Irony alert today at the gym. I am in the Cardio Cave, chugging along BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM as my feet whap on the treadmill. Right next to me is Ginormo Man, a great hulking beast of a guy, maybe 6’5” or so with huge muscles. He looks like a tank. He is hitting his treadmill so heavily that my bottle of water is sloshing around even more than usual, and my MP3 player is making little leaps of freedom in the air. As I take a slug from my water to lower its sloshability, I look up at the big tv screen and see video from CNN taken during the recent big earthquake in China of a swimming pool sloshing around wildly, water splashing out and onto the grass. BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM go the feet at the gym, shaking, sloshing, while the pool scene on the tv switches to bodies being pulled from the rubble. I look down at my feet and feel the vibrations from Ginormo, and I wonder if he caught the irony deal. Probably not – he was likely thinking about his dead weight lifts. Oh. Extra black humored irony for you there.

I have been in a few earthquakes, which is interesting only for the fact that I am not a Pacific Rim native. Every time I have been to San Francisco, an earthquake. It is a bit disconcerting to think that maybe I have been getting worked over by the mischievous whims of plate tectonics. “Oh, here is Marianne, let’s set up a nice 5.0 for her eh, Shifty?” “Heh heh, wait until she gets up into her hotel room on the 40th floor, Slidey, let her see the buildings sway.” Assholes, those Plates.

So now I live in a place that sometimes has Big Earthquakes. Oh, hurray. Tornadoes, hurricanes, those you can usually get a little warning and either get the hell out of Dodge or lay down in the bathtub and eat crackers or something. Blizzards, run to the Shop n’ Save and buy up a bunch of comfort foods and logs and stay inside. Wildfires, again, get out of Dodge, wet down your house. Earthquakes, well. There is no good warning system for those bastards. You just have to deal.

Everyone has their own earthquakes in life to manage, something like Metaphorical Ginormo Man. He shakes things up, reminds you that nothing is ever as solid as it seems, makes you have to clean up your slosh, and wonder just when he’s coming into your gym next. Sometimes, if Ginormo Man is just Semi-Ginormo, the slosh he brings is not necessarily awful; it can be kind of fun, like a carnival ride. Granted, you still might shake in delayed fear at the end of the ride, but it could be cool. Earthquakes, be-muscled or skinny, bring change of some sort, change that is bigger than you and your water bottle.

Metaphor and irony aside, some people in China need more tangible assistance. Here are a couple of places that help you help them: