Monday, March 10, 2008

A guest blog...

From my friend "Chella" (that's her alias) in England - she's a native East Coaster and hadn't experienced an earthquake until that one in Northern England hit recently. (She's the one in the middle; I'm on the left and her fiancee, Sarah, is on the right.)

Her style of writing is so hilarious that I thought I'd use this excuse to share it with you:

So I’ll set the scene:

I’m sitting at my desk in the attic, checking my email and talking on the phone with my best friend back home in New York.

I start to feel a slightly distracting rumbling. "Big truck?" I think, still chatting away.

Next, the rumbling gets louder, and I felt the ground shaking. "We live near the railway line..." I rationalize.

Then I realize it feels more like a New York City subway train going under a building. I calmly tell my friend Matt to hang on while I do a quick mental inventory.

Okay. I live on a dead-end street, so trucks can't pass by for that long.

And, I can’t be feeling a New York City subway running under me, mainly because I am in a room on the second storey of my house, but also, and slightly more pragmatically, because I am in Sheffield.

The rumbling becomes a roiling motion that bubbles from the south, toward me, through the house, and passes further on down the hill toward the city centre, behind me. The angled Velux window starts chattering like teeth. The windowsill display of childhood artifacts comes to life. I watch our Miss Piggy and Mork and Mindy lunch boxes, Official Sesame Street Rubber Duckie and one of the cuddly mice from Bagpuss dance to the edge of the sill like a kitschy, nostalgic dream sequence. I am momentarily mesmerized.

It’s the lunch boxes that remind me of my childhood in the US and break me from my reverie.

"If you are ever in an earthquake, get everyone together and stand in a doorway, away from the windows." Mrs. Young taught us well.

That's what it is! I spring into action. It all happens very quickly.

I’ll slow it down so you can see the hummingbird’s wings, as it were:

"Matt! I think we're having an earthquake." Half panic half excitement into the phone.

"What? Now? Okay." He doesn’t protest as I drag his disembodied voice downstairs on the cordless phone.

Three police-style knocks on the bedroom door.

"Sarah! Did you feel that? Come here!"

She comes to the doorway, bleary eyed, watching me as I stand purposefully with my back pressed to the door frame. She looks at me for a long moment, and not in a good way.

"Didn't you feel that? We're having an earthquake."

The look continues.

"Well, it's stopped now, but we were. I think we were. I you think a big truck went by?"

Okay, the look is quite withering by now. I start grasping at straws.

"We learned in school that you have to stand in a doorway." This comes out in the whiny tone of voice a second-grader would use, which doesn't help my cause.

Finally, she gives me her verdict: "You woke me up because you think there was an earthquake? I'm going back to bed. We don't even live on a fault line. And get off the phone."

Oh yeah, the phone. I take Matt outside with me to make sure there isn't a more localized cause. He’s happy to keep me company as I do a quick inventory of the garden. No collapsed roofs, no explosions, no piles of bricks or mud. No...

Nothing, actually. No people, no dogs, no lights on. I’m alone in the street. Then the phone goes dead.

It takes me and my adrenaline-fueled imagination a little while to work out that I have simply walked out of range of the cordless phone signal.

What? It COULD have been an imminent zombie attack.

All of my neighbours have jobs and babies. As I peer up at their darkened windows, I decide not to wake up anyone else. Based on Sarah’s response, I suspect that the further removed from my immediate household, the worse the reaction to a summons will be.

I go back inside. Sarah, as promised, had gone back to bed.

Am I hallucinating? How can I prove I’m not losing my mind without delving into those pamphlets of the great philosophers I so diligently collected last month? Cogito ergo sum…cogito.

I become frustrated, realizing the only people I know who are still awake are in the Eastern, Central and Mountain time zones. Much nearer to regular earthquakes, but, crucially, a bit to far from this one to accurately comment.

I cannot rest!

I want someone to investigate.

“Ma’am, you’re ringing to report that your house feels wobbly?” I can hear it before I even dial. I choose not to waste police time.

This isn’t a crime. I need a public institution that investigates things that aren’t… necessarily… crimes.

Inspiration strikes. I log onto the BBC news website.

Good old BBC.

'A tremor felt in the Midlands.'





‘Biggest Earthquake of my life!'

You know what?

Me too.

Vindicated, I dial New York, eager to share.

Thank you.


vivavavoom said...

the only earthquake I experienced was in Chile when I was around 9 years old and visiting my cousins. They slept right through it. I was up trying to figure out what was going on and not get hit by the dolls they had on a shelf. I was shocked no one woke up, but then the next day, they said they knew it was happening but could tell it was nothing big and just rolled over. their american gringo cousin was not as calm. It felt like exactly what you describe. A subway going underneath.
congrats on their marriage too btw.

Misty said...

Earthquakes yikes...!!! I think I'll keep all our snow!

JLee said...

oh my God, that would be so scary to be in an earthquake. That's something I have not experienced, nor hope to!

Darth Weasel said...

hilarious piece. And I love the product placement :-) Velux skylights and Sesame Street are probably scratching checks as we speak...