Open Letter to … Oh, Who Cares

To Whom It Does Not Apparently Concern,

I know that no public transportation system is perfect. Things happen. Trains break down or even get stuck on the tracks in the “narrows” between Draper and Lehi like the southbound train did this evening. I don’t even know how that kind of a thing happens, but I’d like to understand why it did. Because seriously, if trains were running every hour southbound all day without incident, I wonder what happened. Was there a snowdrift? Could the train’s momentum not push through a snowdrift? I guess I could just jump onto a news website and find out what happened, but it’s so much more fun right now to vent.

The conductor did say that “bus bridges” would pick us up from the Draper station and drop us off at the stops farther south. I was fine with waiting at the stop, because I texted the situation to my husband, and he offered to pick me up.

I was fine waiting in the warm train, away from the frigid air, until the conductor announced (and apologized) that the train would have to go back north. He said that everyone would have to get off the train and wait for the bus bridges. I even bundled up and felt prepared to wait in the cold. Somewhere between zero and ten degrees Fahrenheit. Reilly found the address to the station online, and he texted me that he would pick me up soon.

That text came at 5:44pm. We got kicked off the train at 5:58. Draper’s not that far away from Orem, and northbound rush hour traffic isn’t as busy as southbound, so I guessed Reilly would arrive in about 20-25 minutes, which meant 6:05-6:10.

The wait went beyond that range of expectation, which means that I got that much colder for every minute that I waited past 6:10. I was perfectly cozy in my many layers before then. And then somehow my toes froze inside my insulated boots, which means the insulation worked the wrong way.

So Reilly didn’t get to the Draper Frontrunner station until 6:27, which means it took him 43 minutes from Orem. The station looks to be quite in the middle of nowhere, and I wondered if people who’ve never been to the station could easily find it. The answer is easily no.

Thing is, dear Emersonian eyeball of public transportation: Just because you name a road “Frontrunner Boulevard” doesn’t mean the Frontrunner Station is automatically easy to find. Online, the station location is 12800 S 500 W, but the street names do not follow this grid address system near the station. That extra 17 minutes in the cold really isn’t anything to whine about, but if public transit in Utah is to be efficient and comprehensive:

  • Mark Frontrunner (and bus) stations with signs at the freeway exits
  • Use signs en route (from the freeway exit) to clearly direct public transport commuters to Frontrunner stations
  • Provide better online maps/links for Frontrunner station locations
  • Update the website immediately with alerts or route changes

It could have been worse, definitely, but no one should get lost looking for a Frontrunner station, especially if so many people rely on Frontrunner to get to and from work, and especially if another situation like today happens and people don’t want to keep their friends and lovers cryogenicizing out in Siberia because uncoordinated or lacking streets signs have caused the station to David Copperfield. Poof.

Things could be worse. I could be in Florida, stuck on Blanding Boulevard or the Buckman Bridge. I could be in Manhattan, in a Zipcar on the Westside Highway on the Friday before Labor Day.

But things are better now. My feet are warm again, and I can feel my toes.

So, I guess as long as the mercury doesn’t freeze, there will always appear to be a silver lining.

Thanks for letting me vent,

May

The Scary Storm

There’s a profound metaphor a-brewin’.

While scrolling through my Facebook feed and ignoring the happy, oblivious posts of those who aren’t being affected by Sandy, I came across this photo. Click on it and say some prayers.

Winds are howling, lights are flickering, transformers are exploding. Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons. There are reports of green electrical arcs in the sky, a scary form of the Aurora Borealis. I doubt New York has seen many hurricanes, and it probably hasn’t received the Noreasters that Boston has, but it seems that the Big Apple finally gets to enforce a lot of its emergency preparations. I know my friends are prepared.

The island would seem different than a mainland hit, because it’s an island. Two and a half miles wide by 12-13 miles long. The tunnels and bridges are closed.

Yet, no man is an island.

But I also don’t want to downplay the rest of the Northeastern shore. They also have floods and fallen trees and power outages. Leaky ceilings and floating cars.

Hang on to your hats.

My friends are prepared. I’ve seen their statuses of the provisions they’ve gathered. Lights, food, batteries, water, cheerful souls and prayerful hearts. When the winds stop whipping and the water subsides, they’ll use their optimism to clean up their towns and get back to their usual lives. Which happen to be extraordinary.

I believe John Donne.

Sandy Dunkin New York

Right now I imagine a former home of mine is receiving a lot of rain, lightning, and high winds. Many former homes have been part of those circumstances.

I was born during a typhoon in the Philippines. This may be why I don’t really freak out during big rains. My birth versus the storm: I won, but I’ve also always made sure never to get too cocky. Don’t stand in an open field under lightning clouds. Don’t play in puddles and get ringworm.

I lived in Guam. Seems if you live in the Pacific Ocean, you have to expect the whole range of tropical weather. Which would include earthquakes. And if volcanoes were nearby, those, too.

I lived in Key West. Consistently warm weather often compelled my brother and me to stay inside with the air conditioning. But I played a lot outside, too. But I mostly blame Key West for making me break my brother’s arm.

I lived in Jacksonville. Hurricanes mostly miss Jacksonville. The city often catches the fringes of the swirlstorms, and it receives a lot of rain, but Jax has had its share of lucky breaks when hurricanes decide to turn northward toward the Carolinas. And that’s not so lucky for the Carolinas.

I lived in New York City. That damn town greeted me with a blizzard, and it rained when I left it nearly 7 years later. That place brought out my allergies and gave me a true glimpse of depression. Rain, snow, strikes, sweltering and stifling heat. I miss that place.

I live in Utah. The sun is out, I can see the mountains that still hang on to the turned leaves. I walked two blocks through wet and heavy snow the other day, and I felt nostalgic. Today, nary a trace of that white stuff. But the mountains cling to that, too.

New York, I know you’re prepared. Candles, flashlights, water, food, batteries. Board games, radio. Dance parties. Storytime. Quality time. Run to the Hills. Or Washington Heights. I’ll be praying for you.

Warnings of a Different Kind

So, I still receive email updates from a ward I attended in New York City. Right now, they’re preparing for impact from Hurricane Irene. I’m tons of worried about my friends there. Hey, kids. You’re in my prayers.

Thursday, August 25, 2011 11:17 PM

All,

As you all prepare for the hurricane, there are a number of things you should do immediately (if you haven’t already done so):

1. Please see the hurricane map HERE to determine if you live within an evacuation zone. It is likely that it will be a category 1 hurricane, which means that zone A might be evacuated. Please stay tuned to what public officials say in terms of evacuations. The evacuations could be voluntary or mandatory (by law).

2. Please make sure your 72 hour kit is ready to go.

3. We need volunteers. If you do not live in an evacuation zone, we need volunteers who would be willing to temporarily house ward members who might be asked or required to evacuate. Please e-mail [this person] if you would be willing to house displaced members of our ward.

4. Please e-mail [the same person] if you live within evacuation zone A and let us know what your plans are (and if you need a place to stay). We would like to have a complete database to keep track of everyone in evacuation zone A.

5. Please be aware that public transportation might be shut down this weekend. Please pay attention to announcements from city officials for more info.

6. If you have not already done so, please contact those whom you home teach and visit teach to make sure they are prepared and have a plan.

HURRICANE EVACUATION MAP
and HURRICANE BROCHURE

Friday, August 26, 2011 12:58 PM

Please read carefully:

1. Mandatory evacuations have been announced for Zone A. If you live in Zone A, please contact [the same person] as soon as possible to let us know what your plan is. If you need a place to go, let us know and we will find a place for you.

2. If you would be willing to house members who have been evacuated, please email Kimber.Crandall@gmail.com to let us know (if you haven’t already done so).

3. All public transportation will be shut down beginning noon tomorrow. Please plan accordingly.

4. Church is cancelled on Sunday.

5. Please circulate this infomation with those you home teach or visit teach.

I Played in the Rain Just Now

Homework calls, and I continue to ignore it.

I wish I could describe the downpour with as much majesty and wonder the way your mom or Shakespeare or Melville or Crane recreates nature’s power from mere words. WORDS!

But I can’t, so instead I will show you photos of my soaked self. Neighbors who live across from me and I splashed in the parking lot, which in some places was 3 inches deep. We kicked and jumped and giggled as the cool drops from the sky plinked our heads.

That is all.

What you don't see is my drenched pants dripping onto the recently cleaned carpet. Storms like these never last long, and there was even lightning and thunder, but I was the shortest among the group of us playing, so I wasn't worried.
So, I mussed my hair a bit for the photo, but how am I supposed to convince you otherwise that I went puddle jumping? And why is my room so bright? And, yes. I made the pictures small and unclickable because THEY'RE NOT FLATTERING. But I wanted everyone to know that I loved playing in the rain. And I wish YOU and YOU and YOU could have joined me. Yes, YOU. Right?

I guess it’s time to do homework now, unless any of you would like to keep distracting me. You’d be doing a good deed. I WOULD NOT TURN YOU AWAY.

Cussin the Weathah

I apologize for the bad video quality. Just pretend that is snow, too.

So, I missed my bus this morning, and I decided to walk toward campus to one of the bus stops that would take me to work. It’s about a 25 minute walk, and the weather was nice enough, though the sky was a little bit overcast.

The first 22 minutes were uneventful. I was hitting all the walk signals at the intersections, and I was making good time. I knew I wouldn’t miss this next bus.

Then, the last three minutes. I was heading east, and a gust of wind came from behind me and with it, a light flurry of snow flakes. Then, following that, more gusts and a steady, swirling, barrage of white, wet flakes. I raised my hands to the air and asked, “What is this?!?”

Yet, because I’m an old person and check the weather every day before I leave the apartment, I was expecting snow, so I wore my winter coat, and I was able to reach back and bring the hood over my head. I walked the rest of the way to the bus stop. I could have been way less grumpy.

I also had an umbrella in my backpack (old-person, boy-scout syndrome), but someone else had come to the bus stop, not prepared at all for the weather. I didn’t share the umbrella with her (cancels out boy-scout aspect, but retains parts of old person). I’m a horrible person when it snows at the end of April.

Oh, the first of my grades are in! My first Bs of my second-chance college career. Can you guess what subject?

Avec Corrections

Rewriting the whole thing with the corrections will help me understand the grammar better. Posting it on a public blog will help me face my constant feelings of idiocy. I need the practice. The account below is a true story in my head; I may have taken artistic liberty with some of the details. I will say the professor likes my writing style, and that may have kept my grade from plonger.

Before you skip the rest of this entry, let me report: Day 1, no cookies; I only picked a little bit on my left thumbnail, and I already totally oopsed on the profanity. No one heard. Well, except You Know. I’m working on that.

Un Noël Blanc

J’avais treize ans. Quelques jours avant Noël, je suis allée à la fête d’anniversaire de mon amie, car son anniversaire était la veille de Noël. Il faisait plus froid que d’habitude ce soir-là, mais j’avais assez chaud chez mon amie. La fête était amusante, et je ne voulais pas aller dehors. Quand je rentrais, mes parents et moi avons parlé en voiture du temps froid; les arbres étaient nus mais du givre couvrait les branches. C’était une beauté bizarre. Nous avons arrêté de parler. Les phares coupaient le noir mais le silence a persisté jusqu’à ce que nous soyons arrivés ches nous. Ensuite, nous sommes allés au lit.

C’étaient les vacances de Noël, pourtant mon petit frère et moi nous réveillions tôt tous les jours. Le matin, nous regardions des dessins animés, et puis nous mangions le petit déjeuner. Quelquefois, nous faisions nos devoirs. Parce qu’il faisait trop froid cet hiver pour jouer dehors, nous sommes restés dans la maison. Parfois, nous jouions à des jeux d’enfants. Plusieurs cadeaux étaient sous le sapin, et nous essayions de deviner ce que c’était. Ensuite, ma mère nous disait de nous habiller et de faire nos tâches ménagères. Sans nous plaindre, nous obéissions.

Après  deux jours de plus, c’était la veille de Noël. Cette année-là nous avons mangé un grand repas la veille de Noël. Mon père a fait deux tartes: une aux citrouilles et l’autre aux pommes. De plus, il a rôti une dinde et a fait de la purée de pommes de terre et du maïs. Tout était divin. Notre famille avait une tradition d’ouvrir un cadeau et de lire l’histoire Noël de la Bible. Quelquefois nous chantions des cantiques, mais nous n’étions pas très bons chanteurs. Cette année-là, nous avons aussi conduit dans des beaux voisinages pour regarder les lumières et les décorations. En les regardant, des flocons blancs ont commencé à tomber du ciel. Ils ont gentiment flotté à terre, où ils ont disparu. Alors, mon père a conduit lentement pour notre sécurité, mais surtout pour que nous regardions la neige.

Chez nous, mon frère et moi n’avons pas dormi pendant plusieurs heures. Au lieu, nous avons fixé les toutes petites étoiles qui descendaient. Le clair de lune faisait luire les nuages. Nous avons regardé comme si c’était le meilleur film que nous n’ayons jamais vu. Finalement, nous sommes endormis.

Le jour suivant était Noël! Nous nous somme réveillés et avons ouvert les cadeaux qui restaient. Je suis certaine qu’ils étaient génials, mais il y a des choses plus importantes, comme le temps. C’était la Floride! Le temps était plus significatif que le bavardage habituel. Une couche blanche couvrait la terre et des petites stalactites de glace étaient suspendues aux arbres. Notre jardin avait l’air pur. Il neigeait toujours; les flocons étaient plus grands. Mon frère et moi avons mis un tas de vêtements et nous sommes allés dehors. Sans gants, nous avons fait un petit bonhomme de neige. Nous avons joué jusqu’à ce que nous ayons froid, environ trente minutes.

J’appelle Jacksonville « la région froide de la Floride » parce qu’elle est au nord, mais il n’y neige pas tous les jours, alors nous sommes allés dehors après nous être réchauffés, après nous avoir bu du chocolat chaud. Les garçons qui habitaient à coté sont aussi venus dehors (mais ils n’étaient pas mes premiers amours, au fait), et ils se sont battus contre nous (mon frère et moi) avec des boules de neige. Nous avons joué comme ça toute la journée. Nos cils ont blanchi et nos bouches faisait des petits nuages quand nous parlions. C’était mon premier Noël blanc. C’était un jour magique.