Friday, September 09, 2005

Natural disaster

Ever since Katrina hit I've been thinking about natural disasters. A lot. So much so that I even dream about them. When New Orleans was destroyed, I thought about how I would feel if it had been Nashville. I would have been devastated. Even though I no longer have an official home in Music City, it is my home, my American home, and I have too many loved ones there to not be personally affected if something happened there.

Honestly, when I lived in Nashville, I never worried too much about natural disasters of any kind. Hurricanes would usually only cause us torrential rain, which was usually welcome in the dry, hot summers. Tornadoes I certainly never gave much thought to, I figured where I lived in the city, it was very unlikely. Boy, mother nature proved me wrong in 1998! The thought of an earthquake bothered me a bit, because for the past 20 years they've been saying "the big one" was going to hit the New Madrid Fault any day now, and the potential for destruction as far as Nashville was possible.

Still, when it came to natural disasters, tornadoes didn't scare me too much. I guess perhaps it is the fault of the movie industry, but what I learned of tornadoes involved ruby slippers, being surrounded by the people that loved you, and having a house land on your arch enemy. Tornadoes couldn't be that bad if all you did was get knocked out and have a blockbuster of a hallucination.

But earthquakes, yes, those fuckers scare the holy bejesus outta me. Again, this is perhaps partially the fault of the movie industry, because my earliest known realization of what could happen in an earthquake was born watching the first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve. There was a scene involving an earthquake, and the ground opened up and sucked a car into an abyss deep within the earth. Boy was I scared! Sure, sure, Superman fixed it in the end, but I knew damn well in real life there wouldn't be a Superman to make things right. There wasn't anything scarier to me than the thought of being sucked into a crevice in the earth. I began to anthropomorphize earthquakes, as if the earth actually intended to open up and swallow whatever it could.

And now, here I am, in the land of earthquakes. Perhaps not as many as California, or other heavily seismic areas, but Greece is known for earthquakes. Our village on Kos was actually a rebuild of a village that had been destroyed in an earthquake. Almost every night I'm sure I feel the bed moving. I study the cracks in the building to try and decide if they are actually in the foundation or just cosmetic. I dread getting in the elevator because I don't want to be in it at the time an earthquake hits. Every time the cats start acting up, I wonder if they are predicting an oncoming seismic event. Everyone says that after your first one you don't think about it as much. First one!? I'd prefer to not experience any, thankyouverymuch.

Between hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, floods, terrorist attacks, and a_disaster00 there really isn't any place you can be truly safe. Like right now, suddenly, a cat jumped on my desk with her butt in my face. You never know when a disaster is going to strike. Life is a risk. I don't seem to accept that very well.

At least I can pet the cat, and get her ass out of my face.


EllasDevil said...

"Almost every night I'm sure I feel the bed moving..."

Well I think you should be having words with your mother. There's certain things she should have you know... er... talked to you about as you were growing up. One of them is that it's perfectly normal for your bed to be moving every night when your married! It's like part and parcel of the whole marriage deal!

Getting serious now, I can understand your fear of earthquakes. I think it's because they are something we have absolutely no control over and also have no way of knowing just when and where they are going to hit.

Greece is very seismic and I'm sure you'll have experienced small tremors since you've been here. Personally I'm useless, I don't notice the small ones. I usually read a line on teletext "a tremor was felt in Athens at 1am this morning...." and I'll be sat there thinking 'but I was up at 1am, why didn't I feel it?'.

I think the Superman film has installed a lot of this fear in you, you see an earthquake as like the scene in the movie when in reality, they're nowhere near as 'exciting' (I'm unsure thats the right word to use) and I'm sure once you do experience one you feel is significant enough to be considered an experience then you'll feel better and more 'in the know' about them.

The SeaWitch said...

I, too, feel the bed move every now and again. And when it does, my heart stops. It's everything I can do not to jump out of bed and race to the balcony. After experiencing my first earthquake in 1999 here, I haven't gotten "used to them". I don't believe for a second anyone gets used to earthquakes. Tremors maybe. But never earthquakes. I'm getting really good at determining their strength too. 4.1 is like experiencing vertigo. At 4.9 objects will move. I still break out in stress hives every time I feel anything over 4.5. I have experienced tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms, blizzards in my lifetime and only earthquakes truly frighten me half to death. You can never see one coming and that's the source of my fear. I can't prepare for it.

wandering-woman said...

I do love stopping by to see what you are thinking about every day, Mel, and its as unpredictable as earthquakes..most days...

Looks like I'm the odd one out here but with 4 years in Southern California, quakes never worried me - maybe just because as you say, you can't control them, you can't predict them, when the bed shakes like you're sleeping in a dollhouse somebody's shaking up and down, there's nothing to do but ride the wave. I had my earthquake kit (batteries, etc.) tucked in the closet like a well-trained Californian - many of my neighbors had lost their homes in 94 - but I got to liking the tremors in some weird way. Maybe they create some sort of false many tremors and nothing big, we must be OK.

When I lived in the Midwest, tornados freaked me out - probably because I never actually experienced one. Maybe you do need just a little tiny tremor to show you you'll survive?

melusina said...

EllasDevil, I am sure you are referring to the movement of the bed created by my husband's snoring, right? =)

I, personally, think that, like SeaWitch, I don't think I'll ever get used to quakes, even if I experience a few. But I guess only time will tell.

I will confess, that I am a tad bit curious to actually feel a small earthquake. Just so I know what it is like, I guess - and perhaps, wandering-woman, it is like you say, once I experience one, I'll feel better. We'll see.

Generally, when I felt the bed moving it was either a truck passing by or a cat sharpening his or her claws on the mattress/boxspring. So maybe I haven't even felt a tremor yet.

Shot Baker said...

I guess I'm lucky. I don't fear anything. Least of all a natural disaster. In fact I have learned that the key to longevity is to routinely pray for death. Man, trust me, if you want to die, nothing will touch you!