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April 24, 2009

Freaky Friday

This is for reader Gwyneth, who requested more pictures of the Great Soba:


That is one of my favorite pictures of her ever. I know the quality is poor, but she's so perfect, all asleep on the sheets in a ray on sunlight with her head on the pillow. This was taken a few months ago when I had a cold and was spending a weekend day lying in bed reading and sniffling, hence the Kleenex and The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. That red notebook on top is my constant companion, I go through about a notebook a month. Compulsive much?

- - -

Yesterday something so weird happened. I had gotten home from work a little early, it was quarter 'til six and I was in the kitchen, trying to figure out what to make for dinner when I first heard the noise. It was a heavy, loud noise almost like an airplane.

Now I live on the Valley floor which is right under the flight path of practically every Southwest airplane to and from Burbank airport, and we get planes and corporate jets from Van Nuys airport, too. And there are the ever-present helicopters of course. This is actually a really noisy city, now that I think about it. So I'm used to hearing planes go by just like in Chicago folks get used to the train going by. It fades into the ambiance of the city. You know what a plane sounds like and it just becomes background noise.

But this sound was different. For one thing, it was LOUD. Screaming loud, like a roaring projectile, a deafening noise like you hear in movies when missiles streak across the sky. And it was FAST, whatever it was, because it roared closer in just seconds, so loud it obliterated any other noises. I immediately dropped what I was doing and ran to the front door and it was even louder and scarier and as I put my hand on the doorknob, I thought, Holy shit, that's a missile! and then I thought, We're going to vaporize. And I knew when the blinding light came I did not want to be standing in the yard looking at my neighbors who cannot get inside their cars without setting of the alarm. No, I wanted to be inside with my cats, who were now hiding under the sofa.

And since I can't fit under the sofa, I just sat down on top and waited.

Then as quickly as it came, it was gone. I could still hear it screaming through the air but it was getting further away. I felt that panic feeling all over me, just shaking a little and heart beating fast. I know I have an active imagination and all, but this was real. I know I'm reading all this crazy Michael Crichton books but I'm reading about dinosaurs, so it would make sense if I heard a noise in the yard and thought the raccoon hiding in the ivy was a velociraptor or something, but this wasn't made-up. It was real. So I walked out the front door and there were my neighbors, everyone staring up in the sky. You could see this huge arc of white smoke -- longer than anything I'd seen from an airplane before -- and at one end something that looked white or maybe silver in the sunshine, and it was definitely not a Southwest plane bound for Omaha.

I just looked at my neighbors. Then I said, "Oh my God, what was that thing?"

I was asking in the general direction of everyone, and the guy in the red baseball cap from across the street answered me.

"No idea," he replied. "I have no f---ing idea what that was."

Everyone else was just quiet. So I turned and went back inside and shut the door, then locked the deadbolt for no reason at all, and called my dad. I was shaking trying to dial the numbers. I called him because I am five, and I needed my daddy.

I told him the story and he said to watch on the news, that it was probably something from one of the military bases nearby and he was just talking all calm, turn on the news, and I already had the TV on and the Channel 7 news on but there was just some dumb sports report, and finally I hung up and poured myself a glass of wine. A big glass. Then I gave the cats a big can of Fancy Feast. Because I was still shaken up and we all needed to be comforted.

Now I'm wondering if it even happened at all. The news hasn't said anything at all about it. My dad pointed out it was probably some normal military fly over or something. But it wasn't anything I'd ever heard before, except almost like the time we saw the Space Shuttle launch in Florida. It was weird.

Mostly I can't believe how scared that sound made me. I know I live in a big city, and we all sort of go about our lives with this necessary denial that anything bad will happen today. It's just what you do. I try really hard not to listen to the horror stories on the news or the stuff about terrorists and missiles because there is nothing I can do about any of it, so there's no real reason to focus on it, worry about it, stress out over things which I have zero control over. But it must have sunk in there somewhere, North Korea test fires a missile or whatever the fearmongering headline was. It took me a while to calm down, and if it weren't for all my neighbors standing out there in their yards, too, looking up at the sky I would wonder if it had really happened at all. It wasn't on the 6 o'clock news, or the 6:30 report and it wasn't on this morning either, not at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. Just some stuff about a minor earthquake out in Yorba Linda, and the traffic report and the weather.


Posted by laurie at April 24, 2009 8:13 AM