How I Survived The March 2014 LA Quakes

The-Now-Panic-and-Freak-O-001There were two earthquakes this March in Los Angeles. The first one woke me and my boyfriend Eric up at about 6:30am, and it felt like the big one–the earthquake I’ve been hearing about my whole Californian life. My poor boyfriend’s a recent Chicago transplant, so it’s up to me to terrify him and patronizingly say things like, “Do you even know how to duck and cover?” So, when this first “foreshock,”which seems like a sexual euphemism but isn’t, hit, I lead the charge. I bolted from bed, put on sturdy shoes and grabbed my purse and phone. Then I thought about if I wanted emergency personnel and my neighbors to see me braless in a t-shirt and boxers (I was wearing a t-shirt that said “Now Panic and Freak Out”), but my emergency training kicked in–telling me this wasn’t the time for vanity. During the training I’ve had, at school and at work, the ex-firefighter or overworked teacher has always made sure to mock the fools who care about mere superficial things like family heirlooms or putting on pants during emergencies. Sentimentality and vanity are killers folks.

So underwearless and clutching my purse, I wandered around our apartment realizing there is nothing to duck and cover under except our tiny kitchen table. It doesn’t inspire confidence: its legs have always seem uncommitted. I don’t remember being that scared. I was more incredulous and upset that things weren’t up to code for Eric’s first earthquake. But eventually we realized there weren’t more earthquakes happening. So we took our shoes off, got back into bed and went to sleep immediately.


Replica of our kitchen table

In the morning everyone had an earthquake story. “How was your earthquake?” A lot of people slept through it, which seemed to really bum them out, and they wrote sad face Facebook posts. Experts predicted, as they have for my entire life, that this foreshock really was the beginning, and the end was nigh. We went back to being Southern Californians – driving two blocks to the store and juicing. Then it happened again. A 5.1 earthquake hit La Habra on Friday March 29th. Eric and I missed this one. I think we were actually walking (!) back from dinner, so maybe we thought it was a truck and didn’t notice it. Sad face. But there were little baby tremblers all that night and the next day. Eric woke me up when he felt one at night, and I said “Well, just go under the kitchen table if it happens again,” and went indignantly back to bed. Bring it on I thought.

Of course, in the light of day, we both knew we weren’t ready for anything to be broughten. We discussed purchasing an earthquake kit, but since this would require grocery shopping, and I haven’t been inside a grocery store in 2014, this seemed unlikely. Eric said it best, “Our earthquake plan is to die together,” and I thought it was the cutest thing for him to say. I’m much more comfortable imagining us as tragic lovers, crushed under the picture frame that hangs above our bed, than say, moving the picture.


Lovers’ Sarcophagus

There was one more scare. I was getting my eyelashes tinted. I guess I should explain. I have translucent, blonde eyelashes, and I don’t like wearing mascara every day, so you know, I have natural plant dye applied to my lashes every other month. The process of dying hair attached to your eyes is complicated. They sit you down, slather your lashes up with dye, and then you sit there for fifteen minutes while it dries. Sounds easy except that the dye stings, so if they apply it incorrectly, you’re sitting there in agony. You can whine to your beautician, but then she’ll just have to take the dye off to flush your eyes out, and this is more painful than just sitting through the pain. If you get a good beautician, it’s not painful. Anyway, I was trying a new beauty spot. It was not the mecca I’d read about on Yelp.

eyelash-tinting-san-antonio-eyelash-permingSome sort of forced makeover was taking place. A tan man in his forties with longish hair, who moved like Ozzy Osbourne, was getting his eyebrows threaded while an older woman in Uggs sat behind him shouting instructions to the beautician. She was his manager, and I wondered why she was so focused on his eyebrows when there were obviously bigger fish to fry with her seriously out of it musician. When she wasn’t shouting instructions, she would read out loud to no one in particular everything in her Facebook Newsfeed, “You’ll never believe the cast of Game of Thrones out of costume,” and I wondered who was more deranged, client or manager.


He probably threads too.

In the midst of this scene, my beautician applied his dye on my eyes and left me there for roughly twenty five minutes. This is too long to be blind in a public place with strangers reading their Facebook out loud. And then there was another tremble. It passed quickly, but I wondered would the beautician guide me to under a hard surface? He said he liked my hair. Did that mean he would save my life? Are they trained for this? Do they do drills? Grab your blinded customers first and shove them under the make up counter. No, if there was another shake, I was going to have to open my eyes and make my way to safety blind. They really are right. Vanity is a killer. Of course, the tremble passed. Juan took the dye off my eyes, and I have visible eyelashes. He did a mediocre job, but the experience was so upsetting that Eric and I are now certain we’re going to buy some water and canned food at some point, sooner or later.

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