This is the second time I’ve been in an earthquake and have not felt it. The first time I was not asleep. It took place on a Saturday — I want to say it was in the morning, but it may have been later. Anyway the reason I didn’t feel it was because I was in a BLOODY BOWLING ALLEY! Of all the places not to be if you want to experience a rare Illinois earthquake is in a bowling alley.
Although I’ve never been in an earthquake I do have an earthquake story:
I was teaching students with learning disabilities in a small self-contained classrroom (10 students or so) in a public school in Northern Virginia. It was near the end of the day and I was reading to the students when I felt the floor shake. The students also felt the shaking. I stopped reading and went to the doorway and looked out into the hall to see if anyone else felt the shaking. No one was in the hall and I heard normal teaching sounds coming from the classroom across from mine. Still the rumbling continued, so I told the kids to get under their desks while I checked on the situation with the senior teacher next door. I was about to knock on her door when I noticed that her entire class of 30 students were running in place. Then they stopped. So did the shaking.
I went back to the class and told the students that the earthquake was over and they could get out from under their desks.
Back when I still liked watching news programs like 60 Minutes or 20/20 I remember seeing a segment on one of those programs about a woman with autism who developed a better slaughterhouse. I may have been a vegetarian at the time, so the idea of slaughtering cattle was not as upsetting to me as it is now that I eat the end result.
Having worked with autistic children during my tenure as a teacher and having read a number of books about autistic individuals, I found this woman’s story fascinating and kept it tucked in the back of my mind ever since.
That’s why my visceral reaction to the preview of the HBO film, Temple Grandin, surprised me. I adore Claire Danes and I find Temple Grandin’s story amazing but I was dead-set against seeing this film because… why? I’m not sure, but I think it was the whole cattle slaughtering thing and the fact that a gentle hug made the cattle less upset about their death. I didn’t want to think about the cattle’s last moments. I just wanted to buy meat at the grocery store and pretend it grew on trees. Or just materialized there in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Hey, magic!
I recently commented on a post by Lali that, when I was a vegetarian, I vowed that if I ever ate meat again I’d first have to kill an animal — to prove I was not a hypocrite*. Since I’ve never killed an animal, I am a hypocrite and while, on a day-to-day basis, that doesn’t bother me, occasionally it does. Perhaps that’s why I refused to even consider watching the film. I didn’t want to confront my hypocrisy.
Last night I did watch the film. It was excellent. It changes nothing. I’m still a hypocrite but at least I admit it.
*when I was young and had not had that many life experiences, being a hypocrite was probably the worse thing I could imagine being — it ranked up there with murderer in my mind.