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Aug 24, 2011

I learned something important about myself yesterday:

And Twitter is officially my news source for everything.

I was wearing my new red cigarette pants with four-inch black peep toe stilettos, walking around pretending my feet didn't hurt, like I was Joanie on "Mad Men" or something.  I'd just turn the cubicle corner to ask a coworker something -- and a senior person in my office had just stepped out, heading in my direction -- when the whole dang Pentagon began shaking. 

I froze, my swinging arms (the way Joanie does it) suspended in the air.  So did he.  We locked eyes, searching for the answer from one another to what we should do.  Anything that was on a surface was rattling violently, the printer threatening to fall on top of me, but I didn't move a hair, didn't even teeter on those ridiculous heels.  I just stared at him, not thinking for a second that it might be slightly awkward.  At first I thought, "Earthquake?" but in a nanosecond my mind went to "TERRORIST ATTACK."  It felt like at least a full minute (what was it, 10 seconds?), and I didn't hear anything but the rattling...

When it stopped I came back into reality.  I heard sirens, people shouting to check for smoke, dozens of feet running in the hallways.  I darted to my desk and pulled up Twitter.  I knew Twitter would tell me what had happened.  "Uhh, did an earthquake just hit DC?" I tweeted.  Moments later I got the responses -- YES.  And my friends in New York and Philly were tweeting about it just as quickly as I was. 

We were evacuated a few seconds later, which provided a nice sunshine break while everyone chatted and laughed nervously about what had just happened.  Once we were allowed back inside, I had to rush off to an offsite meeting, so I walked to the Metro, waited for a while and finally got on a very crowded train that was reminiscent of the first day back to work after the Snowpocalypse of 2010.  The biggest difference?  It was sweaty, which in turn made it smelly, but the really cool thing about an event like this is people seem to come together to help one another out, and everyone was laughing, cracking jokes and freely talking to strangers. 

While on the long Metro ride to my meeting (the trains were running very slow, but kudos to WMATA for keeping them going!), the emotional aftershocks hit me.  I'd been reading funny tweets for the last hour and enjoying the comaraderie, but suddenly it began to sink in that I thought I was in the midst of a terrorist attack.  Not only do I work in the building in DC that was struck almost exactly 10 years ago, I work in the hallway, by the memorial, where the tour guides stop every hour and announce, "You're standing where the plane hit on 9/11." 

And then I realized, if it had been a terrorist attack, I would have just frozen, like when that dude pulled out a gun and I thought I was being shot.  What did I do?  I stood in the middle of 14th Street and waited to be hit.  One of my readers commented that it's called being "galvanized."  So now I can't get that Chemical Brothers song out of my head, which is stressing me out even more.  (Why can't I have "I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet" in my head like normal people?)

What's even more disturbing is I didn't even think about poor Noli until I'd thoroughly freaked my own self out.  (She was okay, just pooped on the floor.  Apparently the asinine emergency situation responses are passed down from mother to pup -- this is how normal animals react, and it doesn't include pooping!)

In the interest of not freaking myself out any more than necessary, here are my favorite tweets from yesterday:

@docshuga Can we start looting yet? #dcearthquake #allyourfriendsaredead #sunnyafternoon #lavaeverywhere

@KJinDC7 I can't believe I did that. With my MIND!!! #earthquake


@heylovedesigns I feel the earth (woo!) move (yea!) under my feet!

@rachaelgk My #DCquake thought process: 1. TWEET!!! 2. Oh crap, hide. 3. CHECK TWITTER!!!! 4. Damn, my @klout's gonna rock tomorrow.

@ALLIEgDC MSNBC says the Washington monument is leaning to left. Fox news says its to the right. #earthquake

@malitzd new york - don't even. this was our quake. #dc

@iDineDC I just survived an earthquake...damn right I'm eating the rest of my dove chocolate bar!

@cheeky_geeky BREAKING: Owen Wilson gives all east coast earthquake victims a Hall Pass to do whatever they want for 24 hours.

@DCQuake: East coast: "Holy crap." West Coast: "Amateurs". Midwest: "You still can't drive in the snow."

(Yeah, that's right, someone set up a Twitter account just for the DC Earthquake.)

Lastly, Californians: Quit bustin' my chops already.  It was traumatizing, okay?!  I'll be interested to see how all of you fare the next time a hurricane or tornado hits your coast.  Hmph.


  1. I was sitting at a cafe outside and thought that someone I knew had snuck up behind me and was jostling my chair. My next thought was that a bomb had gone off (I'm two blocks from the White House).

    Oddly, I was emotionally unaffected by the quake. I had friends who were upset, who were crying, but I just thought the whole thing was interesting. I'm a zombie, apparently.

    I didn't tweet, but I did update my FB status to: Imma let you finish, but Valdivia, Chile had the biggest earthquake of all time. OF. ALL. TIME.

  2. Freckeldk -- you are not a zombie! I wonder if I would have been affected at all if I hadn't have had to sit on the crowded Metro train for an hour smelling everyone's stress sweat.