It’s an El Niño year, and we had almost 3 inches of rain in the last 7 days (which is really rare for this part of California). Needless to say there was a lot of flooding and days I couldn’t ride my bike. But today there was this:
I knew I was back to becoming a Californian again when I considered high speed car chases de rigur. But the actual defining moment came the night of March 8th, 2014, when a commercial for MiraLax came on and my wife and I saw this:
We looked at it, before they started talking about laxatives, and said in unison “Who loves LAX?” Then the commercial kicked in and talked about pooping. My wife muttered, “Oh, I thought they meant the airport.” and I replied so had I.
Grand total of earthquakes of M2 or higher in a 5 mile radius of my home the past 24 hours: 17
Since I’ve been back in California, there’s been a couple very minor (not even 2 pointer) quakes. It was at the point where my wife has remarked that she was annoyed not to have felt any.
Then, Friday night, we had a big one. If you live in or near the OC, you felt them last night, a surprisingly long (20 seconds) 5.1 point shakedown. I live about 3 miles from the epicenter. Don’t worry, nothing broke.
It was prefaced by two noticeable (significant) foreshocks of around 2 or 3 points. At that point, I was reading Shortpacked! and had just reached the moment when Robin accidentally pulled the Drama Tag, when my wife remarked “I just don’t get why people make a huge drama of these.” After laughing about the serendipity, I explained, “Once you feel a five pointer, you’ll understand.”
God damn drama tag.
The fiver shook the hell out of the house. Some books tipped over, the carbon arrows fell off the shelf, and my poor cats… Shego freaked the hell out and bolted down the stairs. She’d been asleep on the bed, zoomed down, caromed off the toolbox at the foot of the stairs (my bad, I have to fix the slow drains in the bathrooms upstairs) so loud, we thought that it had fallen, and then did one of those cat vanishing acts. I thought she went upstairs. This will be important later.
On the other hand, Vashti clung to her cat tree for dear life and then I scooped her up for a hug after. She was confused, but not inclined to panic, after all. You have to do a lot to make my thug killer cat panic. I fed her some treats and we did inventory, confirming nothing broke, and then there were two more after shocks.
Around this time, I realize we can’t find Shego, so we upturn the house looking for her, in case she got out. All the closets are emptied, the dresser and under it are checked. The bed broke last week (not even in the fun way) so that’s on the ground and we know the cat isn’t under it. But an hour of searching nets us no cat.
I take a shower. There’s another aftershock, I break out the catnip. No Shego. Now we’re worried, but what can we do. We’re certain she didn’t get out, since the screens are intact. Meanwhile, our neighbors are all in the street talking. “Did you feel that?” someone asks. I think, but do not say to them, No, I was dead at the time, here’s your sign. Bill Engvall was strong in me. I also started filming the Asshole song by Dennis Leary. “We stand around after quakes, saying didn’t that feel neat?”
But still no cat.
It’s now midnight. I go to bed, sure she’ll come out when she’s hungry, but when a tiny shake wakes me up at four, there’s still no little Shego sleeping on me. Now I’m worried. I go downstairs and think where did I not look. I pull the couch away from the wall and there, dusty and terrified, is my cat. She got stuck behind the couch. I’m not even sure how she managed to get back there!
I pick her up and she just sits, terrified still. I brush her, one of her favorite activities, and she doesn’t respond much. I bring her to bed and she sits for a while, but then walks off. At five, I go look for her again, find her in my office just sitting, and bring her back. This time she stays a while, and goes into the bathroom to drink water (we have a dish there, it’s not that creepy). It’s not until around 9am that she starts being a little normal.
And of course we had another little shake at that moment.
Welcome back to California!
Sunshine? If you say so.
I was November then, but today I feel a little free. Since moving back, I have remarked many times “I regret nothing!” I don’t regret quitting my old job. I don’t regret moving.
Do I still miss my friends? Yes. With the exception of Andrea and the Hubbits, though, I’ve managed to see them a little more than I expected. Possibly because I’m putting in more effort, but also because I now travel more for work, so I can see people when I go. I was able to tack on vacations to work trips, or see family and friends while working, and it’s … working well for me.
Mentally I’m in a generally better place than I was this time two years ago. That doesn’t mean this year has been perfect. I lost three grandparents, which cut me to the bone in a way I probably should have expected. I’ve had some good tear down fights with friends and family, though we’ve all made up. I’ve done dumb things, which is pretty normal for anyone I think.
Still, I feel good. I feel happy. And I’m looking forward to next year.
That, my friends, is a welcome feeling.