We had a bit of excitement in SoCal yesterday, courtesy of Mother Nature.
I was in my car, about a mile from my home, when the 5.4 temblor hit yesterday. I thought there was something wrong with my tires because I felt a definite wobbling in the car as I drove. When I stopped at a red light and it continued to shake, I figured it was some kind of engine trouble. I was trying to decide if I could make it up the hill to my house or if I should risk taking it in to the shop when the smooth public radio FM deejay whispered, "Do you feel that?" And then I knew.
I've been in the car before when a quake has hit. It happened a lot in the mid-90's, as aftershocks of the 1994 Northridge incident. These would register in the 3- or 4- range on the Richter scale, and I never knew they'd occurred until someone told me. That size shock is pretty mild, even when you are right on top of the epicenter. This was the first time I'd experienced one that was large enough to feel while driving, and it was a pretty strange sensation. I can tell you that I don't want to be in a car during a 6. I don't want to be anywhere near a 7.
My niece, who attends UCLA and now lives in Westwood, had never experienced a quake of any magnitude (the Sacramento region, where she grew up, is way less seismically active than most of the state). She was a bit -- yeah, I'll say it -- shaken. As she lives in a second-story apartment, she probably experienced a lot more swaying than someone would on the ground. But she agreed with me that once it was over -- and she realized that this was not "The Big One," and that no one she knew was hurt -- a moderate earthquake can liven up your day. It's like the heightened sense you get on a roller coaster... it's a little bit scary, but you come out of it safe, and that makes it kind of fun.
I am not trying to make light of those who did suffer injuries or property damages in this incident. That doesn't make anyone happy, and I know that a 5.4 quake is a frightening thing for those who have not lived through one that is larger. But I feel a lot like the news reporter I listened to said yesterday, who reminisced of a 5.3 aftershock following Northridge. He said the 5 felt really mild after having experienced the initial quake: Northridge was a 6.7 on the Richter scale, which means it was about 100 times stronger than the temblor we felt yesterday.
Besides, this week has brought news of real tragedies. Vicki Forman, another SoCal blogger who was a speaker at BlogHer, lost her son last week, just days before his 8th birthday. If you click on the link, you'll discover that yesterday's quake hit during the memorial service. (Vicki's friends have created a fund in Evan's name, details here.)
And Lisa, who blogs as Midwestern Mommy, found out yesterday that she has cancer. I happen to know a number of bloggers who are dealing with the disease. That is news that would shake me to the core, for a lot longer than the 10 seconds or so that the earth moved yesterday.
As for the Mills family, life moves on. The economic climate and the housing crisis are a lot like the stresses and strains that build up on our fault lines and eventually rupture in the form of an earthquake. My husband has trouble sleeping at night, as he is required to run his office with fewer resources while chasing work that isn't out there. We are learning to live on less, even as costs rise and pressures mount to spend more on services we already use.
I was offered a virtual assistant job yesterday -- I am thisclose to taking it. I will be spending the day doing data entry for a friend's business and am also investigating other options that would drastically change how I spend my days.
And my little girl continues to grow into an adolescent, with all the joys and sorrows that entails -- for the entire family. This month, she's experienced several bouts with uncontrollable crying. I'm a cryer, so it doesn't bother me (other than the desire to help her through it). But the sound of her wailing and sobbing makes my husband crazy. He doesn't understand it; doesn't know why she can't "just stop it" and thinks that when I am comforting her I am actually "encouraging" her...
...Which usually ends in a kind of domestic quake of our own.