Saturday, March 12, 2011

I Am So Lucky

You have all no doubt been made aware of the devastating earthquakes in northeast Japan, as well as the tsunamis along the Pacific coast. I am so lucky to be doing completely fine right now. Knock on wood. Sorry-I hate to reveal this, but I am not exactly unsuperstitious. I do not want to give myself an ahora. (The Yiddish word for the evil eye).

I might've been as surprised about the disaster as family and friends at home. Having sprained my ankle last week, I have only left my apartment as much as necessary. Hence, I have been much less aware of the world outside it than usual, of late.

On Friday, I was shocked to learn the news; I spent much of the day in disaster mode. Lacking a TV, I watched the coverage on NHK online. Simultaneously, friends and family worried about my safety via postings on Facebook. My wonderful friend in Northern Kansai called multiple times to let me know about the tsunami coming my way. I was so lucky to have close friends in Seattle and San Francisco call to check on me.

"I know you're not near the earthquakes up north," my friend said. "but what about the tsunamis?"

"Oh, those?" I replied mock-casually, letting my dark humor mask my genuine concern. "No... I'm not near the earthquakes... but the tsunamis...Yeah... I'm right in the warning area for those. The map is all lit up in red."

My parents in Metro Detroit called at 3:30 in the morning, Eastern Standard Time. I told my dad that the tsunami was supposed to be 3 meters or more.

"What is that again?" my dad asked.

"Let's see... I'm 152 centimeters (5 ft.), so, about two of me."

"That's pretty tall." he replied.

I couldn't have agreed more.

I was extremely worried about the tsunami. The (I assumed) tsunami warning announcements were not much help. The announcer mumbled as the megaphone ate half the syllables, rendering it like a Charles Schultz warning system. I'd hear "Shingu, tsunami, mwamwaaaa mwaaa mwaa mwaaa mwaaaa!" Not knowing what was being said, as a result, was more than a bit unnerving. I'm a huge fan of The Peanuts, but there's a time and a place.

The Metro Detroit area does not have much in the way of natural disasters. It has irritating, cold weather, but not much to worry about. The most difficult of that ilk is snow. Of course, tornadoes occur, but not very often. A friend and I consoled each other on how because we were from there, we had no idea how to deal with unwanted natural occurrences which were not snow; certainly not earthquakes or a tsunami. We have learned.

As for the tsunami, it did hit. I was only certain of that because my friend alerted me. There is no damage outside at all that I can see. I am beyond fine and beyond lucky. There have been a few tiny shakes, but nothing to be concerned about. I am so fortunate to have been here and to have had so many concerned for my well being.

While it seems completely fine here, aftershocks continue to happen in the north. I am quite worried for them. Buildings have completely disappeared, and people cannot find their loved ones. My heart goes out to them. If you want to help, there are many organizations giving donations. You've most likely seen these links, but here are some again anyway:

MSNBC's Technoblog with multiple organizations for donations to Japan

A video tutorial on making donations from ATMs within Japan

If you are looking for someone, please take a look at Google's people finder.

The photo at the top of today's blog was taken today at the supermarket. I chose this to show that it is business as usual in Shingu, Wakayama, Japan. Everyone here is fine, so please do not worry about us. If you would like to extend your concern, please do so for the north.

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