Thursday, August 25, 2011

An Earthquake in New Jersey... Seriously?

I don’t know if you all watch the news, but the east coast… that’s right Eileen the “east coast” - suffered a 5.9 earthquake yesterday.

I was heading back to my office after lunch wondering if the window washers were at it again when I saw the windows shake slightly. It took about five seconds to register what was happening. (I experienced an earthquake once when living in Seattle many many years ago so eventually I got a clue.)

I urged everyone under the doorways. I think I saw that in a movie or television show once – so it's good that I was using TV as some kind of survival guide.
Then I rode it out for a couple of more seconds with my co-workers. I might have giggled nervously. I might have.

When something like this happens you naturally take stock. What might have been if…? What was the worst that could have happened? More importantly… how did you react?

I’m a big believer in people finding out the most about themselves in crisis. As writers - isn't that what we are always doing with our characters? Natural disaster is one of those ‘BIG’ moments. What are your instincts? How does the adrenaline rush feel? What do you really want to do when crash hits? Have sex (like in so many romance novels) or lie down and take a Tylenol?

This was a minor event. A small tremor where for maybe 10 seconds total the earth shook and it freaked me the hell out. I didn’t cry. My first instinct was to tell people what to do (not shocking) and I tried to laugh as if it was okay but really I was wondering like everyone else if the building was suddenly going to collapse.

I want to point out… bring me a hurricane any day of the week. This we understand in New Jersey. Earthquake, mudslides, fires and tornados… not so much.

This will be good for my writing. We take so much of what we extrapolate from real life “as seen on the news” into how we think our characters will behave in certain situations. This is a good reminder the real thing – no matter how scary – is good research.

What about you? Did any of you shake a little?


Anonymous said...

I felt nothing, haha. ;D
The first earthquake I can ever remember experiencing was when I was in first grade: The ground just started shaking suddenly, and I was OK with it... until some kid yelled "STAMPEDE!" Then I was absolutely terrified of being crushed by an angry rhino(of course!!), and I swiftly tucked myself beneath my desk.

Eileen said...

I've felt four or five since I moved to the west coast. The biggest one happened relatively far away and woke me up, but I wasn't sure why until I heard about it on the radio the next day.

Another time, we were at a playground in San Francisco and I didn't so much feel it as wonder why all the swings were moving when no kids were on them at the time.

The last ones were when a series of earthquakes hit Carson City while we were there for a soccer tournament. I was just falling asleep when the first one hit. It sounded like a train was going down the street, but it was over in seconds.

Now . . . to your other point. Most of the emergencies I've been in have been more medical than natural. I tend to be (surprisingly) very calm during the actual event and then fall apart completely when it's all over and everyone's okay.

Maureen McGowan said...

Supposedly people felt that quake in Toronto, but I didn't.

But I have felt several earthquakes in my life. My usual reaction is to assume it's not that bad. To trivialize it. To assume it's no big deal. Even the few that have continued for a while.

The one time I reacted (very) differently was while I was living in California. I was in hospital and it was the middle of the night. I'd just had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon, so can probably blame the morphine, but I got really upset. All the nurses continued to bang around (I swear nurses are louder at night than during the day) as if nothing was happening and meanwhile I was imagining horrible things.

I still hadn't been out of bed since the surgery, and had a toe-to-crotch, very heavy cast, and I assumed that the hospital would be overrun by seriously injured people and the staff would forget about me. But I didn't call out for a nurse, I just quietly cried and felt sorry for myself.

Clearly, I am a narcissistic needy wimp in crisis. But I still blame the morphine.

(Meanwhile, my poor sister who'd flown down from Toronto so I wouldn't be alone for my surgery, was running around my apartment, protecting all my pottery. :) She had her priorities straight. :)

Eileen said...

It was totally the morphine, Maureen. Although I don't think you can count it as narcissistic and needy since you didn't call anyone. You were ready to make the sacrifice and be forgotten while they tended to the hideously injured people in your head. Brave girl! Even while drugged and casted!

Stephanie Doyle said...

Okay so I mentioned a Hurricane in my post... now Irene's headed for us.

It's like Natural Disaster week on the Discovery Channel!

Maureen McGowan said...

Steph, you are so powerful!

BTW, my agent just claimed responsibility for the quake. Said it was his Deviant ability. Inside joke about my book...

But seriously, Steph, batten the hatches!

And Eileen, thanks for being so generous in your interpretation of my behavior. LOL

Anonymous said...

I felt nothing.... I had to see it in the news before I realized anything had happened..

Molly O'Keefe said...

Hey steph - how about the storm? everyone okay???

HI GUYS!!!! I'm in my camper and outside my window is a right there. we're off to see glow worm caves tomorrow. All is well, there are updates on my facebook page and pictures on Adam's if you're interested.

Maureen McGowan said...

Oh, Molly! The kids are going to love the glow worms! I forgot about that.

Hope you're having a fabulous time and from the smiles in the photos on FB, I'd guess that you are. :)

Stephanie Doyle said...

Molly! I never go on fb but I will just to see pictures of glowing worms and cows!

Hope you're having a fantastic time.

As for the storm - the media did it's absolute best to scare the crap out of me... but I survived no problem. Just 24 hours of no power.

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