Me? Afraid of Earthquakes?


I am not afraid of earthquakes.  I swear.  This doesn’t mean I didn’t used to be scared of them. After the quake of ’94, I remember sitting on the front steps of my house after a 5 point something aftershock and thinking, ‘If someone gave me a one-way airline ticket back to the east coast, I‘d be packed and ready to go in five minutes.’  But not anymore.

I can’t pinpoint the moment my feelings changed.  There was no sudden epiphany that resulted in me thinking, ‘Cool!  Did you feel that?’  It has been more of an unconscious mental journey that has led me to the place of fearlessness. I can assure you, however, this new found attitude is not narcissistic-based as in, “Earthquakes only affect other people, not someone like me!”  It is actually a combination of factors.  I think.

It possibly began with realization that I am a mortal.  Translated that means I really get that someday we all will die.  Including me.  Maybe it is the result  of my developmental process as a human being (pick any psychological theory you want).  But, I won’t go into the details of my “Ah-ha” moment because I don’t want you to stop reading this post for fear of getting depressed.

Similar to my acceptance that death is a natural fact of life, living in Los Angeles means there are going to be earthquakes. The two are connected, obviously, because experiencing an earthquake could possibly make you a happy statistic in light of the magnitude of a major shaker. Que puedo hacer?

I am prepared for quakes in the practical sense;  as in my house and car are stocked with requisite, pamphlet listed  items;  well some of them anyway. And I have this quirky ritual.  Every single night, I put on the floor next to my bed, my biggest purse with all my personal necessities AND a flashlight because if I put the flashlight on the nightstand, it might fall over if we have a significant one and then I wouldn’t be able to find my way out of the house before it collapses.

In addition, my husband and I play “The Earthquake Game.”  This involves simply guessing the magnitude of quake that has just occurred.  The winner is determined by checking the website of the USGS that pinpoints the location and size of a quake.  Almost everyone I know plays The Earthquake Game.  Some professionals might even call it a coping mechanism.  I just like being right.

Then there is geologist Kate Hutton at Caltech who is always interviewed on TV after a quake.  But give me a break, if one more reporter asks her if a quake we just had is a fore shock of the “big one,” I am going to scream.

And I finally convinced my husband to purchase, after 30 years of living in Los Angeles, earthquake insurance.  Unfortunately, fiscally, he sometimes thinks he is at the University of Michigan in1969 when houses cost around $100,000 or less. AND he doesn’t think there is a statistical probability that anything will happen to the house.  I guess because he is a scientist and I am not.

It has been a while since we have had a good-sized quake in LA.   So, be careful out there boys and girls, and take note when we are experiencing earthquake weather, if you know what I mean.

One thought on “Me? Afraid of Earthquakes?

  1. every night before our daughter falls asleep, she whispers, “i think we’re going to have an earthquake tonight.” her boyfriend gently pats her head and responds, “of course you do.” you are not alone.

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