Although I have lived in California now for longer than I have lived anywhere else, I am not originally from here. Earthquakes still seem like magic to me. Like an amusement park ride or some other thing where what you feel is interesting but without consequences. When some of the East Coast portions of my family first started going West, my maternal grandmother was certain every New Yorker who defected to California was going to fall into a crevasse and die. Eight feet of snow, she felt safe in. But earthquakes seemed horrific beyond all measure.
Native Californian Forrest Black tells me that a 6.0 earthquake is when buildings start falling down. The earthquake I just experienced was, at most recent estimate, a 5.8 in Chino Hills. That places the epicenter at around twenty some odd miles from where I am in Hollywood. This quake was so strong that, according to my twitter friends and my pals on the internet professional forums, the shaking was felt as far away as Las Vegas.
My mother was stationed in Israel during the Lebanon War. Then too, I had Stateside friends and family who thought it must be terrifying and dangerous to live in a warring part of the world. At the time, my only awareness that anything unusual was going on was that I had to set bric-a-brac away from the edge of countertops or it could be knocked off by the sonic booms of war planes flying overhead. I never saw an injured person or an explosion.
In much the same way, I have never seen the earth in California open up and start swallowing humans or their homes. I have never seen anything more than a crack in plaster, items fallen off a shelf, or a rolling mini tidal wave in a swimming pool. And it is not like earthquakes happen weekly in Los Angeles. So I don’t usually even think about avoiding placing things near the edge of counters.
This earthquake was a bit of a reminder that there really are serious fault lines on the West Coast. There are now piles of documents all mixed up together all over my office. Stacks of flyers are hopelessly jumbled. Photographic backdrops came halfway down. Anything lightweight like a CD or DVD went flying off the shelves. Pictures came off the walls. This included an original Cherry Poptart illustration by Larry Welz where he drew Cherry in a leather jacket specifically as a gift for Blue Blood. I am very relieved that the glass on the frame did not break on that.
And the iced latte on my desk fell off and soaked my chair. I’ll trade coffee butt for safe original artwork any day though. Nice to have a considerate earthquake. The quivering ground still seems fictional to me and, in the midst of a quake, I can never remember if you are supposed to get in the door frame or avoid the door frame.