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Rattled by the hurricane jitters

I love days off from school as much as anybody, but this is not fun anymore. When the first hurricane came through several weeks ago, it messed up my weekend. I was told I was being selfish for thinking about my plans only. It was true, but I still had plans, and my weekend was trashed because of all my family's preparations and worrying, all caused by Hurricane Charley.

Please don't misunderstand my anger and frustration. I am grateful the hurricane did not directly hit our area. But I am shortsighted. All I could see after the fact was that I had missed some school and basically gained nothing by it. I didn't even get to hang out with my friends. Worse yet, I probably will have to make up the school days I missed, and that really isn't fair.

Then the second hurricane came through and I thought everyone was sort of overreacting after the first false alarm. As the forecasts continued to be broadcast, I grew more and more scared, but I didn't want anyone to see my fears. The people in my family were tense and expected me to just stay out of the way, be understanding and help more. Now, tell me how I was supposed to know how to do all of those things? Most of the time, I decided to do nothing. Trust me, that was absolutely the wrong decision.

We sat all weekend, waiting and watching the National Weather Service Web site and all the local news stations trying to outguess the weather experts as they all tracked Frances. We yelled at each other, played cards, watched all the movies we had rented, ate too much and tried to decide what to do if the storm hit us.

The rains came, and the winds blew. Tree limbs broke off, and some power lines snapped. We did not lose power, but many of my friends did and they had to go to hotels or relatives' homes. I couldn't instant message my friends because we lost cable; I thought that was bad enough, but I guess it was nothing. I just felt isolated.

Frances left debris and floodwater all over our area. The cleanup was a mess, but nothing like the damage elsewhere that I saw on television. I thought to myself _ spared again!

Then Ivan _ this time I knew we were going to get it. I was afraid. School was closed again. I felt paralyzed, but I was silent. It had been a mere month since the first hurricane, and the only coverage on television was about hurricanes. The entire country was obsessed with the weather, and we were living through it. I tried to sleep, but the noise from the TV pierced my ears.

I didn't want to go to school, even though I wanted to see my friends. I didn't want to spend another weekend with stressed parents and adults who talked without stopping about things beyond their control. I needed some fun. But there was no fun. "Ivan, go away," signs were everywhere. But Ivan didn't seem to be going away until it took a turn for North Florida and other states.

Hooray, some said, but I said NO! There is no hooray here. There is no relief just because it missed us and went elsewhere. I am still afraid. I have never seen this many hurricanes in such a short time. What's happening to our weather? Is this a trend? Another hurricane may be on the way.

I'm afraid. This is not self-centered or all about me. This is now about all of us. We are NOT in control, are we?

IT! (Private thoughts of the Indomitable Teen) is written by Cecilia Tucker under the editorial guidance of a panel of teenagers (in exchange for pizza and volunteer hours). Tucker is a licensed marriage and family therapist at the Counseling Center for New Direction in Seminole. Comments are welcome. You may write c/o: IT!, Xpress, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or e-mail Floridiansptimes.com. If you are interested in being on the teen editorial panel, please contact Cecilia Tucker at revceciliamsn.com.

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