Oklahomans have to put up with a lot.
Some of our problems, of course, are self-inflicted — we drink too much, we are too fat, we smoke too much, we suffer an inordinate amount from diabetes and cancer, too many of our kids are poor, we have a high infant mortality rate, too many of us don’t have health insurance, we don’t exercise enough and we die far too young.
Then there’s the fact we don’t spend enough on education, roads or prisons — which is not helped, certainly, by our looming near-million dollar budget shortfall.
We suffer through the oil patch cycle of boom and bust, often to extremes.
One day we’re rolling in dough, the next we’re rolling out of town with creditors in our wake. Empires rise and fall based on the price of West Texas Intermediate Crude.
Some of our woes, of course, are natural.
We are subject to grass fires that scorch acres of land and woods, burn houses and kill people nearly every year.
When I was a kid traveling from Michigan to Oklahoma to visit relatives in Pawnee, we were cruising down the Will Rogers Turnpike when I spotted a sign reading “Do not drive into smoke.”
This puzzled me. Was this a frequent problem?
Of course, our car was nearly always filled with smoke from my mother’s ever-present cigarettes, so I wasn’t too concerned about it.
But I came to learn the smoke from grass fires or controlled burns can cause havoc on the highway.
Then, of course, our weather stinks a good deal of the time.
My first year of college we had one April day when the high temperature was 103.
That same spring I was in my dorm room one weekend afternoon (diligently studying, undoubtedly) when the tornado sirens sounded.
A voice over the intercom ordered us to file quickly and safely to the basement of the building.
Instead I stood at my window straining to get a look at the storm.
That was when I knew I had become an Oklahoman.
Just three short years later my bride, who is a native Kansan, stood beside me outside our apartment building watching a storm churn and boil until it dropped a deadly black tail that began plucking the roofs from nearby buildings. Only then did we seek shelter.
I remember one February playing golf in near 80-degree weather in February, then driving in sleet just a day or two later.
Often it is so dry the grass crunches underfoot like scattered popcorn, but just let a rainstorm camp over us for a few hours and we’re filling sandbags.
Winter brings it all — ice, snow, sleet and teeth-chattering cold. Summer is hot, hotter and hottest.
Spring and fall bring pollen and dust, clogging our nasal passages and making us miserable.
And then the earth moves, and not in a good way.
Oklahoma now is to earthquakes what “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is to movie ticket sales — the pinnacle.
As of the middle of Thursday afternoon, Oklahoma had recorded 30 earthquakes since midnight.
Late Wednesday night quakes measuring 4.4 and 4.8 delivered a one-two punch near Fairview just a couple of minutes apart.
Today the selfsame Oklahomans who go outside to look for a tornado when the sirens sound, feel cheated when they don’t feel the most recent earthquake.
My bride didn’t feel the twin shakers Wednesday night, but I did.
I was lying on the couch and thought one of our cats was sharpening his claws on it, but soon realized the felines were not to blame.
So what is to blame? Fracking or at least wastewater disposal wells associated with same seems the most likely culprit, but there are those that disagree.
Whatever’s the cause, something needs to be done lest a movement begin to change the state song from “Oklahoma!” to either Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move,” or “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” made famous by Jerry Lee Lewis, or perhaps “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift, or maybe “Shake It Up” by The Cars.
But on the positive side, we have great people, a relatively low cost of living, some of the most spectacular sunsets on the planet and some exquisite spring and fall days.
Oh, and football. There’s always football, recent results excepted, of course.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 548-8145.