The Earth Moves

18 04 2008

I had to call my dad and see how they fared during an earthquake over in Illinois this morning.

The irony does not escape me.

God willing he will not be calling me to ask about tornadoes any time soon. Or, you know, ever.

People I meet on the internets seem to think all of California participates in regular, deadly earthquakes. This was pretty much my view on San Fransico as a child, actually, so I understand it, but it’s so untrue. I find it funny*, actually, that they will brave tornadoes without a blink, but the idea of an earthquake sends shivers down their spines.

One day last summer, my friend Anna called me and told me she had pulled off the road into a safe building to wait out a tornado and could I please distract her by telling her all about earthquakes? I didn’t have a lot to say, really. For one thing, it seems most hit while I’m asleep. I thought maybe I was just tripping in saying so, but Elaine** recently confirmed it and, well, Elaine is never wrong.***

Anyway, I have since considered writing a complete list of all the memories I have of earthquakes, but have been afraid of tempting karma. Because for all I am not afraid of living here in general, I am not fond of the idea of the earth not being solid under my feet. Especially not while I am living here in all it’s 3+ years of termite damage.

So, with a reminder to karma that I completely understand the terrible power of the tectonic plates, I figured now was a good enough time to discuss this.

My earliest memory was of sitting on my couch in our home in Paradise Hills with my mom. The house was neat and clean so it must have been early in my life. I was terrified. I had no idea what was happening and I’m not even sure I was much aware of the concept of earthquakes before that. I imagine it must have lasted about 15 seconds and if I had to guess, I’d think it felt like the couch was rocking.

I have another memory of my mom telling someone it felt like the cement slab in the back yard was rolling waves like the ocean. I am not sure if my memory of this one is completely wiped out, or if this is part of the previous memory and she was not on the couch with me at the time the quake hit.

When I was in about 3rd or 4th grade, we had two nights in a row around the same time in the evening when an earthquake struck. But I didn’t feel eaither of those as I was driving up a pothole-riddled dirt road in Lakeside but nights.

The big Frisco quake hit when I was in 6th grade, but, of course, I didn’t feel that one, either. I do remember hearing it on the evening news and waking my mom because her friend had recently moved to the area. After this one, I was terrified to go over or under bridges of any sort for years.

During one summer when I was in junior high, I woke early in the morning at my friend’s house to her bed rocking side to side. She didn’t stir. I forumlated a plan for the next few days of what I would do if an aftershock were to hit while I was in the shower. It never did.

The next one I remember was in January of 1994. That was, of course, the Northridge Quake. I had that Monday off school for a holiday so I had stayed up late to watch the world premiere of Disarm on 120 Minutes. (Remind me to tell you how I had to press one to talk to a sexy girl). Early that morning, I felt the bed shift as though one of the cats had come to snuggle. No one was there. I didn’t think of it again until I woke and saw the news.

I don’t remember any more until I was an adult and living with the then-boyfriend. He was working graveyard shift at the time so I was alone – in fact this is the only one I have ever been alone for to date. It woke me at night, but I don’t remember anything else about it.

There was one while I was pregnant with M just over six years ago now. I worked on the 8th floor at the time and just felt an odd shift. No one else felt it and it wasn’t until we heard the news later did we realize it was, in fact, a quake.

When M was a baby we were sitting in the living room of our upstairs apartment when I heard bang and felt a jolt. I’d never experienced a quake so short so I jumped up to find the truck that had crashed into the apartment building. There was none, of course.

At some point during M’s toddlerhood we were out in Alpine at her doctor appointment and recieved a phone call from the husband asking if we’d felt it. We hadn’t.

And… that’s all I can think of off the top of my head. In my entire lifetime there have been two devastating earthquakes in California. How many devastating tornados have there been in Tornado Alley? Point proven.

Karma: please don’t hurt me!

*Not ha-ha funny.
**Woohoo! Two Elaine-references this week!
***Not confirmed scientifically.




4 responses

18 04 2008

More irony: The Husband’s cousin moved to Illinois because his wife is scared of earthquakes. (Also of flying, so I’ve never actually met her.)

19 04 2008


FTR, Minnesota isn’t really in “tornado alley” but I’ve lived here all my life and through some nasty tornados but no one I know has ever been hurt in a tornado either. The nice thing about tornados is that you (usually) know they’re coming so you can avoid doing things like climbing up on your roof or whatever. The thing that scares me about earthquakes is the unpredictability and that the come on so suddenly. So there. 😛

I will give you that earthquakes are over MUCH faster than tornados though… I hate waiting out tornados.

20 04 2008

I’m starting to feel like a special guest here.

And what are you talking about? My methods are TOTALLY scientific.

21 04 2008

I’ve never felt an earthquake (but we do have hurricanes here!) BUT I totally remember watching the world premiere of Disarm. Ha.

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