Earthquakes

03.17.14

At 6:25 this morning I was half awake sending an email to someone from Alexander’s school when my house moved. It wasn’t a normal earthquake, it was the second largest earthquake I’d felt in my lifetime and I was scared. It’s the second time an earthquake truly scared me, the first time was in 1994 when I stood on Mulholland Drive and watched fires erupt all over my city.

This time I’m alone with my kids and the jolts are abrupt, none of the nearly comfortable rocking motions that came with so many earthquakes before this one. I hear things falling, glass breaking and as quickly as the motion began it’s over. I hop out of bed, knees bent, arms out like I’m about to ride a huge wave. I am. This is a wave of emotion. I go to Jane’s room where the door is open and panic a little, I’ve heard breaking glass, where is my kid? Alexander pops out of his door sort of excited looking, like we had a roller-coaster ride and it wasn’t very fun but it was supposed to be fun so you put on the fake smile. We hugged.

“You okay?”

“I’m okay.” He answered.

And then we went to look for Jane who was downstairs in the bathroom she annexed a few years back. I ask her if she’s okay and she explains to me that she was able to keep all her things from falling off the counter and exclaims that it was big. I feel like retching because my daughter is standing in what is essentially a hallway with long panels of mirrors on both sides. It’s a dangerous place to be in an earthquake and I want to tell her that keeping makeup on the counter is not a priority but remember it’s not a discussion worth having. She is 15 and at 43 I’d quite likely do the same thing.

My pill bottles became projectiles in my bathroom and because of my RA I never have childproof caps so pink and white tablets are half dissolved in a puddle of water decorated in broken shards of glass. My complete loss? A couple of nearly expired prescriptions and a water glass that fit my hand exceptionally well.

Typically at 6:45 I drive Jane to the bus (two blocks away) and would leave Alexander in the house alone. This morning I had him come with me. Earthquakes come in clusters and I figured we were all safer together.

How does one feel safe when the Earth under them is moving? Fires, floods, extreme heat or cold, these are all conditions we’ve dealt with but where do you run to when the ground under your feet is moving?

I asked the kids if they felt safe and I had two yeses. They didn’t think about it, they just felt safe. There’s not a single thing I could do to keep my kids okay had the quake been larger or longer. I have no powers that would keep the earth from moving again but my kids felt safe with me and I realized that I didn’t feel safe, in large part, because Mr. G is gone. Like me, Mr. G has zero ability to ward off an earthquake. Like my children, I feel safer when he’s here.

We have an amazing ability to engage in magical thinking and this morning it served us all well.

Well That Sucked

03.16.10

At 3am the fire alarm went off. Not the fire alarm that tells you that there’s smoke, it’s the fire alarm that randomly beeps to remind you that your security system blows, and you should fire them soon. I ran around naked (yes I’m a naked sleeper) trying to figure out where the high pitched beeping was coming from and found that it was a hallway sensor.

I jumped to try and press the reset button. My breasts landed on my belly a few seconds after my feet returned to the floor. The alarm was still beeping. The kids were sound asleep.

Ever resourceful, I went into Jane’s room to get a chair to stand on. I rolled her desk chair to the hallway, still half asleep, and stood on it to turn off the incessant fire alarm. Of course the chair was on rollers, so I ended up naked, insulted and on the hallway floor.

My third attempt was successful, and by that time I was wide awake.

It took me approximately 45 minutes to fall back asleep, which is a shame because an earthquake woke me up at 4am. Maybe it’s not a faulty fire alarm, maybe it’s an earthquake detector. The earthquake was a small one, 4.4 on the Richter scale, and it moved north and south. It was like being rocked to sleep, except my husband is out of town, so I had to check on the kids. Alexander was snoring, Jane was a little bit awake and went right back to sleep after I checked in with her.

I went back to sleep by 4.30 and was up at 7 to get the kids up and ready for school.

Something under the sink smelled bad, rotten. I looked, and then I looked again, and I found this.

Yep, remember the rat? Gotcha!

Well, you might remember that yesterday was an 85 plus degree day. Um, the rat wasn’t fat, he was hot and bloated.

With a dead animal in the house and a husband out of town, I did what every Mommy Blogger worth her salt does. I started knocking on the neighbor’s doors.

I have the world’s best neighbor. Jerry came over with a shovel and scraped the hot rat out of my house. Well, most of it. After we both hyperventilated a little at the disgustingness of said rat, Jerry told me how to clean the area. You see, Jerry is a firefighter. After scraping decomposed rat from my kitchen, he ran to his truck and gave me face masks that are “filters appropriate for a WMD invasion”.  I ran to the market to buy bleach, gloves and a spray-bottle. I cleaned the pieces of tail and hunks of rat fur that were left behind.

I missed a morning Pho with my friend, and I need to tell you something that you will find remarkable. None of this was the worst part of my day.

I had a perfectly lovely rest of the day. A quick trip to the gym, pho with Lolita, I cleaned the house and did a few errands, and then I went to pick the kids up from school.

When I got there my dear friend Katherine was with her daughter, and as I asked her about carpooling on Thursday she turned to me with tears streaming down her cheeks. “We’re moving back to Australia.” she said.

And we stood there crying and hugging and sometimes kissing. Because I love their kids, and they love ours. Because their family has become like family for us, and my son. My son is crushed. The boys have been friends since their first day of kindergarten, four years ago. The girls are close, and they will miss each other too. I need my friends, and these are good friends.

So the day? Well? It’s a horrible day. There was a moment of sunshine in the middle, but basically it sucked.