliar city. However that fear was soon confronted after doing a solo trip to Miami by myself and going through the whole experience of booking and staying in a hotel on a total whim. Since then I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels and have had pretty good experiences. One experience that was pretty memorable was staying at a hotel in Paris. Like the true adventurer I am, my hotel was miles away from the tourist part or Paris and there weren’t many English speakers and the French didn’t appear to be particularly pro-American. The hotel room was markedly smaller than rooms in the US and was also significantly more expensive. You had to leave your room key at the front desk and pick it up so that there wasn’t a chance it would get stolen from you. However the view from my window appeared to be right out of some romance movie based in Paris. The thing I like about hotels is that they signify a separation between real like and vacation or business. It’s not your home and doesn’t feel like such but yet it is for however long you stay. There’s the expectation that you aren’t expected to do housekeeping duties and you are free to roam and return to a clean room regardless (within reason) of the state you left it in. Perhaps if I spent three months in a nice hotel I would change my mind. But who doesn’t like housekeeping services?
I think that almost everyone at some point or time has read, or watched a story on television that centered around the experience of being in a blizzard. Being from the South and also due to mostly mild winters, I had escaped the experience until a few days ago. There are hundreds of rules about what to do when you’re driving in winter and the things that you need to bring along with you and store in your car in order to ensure survival. These rules are all fine and dandy but unfortunately they were disregarded because it was the freaking middle of April. Winter is supposed to be over by this point. The days are getting warmer and snow is melting. Not this weekend. So my friend and I picked the route to drive because we were trying to dodge a severe weather system in Oklahoma and Texas that included a very high chance of tornadoes. Trip started off great. Warm weather (100 degrees) and sunshine. Gradually clouds started to appear that were darker in color. As the sun was setting it started to rain and become extremely windy. This rain continued and then turned into snow. The wind picked up to the point that it was dangerous to drive. The snow was coming down fast and the wind was making it impossible to see more than five feet ahead of the car. Unfortunately we were in the middle of nowhere. Literally. With the nearest town being 60 miles away. The temperature is dropping and we don’t have proper shoes, coats, water, food, or even flashlights if we were to get stuck. There are no houses nearby and even if there were, being in a white-out makes seeing anything else beside blinding snow impossible. It was then that we realized that if we were to stop our chances of surviving in freezing temperatures without any proper equipment and no cell phone signal was pretty darn small. There are so many stories of people who have overcome huge odds and many times their successes are due to the fact that they did what they had to do because they didn’t have a choice. Stopping on the side of the road would have been a very bad decision so we had to press on. And press on we did. Very slowly and carefully. It was like driving while blind. Horrible horrible horrible. But (thank God) we got through driving 60 miles in blinding snow to the nearest town and stopped for the night. I say all this to say that blizzards aren’t any joke. I have absolutely no desire to ever be in one again and I hope to move to warmer regions where snow is very rarely (if ever) in the forecast.
As you can see by the picture, the word “cold” is an understatement. I haven’t spent a lot of time outside lately due to these type of temperatures, but I can honestly say that a jacket, gloves, and hat are pretty much a necessity. I’m not complaining hardcore about the cold because it could be worse. And while I pretty much still refuse to turn on the heat in my apartment, I could be without shelter. I was born and raised in the South and whenever it snows things shut down. Out here, you are still expected to act as if nothing happened and show up for work and your appointments on time. When I was in college, school was delayed one full week because of snow. It was great. Dealing with climate changes and cold like this is one thing that I guess goes with the territory of living somewhere where it actually gets pretty cold. You have to do certain things in order to leave your house such as shovel snow and scrape off your car that take additional minutes when you are trying to get to an appointment. I even went the extra mile and bought snow tires. I would never classify myself as a cold weather person and I admit that I don’t particularly see the purpose in temperatures such as the one in the picture because quite frankly, I chose not to live in a place like Canada or Alaska for a good reason. However, this is a part of the winter season and I’m sure that some people are enjoying these type of temperatures. More power to them. I need an electric blanket.