Ever since 2004, baseball just hasn’t been able to pull me in. At that point, I was a long suffering Red Sox fan. Then all that changed. Truthfully, the drifting had started a bit before that. It is harder to follow 162 games from so far away. Time is another factor. 162 x 3.5 hours is a LOT of time. Time I wasn’t willing to give. I was also sure nothing would beat 2004 in terms of ridiculous excitement.
Flash forward a few years and the Sox win again. Red Sox fans are now completely insufferable. At the same time, they/we start to understand what it is like to be a Yankees fan. Hate for Yankees/Yankees fans eases, dislike for the old hometown team rises. I decide to become a free agent fan, though not anywhere near as hardcore as I once was.
I basically just tried on the A’s. I live close to the stadium, I like their ‘whole different brand’ of baseball. That doesn’t work so well either. I have waited 3 innings for a beer in that dump. Don’t get me wrong, the place has it’s charms, but why can’t I give you more money?
There have been gallons of ink spilled on how west coast sports fans aren’t hardcore enough. I have been one of the folks making fun of the fan base when away team fans outnumber home fans. I don’t care to really hear that right now.
I don’t really watch much baseball, but I do follow the A’s in the box scores. The last month has been hard to stomach — Red Soxian in it’s collapse. I really thought this was the year. I still think Beane made the right moves. I doubt this will stop the insane people from filling sports talk radio and columns with insanity, though.
Standing in Ricky’s last night, snapping my fingers with a chorus of snappers because that seemed to work for awhile, I really felt excited and alive. (something that has been hard lately — see hurricane Odile…) That part of the brain that keeps waiting to lose, the pre-2004 Red Sox cortex, was firing, but I didn’t care. I thought until even that last ball skipped under the glove up the third base line that they could win.
And they will. It’s cold comfort, A’s fans, but the worm will turn.
Hey everyone that checked up on me during the storm, please consider donating to the people that kept me safe and fed during the storm and aftermath.
I got home safe, but many folks are still digging out of the rubble trying to get back to regular life.
I have a moderate fear of flying, especially on big planes. This is usually surprising to people, as most people afraid of flying are bothered more by the small ones. My preference for small planes is probably due to the constant awareness of flying. The larger jets try to fool you into thinking it isn’t a tube streaking through the air, but the four seater will never be able to maintain that illusion. The window seat is key to managing my fear. For whatever reason, being able to see outside on a whim makes it easier to cope. Being trapped in a black box is the hardest place to be.
When I started an audio podcast a few years ago, my writing partner and I specifically chose to work in audio because removing visual stimuli helps the imagination run wild. For storytelling this is great. You can lie to the audience and hold surprises that video would immediately reveal. When you are experiencing a natural disaster, this is the opposite of great.
At some point around 10 PM (not totally sure on time, it is a blur), when Odile was getting ready to make landfall, the sliding glass doors of our hotel room were bulging with the wind gusts. We decided to shut the curtains when a friend texted us that windows were blowing out in Cabo San Lucas. For me, this is when the fear really started to set in. I could no longer see outside. I was in the black box.
My wife Christina wisely advised that we should move into the bathroom. We moved the easy chair in and she sat there while I sat in the tub. At this point, the only feedback of the storm we had was the vibration of the building and the sounds of debris flying from every direction. We could hear the deck furniture moving in the room above us, but didn’t know if that was people up there moving it or the wind.
The air pressure continued to drop. I could feel all the joints in my body expanding. This is how people with arthritis can predict the weather. As air pressure drops, the joints swell to fill the space. Ears were popping, even breathing felt weird. How much of this was anxiety versus the pressure change, I can’t say. I haven’t really experienced anything like it. Within a few minutes of being in the bathroom, the sliding glass door exploded. Christina yelled ‘Get down’ and we scrambled behind the easy chair and dragged it to the toilet chamber in the back of the bathroom. The window blow-out did relieve the pressure some, but the fear was still heightening. The sounds were intense, the vibrations more so. Christina observed it was like an earthquake, an earthquake that kept going. I’m not sure my memory is totally accurate, but the sounds seems like groaning metal you hear in submarine or boat movies. Whatever it was it fueled my imagination in a visceral way. My rational mind kept saying that the giant building we were in wouldn’t fall down, but in the black box, you have nothing to confirm what your mind tells itself.
Around this point, the most vibrant memory I have is Christina turning to me and saying, “I love you”. It is a phrase that we try to say to each other often. This time was different. The tone of her voice was though she thought she might not get to say it again. I responded in kind, and wondered if it was.
In hindsight, seeing the room the next day, I don’t think we would have died even if the heroic staff wouldn’t have pulled us out of the room. It would have been extremely more traumatic, but I think we would have made it. (I can’t say the same for the room next door which was destroyed.) At the time, I didn’t have that information, but it didn’t matter, you contemplate the eternal. I didn’t have the thought “OH, I’M GOING TO DIE”, it was more like “This might be it”. I was much more ok with it than I thought I would be. I was with the person I love most in this world and we live a good life, if this was the end, so be it. (Also I wasn’t in a position to do a whole lot of navel-gazing about it.) If you are going to be trapped in a black box, having your soulmate helps a lot.
Within a few minutes, which felt like hours, there was a knock at the door. The staff, led by GM Tim Booth, had come to get us. We grabbed a few things and were escorted to the ballrooms to shelter for the rest of the storm. Still rattled, I had an immediate feeling of more safety, but the sounds were becoming more intense. There were no windows in the ballrooms, we were in yet another black box. The only recognizable sounds I could hear sounded like someone smashing up a kitchen and terra cotta breaking, everything else was just guttural crunching and sloshing and smashing. It could have been dinosaurs for all I knew.
Sitting the shelter all night, all I could think of was the road to La Paz that we had taken the day before. Christina and I drove through a lot of flat plains which I could only imagine were flooding. The amount of rain falling was astronomical. The hotel had water running down the stairs like in some of the videos people have posted. The mind runs wild and I became more afraid for the people outside the shelter. Looking at the faces of the hotel staff was hard. They tried to put on a brave face, but I sensed the same worry. (For the record, the hotel had staff bring their families to the shelter, but everyone working there must have known at least someone out in the storm.)
I fell asleep at some point around 5 AM, once again, some of this is a blur, so accuracy is in doubt in my mind. I woke up around 7 AM and could see light coming in the cracks of the doors. For safety issues, we weren’t allowed out until the staff cleared glass, debris, and possibly dangerous electric wires. Somehow, while all this was going on, the hotel staff made us breakfast. They treated us like family, and I will never forget that either. Cold water, a hot meal, are two other things that help you in the box.
It wasn’t until the next day that I really started to understand the ramifications of accepting that you might be in a life ending moment. I’m still not sure I fully understand them all. More than anything though, is I know it won’t be as much of an instant decision.
Another video before we lose power/interwebs.
Hurricane Odile is heading towards Cabo.