To those living north--pretty much north Texas and up--this is probably fairly normal, though generally I don't think south of the Mason-Dixon it's a November thing, either, or at least, not that often, though admittedly, I could be wrong about those right on the line, no idea. So you can guess that currently, the Apocalypse is coming down on Austin, or at least, what I assume it will be like when it actually happens. You can't? Interesting, so I probably need to explain; the Apocalypse is coming, and this is why.
When someone says "tornado warning" we say "I'm gonna run to the convenience store, but I'll make it quick" in hopes of seeing it and being terribly disappointed by the lack; it won't be quick, because we'll wander around the entire area trying to find it; we were promised that by implication with the word 'warning'. Basically, until the neighbor's trampoline flies by, it's pretty much okay. Or your own trampoline, but it only got like, three feet off the ground before it hit the fence, and for me, it's not worth getting up from the porch for less than six and over my head, or an airborne cow. Because dude, who doesn't want to see a flying cow? Then it's hallways and blankets and doom, but at least you know by sight what's trying to make the house a pile of substandard confetti. Fine, yes, that's a little disconcerting for everyone, happy? Dude, I wasn't even verbal the first time I was in a house between the two houses that the tornado decided to blend, setting frappe; I have special pillows for hall napping these days. Apparently, I like sleeping through imminent death and it started very early.
Tornado Watches are a six month period of the year; to not be under a tornado watch for a certain number of days is weird enough it's worth talking about, wary and deeply unsettling to everyone. Like, what the hell, they have something better to do? Drought, been there, lived with the constant wildfire smoke drifting north and settling over Austin. This last one was longer, don't get me wrong, but the only reason anyone even noticed drought was a thing was finally, someone somewhere, probably high or really bored, did the math and holy shit, it's been a while since rain, check this out, weird huh? Anyone else notice? And everyone said, wow, that explains why the lakes are so much lower. Who knew?
Our relationship with rain is about the same; I live on a hundred year flood plain, but once I lived within a quarter mile of a small yet ambitious lake. Before the city did something with limestone out back, the first time the creek became a river--seriously, I was really pissed we hadn't kept the boat and oars from when we owned lakeside property as a kid--we all contemplated it about five inches below our gate--it was high, is what I'm saying--and figured we could sleep for a few hours; it'd be like, at least a day before it got to the patio, but come morning, there would definitely be work to go to and bosses don't like naps at the desk.
Ice, that's different; that's not wind--we know wind--or water--liquid, in cups, falling from teh sky, refusing like hell to do just that, swim in it during summer. Ice isn't water--we know it is in theory, because it's how ice cubes are born, but this shit--ice, you say? Okay--ice anywhere in nature, free and predatory and coming toward you, is terrifying. We don't really understand it; that shit goes in tea and snowcones and to put in structures containing beer to keep them cold. We make it from water--water, we get, I explained that, right?--which is fine, we all go to Schitterbaun during summer, you're telling me Schlitterbaun. a water park can be a death trap below zero? You don't mean drowning? Really? How interesting. How much have you had to drink? No, I'm not getting you another beer from the cooler; apparently, you've had enough. We're going swimming tomorrow, and you're gonna scare the kids with that kind of shit.
Water + freezer = ice = beer cold, ice tea, snow cones. Water + nature = ice = you're fucking with me, water can do that outside a freezer? The world can be the freezer? Do you know how much water there is in the world? Holy shit it's the end of the world!
As I said, Apocalypse; now you know the math behind it. Don't make us admit it out loud, but we really really can't conceptualize this in any meaningful way; our summer temperature is above one hundred and it's barely worth noting that until it's been seven days of it, at which time it's more a reminder about remembering our electric bill is going to suck so fucking much so you don't freak out when the three digit total may or may not border on four. Right, you tell yourself in the breeze of air conditioned bliss; fuck the goddamn heat. And get a popsicle from the freezer, a magic place we also get ice, and here's where it get tricky; if you have an ice maker, an entire revelatory step in the water to ice process is totally lost right there. We never even see the water in non-ice form and melting it's indistinguishable from it's tea surroundings, or something that mysteriously needs to be dumped from the ice chest. You buy ice for those from giant freezers at the store in bags; the watery remains should give us a clue, but dude, we need more ice, and the water's gotta go to make room for it, because the beer is getting warm. I don't even drink beer and I know how this works.
We can't possibly be blamed for this. Technology is working against us here; my place is not to question why, but to do and get the goddamn ice already. It's hot.
Now the world as we know it is suddenly a freezer--you're fucking with me, it was seventy two days ago--where ice--Jesus Christ, ice? Really?--forms from water--you realize how much water there is out here? It's everywhere! I HAVE IT IN MY HOUSE!--may fall from the sky--IT IS IN THE CLOUDS? OH GOD YOU MEAN RAIN CAN BE ICE, TOO--and not only that, oh no. It's November, and it just dawned on everyone to air out their sweaters, hunt down their coats from wherever they left them last March or so--that was a while ago, okay?--and get excited we can finally wear our boots again.
This isn't bad--this is goddamn traumatic. Let me explain why.
We have turkey to defrost and relatives to loathe coming over to eat food with us and horrifically pleasant mundane conversations to have so we can all avoid saying "Oh God I hate we're related to each other; I die inside just knowing you exist, much less we share a common ancestor who honestly, what the fuck great grandma, may God grant her rest soul" or by sheer accident forget to carefully pretend you know all about their new significant other and hope to God they stop calling them 'honey' so you can get a name already and pray that goddamn turkey is done yet because eating would be good here. Love turkey, but right now a boot would be fine, this is Texas and we got Southern manners grafted onto us hard; no one talks with their mouth full, and everyone is very motivated to keep their mouths very, very full.
At it's best, Texas is a wonderful mix of various cultures and it's nice to look at your family tree and contemplate how many different people you came from, it's a warm feeling to think of all these people getting along and getting married and sprogging their hearts out; at it's worst, it's an unholy nightmare of the most terrifying parts of the deep South, second through fourth German background, Hispanic culture, and in certain circumstances, all of it expressed in two languages that at least two people in any given room only know one of them, half know enough to be hilarious when speaking or answering questions (read: oh God), and in my case, a single representative of speakers of Czech who spoke English but didn't really like anyone enough to want to (when I was a kid, we had first language German in the mix. No one really wants to talk about what that hell was like; apparently great-grandma had quite a mouth on her and didn't mind it expressing it in both languages in the same sentence, and they were long ass sentences. Great grandpa was unclear on boundaries as well. There are scars). It's not that navigation can be hard; it's more that there's no navigation; it's survival of the fittest and last man standing, fueled by desperate faith, hope, and sincere prayer for the turkey to finish cooking before someone cries, bursts into argument, or oh God help me, emanates Stoic, quietly miserable acceptance and forgiveness (of what? WHAT? IT WAS A JOKE) which is like--God, guilt forever, goes well with stuffing and cranberry sauce, thanks. We are Southern enough to desperately need to be polite; we're just terrible at figuring out how to do that well because it comes secondhand. We know that we're just making it worse, but we can't stop.
(If we do, it's actually can get worse; try dealing with a family wake. You drink to stay sane. And not question your paternity and maternity because oh God, Aunt Frances, don't go there. I don't know what that means in English, but no one should turn that color hearing it. May I get you more whiskey? (Whiskey is how we start a wake to warm up; margaritas are when we finish blending the ice from the freezer and keep the pleasant blackout portion of the night at bay between shots. There will be two runs to the liquor store; there will be two more but no one remembers them, so those don't count.) Hell is drunk relatives surrounded in a billion dying flowers and several trays of cold cuts and cheese in a house that exceeds the per capital number of guns per Texan and trucks with gun racks where the guns apparently came standard at purcchase; it's an adventure of potential homicide or hangovers that make you desperately prefer the sweet oblivion of murder one.)
(Admittedly, I have an advantage with Child; he lacks rudimentary shame even as a concept, and like my middle sister, uncomfortable, probing, utterly point blank questions are the rule, not the exception. You can't control them--you can't, you know what you're risking here, you too will be a victim--but you can subtly guide their efforts in productive directions. People are usually too polite--or too utterly shocked--to not answer. Yes, this is dangerous--you will be the next victim, or the next--but not quite yet. You get to listen until then. It's worth it. Mostly. What you cannot change, you must accept and enjoy it while you can. Secondhand embarrassment and appalled horror are inevitable; the trick is to weaponize politeness--you can't not be polite--so everyone shares it. Then at least you're not alone.)
Dude, we don't need this stress, okay. It's November, we just found our boots--and hey, my coat was under the dog, better get that cleaned or something?--and are still deeply bewildered at the entire cold air thing happening outside--the world has air conditioning? And we usually have to pay for that kind of thing--instead of inside, where it's right and natural. Turkey to defrost. Deeply uncomfortable meal to have with people we have to see because great grandma got laid like a lot, thanks great gramps for that shit. Ice? Outside?
Apocalypse, we hope; otherwise, we might have to live through this in inexplicable weather conditions where our roads are layered in what goes in snow cones, do we look like wizards or something? You tell me how to deal. And I still don't know what happened to relative's apparently no longer husband or where this one came from. This isn't ending well for anyone. The Apocalypse can only help.
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