Monday, August 29, 2011

Caution To The Wind - Hurricane Hype Fatigue

     -The Center of a sunflower-
    

For a week, we were bombarded with media coverage about the hurricane advancing across the ocean and up the coastline. Speculations and computer model analysis were endless. Hearing about it was as inescapable as the storm itself. The meteorologists and broadcast weather reporters had important work to do, but I was sick of listening to them. I had hurricane hype fatigue and it was my own fault. I checked the weather channel constantly, checking on the progress of the approaching storm. "What number is the weather channel," my husband asked. "Three sixty-two," I responded without hesitation. 
     When I can’t sleep I watch inane television. I recently told my husband that I have been watching “Toddlers And Tiaras.” It’s a show about little girls competing in beauty pageants. Three year olds have their eye brows plucked, false eye lashes applied, make-up slathered on and Dolly Parton mega do’s piled on their heads. Sequined dresses costing in the thousands are worn only once for a single pageant. Moms and dads teach their little dolls to twirl, shake their booties and throw kisses to the judges. Breast inserts are put in the bathing suits of toddlers who stick out their chests enticingly like worn out old hookers. It’s ghastly. “Who watches that crap?” my appalled husband asked. “I hope you don’t tell anyone you watch it!” he chided. I held back that I also watch “Sex Change Hospital.”   
     The week before the storm filled me with building anxiety about what was coming and what we should do to prepare for it. I couldn’t sleep. I watched Toddlers And Tiaras and was glued to the weather channel. I quick clicked the remote back and forth. The storm jargon, “Cat One, Cat 2, wind field, terrain effect……” soaked into my brain. Click, “Her little personality really comes through on stage,” said a helmet haired judge with overly rouged cheeks. Click. The storm advanced.
     Over and over, I watched the reporters across the entire Eastern seaboard pelted by sheets of rain and wind. I came to know them and have preferences. Jim – the short guy in the L.L. Bean rain gear, Stephanie was the new girl that had to keep looking at her blowing notes, Long Beach -the town covered by the fat guy who didn’t need to worry about being blown away. Slickers, notes, hats and hands flapped and chattered across the East. I was transfixed by the satellite views spinning and grinding up the coast. I was nauseous. I had a headache. But, I kept watching.
     Four of our family members, including my daughter, were evacuated from New Jersey and Virginia. Each time the phone rang, I was thankful that it did ring, a good sign that the communications infrastructures were still intact.  The cell phone towers were predicted to be compromised. I got a physical address for where my daughter had “evac’ed” to. I would need it if she went missing. I wondered, would it be too much to tell her to tell her to write her Social Security number on her forearm? Each time the phone rang, my primal brain sounded the alarm, “Oh no!” The calls were status updates from loved ones, not bad news. But still, each time I was lurched. I almost wished it would come already and get it over with. The earth was going to hell! How much would it matter what I did or didn’t do to mitigate the effects? The gloom and doom prognostications were too much to get my head around. Almost too big to handle, the anxiety bar had been set high this time. We told each other to stay indoors. “Stay safe, I love you,” was chanted like a mantra. 
    We live seventy-five feet from the ocean. Additionally, we care-take numerous properties for absentee home owners. They also called us and sent e mails, anxious about their assets. For days, we’d been securing other people's patio furniture, planters, flags, beach toys, trash barrels, bird feeders - the list was endless. “I’m taking my boat out of the water, just to be safe,” one said.  “Can you see if Larsons took theirs out yet?” I looked across the water. Not a boat to be seen, the cove was strangely desolate for August.
     Then, we hustled to put our stuff away. We lashed down our boat. We deliberated about procuring plywood panels for our huge windows. Some might ask, "What's the question? Put up the panels!" The answer is expense, labor and denial. We just don't want it to be bad enough to warrant that. Boat owners don’t want to lose one precious day of the craft in the water. When the boat comes out, it won’t go back; summer is over. We want the good times to go on forever. Pushing back the fear some poor choices would be made - boats left in the water, windows left unprotected, or evacuation notices ignored.  Surfers and sightseers will go to the beach.
     Tra-la, la, la! Is that danger I hear at the door?  “What kind of idiot goes out in this kind of thing?” The question was heard over and over.  I confess: I’m that person. I’m the person the governor of New Jersey was hollering at to get the hell off the beach. I’m the person who would go sightseeing and have a tree fall on my car crushing me. I’m the person who would go surfing. I’m the person who would stand on the rocks in the face of a monster wave, blithely watching the magnificent earth wreak havoc upon itself.  I don’t want to come to terms with the world being a dangerous, sometimes horrible place. I embrace hope and denial.  I throw caution to the wind and go out in the storm.
     This time, we got away with it and I’m thankful. Our top wind speed was forty-six MPH with sustained winds of thirty or so. Those stats don’t even make a “Cat One” hurricane. The great, muscled seas roared in swinging punches, but did not connect. Our house vibrated and groaned, but nothing was ripped away, no damage nor loss. Our day for plywood will come, but not this time.  I’ll say loftily that these storms are good things. Sounding like a phony Old Salt, I’ll say “Storms clean the earth.”  Then, I’ll click to Toddlers And Tiaras.
Phippsburg, Maine shipwreck October 26, 2008

34 comments:

  1. hurray for you! you took a gamble and won that bet! :)

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  2. Robin, you so eloquently echo so many of my silent emotions I too just couldn't stop myself from 'turning on the weather' tho must say I fell short of being called by the little girls in too grown up garb. I'm so glad the storm is behind us and I hope you're getting a taste of this beautiful day that is so clear that from 15 miles away allows me to see the individual rocks on Schoodic Mtn. Come on fall-you are the best

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  3. TexWisGirl, thanks for the read and comment. I'll admit, it wasn't a good bet to make. But, I probably will do it again.

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  4. Thanks, AnnieO! You didn't say if you missed Sex Change Hospital, though. Hahahah!

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  5. Hi Robin,

    thanks for the laugh, you made my day

    Keep on keeping on

    Marie

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  6. Hurricane type fatigue just now for me.. I must have picked up enough 'pickup sticks' in the relatively small yard on Small Point Road, to set a Guinness record! Back's aching and no ale!
    We faired well also-- power out for an hour or so late Sunday afternoon. I think we 'lucked' out.. Michele's daughter in Warren, Vermont was driven out of their house on the flooding Mad River, and still can't get back to survey the damage.
    So,,, yea.. We did dodge a big one here.

    Re: Woody.. I heard the hammering the other day! Unbelievable.
    Take care, (of your back!)
    Sticks and twigs are good kindling!
    :-Don

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  7. Robin, we share some coast, and this weathergasm weariness. I don't even own a tv, and the end is nigh stuff wiggled in anyway, through the internet, through panicky friends and family. Ever since 9/11 it seems, the media screams disaster. If it isn't orange terror levels, it's flu, or weather events, or debt ceilings. We are poisoning ourselves. Today, did you notice, how everyone was out and about in the sunshine, greeting and conversing with neighbors? A big cup of that tastes so much better than news spew.

    greenheron
    August 29, 2011 05:55 PM

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  8. R! (for "rated" and also for "Robinson" :)) Hi there namesake. You missed the family reunion in July for the Robinson clan :)
    My dad's in Jersey City, so I was worried about him (that's where I grew up). Everything was ok where he was. How about your aughter? Is she down the Shore?
    Ron Robinson
    August 29, 2011 06:05 PM

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  9. Ron, thanks for the read and comment. our daughter is fine, and yes, on the shore. So were the other family members, all accounted for. We have a family reunion on the Fourth of July. If you invite me, I'll invite you!

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  10. Great story and I too shared some of your fears.Why is it easier to batten down then to put everything back?Glad everyone is safe.
    bmc

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  11. Hi Sweetie,
    The #10th time being honored is a charm because now you have become a preferred pick over
    others. Now they will look to you first before looking elsewhere. No pressure though.
    It was great having lunch with you. We survived the storm, we all left Maine early Sunday morning.
    Mostly we ran into sheets of rain. When I got off the highway, here at home, there were trees down
    all over a rural road with huge oak trees. Poor folks. Anyway, we have two short weekends left and then
    ouch! all winter long. Loved your crow pic and the seeds.

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  12. We really lucked out. I live in Hurricane Alley and I just have a yard of pecan tree limbs to pick up, thank the heavens!

    scanner
    August 29, 2011 08:40 PM

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  13. Congrats on #10- your writing deserves it! You've had other blog stories that should have made it- heck, they should just put you in every story you write! And certainly your photos are beyond wonderful. The one of the sunflower, before I read what it was- I thought it was an incredible display of pears. I am worried about you getting into "Toddlers and Tiaras" though....Robin, step away from the remote!!!! Take up reading, it always puts me to sleep as long it's not a thriller. Love you- Ms. Boo

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  14. You are some kind of POSTER !!! Good job.
    bmc

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  15. Robin,
    Enjoyed this very much. I have felt much the same about the Hurricane and thought it was hyped but don't have cable TV. Did call my Sister in RI who is still without Power. Worry is pretty universal.
    Glad to hear the facts about Wind Velocity from your area.. Similar here in Coastal NH. Marsh was way up though and Surge was the cause. Otherwise not a huge amount of trees down.
    Take care.
    Paul

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  16. Boom and I wish everyone safe keeping!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  17. Well done:) You've made my day!

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  18. Why am I not in the least bit surprised that you would be the one wandering around in the storm? I've seen your photographs.
    We were lucky with Irene; she turned out to be much less dangerous than expected. Let's hope the storms following her are as quick to die.

    Chrissie Pissie
    August 30, 2011 03:08 PM

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  19. Good to read your blog and know that all is well there.

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  20. Olá Robin! Fiquei muito feliz com a tua visita e, principalmente, por teres te tornado seguidor do nosso humilde espaço. Isso somente aumenta a minha responsabilidade de melhorar tudo aquilo que crio e escrevo. Espero que voltes mais vezes, pois será sempre um prazer renovado. Eu, particularmente, aqui voltarei, pois, além de teres um espaço interessante e bastante aconchegante, tomei a liberdade de me fazer teu seguidor, isso até quando permitires, é claro.

    Quanto ao post, adorei. Esses são os reclamos da Natureza pelos maus tratos que lhe são impostos.

    Abraços,

    Furtado.

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  21. Glad you survived with your humor intact! At least you got to see, and comment on, some interesting TV shows.

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  22. Hello Robin,nice to meet you! Thank you for your visit to my blog! You have wonderful photos! My warm greetings for you from Patagonia-Argentina!

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  23. I thought that photo was a bunch of lemons..hee hee Glad Irene was kind to you too. Save that plywood!

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  24. So glad you escaped this one, and are okay.
    This is a wonderful macro. Really fantastic detail and point of focus.

    Thank you for sharing this at The Creative Exchange.

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  25. Awesome post!! I was in Philly for the hurricane and I too was glued to the dumb news coverage... I remember thinking, oh man she's wearing that green rain jacket again?? Glad you're okay!

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  26. Lisa, thanks for the view and compliment. As sunflowers open the centers change and are fascinating, nearly endless subject for me.

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  27. Thank you, Jen, for the read and compliment. Glad you liked it and I'm really glad most of the people in that path of Irene escaped harm. I'm also really sorry for those who suffered.

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  28. Hurricane Irene...AMEN! We could have suffered through an awful expected storm but luckily Irene's impact did not materialize as expected in our Jersey area... for that we are VERY thankful but concerned about so many other families and their homes Irene's wrath damaged. Some are still without power but fortunately their homes were intact.
    Better get some rest...you never know what Mother Nature has in store for us!
    HG

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  29. Aha! I knew it! You want us all to believe you're out there with your camera ALL the time, slogging through the marsh, pursued by millions of ravenous mosquitoes, rabid foxes and quill-throwing porcupines, when the reality is that you live in such a wildlife hotspot that you only have to step outside, fire off a couple dozen 5-star pics, then duck back inside and spend the rest of the day watching Toddlers and Tieras and crap like that! NOW it finally comes out! LOL.

    Serously, CNN, the Weather Channel and all the other cable news channels have perfected the fine art of hyping every storm and every problem into a looming megadisaster, haven't they? Well, I'm glad you escaped Irene's "fury". I think of you guys whenever there's a coastal storm.

    Leonwardo Il Magnifico

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  30. Great shot, sure can't say I could watch those toddlers, wonder what they turn out to be when they grow up!! Glad you made it through the storm. "What, did I just say storm", LOL!

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  31. Dearest Leonwardo Il Magnifico, thank you so much for your fondest thoughts and concerns. Living on the coast does have its worries. But we endure. :) Poor suffering soul that I am. It's a hell of a job keeping up with trash TV and keeping all the rest of you in the know. Then, or course, there is the wildlife that puts me harms way all the time, too. Thanks for the read and heartfelt comment!

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  32. Nick, thanks for the read and compliment. I thought the center of the sunflower in its kind of cyclonic form was evocative of the storm post (ya, I said it too, "storm."). And, part of my thinking about the Toddlers And Tiaras thing was also that, "What do they become when they grow up?" Do they fizzle away to nothing, do they become average house wife types, secretaries, just live normal, dull lives? Or, do they turn into raging, destructive lunatics consistent with their upbringing? Oh, the questions that reel through my brain while I'm watching trash! Thanks again.

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