Her Ladyship

Notes from the gutter.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Am I going crazy?

Don't be so quick to answer that. Last night, I had a lengthy phone convo that kept me up past 1AM. Then, mind still a-buzzing, I read the paper for a few minutes while I waited for my mental synapses to slow down a bit. I started dropping off after about half an hour or so and was just about to sink all the way into sleep when the bed started rocking. Not the fun kind, either.

It took a few seconds for my half-conscious mind to make the connection, but then my southern California conditioning kicked in. Yup, that was an earthquake all right. It was a longish one, too, with a gentle rolling motion. I checked the clock and it was 1:42 AM. My cat startled up, looked at me with wide blackened eyes, and hid under the bed. So I know it wasn't just me.

I lay there in bed, waiting for it to stop. Growing up, we'd always been taught to get in a doorway during an earthquake under the theory that it had been strengthened and thus was the safest place in the house. Then, a few years ago, that school of thought shifted as practioners realized that doorways very often have doors attached - doors which can swing back and forth and smash you in the face. So now, I think the advice is just to get away from glass and anything that could fall over on you. My bedroom is pretty good, as far as earthquake safety is concerned, since I don't have anything heavier than styrofoam-mounted posters above my bed (no true Angelino ever puts anything weighty over their bed, no matter where they live).

It felt like a fairly long earthquake - under a minute - but it wasn't that big, I'd say somewhere in the mid-4 range of the Richter scale. When it finally stopped, it took a few minutes for my heartbeat to slow down so I could go to sleep. We'd been raised under the mantra that California was due for "The Big One" and so every time an earthquake hit - roughly once a year or so - always on the edge of your mind was the question of whether that might finally be The Big One. Old habits die hard and I found myself wondering if Big Ones could hit east of the Mississippi.

Part of the whole earthquake experience in southern California is immediately turning on the TV news to find out what happened. The poor news anchors would be stuck there for the first hour or so, fielding phone calls and basically buying time until the scientists at Cal Tech could venture as guess as to the size and epicenter of the quake. One guy is still known as Kent "Aftershock"-nik, since he had the misfortune of actually being on air when the earth started rumbling. He understandably dove under the anchor desk - can't say as I blame him when you consider all the lights and cameras that are in the vicinity when you're being filmed - but it still made for an amusing reel clip afterwards.

I didn't get up last night to check out what was known about the earthquake, but I figured the WashPost's online edition would have something on their homepage today. No dice - nothing. I've asked around and no one else seems to have felt it either. The hell? If it were just me, I'd think I'd experienced a brain fart, but my cat definitely felt it too. DC residents, if you could just weigh in on this, my sanity would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

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