Cozy in my Santa Clara hotel room tonight, I ordered up some dinner and wine and got my thumb busy on the TV remote. Weird thing is, I never watch it at home; it just doesn't occur to me anymore. Between Netflix, Internet TV and my reading pile, the network schedule just can't compete.
But when I get in a hotel room, the TV is my friend. I gorge myself on channels, as I did tonight. I stumbled upon the movie, "World Trade Center", which tells the true story of two Port Authority police officers who became trapped under the fallen towers on 9/11.
I avoided the film when it hit theaters, because I thought it too soon and also, because it was directed by Oliver Stone, who can be a bit heavy-handed in his conspiracy messages. The only thing that kept me watching tonight was recalling Fang's glowing review and that my main man, Nicholas Cage (born in Long Beach - yeah!) had the starring role.
It didn't take long to get completely sucked in. Fang was right, the film is a gem - really well done. I got so choked up, I couldn't swallow my dinner. I just kept thinking about all the people who worked on this film, knowing what a delicate story they had to tell and the weight of that responsibility. It was a tough assignment and by god, they pulled it off with real grace.
When it finally ended, I was emotionally exhausted. I pulled my boots on and was fixin' to head down to the bar - needed something to slake my thirst and calm my nerves.
Then, the entire building began to shake. My 14th floor room was swaying and creaking, drawers slid out and doors flew open. It was like being in a motorhome with 20 fat guys on the bumpers rocking it hard. Damn. An earthquake!
I looked out the window as the quake continued. I didn't see Silicon Valley break in two but at some point I realized that standing in front of a plate glass window was definitely NOT what they taught us in school. I ran to the bathroom and stood in the doorway - the only safety tip I could recall.
It seemed to last forever - one of the longest I felt in a long time. I immediately tried to call friends and family in San Francisco, which I imagined to be much worse. I could not get through - all lines were busy. 'Crap,' I thought, 'I'm going to need two drinks now.'
I headed for the elevators but they had stopped working. A guy was standing there, equally shaken, and we made nervous small talk. Impatient, I headed to the stairs and he followed. I felt like it took forever to get down and hey, wasn't it moments ago I was watching a film with frightened people running scared down cement stairwells? How quickly life imitates art.
Turns out, it was a 5.6er, officially labeled "moderate" with no injuries, thank god, and no damage. We got off lucky this time.
Meanwhile, come tomorrow, I board a plane for Southern California, a region recently battered (and still battling) raging fires.
Ah yes, it's great to be back in California, land of constant excitement.