Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I feel the earth. move. (under my feet)...

I've finally come out from under the table long enough to do a little blogging.

The earth has been trembling — sometimes violently shaking — since Friday. Walls spitting vases onto the floor; dishes rattling against cupboard doors; gas leaking from the furnace; patio furniture tumbling. My nerves. Oh Earth, have you no consideration for my poor nerves? [Name that movie].

Our first quake— a 3.6 — hit Friday evening while I was talking on the phone with my sister. "Sweet heavens, it's an earthquake!" I cried. And then I felt it: that weird intuitive knowing churning in my gut. There would be more quakes. Big quakes; scary quakes; quakes that could send my bungalow tumbling down the hill with me in it.

"Oh no, what should I do if a bigger quake hits?!" I asked my sister. "What if my roof collapses? What if I'm knocked unconscious? What if I die?! All the neighbors are gone! How is it possible that all my close neighbors are gone tonight?! It's a conspiracy! Help, Rebecca! Help!"

My sister has known me for 27 years. She knows I'm good at catastrophic thinking. She knows I can find a way to explain why the worst case scenario is the most likely scenario. She knows worrying is one of my special gifts. She knows I am...Anxiety Girl:

So she calmly replied, "You're fine, Sarah. Nothing has happened. Just curl up with a blanket and a book and relax."

So I did. It helped, and I've been curled up under the table with a blanket and a book ever since. Well, I've ventured out for food, water, and work a number of times. But I've had plenty of reasons to run back for cover.

Because a bigger quake measuring 5.1 did hit about an hour after I talked to my sister. To those of you who have survived earthquakes measuring 7, 8, and 9 on the richter scale: I can't fathom the terror of that experience. Because Friday night's quake scared the daylights out of me. It was close to the earth's surface, and I was on the epicenter. And as the shaking grew more violent and prolonged, I began to truly wonder if this.was. it. If my life would soon be over. Kaput. Finito. Arrivederci Roma.

But when the shaking stopped, I was still clinging to the leg of my table, my floral table cloth tickling my feet. I was very much alive. And I very much heard sirens all over the city and smelled gas leaking into my studio. So I turned off my furnace, packed a bag, and walked out to the street where I surveyed the houses up the hill and prayed,

"God, which house should I go to?"

I'd met an elderly lady — probably in her 90s — and her son on a walk awhile back, and had seen them in the window of the house at the top of the hill. Maybe they'd take me in. I lugged my bag up the hill, knocked on the door, and introduced myself.

Minutes later I was sitting on their couch watching the news while they dished up ice cream and cleaned up messes the earthquake made. "Why don't you sleep on our couch tonight," the elderly lady invited. Relieved, I snuggled onto the couch with my childhood comforter and flannel pillow, breathing thanks that I wouldn't have to brave the night alone.

Minutes after we'd turned out the lights, another earthquake rocked the house. Once its rumbling subsided I heard my hostess talking to her son in the back room, her voice stretched hoarse with age, "I'm glad she's here tonight. It would be so lonely in that apartment."

I didn't sleep much that night. Earthquakes rocked the house every 20-30 minutes or so, sending adrenaline shooting through my body. But I wasn't alone, which made me much less inclined to assume death was imminent. Anxiety Girl's worry powers are weakened when she's with other people.

The next morning I had gluten-free blueberry muffins (with a side of aftershocks) with my new friends before heading back down the hill to wait for the gas man. I had to wait 16 hours before he arrived due to all the gas leaks the earthquake had caused, but I wasn't alone that day. A friend of my next door neighbors had come to check on their cat, and checked on me regularly to make sure I was holding up through all the aftershocks. By the end of the day, he was a new friend.

So it's been a productive week. The aftershocks keep on rocking, and the friendships keep on accumulating. It's marvelous to see all the good gifts that God gives in the midst of distress. I am tired of all this shaking though. And my adrenal glands are tired. I don't know how much more adrenaline they can pump. Hopefully they won't have to pump much more. But just in case there are more quakes, I've got my disaster preparedness kit packed and ready to go:

Toilet paper is the cherry on top of this girl's disaster preparedness kit.

Speaking of cherries on top, I have a tub of ice cream in the freezer. I think I shall go eat it. Ice cream helps with adrenaline overflow and makes earthquakes more manageable. It's a scientific fact.

Science always was my strong-suit.

Just kidding. We all know worrying is. ;)

Happy Tuesday, friends!


© by scj


  1. I laughed and laughed out loud at that TP roll buckled onto your bag. You go, intrepid Anxiety Girl, bravely seeking shelter with barely known neighbors!

    1. Ha! I had a hearty laugh when slipping the roll through my buckle. Thank you for the words of encouragement, Laura! This Anxious Girl loves this affirmation. :)

  2. Sarah, I was quite prepared for this to end with "April Fools!" Good heavens! I'd be right under that table with you. "Anxiety Girl and Worry Woman Seek Shelter During Recent Quakes . . ." So glad you're okay :).

    1. Hilarious headline, Julianne! And oh I wish it were an April Fools joke... I'd quite forgotten today was April Fools with these continued quakes. Boy, I'd sure love to have your company under the table (and I'm not joking'. ;))!

  3. Remind me to tell you about the big LA quake of '72... no, wait... I can't tell you about it because I slept through it and I didn't believe my family when they told me about it even when they showed me the water that had sloshed out of the pool and the the pictures hanging crooked in the hall. Even at 10, I tried hard to not be gullible. As it turns out, the TV news proved me wrong and them right and I was somewhat chagrined that I had missed the biggest natural disaster to almost happen to me since Hurricane Camille sent a tree through the house we were planning to rent in Louisiana a few years earlier.
    I miss all the fun.
    But I digress.
    What was I saying? Oh, yes, stay as safe as is humanly possible and enjoy the ride- it will be a great story to tell your kids some day!

    (Question- WHY NATURAL GAS in earthquake country?????)

    1. Oh my heavens. I wish I could trade my worry powers in for your sleep powers! ;) I can't believe you slept through such a big quake! That's amazing!

      Hurricane Camille. Your childhood really did hold its fair share of natural disasters.

      I've no idea why all the natural gas! It's pretty unnerving...

      There haven't been any earthquakes this morning. What a relief. Maybe we'll make it thorough the day without shaking!

  4. Pride and Prejudice--the BBC version, of course.....Oh, Mr. Bennet, don't vex me! You don't know how I suffer! ~Sharon

    1. Haha! Yes, Sharon! You win the "Name-that-movie Award"!

      It's one of my absolute favorites...

  5. I always love reading your blog. Daniel was born the day before the 1994 6.6 quake. I was still at the hospital. I was teriffied for months as aftershocks rattled the valley. I totally understand what you experienced. My favorite verse during that time was Psalm 4:8 "In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety." I repeated it every night for months as I fell asleep. It helped, and next time I'll remember the ice cream :oD

    1. Thank you, April! And oh my goodness. How terrifying to be in the hospital with a newborn when such a big earthquake hit... And months of aftershocks... That is so unnerving.

      Psalm 4:8 is a lovely, lovely passage. Thank you for the reminder. I really struggle to believe this verse in my heart (my head believes it just fine!). I see my disbelief manifested in my anxiety. I reel at the thought that I might not be safe, because so many Christians do find themselves in harm's way (my chronic illness confirmed this reality). But I'd love to lie down and sleep peacefully because I know that, whatever happens, God is good. It could be that he'll take me home sooner than I expect; it could be that he allows something bad to happen because of his mysterious purposes; it could be that nothing will happen. Whatever the case, he is good — really good, and I can rest in that.

      I guess my life will be one of fighting to move my head knowledge down to my heart, since it's the wellspring of all my living. This Psalm can help me! I'll pray it before bed and ask the Spirit to teach my heart its truths.

  6. You are such an inspiration and full of delightful wit!! Keep on doing what your doing, God is using you in a wonderful way!