Tag Archives: Tampa

Tropical Storm Trepidation

26 Aug

I’m sitting at this computer with a sinking feeling in my stomach. It’s like a swallowed a bowling ball whole, and that bowling ball happens to be filled with nitro glycerin. You could say I’m a bit nervous.

“True! Nervous, very very dreadfully nervous that I was and now I am, but why would you say that I am mad?”

I’m not mad. Not insane. I’m being driven insane by memories though. Memories of the last time this sort of thing happened to me. The wind, the rain, the sheer power of God.

I live in Tampa. Within the next 24-36 some-ought hours, a hurricane is supposed to give us a glancing blow. People aren’t too scared about that. That scares me; not in the sense that their lack of fear gives me dread, but it makes me worry about their safety. It’s like they don’t remember. I can never forget.

For those who are suffering amnesia, let me remind you what we’re dealing with. A glancing blow from a hurricane isn’t like a glancing blow from a street brawl. The arm of some thug can only cause so much damage. The capacity to create chaos and suffering is nearly infinite and entirely inherent into the nature of this beast. A glancing blow from a hurricane is like getting a “glancing blow” from a .50 caliber bullet shot out of a rail-gun. For those of you who aren’t up to date with advanced weaponry, a rail-gun can shoot a projectile with enough force to literally ignite the air around it. You don’t need to be in its direct path to experience its wrath: just close enough. And I don’t fear, I know that we are within that danger zone.

I’ve lived through one of the worst summers on record. Unlike most, I don’t suffer from any sort of amnesia. The terror of those storms were too awful for me to repress.

The winds howl at your door like a pack of snarling wolves. It looks for every crevice, every entrance, and tries to force its way in there. Actually, in that sense, their more like the goddamn velociraptors from Jurassic Park. It never seemed to hit the same spot twice. It was sentient and looking for the structures weakness with ruthless determination.

I’ve heard people say that the rain is God’s tears. Not in a hurricane. It’s less divine, less positively charged. It’s an invading army that is unable to take casualties. My roof was burdened with their footfalls. The stomping, constant march of our impending demise. There were times when I thought we could die there, huddled in my parents’ closet. I knew that all buildings had a weakness. Between the rain and the wind, I was sure that ours was being exploited.

We were in the eye of the storm once. The eye wall crashed into us without any regard to mercy.  But we were still in one piece. We were outside, enjoying the first bit of light we had seen outside of the constant barrage of lightning. The sun was warm, the breeze calm. It was almost implausible to think that we were still in danger. We were young. We were playing in the sunshine. A cry came across the lake from our neighbors. There arms were waving. We waved back as we laughed, thinking that they were just enjoying the reprieve.

“…ado”

“What?!” We yelled back. We were confused and getting a little frightened. Their arms weren’t casually waving anymore. It was panicky and rapid. They were trying to warn us of something.

“Tornado!”

My eyes widened. We looked out into the impeding gates of Hell and there it was. Like Cerberus, hungry, vicious, awful, powerful, and piss-your-pants-without-giving-a-damn terrifying. We rushed inside and hoped to God we wouldn’t be sent beyond Oz. There’s no place like home, and that storm wasn’t intending to send us to munchkin land.

I remember another time, looking out at the storm as the first arm was approaching us. I was young, but I was already jaded to normal fear. I stared on with eyes devoid of feeling. I wasn’t afraid. And that’s what was truly scary. I wasn’t afraid because I knew. That time I just knew that we couldn’t possibly get so lucky again. Our house had come through unscathed every time. Our neighbor’s though, many of them weren’t so lucky. I’d seen buildings leveled from wind alone, others trampled by rain, and others still obliterated by lightning and thunder. I knew that life was just a game of chance. Run the gauntlet enough times, and everyone’s survival rate will drop to zero. I wasn’t afraid. My terror had evolved well beyond that.

The storm looked like something that had burst through my nightmares. I could see bloodlust in the eyes of the howling wind, steeled deliverance in the steps of the rain, and I saw the awesome power of Hell reaching out to drag the remnants away and pull us down to our fate. I called for my dog and we walked inside. I told him everything would be alright. He was smart. I could tell he knew I was lying.

Somehow, we were lucky again. Somehow, we came through ok. But again, I know far too many people who didn’t.

And here we go for the next go ’round. Another “glancing blow;” but my psyche is already battered and bruised. I know that we won’t get the full brunt of it. It’s wrath is directed away from us, for the moment. Somehow I know that this is different from the tropical system we’ve already had this year. I ran in that storm. I enjoyed the wind and rain. That storm was weak, it was almost like a warning shot. But this is a different beast, evident by everything about it. It is not here to give us rain like the last storm. It’s not here to be an inconvenience. It’s here to remind us all that in this state, the gates of Hell are a constant presence. It’s here to remind those who forced themselves to forget that some terrors can’t be ignored. That sometimes, God feels it necessary to draw blood.

That is what has me afraid.

The Men in Black Don’t Play Around

24 Aug

This is equally applicable to the semi-fictitious characters played by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. I say semi-fictitous because there have actually been weird sights consisting of men in black suits in the general vicinity of UFO encounters since the 50’s (at least). In fact, that’s where the story tellers got the idea; the urban legend insisting that everything in life is an alien cover-up.

Anyways, I was actually referring to the Men in Black Suits known as the Secret Service. These guys are going all out here! I would say it’s ridiculous, but that really doesn’t quite cover the scope of everything. It’s honestly just batshit insane.

As you guys may or may not know (or simply may or may not give a damn about) the Republican National Convention is kicking off here in Tampa. Actually, it’s about a half mile away from the UT campus. Now I know, as a government and world affairs major I should be swooning. Hell the words “GOP Convention Within My General Vicinity” should give me, like, at least a fifth of an orgasm. No. If anything, it’s giving me the opposite. I have an anti-boner ladies and gentleman. If my girlfriend decided to drop by and strip naked for me, I’d have a hard time right now. The reason is pretty simple: It’s freaking crazy being this close!

First, we have the traffic. Now I know that the perennial traffic champion of the world is still China with that monstrous traffic jam a while back (remember? The one that lasted around three days?), but I think we can vie  for a legitimate second. There’s a nearby island (don’t remember the name) that’s a little too close to the RNC. So the Secret Service is doing traffic stops and random vehicle inspections. Makes sense. The issue is, what was once a five-minute drive has turned into a 2-3 hour ordeal.

And people can’t decide to just up and swim across the damn river because theirs a friggen gunboat loaded with a .50 caliber machine gun ready to spit death and fire at anything that so much as looks at it funny!  

Not that anyone would really want to go in the river it’s cold, bleak, black, and really ominous. Except when the manatees come. They’re just like giant teddy bears, bringing magic to the desperate waters. Except instead of fluff, they’re made of blubber. Who doesn’t like to hug ginormous, copious amounts of animal fat for sheer entertainment? They’re especially fun to wrestle. In fact, I have a manatee grudge match coming up in the next week.

Long story.

There are rumors of anti-aircraft contingencies being readied. By that I don’t mean we’re going to put a bat signal-like device that either tells pilots to turn around or gives them the middle finger. Nope. We’re talking about freaking artillery. Supposedly, tanks are coming in to join the crowd. Would feel like martial law except there’s nothing important here in Tampa.

Except for the fact that it pretty much IS martial law. The secret service has direct control of the police and emergency services. I mean, everything is still running smoothly. And I think they learned their lesson about prostitutes so I seriously doubt they’re going to use the police force for anything too perverse.

You can’t get within a half mile of the conference hall without credentials. No joke.

You get within a half mile of the conference hall without credentials, you will be deported to the land of Mordor. Joke. Probably/maybe. That depends if they really have perfected going into the imagination like in South Park. And if they have, they should probably avoid the section called “Dino World.” I had a very fertile paleontological imagination when I was six. Just for their safety. Or more so their sanity. I thought up some weird shit when I was six.

After sitting down and carefully considering the circumstance I have come to this very somber conclusion.

Don’t mess with the secret service. Seriously. They don’t play around.

I would make a prostitution joke about that last line, but there’s a helicopter buzzing around overhead. And I’m a smart enough cookie to know that I may be able to wrestle a sea-cow, but I think the helicopter has the advantage.