08/24/2011 02:27 pm ET Updated Oct 24, 2011

There's Nothing Like the Minute Aftershocks of a Deathless Earthquake to Bring Clarity to One's Life

This isn't the first time I've written about the profound effects near-death experiences can have on a person. In the last year alone, I've been knocked to the curb by a cyclist, aggressively attacked by vervet monkeys, and struck in the face with a stick by an emasculated chimpanzee.

But all these dramatic episodes pale in comparison to yesterday's quake, felt across the Eastern United States by, I don't know, a lot of people.

I was in my apartment at the time, sitting idly before my television when I should have been writing a travel piece recounting my recent trip to Kenya and Tanzania. Between shows of Intervention and Curb Your Enthusiasm, I flicked to and chomped on stale Puffins. My cat comfortably snoozed atop a nearby ottoman.

All of a sudden, my sofa began to vibrate. Then the television, and finally each of my Pottery Barn lamps. My cat, even, awoke from her mid-morning slumber, confused by the slight movement within my cramped apartment. Could it be, I wondered? An earthquake? My very first?

I was too elated by the story I would one day tell my grandchildren to focus on possible hazards to my health, struck as I was by the excitement of it all. Then it dawned on me: I had a life to live.

I jumped from the sofa in one swift movement, tripping on its frayed, cat-scratched edges as I bolted towards my bedroom: I would not evacuate my building wearing floral pajamas. I'm much too proud.

Grabbing a colorful Madewell dress (lying crumpled on the floor), I hastily threw it over my head while stepping into neon blue Pumas. "This looks kind of cute together," I thought, before recalling that I'd always dreamed of being a hero.

As a young girl, I fantasized about hoisting myself between a burglar and my family, no matter that I weighed a mere 50 pounds at the age of ten. My voice, booming and hoarse, would surely threaten my family's would-be attacker.

My cat needed me, and I her.

I ran to the closet where approximately three blankets, two suitcases, seven pairs of boots and one cat carrier occupy a chaotic jumble of unnecessary belongings. Boxes toppled onto my head and then the floor, masking the now silent, earthquake-free serenity in which I resided. My cat was coming with me. To wherever we'd seek refuge.

I probably should have grabbed my laptop in lieu of my cat, since it possesses monetary and latent value, unlike the creature that daily tries to kill me, but there's nothing valiant about evacuating a building with a Mac.

Before attempting to shove the screeching cat into the carrier, I realized that the quake had passed and with it my chance at glory. Collecting myself, I sat back down on the sofa to contact my loved ones, lest they worry about my safety.

First on Twitter, then on Facebook, then email, and finally via text: "I'm okay," I told them, "We survived."

And, "Don't worry, Mom, no one saw me in my pajamas."