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Monday, September 19, 2005

Reflections on the tropics, yet again

1933 is considered one of the most active tropical seasons on record. If the naming convention of today were used back then, it would've used all of the names for that season, a total of 21. As I watched the Weather Channel, I saw that we were already 2 ahead of that pace for this time of year, with our 17th goddamned named storm of the season. We've seen Arlene, and Bret, and Cindy; the awful Dennis and Emily; the forgettable Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irene, and Jose; the living nightmare of Katrina, a storm compounded by multiple serious failures at the local, state, and federal levels; Lee, Maria, and Nate, which stayed in the middle of nowhere; Ophelia which dumped a bunch of rain and did little else; Philippe which is thankfully on the road to nowhere; and the potentially devastating Rita. The only names left are Stan, Tammy, Vince, and Wilma, and from there, the Greek alphabet. As much as it pains me to say it, with a season that doesn't officially end for another month and a half, the Greek alphabet is not unthinkable. Will it get to the point that we'll have to have a reserve list for each year, in case the names run out?

Am I the only one for whom the names are starting to run together? Earlier this season, I had to catch myself mistaking Hurricane Dennis for Hurricane Ivan. It's like the Gulf Coast keeps getting pounded and pounded. I wonder how many of us on the Gulf Coast are suffering from a degree of post-traumatic stress disorder. I'm eating myself into oblivion and wishing I were a drinker. Instead, I choose to be sober since, frankly, I don't like headaches or vomiting, and I get enough of the former and enough stomach upset without adding to it. My ulcer flares, my anxiety levels spike hard for days at a time, my dog recently died, and I know that with all of this, I'm still doing far better than over 1 million of my fellow coastal Americans. I wish I were one of the most miserable people in the Gulf Coast. I wish things were good enough for that to be even remotely possible, but it isn't. I still have a home and a job, and that's more than many can say. I'm indescribably thankful for that, but I'm also sorrowful for those who are suffering, and I feel guilty that I feel good about sustaining only minimal damage in the recent past. I'm alive and safe, my family's alive and safe, and I feel guilty for feeling good, and I feel guilty for being miserable on some level for kinda petty reasons.

In short, I'm fucked, but nowhere near as harshly as others, so I'm thankful. Maybe it's just the exhaustion talking. I don't know. But contribute what you can to established charities in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and join me in my hope that this pain isn't compounded by Rita.

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