Shake, Rattle, & Roll's an Earthquake

Cue Carole King's, "I Feel the Earth Move". I stumbled over the lyrics to her song in my head as I looked up at the theater from which I had just escaped. I was bit shaken. Confused. In denial. No way had that just happened. Not in Maryland, anyways.

You're just being a bit ridiculous!

Not so much. Before I begin to describe my experience during yesterday's 5.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked the East Coast, let me make a few points.

For starters, this IS NOT the West Coast. I've never been to California (but would love to). I don't know what an earthquake should feel like. And I don't care if anyone thinks we "overreacted" (Let me know how that snow storm goes for ya).

Secondly, I live less than 30 minutes from the nation's capital and Maryland's capital. Hello, terrorism! The first time I hear , feel or see something that is a bit abnormal, my thoughts immediately wander to the heart-wrenching devastation from September 11. Do you blame me?

Lastly, I don't want to be that person all the comedians talk about during their skits. You know, the thrill-seeker who moves toward the action to get a closer look. I'm no storm-chaser, ghost-whisperer, or crocodile hunter. When I sense danger, I. Roll. Out!

Yesterday was no different.

"Oh, what a lovely day!" Heading to the movies.
After weeks of putting off a visit to the movies, my SIL, Kinsey, and I headed to Annapolis to see The Help. I'm certain you've heard about this highly-acclaimed movie. If not, you've been under a rock...or a desk after yesterday's events.

The movie was going great. The theater was filled with "mature" movie-goers, and sprinkled with a few younger people. We took our place in the near front of the theater, dug into the popcorn and settled for some much-needed entertainment. Oh, and my blue raspberry Icee was mighty tasty! The brain-freeze, not so much.

A little over an hour into the movie, I felt the floor rumble. Kinsey and I looked at each other simultaneously. We were taken out of the severity of the moment by an outburst from another movie-goer across the aisle. She turned in her seat to address the crowd, "Did anybody else feel that?" Ummm...yeah!

It all happened so fast. There was a moment, however, when it felt like time stood still. I looked up at the ceiling and all I could think about were the enormous tiles and walls crashing down on top of everyone. It almost looked like the building was rocking back and forth. A bit of a sway, if you will. It was most likely my imagination. It had already made its way outside long before I did. I had no clue what waited around the corner.
The crowd, after the chaos
I motioned for Kinsey to hit the emergency exit. It looked like a scene from Armageddon.  Most everyone was running to the back of the movie theater, forming a huge crowd of chaos. I heard names being shouted, screams, stomping the movie played in the background. I was in such a hurry, I left my purse in the aisle. Luckily, I had a moment of clarity and ran back to grab it before zipping out the side door.

About ten of us raced down several stairs leading to the outside area. We hesitantly pushed opened the door to get a glimpse of the chaos. People were staring, holding their heads, shaking, and breathing heavily. No one knew what had happened. That is, those who weren't hip to social media. A few people came up to us for assistance. I even checked out the condition of the Bay Bridge for a family who would have to cross it in order to get home. She called us, "Twitterers", but was very grateful for the help.

My Twitter stream was instantaneously filled with reactions across the area:

I panicked.

"What about schools?"
"Are the children safe?"
"Is my family okay?"
"What in the world just happened?"

Kinsey's reaction:

"I left my Icee in there. I'm really mad!"

After hearing mixed reports about the magnitude, the damage caused, and the dismissal of various organizations, businesses, and schools, we hit the road. I wanted to make sure school was not letting out, and that an undoubtedly shaken student body was going to be okay.

They were. 

In fact, most everyone I spoke with, tweeted with, or had any form of contact with was just fine.

A few structural damages reported. Roof collapse. Broken windows. Cancellations. Evacuations. And revelations.

Here is what I learned:

  • Social media works. When the phone lines were tied down, I was able to contact a few people using Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail. Phone calls require more bandwidth than some of the online sites, thus allowing users to get through.
  • People care. Everyone was concerned about the well-being of loved ones and strangers. There was a general sense of caring felt all around. It should be like this all the time. I'm working on it.
  • We are NOT in control. Well, I knew this, but yesterday was a definite reminder. 
  • It's called TODAY for a reason. If you love someone, tell them. If you've been meaning to do something, do it. Don't wait. Don't wonder. Tomorrow is not promised.
Everyone's reaction to this event is going to be different. 
Some will think it's silly: What's all the talk about?
Others take it as sign: You better get your house in order.

A few might find it cool: Dude, I totally felt it when I was taking a shower. Awesome!
Many will never forget: I have never experienced anything like that before.

Whatever the case, it's safe to say that we all took some form of notice. The question is, did it "move" you to change anything in your life? Probably not.

Just don't wait for another event to occur before you realize that $h!t happens.

Hello, Irene!

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