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Monday, August 28, 2017

On Hurricanes and Weather

As I write this, it's a comfortable 73 degrees at 11 PM Saturday in the Mountain time zone, with a cool breeze blowing down from the Sandia Mountain range and an unusually high humidity of 48%.

Just a few years back, though, I lived in the city of Port Arthur, TX: birthplace of Janis Joplin and hometown of economic depression, abandoned downtown buildings of Southeast Texas, the center of an inflated cost of living due to oil refineries. Too far East to truly be Texas and too far West to truly be Louisiana, it's the home of fumes, mold, and swamps, and the subject of an Al Jazeera docu-piece on air quality.

I lived there for close to 10 years. When I say close, I mean close; I moved there in June of 2003 and left on the last day of April 2013. In that time, I evacuated for three hurricanes and slept through several more. My apartment was completely destroyed once, the roof ripped off of the second-floor two-bedroom I shared with my ex-wife, soaking everything that wasn't packed into the tiny car we owned after my Monte Carlo had given up the ghost on its second transmission. I was more fortunate the next two times I evacuated, as my one-bedroom post-divorce apartment was untouched.

I don't like hurricanes. They're a huge inconvenience at best, and a life-altering pain in the ass at worst (assuming you get out of their path). I have a few friends still in that part of Texas right now, and I hope you and they both have the good sense of being not there if you're otherwise in the path of Hurricane Fuck This Shit.

When I was presented with the option of moving away from Texas some 4-ish years ago,  I took that opportunity and have yet to regret it. The constant high humidity in the swamps where I lived was wrecking my sinuses, leaving me short of breath and giving me constant headaches due to the mold and fumes in the area. In the first two weeks I was in New Mexico, the thin, dry, clean mountain air forced its way into my head and I could feel my sinuses changing shape, opening for the first time in years. I have breathed easily since then.

But  I've found that the true advantage to living here is the weather. The dry desert air is truly an amazing thing. While living in Texas, I once walked a quarter mile on the coldest day of the year to the Walgreen's on the corner. It was about 38 degrees outside... with 100% humidity. The cold cut through the jacket, hoodie, jeans, and pajama pants I was wearing, and I wanted to fall against the wall of the building I was at and die halfway through the walk. In stark contrast, I went to see a Rifftrax Live show here in New Mexico in late October. As I was walking to the theater in a leather jacket and thin t-shirt, I thought to myself, "It's a little chilly out here." I later checked the temperature at the time and it was 27 degrees, but with only 13% humidity. In the summer it can reach as high as 110 outside, but with the low humidity it feels vastly more comfortable than the 85 degrees at 100% humidity that a Southeast Texas Spring or Fall would bring.

And that's not getting into the four distinct seasons and snow in Winter that I now see.

What am I getting at right now? Nothing in particular, honestly. Just that I hope my friends are okay and that one day they'll see the light and move inland. I genuinely do not ever think I could bring myself to live within a hundred miles of a coastline again. It's just not healthy.

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