This post has one line about cards. I know that a lot of you don’t live in California and am putting this down here for historical purposes. If you skip it because you want to read about cards, thank you for getting this far. As a lot of you know, I live in a community that was deeply affected by the fires and recent mass shooting. I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. The genuine outreach from the card community during this craziness has been amazing.
Tuesday November 6th: Election Day and my birthday. Nothing major. Just weird that this week happens on my birthday.
Thursday November 8th: The craziest day of them all.
3 am or so: My phone goes off in the middle of the night with Facebook notifications and press releases from the local Sheriff department. They don’t appear to be urgent so I ignore them. At the time I think that it is just a post on one of the social media sites that I run, getting more traction than normal.
7 am: When I wake up, all the alerts end up being about the shooting and people sharing stories, some involving people they know. I also see my sister who lives in Chico sharing stories about the fire there. I have to be on the 101 freeway for work. During my morning routine, I see the news of a shooting in Thousand Oaks. I don’t have time to read it but I catch the gist of it: 12 people died. I also get local Nixle alerts about the shooting with freeway ramp closures. I will be passing these ramps on my way today. I am alarmed but desensitized a bit and am more concerned with how this will affect my drive.
10 am: I am coming back to Simi Valley and traffic coming back gets me caught up in the procession for the dead sergeant. The side of the freeway that is closed is not the one that I am on. I pass it directly coming back. It felt wrong to drive during this, so I pulled to the side of the road, on the side of the carpool lane no less.
After 10 am: Stories from the shooting are coming in. Between the procession and reading the stories, it sinks in how crazy the shooting in. Also the fact that I go to the place to see punk bands play hits home with me. The stories are insane. I have friends who lost friends. Someone I know lost their best friend in the shooting. I have friends that are neighbors with the shooter. I know tons of people who hang out at the place normally. If it happened on a Friday or weekend, I would have definitely lost friends. I work at a church at people are reaching out to see how they can help. Other church’s are making sure that we didn’t lose congregants and if so, can they help.
3 pm: I have found myself in the Woodland Hills area conducting more business. On the way home I see major fire. It looks like it is near my house. I brush it off as I think that the people that I live with will tell me if it is close. I say major fire but at the time, I have confidence that it will be put out by the time that I plan on arriving home in a few hours.
6 pm: I walk outside for the first time in a few hours. The sky is red and there is some ash being rained down. ‘Oh crap, this is insane.’ I drive home praying to make the craziness stop.
6 to 8 pm: By this point, the day is insane. I have one glimmer of hope: my favorite team is playing Thursday night football. They get slaughtered. I don’t even care. I still zone out and relax as best I can.
During all of this time, I am keeping tabs on the fire. My community is still glowing from the fire. Facebook statuses of friends read ‘make it stop.’ The worst is yet to come.
9:30 pm: A map is posted of where the fire is and where it is going. I get scared beyond belief when my tiny street is shown on these maps. My sister, who I live with, makes the decision to keep the kids home from school and she will stay home from work.
10 pm: The school district announced that all schools are closed. I look outside and my house is glowing. I freak out and start packing. I have food, medication, clothes, and pet stuff packed and ready to go. I question what cards I would take and limit it to just my Prestige autographs and memorabilia cards. I forget that I kept a storage box close by with my Miguel Cabrera autograph ball and a few other goodies in case this happens. I do not tell my household as I do not want to scare anyone.
Midnight: Somehow I fall asleep. I wasn’t expecting to get good sleep but I think the mixture of the shooting and the fires has worn me down.
Friday November 9th: I wake up and see the fire from my house still. I can see Firefighters are in the hills doing some work. We are all on edge and trying to stay together for the kids. They know what is going on. We have friends who are evacuated. We talk about where we will go. I look a few days later to the city we talked about and see that it was in the danger zone. Internet goes out. I don’t care. I do care because it is my only information about the fire but I don’t mind being away from this craziness.
This fire is huge. The same fire affecting me has caused friends living 20 miles away in Woodland Hills to evacuate. The two places that I have roots in Simi Valley/Thousand Oaks area and the San Fernando Valley are now being devastated.
One wind shift and my house is as good as gone. The hills and mountains on fire, are my backyard literally.
Saturday November 10th: The past two days have felt like a month. We keep getting messages throughout the day that evacuations are still in effect for parts of my town. Internet is still down. I get a call from someone who is evacuated and offer to let her stay with me. Her daughter took a high school yearbook and the shooter is in it. That story to me paints the best picture of what my community has gone through.
Internet comes back around 8 pm. We also get a message that evacuations have been lifted.
Sunday November 11th: Now comes the bad part of being active in a church: I get to hear all of the stories. I had no idea that friends lost homes. In one case, they found out while watching news coverage and their home was on fire on television. I also find out that someone that I know in the Woodland Hills area has lost their home. By the grace of God, my house was protected. With the internet back, I go a little crazy buying into breaks. For me that means spending $30 but I need to zone out bad. I didn’t hit anything.
Monday November 12th: I was in Los Angeles in the early morning. At around 10 am, another fire pops up closing both sides of the freeway going in and out of my town. I also get news that Stan Lee died. As my sister comes downstairs, I tell her to go back up and lock herself in the room. She wants to go back to sleep because this nightmare isn’t ending and only got worse.
At around 3 pm, the fire is taken care of and the freeway is open. Naturally there is a fatality accident closing it again.
Thursday November 15th: I am in Thousand Oaks for the first time since the fires. It is also my first time driving by the 101 since this time last week. The firefighters did an amazing job. There are hills on fire but at the top are houses that are still standing. I don’t know how the firefighters did it but they saved those houses. The hills by the 101 are absolutely insane. Where there was once miles of green, is now miles of black. It is so sad. The morale in the Thousand Oaks area was better than I expected. Normally when I drive around after a traumatic event, you can feel the cloud of sadness. That is not the case here. It is nice to see things turning around.
Despite being two weeks ago, this feels like a good few months ago. I definitely have aged that much.