Futile Nostalgia

Here in Georgia — specifically, near Atlanta — we had a great rock and roll radio station for basically my entire childhood: 96 rock.

It played some truly great music, as anybody who listened to rock and roll in the 80s and 90s could tell you: Aerosmith, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Metallica, Ratt, Kiss … they’d even get crazy sometimes late at night and play Iron Maiden. I remember sitting by the radio ready to turn on my dual-head cassette recorder to make a mix-tape (and if you never did that, then did you even 80s?).

So it was a wonderful shock of nostalgia when I was out for my weekend run yesterday and saw a truck with a 96ROCK decorative license plate coming my way. I recognized the log instantly: big orange bubble letters like a clown’s balloon animal stock.

Willard At 96 Rock - Posts | Facebook

It was weird, though; the truck was fairly new, as far as I could tell — 2015 or so — and 96 rock went off the air in 2006. Which means this guy felt strongly enough about the radio station and his connection to it to dig up an old license plate he had hanging around his basement somewhere to put it on his new vehicle. Or maybe he found the plate at a yard sale and slapped it on the truck. Or … whatever. But why? Considering how many transplants we get here in Georgia, and especially where we live outside Atlanta, it’s likely that most people — and probably the vast majority of people — have no idea what 96 rock was.

And you certainly can’t listen to 96 rock now — outside, perhaps, of maybe a few clips on youtube. (I admit I haven’t looked.) To show off a 96 rock license plate is to show off a preference for something you can’t have, a longing for a thing which no longer exists.

I think it’s just his advertisement to the rest of us that he’s been around here. He knows the old ways. You see the same kind of thing now and then when you see people wearing t-shirts or baseball caps commemorating the ’96 Olympics, but that’s not the same — everybody knows the Olympics, they just happened to be in Atlanta that one time.

But 96 rock — you had to be there to know about it.

He was, in effect, signaling his age and solidarity with anybody else who would recognize the old logo.

Lighting a candle for the ancient ones to find their way home.

No Mo’ Snow

After three unexpected snow days last week, we’re back to the grind for a full work week this week. As has been pointed out by many of my teaching colleagues here in the environs outside Atlanta, the last full week of school we had was in November.

The lack of routine was definitely evident getting the kids out the door this morning. Sprout #1 spent the last thirty-six hours insisting that school still might get canceled today, and Sprout #2 threw a fit that lasted from a few minutes after she was awake until the moment I pulled into the daycare parking lot, at which point she changed her tune entirely and became a pitiful, clingy mess. And when I took my leave the tantrum started up again.

And friends and family wonder why my wife and I are such sticklers about getting these two little monsters to bed on time every night, even on weekends and vacations. It’s for the same reason that I spent the entire evening last night, from two on until I fell asleep, in a scowling, muttering, slamming-the-kitchen-cabinets and passive-aggressively-dragging-my-feet sulk. Routines matter! When kids — well, ANYBODY — know what to expect, they’re almost infinitely more likely to go along with it. And even if they don’t go along with it, they’re likely to protest less. And even if the plan changes, well just being prepared for the original plan leaves them somehow better equipped to deal with the adjustments.

Needless to say, when, following a three-day weekend, you go back to school for a single day and then get three surprise days off, followed by another weekend, your routine might as well have never existed in the first place.

I hope Mother Nature keeps this in mind the next time she brews up snow for the South. We are seriously not equipped for it.

Still, I got seven hundred words written today. So there’s that.

It’s a Bit Nippy

Cold here.
So very, very cold.
Cold that strikes at your bones.
Cold that makes you forget warmth even exists.
Cold that defies metaphor and comparison and leaves only itself.
Cold cold cold cold cold.
I can’t lie — as a Georgia native, I prefer the extreme cold to the extreme heat. Atlanta thinks nothing of serving up weeks or even months at a time with highs in the 90s, where you can sweat from the simple act of opening your eyes in the morning. I should be desensitized to that by now, but I’m not, and by the looks of things, being 37 already, I’m not going to get any less sensitive to it from here on in.
So when I welcome winter every year, it’s genuine. I love Winter.
Of course, I love the typical Atlanta version of it, which is to say the temperature will dip below freezing maybe three or four times, and if you’re really really lucky, you’ll get a dusting of snow on one of those days, and bang-o, we’re out of school for a day or two while the Only Snow Plow in Atlanta makes its rounds. Needless to say, we’re not prepared for the arctic cone of destruction that’s engulfed the city for the past several days, and that threatens the next several more. They’re calling it a “winter bomb cyclone.” Seriously!

In our previous house, we had cold temps burst the pipes on at least two occasions and had scares on a couple more. Every time the mercury drops, I get antsy. Every faucet in our current house is left to drip overnight. Then the exterior lines froze, so I got out there in the 25-degree light of day (help!) with my wife’s hair dryer to coax a feeble stream of frigid water out of them and get them dripping again before scurrying back inside to huddle under a dozen comforters.
My dad sent over these weird-looking insulators — kinda looks like a jockstrap without the strap, or an oversized cyborg earmuff — to cover those faucets. “Don’t even need to drip ‘em with these things!”
But I trust no gadget to save me. In my nightmares, I hear the Chooom-HSSSSSSSSSSSSS of a ruptured water line spilling its guts into the walls. Even in the summertime. At this rate those things may keep dripping until march, faucet-jockstraps and all.

The cold also poses unique challenges for the runner. Summer is easy — wear the least amount of clothing that you can stand or that’s legal (whichever comes first) and go sweat until you dry out regardless. Winter? The trick is layers, but it can be overdone. Too little, and your tauntauns will freeze before you reach the first marker. Too much, and you sweat, and start shedding layers, and then your tauntauns freeze before you reach the second marker. Wind chill must be calculated. Amount of sunlight has to be considered. You could have degrees in maths (okay I’m not British but I love how they say “maths” when they mean “math”) and meteorology and still end up with frozen tauntauns on a quick 3-miler.
At least partially as a joke, I don’t doubt, my wife got me a full-fledged balaclava. A balaclava, for the uninitiated, has surprisingly little to do with puff pastry and a lot more to do with looking like a serious fargoing ninja. Except that the one she got me is bright red. Which makes me less “ninja” and more “what the hell is that lunatic running in sub-freezing temperatures wearing on his head — he’ll scare the deer”. I haven’t reached for it yet, but if the current “winter bomb cyclone” (I still can’t believe that’s really what they’re calling it!) persists, it won’t be long.

We’re back to work today, and not a day too soon, because if we had to keep those two — I’ll censor what I was about to call them — adorable little angels inside our house for one more day? (It’s too cold out there, play inside, I don’t know why it’s so cold just play, why are you hitting each other, put the cat down, kitchen tools are not toys, PLEASE STOP CRYING [that last is for my wife after many hours of the former].)
I might have donned my balaclava and my cyborg earmuffs and headed out for the third marker. And then later, been found like this:


You know. Just …

Snowflakes (Real Ones)

The post is late this weekend because Atlanta literally got buried this weekend. In my neck of the woods, it was almost a foot of snow, which in Atlanta is basically the equivalent of encasing the entire city in Amber to be fished out and mined for DNA by overzealous scientists in hopes of making dinosaurs many millenia in the future.

I know, I know. Much like the “blizzard” of three years ago which sealed the city in an icy tomb from which it didn’t emerge for five days, the rest of the country is laughing at us. The south can’t handle snow. We get it. This time is legit, though. Below is a horrible-quality picture (thanks smartphones for not knowing how to handle flash settings and low light) of me standing by our fence. Notice that it’s literally deep enough to cover my entire head, were I to stand on my head, which is a thing I might be likely to do, given that I’m a southerner and do not know what snow is for. (You can cook with it, right?)


(No, those are not my wife’s pajama pants. They are mine. And they are most comfortable.)

Snow would continue to fall for twelve more hours. I’d have more pictures of the coverage, but a) do a little google image search for “Atlanta snow” and you’ll come across scads of pictures better than anything I could take (and funnier jokes, too!) and b) my kids ruined the pristine blanket immediately, because that’s what kids get paid to do.

More to the point, though, the heavy snowfall was bringing down branches and trees like Mueller is bringing down Trump associates, leaving us (and hundreds of thousands of our closest relatives and neighbors across the state) without power all night and most of the day on Saturday. And there just isn’t enough liquor in the county to deal with problems like that. So we did what any red-blooded, 21st-century humans would do: saddled up the kids, loaded up the minivan, and drove to Grandma’s house to charge our phones spend some time with family.

Luckily, aside from a bunch of power outages, a healthy share of downed trees, and a truly maddening array of pictures of people on their back porches sticking measuring tapes and rulers into the snow (rest assured, I have my own pictures, but I won’t cross that particular line of insufferability), there does not seem to have been much loss of life or injury caused by this little winter surprise. Which is to say that, after a second straight day of sun in the wake of the storm, life will quickly return to normal. As life is wont to do.

Which means that when I’m late with the Saturday post next week, I’ll have to make a much more pedestrian excuse. (Which may or may not involve actual pedestrians. Stay tuned!)

This post is part of Stream-of-Consciousness Saturday.


Operation Turtle Rescue Is A Go

It’s not that I’m trying to find these guys, really it’s not. But I keep doing it. Amidst all this rainy, lousy, unrelentingly gray weather here in Atlanta, I came across another turtle wandering far from home.

This one, lost in the parking lot at my school.


We’ll say nothing of the fact that I was caught out by the football stadium in a downpour that I could literally see coming as it rushed down the highway, shooting the valley in between the trees. We won’t even talk about the subsequent fact that I had to spend the rest of the day in damp shirt and tie, explaining to my colleagues and students that yes, in fact, I was outside during that cloudburst and no, there really wasn’t anywhere for me to wait it out; I just had to hightail it for the school building, a mere 400 yards away.

But more to the point, JUST LOOK AT THAT THING. It was about the size of a quarter, and so small that there was no way for me to photograph it sitting on my hand without my hand looking freakishly huge and misshapen by contrast. The moment after I snapped that picture, it peed all over me (though to be fair, the release of turtle urine could have filled maybe a quarter of a thimble).

Needless to say, I scooped him up out of the parking lot where he sat fifty yards from anything green and spirited him off to the edge of the woods, where I can only hope his chances of surviving in nature are a little bit better.

This is the second turtle I’ve rescued in a month.

I am starting to wonder if they are starting to find me.