Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Weathering the Storm

Breaking news: Penn State University Park actually cancelled classes!

Not the whole day of classes, of course--that would be too much like giving in to Mother Nature. But as Tropical Storm Sandy closed in yesterday, I got a text message alert. After the 1:10 class, everything was off.

My last class of the day ends, of course, at 1:10. But I imagine that for people with later classes this was a pretty exciting event. Actually, I was pretty excited about it even though it didn’t really affect me. There’s something about nature showing our administrators who’s boss, especially when our administrators believe they can conquer the forces of nature.

The last hurricane I really remember even reaching here was Isabel. I was in seventh grade, and I was in “Social Studies” (that year, basically Middle East history) when the PA system announced that school was cancelled the next day. I think our power went out, but it wasn’t really a big deal. Just a big rainstorm. I went outside the next morning and stood in the drizzle, didn’t blow away or get knocked unconscious by a flying tree or anything.

Sandy, however, was different. She was huge. She was ugly. And she was mean. She screamed throughout the night and into the morning, dumping buckets of water everywhere. The porta-potties at Way’s Fruit Farm and at the barn tipped over (lovely, I know). My bike rides across campus, both to work and to class, were pretty...well, un-fun. I went through three pairs of underwear, two pairs of pants, and two pairs of socks yesterday, and that’s just from going to class (and sitting on a wet bicycle seat).

But I also feel incredibly lucky. We never lost power, despite the wind gusts at 60+ mph. That in itself is a miracle, and one my whole family is extremely grateful for given the amount of ice cream currently in our freezer. So many people have it so much worse. My cousin, staying in a hotel in D.C., reported that the strong winds broke their window! And other places have feet of snow.

By the way State College was hyping this hurricane up, you’d think the apocalypse was on the way. So imagine what a real disaster would be like. How can we be prepared for every little thing life decides to chuck our way?

I guess the short answer is, we can’t. This is the kind of stuff that happens to the other guy, not you. Until it lands right in your backyard. The best you can do is look on the bright side. And here, in State College right now, there’s a lot to see.
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