The Day That Changed Joplin Forever

On Sunday May 22, 2011 an EF5 multivortex tornado ripped through the heart of Joplin, MO, killing 155 people, making it the deadliest tornado in the United States since 1947.

Shortly before 10pm Saturday night, my friend Chris called me to meet him and his friend Andrew at a bar in Joplin. We spent the night drinking and hanging out until the early hours of the morning when Chris and I returned to his house and fell asleep while watching Death at a Funeral. We spent most of the day Sunday sleeping off the alcohol until a little before 4:30pm, when I decided to leave to go pick my daughter up from her dad. Chris got up to start to get ready to go to work at 6. I said goodbye to him, walked out the front door and thought "Wow, it looks really weird outside." The sky was tinted a bright yellow and the air was extremely humid and thick.

I got in my car and listened to the weather updates on the radio. They were warning of bad storms heading towards the area. Joplin is is tornado alley... we get tornado warnings all the time during the summer and, sadly, no one really takes them seriously. I drove across Joplin to a mutual friend of myself and my daughter's dads house. He was babysitting their two children while they ran to Galena, KS to pick something up. We heard thunder rumbling in the distance and rain had begun to sprinkle down. I hung out with my daughter's dad for a while, in no hurry to leave, and figured if worst came to worse, I would ride out the "storm" over there. Finally, I thought to myself, "You know, maybe I should take her home, just in case" so her dad helped me pack her stuff in the car and we drove home.

I stopped at Taco Bell on the way home to get some dinner, completely unaware of what was happening only a few miles away. I pulled in my driveway and my dad was waiting by the door, waving his arms. I calmly gathered my keys and cellphone and walked around the side of the car to get my daughter out. My dad came running towards me, yelling at me that there was a tornado and we needed to get in the basement. "Well I can't exactly rip her out of the car in her carseat" I snapped at him, annoyed at what I assumed was a complete overreaction on his part. On the way down to the basement, my dad told me that they were watching the news and saw a huge tornado touch down live on TV. They saw an explosion, heard everyone in the news station screaming, then they went off the air.

We knew that a tornado had hit Joplin. We knew that there was damage to one of the hospitals, St. John's. The hospital that, exactly a month before, I was having an emergency appendectomy in. The hospital my daughter was born in. But we had no idea how bad it was.

My daughter's dad called me later that night to make sure we were okay and told me they were driving around Joplin. "St. John's was hit bad," he told me. "Joplin High School is gone." My first thought was "Crap, I might not have a daycare anymore." My daughter's daycare was right down the street from JHS.

The next morning, I called the daycare. I still didn't know the extent of the damage in Joplin and I thought there was a chance they were still open. No answer. I called into work and told them I wouldn't be there because I had no one to watch my daughter. I decided to take a drive. I had to see what had happened. I drove down 20th St from the town of Duquesne towards Joplin. As I drove, I saw some debris littering people's yards. A few small trees on the ground. Some siding and shingles ripped off a couple houses. "This isn't that bad," I thought. Just then, I came over the top of a hill and I saw it. I will never forget that moment. Everything was gone. As far as the eye can see, I saw piles of rubble where houses stood. Trees were completely stripped of their bark and thrown across the streets. Power lines were down all over the place. Vehicles were thrown like toy cars all over the place. I could see from one end of Joplin to the other. There was nothing. All I could do was cover my mouth with my hand, say "Oh my god" over and over and cry.

This was the road I drove down every single day to take my daughter to daycare and I couldn't even tell where I was. Every visual marker that you get used to seeing every day was gone. The gas station I used to stop at in the mornings before school was nothing more than a pile of twisted metal. There were crumpled cars flipped upside down on top of it.

Police were directing traffic from 20th Street down a side street that went behind one of the Joplin Walmarts, which was completely leveled. There were still people trapped inside... both alive and dead. I finally made it to Range Line Road, one of the main streets that goes through Joplin. It was so surreal. Cop cars and ambulances lined the streets. Families were wandering around, their lives packed up in trash bags and backpacks, just trying to find somewhere to go because they had lost everything. Seeing pictures and video of the aftermath is one thing. Nothing can prepare you for seeing something like that.

I really don't know how to end this entry. I guess I just wanted to tell my story about what I saw. It's been a month but it still weighs heavy on my heart every single day. I was extremely lucky that I wasn't majorly effected by the tornado. But it's a day I will never forget. And I know no one around here will ever forget where they were on that day. We will always be bonded together by this. It's sad that it took something like this, but I have definitely seen it bring us together.

(no subject)

So, Christmas didn't suck as much as I thought it would. Woke up, opened presents with Bryanna and my parents, went to E's house and ate breakfast with him, his brother's family and his mom and stepdad. Then we both went back to my parent's house and had lunch and finally, we went to E's best friend's house and hung out all night. E bought me a beautiful diamond necklace... love it.

New Years was pretty good, too. Went to E's same friend's mom's house and played games all night until midnight, when his dad shot off a couple fireworks. At about 12:15 E drove my drunk ass home (I had about 7 margaritas and a shot of melon something) and we were done for the night.

(no subject)

I hate Christmas so much.

I went out to do my Christmas shopping yesterday. Got my mom a gift card to a clothing store that she buys clothes from a lot. Bought my dad 2 wii games (my mom got him a wii for his birthday in October). E wears baseball caps all the time so I got him 2 hats. I kept asking him what the hell he wants for Christmas and all he would say was "All I want is you, baby." THAT DOESN'T HELP ME ONE DAMN BIT. So he said that if I got him anything, all he really wants is a hat. But now I feel dumb because on Christmas morning, all I have to give him is 2 stupid hats so I'm trying to think of stuff I can cram into a stocking with the hats or something.

SEE THIS IS WHY I HATE CHRISTMAS. Then I woke up this morning all depressed because I spent over $300 yesterday... which for a single mom who works as a waitress part time is a lot. A little over $100 was clothes I bought for myself, which makes me feel worse, but really it was stuff that I needed, like a winter coat because I don't have one at all.

Christmas would be great if I didn't have to buy stuff.

(no subject)

Well, hi. I just took some Nyquil so hopefully I can finish this entry before I pass the hell out. So whats been going on with me? Welllll...

I never posted about this because really, I knew it was a HORRIBLE FUCKING IDEA, but back in February, I got back together with Bobby. He said he had gone to anger management and changed and blah blah blah. So I gave it a shot. To give him some credit, things were a little better, but considering how horrible it was before, that's not really saying much. Long story short, in the beginning of October, I finally got up the courage to break things off with him once and for all. I just wasn't happy. I didn't feel loved, he still couldn't keep a job, he was completely irresponsible financially and I just couldn't see a future with him. We still get along pretty well and he sees Bryanna fairly regularly so I'm happy about that...

Shortly after I broke up with Bobby, I started dating E. I could go on and on about how amazing E is... but I'll just say that he makes me really really happy and leave it at that.

I graduated in September and got both my NCPT (phlebotomy) and RMA (medical assistant) certifications. Still can't find a job and have pretty much given up and convinced myself I wasted 7 months in school for nothing. Oh well.

Bryanna turned 2 in September. She's doing fantastic. Talking a lot... likes to think she can boss me around. Normal 2 year old stuff I guess.

That's pretty much my recent life in a nutshell.

(no subject)

Yesterday there was a job fair in "the city" and I heard the two large local hospitals would be there. "This is my chance!" I though. Fresh out of school, with all the knowledge I need, waiting for someone to snatch me up. I went out and bought some new dress pants (which made my ass look fabulous, btw) and shirt. After work, I changed in the employee bathroom... I even wore heels. HEELS. It is very rare you will ever see me without my flip flops on so this was serious business. I looked fantastic, even getting a whistle from one of my coworkers when I exited the bathroom.

I drove to the job fair and marched in the building armed with resumes that I even printed on fancy resume paper. I spotted the booth for one of the hospitals and got in line.

20 minutes later it was my turn! I stepped confidently up to the recruiter lady, handed her my awesome resume and went into my speech about recently graduating from the medical assistant program, having my phlebotomy certification and even the fact that I had just completed my externship at the occupational clinic, which is a part of the hospital system. I mean, shit, I already have the hospital name badge so I'm pretty much already an employee, right? Just hire me!

Recruiter: HAVE YOU VISITED OUR WEBSITE YET? *smile smile*
Me: Yes, I have. I've applied for about 15 jobs on there in the past month.

... Oh, ok. Thanks.

(no subject)

My externships going good.

I still feel pretty awkward. Like I'm an inconvenience to them... which I probably am. The coordinator wrote me into the schedule as "student" like I don't have a name. I clean and stock things between patients and I always ask "is there anything I can do for you guys?" and they're just like "ummm... let me see..." and then they just kind of trail off and walk away. So I'm scared they're going to give me a bad evaluation because I just end up sitting there "studying" a lot.

Oh well. I've gotten to see some cool stuff though. I really like when we get traumas. I've seen a chainsaw to the leg and hands that have been crushed in machines and stuff. I also do TB tests and give injections and I think I like jabbing people with needles more than I should.

(no subject)

I hate people who act like know-it-alls all the time. Shut your face. No one likes you. And you're a slut. I don't like you. And you took some of my M&Ms. I hope you get fat again just for that.

Anywho, we got our externship sites at school... finally. I'm being sent to the occupational medicine clinic. They basically do employment physicals, drug/alcohol testing, TB testing, vaccines and stuff like that. I'm excited, but so so nervous. I have to meet with the externship coordinator tomorrow, then I have the hospital's orientation next Thursday. Then I start July 6!

I'm just thankful I didn't get stuck some place where I have to hear "OMG LITTLE BILLY HAS THE SNIFFLES I THINK HE IS DYING" all day long. Hopefully I'll just get to poke some people, get some pee from them, and send them on their merry way. That'd be awesome.

(no subject)

Ok so... my computer completely died like, forever ago. I used my phone for the internet but I have a touch screen and typing long entries out were hella annoying because I have fat fingers and I would end up with about 5 letters every time I tried to smash one key. So I haven't posted in a while. But we're good now.

I've lost about 40 lbs since January and am looking mighty fine if I do say so myself. Still working on it, but am extremely happy with the progress I've made. Still going to school and still kicking ass. I'm pretty much a genius. Start my externship in July and graduate in September, which is exciting. Bryanna is growing way too fast. She'll be 2 in September and that child is an ornery little turd. I've taught her to take my trash and throw it away for me so I don't have to get my ass off the couch. Now if she'd just get tall enough to reach the refrigerator to get me drinks, I'd be set.

(no subject)

You know when suddenly you become aware of your breathing? And it's like your body forgets how to breathe involuntarily and it's all you can think about? We were learning about respiration in class today and the whole time I was like "Oh shit, I forgot how to breathe. I'm going to die." I hate that.

I started school almost a month ago. It's pretty awesome so far and I'm kinda kicking ass. NGL, I'm like one of the smartest ones in class. Ok, there's only 12 people in the whole program and most of them are older and have been out of school for like 20 years... Oh well. I like that I'm almost 24 years old and I get excited when the teacher gives us gold stars if we get an A on a test. I put them in my notebook.

I got all gung ho about losing weight and getting healthy in the beginning of January. I've lost about 18 lbs so far... but once I started school, I got lazy and started eating like a fatass again. I've actually lost about 2-3 lbs since starting school, so that's pretty good.

Also, I have a new obsession. The guy that fills the soda machines at school- aka the Pepsi Man. He's a big boy but he's cute as hell. I need a big boy in my life. Every guy I've dated has been like half my size and I'm afraid I'm going to break them. Next time he comes in I'm going to try to get a picture of him all stealth-like. Is that creepy? Probably. Him in his little shorts. Mmmm...

(no subject)

I wish I could just crawl into a hole and never have to do anything for the rest of my life. Seriously. Life is hard... and I'm not even doing that much with it. I have million freaking forms I have to fill out for various things. I start school and Bryanna starts daycare on February 1. I have to deal with child support people because Bobby's a worthless sack of crap and hasn't paid one penny in the past 6 months since he was supposed to start paying. I went back to work this past Saturday. I know it doesn't sound like a lot, but I just feel pretty overwhelmed right now.

I had a dream that I was dating Paulie from Jersey Shore last night. But I thought he was ugly because his hair was all deflated. Then I went to the mall today to look for some shoes and ended up buying some fancy heels. I've never owned a pair of heels in my life. After trying them on, I can see many tragic accidents in my future.