EQ 7.9

There is nothing funny about earthquakes. (Or shikumen houses*, for that matter.) Just to be clear, as a former insurance adjuster, an earthquake, for insurance purposes, is an “Act of God”; it is usually defined on the declarations page of your homeowner’s policy. For this you are usually uninsured.

I have lived through many earthquakes, shakers, rattlers, rollers. I do not like them. Most I experienced in Northern California as a child; cramming myself under my desk as part of an earthquake drill was a monthly occurrence. Once I surfed in a bedroom in Southern California – that one I heard before I felt it, a hideous roaring, whooshing noise moving from the back of house to the front. On December 26, 1994 we were awoken to one shaking the wooden house of my parents. Mr. Understanding and the newly baptized Thing 1 were in bed with me. Christmas was over and we were all together so, as my mother said, it would not have been a bad way to go. Then there was the time I was getting my hair cut in a second floor apartment in the Polanco section of Mexico City when everything began rattling; I grabbed the hairstylist and looked for a doorframe. There was none. We ran outside where my driver was waiting pale-faced on the opposite of the street looking like he was going to throw up. “I thought the buildings were going to smack together,” he told me. “They were about 2 inches apart from hitting each other.”

Right before moving here, I had many earthquake dreams, which I generally interpret as fear of upheaval.

Yesterday, however, I felt nothing.

Last night I hostessed bookclub at my house. The book, On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan, is a gem. (He is a genius writer, if I have not waxed on about him before.) On the final page he writes, “This is how the entire course of a life can be changed – by doing nothing.” Haunting. One of my book club friends, Mrs. Cookbook, said that her husband was in a tall building in Shanghai yesterday during the earthquake. He said it was worse than anything he felt when they lived in Tokyo. S-C-A-R-Y. Thing 2 left yesterday morning for Xi’an in Shaanxi province with his classmates. He was standing outside watching a martial arts performance when the earth moved. I have not spoken with him but know that he is safe even though he was much closer to the epicenter (this will make you get out your atlas: find Chengdu and Xi’an).

As I write this, the death toll steadily rises. Like Myanmar, the final tally is not in. Unlike Myanmar, China has nothing if doesn’t have bulldozers and heavy earthmoving machinery. They will get the people out. They are doing something.

* see my response to the last post’s comments.



Filed under Family, Life, Moving, People, Reading, Travel

9 responses to “EQ 7.9

  1. KT

    I am thankful that you are all safe. I had forgotten to tell you that we experienced our first earthquake about one month ago. I thought that since my “One and Only” had lived in Mexico, that he had been in one before, but he hadn’t. It woke us up very early one morning, but we had no idea what it was (the earthquake premium that I pay on my homeowner’s insurance should have been my first clue). Fortunately, there are no buildings higher than two stories within a 200 mile radius of Hooterville, so damage was minimal.

    On another subject…there is still a Newcomer’s newsletter…it was Anne’s April Fool’s prank…I didn’t know that Belgians knew how to play that game! She is following in your footsteps.

    I pray that Thing 2 gets home safely, and on time. Wow, the stories he will have to tell.

  2. SmartAlecAngela

    I’m relieved to hear that you are all fine. I’ve been worried. Earthquake’s are scary. We had one here in Indy about a month back. Woke me out of a sound sleep with the bed rocking, freaked out the girls, but of course my son felt and heard nothing. I found it odd that my hubby, who was in California, has not had any eq experience since he has been there and we are in the midwest with a 5.2. Go Figure!!
    BTW, sold house, in an apt. and waiting for school to end to go once and for all to Calif. Shub put offer on a house today. I’ll call you this week!

  3. La Lopez

    Hey Expat,

    Ever wondered why you have spent most of your life living in earthquake zones? Ever considered it’s effect on your psyche? If you figure it out, please share, since I have never been very far from rattling and rolling myself, and I think I am perversely attracted to it. Does that make me a bad person?

  4. SmartAlecAngela: remember to bolt the bookcases to the walls! Call me on the vonage – 12 hours difference! Looking forward to hearing about your new digs …. read below for additional advice. xoxoxo

    La Lopez: I was secretly really worried the whole time I was in Chile about the “big one” that could happen there. Especially after the tour guide/driver said he doesn’t sleep naked anymore and has a pair of shoes by the bed. You are not a bad person, just possibly a little weird if you are attracted to EQs. You are due for a big one, girl. i will send you some splendid slippers in preparation. What size do you wear?

  5. KT: I found your comment in the spam file! Good thing I check every so often. I do not think insurance companies write EQ insurance on the West Coast anymore; if they do, the cost is prohibitive. You and SmartAlecAngela must have been afflicted by the same quake. Thing 2 will have lots of good stories to tell. Most of them, I hope, will pertain to his forgetting/refusing to pack the items I suggested for him such as a raincoat with hood, hat, or water bottle.

  6. maria

    I´m so happy you all are ok……so many things going on in China;maybe it´s a sign from nature you should come back to Campinas…..I would be so happy!

  7. Flaky Friend

    Hi – I am so glad you are safe. It is so heartbreaking what we see on the news. Hope you are doing okay.

  8. gamamãe

    que bom all are safe! You were on our minds. Our trip to Bariloche was cancelled due to the volcano in Chile, spewing ash and smoke across the Andes. They are handing out breathing masks! I feel special, the last time it erupted was 7000 B.C.! Daughter was not happy about going anyway. would miss school,i.e. – time com colegas!!!

  9. Maria: don’t think I haven’t thought about it.

    FF: will be in touch soon re: summer.

    Gammy: I did see that in the news! Wild!

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