Friday, August 26, 2011

An Earthquake Story and a Poem

Well, in case you couldn't tell I survived the Mineral, Virginia Earthquake of 2011. It was the first one I ever felt. There have been others rumbling under me before, but they all passed by without me noticing, including this earthquake's aftershock. Part of the reason I noticed this one was it's size but also it's timing. I was wide awake when the earthquake struck. It caught me while I was working. Yes, working. But before you assume I have managed to stumble upon a cash flow and can start giving money out to your Kickstarter campaign, let me tell you it was just a temporary job.

When the earthquake hit Arlington, I was performing my civic duty as a poll worker for the Democratic primary. From 5 AM to 9 PM I was at my old stomping grounds, Arlington Traditional School. It was an interesting experience to get a behind the scenes look at how our democracy functions but the earthquake certainly made it all the more memorable. When things began shaking, I was standing in the gym, minding my own business. At first I heard the windows rattle and saw the rafters and basketball nets vibrating. My initial though was that there was construction going on outside. The shaking continued and I grew annoyed, even as a realized what was going on.

I understood intuitively that it was an earthquake right before I had a clear idea formed in my head. The dissonance made me briefly want to yell at the earth and tell the ground to knock it off before I grew really angry. A second later, the word earthquake flashed in my head and I ran out the door for safety in case things started to fall to pieces. Luckily only a few bits of plaster, a tennis ball, and a paper airplane fell to the ground. Even our voting machines were unharmed and remained powered. If the had been damaged or shut off I don't know what we would have done. All of us campaign workers looked through our books to see what procedures were in place for an earthquake, but this being Virginia, there was no plan.

Things have now returned to normal quickly enough for us to worry about the next natural disaster, Hurricane Irene. Unlike the earthquake, we know it is coming towards us. Since this might be the last chance to post before we lose electricity, here is a poem of mine in 22 Magazine.

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