Earthquakes and Instagram

It was after a party on a late night in June. I had finally slipped deep into the REM cycle of one-in-the-am sleep, dreaming something about a parked car when it hit.

I went from sound asleep to standing beside my bed on high alert.

Both an earthquake and the sound of someone vomiting can do that to me.

The earthquake lasted long enough to force me into making a choice: do I assume this is just a drill and get back into bed or do I run to save the children because I hate the idea of them getting all squished when the roof falls in?

Hubby insists that I ran through the house shrieking while he stayed in bed wishing he had a camera to video the pool during those rolling thirty seconds.

I only wanted the kids to know that, had this NOT been a drill, the nearest exits are here and here and they should proceed calmly outside to our rendezvous area for a headcount.

You know, the basic emergency procedures necessary to not get squished in future disaster situations. Or blown up. Or drowned. Or trampled in an ant stampede.

Realizing we’d never made any, I compensated on the spot.

My youngest son slept through most of my riveting five minute lecture.

It would have saved me loads of time had I simply done first what I did next.


I have two sisters whose first thoughts during a disaster do not involve kids or cameras: they find their immediate stability in social media.

And that’s where they were when I looked for them.

Still in bed…but shrieking among their hundreds of online peeps.

I have to say, I was reassured immediately.

I knew they would not rest until the details were accounted for and future prognostication was thoroughly discussed and adrenaline levels compared and analyzed with the world-wide web.

The earthquake was safely in their tapping fingertips and I went back to sleep.

Alas, this is the world of my children.

They will sleep through the earthquake, wake up pinned to the floor, and start SnapChatting about it.

They will meet the rest of the family in virtual reality and be greatly comforted.

I will be standing outside, alone and in my jammies, wondering where to dig first.

As an added precaution, I have opened an Instagram account.

My kid sleeping in the bottom bedroom has one, and I’d like to be available in case he wants to give me coordinates.

In the meantime, I feel pretty hipster about having it.

Apparently, all the cool kids do it, but until someone walks me through it a few times, I feel like my dad when he first learned about computers (maybe a couple years ago):

“Jolie you’ve gotta help me here,” he hands me his tablet, two days after I’ve set him up with an email account, “I keep typing in my name and address like it says and it won’t get me anywhere!”

Well, that’s because it wants your email address. Not your house address.

It wants your user name, not your real one.

Instagram wants my life in single-frame references. Not in context.

My life reduced to hashtags.

#Idie #butihavestufftosay #momsarehiptoo

At least it stays put for a while, like a phone text, so you can figure it all out, whereas I hear that SnapChat vanishes into thin air.

Like an earthquake, you can’t even prove it happened.

#savethechildren #theskyisfalling #guacamolejo


Stop, Drop…And Roll ‘Em

I may have mentioned the fact that I am a weather wimp. I live in the only place I would ever live by choice. We don’t have blizzards, hail the size of tennis balls, lightning storms that knock out the electricity, tsunamis, flooding rivers, raging tornados, or black holes.

But we live within driving distance, in case we ever want to be entertained by these ‘natural disasters’.

What we do here in So Cal is wildfires and the occasional earthquake. Let me show you the difference and why this is so much more manageable. You can build your home earthquake resistant. You cannot build it tornado resistant. You can put a fire break around your property. You cannot put a flood break around it. You can put out a wildfire. You cannot put out a blizzard. An earthquake lasts a minute or so; step outside and wait. The earth will roll and then stop; the tsunami, not so much.

We tend to feel jilted if it stays overcast all day. Watch the weather report when we get a light rain. Suddenly the world stops turning because the roads are wet and we have no idea what to do about it. So we keep driving 80mph and spin out on the shoulder and make the 6 o’clock news.

We’re that boring.

And I love it.

Nevertheless, I still hold conversations with otherwise perfectly intelligent people from across America who refuse to come out for a visit.  They harbor a vision in their heads of California having “the BIG ONE” and then falling off in one long slab into the Pacific Ocean.

Perhaps they have never heard of plate tectonics, or maybe they’ve seen too many movies, but I for one find the idea intriguing.

I don’t see any reason why cracking off from the mainland means we will necessarily be underwater.

I’m seeing us as an island. We already have the palm trees. The tourist industry will skyrocket.

Everyone should snap up some inland real estate, preferably hilltop, and wait for it to become our new beaches. It’s already barren and sandy from previous wildfires, right? Just add ocean and your seedy little investment mobile home on two acres of scrub oak will be worth countless millions.

Unfortunately, according to Hollywood experts, if the BIG ONE also triggers a volcano or tsunami or possibly Godzilla emerging from the ocean depths, safe to say they will commandeer your new little tropical paradise to set up their cameras.

They need to get this in the 6 o’clock news.