Saturday, February 28, 2009

Missed all the tornadoes

Huge water droplets crashed into my windshield last night as I drove up Highway 231 to Gadsden. The wipers flashed furiously from side to side in the vain attempt to give me a glance through the waves of water.

Hwy 231 is a little two-lane slab of road that cuts through tiny little towns buried in the Talledega Forest. Rebel flags, old trucks, huge plots of land littered with cows...that sort of thing. And I had seen the weather map before I left. Long stretches of red streaked across the map from Mississippi to Georgia and the bulk of them along the I-20 corridor from Tuscaloosa. But I had to get from Montgomery to Fort Payne by 8 pm.

Around noon, we started getting the weather notices across our computers at work. Severe thunderstorm warnings, tornado warnings, flash floods all that screeched in the blue boxes that crept on the screen and wouldn't leave until I hit the annoying "acknowledge and close" button. The plan was to leave around 5 to make it in time. So I watched the local NBC weather guy point at maps and calmly tell people to get to the lowest point in their homes because the storms capable of producing tornadoes would be in their town in 3 minutes. But what was interesting to me was how slow the storms were and how most of them were sitting in Tuscaloosa. So if I took 231 instead of the interstate, where Prattville was getting hammered, I could stay in front of the storms. There would be a break for about 20 minutes that if I timed right, I could drive right in between the two storms that would smack Wetumpka.

So I grabbed Caiden from school, threw her in the car and broke speed records to get north of Wetumpka. The radio squawked all the tornado warnings and watches in all the counties south and west and north of me. I flew toward Coosa county as hail rained down on it. I left Shelby County behind me as I tore from it's severe, flood-inducing thunderstorms. The radio told folks in Talladega Forest that a tornado had already hit the ground...I was 30 minutes from there. Lightening crashed off to the west where Chilton County was bombarded with hail and damaging winds. Water attacked both sides of my car. At some points in bad construction, I didn't even know if I was driving between the white lines of the lane.

But I made it! Then I had to repeat the entire process to get back to Montgomery. I knew the storms were supposed to keep shwacking the middle Alabama area but were slower and the lull would be in Birmingham. So the car turned into a boat and we cruised down the interstate right toward Mountain Brook. Flashes of lightening creased across the sky and at one point a sharp javelin of light cracked to the northwest that looked like the 4th of July. To the southeast, the thunder was breaking windows.

I figured no cop would get out of his car in this weather so I floored it and made it home right as the county EMS sirens were shouting their ominous warning!

Monday, February 16, 2009

I'm a sucker: Twilight

Ok when I first heard about Twilight, it was on the radio as the announcer was chatting in awe about the internet following of the vampire series and how EVERYONE was freaking out about the movie opening. I was so out of touch that I had no idea what he was talking about and when he said "vampire" I didn't give it another thought.

Then my sister told me she read all four books in less than two weeks. The only thought I had was the my sister doesn't even like to read. And she would not shut up about how she couldn't wait to see the movie.

Day after day I heard the shrieking, morning show voices on the radio endlessly talking up this movie. People of all ages would call into the show to shout about how fantastic the book and the movie were. Twilight this and twilight that. I couldn't think of anything less boring than another vampire movie. That's probably because the only vampire movie I could remember was that cheesy David Arquette high school one.

But over Thanksgiving I gave in and took my cousin to see it. Mainly because it was the only movie on that we could remotely agree on. After watching the movie, I still didn't get all the hype. It was melodramatic and over-the-top sappy. It's possible that I totally crushed my sister when I told her that.

Then over Christmas my brother told me that he read all four books in less than two weeks too. Then in late January another friend told me he read the first book and loved it. My will depleted; I borrowed his book last weekend. The first few chapters were good but then I had some real time to read and the pages flew over my fingers. There was no putting it down. I finished it Friday. Bought the second one yesterday and finished it last night. Bought the third one today and the only reason I'm not done with it yet is because I'm writing about it.

The movie was decent but wasn't fair to the original. Stephenie Meyer wrote a spellbinding series that I can't put down. The first one is 521 pages of pure foreplay. And I don't mean that like anticipation. I mean that the energy between Bella and Edward is so potent and palpable that my heart raced and skin tingled as I read. Stories should take the reader on an emotional journey and this one does that in a way no other book has done for me in a long time. Forget that this is supposed to be a young adult novel. This is a story that every single person can relate to on some level. From someone who knew absolutely nothing about it and wrote it off as just another trite vampire flick, I am totally hooked!