Storm anxiety

I live in Kansas and, as I have said on many occasions, I hate storms. Really, what I hate is the possibility of tornadoes — I lived for four years in D.C. without ever becoming upset by a storm because I knew there was little to no chance of a tornado falling out of the sky and obliterating everything around me. There’s no such safety in Kansas, particularly in June. We made it through May without much happening, which is rare, but now the Big Storm Season has kicked in and I hate, hate, hate it.

I don’t think it’s enough, though, just to say that I don’t like storms and I don’t like tornadoes. First of all, many people outside of Kansas will say, “Well, who does like tornadoes?” The answer to that is everyone else in the entire state of Kansas. No, it’s true. Not being a fan of the “excitement” and “beauty” that a big kicking prairie thunderstorm brings with it is like being a Marine who doesn’t like to shoot (I am still reading Jarhead). I have an actual, emotional/physical reaction to major storms, akin to the anxiety that some people experience over public speaking or flying (OK, I used to get this way about flying, but I’m mostly over it) or getting blood drawn. I lose the ability to think rationally, and I just want to flee and hide and shiver and be anywhere but in the path of this storm. On days that look like they’ll be stormy, I have trouble concentrating beginning with the earliest plume of puffy white in the sky; on stormy nights, the wind making my apartment crack and brace, a sound that’s pretty normal even without storms approaching, makes me flip on the TV and huddle under the blankets and consider hiding under the bed. I have only recently begun to trust the weather service enough that I can be coaxed into believing I’m not in that much danger by displays of radar projections and through speeches by authoritative meteorologists about projected courses and damage estimates.

I think, maybe, some of this anxiety has to do with where I was raised, which was in the dead-center of Kansas, shuffling between home, which was Mom’s place, and Dad’s house. Neither of these towns rated a television affiliate of its own, though at least at home, the local radio stations provided up-to-the-minute storm tracking and chasing and, once, on-air weeping with a basic theme of “we’re all gonna die.” In the town my dad lives in, there are 600 or so people and the nearest city with a television affiliate is way the hell to the East or the South; sometimes they broke in with news that looked like it was being filmed in a high school auditorium, live from a crap-ass town a few hours to the West. So, once a tornadic cell passes over the Western town, it drops out of range for a while, surfacing on the television reports again only if it threatens Salina. So there could be a big, dangerous storm looming large, visible from our porch (the preferred Certain Death viewing location for all central Kansans), and the only sign of this might be a splash of red across the tiny box representing our county on an otherwise opaque map at the bottom of the television screen — at least until the power goes out, at which point, you’re dependent upon having enough batteries for the radio (and being somewhere where you can *get* radio, which isn’t everywhere out here) and upon the hardiness of the man in charge of blowing the whistle at the grain elevator to warn of an approaching tornado. I have twice been in storms where the tornado sirens were knocked out, and so my trust for that method of warning resides somewhere south of the “is the sky green?” test.

The Internet provides some comfort, because now with a click of the mouse I can navigate on over to slightly delayed Doppler radar screens of bursts of yellow and red creeping their way up and past my city. Right now, according to the National Weather Service Doppler RADAR out of Topeka, my entire county is just one big mass of red nastiness — something that’s confirmed by the current Tornado Warning for the extreme southern part of our county (not me, not me, not me — yet). So I’m camped out away from my basement-less apartment, and instead of going to trivia tonight, I’m going to hunker down until the watches and warnings pass in the good old Lawrence Public Library, because there’s a basement here and, well, if I’m going to be killed by a tornado, perhaps dying in a rain of falling literature and computers is an appropriate way to go. Also, I don’t know anyone here, so when I totally freak out and start building myself a shelter out of old copies of National Geographic, at least I won’t be embarrassing myself in front of my friends.

This seemed like an appropriate quiz to take now. Tagged by :
List things you enjoy, even when no one around you wants to go out and play. What lowers your stress/blood pressure/anxiety level? Make a list, post it to your journal… and then tag 5 friends and ask them to post it to theirs.

1. Going to the movies! (duh)
2. Writing something I want to write (as opposed to things I’m supposed to write)
3. Singing along with the radio while…
5. Reading almost anything, from celebrity gossip off of IMDB to news to fiction to non-fiction.

Uh, I tag anyone who wants to play.

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2 Responses to Storm anxiety

  1. simplelyric says:

    Here’s hoping this year’s Big Storm Season is as brief and as light as possible.

    perhaps dying in a rain of falling literature and computers is an appropriate way to go. . . . when I totally freak out and start building myself a shelter out of old copies of National Geographic, at least I won’t be embarrassing myself in front of my friends.


  2. kepkanation says:

    I hope for a short and un-damaging storm season every year… my wish will have to be granted at some point!

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