Tag Archives: Michigan

I’m a Weather Wimp

We’ve been lucky lately in that aside from a rare tornado, the weather has been pretty pleasant this summer. However, we’ve still had days when if I get any closer to my window air conditioning unit I’m going to have to change my status to “in a relationship.”

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I know.

The me that made it through the harshest most brutal winter in my history just slapped the me complaining about summer weather, but this just goes to solidify my declaration that I hate weather.*

*Excluding days between 60-80 degrees with no rain and a gentle breeze lightly tinged with the scent of cut grass.

I hate sweating or driving on three inches of ice, and while I know I won’t melt if I get rained on, I will be wet and uncomfortable which is pretty much just as bad.

Living in Michigan, this is an unfortunate situation seeing as everyone loves to say, “If you hate the weather, wait five minutes! It will change!” and then laugh and laugh while I shoot daggers with my eyes.

Why?

Because with any severe weather situation, there is the chance that I will lose power, and ergo, lose my shit.

I’m not high maintenance, but when the power goes out, all rationality and Zen-like tendencies go right along with it not to be restored until Consumer’s Energy plugs things back in.

And you can be sure I obsessively call Consumer’s Energy to get a restoration estimate, usually being told it will happen at some point hours or days after the time I totally freak out (which is, of course, the second that I lose power.)

So when the semi-creepy weather rolls in, I get on high alert, assuming that rumbles in the distance are an impending weather-related disaster headed directly for my house.

If I’m at home, everything not related to obsessively watching the weather channel and lighting candles ceases while I play out various scenarios in my head that will necessitate a reenactment of events on the news.

If I’m at work, all productivity ceases while check radar online and take into account exactly what I have in my fridge/freezer at home, as food waste is my main concern with possible loss of power. If it’s winter, I figure I can throw things outside and warm up some food on the stove. If it’s summer, I freak out and pack that bitch up like an igloo.

In part, I blame the meteorologist.

Yes, we’re blaming him now, as he delights entirely too much in delivering potentially catastrophic (see food situation above) news.

Plus, he makes me feel like a social reject with absolutely no life (on this he’s only halfway right—as usual.) Every forecast is prefaced with something along the lines of, “If you’re getting ready to go out to dinner tonight” or “If you’re planning a picnic followed by a long walk on the beach tomorrow” etc.

Never does he say, “If you’re planning on sitting on your couch in your yoga pants watching the ball game and writing a blog post while trying to find that piece of food you just dropped down your shirt,” plan on partly sunny skies.

I’m fully aware that a) it’s not his fault and b) there’s nothing we can do about weather anyway, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Mini-blinds will be shut and the TV will be turned up loud to drown out the sound of the thunder.

I will perfectly situate my flashlights under my blankie fort and wait, making promises to unseen higher powers that as long as I don’t lose power, I will be fine and work on saving the world in the morning (a task that would conceivably require electricity, therefore eliminating me from the impending power outage.)

Then again, maybe I just have to wait five more minutes. There’s always the chance it will change.

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Pump It Up

People in Michigan are prone to complain about two things—the weather and gas prices, but for good reason. Our weather can be ridiculous, and as of last week we had the third highest gas prices in the country. So when it’s 95 degrees or we have 100 inches of snow and gas is $4.10/gallon, it’s best to stick to safe topics like religion or politics.

But with that said, gas is a necessary evil. Seeing as I can take a seemingly routine vehicular activity and turn it into an issue of sorts, it’s not a surprise that pumping gas is no exception.

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I really don’t remember a time when we could pull up to a pump and have a smiling face come out to fill ‘er up. Today I pull up to one of the pumps—careful not to pull up too far, as to prevent someone from using the one in front of me—and if someone did approach my car, smiling or not, I would lock the doors and then either prepare my awesome ninja skills or start the car and drive away.

Because it’s all pre-pay now, I usually opt for the pay at the pump option. At this point, the cashier’s voice comes over the intercom like some sort of omniscient gasoline god and greets me and I’m left wondering what I should do. Do I say “hi” back, not knowing if they can hear me but well aware that I just shouted, “I’m fine! Thanks for asking!” out to a semi-vacant parking lot?

Forget the meaning of life. These are the questions that need to be asked.

But there are times my card can’t be read for whatever reason and I have to go in the store and manually pay for the gas like it’s 2010. The cashier that greeted me so warmly before will ask me what pump I’m at and then immediately express complete annoyance at the fact that I’m not prepared and have no idea, opting instead to point to my car at the pump.

Knowing I need him more than he needs me, I smile warmly and silently regret my decision not to carry on a whole conversation at the pump via intercom just moments before.

The attendant then (deeply sighs and) activates the pump, at which point I begin the walk of shame back to my Blazer and proceed with the process at hand, making a mental note of what pump I’m at and carrying on a compensatory conversation with the attendant via an intercom that I’m 99 percent certain is no longer on.

Better safe than sorry, and talking to yourself at the pump will deter any weirdos from approaching your car.

But sometimes actually going into the store and pre-paying for gas is quite helpful, as it will stop the pump at an exact amount and I can attempt to clean my windshield during the pumping process. If forced to pump on my own, I’m pretty sure I spend an extra $10 just trying to get the pump to end on an even amount.

Plus, one day last week the cashier jokingly carded me when I was forced to go inside to buy gas. He was about 112 years old with five teeth, but we’re going steady now—until he brings up the weather.

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Wish You Were Here

As much as I complain about the weather in Michigan—the horrendous heat and humidity in the summer and the feet of ice and snow in the winter—this time of year is truly something special.

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(Sorry my pictures are small. You can click to enlarge.)

The colors are spectacular, and if you don’t live in an area that experiences the changing of the seasons, I sincerely mean it when I say I wish you were here to enjoy them.*

*Unless of course, you’re an emotional vampire or just plain annoying, in which case I would dive behind my couch ninja-like to hide when you rang my doorbell.

At any rate, we’ve had unseasonably warm temperatures the past week that have reached the 70s, and I’ve taken advantage of that by enjoying the incredible mum display at the botanical gardens, going on a hayride and mini-color tour and just generally taking the time to appreciate the fact that nature will constantly leave me humbled and at peace.

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I don’t know where you are from, but I can tell you that Michigan—and my city specifically—has a lot to offer. We might not have a Trader Joes or Whole Foods within 300 miles or many celebrity sightings, and we only have one vegan restaurant and the aforementioned craptastically unpredictable weather—where was I going with this?

Ah yes, those issues aside, we do have things distinctly our own, things that make Michigan—and Grand Rapids, specifically—not only a great place to visit, but a great place to live.

The mayor and a panel of community leaders recently ran a contest—My Grand Rapids in Six Words  (MyGR6) — inviting anyone “who has lived, worked or played here to share their sentiments about the city using only six words.”

They won’t announce the winners for a couple of weeks, but almost 8,000 people submitted entries, which says something about community pride. Mine was initially related to sports, but serves as a theme for the city as a whole:

Minor league city. Major league feel.

But if you’re into sports—as you know I am—right now is a great time to be a fan. The Tigers are in the American League Championship Series, the Lions are undefeated, the Wings have started their season 2-0—and the minor league baseball and hockey teams for those parent clubs are right here in Grand Rapids.

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In other words, we see the stars before they’re stars.

If you’re into art and culture, we just wrapped up ArtPrize, the world’s largest art prize based solely on a public vote. Artists take over and cover the city and venues with their work, visitors come from around the world and conversations result about community, creativity and possibility.

Sports, culture, natural beauty—those are just a few of the things we have going on right now where I live. I’m not trying to sell you on the city—as I said, winters and availability for overpriced hippy food sucks—but rather share with you a little piece of fall where I come from.

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And the changing of the seasons also serve as a reminder to me that no, I don’t have control of everything in my life, but sometimes the most beautiful things happen when I let go and simply enjoy whatever may be.

At least until the snow comes.

Then even I wish I wasn’t here.

But for now, I’ll simply wax poetic about the colors and hope that if you aren’t able to enjoy them where you are, you were at least able to enjoy a piece of fall from where I’m at—which unfortunately, is not Trader Joes, but you take what you can get.

And for now, we get major league beauty.

I’m glad that I’m here.

How would you describe your city in six words?