Wednesday, May 4, 2011

may day!

I always associated those words (which in this case can only be written in caps, as in MAY DAY!) with bombardment or the like, once even waking up at five in the morning to run through the house shouting it. It's no doubt I was a weird kid, but it turns out it's not just the distress signal but an old communist holiday, something like labor day. Who knew?

But this 1 May did indeed come in with a bang, kind of. Lately I've been waking up between five and six in the morning before going back to sleep a little while longer, but this Sunday as I (was) woke(n) up I realized my bed was shaking. It happened really fast, but I remember putting my hand on the mattress to feel and thinking that specifically: is my--is my bed shaking?? And I heard something rattling so I looked toward the window to see if I could see anything and jumped out of bed to better feel, but by then I think it had stopped.

Right after, I went into the hallway and it turns out my roommate was up, too. I asked her if she'd felt anything and sure enough--cutremur, an earthquake, she said. I've read several different reports, but the one linked said it was a 4,9 so we're not talking about anything big at all. In fact, almost everyone I talked to slept through it. But it was the first one I've been through. The one thing I'm surprised about is that it didn't scare me--not because it was an earthquake, but because I woke up to my bed shaking. My bed shaking. In the dark, alone at night. If that isn't something straight out of some scary movie about haunted houses and all that, then I don't know what is, and that stuff is just straight-up traumatizing to me. When I say that one of the top three reasons to get married one day is not having to sleep alone in the dark (someone to check out the scary noises), I'm being totally serious.

Anyway, the next day my Romanian professor and I talked about it. Usually a good hour of the lesson is us talking about history or some other subject of interest and she told me about the big earthquake here in '77. She was on the tram so she didn't feel it, which one the one hand is understandable because generally public transit here is bumpy, and on the other I can hardly believe it because this particular earthquake was a 7,2. But all of a sudden the tram stopped, the electricity had stopped, and in the buildings they could see the lights swinging back and forth. And then later they saw people running out of the hospital, screaming and acting crazy, and they still had no idea what had happened. Eventually someone told them and as the tram kept going (public transit was apparently still running) and they got closer to downtown, they saw all the collapsed buildings. I can't even imagine--hurricanes, yes. Earthquakes? It's so foreign to me. But then I live here now, so we'll see.

We talked about how people reacted. She kept saying that it seemed, before they realized what had happened, like people were acting like wild animals, running into the streets screaming. So different from how they reacted in Japan, and then that turned into a discussion about how people responded versus how they did in New Orleans after Katrina. How much do socio-economics factor into things like this? Those kinds of questions. A fascinating conversation.

I'll tell you, though, it's a weird feeling. Probably every day I feel more shaking on the metro, but to be four stories up where everything is always still--actually I tried to go back to sleep before church, but every time my alarm went off (my phone was in the bed with me) the vibrating would wake me up and even though it wasn't nearly as strong, I kept thinking, is it another? Crazy stuff.


  1.'_Day's not a communist holiday... but yeah... the communist party made it a big holiday (since they considered themselves working man's party)

    The earthquakes are not a big problem in Romania (most of them are under 5 grades and very rare). Bucharest unfortunately is not the best place in Romania regarding this matter. Transylvania is almost earthquake proof. Here's a video after the '77 earthquake in Bucharest: There are more on Youtube!

  2. Anyway... only 33 building collapsed in Bucharest. Everyone who lost his home got a new one very quick and the city was rebuilt very very fast.
    They say that statistically there is 1 earthquake over 7 grades at every 100 years.

  3. well it seems i have been misinformed. thank you for the link! as for earthquakes, i'm not really worried. not that i don't think it happen, just that i don't really have any control over whether it does and i was probably more likely to get blown away in a hurricane in the city i am from than anything to happen here.

  4. Who knew? I knew, lol. So glad you're safe, and delighted that you are realizing your vision/goals. I've been reading your blog for some time ~ just recently found the place to comment (derrr), and even have my own blogspot now. Some of my previous posts are about glass, but more recently about home and a memory of Gann. Take care.

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  6. By the way, today is a big national holiday in Russia, Victory Day is May 9 ~ much celebration and parades in uniform, marking the end of the Great Patriotic War, as the Soviets/Russians call it. We attended the festivities every year there.

  7. thank you for the comment :)) i was actually reading something on the tvs in the metro about a holiday in russia this morning and was wondering what it was about. now, to go read your blog...