When I was a senior at Stanford, my ambitions for my final year of college were terminally derailed by a geological event called the Loma Prieta earthquake. The temblor caused so much damage in my residence that everyone had to be relocated to other dorms. I was the resident assistant (RA) for my house, meaning I was the problem-solver and support person for the rest of the students who lived there. This was a paid position and was something of an honor, and I took it seriously. Within minutes of the earthquake I was back at the house to account for the whereabouts of all the residents. I lost my wallet during the chaos and had to walk around for two weeks with nothing but some loose change in a paper bag. As the days went by and the damage to the building was being evaluated, all of us suffered from various symptoms of post-traumatic stress. I remember diving under the nearest table whenever an aftershock struck. I didn't sleep well. I had no appetite. It was hard for me to concentrate. I looked like something out of an Edward Gorey illustration.