me in the piazza

I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) Here you can find links to my almost-daily blog posts, including the Saturday haiku I've been doing for years. BUT the blog itself has moved to my website. If you go on over there you can subscribe and you'll never miss a post. (Miss a post! A scary thought!) Also, I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us!
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I have some more Shanghai entries to transcribe and post for you, and the early Xi'an one, but I'm interrupting the chronological flow of trip reporting to tell you about the earthquake.

The epicenter was near Chengdu, about 1,000 miles south-southwest of Xi'an, where I am. It'll give you some sense of the scale of the thing when I tell you we did feel it, and in a pretty big way. I was walking on top of the old city wall. It's 500 years old, 30 feet wide and 30 feet high, made of rammed earth and clad with multiple wythes of brick. So it's SOLID. On the city side is a low parapet, maybe 2 feet high, and on the outer side, where the invaders would have come from, are arrow slits to shoot at them from. I'd just passed a sign describing a new gate, built in the wall after the Revolution, the better to connect the city to the train station. I was peering through an arrow slit, holding onto the two walls beside it, when I felt a slight shaking. Just like people, I thought, to mess with an ancient wall in a way that now makes it shake whenever a train goes by. Then the shaking got stronger, and then it was a swaying, back and forth, and I could see the trees also swaying and bells ringing. A crane swayed also, and though I was alone on that section of the wall, far in the distance I saw people running, clearly panicked. The swaying lasted about a minute -- a long time in an earthquake, I'm told. After it had pretty much stopped I went to the other side of the wall and looked down into a residential neighborhood. Everyone was out in the street, talking, shouting; when they saw me peering over the wall they yelled at me to come down. But I figured, there was nothing around to fall on me if another shock came; and if this wall was going to fall -- a very unlikely event -- wouldn't I be better off on it than under it? So I stayed, and nothing else happened. It wasn't until I got back to the hotel that I found out how big and far away it was, and not until this morning -- now; it's 8am here -- that we knew how devasting it had been in Chengdu. We felt an aftershock here at about 3am, too, another indication of how huge an event it was.

Thanks, Debby, for checking and posting. It's even harder to get online right now that it has been, because everyone in China is checking on relatives, etc. Will get back to you when I can. But up here in the north, we're fine.

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