My Brain During an Earthquake

Things that went through my mind when my chair first began to shake.

– What the hell?
– Oh, God. It’s a ghost. And it’s mad at me.
– Maybe it’s psychokinesis. (I just wrote a book about the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory so I have these things on the brain.)

It gets worse and I run to the back of the apartment to where the woman who comes once a month to clean my apartment is (it’s my one indulgence, don’t hate me). The building is swaying and shaking now and I’m terrified. We think they must be doing some construction work next door. I yell out the windows, “STOP IT,” three times. Those neighbors now think of me as the crazy lady next door.

– Should I grab the cats and leave?
– Maybe we should go to the roof and jump over to the building next door. (My building is an old tenement, which tilts as it is and is in bad shape.)

I pick up the phone to dial 911 to complain about my neighbors when my cleaning woman says “earthquake,” and I realize she’s right. Her husband calls and he says he felt it in Queens. I see tweets are flying by and they’re feeling it in Maryland. I finally turn on the news.

VERY freaking scary. I was just thinking the other night about 9/11 and what those people felt in the last moments, when the floor gave way beneath them and there was nothing they could do to save themselves. I swear my building is tilting more. Or maybe my tilt-detector is out of wack.

A beautiful bird I saw yesterday when I looked out the window for my pigeon. Something I do all the time now. The Wild Bird Fund called to follow up about my pigeon release, to make sure it went okay. They are great people and run a great organization.

White pigeon

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

3 thoughts on “My Brain During an Earthquake

  1. Stacy, I know what you mean about the panic thoughts — kinda what I went through with the EF4 tornado back in April. Such weird, freaky weather we’re having worldwide! Scary stuff.

    Glad the pigeon was healed and released. I’d have done the same thing, but I also know you’ll keep wondering about the bird. I still feel sad the puppy I wanted to adopt (and died after being spayed) couldn’t be here now.

  2. It is a WEIRD feeling when the floor/ground/pavement beneath your feet is unstable. Where do you go to escape the earth? Were the cats okay, how did they react? I am so glad you guys are okay!!

  3. Hey Cara, are you guys supposed to get the hurricane?

    Carol, I wasn’t noticing the cats so much as figuring how I was going to get them in the carriers and out the door fast.

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