18 April 2008

Rumblings and Rambling Thoughts

My mother is an octogenarian, though she would despise being called that. She is very active and lives independently. She and her older sister talk by phone almost every day. Whenever Aunt M can't get Mom on the phone, she leaves a voice mail asking if she's out gallivanting with a handsome gentleman. "Where do you hide him when people visit?" she asks, under the bed?" I'm not sure why she would think he was under the bed rather than under the bedcovers; if I suggested that to my mother, she would feign embarrassment for a second, and then laugh heartily.

So this morning, what panicking thought did she wake to? I know I locked the door. I should check if a man is under the bed. No, it can't be a man. It must be an animal burrowing. I hope he stops before he claws through my bed.

My sister's first thought was this: There's an elephant shaking the house. I must get my niece and the dog outside.

A coworker woke from a deep sleep to scream at her cats for running and jumping on her bed. (Those must be huge cats. Maybe tiger cubs?) Another thought that a car had plowed through her garage at high speed.

My thoughts? Hmmm. That thunder is an earthquake. Go check.

Go check??? Go check what: the trees? the fish? the flowers? the roof?

I think it is interesting how the brain works when it is jolted awake by something unusual and unexpected. What odd thoughts we each processed trying to put the sensory input into some sort of sensible, meaningful pattern.

Of course, nothing like this was said by the people buying donuts who were interviewed by the local network affiliate an hour later: We was sleeping and was awokened up by it shakin'. How do they always manage to find the stereotypical, nearly illiterate, hayseed to interview? Not everybody in Indiana is like that - I swear they are not! -- although apparently there were many people who felt the urge to sooth their rattled nerves and share their quake stories by buying high caloric baked goods at 6:15am. Now that is so Indiana.

The daffodils, by the way, seemed unfazed by mother earth's gentle rumble this morning.


Bybee said...

My mom (Missouri) said that it was felt in Kansas City! Wow, big one!

(un)relaxeddad said...

Glad it was an experience and not a disaster! I remember waking up from one strong enough to shake down chimneys and items off shelves in Cologne, once - utter disorientation then terror!

Cam said...

Bybee -- I read something yesterday that earthquakes in the midwest are felt in a much larger area than in California -- sometimes as much as 3 to 4 times farther away.

RelaxedDad: I'm sure we all would have thought other things had it been disasterous, or not remembered our immediate thoughts. I've been in tornadoes before (commonplace where I live in N. America)-- when you are nearby, that is, experiencing the heavy winds, rains and lightening, it is similar: you know that it could be dangerous but there is this intellectual separation because you know you are not in immediate danger, even though aware that it could change in an instant. But, if you actually see a tornado, hear the sound of one, it is terrifying and quite different. I think my experience Friday was similar, but because there has not been a serious earthquake here in the last 100+ years, I was probably too beguiled by the novelty of it, than thinking at all of the possiblities if it would have continued for longer and been far worse.

chiefbiscuit said...

Earthquakes are weird things because it suddenly feels like there's nowhere that's safe, apart from up in the air; which is opposite to the normal state of things.

Dorothy W. said...

Glad everyone is okay! It IS interesting what the brain throws up at you when startled awake -- love the elephant response!

Cam said...

CB -- you are so right! I think my first impulse is to hit the ground or get underneath something heavy -- that is what one does when there is a tornado. But, when the ground is moving, where do you go?

Dorothy -- I thought the elephant was hysterical. That she thought our rambunctous 3 year old neice was around too makes it even more amusing. If ever a 3 year old could make it sound like a herd of large wild animals was stampeding, it would be my neice L.

stefanie said...

Hving grown up in southern California where we had earthquake drills in school, and having moved to Minnesota only a few months after experiencing a major earhtquake that knocked down buildings and freeways, if I was awakened by an earthquake here I would know exactly what it was, but just might have a little freak out anyway.

Emily Barton said...

Don't feel bad. It isn't just in Indiana where reporters go around lifting up rocks to find hayseeds for their interviews. They love to do that in all Southern states as well.