01 OCtober 2004

[Helena, still clad in pajamas, checks the daily news on Yahoo, and does a small dance around the room...]

We're gonna have a volcano... We're gonna have a volcano... We're gonna have a volcano...


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In 1995, I was in Orlando during hurricane season, and no fewer than FIVE storms (one hurricane, I think, and four tropical storms) dumped most of the Atlantic Ocean onto the city. It wasn't exactly pleasant, but it wasn't so bad. I like rain. It was the rest of the state that sort of sucked.

In 1998, just before I left Binghamton for college, a tornado swept through the county. There were hail stones the size of silver dollars, and the clouds turned yellow and green and red. The wind was so strong that my little brother (who was twelve at the time, and quite the shrimp) kept falling over and clutching at the grass to keep from blowing away. All the radio stations advised everybody to stay inside, but the whole getting-blown-away thing was awfully exciting, so we just stood there getting blown around. There wasn't any real damage where I lived, but whole hillsides full of trees had been destroyed not very far from where we lived.

Seems like, when I was about three, my parents took me to see the damage from another tornado. I guess it was in Apalachin or something. Whatever. I was three. I played on the downed trees until my mom picked me up and tried explaining that the trees had recently been standing, and that something called a tornado had knocked them down. I knew what a tornado was, from "The Wizard of Oz," but I was still pretty confused about the whole thing.

Once, maybe around 1988, my dad was outside grilling chicken during a bad rainstorm. The storm had come up quickly, and he didn't really know how to do chicken very well (usually, grilling involved spiedies or hot dogs wrapped in bacon), so he got caught outside in the storm. Fortunately, there was a fairly large roof over the back porch, so the grill and my dad didn't actually have to stand IN the rain. As I sat around waiting for the chicken and helping my mom peel the husks off the corn, this bolt of lightning struck the backyard, apparently less than twenty feet from my dad, who was manning the metal grill with metal tongs. The thunderclap damn near gave all of us a heart attack, including the dog, who howled like I never heard her howl before, or after. MY dad was very pale after that.

There was this bad windstorm in New Jersey once... The wind picked up and these tiny little sand particles got driven into our skin as we ran for cover. I learned, that day, how exactly sand gets into THOSE parts of one's bathing suit. Shit, sand HURTS at that velocity.

...but I have never been in an earthquake or a volcano.

I'm very excited by earthquakes and volcanos.

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Mount Saint Helen's erupted right around the time I was due to be born. I was a few days late. Mount Saint Helen's was right on time.

It has been said that the mountain and I have some sort of spiritual link. It has also been said that it's my fault it erupted. I'm fine with either of those suggestions.

I have a postcard of Mount Saint Helen's, before and after, with a caption on it to the effect of, "what seems like the end is often a new beginning." This makes perfect sense to me. I think there's some sort of irony in the fact that, both times I've been to the park at Mount Saint Helen's, my relationship at the time broke up pretty much on the spot. Both times, it was an end AND a beginning.

My mom claims that of COURSE Mount Saint Helen's is going to blow up again. I'm pregnant, right? It's just the little one asserting her existence via a natural disaster. It only makes sense. She's chosen the same volcano I apparently chose. Aw. Isn't that sweet?

* * * * * * * * * * *

Checking Yahoo again. No further updates on the status of the volcano. It's "belching white steam," according to the news. It's apparently been doing so since about a half-hour ago.

Oh hell yeah.

* * * * * * * * * * *

It should be noted that I don't really live anywhere near the mountain itself. I mean, not nearly enough for anybody to worry about it. If it erupts and takes out everything within a three-to-five mile radius, as scientists are saying it might, I'm still not too worried. There's NOTHING within a three-to-five mile radius of the volcano. Absolutely nothing. A couple of neat trails and a couple of nice lakes, and a parking lot or two. But shit, there aren't any trees, really, and without the trees, there aren't really many animals, and it's pretty much just a vast area of brown dirt. There is no reason to worry about it.

...I mean, unless it decides to trigger some sort of chain reaction, which sets off Mount Rainier...

...In which case, everybody's fucked.

Oh well. Meanwhile, I'm going to change out of my pajamas and go outside and look for plumes of steam...