Monday, October 3, 2005

What, me worry?

“Morning, Madam!”

The butler woke me up with a sharp rap on my bedroom door.

Wait a second, there’s no butler here! It must have been another of those dreamworld auditory hallucinations. Phones ringing, people knocking, the “tap, tap, tapping on my bedroom door” Sometimes I feel like I’m on the set of The Shining. Me and Jack Nicholson, together at last.

Or perhaps this is all simply a result of hearing too much Edgar Allen Poe as a child? That’s the problem when your mother is an English teacher and your dad enjoys reading The Great Books. He read us entirely the wrong kind of bedtime stories: The Raven, The Masque of the Red Death, The Telltale Heart? I mean, come ON! Although that sort of literature ensures that the parents won’t be bothered by the pitter-patter of little feet upstairs or more requests for another glass of water. Instead, the children rest, completely still and helpless with terror, under the blankets in the dark.

But I was out of bed and on my feet in a second today. No need for alarm clocks of late.
And good thing too, because the traffic was going to be terrible today. After the storm last night, there was no doubt that the downed trees and dead robots (traffic stoplights -- that’s what they’re called here) would snarl everything for hours.

But strangely enough, traffic was better than usual! People were actually slowing down of their own accord, and letting others get across the busy avenues. Heartening, really. But man, the tree damage! There were trees and branches down everywhere. Huge jacarandas snapped off at the base, foot-thick branches lying across roadways. Blossoms and seed pods and pine cones and real estate advertising placards, and leaves, leaves, leaves everywhere. What a mess.
At the Pilates studio, one of the other ladies said, “We know you’re American, but we’re not used to this weather! The wind! It was as close as we could imagine to a hurricane!”

Oh wow, thank goodness. I was already worried this was normal!

Because usually, I try to avoid potential natural disasters. one does....! So I would never want to live in Florida or the South (hurricanes). I long ago ruled out San Francisco (earthquakes) and most of California (same reason). The Midwest, with all those tornadoes, isn’t ideal, although I have lived through a few of ‘em. (But that’s a story for another day.)

Oregon seemed pretty safe, until I moved there in 1979 and Mt. St. Helens exploded the very next year. I think I attract this kind of thing. Don’t ever sit with me, picnicking under a big old tree in Windsor Great Park. A grotesque death from a giant falling branch awaits you!

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