Winter in Missouri

I always wonder what people from other places think when they come to Missouri State University. They visit and have their orientation/registration over the summer, when the flower beds are all in bloom, our humidity is turned up to eleven, and the Ozarks is nothing but green oak trees and blue sky. They come here in the fall, when it’s even more hot and humid, but then the leaves start to turn and, let me tell you, this was one of the most beautiful autumns we’ve had in quite some time. And then they get through their first semester and winter hits.

When the students return this weekend, especially if they’re coming from the coasts, they may be in for a surprise. The temperature’s been hovering around zero the last few days, and the windchill was apparently around -20 Fahrenheit when I walked in from the parking garage today. If you’re an international student from the Caribbean, or from India, or just traveling here from Arizona or California… is this what you expected?

Business As Usual in Missouri is weather you can’t count on. Things can change in a matter of hours with fifty degree temperature swings, snow storms one day and tornadic thunderstorms the next, and an abundance of beautiful but deceptive sunshine. For those of us who grew up here, we’ve come to expect and even appreciate it.

I’ve only once heard someone from outside the Ozarks share their opinion on our manic depressive weather patterns. She was a student from South Africa, a place that Americans consider with awe and a bit of trepidation, mostly because it has the word “Africa” in it. We assume it’s all kinds of dangerous and challenging to live in, but she was perplexed at why anyone would live in America, let alone Missouri. “Back home we have to worry about crime and other things,” she said, “but here the very country tries to kill you! There are tornadoes and hurricanes and earthquakes and floods and droughts… every year! Why would anyone live here?!”

Why indeed. There are certainly places on the earth’s surface that are more peaceful and safe to live… but for the same reason we can’t imagine why someone would continue to live in Israel with all the strife there over the last… however many millennia, we can’t imagine living anywhere else. America is my home, and I really like Springfield. We get the occasional tornado, but compared to a lot of other places, it’s pretty OK.

At least, to me. I’m not sure our longer distance students agree.

Breaking Radio Silence

Oh, hello there.

Brief recap of what did and did not happen this wonderful, phenomenal Winter Break.

  • We hosted Christmas for April’s family. Eric got into town a few days early, with the rest here on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The day after Christmas, we traveled to St. Louis, and then visited Piedmont the day after the day after Christmas.
  • I got some awesome gifts. Now, Christmas isn’t about gifts, and what we really loved was having the chance to spend lots of time with our family. But it cannot be denied that I also played Dragon Age: Origins for about 60 hours this week. It may be the best game I have played in the last 6-8 years.
  • I didn’t write a whole lot. I was stymied on the story I wanted to write, and didn’t feel like I could write anything else until I made progress on it. That was stupid of me. I should have dropped it and done other things, coming back to it once I had something to write, but I got stalled and played Dragon Age instead. For what it’s worth, I finally found the idea I needed to drive the story forward, but it’s a bit late now.
  • I have had the best week of vacation ever.
  • Finally finished our D&D campaign. Not that it has comprised too many game sessions, but between us we have so many scheduling conflicts that we end up only playing about once a month. Since I’d originally intended this campaign to be 15 games, I had to revamp it and cut it short–we’d already been playing it over six months and it was getting old. Really looking forward to the next (much, much shorter) story arc.
  • April and I celebrated our second anniversary, somewhat to our surprise. Not that we’re surprised we lasted two years, because it’s been a pretty blessed and easy two years. It just came up on us fast. Totally awesome. We stayed in Springfield and saw local touristy things, like Bass Pro and fancy restaurants and little shops we never visit. Good times.
  • Snow!
  • Seriously, such a good week.

I don’t even feel [too] bad about not writing. April made the excellent observation that I really oughtn’t put a ton of pressure on myself to get everything done and caught up in the one week I have off a year. I should enjoy the time instead, and work harder to build writing time into my daily schedule instead of forcing a lot of it into this week. I was gratified by this and went right on playing Dragon Age.

I’ve got nothing prepped for this week, so I don’t know what the publishing schedule will be like. Need to get my sea legs back under me, so to speak. For the first time in six months, though, I do not dread going to work tomorrow. I had an amazingly productive end-of-the-semester and got everything done that I wanted to get done. There’s nothing really hanging over my head tomorrow. I have lots of good stuff to report. All-in-all, things are looking up.