Arizona euphoria, Mississippi dystopia

Yesterday morning I was driving across the yellow hills of central Arizona in a Lincoln Town Car owned by the Hertz Rental Car Company listening to music on the satellite radio. I thought, “I don’t want to go back.”

Well, here I am. When I got back to the airport last night the humidity was around 100%. My car wouldn’t start and I had to get it towed. The mechanic hasn’t figured it out yet and I remain without conveyance. On top of this a real shit storm is brewing at work. It doesn’t involve me, but I will have to be very careful to stay out of it.

I had a great time in Arizona, I really did! I made some friends, renewed my sense of purpose for my career, camped and hiked, saw lots of scenery, drank a lot, and visited with my brother and his wife.

Photos from Arizona:

Out of the frying pan

So hot…

Even the birds looked miserable.

I’m going to Arizona tomorrow morning. I’ll be at training at the Grand Canyon, of all places for about two weeks, then I’m taking a few days off to go camping with my brother and his wife. I’ll be flying into Pheonix where it’s been a cool 115 degrees this week. But then the rims of the Canyon are 7,000-8,000 feet above sea level and quite pleasant.

Beat the heat

I had some barbecue at the home of a friend from work. Otherwise I spent the last two days holding myself hostage inside my apartment. Even though it wasn’t that hot yesterday and today I needed a break from the weather here. Only three more months of ninety degree weather to go! Oy.

This from someone who lived his entire life without air conditioning until two and half years ago.

Return from refuge

I had a damned good time in Georgia with my friends. If it wasn’t for Hurricane Dennis I might not have had a chance to see them while they were in the US. We sight-saw around Savannah and Charleston. It was a long drive though.

Back to work tomorrow. Hurricane Emily will be traveling a familiar path through the Caribbean this week. It’s going to be a long season.

Hot again in South Mississippi. Ho-hum.

It’s been hot and busy this weekend. But since my days off this summer are Monday and Tuesday I won’t have to deal with it tomorrow!

On the boat ride back a woman was sitting with her crying son. She was upset with him for some reason and wouldn’t let him get ice cream. He said that ice cream would help him be good. Nice try, kid!

Back in Mississippi from the Great Smokies

I got back to Mississippi early Sunday morning. I go back to work on Wednesday.

The assessment? I did well on my assignment and impressed a lot of people. I received a lot of nice compliments from both the folks who worked for me and the folks I worked with, but it was very stressful and I’m glad there was an end to it. I came away from it learning two important things: one, that I can be a supervisor and do it well; two, that I’m not in a big hurry to move up into that position.

Now I’m going back into the routine. It’s hot and humid and the sun is scorching me (in the shade of the east Tennessee forests I put on my sunglasses maybe half a dozen times in seven weeks). I’d like this to be my last summer in Mississippi if possible, and if I don’t have to work another winter here that’d be just fine too. The detail in Tennessee snapped me out of the trance (read: rut) I’ve been in since I moved to the Coast, and I’m ready to move on to somewhere better.

Photos from seven weeks in the Great Smoky Mountains:

Impending news

I have some good news which I will post here later when I can say for sure.

What nice weather followed the awful storm we had! I rode my bicycle into town and actually stopped by work for some reason (to check messages that didn’t need to be checked). I went swimming this evening at the pool. I’m practicing to be the world’s slowest swimmer. Even the fat guy in the weenie-wrapper was smoking me.

Oh, I rented “Sideways” (pun not intended). I liked it. The wine stuff was interesting. There’s also this one scene where this naked guy is chasing Paul Giamatti as he races back to his car. I swear the camera shot was right out of another movie, perhaps “Jaws” (the naked guy being the shark or whatever).

The flood next time

The rain stopped by mid-morning, but only after eighteen hours of downpour. The lightning was the most amazing. The sky was lit up for hours. I woke up at about 5 o’clock this morning thinking that a fire truck or police car was parked outside with its strobes on, but it was the sky flickering. Clouds here on the Gulf coast tend to be very low, and many thunderclaps set off car alarms and shook buildings. I have never ever seen a thunderstorm like that.

A cool, cloudy day

Most of yesterday evening I spent venting on the phone to friends. Today at work was calm and uneventful.

I applied to volunteer with the American Red Cross maybe a year and a half ago. I’ve been down there to talk to them on 4 separate occasions, but they’ve never really followed up with me. In fact they didn’t even call me during Hurricane Ivan. Today someone called me. I’ll give them a call later this week.

My family is coming to visit in March.

Winding down

I’ll be finishing the trip with a wake. My dad’s aunt passed away, so we’ll be paying respects this afternoon before I go to the airport. I didn’t bring any clothes for a wake, though.

For Christmas, my mom got a Roomba. It’s a little, saucer-like robot that vacuums the rug. She was trying it out yesterday and it had her backed into a corner. It would be insidious if it wasn’t so ridiculous looking.

It’s 41 degrees here, 75 in Mississippi. Hmm. I think I’ll still miss the cold.

Mississippi moments

Today I went to the Jackson County Justice Court pay a traffic ticket (for failing to show proof of insurance) I received last week. While I was waiting to see the judge, a sheriff’s deputy brought in some lady in shackles. I saw the judge in his office, along with another lady. She was contesting some tickets on her brother’s behalf- he is in Iraq.

Boring story short, I produced my insurance card and still paid a fine (not having a good excuse like being in Iraq) worth about the same as the insurance policy. All that just for forgetting a very small piece of paper.

Worked on my website today a lot. The weather here is total shit. 87 degrees with 75 percent relative humidity this afternoon. Felt like around 95 degrees. It doesn’t look much better for the coming week, either.

The perfect end to a shitty week

Well, let’s inventory the last seven days or so. My relationship with Lorena is over. I don’t know what to do with my vacation next month. The weather here is really, really hot. And the Yankees lost the pennant to the Red Sox.

Hats off to the Sox. They played one more game better than the Yankees and so they deserved to win. This is the last I will ever mention it though.

Back on the Coast

I’m back, safe at home. My apartment and belongings are fine. There seems to be only minor damage to the area. The hurricane struck further east than expected, and unloaded it’s energy on the Alabama and Florida panhandle coasts.

Vicksburg was a hoot. I watched my friend agonize over a difficult career decision. We made potato pancakes for the Jewish new year. Last night we went to an art exhibit opening in Jackson. I never saw so many lesbians in one place in Mississippi. I almost said that out loud, too.

I just finished typing my letter to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency’s director. The guy blew off the mind-numbing delays like we were all headed to the county fair or something. In my letter, I described my five-hour odyssey though the small city of Hattiesburg. When you live in the Second World you get to put your life in the hands of incompetent public officials and underpaid cops. Woo-ha.


It took me 10 hours to get to Vicksburg. It is normally a three and a half hour drive from home. The same state that ordered a mandatory evacuation of the Gulf Coast yesterday afternoon shut down a lane in Hattiesburg and let the lights on US-49 run their usual cycle. Meaning, the quarter-million people heading north from the coast had to wait for two or three cars to turn left, then squeeze into one lane.

While stopped in traffic in the Mississippi pines, the two bitches in the car ahead of me kept throwing their garbage out the window. I had nothing better to do for two and a half hours except stare at the scenery, and they were polluting it.

I’m puttering around downtown Vickburg today, while I wait for Hurrican Ivan to pulverize my apartment. The weather is still fair. Lots of Louisianans here- refugees as well. The two waitresses in the one lunch shop downtown were a bit overwhelmed. H. Ivan should make landfall tomorrow morning.

As the Hurricane Churns

Hurrican Ivan is about to enter the Gulf of Mexico as of this evening. Today, we started “Hurricane Preparedness” at the park; which for me means I went to the island, packed up, covered, or elevated everything in the fort, then returned to the mainland to help do the same at our district headquarters. Even more of the same tomorrow, then maybe we’ll be dismissed. Early weekend for me, though I’ll be on call.

I’m not used to eating out of cans, so I’ve been having trouble selecting blackout cuisine. Mostly baked beans and creamy soups. I refuse to buy canned pasta. I’d rather starve than eat that shit. I have some ice in the freezer, I don’t own a cooler. I have batteries and a flashlight. I’ll may decide to go to Vicksburg to stay with my friend.