Sunday, October 30, 2005

Wilma Was Here

There was a time when I thought I was indestructible.

I was young, idealistic. I'd ski down a wooded slope at a thousand miles per hour as if I could fly. I'd ice skate straight into a wall. And then, sometime in my late teens, I got scared. Scared of a lot of things. I started thinking about death and how easy it can come and suddenly faced with things I use to be able to do, I became paralyzed and unwilling to take physical risks. I remember being totally scared of being struck by lightning. I stayed indoors when it rained, usually.

But that fear diminished as I matured. I rollerblade in traffic now. I drive a little too fast.

And then I went through a hurricane.

It came fast. I slept through it. I stayed up the night before, laughing at the news people. By 1:00 am, it was not even raining. The wind was up and it was a nice change of pace. I went to sleep, content that we won't feel this hurricane at all just like the last two times in the last two months.

I remember being woken by my girlfriend a few times. I was cofeeless and half a sleep and couldn't register or respond to anything she said. I didn't hear a thing.

And so it was like something out of a movie that I woke up and suddenly everything had changed. There was a hammering thump next to my head. Everything was dark and quiet. My girlfriend appeared, sighing. We'd lost power. Outside was a mess of tree and roof. There was a piece of our roof dangling from the ceiling and threatening to plunge through our window.

"Shit," I said.

"I know." She smiled. "You should probably get up."

For the next hour or so, we avoided the window. We were sure it was going to break any second. But, not long after, we were laying in our bed staring at it, taking bets when it'd shatter.

Two days later, we still didn't have power. We put the piece of roof to rest in the graveyard with its brothers below. The world appeared to be a mess, and yet we were still around. We'd survived another one.

But this was different. Wilma was different. Like her sister, Katrina, she had attitude. A punch. Maybe it has something to do with their lack of use in the world's hurricane lexicon, especially with all "the good ones" up front, like Andrew and Betsy.

She was the size of a sea. A giant enemy out of a science fiction film. She battered Mexico in a vindictive way. She flung through Florida like a wild boar, eating anything it touched. She wasn't as powerful as some of the other players. She'll go down in history as a footnote to a larger disaster of the past (or the future) but from my vantage point, she seemed pretty damn strong. Stripped of the womb of modernity, I found myself confused. What do I do without my computer, my internet? My coffee? I recalled that fear I felt as a child thinking about death.

And then we got our power back. And everything returned to normal, except I felt different, changed in a slight, but important, way. I became more humble.

Our reality is fragile. We have electricity and Internet and cable and coffee machines and freezers and everything is fine and dandy. But nature is cruel. It can rob us of our comfortable life at a moment's notice. It's important to remember that.

Next time, we'll be better prepared. We'll have a cooler, batteries, flashlights, and chocolate. Next time I won't be afraid.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Why Aren't You Watching ROME? (Or, if you are watching, why aren't you emailing me everyday to talk about it?)

This week's eighth episode of the quintessential HBO series, Rome, was outstanding.

Julius Caesar pursues his enemy, Pompey Magnus, to the shores of Alexandria and the kingdom of Egypt only to find Pompey's head served up on a platter by Egypt's ruler, twelve-year old King Ptolemy. Caesar quickly enforces his authority and sticks his big nose into a burdgenioning civil war between Ptolemy and wife/sister Cleopatra.

Every episode of this series - save the occasional transitional episode - is set up against this massive historical background. My five-second synopsis sounds like a history lesson and yet the show is anything but stuffy, dull, or historical. Rome is told through the eyes of two lowly soldiers who find themselves entwined in the largest real epic ever told. These characters, as well as the well-known characters of Caesar, Cicero, Brutus, Cleopatra, and the future Emperor of Rome, Octavian, are extremely well-defined and wonderfully acted by a cast of perfect people. BBC helped produce this series and it shows in the quality of actors - most from theater - and, for me, watching these people's facial expressions is perhaps the best quality to the show.

But there are some many! The production design wowed me from Episode 1. The dirty, colored, streets of Rome, the sparkling brilliance of the Aristocrat palaces, and more recently, the sandy over-the-top decadence of Egypt. I don't think I'll ever forget the scene that starts inside Cleopotra's tent and pulls out to show the tent moving slowly across a desert landscape, the bottom of the tent crisscrossed with poles, the poles being held by fifty slaves.

Any reader of this blog knowns about my longstanding passion for anything HBO related and yet I still find myself completely surprised and entraptured by this latest drama. To many more years of Rome!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Great Stuff Should Not Be Missed.

I feel like it is my civic duty to point out a much more interesting and active blog that should be part of your daily clicks (if it isn't already), Getting To Maybe. Shawn has been keeping it very active lately despite the rest of us slacking off. Definitely worth your time!