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


Flying the Friendly Skies…Safely

I’m sitting behind the row of seats that are attached to the safety exit over the wing. Smart fliers know this row has an extra pinch of leg room, so it’s a popular choice.

But no one has to pass the safety regulations in order to sit there.

You know the routine.

As the plane taxis to the runway, stewardesses go over the safety procedures in case of an airplane emergency.

Just the thought of having one ensures my complete and avid attention.

They speak rapidly so they can themselves be buckled into the plane before take-off, which is imminent.

A yellow life vest goes rapidly on and off.  They show you how to blow into the red tube if it fails to inflate by itself. An airplane emergency would have me hyperventilating; so I guess I could do that.

They claim that the vest is under my seat, but don’t want me to reach under there and pull it out unless we crash.

I’m really going out on a limb, believing them.

This is how the Titanic began its voyage.

They demonstrate the oxygen mask – yours first, your neighbors second – in case we lose air pressure in the cabin.

Two questions.

Do you have one for the pup in the back too?

And can I use mine if the kid next to me breaks into his corn nuts?

I watch as they ask the folks sitting in the emergency exit rows if they understand the procedures and they all nod, including the guy wearing large earphones that are pumping heavy metal into his cranium.

The stewardess seems satisfied and goes to strap on her parachute and a seatbelt.

I, on the other hand, have pulled out the cute little crisis card from the seat pocket and read it intently as the aircraft makes a hard U-turn and picks up speed.  My super hero cape is already waving in the breeze, and I plan to be that guy on Survivor who doesn’t get voted off the island we’re about to crash land on.

There are three pages of emergency procedure cartoons to study.

If I can lift 50 pounds, I’m in. Well, my suitcase can’t weigh over 50 pounds by regulation and I would throw my back out trying to hoist it. But you have to factor in adrenaline, which boosts me into the “lift 100 pounds” category for about 10 minutes.

Which is all I’ll need to remove the passenger sitting next to the emergency door right now.

Because we can all see that he’ll be useless when the time comes.

Whoops, here’s one I hadn’t thought of. I can’t open the exit door if there is fire, water, or debris outside of it. What? They expect me to look out the window first? What can possibly be worse outside of a crashed plane than what is going on inside of a crashed plane?

The last man out is a rotten egg, and no one is getting near the other exits, as they are also being stampeded by frantic super heroes.

Er, concerned passengers.

Oh no. That door’s going down and we can jettison out on the inflatable raft, which obviously doubles as a shield. Look at this picture. It’s supposed to be in a box on the ceiling.

I look up. I look back. Nope. Phooey. No raft then.

Stupid Titanic.

What’s this? We have a slide!  Yes!

Yank open the door, activate the inflatable slide, don our personal flotation devices, and…calmly orderly politely… belly-slide down the bouncy pinball machine.

Points for style.

The word “expeditiously” is used numerous times on this card. I take that to mean “as fast as you can caper”. It probably looks something like what mobs do at the end of a ballgame in the stadium.

No one is getting out of that parking lot no matter how fast you caper.

It says here that you can’t have vision issues, in case your contact lens pops out. You can’t have hearing issues, so the passenger’s screaming can motivate you to caper faster…no, wait, so you can follow the stewardesses screamed instructions across the smoky cabin. You have to know English. Even if the stewardess is going to scream in Portuguese. You can’t be travelling with pets or kids or medical issues that will distract you from the task at hand.

Basically, you must be Superman. Federal regulations insist.

Otherwise, you are politely but legally requested to exchange seats with someone who qualifies.

Yeah. Right.

I have never once seen Superman sitting in an airplane.

The man flies his own Friendly Skies; seating for one.

Catching air will definitely score you points. Be sure to stick the landing.