Monday, November 17, 2008

L.A. Stories

As you know, the dude and I lived in Los Angeles proper from 1991 until we moved to southeastern PA in February of 2005. Lately, our thoughts have been with our friends who stayed. We watched a couple of hours of CNN's coverage of the fires-this-time on Sunday.

When you think about it, it's a wonder we lasted in Los Angeles that long. 1991-1992 was the first time, in oh thirty years or so, that the University of Southern California closed.

In October, there were serious ash-floating-downtown fires somewhere. I can't remember where and google isn't helping because that was the year Alameda burned. Also, "fires Los Angeles 1992" takes you to one thing, but we'll get to that in a moment. I may be conflating this with the massive Topanga-Malibu fires in 1993. But I can confirm that winter storms in February of 1992--it rained for at least two weeks straight, and I mean two.weeks.straight--caused serious flooding. (I know because the dude got wicked strep throat, and I had to carry him to the student health center in the pouring rain.) In April, we had a little tiddler of an earthquake in Joshua Tree. We have some funny stories associated with this one. Then, when I was grading my students finals, I smelled a little smoke and spent the next three days hiding out in the dorm protected by the only riot-trained campus police in America. (At least that's what they said. I believe they were riot trained--think Watts--but I don't know if they were the only ones.) A couple of weeks later, the day before I was leaving for vacation in New Hampshire, the Landers Quake hit. I was hiding under my desk and counting because that scared the fuck out of me. (For some reason, counting during earthquakes sort of calms me down. Yeah, I wish I didn't know that either.)

And yet, I came back from my vacation in New Hampshire. And not only because I had spent six weeks with my parents. And not only because the dude was so frickin' good looking.

It's a lot of disaster, and I would forgive you for doubting me. But here's more evidence: the California Board of Equalization's (Orwellian-speak for tax board) list of governor-proclaimed disasters. Read from the bottom up. You'll see that '93 and '94 weren't much better.

And still, I have a soft spot for that place.


Kathryn said...

We lived in the SF Bay Area from 1978 - 2003 (and still have a loft in The City). I've never been really scared of any earthquakes (didn't even feel Loma Prieta in 1989 because I was driving on bedrock at the time). There were no major fires on the Peninsula, but I did see the Oakland fire in 1992 from Golden Gate Park (there for a cat show). I guess I can't really say that I miss it, since I still spend a couple of weeks per year there, but I certainly appreciate Nevada more when it is 81 degrees here today and SF will be damp until May. I'll be in Los Angeles over Thanksgiving, so I will give it a wave from you.

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Miriam said...

That is an incredible amount of ashy, quakey trauma. I wonder - do you get used to fires and earthquakes after going through so many? I somehow got used to the widespread destruction of frequent hurricanes and tornadoes in Houston after 14 years of it, but I can't imagine getting used to what LA goes through each year.

C in DC said...

You also lived through Northridge and a couple of El Ninos, yes?

My only weather story from our 2 years in So. Cal. is that it rained nearly non-stop during January and February of 1998. DH was deployed during that time and came home the day after it stopped raining. He still doesn't believe me when I tell him how wet it was.