Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Golden State of Earthquakes...

I was debating as to what I was going to call this post while laying awake earlier today. Choices: 1. Calilfornia: Glitz & Glamour...Earthquakes, 2. California Love of Earthquakes or 3. Golden State of Earthquakes, etc...

As a California native, earthquakes are as common and a part of life like how hurricanes are to Floridians. As many jolts as we get, we should all be used to them, but that is easier said than done. Safety officials constantly blast that we need to prepare for that ”big one.” But I don't think anyone pays attention to public service announcements. And I don't think we will ever be that prepared to survive it. It's impossible.

Back in the day, I used to have a kit in my car. It contained about 4 days worth of stuff just in case it happened while at work; my job is 16 miles away from home. But since then, I bought a new car and never put it back in my trunk...dammit!

Anyway, as a child, I was oblivious to this phenomenon called “earthquakes.” I always slept through them and had no clue what my parents or teachers were talking about; and could care less. But one morning back in 1987, it all changed. I was a freshman in high school that one morning on October 1st. We were on our way to school when all of a sudden we thought we got a flat tire; so we pulled over (we were near Beverly Blvd via Garfield Ave) and apparently so many other cars ahead of us and behind us did, too. It was weird, but didn't think much of it. So we proceeded and about a block later we were dropped off at school.

I recall watching some of the girls all pale and shaken up, but didn't know what that was about. Anyway, as we (RE and I) went in to the campus everyone was sitting on the floor on the courtyard crying and or freaking out. The nuns quickly ordered us to join the rest. I was still confused as to what was happening at that point, but in a few minutes I realized what had just happened. I started to regret to have been dropped off because our ride was long gone. The nuns asked for me to call my parents to pick me up and that was going to be impossible (mom didn't drive & dad was at work). RE's mom was on her way to work and her dad was at work. “GREAT!!! Now we are stuck here forever”

Anyway, I went to the restroom and noticed that the mirrors were shattered & I think a window was broken as well. And soon after the ground started shaking and thought that the ground was going to break open and swallow us all to the center of the earth. Yeah, I had quite an imagination, so naturally I started to panic. I felt like calling my grandma who kinda lived nearby, but realized that she didn't drive. I thought "This is it. I am going to die in fucking Montebello with all these bitches. I can't believe this is how I am going to die. I can't drive home. I don't know how to take the bus back home. No one knows I am stranded out here and I am stuck with all these cranky nuns. And soon it's going to get dark (well not really it was only 8am-ish, but I figured I was going to be stranded for days) and I won't be able to see my family. Where am I going to sleep? What is going to happen? I wonder how are the Cantwell guys doing? Are they going to come over to console us?"

It was utter chaos but eventually we got home. RE's cousin's mom took us home. This ordeal lasted a good 3-4 hours. When I got a hold of my mom, I made her tell the nuns that RE's cousin's mom was authorized to take me home. And so we left. Later that day, I saw on the news what had actually happened and had parents drive me out to Whittier to see the extent of the damage. I was in shock for days! That day, I think I grew up quickly. That Whittier Narrows earthquake forever changed my life.

And today's morning jolt reminded of that day, October 1, 1987. Anyway, today's earthquake lasted about 7 seconds and I was in bed swaying sideways (north & south). Funny thing is that I always wake up 2-3 seconds before an earthquake happens. It never fails, ever! Well it took about an hour for me to fall asleep because I was expecting an aftershock right after, but nothing happened. Thank goodness nothing else happened.

Well at this point, all I can say to tourists or new residents: Welcome to the "Golden State of Earthquakes!" Sayonara!

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