Friday, September 7, 2012


People lie to you, things sometimes end up not being what they seem, weather forecasts can be the complete opposite of what actually happens, but there are some things that are constant throughout your life.  The sun will burn you, Doritos are delicious, and the Earth will always be solid beneath your feet.  Last night, however, one of these universal, irrevocable truths fell prey to the plasticity of the universe:  I felt my first earthquake.

I grew up in Wisconsin where earthquakes were as threatening as volcanoes and dinosaurs.  I took a geology class in college where I learned about earthquakes and my teacher told us that “the big one” is, in fact, real and that it will, in fact, happen at some point.  She said something along the lines of, “People that live near the fault line are foolish, because the earthquake will hit and it will be very big.”

So here I am, nestled comfortably between the San AndreasFault and the ocean, basically asking to be severed from the continental United States and float into the Pacific Ocean towards the trash islands and sea monsters.  Every time I ride the subway or drive on an overpass, images of the 1994 earthquake flash through my head.

Since moving here and realizing that an earthquake is an inevitability, I now have a ideal earthquake scenario.  First of all, my dog has to be safely secured within my car in an open parking lot in the middle of a field without any trees or buildings nearby.  Secondly, I want to be in the middle of said field, lying on the grass facedown with my arms spread wide open.  That’s when I want the earthquake to hit.  A big one.  Like an 8 or a 9.  I want to essentially hug the earth as it tries to shake me off like a wet dog.  I imagine the power you would feel coming from the ground would be wicked awesome, bro.

But, of course, none of that shit has happened.  There have been three or four earthquakes during my short tenure in California and I’ve managed to sleep through every one of them.  My facebook feed becomes clogged with earthquake-related updates every time one hits, leaving me feeling left out and dejected.

So there I was, sitting on my girlfriend’s couch with a vodka drink in one hand and a bag of Skittles in the other when it started to feel like the downstairs neighbors were having a ten-person wrestling match.  It continued this way for another few seconds before I noticed the leaves on the plant shaking and I looked at her and said, “Is this a fucking earthquake?” 


A strange mix of excitement and fear pulsed through me.  My first thought was, “If this gets worse, I have to run home to make sure my dog is okay.” 

“You should be worried about your girlfriend!” you might be saying.  My dog is a fucking idiot that will die the second she is in control of her own fate.  My girlfriend is a smart, capable woman that can take care of herself.  Maybe it’s just the feminist in me that leads me to abandon my girlfriend in the face of a natural disaster.

Maybe this is just a foreshock.  Maybe this is just a precursor to a giant quake that will toss buildings into the air and make waves throughout the streets like someone shaking out a rug.  Plenty of thoughts ran through my head that ended up being misguided and, possibly, stupid.  All that actually happened was the plant shook a bit, the couch felt like it was swaying side to side, my heart rate increased, and then it was over.  I didn’t even spill my drink (thankfully).  The quake ended up being a 3.5 which means nothing to me since I don’t really understand the Richter scale.  I know that once you get over 5, shit gets real.  I think.  I don’t know.

But I do know that there was an earthquake in the same area less than a week ago.  And I know that earthquakes happening close to each other are not a good sign.  A couple weeks ago there was an “earthquake swarm” outside of San Diego that produced over 300 earthquakes in a day.  300.  In one day.  Holy fucking shit.  That’s insane.  You might as well jump off a building at that point because sooner or later the earth is going to open up in your neighborhood and little demons will pop out and eat you alive.  I’m no scientist but I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.

So now my earthquake-cherry has been popped.  It’s just as scary as I had imagined, and it wasn’t even a big one.  I now have no faith in myself to handle a large earthquake with class and poise.  I hope I am home alone if the big one hits (if I’m not in the middle of a field with my dog in the car) because I’ll probably cry a lot, scream, and pass out.  That’s not really a side of myself that I’d like other people to see.

1 comment: