Friday, June 24, 2011

Getting Ready for "The Taste"

So I found a list of the vendors that are going to be at this years The Taste of Chicago, and it also lists everything they are going to be offering. Being the planner person I am, I went through a made a list of the stuff that sounds good:

Bacino's Pizza - Stuffed Spinach Pizza
Banana Leaf - Curry Veg. Stir Fry 
BJ's Market & Bakery - Peach Cobbler
Carbon - Fire Roasted Veg. Taco
Chicago Sweet Connection Bakery - Eclairs
Chicago Joes - Cheesy Seasoned Fries
Churro Factory - Mini Churros
Chubby Bear - Mac & Cheese Bites
Eli's Cheesecake - Cheesecake
Franco's Risotorante - Lemon Ice
Guey Lon - Veg. Tempura
Harry Caray's - Toasted Cheese Ravioli
JR Dessert Bakery - Cheesecake
Lao Sze Chuan - Veg. Spring Roll
Lou Malnati's Pizza - Bruchetta
Manny's Cafe and Delictessen - Mac & Cheese
The Noodle Viet. Cuisine - Crab Rangoon
Polo Cafe & Catering - Garlic Mozz. Cheese Bread
Ricobene's - Breaded Eggplant Sandwich
Tuscany - Toasted Cheese Ravioli
Vienna Beef/ G.C. Dog - Pickle on a Stick

These are just "taste portion" foods (small portions), all the vendors are offering other choices in larger portions too.

Obviously, all of these are not exactly healthy, but oh man... so delicious. 


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blog Reboot, I'm a Chicago resident now!

Hello! *brushes dust off blog* Remember me? ... No? Well I don't blame you since I haven't written an entry in 38297102947 BAGILLION YEARS it seems (ok more like a few months, but still... ).

But I'm back now, that's all that matters right? Please forgive the fact that I abandoned you without any warning or assurance that I would be back anytime soon. I'll pay for the therapy if needed.

So, let me summarize what my past few months have been like (I will try and be brief):

End of March - Went apartment hunting in Chicago with BFF/Roommate Anna. It involved many feelings, some of which were anxiety, disappointment, anxiety, exhaustion, anxiety, rage, anxiety, hopelessness, anxiety, OMGWEGOTTHEAPARTMANT!, anxiety, omg how am I going to pack all my shit?!

April - I like to call this month "the month of denial". I spend most of it looking around at all my shit, hoping it would somehow pack itself into one magical bag that I could then easily carry. You know like the one Mary Poppins had? Yeah, I needed/still need one of those. Then the last couple weeks of April came, I realized I had done nothing, then cue me panicking and rushing to get everything done in the little time I had left.

May - We moved on the 4th. It was a big headache, and much advil was needed for not only headaches but also limbs that felt like they were going to fall off from all the lifting involved. But we managed and we got here.

Here are a couple before and after shots:

Before, the people who rented before us had this ridiculously huge couch for this small space.
After, with the help of IKEA we found some furniture that fit the space much better. 

Before, A bit of a mess...
After, still kinda messy, but at least we don't have a hooka just sitting out in plain sight.

Actually, those photos were taken shortly after we moved in as "process" photos, I just haven't bothered to take any new ones yet now that we have finished decorating for the time being. That will have to be another post. But I promise you, it looks much nicer now. 

So, May also included me stressing about getting a job and applying to every library and local retail place I could find with no luck. But silly me, I just thought "Oh surely I will get one next month!" 

June - There is a week and a half left in this month AND I AM STILL UNEMPLOYED. This is distressing to say the least. And it's not like I'm not applying to new places and making callbacks everyday either, I am, I'm trying, it's just a whole lot more competitive that I expected. Also, I must note, being home alone by oneself everyday for 2 months with only the cat to talk to, and nothing really productive to do, really makes a person go crazy slowly. Veeeery slowly.

BUT, this month Anna and I have been making better use of our weekends and have gone out to explore the city more. A couple weekends a go we went to the Chicago Blues Festival (Free!), where we saw a very amusing old man. He had a white beard, was wearing a baseball cap and fanny-pack, and was busting a move like no other. He literally did not care that no one else was dancing around him. I applaud you fanny-pack man. Gold star for you! This past weekend, Anna's mom and brother came to visit, and we took them to Lincoln Park Zoo (which is also free), we ate lunch at the fabulous Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders Co. (which is sadly not free, but reasonably priced! You can eat there for under $15, which is awesome for in the city.), then we headed over to check out Millennium Park (which IS free) and the famous "Bean" sculpture that Chicago is so well known for now.

Courtesy of Anna's Iphone

On Sunday we went to see "X-Men First Class" which was amazing and so full of epic bromancing that I didn't even know what to do with myself. I could fangirl all day about it, but I will save you from that. Then we headed up to Wrigley Field for the Cubs vs. Yankees game! Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am not into sports, and I really don't know much about the rules either. Honestly, I could really could care less, but out of all the sports out there Baseball is one of the ones that I can sit and watch and not want to stab out my eyeballs. So, It was actually enjoyable and fun, even though I had to ask a million annoying questions about things like why were players having secret talks? And why were some players wearing long pants while others rocking the tall socks with short pants look? Etc.

View from our seats courtesy of Anna's Brother's Iphone

So, I have been thinking what I should do next with this blog and I decided that I will keep posting memories and things related to Japan, but I would like to start posting more about cultural things that are going on in Chicago. Could be fun right? Anna and I are planning to go to "The Taste of Chicago" which is a big food festival that starts this weekend. It's pretty famous, and this will be both our first times going (though I have had to deal with 'Taste of Chicago' traffic while visiting friends in the past. UGH NIGHTMARE!). I plan on bringing my camera along to document everything that we eat, so that you all will become very hungry and jealous. Muhahahaha! We will also possibly be going more than one day (it lasts like 2 weeks) and it there is so much food there. So please look forward to hearing about that soon! 

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Conbini Song

When I was studying at Sophia a few of my friends were in this business class where they had to do this group video project. They raved about how this one group in the class made this awesome video tribute to conbini's. This is said video, I just now found it again and thought I'd share. The main guy in the start of the video was actually in my Japanese class, and his group always did hilarious dialogue skits. But I feel that it needs to be stated that he did come off a bit like a douche despite the awesome hilarity.

Friday, March 18, 2011

One week later.

As I am sure most of you know, Tokyo is in power saving mode now since there is a shortage of power (because of the nuclear situation), and I think it is taking a strain on everyone that I have talked to. Everyone knows that the blackouts are necessary, and that in order to keep things going the trains need to run less, but it is still understandably causing many headaches.

I want to show you some pictures of Shibuya, one of the parts of the city that is known for it's electrical day/night display of lights and jumbo TV screens. 



Having been to Shibuya on many occasions, seeing this picture is a little unsettling since I'm used to the bright lights of the Tokyo night-scene. It's almost like the life has been sucked out of Shibuya. 

I am beginning to feel like all the energy has been drained out of me as well. I'm not in Japan right now, but since last Friday I have been obsessively following Japanese news sources. Since western news sources have been either behind on the latest news, or so sensational that I get angry reading anything they have to say, I have been sticking mainly to Japanese sources. I feel especially sick of American news, focusing so much on the nuclear situation and forgetting about the people freezing and hungry left in those evacuation centers of the north. I guess it's all about what makes better news right? Makes me so ashamed.

I have not been sleeping well either. I have been staying up later than my usual bedtime in order to watch the live ustream of the morning/midday news in Japan each day (I usually go to bed around 12:30 but some nights I have been staying up till 2am). I mostly do it because I want to catch the live press conferences given by Edano (chief secretary), Prime Minster Kan, the safety dept., and TEPCO. Since there is so much chaos going on in the reporting, I just want to be as well informed as I possibly can. I have also been reading a lot of articles and sharing those on my facebook. I do that because I have people who I am friends with who don't know where to look for this kind of information, and also I want to provide for those who may jump to conclusions by what is just being reported by American media. I also have been following a few reliable twitter accounts. I think it is good not to trust one source 100%, even what the Japanese government saying. Just the other day Edano made a mistake in reporting a statistic during a press conference and had to be corrected. What I am saying basically is that it is good to compare many different sources instead of sticking to just one, this also keeps people from overacting and then panicking.

But being this news crazy has started to take it's toll on me. I check the news in the morning right when I get up, I check it many times through out the day, and then I watch the live ustream into the night. While it is good that I am on top of everything, I am bordering on crazy obsessed woman now. It is understandable that I want to know what is going on since I have my host family and many friends living in Tokyo, but I think I need to start cutting back. I am feeling mentally exhausted and I am not even there. I don't think I can really just ignore what is going on though, especially with the nuclear situation still being critical, so I am just going to start slowly cutting back at the obsessive checking through out the day.

Next week my friend Anna who I am moving to Chicago with is coming on Tuesday. Wednesday we are going to Chicago to stay with friends while we apartment hunt. We are really hoping to find something within a week because Anna has jury duty at the end of the month. So a much needed distraction is coming, but I will just be trading one headache for another really. Here is hoping we find a nice but cheap place. Cross your fingers!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Regarding the Tohoku earthquake.

I have been so emotionally exhausted these past 4 days it is unbelievable. I seem to have this routine now of waking up and immediately getting on to in order to check what is being reported on the Japanese news channels, and checking my mail for new emails from my host family and friends updating me on the situation.  I don't feel like typing it all out again, so here is an email I sent to my penpal (who lives in Gifu so she is fine) describing how I heard about the earthquake and reacted:

"I have also been carefully following the news. I was sleeping when I first heard about the earthquake. I listen to the radio while I sleep, and the DJ's reported the news on their morning show, I heard it hit Tokyo so I got up right away even though it was an hour earlier than I usually wake up at. Ironically, I wasn't sleeping good that night anyways.

I came downstairs and asked my father if he had heard anything about it on the news, since the radio didn't give much detail. He asked me what my friend's name is who is working in Japan, this really scared me because I thought she was being reported as hurt or dead or something, but no he just told me that she had called into the local news channel here to report on what was happening there. I don't think I have ever been so relieved in my life. (note: this friend happens to be Spooning with a Schoolboy author Caroline Josephine)

So I turned on the news and got on my computer. To be honest, I started crying right away as soon as I saw all the video clips and pictures on TV. I got in touch right away with my friend in Tokyo and talked with her for a while. I also sent emails to my host mother and sister's cellphones. I got a reply from my host mom within minutes which I was very grateful for, because at the time I didn't know if the Tokyo area had been seriously affected or not, so I was very worried about people's safety. She told me that she had not heard from my host sister but that the cellphones were having trouble working. But I did receive a reply from my host sister later in the day.

I thought about not going to work, because I was very emotionally distressed and I was hurrying to email some of my other friends and teachers there also, but I thought it would be better for me to work so that I would have some distraction through out the day. I work at a library as you know, and we were very busy... more than is usual, so it was very frustrating! I wanted to follow the news as it was happening and I was watching both twitter, BBC news, and some Japanese news sites trying to gather as much information. The more I learned the more heartbroken and shocked I became.

I know a guy who is working as an English teacher in Sendai at the MeySen Academy. We have never met face to face, but I am friends with him on facebook and we talk since he doesn't speak Japanese and doesn't know very much about the culture like I do. His mother works with my mom, and his father works with my best friend at a radio station. His parents were very worried because they had not heard from him, so they were asking me if I knew of any sites with streaming Japanese news in English. I thought this is the time I can really put my skills to use, so I tired to search for as much information as I could about where MeySen is located in Sendai and what was their condition if known. Well, their website was down and I didn't have very much luck finding anything until I got the idea to search twitter! That is when I found a tweet by a woman who also has a son teaching at the same school and she said that he was all right and that the children were all right, I figured the same must be of this person I know. So I showed the tweet to his parents and they were relieved. Also, a lot of my Japanese friends on facebook were posting statuses that they were okay during this time. I was also posting news and donation links on my facebook and twitter too, because I know that not everyone would be paying as close attention as I was so I wanted to spread the message. I think it is amazing how social networking sites can be used this way. I am glad I live in the era of the internet. I would have gone crazy without hearing from my host family, friends, and you so quickly.

In the afternoon my best friend who works for a radio station here asked me to do an interview on the phone for her radio station. I honestly felt very dumb doing it since I am not in Japan, and at first I actually refused because I didn't think I could talk about it without crying but she kept insisting that I do it so I agreed. Originally, she wanted our friend who is working in Japan to call but it was in the middle of the night in Japan at the time. I really don't know if the interview was very good, I just answered the questions as best I could, but they asked me things like what is the Sendai area like which I know nothing about. I let them know that earthquakes are common there (but not big ones like this one) and that as a student there I had to go through a earthquake training session. At the end I asked everyone to give to the redcross so if just one person donated because of my message then I guess it was not a waste of time.

By the end of my work shift I felt very very stressed. I was almost shaking, I felt so wired and worried about the whole situation. Even though I had heard back from most of the people I knew, it was still hard for me to process what was going on in the Tohoku region. Also they had started reporting about the nuclear plant by then, so that was a new problem.

When I got home I called my friend who was in the same study abroad program as me. We were very close there since we had 3 classes together. I had talked to her online since I left Japan, but this was the first time I called her on the phone. I was nice to hear her voice again, and we talked for about an hour about many things. It was nice to have someone who was in the same spot as me. We are here in America where all we can do is watch, and we are not sure if the news we are receiving is accurate or not. We also talked about other things to get our minds off it and that helped calm me I think. After I got off the phone with her and ate some dinner I got back online and started researching again. I discovered, and I started watching TBS news, NHK news, and Yokoso News a program that is normally just for fun cultural stuff but since the guy who does it speaks English he decided to report on the situation (using many news sources) in order to help foreigners in Japan and those outside Japan who may have family in Japan. Since I could only understand a little from the TBS and NHK reports (I used to be fairly good at listening to the news! I need to start studying again!) I found the Yokoso most helpful. I watched late into the night and drank some alcohol to take the edge off. I know this is bad, but I ended up taking some cold medicine (that makes you sleepy) before bed because I didn't think I could sleep well without it.

I am much more calm and reassured today because I feel more informed. I watched Yokoso news streaming when I got up till about 3 in the afternoon here (when the guy left for a sleep break because no new news was coming in. This was like 5am there.). I am now waiting for him to start streaming live again to see if there is any new news.

He talked about the intentional power blackouts (what we call them here) or "rolling blackouts" and when I emailed my host sister today I asked her if they were having them there in Tokyo, I am sure they are since the Nuclear plant is not working right now. He also talked about how much we should trust sources and what the government says, especially when it come to the Nuclear situation, because sometimes we get false information. I was glad to see he was encouraging people to use their own judgment and to check many different sources before believing anything. He is also sometimes funny, which was nice to relieve the heavy mood, so I think I will continue watching his reports.

Right now I am concerned about Minamisanriku, where 9,500 are reported missing still. That is such a large number it is unthinkable! I hope they find some of those people very soon.

The aftershocks are crazy too! It isn't normal to have this many is it? It is so strange what is going on geologically there. Nature is so scary sometimes."

So things have calmed down a bit from Friday, and I have been receiving regular email texts from my host sister Maki so that has been easing my mind. The damage though is just unimaginable to me. complete towns are wiped out, thousands are still missing, bodies are still being recovered, and rebuilding isn't going to be magically complete in a few weeks, months, even years I'm guessing.  This problem isn't easily solved so I hope people will keep thinking about Japan in the coming months when it no longer makes the nightly news and helping out any way they can.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Oni out, Happiness in.

Yesterday was the Lunar New Year, this is the year of the rabbit for those who don't know. From what I know the Japanese don’t really focus much on it since they celebrate the New Year on the 1st of January, however they do have a holiday that corresponds with the Lunar New Year called “Setsubun” (節分),otherwise known as the day of bean throwing. Basically in order to cleanse yourself of the evils of last year, and to keep away the new demons that will plague you this year (in order to ensure more good luck/happiness), you have beans thrown at you. Makes perfect sense right? This also marks the start of spring, according to Japan. Being from Michigan I’m used to it not being spring until April. Though, I was in Japan for Setsubun last year, and it snowed that day, so Mother Nature is never very accurate when it comes to these things. 
 My host family had an antique mask of just like the white one on the bottom left that appeared hanging in the doorway shortly after New Years. I didn't realize what it was supposed to represent until after I started reading up on Setsubun, it actually is supposed to be the God of happiness.
People will go to shrines and temples for this ritual but it can also be performed at home. My experience was watching my Otousan (host father) get pelted with beans by my Okaasan (host mother). My Otousan had come home from working, and before entering the house he had to be “purified”. My Okaasan invited me to come watch, and I found the whole thing hilarious and a little strange. At the time I didn’t know what I was being called for or why, so you can understand. The whole time my Otousan looked like he was trying not to burst out laughing, and I think my Okaasan was having way too much fun with it. I was a little embarrassed for him, but it is nice when people don’t take things too seriously.
It was also around this time last year that I was preparing to return home. CIEE students were to move out of our host families homes by the 3rd, either to return home or find other accommodations. I had made my plane ticket for the 6th in order to give myself a few extra days. I sure my host family wouldn’t have minded me staying a few more days, but I had wanted to spend some time with my friend Caroline of “Spooning with a Schoolboy” before I left. So I decided that I would leave my luggage at my host family’s house, and go spend a couple nights with Caroline. Caroline and I went to college together here in the states, and I consider her one of my very close friends. We didn’t get to see each other as much as we would have liked while I was there (maybe a couple times a month?), because she is a busy English teacher, but it was nice spend some time with here before I left. She still had to work during the day, so I was by myself a lot of the time I was there, but I didn’t mind because I need some time to myself. Most people would want to spend every last minute they had in Tokyo running around to their favorite parts of the city. But not I, I had gone out with my friends to say our goodbyes to each other and the city already. By that point I was ready to detach myself. I had already had three break downs that week about having to leave. My worst was when I was packing and had to fight for 2 hours with the zippers on my suitcase to close. Yeah, that was a low moment. So, I welcomed being shut up in a room to just escape the fact that I would soon be leaving. I think I spent most of the time marathoning the TV show “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”. This is how I deal with most of the problems in my life, tv show/movie marathons. It works for me.
  Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo
I returned to my host family’s house on the 6th so that my host sister Maki and my Okaasan could take me to the airport (my Otousan had to work). It felt weird coming back home after spending a few nights at Caroline’s, this resulted in ANOTHER crying breakdown in the bathroom shortly after I got there. It was hard to say goodbye to my Otousan, the family pets, even the house. We all sat for some group pictures before we left. My flight was for 7pm, so I think we left around 3pm? We drove to the airport because of my luggage, but we had to stop at the eki (train station) so that I could get a refund on my suika card (Train pass used mostly for JR lines. You can put money on the card and then you don’t have to worry about buying a ticket every time.) I had about 1000yen left on the card, and I needed that money for dinner at the airport since I was broke. I was sad that I exchanged it though because they kept my card and I would have liked to keep it. We took the toll road to the airport, which was like super freaking expensive, and I felt bad about asking them to take me after realizing that they had to pay like 700yen (about $8.50) every stop! I’m used to tolls being like 80cents a stop. But it was cool to get to drive over the famous Rainbow Bridge again and look back at the city skyline before leaving. It felt like I had come full circle, since on my second day in Japan we (CIEE group) drove over the bridge in our big bus. We made it to the airport on time though. I checked in my luggage to find that I was over the weight limit by like 6 pounds! So cue me freaking out and having to have my host sister pay for me to mail a box of stuff home. I felt horrible because it was 4000yen and they wouldn’t accept credit cards, so she ended up paying for it for me (T__T). I bought a few Abercrombie and Finch shirts for her over here and mailed them to her in exchange, since they jack up the prices a ton in Japan. After that crisis was dealt with, we decided to have dinner together before they left. It was mostly my Okaasan noticing that there was a McDonalds there and really craving a chicken sandwich :D. I offered to pay for my own but Maki insisted on paying. We said our goodbyes in front of security, and I was very proud of myself for not crying again (though I was on the verge trust me). Since I had 1000yen to spare I spent it on a fashion magazine (ViVi) for some reading material, and chocolate, the cure all of cure alls. I however have the worst luck ever at airports, because as I was going to board the plane I thought I lost my passport. Cue freak out number two! But all was well because I found it under the seat I was sitting at. I also do not do good on long flights, I don’t sleep well and I always feel sick by the end of it. But it was nice to be greeted by my parents and my best friend when I landed in Chicago.
So this Sunday it really will be a year since I left Japan, and I think I’m ok with that. I still have bad days, but I’m moving on, and I think it helps that I know that I will be going back next year for a vacation. The best advice I can give to returnees is just to take it one day at a time, and try not to get sucked into that loop of constantly feeling bad for yourself. This year I’m hoping to keep my demons out and happiness in.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My experience of earthquakes and typhoons in Japan.

Reasons I have not posted in a while:

1)   I was busy writing a long guest post for Caroline of “Spooning with a Schoolboy” on Vegetarianism in Japan (which will be published within the next few weeks I’m guessing).
2)   I then got sick with the cold from hell.
3)   Um… Snowapocalypse 2011? No, in fact I have just been lazy about it.

But speaking of the Snowapoclypse, it was very underwhelming for me. For those who don’t know, I live in the Southwestern part of Michigan. We get a lot of snow here, and have already had 2 blizzards this winter, so I'm used to this okay. This blizzard however was supposed to be THE BIG ONE.  You know, like the one back in 65 (according to my father) where snow drifts are a big as houses, and 30 inches of snow fall. Yeah, well we did get drifts but they are not as big as houses, and we only got like a foot of snow, so I am unimpressed. Though a ton of places are closed today even though the roads don’t seem to be terrible and it has stopped snowing and the sun is shining.

This hysteria and disappointment remind me of when we would experience typhoons (everyone called them tsunamis, but tsunamis happen on water... like big crushing wave, storm on land is a typhoon/hurricane so I will be referring to them the proper way) and earthquakes in Japan. Since I live in Michigan I had experienced neither of these forces of nature before. During our orientation period, CIEE took us to Ikebukuro’s Honjo Bosaikan (Life Safety Learning Center) where we were required to crawl through a smoke maze,  learn how to us a fire extinguisher (while shouting “KAJI DA!” much to our own amusements) , sit in a earthquake simulator room, and watch an educational film about earthquakes in Japan and how the next “BIG ONE” for Tokyo is just around the corner.  In all seriousness though, when that “big one” does hit, it could be pretty catastrophic so it is scary. 

I only recall experiencing three earthquakes while I was in Japan. The first of which I actually slept straight through without feeling a thing. It was only in the morning at breakfast when my Okaasan asked if the earthquake had scared me in the night that I even knew we had one. Maggie, the other student living with us, also slept through it. Okaasan said that she jumped up when it happened and wanted to come see if we were ok (since it was our first) but that Otousan told her we were fine and not to worry, so she looked out the window to see if the lights in our windows were on, which they weren’t, so she figured we were all right. Bless her. The second earthquake happened while I was in my Japanese class, and I thought at the time that my friend Tom (who sat behind me) was shaking his foot on my chair to be annoying. It wasn’t until after class when he asked if we had felt the earthquake that I realized it wasn’t him. Sorry Tom. The last earthquake I remember happened in the night, and I remember feeling the shaking in my dream, then waking up and realizing that everything REALLY WAS shaking! But I was so sleepy, I just thought, “Oh, it’s an earthquake”, and went right back to sleep. So much for being concerned about my own safety. Earthquakes just weren’t as scary as I thought they would be.

We had two typhoons hit while I was there, and the first was actually so bad that they canceled classes. It really wasn’t too bad, just a lot of strong winds and heavy rain, but that makes terrible conditions for the trains to run so most of them shut down (except subway, but all my trains were above ground). I remember the typhoon had hit during the night, and it passed before noon the next day. I had to wait for a text message from CIEE saying if we would have classes or not in the morning. Oh did I ever pray to the Kamisama for that text message. I sat watching the news on TV about how so many JR lines had shut down, and my Okaasan even told me I didn’t have to go, so I was already planning on skipping but it was nice to get the confirmation that it was ok. Even if we DID still have class I wouldn’t have been able to get there because two of my train lines shut down. But I heard that a couple of my classmates actually did end up going to class without knowing, and then got stranded because the trains lines shut down after. The weather was GORGEOUS after the storm passed. Really blue skies and sunshine. So Maggie and I went to explore a town on one of the stops along our line called Noborito with our friend Erika who also lived along that train line. Only the train times were all screwed up, and some were only going in one direction, so it took us a little longer to get there even though it’s only like a 10 minute train ride away. The second typhoon that hit barely even touched us. I think it had actually stayed more off land, so really there was only some heavy rain and winds but not enough to seriously disrupt things.

I mostly think people just enjoy the thrill of freaking out when it comes to mother nature.