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My earthquake preparedness kit

Fine whiskey is the foundation of any good earthquake kit. photo: danny g / flickr

On Sunday, Aug. 24, I was asleep at 3:31 a.m., when suddenly a large truck rolled by our house, waking me. What was such a monster truck doing on our street? Or were the techies to blame?

Damn those Google busses! At this hour?

But it was neither a truck nor a Google–gantua.

It was that 6.0–on-the-Richter-scale earthquake laying waste to all the good wine in Napa. Actually, it was my first discernible San Francisco earthquake.

And I didn’t like it one bit.

How did I determine it was an earthquake? Well, the bed was rocking from side to side, and because Peter was asleep, we were not making it rock, ergo, it slowly dawned: an earthquake!

I lay there, for the hour it shook (really 2 minutes) in awe of the basic truth: we have no power over anything in our meager lives, until I finally nudged Peter and said, “Honey, I think we’re having an earthquake.”

“Hmmm?” he muffled across his pillow. “An earthquake … yeah … O.K. … an earthquake … sure,” and fell back into a deep slumber.

But there I was wide awake – like I’ve never been so wide awake in my life before. So I turned on my iPad to read about the importance of having an earthquake kit for that time when disasters hit us and we will need to live on our own for several days at least. Though the 6.0 delight did no damage to us, except of course for creating a large crack right down the middle of my complacency, I understood that I was no longer immune: I’d been initiated.

I was no longer a San Francisco earthquake virgin.

So I began mentally putting together our earthquake preparedness kit.

We already have the components, but they’re all over the place, and when we go down for The Big One, we won’t want to scurry in and out of the garage, various closets and pantries to pull it all together, like we would for a last-minute trip to the beach — we need a kit. Whether in a backpack, a box or a bucket, we need to get it all together. No matter what form it takes, consider this: A girl needs certain things when the earth’s crust is crumbling.

Sure, sure, I know we need the regulation 72-hour items — gallons of water per person, nonperishable food, and a can opener. A first-aid kit is a must, and I read that a supply of large plastic garbage bags have uses. One is that a plastic bag can serve as a portable toilet for humans! Never thought of that one. And of course, a hand-cranked radio, phone chargers, plus good old candles and waterproof matches. And don’t forget the ever-trusty gaffers tape that can be used to repair houses as well as set bones. I’ve practiced on Peter and he’s still very sticky (and sort of hairless) from the ordeal.

But there are earthquake “amenities” that I will also make room for:

  • Several bottles of fine whiskey, because as you watch buildings collapse, you’re going to want something to help convince you that it’s all a dream, and a shot or three of excellent Scotch has usually been one of my favorite ways to do that. (I always consume half a bottle before boarding any airplane.)
  • Silk pajamas, because even as the world is ending, one wants to feel glamorous. Snuggling into your sleeping bag, swathed in silk makes it easier to imagine that it’s just a scene from a disaster movie, and any moment, the director will yell, “cut!”
  • A volume of The Complete Works of Shakespeare because The Bard wrote all there was to be written about every human dilemma. You can never go wrong with Shakespeare. His sonnets will make you forget the ground is about to swallow you up. And you can use it as a heavy
  • Weapon if things get confrontational. The complete works, mind you.
  • Sugar-free throat lozenges, to keep things moist, because with how much I’ll be screaming, my throat will need all the help it can get.
  • Two dozen bars of the best artisan chocolate to ameliorate the saddening effects of sucking on sugar-free candies.
  • And finally, anything else you want or need to make the experience more pleasant, and that includes your faith-based book of choice (Bible, Buddhist-based meditation tomes, a book of David Sedaris essays), a battery-operated TV, photos of your grandmother or your favorite Beatle, anything at all to make you recall that despite the earth’s shattering, life is still worth living!

For remember, as I’ve said, we are shaped by what shakes us, and as long as we live in San Francisco (or anywhere else, for that matter), we will be shaken by one earthquake or another.

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