Shake, Rattle, And Roll

In the wee small hours of this morning, I woke up with a jolt. I don’t mean that figuratively, like I suddenly sat up in bed and said “sweet baby Moses, I forgot to feed the cats!” I mean it literally: I was jolted awake. Physically. It felt like an eight-wheeler had slammed into the bedroom wall. The bed shook for a few seconds, and I thought---in that detached sort of way you think things in the wee small hours of the morning, unaided yet by caffeine or clarity of thought---“whoa, weird, the bed is shaking.” And then I went back to sleep.

I woke up a few more times before the alarm went off at 7am---I’m a light sleeper; the guy three floors up could brush his teeth and it’d wake me up---and every time I did, I thought vaguely “whoa, I wonder if that was an earthquake earlier. I should check the news.” And then every time immediately afterwards, I’d think “nah, it was just a dream. It was only because I was watching that awful "Victoria Beckham: Coming To America" show before I went to bed and they were doing an earthquake simulation on that.’”

(Which, by the way, did anyone else watch that? Wasn’t it awful? Gloriously awful?)

(And also, what, now I think my dreams come with movement and sense as well as just picture and sound? Like, oops, I must have unknowingly paid a little extra to have them upgraded to HDTV?)

Anyway, when I woke up for the final time this morning, the first thing I did was go straight to my computer and Google “earthquake San Francisco.” And lo and behold if a 4.2 didn’t hit this morning in the East Bay at 4:42am. Bizarrely, I felt strangely validated. “I knew it!” I crowed to Sean. “I knew it! There was an earthquake and I woke up for it!”

“SHIIIIT!” he shouted. Not because he was worried that the wineglasses my parents gave us as a housewarming present a few years ago might have fallen off the shelf and smashed (or, worse, the wine!), not even that he was concerned that the cats might have freaked out with all the shaking. No, he cursed the heavens because he’d missed an earthquake. Another one. We’ve had three since we moved to San Francisco six months ago, and Sean hasn’t felt any of them. He still has no idea what an earthquake is like when it hits, and even when I smash my body into his and then grab him by the shoulders and rattle him for a few seconds to demonstrate---I, at least, have felt two of the three---he still hasn’t been through the real thing. It’s like going to Vegas, staying at the Venetian, and then trying to join in a conversation about Venice.

(Did I ever tell you the story, by the way, about this woman I knew who lost her keys and then went back to the store she’d stopped at on the way home, only to have them handed back to her by the store clerk who said---and I swear to god this is true---“oh, you have the Eiffel Tower on your keychain! You must have been to Vegas!”)

For the last month or so, I've been thinking about earthquakes quite obsessively---where I might be when one happens, for instance, who I might be with. So far, I've been in my office (felt it), in my living room (didn't feel it), and in my bedroom---all fairly safe places with plenty of doorways and tables to get under as advised (not that we've had to do that yet.) But sometimes when I'm walking home up Post Street, I think "what if one happened now, a big one?" And when I'm on the MUNI: "or now?" It's not that I'm scared---more fascinated, I think. Will the ground actually split open? Will I have to pick a side to stay on in order to avoid falling into a bottomless chasm? Really? Or does that only happen in cartoons? Will I try to jump over it and find myself suspended in mid-air, running on the spot for a few seconds, before I plummet downwards? Will there be sound effects?

Sean and I, I'm slightly sheepish to admit, don't really have an action plan in case The Big One hits. We have each other's cell phone numbers, of course, and maybe a tin or two of black beans in the kitchen cupboard, but bottled water? Flashlights? Living wills? Nada. I suppose we should probably get on that, much like we should probably get on re-registering the car for another parking permit and cleaning the grout in the bathroom, but right now it's just another thing on the to-do list.

And when it does happen and we're screwed, we'll look at each other---assuming, of course, that one of us hasn't fallen into the bottomless chasm already---and one of us will say "Crap. This should have been our first priority. And you thought filling in the paperwork for our Costco card renewal was more important."

1
TheGirlWho
Jul 20, 2007

Hello there.. I've avoided posting ever since I left a ridiculously convoluted drunken post following one of your witty tales. Anyhow, glad you're okay after the earthquake. Was wondering, have you seen the documentary called The Bridge? It's amazing.. I guess the Golden Gate Bridge is the most popular place to commit suicide in the world and a documentary maker focused cameras on it for one year, catching several folks in the act. I know it's quite maudlin, but it's also riveting.. and I thought of you. Not because of suicide, of course, but because of the bridge. Aaannyway. That is all.

2
Melanie
Jul 21, 2007

Someday I am going to go to San Francisco and feel a real earthquake. Also ride a cable car, all touristy-like. That's a place I've been dying to go.

3
Susan
Jul 21, 2007

Victoria Beckham was MAJOR! And FIERCE! And yes, gloriously awful, in an I-can't-look-away kind of way.

(I'm all poised to hear your best Posh Spice imitation next week, by the way. So get ready.)

4
Nothing But Bonfires
Jul 21, 2007

Oh my god, I was about to make it into a drinking game, taking a sip whenever she said "major." But I would have been drunk after 15 minutes, and it was a school night.

5
Cory
Jul 21, 2007

See I told you, you wouldn't feel any earthquakes unless they were a 4.0 or above. There's been dozens of earthquakes since you've moved to the city and yet you probably haven't felt 99.9% of them. Not so bad, but I'd keep some food and water stocked up. We live on an island in Puget Sound and we keep some food and water stored in the garage just in case. the chances are we'll be using it for when the electricity goes out instead.

6
janet
Jul 21, 2007

speaking of...I do need to get my Costco renewed.

And that Posh show sure was "MAJOR" (seriously, is that how all brits give compliments?)

7
Horrible Warning
Jul 21, 2007

First, I TOTALLY got sucked in to that awful show. She kept reminding me of a drunken flamingo, all slightly askew and twiggy legs. And the haircut? Just plain distracting and awful. Yikes!

I grew up in LA, which is another fabulous place to experience the earthquake. I don't know for sure about the earth yawning open and swallowing you whole, but I can tell you that during the 1989 quake, I was standing outside my high school classroom, waiting to be let in, and I watched the sidewalk rolling (no exaggeration, I pinky swear) for what seemed like minutes. It was freaking bizarre.

8
SportyChick
Jul 21, 2007

You'll like this site:

http://quake.wr.usgs.gov/recenteqs/Maps/122-38.html

The latest and greatest on earthquakes (real-time map).

9
Mixed Up Me
Jul 21, 2007

My dad was in the bay area for business today, so my mom called him to see if he was okay after the earthquake and he didn't even know about it!! I am glad you are okay, and I am sorry Sean missed another one.

10
Sara
Jul 21, 2007

I was in an earthquake once (a 5-point-something) when I was in high school. And I was in Illinois! Yes, you read that right. Apparently some of the midwest is situated over the New Madrid fault, which was once very active and actually changed (reversed?) the course of the Mississippi river. I remember thinking it was a very large truck going by on the bad road outside our house, until I realized things in the attic were shaking. Anyway, welcome to the club. It's MAYJA!!

11
elise
Jul 21, 2007

Posh and Becks....do you have residual fan-worship stigma attached to them from living in London, Holly?

I'm ashamed to admit it, but Victoria seems so crazy, she's almost loveable.

Oh no...

12
heidikins
Jul 21, 2007

Ack! I totally was watching this "end of the world by earthquake" thing last night, and then this! ok, am officially wierded out. :o) They (ya know, the scientific "they") keep talking about the Big One that will hit Salt Lake, the visible fault lines on the mountains and the evidence of other Big Ones (mountains of layered sediment rock at 60-degree angles)... all our new buildings are earthquake-proof and there is a lot of talk about keeping an emergency stash of food, water and chocolate. Check, check, check... ok, where's the quake?

13
Sheila
Jul 21, 2007

My husband was in San Francisco and felt no earthquake either. He, like Sean, feels cheated. Must be a man thing.

I also watched that show, unable to peel my eyes away. Unable, that is, until she went to lunch with the ladies in Beverly Hills, at which point I ran from the television as fast as I could. Those women were actually frightening me! Could their faces have looked more uniformly Photoshopped on? Yikes!

I do, however give Posh credit for one chortle: as she was leaving Perez Hilton, when she turned to face the photogs outside the cafe and said, "Wait, let me get miserable for them."

I think there may be a "Secret Victoria Beckham: Coming To America Friday" in order here on NBB! Are you up for it, Holly?

14
Sarah Marie
Jul 21, 2007

How exciting and scary at the same time!

My friend is in Nairobi, Kenya right now with her family doing her dissertation research. She said there's been 20-odd earthquakes over 4.0 in the past week. Everyone in the city was freaking out. But then the volcano erupted and everything is back to normal.

15
Laura
Jul 21, 2007

In re: Posh Spice ... I think it's totally cool that her makeup lady and her hair dude are her "best friends!" She's so like down to earth and stuff ...

16
Nothing But Bonfires
Jul 21, 2007

Personally, I'm just amazed Posh Spice passed her written California driving test. I was pretty close on mine.

17
Erica
Jul 22, 2007

I am in Sebastopol this week and my boyfriend and I were going into SF for the day on Friday and he kept hitting the snooze alarm and finally I yelled to hurry up and get out of bed before there's an earthquake and San Francisco falls into the bay and I never get to ride a cable car or eat at Bang San already! Then he got up to take a shower and I turned on the laptop to find that there was indeed an earthquake! I did get to ride a cable car and eat a #37 at Bang San though - awesome.

18
Veronica
Jul 23, 2007

I just found your blog. I love the way you write.

I have never been to the west coast, and after reading your post I am feeling grateful for the steady ground under my feet, something I am not used to feeling grateful for.

19
mae
Jul 23, 2007

To Cory - We had another earthquake on the Big Island last night measuring 3.6. I felt every bit of it. It's definitely possible to feel quakes that measure under 4.0. Apparently the volcano is erupting (again). Hopefully I won't drive home to molten lava running down the road this afternoon!

20
Elizabeth
Jul 23, 2007

You should both pick someone who lives in another state. During emergencies calling each other's cell phones will be hard (cell towers will be down, etc.) but calling out of state will be easier. You both call someone else, and they relay the information... It might even be good to have the same person as your parents..etc.

Just a helpful hint...

21
bellevelma
Jul 23, 2007

Hi. My first time visiting here. Found you from your wonderfully witty post over at Joy Unexpected and followed you here. No, I'm not a stalker. Anyway, I only got to the point where you said you woke with a start and realized you forgot to feed the cats and that reminded me I forgot to feed the fish. Two (or maybe it's three) days in a row now. So I'll be back later to read more. After I feed the fish. You're very funny!

22
LaughingMouse
Jul 27, 2007

I agree with Elizabeth. but, I would also add (as motherly and slightly random as it is) that you should have a place designated outside of the city to go and meet if something happens. Kinda like having a meeting place around your house in case it burns to the ground. Same idea. Just a thought.