All Part Of The Experience

Tonight Sean and I met after work to see a movie, which is something we've been meaning to do for a while. Every so often we get this twee idea to have a Date Night, and then we forget about it for the next two weeks and just heat up something from Trader Joe's while flopped out on the couch in front of Law & Order like we do every night. But this evening, we honored the promise we'd made yesterday and we both walked from opposite points in San Francisco and met in the middle at the Embarcadero Center to see the six-fifteen showing of The Darjeeling Limited.

(Which, by the way, totally stole my song! And yet still, you should see this movie. At first you will think it is a little too studiously pretentious, and then something will happen and you will start to like it. You will even manage to get over about 60% of your loathing of Jason Schwartzman, and 100% of your loathing of Adrien Brody. Hmm, maybe they should have put Ben Affleck in this movie. Or Paris Hilton. Wait, too far? Too far.)

Anyway, so we were sitting there, in this dark little room with thirty other people, and we were three quarters of the way through the film, and by this point I was so invested in it---the colors! the beauty! you could almost smell India!---that when my seat started to shake, my brain just processed it at first as being a part of the movie, sort of like one of those simulator things you could never go in at the amusement park, because they always cost extra in addition the price of your ticket.

And then a milisecond passed, and I realize that no, the room was actually shaking, and Sean and I turned to each other, and the first thing I could think was "he's finally feeling an earthquake! He must be so happy!" I've felt three earthquakes since we've been in San Francisco---you might remember this one and this one---and Sean hasn't felt any of them, you see, and it's driven him crazy. I think, before tonight, he had yet to feel like a real California citizen.

It's impossible to describe what an earthquake feels like to someone who hasn't been in an earthquake, except to say that it's pretty much exactly how you would imagine it to be. There is, as you would expect, a lot of shaking. And it doesn't stop. And you all look around, thinking "ha! it has to stop! When will it stop? Any second now!" and then it doesn't stop and it keeps on shaking and you think, plain and simple, "I have to leave. Wait, aren't I supposed to get under a table or a doorway? Well, screw that, no time, I have to leave. Oh my god, I'm three floors up, how will I leave?"

And let me tell you, it's worse when you're in a little dark room---with Owen Wilson still cavorting obliviously in India, the screen a glorious mishmash of turquoises and reds---and the woman behind you is saying "it's The Big One! It's The Big One!" And you're thinking "Is it?" Briefly, I wondered what it would be like to face death at the Embarcadero Center, to have people years later say "and what were you doing during The Big Quake Of 2007?" and to answer them "ah, just picking popcorn kernels from my teeth."

After a bit, the panic mounting, most of the people in the cinema half-stood, grabbed bags and purses, and tentatively turned to the exits. The roof was rattling ominously and Sean said later that he thought it was going to fall in; sweetly, he'd planned exactly how he'd shield my face with his arm if it did. And then it stopped. I bet, if you'd timed it, the whole thing would have taken six or seven seconds, although if you'd asked me, I would have said six or seven minutes. When the movie ended half an hour later and we poured out onto the street, nobody could stop talking about it, how weird it was, how scary it was, oh, and did you hear the roof rattling too? In fact, it wasn't until we were halfway into our walk home that I turned to Sean and said "hey, what did you think of the film?"

This earthquake was only a 5.6---which is the strongest I've felt so far, but still not particularly bad---and when we got home, no wineglasses were broken, no cats traumatised and skittish. But Sean and I couldn't stop talking about it, the bizareness of being at the cinema during an earthquake, the absolute wrongness of it, I mean, how strange that we were just living our lives when the ground started shaking on an innocuous Tuesday evening. "That was really a lot more troubling than I thought it would be," said Sean. And I know that we signed up for this when we signed up for San Francisco, but he's right. Even the harmless shaking is hard to get used to.

Oct 31, 2007

Yeah -- tonight was the first time I ever felt an earthquake in Califonia, too! I have lived here for over 10 years, and have always been out of town, or sleeping or something when CA has had an earthquake. But tonight -- wow! I was having dinner with my daughter and my (California born) husband. And the walls started shaking, and I must have looked freaked out, because my daughter looked up in my face, saw my expression, and started crying hysterically. Meanwhile, I just stood there, with my knees shaking, unable to decide WHAT to do. My husband very nonchalantly picked up my daughter and took her with him to stand under the door frame. He left ME however, to fend for myself, should the ceiling decide to cave in. Nice.

Oct 31, 2007

Back when I was young, verily an impressionable 13 year old, we studied the San Andreas faultline at school. We - knowledgeable 13 year olds that we were - concluded that everyone who lived in San Franscisco was nuts. Because they were living on a faultline for goodness sake!

Now I live on a faultline in NZ. Quite possibly the same San Andreas faultline or a second cousin of the faultline or something.

So who's nuts now?

(p.s very glad you guys are ok)

Oct 31, 2007

We just heard it on the news and were kinda sorry we missed it, having just left SF on Monday. Darn.

Oct 31, 2007

That would shake me up too. Was that a pun? Yes, indeed. I'm writing a stupid pun in your comments. Sorry about that... Glad to hear you guys are okay.

Oct 31, 2007

Being me, I had to scream with inappropriate laughter when I read, "Even the harmless shaking is hard to get used to."
Unfortunately, that's just the way my mind works.

Oct 31, 2007

my friend just moved to the castro district. i'll have to see what she was doing during "the big one of '07."

Oct 31, 2007

Are you at all scared for the "The Big One"?

Oct 31, 2007

Wow, that sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime experience! I am glad the roof didn't fall in on you, though. We actually had an earthquake in Richmond, VA a few years ago that was a 4.5. I had never felt an earthquake before and honestly didn't know there could be earthquakes on the east coast! So I just thought a large truck was driving by my apartment building. I didn't realize it was an earthquake until I watched the news later.

Oct 31, 2007

I'm moving to San Francisco in February, and can't wait to be in my first earthquake--is that bad?? The only one I've ever experienced, I slept right through...

Oct 31, 2007

Was it a shaky one or a swaying one? Both are just plain scary, but the swaying ones freak me out.

Oct 31, 2007

I was visiting San Francisco, watching a game at Giants Stadium, when there was a tiny earthquake. It felt like there was a fat guy ten seats away, rocking back and forth in his chair, and because your seats are connected you start to wiggle too.

Nothing But Bonfires
Oct 31, 2007

Whoorl, it was mostly a shaky one with a little swaying thrown in.

Oct 31, 2007

Living in Sacramento now it's rare I get to feel an Earthquake, but I grew up down in Fremont for the first 18 years and have felt my share (even "The Big One" in 1989). I definitely understand the disturbed feeling of waiting for mother nature's other shoe to drop. Luckily it doesn't happen too often. Glad you both are fine and Sean finally got to feel one -- I think that means he's officially a Californian -- Sounds like some celebration is in order! (maybe some Trader Joe's dinner and some Law & Order)

Oct 31, 2007

My family lived in Vallejo in 1989, so we were there for that "big" one. It truly is a surreeal experience. I'm pretty sure that's the only time in my life I whimpered "Mommy?!?" I was 15.

Oct 31, 2007

yea, it was a litte trippy. I kept thinking to myself "shit! is this the big one? I'm screwed!" but eventually it stopped. it went for 20 seconds! that's a long time! but now it made me realize how unprepared I am for the big one to arrive, and it's time to get my act together. (btw I was here in SF for the big one in '89. it caused a lot of damage, especially to the marina)

Oct 31, 2007

yeah, you sound calm about it now, but wait until a 5.6 hits that is actually centered on the fault you live on. i was a mere 7 miles from the epicenter and though i am a born and raised californian it scared the crap out of me.

Oct 31, 2007

I live in SF too and I thought my boyfriend was shaking the couch so I told him to stop being so fidgety. Then we realized it was an earthquake and we should probably get away from the big windows in case it was the big one. We got up to move to someplace safer (side note: never understood the doorway thing, if the building collapses you are screwed either way). By the time we got our slow butts off the couch it was over. I've lived here most of my life so I was in the '89 earthquake, too, but I was 8 so I didn't really get it then.

Terri B.
Oct 31, 2007

Yes, they do seem to go on forever. It is sad, but I've lived here long enough that I usually just continue doing what I'm doing unless the shaking tips me over or things start falling. Of course, there is the amazing adrenaline rush that you have to work through.

I still remember the first quake I felt. Completely different response. Absolute PANIC. I jumped out of the bed and ran out into the middle of the yard and found myself standing under some heavy tree limbs and a power line that stretched across the yard. Really dumb place to be. That is when I decided that there really is no good place to be when the earth shakes so I would learn to just stay put and not run around looking for a better place to be.

Oct 31, 2007

When I was a teenager living in Tokyo my Mother took me to the theater to see Porgy and Bess. Halfway through the play the whole place started shaking. My other and I, being the silly Americans we are, started freaking out and trying to leave. Everyone else sat calmly in their seats, watching the play as though nothing had happened.

Oct 31, 2007

That's funny, I told my husband the same thing- "Now you're an official Californian!" I live about 10 miles from the epicenter and it had been so long since I (a CA native) had felt a decent earthquake that I kinda stood there for a sec before going to a doorway. I turned around once I got to the doorway and both my husband and our friend were RIGHT behind me trying to squeeze in. I was like, "Get you're own doorway, I already claimed this one. Sheesh."

I remember watching 'You Can't Do That on Television' on Nickelodeon when the 89 earthquake hit. Just as someone was going to get slimed. :)

Oct 31, 2007

That's by far the longest earthquake I've ever felt, by a longshot. I think Simon being right next to me gave me a false sense of security, because we didn't even bother to get up off the couch. Hell, if one of the cats can sleep through it, we're not in that much trouble, right?

Oct 31, 2007

I was in the TransAmerica Pyramid when it hit, still at work at a newish job. I feel like this is one of the most iconic places to be in an earthquake, so I'm a little proud. But I was pretty much alone on my floor, and because I'm single right now, and a drama queen, I had all these thoughts as it kept shaking and shaking like, No one would even know I was here! because, well, I don't think anyone knew I was there. I tend to have a lot of bravado about things like my confidence that I'll never die in a plane crash or an earthquake, but the way the building swayed, and the realization that I was on landfill, actually spooked me some. And, just as I was about to get under the desk, it stopped.

She Likes Purple
Oct 31, 2007

I now get all my news through Google Reader, as I hadn't heard about the earthquake until I started perusing blogs on my lunch break. I'm glad you both (and the cats!) are okay. And that the roof didn't cave in. And that you got to finish the movie, because I would be so annoyed if I had to leave without finishing the movie.

I've said this on a lot of comments today, but I was in the SF earthquake in 89 and I was in the car. I remember telling my dad to stop driving funny because I was trying to read my library book. I think that's how our minds protect us sometimes, they don't allow us to fully process something until after it's behind us. Although I was 7, so perhaps that had something to do with it not quite computing.

And, honestly, that's love right there, to be happy that Sean finally got to experience it. I think I might have said aww, even.

Oct 31, 2007

Wasn't that fun? The big "boom" at the beginning made me think something had fallen near the house, like a tree or maybe a frozen hunk of airplane lavatory waste; it took a couple of seconds to process what was really happening. My husband ran out of his office and I was all "You took geology, what should we do?" Since half our house is made of glass, we decided to go outside, although I sensed a lot of potential for tripping or having things hit us on the way out. Next time I'm just doing the old "stop, drop and hang on" routine, somewhere away from the windows.

Oct 31, 2007

I felt the Northridge quake when I was about 13. I was so overcome with the glee of feeling an earthquake that I forgot to duck and cover and when I remembered that I should probably get to protecting my head it was suddenly all over.

They don't tell you in earthquake drills that you'll need to contain your excitement about the moment - which is such a strange thing about this kind of natural disaster, isn't it?

Rachael W
Nov 01, 2007

My mom told me there had been an earthquake up there, and that one of our knicknacks had fallen off the mantle and broken, but categorized it as "big and intense in length, but not as big as the one in LA." After living through the Northridge earthquake in '94--which we did--nothing compares. (It's actually kind of terrible; once you've lived through a big earthquake, every successive earthquake seems rather ho-hum.) However, I'm glad you're all well and safe and no cats were scared! Hopefully you'll never have to go through "the big one."

Wacky Mommy
Nov 01, 2007

Still 5.6 is not tiny! The few times I have been in an earthquake (and of course we don't get them as bad in Portland as you do there) it's felt to me like Mother Nature is playing a joke. And I'm not quite getting it. So she has to keep at it to get my attention.

"Here, I can knock ya out of your bed, see?" Like a poltergeist or something. It's creepy.

Nov 01, 2007

All quakes are unnerving, big or small. And big or small, it really sucks being out at the movies or somewhere else where you feel more vulnerable than at home where you are at least within familiar surroundings. I can imagine how freaked out you were Holly.

I also wrote a post about what I was doing last night when the earth moved:

May we not have very many more after shakes. Those are unsettling too.

mama speak
Nov 01, 2007

We live pretty close to the epicenter and felt it in a big way. It was a big bang & hard jolt kinda quake, 20 seconds long; that's a long time.

Sometimes these things roll more than jerk around, the rolling ones are a lot like being on a boat; almost kinda fun. This one, not so much. But I'll take my rocking any day compared to tornados and such.

The cats probably freaked out, but were fine when it stopped. That's what ours did. Glad you're ok. Glad Sean has finally been hazed into the CA cult and no one got hurt over it.

Nov 01, 2007

How odd that really must have been. I cannot even imagine having the ground shake. I have always thought of the ground as a steady surface that doesn't move unless it's so minute that no one notices.

Nov 02, 2007

We live just a block shy of Trader Joe's and that's all we've been doing; visiting, shopping, talking about how we need to make another visit and do some more shopping. And then we totally veg out (amidst the constant unpacking). Law & Order: SVU has been a t.v. staple for awhile now, although I do think it's making Chris a tad paranoid.

Here's to (more Trader Joe's, and) no more earth trembling, amen.