Hello everyone! God damn, it’s good to see you all again.
It looks like the Chicks have kept things hopping around here, so many of you may not even know that I was on a nature-induced hiatus from blogging. (By the way, for as long as I’ve been fascinated with the English language, I never in my wildest dreams thought I would string together the words “a nature-induced hiatus from blogging” and find it perfectly captures what I mean to say.) Hurricane Ike blew through Houston a little over a week ago, and I have had very few chances at finding a place with electricity, which has severely limited the amount of time I’ve been able to spend online.
So in addition to being way behind on what’s been happening around Skepchick, I just know that there have been all sorts of cool and freaky innovations in the Internet porn industry that I’ve missed out on.
But you can bet I’ll catch up soon enough . . . . On both fronts.
At any rate, I’ve been through half a dozen or so hurricanes in my life now â€” two of which were real ass-kickers (Alicia and Ike) â€” and there’s not much I can relate about the experience that’s pleasant. Mostly what a hurricane brings to your neighborhood is a few hours of an atmospheric maelstrom followed by about two weeks of sweaty, miserable clean-up, where frustrations mount, patience wears thin, and fat guys really smell.
If you can’t come to see a strip of peppered beef jerky, an unsealed bottle of tepid water, and a good candle to read by as luxuries, a post-hurricane environment is probably not for you.
The common amenities we take for granted vanish quickly, and whatever playing field the various cultures and classes in the area exist on is indiscriminately leveled. The “deer in the headlights” look is plastered on the faces of the rich and the poor alike, as folks venture out to assess the damage immediately following the storm. And after two weeks of working to get back to normal, the “thousand yard stare” is likewise a shared mask.
Simply put, hurricanes and their aftermath are not fun.
But there are elements in these situations that can inspire, and there are certainly many things to learn.
Now, I would never recommend anyone seek out a storm and travel to where it’s going to hit on purpose. Many uninitiated folks have a strong curiosity to see one for themselves â€” an attitude that generally changes quickly when the dance really starts â€” but it’s just not a smart thing to do. Listen to those who’ve been there before, and stay the fuck at home.
However, if you find yourself in the path of one with no option but to stay, understand that what’s coming is a powerful force of nature.
And I don’t mean powerful in the summer afternoon thunderstorm sort of way. I don’t mean powerful in the 45mph gusts at the beach last summer sort of way. I don’t mean powerful in the flooded intersection at rush hour sort of way.
I mean powerful in the I’m nothing but a mote of dust that can be picked up and tossed to another time zone at any given moment sort of way. I mean powerful in a I just shit my pants because I am totally and utterly helpless against this strength sort of way. I mean powerful in the I might as well get wasted so I won’t feel it when a truck falls on me from out of the sky sort of way.
Understand that when Mother Nature tightens her iron fingers around your throat and fucks you in the ass with a barbed wire dildo, that’s just foreplay. She’s just warming up. There are accoutrements in her secret cabinet that you’ve never dreamed of. It’s going to be a long, hard road before you can enjoy a cigarette in the afterglow of an encounter with her.
But you know what? That understanding is very humbling. It’s enough to make a human being realize that he or she is nothing but a small part of something much bigger and stronger. Yes, it is terrifying. But it’s inspiring at the same time.
I feel it in smaller measures when I’m out in the ocean surfing, but a big storm really intensifies it. If we define spirituality as the internal manifestation of awe and wonder peppered with the excitement and thrill of the unknown, it is in a very real sense a spiritual thing.
And when the storm blows through and levels the playing field for the survivors, there is more awe and wonder to be found in the actions and behavior of our fellow man.
Despite the frustrations and tensions and stinkyÂ people (okay,Â I admit it,Â everyone stinks),Â a sense of fellowship blossoms in the community with every act of kindness and selflessness, and it speaks directly to the ideals any sane person has ever formulated for his species. The word “stranger” has no meaning, asÂ people of all races and religionsÂ band together for tasks menial and monumental. In situations like this, everyone is crippled to some extent, but even the most crippled are willing to give what they have, even if it is merely to provide another human being comfort for just a little while.
And it’s this aspect of a hurricane that may be even more amazing than the power of the storm itself. The storm is external to us. It hits us from the outside, and then moves on. The community, on the other hand, the camaraderie, the sacrifices we make for each other in the wake of it all come from us, and we see the potential for those things to stay and become a more prevalent part of the collective. We realize that, hey, maybe we really can go through life without so much bitterness and disdain toward one another simply because we’re different.
We know we can do it. The teamwork and neighborly cheer in the aftermath of a big storm or other binding disaster is evidence that we’re capable of behaving the way we allÂ believe we should.
Maybe someday that will continue even after the hard times have past.
In the meantime, I am still without electricity at my house, though it’s forecast to be restored in a day or two. But I’m back at work, and that’s good news, if only because I can now play with you all throughout the day again.
And I gotta tell you. It feels good to be back.