All the craziness over the past month or so forced me to put Loco in Yokohama on hold, as I’m sure my readers have noticed. A pause for the cause during which I’ve cried and grieved, sweat and fretted, supported friends and sacrificed amenities, given time and cash, and learned more about seismology and nuclear energy than most people will ever need to know.
And, I feel like it’s time to really get back to life.
I decided this today at work while a 4.0 aftershock, epi-centered in Ibaraki somewhere (actually I know the precise location thanks to the yurekuru alert on my cellphone), rumbled the building. I stood tall at the head of the class, surefooted as Anjin-san (John Blackthorne) was aboard the Erasmus. I watched as all of my students and the Japanese teacher dived beneath their desks and crouched on all fours; 30 sets of adolescent eyes in varying degrees of indifference watched me standing apparently defiant of not only death but more importantly of the school’s directive to all to duck and cover. (Actually I was never to informed I was supposed to.)
The truth is I hadn’t even been aware of it until I saw the Japanese teacher’s and several students’ heads whirling around in that peculiar way I’ve grown so accustomed to of late.
Yeah, it was about then that that I said to myself, “ok, enough already!”
Not that I feel 100% confident that the worst is over. Nor have I gotten so used to aftershocks that it takes 5.0 and up to race my heart. Or even that I feel safe. I just know that I’ve decided to stay here- for the time being at least- and that these aftershocks are part of life here, much the way gun shots ringing out in the night were part of life back home in New York. Life is full of figurative stray bullets, if you know what I mean.
And when it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go.
I feel for the people who died, have lost loved ones and/or are suffering due to to the repercussions of this tragedy, ripples reaching nearly every facet of life here. Some of my students and associates have family and friends from the areas hit worst. Some died, or are among the missing. Some have even moved in with them to escape the destruction and radiation up north. It’s very real and it’s everywhere you go.
Of course, I feel it.
But, I also feel the magnetic pull of life, pulling me back from the brink of some mournful, panic-stricken, joyless existence spent pouring over every news story, rumor and prognostication.
I feel an obligation to keep on keeping on.
Last week I was surfing around the net and came across an image that could easily be construed as poking fun at this disaster. I showed it to a worldly Japanese friend of mine and she let out a guilt-ridden guffaw, and said, “that’s funny, but it’s too soon!”
She was right of course. Not that I was planning to do any writing that made light of this disaster or even that I feel lighter about it. I don’t. But, laughter has a way of helping people to deal with all manner of tribulation.
The other day I made a joke myself on Twitter. I didn’t mean to. It just came out like it had been dying to come out and would be restrained no longer.
Someone had sent me a link to a Youtube recording of that now famous tune cellphones play when an earthquake is imminent, joking that he was going to make a ringtone out of it just to mess with people. I responded that the tone had just edged out the theme from The Smurfs as the official tone of pending disaster.
A couple of weeks ago, comedian Gilbert Gottfried got the boot from AFLAC, an insurance company, for some “too soon” type jokes. (As if there’ll ever be a perfect time to say ”Japan is really advanced. they don’t go to the beach. the beach comes to them!”) Don’t know what he was thinking. Maybe he was TUI-Tweeting Under the Influence.
Nevertheless, I’ve YET to see any substantial jokes about 9/11, and don’t know how I’d feel if I did. And it’s been a decade since that dreadful day. But clearly “too soon” is a judgment call and in spite of the zeitgeist varies from person to person, I think.
Before the catastrophe I was in the process of doing something I haven’t done in nearly 3 years of blogging: opening up Loco in Yokohama to some select bloggers! I had put it on hold for obvious reasons. Well, that hold has been lifted.
You’ve heard of a House Party right? How about a Block Party? Sure you have.
Well, Loco’s crawling from beneath his desk and throwing a Back to Life Blog Party! And everybody’s invited. Time to dust off some of that doom, gloom and radiation plume we’ve been living under here in the rubble of Kawaiiland.
And, man, do I need it! And I’m sure I’m not alone.
So, over the course of the next few weeks you can expect to hear from a number of Guest Bloggers; right here, in this funky town!
“Tell me who in this house know about the quake? We do!”
“Shut up, already, damn!”
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