I teach most students once a week on the same day at the same time.
It was really hard walking into my afternoon class today.
It was the class I was teaching when the earthquake hit.
The earthquake seemed big to us then. Mothers grabbed their babies and we all quickly moved to the door. Well, except for the woman who ran and turned the tv on.
We all had to go and be places by 3:00 so none of us stayed around to see the tv report of the tsunami and I went on with my afternoon blissfully ignorant of what was going on elsewhere. In fact I was at the supermarket brokering negotiations between Meg and Amy over what flavour yoghurt we were going to buy while my mum was watching the horror on tv in Australia and frantically calling me, not getting through and being very worried.
Fast forward a week and so much has happened and so much takk about how Japan will never be the same and yet here I was in the same class, looking at the same faces, drinking the same coffee (well not the very same of course....) it all seemed a little surreal.
And I think that has been my main feeling this week- it just seems like a nightmare. A nightmare I wake up from and go about my daily life teaching, shopping (no shortages in our supermarkets and petrol is back to almost normal) sending the girls to kinder and school and K to work, doing the chores and talking about Spring planting with my neighbours. I never forget what's happened but it is a memory of a nightmare all fuzzy now you've woken up. Then I turn on the tv and there's a new wave of despair. More shocking footage. More distressing updates on the nuclear plant, the lack of essential items at the evacuation centres, the personal stories of loss and despair... it hasn't gone away. It hasn't been 'fixed'. It's still going on and will be for months, years maybe.
Just when I get all despondent and think Japan will never recover my MIL (who was born and raised in Sendai) reminds me that Sendai was razed during the war. As was much of Japan. And with hardwork and resilience rose like a phoenix from the ashes.
That's Sendai after the tsunami and Sendai after the war. They've done it before and they'll do it again. That's MIL's take on things.
I haven't been watching much news since my PIL arrived on Wednesday as they find it really distressing so I have been following the news on the early morning bulletins and online newspapers. I have to say I have been really disappointed with a lot of the coverage. I think it is irresponsible journalism to interview one person and report their opinion as fact but I am seeing it time and time again- the Japanese government is lying to us and not getting info out fast enough, Tokyo is a ghost town as everyone has evacuated, radiation has hit Tokyo as everyone is wearing masks etc etc. My pillar of strength and calm reporting in a way even I understand has been the wonderful I-could-kiss-this-man Duncan Hawthorne at Bruce Power in Canada. While CNN and the tabloids were screaming MELTDOWN! MELTDOWN! he was explaining why it seemed problem after problem was occuring using a triage patient as an example:
Obviously as head of a nuclear power plant he is not an objective observer but then he also knows a lot more about what we're looking at when we see pictures of the plant than the average Joe with a microphone, right?
The personal messages of get-out-now-we-love-you-you're-gonna-die support and this-is-Japan's come-uppance/ Japanese are all brainwashed by a lying government opinions and comments of people who know nothing about Japan and its geography are very hard to swallow, too. I understand that the very word 'nuclear' is scary. But there is no excuse for fanning the hysteria fire. Do you really think you're helping by quoting Revelations to people living only 100s of kilometres away from the plant from your sofa somewhere in the US?
On the hundreds of kilometres thing it was pointed out to me that my figure of 480 km from the nuclear plant was inaccurate. Wildly inaccurate. I had calculated using my favourite route finder site when of course airborne radiation isn't hampered by circuitous roads. Seems we're actually (only) 260km from the source. Oh well...
It has been weird feeling like I am living in two worlds this week. My local friends are life as normal while many of my foreign friends are ringing their hands and booking flights out. I think the choice to stay or leave is an incredibly personal one and each person weighs things up in their own head and heart before deciding so no judgement from me either way. It's up there along with breastfeed/ bottlefeed, co-sleep/ sleep alone, one parent one language/ minority language at home and big vs small government on my list of things I do not want to talk about with a group of people due to the divisive nature of the conversation though!
At this stage and with the information I have to date our family is not going anywhere. We feel safe, our life is going on as normal and this is our home. I hope I continue to feel that way for a long time to come.