Thursday, May 31, 2007

That which does not kill me, tastes great. Or... How Phlegm got her "Oh SHIT!" back.
Wednesday's cloudy morning: I let the doglet out into the back yard and noticed green skies to the near west and I thought "this can't be good."

Ten minutes later I was tooling down Montfort in LouLou, about to turn into the Barnes & Noble parking lot to pick up the latest meisterstrück from Blonde Redhead, which is muy trés delectable, and which I highly recommend.

Strange movement off to the right caught my eye and I turned my head to see a huge tree branch spinning in a circle as it was pushed effortlessly across a parking lot, all its leaves along for the ride. I turned left into the B&N lot to see a 20 foot cart return carrel come spinning likewise across the parking lot in front of me and off to the right. I looked up to see a huge cloud with obvious rotation. I looked over to the left and saw the teller in a glass drive-through window gape-mouthed and looking for all the world like a SouthPark cut-out. Oh, and it was windier than a bag of buttholes. Windier than a certain loudmouthed, windy person I know, even.

In that instant I realized I might be in the beginnings of a tornado, and the next minute was spectacular. I looked at the giant swirling cloud for about 5 seconds and panels were peeling off the roof of one nearby building - they looked as light as silver gum wrappers as they whipped up and southward. I weighed my options and knew I had no time to lose, whatever my choice.
I could drive up onto the curb and up to the door of one of the stores and run in, but if their roofs were being peeled away, wouldn't it be bad to be inside??? Freaky. No good choices. My next thought was to get out of there. Storm moving south, I looked around the parking lot for more flying debris and other vehicles, then I carefully drove to the outlet onto Belt Line Road, heading west. In the space of another 5 seconds, I saw evidence of several transformers blowing nearby, blues and greens splashing into the sky like incandescent bruises. My heart wasn't pounding, but I was in some bizarre state of heightened awareness. I would describe my mindset as terrified/not scared, if you can imagine. What would be, would be.


One silly thing that flashed through my brainpan was the irony of how I love violent weather-- well, ok, not this violent- -I never agreed to this!
The weather looked clearer to the west, but I did need to mosey downtown eventually, so at the intersection of Belt Line & the toll road (where the traffic lights were dead - not even flashing red), I decided to go south and just get into work. Our buildings are old, and I happen to have a basement I could get into with no problem should need arise.
At work sitting in my glass fishbowl office, I was feeling wrong sitting still with that adrenaline/euphoria thing going on - shouldn't I be doing something? I sat at my desk as the full brunt of the storm finally caught up with me. Out the window, I watched disbelieving as a bolt of lightning struck an adjacent enormous landmark, perhaps 300 yards from my very seat. OK, I didn't go to the basement, but I did get against a concrete wall that had an earthen embankment behind it. To say I was jumpy at that moment would be a tremendous understatement.
As the storm simmered down, so did I, in a way, but you should see the stack of paperwork I ploughed through today, effortlessly, and ready to chew up some more. I was in SUCH a good mood, giddy, even. I remembered a friend in England who told me he'd take his sailboat out into the English Channel, but that sometimes, a sudden storm would whip up too quickly to make it back off the ocean, and it was too risky to be dashed on the rocks near shore, so he'd ride it out. He said it was nerve-wracking until the St. Elmo's Fire would start crackling around him, and then it got downright terrifying. He'd sit there on the boat, forswearing all his indulgences and trying to strike a bargain which involved him seeing his family one more time. Always, he'd made it back home. Then for an extended period thereafter, he could sit through the most stressful interviews and meetings, utterly unflappable, relaxed, wholly unconcerned.
Anyway, maybe I wasn't in as much danger as it seemed at that moment, but just the same, I'm feeling pretty relaxed, now. Watch this space.


Zelda said...

I think that kind of post adreneline burst euphoria is addictive. I wish they had it in pill form...

Zelda said...

Oh, and EEEEEK! Glad you're okay. :-)

phlegmfatale said...

zelda - Yeah, I felt so content the rest of the day. If it were available in pill form, well, my house WOULD be clean! And thanks! I know odds were I would have been ok no matter what, but we do know what it is to live in Texas, don't we? you never know...

Zelda said...

Exactly right. My sister had just left an interview at a Dillards department store when a tornado blew it away.

FHB said...

So true. North Texas weather will BEAT YER ASS every once and a while. Majestic and terrifying. Never forget watching a wall of softball sized hail moving down our street in Ft. Worth one day in the early 80s. They came down around us in random splats, hitting the ground here and there, and then I looked up the street and it was like watching a waterfall move towards you. EVERYBODY got a new roof. Amazing. Went out to Omaha Surplus and got an old army helmet, just in case I had to run out and get the dog or somethin' when the next one hit. You might think about it.

Oh, come over and see how I did with that meme.

phlegmfatale said...

zelda - There but for the grace...

fathairybastard - isn't that the truth? Wow - the helmet thing is inspired - must obtain one of those - can't have my bitch caught out in that kind of mess

Yup, it'll sure enough whip up on you, Texas weather will.

Ambulance Driver said...

"My heart wasn't pounding, but I was in some bizarre state of heightened awareness. I would describe my mindset as terrified/not scared, if you can imagine. What would be, would be."

And now you know what it's like to work a resuscitation or a chaotic scene. It's EXACTLY like that. It seems like time slows down, but you keep going at normal speed.

Tickersoid said...

Fascinating story. I’ve not experienced these phenomena before. Not the weather or the later calming effect.

Kevin said...

Hmmm... I may have to rethink my "Escape to Texas" plan...
Quite a ride phlegmmy; glad you're OK.

phlegmfatale said...

ambulance driver - I can imagine that could be addictive, in a way. Certainly, I have a new respect for how people turn into adrenaline junkies.

tickersoid - You really must visit Texas sometime. Actually, it was amazing, and had the effect of making me feel particularly alive afterward, so in that way, it was a nice wake-up.

kevin - Take into account that I've probably averaged driving 20 or 25,000 miles per year and been in Texas 28 years and this is the first time I've genuinely been almost in danger due to the weather, and I'd say it's still worth the risk to be here. Plus, I get to live around all these fabulous Texans. Yeah, it's not for everyone, but the likelihood of having a genuine weather-generated disaster in the heart of Texas is quite remote.
And thanks - I'm glad I'm ok, too, Glad I didnt' end up in Kansas.

Anonymous said...

And, the heightened awareness carries over, too.

One notices -- Afterward, the grass is greener, the sky is bluer, the birds sing louder, the young gals are perkier, the puppies are cuter, the lil' chern smile more sweetly. Kinda like being shot at and missed.

The Atavist said...

I experienced a mild breeze, once.

Glad you're OK. I don't ever want to have to say, "Boy, do I ever miss Phlegnmfatale."

Anonymous said...

Sure glad you are OK, kiddo. Nothing like almost being in a tornado or being in a submarine bouncing off the bottom deeper than test depth or fighting a big leak at test depth or fighting a big fire in a chemical plant full of shit that goes boom to get the juices flowing. Well, maybe gettin' shot at and missed might do it too.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That is astounding and beats the hell out of my tornado sighting tale, which also occured in a parking lot. I just spotted a funnel cloud is all, which suddenly seems so insignificant and tame.

LJ said...

I understand this completely. I used to love crashing summer thunder storms and would go to a nearby park and literally dance in the rain. I could do this because no one else is idiot enough to be out there tempting fate.
I like how a major weather event (such a small phrase for such a powerful events)can utterly change everything. How the illusion that we are in control is torn away. Just the sheer overwhelming impersonal power makes my blood race.
Nice piece, Phlegmy.

NotClauswitz said...

Windier than a bag of buttholes. Pulitzer material.

Lin said...

Great to hear that other folks get such a charge (literally) out of nature's tantrums.